John Power: The Complete Studio Recordings 2002-2015

The La’ from Cast gets comprehensively anthologised.

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Although he’s enjoyed cult status with The La’s and platinum success with Cast, John Power’s solo career has been slower to find direction, with critics unable to decide whether he’s the Merseybeat Captain Beefheart or Britpop’s answer to The Spinners.

Happening For Love, the first of a trio of albums, contains the wistful Small Farm and Mariner but sounds jaded in places, with repetitive lyrics that fall back on romantic clichés. Far better is the folky follow-up Willow She Weeps, where the songwriting draws on Liverpool’s pre-Beatles heritage as a meeting point for traditional blues and Irish songs.

On its release, 2008’s Stormbreaker didn’t ruffle the rock landscape, although it’s a far stronger album than much of what is currently peddled as roots rock/Americana. The fourth disc contains 2014’s The Mariners Sessions, Power’s project with former La’s guitarist Jay Lewis, as well as demos and a BBC session.

Power now sounds re-energised and the recent recordings bring to mind Led Zeppelin’s Bron-Y-Aur stomping cuts, particularly on Jumpin’ Bean, with its Jimmy Page guitar break at the end. A fifth DVD disc offers John Power interviews along with supporting visual evidence.

Patchy moments aside, Power is getting a second wind and has shaped up as that rare beast – a songwriter with more to give as the years pass./o:p

Claudia Elliott

Claudia Elliott is a music writer and sub-editor. She has freelanced for BBC Radio 2's Sounds of the 60s, Uncut, History of Rock, Classic Rock and The Blues magazine. She is a 1960s music specialist.