NICK LOWE: Party of One. Reprise 26132.
JOHN MARTYN: The Apprentice. Permanent PERM CD1.
RICHARD THOMPSON, CLIVE GREGSON AND OTHERS: Hard Cash. Special Delivery SPD1027.
HAPPY MONDAYS: Step On. Factory FAC272, Squirrel And Q-man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carn't Smile (White Out). Factory FACD170.
ANNA PALM: Arriving And Caught Up. One Little Indian TPLP10.
SHOPPING TROLLEY: Shopping Trolley. Hannibal HNCD 1349.
LEON REDBONE: Sugar. BMG/ Private Music 260555.
NICK LOWE is one of those reliable chaps who never made it really big because he was never taken too seriously. […]
Elsewhere in the 'reliable chaps in need of a break' field there's John Martyn, who has been tipped for greatness for two decades as he pursued his highly individual experiments from folk to jazz, blues to flunk. The new set may be uneven but proves that he's still in great voice, and as brave as ever, tackling a full-blooded white funk-soul fusion that at times makes him sound like an experimental version of Phil Collins.
So a rattling piece like Deny This Love, or brooding ballad like Look At The Girl, are transformed by his fluid and ever-nasal vocals, and a spontaneity that makes it seem only right that Andy Sheppard should be adding some explicit sax solos. He wobbles slightly with the over-slushy Send Me One Line and the clattering live track Income Town, but the latter does provide a reminder of his driving guitar work.
Richard Thompson needs no such breaks, so it's good to see him returning to his roots and old friends as his idiosyncratic career continues to flourish. […]
This column was published in The Guardian of Thursday 29 March 1990.