VARIOUS The Wildlife Album Vol 2 (Market Square MSMCD139) (2006)
This could run...and run. Following the successful first volume, music writer and general good egg Colin Harper has compiled a follow-up.
This time he has eschewed the temptation to grab a bit of the action: if there was a slight weakness of that initial offering it was the ‘padding’ of Harper’s own contributions and those of talented but somewhat obscure Irish artists. There was nothing basically wrong with this but second time round he has secured the services and songs of a variety of established heavyweights such as Jethro Tull, Steve Hackett, Richard Thompson and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Harper’s credentials as music writer, biographer and critic have allowed him some latitude in choosing the contributions, and he has picked out some obscure and little-known gems such as Robin Lent’s ‘Sea Spray’ from a cult 1971 album that he helpfully tells us has been reissued on CD in Japan. (Focus fans note: it features an off-duty Thijs van Leer). The Roxy Music track is also something of a curios, first appearing as a B-side but a rarity on CD.
Other artists such as Jan Akkerman and Martyn Joseph have recorded items specifically for this collection, the latter’s re-recording of his classic minor radio hit ‘Dolphins Make Me Cry’ bolstering the album’s good cause credentials. Add to this annotations from Times music critic Simon Barnes and Harper’s own music notes, and you have a comprehensive package.
And the bottom line? Harper’s musical endeavours on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund and Ulster Wildlife Trust are laudable and serve as a particularly good example of the genre. We await Volume 3 with a conservationist's zeal and a collector’s bated breath.