Jessie Cunniffe is a classically trained pianist, self-taught guitarist, qualified music educator and freelance journalist. When she’s not rocking out in the classroom with the next generation of musicians, Jessie can be found critiquing the music industry’s latest offerings for The Sydney Morning Herald and, of course, Unsealed 4X4.
THEN AND NOW: AUSTRALIA SALUTES THE BEATLES (EMI Music Australia)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – but a little reinventing doesn’t go astray. This comprehensive collection of Beatles covers is nostalgic enough to be classic and transformed enough to be fresh. Ranging from faithful authenticity (The Bee Gees’ From Me To You), to the barely recognisable (John Farnham’s Help), these versions simultaneously spotlight the Fab Four’s musical genius and the formidable talent of Australia’s musicians.
LAZARETTO (Third Man Records)
Lazaretto is a temperamental beast, but it’s worth coming along for the ride: the guitar solos are blistering, White’s vocals spit and snarl, and the grooves are downright dangerous. A few country-flavoured lulls (Temporary Ground and Want and Able) create breathing space amongst the ear-splitting distortion and larger-than-life riffs, but the rest of the album rocks so hard that it’s difficult to complain.
BLACKBIRD (Liberation Records)
Crank the volume up, wind the windows down and keep this one in the glove compartment – because some albums were just made to drive to. Mellow ballads Nobody Knows and Gullible Few will keep you cool in city traffic, while the banjo shredding and rock ‘n’ roll beats of The Same Man and Kimberly Calling will add to the adrenalin of your off-road adventures.
BAND OF BROTHERS
(Sony Music Entertainment)
Nelson isn’t getting any younger, but as he sings “I like you ’coz you’re hotter than the fourth of July”, he doesn’t seem to be getting much older, either. After a 15-year hiatus, his return to songwriting is studded with cheeky flippancy and wry humour. Meditative harmonica and classic country guitar work are steeped in a resilient spirit that the years have left admirably intact.