The Music section team offers you a selection of albums published in June that have been appreciated and reviewed on our pages. In order of release: a Prince concert in 1985; a ten-track country pop set by Angel Olsen; the new record from cult British pop figure Michael Head; the return of S-Crew, reuniting rappers Nekfeu, Mekra, Framal and 2zer Washington; a remarkable program devised by violinist Carolin Widmann; the third album by US-based Ethiopian jazz musician Kibrom Birhane; progressive rock and jazz fusion band One Shot’s tribute to guitarist James Mac Gaw.

« Live ! Syracuse 1985 », de Prince and The Revolution

On March 30, 1985, Prince and his group The Revolution were almost at the end of a long tour of the United States and Canada which had begun on November 4, 1984. The immense success of the album and the film Purple Rain led Prince to international recognition. But the Purple Rain Tour will not come to Europe or anywhere else. This concert at the Carrier Dome, in Syracuse (State of New York) is therefore filmed and broadcast live or delayed for certain countries. Then marketed on video cassette and Laserdisc. A document which had benefited from a publication on DVD in 2017 and here is on Blu-ray with 2 CDs of sound tracks.

The video image could not be restored like films on film can, but was digitally improved (brightness, definition) compared to DVD. For sound, the 5.1 mix, for those equipped with the appropriate speaker system, provides a pleasant enveloping effect. The restoration was made from the original magnetic tapes and constitutes a clear improvement which also benefits the 2 CDs in stereo. The entire Purple Rain album is played, starting the evening with Let’s Go Crazy, and some old titles (1999, Little Red Corvette, Delirious, International Lover…). With an epic Baby I’m A Star to the nineteen-minute Purple Rain finale. Sylvain Siclier

« Big Time », d’Angel Olsen

Three weeks after the publication of the superb We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, by Sharon Van Etten, here is the turn of her colleague from the Jagjaguwar label, Angel Olsen, to unveil her new album. These two great voices of American singer-songwriters cultivate in common – in addition to having already composed and toured together – an artistic journey evolving from introspective folk to rough rock or more recently synthetic pop. But Angel Olsen, after having pushed sophistication to its limits on the very orchestrated and tinged with electro All Mirrors (2019), this time takes a judicious antiquated course.

These ten tracks, recorded and mixed with the brilliant Californian jack-of-all-trades Jonathan Wilson, invoke the quixotic country pop of 1960s and 1970s icons Bobbie Gentry and Emmylou Harris. Under the radiant layers of lap steel guitars and the topping of brass (All the Good Times) and violins (Through the Fires, Chasing the Sun), this collection of ballads highlights a moving interpreter, inhabited by mourning (of her adoptive parents) and rebirth through his now asserted queer identity. Frank Colombani

« Dear Scott », de Michael Head

The title of the album is inspired by the quote of Francis Scott Fitzgerald: “There is no second act in American lives. Liverpool songwriter Michael Head takes the great writer at his word, as he is (at least) in his third life, and is finally reaping, at 60, deserved public success across the Channel. This cult figure of British pop enjoyed a winding career punctuated by artistic fulgurations, label routs and drugs: first within his very refined first neo-romantic pop group The Pale Fountains (1982-1986), against – current of the new wave, then with Shack (1988-2008), took a time under the wing of Noel Gallagher.

Now sailing alone, accompanied by The Red Elastic Band, Head signs with Dear Scott a late masterpiece, produced by Bill Ryder-Jones. The ex-member of The Coral offers Head a subtle setting for his vibrant melodies soaked in the hazy melancholy of Merseyside, the psychedelic grace of Love (Broken Beauty, Fluke) and the lush orchestrations of a Burt Bacharach (Kismet, Dear Scott). Splendid and timeless. Fr. C.

« SZR 2001 », by S-Crew

Three years that Nekfeu had not published anything since his third album, Les Etoiles vagabondes (2019), sold more than 800,000 copies. Since mid-May, the most popular artist in French rap and at the same time the most discreet – he no longer grants interviews and never intervenes on social networks – had nevertheless given a small sign of life. On the Parisian ring road, large posters, without any mention, showed the logo of his label, Zoo Records, giving hope for a future project. So, it was accompanied by his three friends, Mekra, Framal and 2zer Washington, with whom he had formed the group S-Crew in 2001, that Nekfeu returned with SZR 2001, a record which celebrates their friendship, their conception of rap and does not hesitate to comment on the current climate in France: police violence, xenophobia…

The first track, Don’t forget, is a vibrant tribute to Nepal, who died on November 9, 2019. With small impressionist touches, Nekfeu, Framal or Mekra use his references to Japanese culture, the name of his 444 Nights projects or his passion for German author Hermann Hesse. Nekfeu admits: “Since you left, I’ve been worrying, I read all the books of Hermann Hesse, the impression of better understanding your texts and your eyes frozen like those of the immortals. Precise in their rap, demanding in their writing, the Parisians do not forbid easy refrains: just listen to the ballad R

“L’Aurore”, de Carolin Widmann

Regularly invested in contemporary creation, Carolin Widmann gives the impression of having, this time, “worked” herself by composing the program of this disc which is similar to the confrontation of two polyptychs. The first, opened and closed by the same melody (transcription of an antiphon by Hildegard von Bingen), is the work of the German violinist, born in 1976, who has put into perspective major pages of her repertoire (Georges Enesco, Eugène Ysaÿe, George Benjamin) having in common freedom, formal and aesthetic. The second, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2, is the ultimate in abstraction-oriented dance suites. In one corpus as in the other, the quality of incarnation of the performer leaves you speechless. And, even more, its capacity for assimilation. From the first to the last second of this disc with multiple expressions, Carolin Widmann indeed achieves the prodigy of making only one voice heard, her own. Pierre Gervasoni

« Here and There », de Kibrom Birhane

Ethiopian jazz musician living in the United States since 2011, the composer, singer and keyboardist Kibrom Birhane – also sometimes on the krar, the traditional lyre played in Ethiopia and Eritrea –, member of the Ethio Cali collective (within which he passed, among others , the tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington) signs with this third album a brilliant and luminous proposal of contemporary ethio-jazz. Fusion between traditional Ethiopian music, jazz, soul and funk, invented in Addis Ababa, which experienced its golden age in the 1960s and 1970s, Ethio-jazz later captivated many Western ears, thanks to the “Ethiopiques” collection, created by Francis Falceto in the late 1990s on the independent French label Buda Musique.

Surrounded by high-end musicians, like him, based in Los Angeles, including saxophonist Randal Fisher and trumpeter Glenn Holdaway, percussionist Kahlil Cummings and bassist Misgana Mulat, Birhane signs all the melodies and arrangements. Fluid and graceful, music that oscillates between funk tone and intoxicating ballads. Patrick Labesse

« A James », de One Shot

Founded in 1998 by keyboardist Emmanuel Borghi, guitarist James Mac Gaw, bassist Philippe Bussonnet, all three then members of the group Magma and joined by drummer Daniel Jeand’heur, One Shot evolves between progressive rock and jazz fusion and is the one of the most interesting groups among those that can be linked to the Magma galaxy.

In tribute to James Mac Gaw, who died in early March 2021 following a long fight against cancer, Borghi, Bruno Ruder also on keyboards, Bussonnet and Jeand’heur gave a concert on October 9, 2021 at the Le Triton club. What A James brings to life with five instrumental compositions – guest guitarist Jim Grandcamp for the last theme – taken from three of One Shot’s albums. The collective commitment, in the memory of their companion, leads each moment of this impressionist, furious, dark and radiant music, towards heights (improvisation, rhythmic-melodic interweavings). S. Yes.