Nuggets of Water

A few highlights from the Water catalog
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COLIN BLUNSTONE

One Year

A genuine lost classic from 1971 — full of feathery, jazz-inflected vocals and sublime melodies — from the dejected Zombies vocalist after he had resigned himself to life behind a desk at an insurance office. "She Loves the Way They Love Her" picks up precisely where Blunstone's disassembled ensemble left off, with weaving boogie-woogie and an angelic chorus that dips its wings in soul's waters. Utterly gorgeous string arrangements by Chris Gunning and occasionally Tony Visconti, plenty of production help from ex-bandmates Rod Argent and Chris White, and Blunstone's limpid songwriting make One Year necessary listening for pop romantics. And the chamber elegy "Misty Roses," the up-on-the-downbeat "Caroline Goodbye," and the impressionistic "Smokey Day" — driven skyward by intertwined vocals from the three ex-Zombies — are bound to besot those who swoon over Odessey and Oracle, Nick Drake, and other assorted instances of beauty and sadness. (Kimberly Chun)

ANNE BRIGGS

The Time Has Come

Mythologized among British folk vocalists like Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, depicted as something of an enfant sauvage of the '60s folk scene in Joe Boyd's memoir White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, and valorized by indies like PG Six and Isobel Campbell, Anne Briggs put down so little recorded music that it's hardly any wonder she's nearly disappeared into the dirt and mists of remote Scotland, where she's said to be currently sequestered. But this, her last, exquisite album (1971), embellished with little more than and acoustic guitar and the occasional bouzouki, shows what the fuss was about, as Briggs wraps her pure, unpretentious pipes round the original title track — also recorded by her partner in music and lifestyle, Bert Jansch, as well as Alan Price and Pentangle — and "Wishing Well," her dark take, cowritten with Jansch, on the seduced and abandoned leitmotif of "Blackwater Side." Traditional English folk songs rarely get as mesmerizing as her ghostly version of "Standing on the Shore." (Chun)

ELAINE BROWN

Seize the Time

Polemical music has the potential to either go down in the songbooks and history tomes as an artifact linked forever with a critical place and time or fail miserably, stumbling over its grandiose ambitions (e.g., the many anti–George W. Bush CDs of recent vintage filed in ye olde circular file). The music on the powerful Seize the Time hasn't yet taken its place next to "This Land Is Your Land," but it does offer an invaluable snapshot from the front lines of the black power movement. Elaine Brown's robust delivery of odes penned for fallen Black Panther brethren, the party's national anthem, and entreaties to continue the struggle finds handsome, tempered accompaniment at the hands of jazz pianist Horace Tapscott. A moving, amazingly graceful document. (Chun)

GIOVANNI FUSCO

Music for Michelangelo Antonioni

Nino Rota's ornate Federico Fellini tunes have gotten the deluxe reissue treatment, Goblin's spook sounds have been revived as often as Suspiria's Elaina Marcos, and Ennio Morricone sections in record stores are rightfully enormous. Even Pino Donaggio's scores have had worthy second lives. But until now Giovanni Fusco's subtler work for a director who avoided music whenever possible, Michelangelo Antonioni, has been easiest to find on DVD. Dominated by the flute flights from 1959's L'Avventura, this collection closes with Fusco's casino rockabilly and protoambient contributions to 1964's Red Desert.

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