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Henry Fool
Men Singing (Kscope)

Henry FoolCan’t imagine that a less ‘cool’ album will be released this year as progressive jazz rock is about as hip as, erm, actually is there a genre less hip than progressive jazz rock? It’s also only got four tracks, two of which are over thirteen minutes in length and, natch, there are no men (or women) to be found vocalising herein. So why should you buy it? Well how about the fact it features loads of great dusty old stuff like Mellotron’s, glockenspiel’s, flutes, Moog's and Phil Manzanera’s most angular guitar noises in years? It also sounds like Caravan meets Hatfield and the North via Echoes era Pink Floyd. Cool be damned this is hot.
Ray Harper

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Keith Hudson
Torch Of Freedom (Hot Milk)

Keith Hudson Hot Milk couldn’t really have picked a better debut album to launch their re-issue label than this one from The Dark Prince Of Reggae, Keith Hudson a man who who first cemented his recording career working with artists like Big Youth and U Roy. However in the early ‘70s he began using his own vocals alongside dub and deejay ‘versions’ to marvelous effect and it is from this purple patch that this hard to find 1975 album comes - following classics like Pick a Dub and Flesh Of My Skin, Blood Of My Blood (both ’74) - providing further proof that Hudson’s take on dub was as idiosyncratic and important as Lee Perry’s.
Drew Bass

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Ian Hunter & The Rant Band
When I'm President (Proper Records)

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band Chances are, given his ridiculously low profile in the UK, if you remember Ian Hunter at all, it’s as front man for Mott The Hoople but there is far, far more to Hunter than ‘Honaloochie Boogie’ and ‘Roll Away The Stone’ (cracking dumb-rock songs though both are), because as His career has unfolded he has revealed himself to be a genuinely articulate and insightful lyricist and this continues the quality found on previous outing Man Overboard, his voice has never sounded better and to these ears the title track is a contender for the best he has ever recorded, the vibrancy of this set would shame people fifty years his junior.
Ray Harper

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Paul Heaton
Presents The 8th (Proper)

Paul HeatonAs someone who wades through new music every day of the week (lucky me, I know), when something as adventurous as the new Paul Heaton album turns up so do my jaded ears. For the uninitiated The 8th is one long song split into into eight chapters and looks at the seven deadly sins through a series of narrated scenes taking place in a single poverty-stricken neighbourhood and leads unrelentingly to the modern 8th sin (gossip). Some fans may be (in fact are), very disappointed that Heaton himself only sings on one track (each sin features a different vocalist), but to these ears this is a brave and audacious effort which should be applauded.
Ruby Palmer

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Martin Harley
Mojo Fix (60/20 Records)

Martin Harley Welcome to the big time, Martin Harley! Mixing things up with the reggae beat of 'Rum Shack' and acoustic folk of 'Cardboard King', the latter rivalling current overlords, Sheerin and Howard. However, it’s when he unleashes Ry Cooder influenced electric slide on 'Working For The Man', 'Mean Old City' and 'Ball & Chain' that he shines. The title track hints at the White Stripes and 'Wrecking Ball' at Jazz, Blues and Big Band whereas 'Tightrope' and' Treading Water' show acoustic class, the former a marriage of Paolo Nutini and The Stereophonics. Harley has it all – voice, guitar artistry and the songs. Can’t wait for a live performance!
David Blue

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Richie Havens
My Own Way (Wienerworld)

Richie Havens Collecting together the vast majority of A Richie Havens Record and Electric Havens the first two Richie Havens albums (although why the missing tracks are, erm, missing isn’t clear, there’s plenty of space left), this is material that has been unavailable due to record label fannying around for many a moon (both albums are currently out of print) however, unlike many really awful early releases – see Jimi Hendrix’ Curtis Night sessions – this is actually tremendous material, and well worth picking up, whether you’re a Havens fan or just mildly interested in one of the stars of Woodstock and a truly underrated performer.
Raft Thong

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Hood
Recollected (Domino)

Hood Sadly you are going to have a hell of a job getting hold of this as the limited run seems to have already all but disappeared, but should you be lucky enough to stumble across this collection of their four Domino studio albums, a compilation disc of singles for and The Hood Tapes, an expanded (from 13 to 24 tracks) version of a CD-R released in 2005, then we suggest you grab it as Chris and Richard Adams output, whilst hardly madly populist is nonetheless well worth tracking down, our own favourite being their work with the Third Eye Foundation’s Matt Elliott on the magnificent The Cycle Of Days And Seasons.
Drew Bass

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Corky Laing, Felix Pappalardi, Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson
The Secret Sessions (Floating World)

Corky Laing; Felix Pappalardi; Ian Hunter; Mick RonsonMuch ado is often made about nothing when so called ‘lost tapes’ of unearthed musical gems surface many years after the tapes in question really should have remained buried in cupboards (just check out much of the totally redundant ‘additional material’ added to many new releases). This however really is a little lost gem featuring all of the above plus guest slots from Eric Clapton, Dicky Betts and Todd Rundgren and whilst it’s not without fault (including some lyrical clunkers), and also very much of its time fans of Hunter, Ronson and Mountain will find a great deal here to love not least the original version of Hunters ‘The Outsider’.
Ray Harper

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Kieran Hebden, Steve Reid & Mats Gustafsson
Live At The South Bank (Smalltown Superjazz)

Kieran Hebden, Steve Reid & Mats GustafssonIt always seemed the least likely of pairings (although the resultant music proved this to be an erroneous assumption) but the improvisational works of the young upstart London based DJ and the far older American jazz drumming legend proved to be terrific, working because of, rather than despite, their differences. Sadly Reid is no longer with us but this six track jam with experimental sax player Mats Gustafsson is a worthy epitaph fusing Hebden’s kosmiche keyboards, Reid’s polyrhythmic blatter and Gustavsons alarming squalls, as what could have become brain numbing noodling stretches out into some spectacular flights of fancy.
Paul Riley

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PJ Harvey
Let England Shake (Island)

PJ HarveyIf, like many a fan, you were slightly wrong-footed by Polly’s previous album White Chalk – wherein, the usually cacophonous, Ms Harvey ixnayed her reliable sturm und drang, took to the piano and sang in a gentle falsetto – then I’m afraid you’re going to remain wobbling unsteadily on yer pins as she continues up the higher end of the vocal scale, only this time around the instrumentation is far more experimental. This is not an immediate album, in fact it takes several listens to really come to grips with what is being said, but it is really worth the investment of time and could well go on to become recognised as one of her finest.
Ruby Palmer

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Half Man Half Biscuit
90 Bisodol [Crimond] (Probe Plus Records)

Half Man Half Biscuit Chances are that if, like us, you are a Half Man Half Biscuit fan (you can always find them quoting song lyrics to each other at parties), you will already have this, and if not you won’t be remotely interested in buying it. On the off chance however that you have not yet heard of the greatest punk sardonicists... well ever really, then this is as good a place to start as any (if you enjoy this you will enjoy all the other albums). John Peel once called Nigel Blackwell 'one of our great thinkers', and that razor sharp brain and scathing sneer is in full effect here. Altogether now ‘Whoh-oh Black Sabbath, bam-a-lam’ and repeat...
The Oracle

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Hardfloor
20 – Two Decades Of Hardfloor (Hardfloor)

Hardfloor Whilst people outside of the dance scene may struggle to place Oliver Bondzio and Ramon Zenker (and their trusty Roland TB 303’s), anyone who was within spitting distance of a dancefloor in 1992 will be aware of the mighty “Hardtrance Acperience EP” - released on German trance pioneer Sven Väth’s Eye Q label. Adding an iconic acidic squelch to their mastery of building dancefloors to goose-bump inducing highs Hardfloor were without doubt a major influence on the majority of today’s trance music, and this collection, cherry picking highpoints from their twenty year career is a great starting point if you missed them the first time around..
Drew Bass

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Ken Hensley & Live Fire
Faster (Ear Music)

Ken Hensley & Live Fire As regular readers will undoubtedly already be aware Ken Hensley was the man behind possibly the most recognisable hammond lurch in rock as the hairy feller behind the keyboards in the classic line-up of Uriah Heep - leaving Mick Box the only original member when he moved on in 1980. His musical history has been chequered since departing Heep (although liberally peppered with highspots), including a period of semi-retirement in the ‘80s, but the last few decades have seen a resurgence and this latest album, with Norwegian upstarts Live Fire, prove the man’s way with a melodic metal song remain intact.
The Oracle

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Gil Scott-Heron And Jamie xx
We’re New Here (XL)

Gil Scott-Heron And Jamie xx Letting Jamie Smith of the xx loose on Gil Scott-Heron’s superb 2010 comeback album I’m New Here was always going to polarise opinion potentially appealing to neither Scott-Heron nor xx fans and in truth is has split opinions. To these ears however this works magnificently well, creating a completely new thing entirely rather than the usual ‘will this do’ remix by numbers that these projects so often deliver, the grime-y dubstep underpinning Heron’s laconic drawl magnificently, Smith clearly approaching the material with a great deal of respect and even working some of Heron’s earlier vocal performances into the mix.
Drew Bass

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Kristin Hersh
Crooked (The Friday Project)

Kristin HershThose of you that recall the exquisite joy of finally getting hold of a long awaited 12” vinyl album – there was no pre-release date Pirate Bay download action back in the day – and then rushing home to pore over the lyrics, pictures and info whilst listening to your latest acquisition will understand the joy to be had lingering over Kristin Hersh’s latest album which comes in the form of a beautifully designed book and contains the download key to ten tracks of music, from full on coruscating to heartbreakingly bleak, that leave you wondering how the hell it‘s possible for her to remain so buried in the margins. Brilliant idea, brilliantly realised and a fucking tremendous album to boot.
Ruby Palmer

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Harmonious Bec
Her Strange Dreams (Monotreme)

Harmonious BecJapanese duo ZaMaRoo and From Vapor To Water – gotta love those names – unleash an amalgam of clonking great DJ Shadow-esque drum clatter and Four Tet/Pole style electronic glitch which, remarkably enough given their obvious influences, manages to sound quite unlike any of those acts. Perhaps a better sign-post would be the more deranged moments of Max Tundra, but then a track like 'Shunral' looms into earshot and it all goes dreamily trip-hoppy, albeit with some aural itching to keep things from getting too laid back. In fact this is exactly the sort of album which demands and then repays repeat listens.
Drew Bass

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Taylor Hawkins & his Coattail Riders
Red Light Fever, (Columbia)

Taylor Hawkins and his Coattail Riders The second studio album from Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins boasts an A list of guest performers – including Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen and , needless to say, Dave Grohl – and a vibe pitched somewhere around the mid-seventies UK singles chart. The influences are glaring, but fun nonetheless, in fact the whole album rattles along in a fine old Foo Fighters gone glam rock style, and let’s be honest here successful and properly entertaining solo albums by drummers are about as rare as hens teeth (of course Taylor does have Grohl as a role model here), so not world shattering but well worth a listen.
Ruby Palmer

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Robyn Hitchcock And The Venus 3
Propeller Time (Proper)

Robyn Hitchcock And The Venus 3Surrounded by such esteemed playmates as Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin, the last five years have seen Robyn Hitchcock creating some of the most memorable music of his 35-year career. So, following two consistently delightful collections (2006’s Olé Tarantula and 2009’s Goodbye Oslo), Propeller Time offers more of the lovely same: ingenious wordplay, elegiac melodies and sublime musicianship from regular colleagues and special guests, including Johnny Marr, who co-wrote standout track ‘Ordinary Millionaire’. Above all, this music exudes a simple joy in its creation – a quality now in increasingly short supply.
David Davies

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John Hiatt
The Open Road (New West)

John Hiatt John Hiatt is almost certainly a name that you will know, but equally certainly many of you will have no real idea who he is (especially in the UK), and yet the list of people who have covered a Hiatt song is, frankly, gobsmacking (see list here) and it’s not unheard of to find people like Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner on his album’s credits list. The Open Road finds him back in familiar hi-octane country blues rock territory, perhaps a direct response to 2008’s rather more stripped back Same Old Moon, and the songs here are easily the equal of his highly regarded earlier material, the man makes this songwriting lark sound easy.
Ray Harper

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Alex Harvey
Presents The Lock Ness Monster (Voiceprint)

Alex HarveyWe make no secret of the high regard in which we hold the late great Alex Harvey but sadly as he is no longer with us new material is as thin on the ground as honest MP's but there is still some material which even his many fans are unaware of, specifically this spoken word album (long out of print) recorded in the summer of 1976 when Harvey and family went searching for the Loch Ness Monster. Needless to say this isn’t going to necessarily appeal to fans of the SAHB's magnificent glam clatter but Harvey’s humour, and fascination with the subject matter, shine throughout. Did he see Nessie? You’’ll just have to listen and find out.
Ray Harper

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Steve Hackett
Out Of The Tunnel’s Mouth (Wolfworks Records)

Steve Hackett The lowest profile member of the classic Genesis line-up, Steve Hackett is nonetheless easily the most prolific (with over twenty solo studio albums to his credit) and it’s great to find him returning to his more convoluted roots here, from flamenco tinged Latin to full blown prog workouts – guitar fans will love the consumate ease with which he mixes finger blurring, hi-octane Al Di Meola meets Paco De Lucia stylings and the pyrotechnic bombast of guitar slingers like Jeff Beck. The vocals are occasionally bland, but a bag of great tunes and some stupendous guitar playing make this the best thing he has released in years.
Ray Harper

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Charlotte Hatherley
New Worlds (Little Sister)

Charlotte Hatherley Best known to males of a certain age as ‘the foxy chick’ who made Ash worth looking at for the best part of a decade (she joined whilst still only 17) before the lads gave her a gentle nudge from the ranks in 2006 and launched her onto a less than world shattering solo career. Now, three years and three albums later Hatherley is still eminently watchable but she has also finally mananged to hit her stride as New Worlds is easily her best album to date moving effortlessly between ballads, pop and ‘proper’ rock, her years with Ash obviously leaving her with an unerring ear for that all important hook.
Ruby Palmer

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Ian Hunter
Man Overboard (New West Records)

Ian HunterHe may now be 70 years of age but, like a particularly fine wine, age has simply made Ian Hunter a more fully rounded, deeper but still boisterous vintage - as recent rabble rousing shows with Mott The Hoople proved. His solo career may have been less commercially rewarding but it certainly hasn’t been any less creative, balancing a love of Dylan-esque wordplay and straight up ramalama racket Hunter has released almost twenty albums, the latest of which is as good as anything he has done to date. Let’s hope the high profile Mott gigs lead a few more people to check out Hunters solo work, they won’t be disappointed.
Ray Harper

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Hell
Teufelswerk (International Deejay Gigolo Records)

HellA double disc set by the techno/house DJ - known to his mum as Helmut Josef Geier – split into Night and Day discs, the Night section, pretty much as you would expect with a few famous pals (like Bryan Ferry and P Diddy), singing for their techno/house supper, but it’s the Day disc that really hits the spot, with Hell and Kruder & Dorfmeister’s Peter Kruder tapping into that deep vein of German 'kosmische music' to cracking effect (his cover of Hawkwinds ‘Silver Machine’ is a lovely skewed slice of noughties krautrock), prompting this reviewer to head up into the loft to dig out his old Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream and Neu! albums.
Drew Bass

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Russ Hewitt
Bajo El Sol (saulitomusic)

Russ HewittUK fans of contemporary Latin American music have historically been poorly served in the UK, and aside from early Santana albums it was necessary to track down dedicated suppliers for a fix of Paco De Lucia, Fania Allstars or even Santana’s less known brother Jorge’s excellent Malo. More recently the likes of Rodrigo Y Gabriela have helped make lovers of Latin licks pulses race and now we have the decidedly more laid back jazzy Latin flamenco of Russ Hewitt which whilst not as high speed as R&G is nonetheless really rather beautiful and just the soundtrack album for a warm summers evening.
Paul Riley

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John Holt
1000 Volts Of Holt: Deluxe Edition (Trojan)

John Holt Initially making his name as lead vocalist with the Paragons John Holt only hit outside of Jamaica when he embraced the cover version culture – US and UK hits were regularly, and quickly, reggae-fied in Jamaica’s unregulated music business – and began working with London based producer Tony Ashfield, what resulted was ultra-smooth balladry which made no excuses for it’s lightweight reggae-pop nature and scored big with Holt’s version of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’. Now expanded to include Jamaican mixes of some tracks and a second disc of unreleased recordings destined for a, never released, follow up.
Drew Bass

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Jimi Hendrix
Electric Ladyland: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition (Commercial Marketing)

Jimi Hendrix Hendrix’s flawed masterpiece gets the 40th anniversary treatment and now comes complete with a genuinely fascinating 86 minute DVD originally released in the Classic Albums series featuring contributions from a host of people who are sadly no longer with us including the man himself, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and manager Chas Chandler. The sessions are revisited and by engineer Eddie Kramer with help from guest musicians like Buddy Miles and Steve Winwood and unlike many of the tacked on 'collectors edition' disc's we get nowadays this is absolutely worth reacquainting yourself with the album for.
Ray Harper

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Evan Marc & Steve Hillage
Dreamtime Submersible (Somnia/Thoughtless Music)

Evan Marc & Steve HillageSteve Hillage is cropping up everywhere just now, this time alongside Evan ‘Bluetech’ Marc, weaving his trademark warm and mellow psychedelic trance-like guitar washes with Marc’s ambient techno tinged dub, the results meld seamlessly into a hugely atmospheric underwater themed journey which is best heard in the continuous mix (an unmixed version is available from the Somnia website), and is well worth tracking down in the lovely signed and numbered limited edition slip-case, printed with soy inks on recycled paper, sewn and sealed with wax. If you love your chill-out dub infused and dreamlike, track this delightful album down.
Drew Bass

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Half Man Half Biscuit
CSI: Ambleside (Probe Plus)

Half Man Half Biscuit Ask most people what they think of Half Man Half Biscuit (if indeed they know who they are at all), and they will generally refer to Nigel Blackwell and Co. as a ‘comedy punk band’, which is so far wide of the mark it’s, well quite funny actually. Yes they are very funny, and yes they do occasionally sound like an even more ramshackle version of The Fall (never more so than on album closer and album highlight ‘National Shite Day’), but, as Blackwell himself admits on ‘Lord Herefords Knob’, ‘all of our songs sound the same’ and that’s because what matters here are the acerbic, observant, scathingly intelligent lyrics.
Ruby Palmer

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Holton’s Opulent Oog
The Problem Of Knowledge (Big Potato)

Holton’s Opulent OogOstensibly an alt-country effort by what might politely be described as an indie super-ish group (featuring members of Mojave 3, Chapterhouse and Seafood), The Problem Of Knowledge makes no attempt whatsoever to grab your attention, gently meandering into a full on dawdle and sounding not unlike a somnambulant Leonard Cohen in places. But Holton’s Opulent Oog reward repeat listens as the fragile beauty of the songs reluctantly reveal themselves and aside from some ill-advised Jetson’s sound effects on ‘Fountains Of Hate’ The Problem Of Knowledge languidly insinuates itself under your skin. Music to loiter to. Ruby Palmer

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Kim Hiorthøy
My Last Day (Smalltown Supersound)

Kim HiorthøyFans of Hiorthøy’s glitchy dislocated debut album Hei or his more dance-floor friendly but equally demented and off-kilter live outing Live Shet will be delighted to discover that the Norwegian musician/artist/designer has drawn on elements of both to create the slightly more accessible but no less intriguing My Last Day. Songs still lurch and stutter like discombobulated Weebles but now they exhibit a lo-fi melodic sway, Hiorthøy’s jazz, folk and hip hop influences apparent but never overpowering. This is not likely to launch him into the limelight as it is still an acquired taste, but have a listen, we reckon it’s a taste worth acquiring.
Drew Bass

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Happy Mondays
Bummed (Rhino)

Happy MondaysRe-issued alongside the better known (and better selling) Pills ‘N’ Thrills & Bellyaches this is actually well worth picking up, if you don’t already have it, to find out where Pills ‘N’ Thrills came from, including Monday classics like ‘Lazy Itis’, ‘Mad Cyril’, ‘Wrote for Luck’ and, in this expanded form, possibly their finest moment ‘Hallelujah’. Re-mastered and now stretching to two discs Bummed features the original album the ‘Rave On’ E.P. a bushel of bonus bits, bobs and B-sides and an entire disc of extended mixes such as the Vince Clarke remix of ‘W.F.L’ and the rare promo-only Deadstock mix of ‘Hallelujah’.
Ruby Palmer

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PJ Harvey
So Far (Revisited)

PJ Harvey You may feel that the mid 2000’s has spawned some of the worst music since the ‘80s and is therefore only suitable for going back to your record collection and digging out those old classics and you would, at least in part, be right. But before we start tolling the death knell of popular music let us not forget that artists like Bjork, Nick Cave, Aphex Twin and the ever reliable PJ Harvey continue to view each new release as a challenge, a way to revisit, reinvent and revitalise their music and this is just such an album of beautiful, stripped down, piano driven laments that positively drip with emotional depth. Is there no end to this womens talents?


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Bruce Hornsby - with Christian McBride & Jack DeJohnette
Camp Meeting (Columbia)

Bruce HornsbyThis classy jazz trio record is currently only available in the UK as an import but is fully deserving of coverage here, not least because Hornsby is still highly underrated in Britain, possibly because we tend to frown on technically accomplished musicians these days. Hot on the heels of a fine collaboration with bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs, Camp Meeting is dominated by joyful interpretations of modern jazz standards by greats such as Monk and Coltrane. The few Hornsby originals are also first-rate, however, with the title track’s mid-point mutation into a deep-funk groove sure to put a smile on your face.


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Honeyroot
The Sun Will Come (Just Records)

HoneyrootThe second release by Honeyroot – who are Glen Gregory, best known as the suited and booted front man of Heaven 17, and Keith Lowndes, less well known former ABC member. This is aimed squarely at the more ambient, chilled end of the market (think Air, or Morcheeba) and there’s no doubting much of The Sun Will Come would sound great whilst watching the sun rise, or set, blissed out on a golden stretch of beach. Using five different vocalists means it plays more like a various artists collection at times but as most of the best chill out CD’s are just that, perhaps that’s what they had in mind.


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Ken Hensley
Blood On The Highway (Politur Rock Records)

Ken HensleyHoused in a sleeve which will have old Uriah Heep fans reaching for their vinyl copies of Look At Yourself (for the uninitiated both sport a mirror), Ken Hensley, ex-Heep keyboard maestro, has crafted a good old fashioned concept album about being a rock musician in the seventies, although his decision to use a variety of vocalists means the album does occasionally lack cohesion, the tracks that work best being those fronted by Norwegian Jern Lande whose David Coverdale style of emoting best suit Hensley’s songwriting. It won’t worry the UK charts but old Heep-sters and Euro-rock fans will find much here to enjoy.


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Hawkwind
Space Ritual: Collectors Edition (EMI)

HawkwindFeaturing, for many, the holy grail of Hawkwind line-ups (Robert Calvert, Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Lemmy, Dik Mik, Del Dettmar and Simon King), Space Ritual – a live album recorded whilst promoting their Doremi Fasol Latido studio album - found the band fully embracing their audio-visual space fantasies with dancers, spoken word interludes, full blown psychedelic light shows and a wall of thundering trance rock wig-outs which still sound as unhinged as they did in 1972. If you only ever own one Hawkwind album this should be it, especially now with extra tracks and the suitably lo-fi videos for singles ‘Silver Machine’ and ‘Urban Guerilla’.


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Happy Mondays
Uncle Dysfunktional (Sequel)

Happy MondaysHands up who thought Shaun Ryder had blown it? An inspired Gorillaz appearance aside Shaun hasn’t recorded much worth hearing for a very, very long time indeed – the hit and miss days of Black Grape in fact - so news of a Happy Mondays (partial) reunion left many people seriously underwhelmed, but it appears the newly cleaned up Ryder has found a massive dose of inspiration without the aid of chemical assistance as this swaggers around like a dealer at the back of the Hacienda. Ryder is in fine, if typically obtuse, lyrical form, the tunes recalling the baggy grooves of prime time Mondays, call the cops!


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Ian Hunter
Shrunken Heads (Jerkin’ Crocus)

Ian HunterThe idiotically underrated Ex-Mott main-main seems to be on something of a roll of late following two excellent albums (The Artful Dodger – criminally out of print - and Rant) with yet another cracker and yet, his core fan-base aside, this album will undoubtedly go the way of the previous two, i.e. no-bloody-where. As so called ‘legacy’ artists queue up to hark back to ‘the day’ via avalanches of re-issues Hunter continues to move forward, creating new and vibrant material, proving himself to be a songwriter of no little skill, providing rather more bite and thought provoking lyrical content than his hero Dylan can muster nowadays.


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Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid
Tongues (Domino)

Kieran Hebden and Steve ReidHaving finally replaced its knackered old stereo several days beforehand, TMOnline was seriously concerned that it might have been sold a dud during the opening moments of Tongues. Never fear: bleeps, bloops, judders and all manner of sonic disruption are part-and-parcel of the deeply curious soundworld fashioned here by veteran percussionist Steve Reid (he played with Fela Kuti, you know) and Kieran Hebden, otherwise known as one third of Four Tet. Recorded live with no overdubs or edits, Tongues is a challenging work that at its best fuses a radical jazz feel with cutting-edge technology to jaw-dropping effect.


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Steve Hillage
Green (Virgin)

Steve HillageThe second batch of Hillage re-releases - ensuring his Virgin back catalogue is now once again available, re-mastered and featuring extra tracks - includes this ‘78 release which is chock full of the sort of trance inducing wig-outs that would later find a welcome home in dance venues alongside bands like Orbital, Eat Static and Banco De Gaia – albeit shorn of Hillage’s Syd Barrett-esque vocals. Occasionally Hillage lets his old rock roots show (like on the live trot through old chestnut ‘Not Fade Away’ recorded at the Rainbow in 1977), but tracks like ‘Ether Ships’, 'Leylines To Glassdom’ and ‘The Glorious Om Riff’ still sound wonderfully narcotic.


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Steve Hillage
Fish Rising (Virgin)

Steve HillageThe opening salvo from the first four (of eight) re-mastered and expanded Virgin re-releases, Fish Rising was Hillage's first solo effort after leaving Gong – although it features plenty of old Gong-sters plus the likes of Dave Stewart and Henry Cow’s Lindsay Cooper – this is arguably the birth place of space rock (Ozric Tentacles have sculpted a fine career from album opener ‘Solar Musick Suite’) mixing acid rock with Canterbury jazz to stratosphere scraping effect. The best of the remaining three releases, although entirely different, is ambient classic Rainbow Dome Musick, which would later prove to be so influential to The Orb.


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PJ Harvey
The Peel Sessions: 1991-2004 (BBC)

PJ HarveyOK, so it’s not everything Peej recorded for Peel, more a 12 track snapshot taken from various sessions spread over her many visits with the venerable DJ. In purely VFM terms three of the songs here - ‘Wang Dang Doodle’, ‘Naked Cousin’ and ‘Losing Ground’ - are of the non-album variety, so fans will be happy to pick it up for this trio alone. The rest may be album numbers but are delivered in Harvey’s usual viscerally unhinged live style which, as anyone who has encountered the angular banshee onstage will already be aware, infuse her recorded material with an altogether more, erm, carnal edge. Cracking stuff.


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Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel
The Cockney Rebel - A Steve Harley Anthology (EMI)

Steve Harley and Cockney RebelA massive 3 CD trawl through the various guises Steve Harley has adopted over the years, by far the most impressive and unorthodox being his gothic glam/folk debut incarnation. If he had recorded nothing else but debut album The Human Menagerie – featuring magnificently overblown, eastern European tinged, gothic classical lunacy like ‘Sebastian’ and ‘Death Trip’ – his place in pop history would have been secure, but he still had the violin-drenched The Psychomodo up his sleeve featuring the loopy pop of 'Mr Soft' and one of the finest trio of album closers – ‘Bed In The Corner’, ‘Sling It’ and ‘Tumbling Down’ - ever recorded.


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Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Olé Tarantula (Proper)

Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3Robyn Hitchcock’s UK tour earlier this year with The Venus 3 – effectively a part-time band for supergroup escapees like REM’s Peter Buck – occasioned some of the great man’s most fiery performances in a long career. Along the way, he debuted a number of fine new songs, translated to disc here in a blaze of energy and electricity. ‘Adventure Rocket Ship’ achieves vertical lift-off, while the exultant title track rolls home on a bed of parping horns. Hitchcock’s gift is undiminished, although the fact that large parts of his back catalogue remain unavailable on CD suggests it’s still not widely acknowledged.


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George Harrison
Living In The Material World (Apple)

George HarrisonIt must have genuinely been very trying being George Harrison, imagine being in the biggest band in the world, ever, but not being either Lennon or McCartney (Ringo always seemed happy just to be along for the ride). Then we have his solo years positively awash with pious pronouncements made from his massive country house about how we don’t need material objects but spiritual peace. But, as with Dylan, if you step around the tiresome preaching there is wonderful, heartfelt music to be found and this newly expanded reissue contains ample proof that in any other band Harrison would have been hailed a genius.


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Heaven 17
Penthouse And Pavement (Virgin)

Heaven 17Part of a reissue series which also includes ‘83s The Luxury Gap, ‘84s How Men Are and this, possibly their finest moment, Penthouse and Pavement (’81). Created just after Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware’s acrimonious spilt from The Human League, P&P would become the blueprint for much of the synthetic sound that would underpin the entire era, new vocalist Glenn Gregory perfectly suiting the angular clipped electronic robo-funk wrested from Mare and Marsh’s boxes of tricks. All three releases have been re-mastered and boast bonus tracks – pointing the way for catalogue releases digital downloads include further bonus tracks.


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Ben Harper
Both Sides of the Gun. (Virgin)

Ben HarperOstensibly intended to be approached as a ‘single album with two sides’ (a bit like an old vinyl record really), one side featuring a blend of Stones type-rock, funk and blues, the other hosting a more downbeat and melancholy vibe, the whole eighteen track shebang clocking in at just over an hour in length. Grouping material this way works pretty well, allowing you to fit the sounds to your mood (although it would be interesting to see which album is played more often, certainly the upbeat CD made more repeat visits to the player here), and if there’s any justice this will raise Harpers profile in the UK.


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****************************************************************** Hundred Reasons
Kill Your Own (V2)

Hundred ReasonsThis album has received some less than glowing reviews of late, and in truth Hundred Reasons did lose their way slightly after such a promising debut in Ideas Above Our Station, but ignore the nay-sayers as this, their fourth album, is actually a belter, balancing the expected ear shredding hardcore with more than enough melody to keep all those sniffy emo haters at bay. 'Broken Hands', 'Feed The Fire' and the title track are the most immediate moments but there’s a good deal of depth here, as repeat listens reveal, and Colin Doran even proves he has a decent voice on him when he gives the bellowing a breather.


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Heligoland
Pitcher, Flask & Foxie Moxie (Independent Redords)

HeligolandThe second album by Tim Friese-Greene - the man who occupied the producers chair for classic Talk Talk albums Spirit Of Eden and The Colour Of Spring - once again taking the low key release route, which is a great pity because this is a truly wonderful album, full of maddeningly infectious melodies, laid over what can only really be described as multi-layered soundscapes. Not unlike Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones in it’s wildly experimental, clonking and lurching, occasionally arrhythmic scope, and anyone that mentions Darcy Bustle in a song about Semantics has got to be worth a few minutes of anyone’s time.


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The Human League
Original Remixes & Rarities (EMI)

Human LeagueIf, like us, you loved the League Unlimited Orchestra remix of the mighty Dare (entitled Love And Dancing), then this is almost certainly going to float your boat as the 12” remix format suited the League’s angular synth-pop like Keith Harris's right hand fits the loveable Orville. This will also satisfy all you Human League train-spotters as the vast majority of the material here has never made it onto CD before, or only as extra's on single releases. Whether Oakey and Co. will ever again scale the dizzy musical heights of the Dare era is a moot point, but this is a timely reminder of just what a great pop band they really were back in the day.


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Luke Haines
Luke Haines Is Dead (EMI)

Luke HainesPossibly not quite as deceased as the title of this huge great treble CD retrospective would have you believe, Luke Haines Is Dead is actually just a succinct way of rounding up, and popping a neat full stop behind, the grumpy anaemic looking bugger’s work to date, and in truth what work! Busying himself in the margins since the late ‘80s – initially in the Servants, then signed to Hut in ‘92 as The Auteurs and finally solo – poison penning such lost classics as How To Hate The Working Classes, Bugger Bognor, Essex Boot Boys and Unsolved Child Murder, a grim-but-amused Morrissey who didn’t flee to L.A. in fact


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Imogen Heap
Speak For Yourself (Magaphonic)

Imogen HeapFans of the OC will doubtless already be aware of recent single Hide And Seek featuring that distinctive vocodered Laurie Anderson meets Alanis Morissette skip-yodel meets ethereal Kate Bush vocal style. Indeed it’s with Kate Bush that the most useful parallels can be drawn, as Heap writes, plays and produces all her own work – in her Pro-Tool driven London studio – and is prone to the same sort of bold experimental mucking about, the same scant regard for what is current or hip, the same attention to detail (the CD packaging is excellent), it’s probably about time she was accorded the same levels of success


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Ed Harcourt
Elephants Graveyard (Heavenly)

Ed HarcourtEd Harcourt seems to have slipped past the CD radar here at TotalMusic towers so it wasn’t with any real enthusiasm that this was slipped into the communal tray, but the sheer bravura eclecticism of the material soon began to seep through the office fug as howled vocals and sheets of guitar noise vied with torch songs, ballads, Nick Drake style folk and spooked electronic beats, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that this is a collection of odds and sods, b-sides and unreleased little gems which will only be made available via download (28 tracks for £7.99, which sounds like a bargain to us). Snap It Up


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The Howling Hex
You Can’t Beat Tomorrow: CD & DVD (Drag City)

Howling Hex Essentially Neil Michael Hagerty with mates (in this case The Theatre Fire) doing what Hagerty has done since his early days in Pussy Galore and long lunatic stint as one half of Royal Trux, i.e. arse about, sometimes engagingly, sometimes wilfully and sometimes teeth gratingly badly. In this instance things generally lean towards the first two of these instances - despite sounding like it was recorded in a bag. Comes complete with what can best be described as a lo-fi slacker road movie complete with dismally drawn cartoons, badly lit performances and loads of unrelated film clips, in fact just the thing for the local neighbourhood Wire fan.

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Alan Hull
We Can All Swing Together (Sanctuary)

Alan HullAnother sadly missed, and wildly underrated artist – if nothing else this constant avalanche of reissues allows us to revisit some of the, often overlooked, highpoints of the recent past - who is ripe for rediscovery. Of course there can be few people who haven’t heard tracks like Lady Eleanor by his most famous band Lindisfarne, but precious few will have heard his, often superior, solo material (or indeed his early work with the Chosen Few and Skip Bifferty), something this collection happily remedies. Hull died of a heart attack in 1995, leaving a small but fine collection of albums and this is a great starting point


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Kim Hiorthøy
Live Shet (Smalltown Supersound)

Kim Hiorthøy Kim Hiorthøy’s debut album Hei (2000) was a remarkable album that left many a reviewer (including this one) gob-smacked. Mixing beats, electronics, hip-hop, jazz and folk music Hiorthøy created something pretty damn unique. What he didn’t create however was anything like a faithful reproduction of his live material which was altogether more, erm, banging. Cue Live Shet, not a live album as such but a studio recording of the man’s favourite slices of his live set, and what a cracking blast of rug cutting mayhem it is. If you only buy one Scandinavian techno break-beat album this year make sure this is it.

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The Heptones
Peace And Harmony - Anthology (Trojan)

HeptonesDue to the positive avalanche of repackaged material issuing forth from Trojan of late, it’s easy to miss the odd little gem (like the recent brilliant Am I Black Enough collection). However we couldn’t let a collection by the nearly men of reggae slide past without comment, especially as it comes with news that the original line-up may be performing again. In short the Heptones could have been as big as The Wailers. That they weren’t is down to poor judgment and even worse luck, that they were undoubtedly capable of doing so is attested to here in spades. Essential.

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Hayley Hutchinson
Independently Blue (Gut)

Hayley HutchinsonSomewhere in the deep dark depths of the 70s ‘pop’ music began it’s inexorable slide into the realms of the trivial, pop ceased to mean the Beatles and became short hand for soulless anodyne slop like Blue, Boyzone and (insert your own money spinning tripe here). All of which leaves Hayley Hutchinson with something of a problem as this is resolutely, no arguments, ‘pop’, the sort of proper grown up ‘pop’ made by Mary Hopkins or Carol King – she’s already been championed by Terry Wogan – and in all honesty sits about as comfortably in the current marketplace as Germaine Greer would on the cover of Nuts


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Hangface
Freak Show (K-Ent)

HangfaceIt probably goes without saying nowadays that the words ‘hard rock band’ will inevitably be followed by the words ‘shite cover art’, and Hangface are no exception. But putting aside for the moment the naked fish woman being netted in a pond (or indeed the naked lass, with the band tattooed on her back, perched on a stool getting her wobbly bits sprayed), these Norwegian rockers are actually not at all bad – stylistically paddling in the same gene pool as the Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains or Pearl Jam – the only real problem is the feeling that they might just possibly be ten years too late


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Trevor Horn
Trevor Horn Compilation (ZTT)

Trevor Horn Like him or loathe him (and many undoubtedly blame him for that whole ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ production style beloved of many ‘80s acts), only a churlish luddite would argue against the beauty of Art Of Noises Moments In Love, against the disco grandeur of Grace Jones’ Slave To The Rhythm or indeed the pop perfection of ABC’s Poison Arrow. Buggles may have been horrible (as indeed were Dollar) and many a prog fan rues the day Horn loaded massed string stabs upon Yes but if you can remain still during Frankie’s Two Tribes you should probably see a doctor immediately.

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Billie Holiday
The Essential (Metro)

Billie HolidayDead of cirrhosis by the ludicrously early age of 44 Billie Holiday is the stuff of legends. If however the Lady Day you know is from the dodgy Diana Ross film Lady Sings The Blues then this double CD collection - with excellent notes - which cherry picks moments throughout her tragically truncated career, will hopefully go some way towards restoring the balance between the tragic person and the wondrous vocalist. Compared to today’s technically adept ‘soul’ singers (from Carey to Stone) the results are as different as fish fingers and fresh salmon. As Holiday herself once opined ‘anything I do sing… It’s part of my life’.

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