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THE BAND/And Then There Were Four: The first time they played together since "The Last Waltz", this date recorded live in Chicago over 4th of July weekend in 1983 finds them still dependant on the Robbie Robertson canon to keep the audience hooked. Not yet hooked up with the great Professor Louie who was responsible for their real late career bounce, internal problems would keep this line up short lived and soon there would be just three. Feeding off the audience energy and sounding like they are glad to be kicking it out one more time, this stuff doesn't live in the shadow of the original versions and delivers the goods while missing one of the original guys. The audio might not be all it could be but the passion displayed will make long time fans glad to make one more trip to Nazareth. Check it out.

JOHN BATDORF/Beep Beep: Whether being a rocker or a folkie, Batdorf has made his bones, joined the Vegas hall of fame and has nothing to prove so he comes in with some personal stuff boomers can relate to and appreciate. Love the Beatles, hate the tax man, all the boomer concerns are on board here. Stepping up like the long time pro he is, Batdorf almost seems to be blazing his own trail here and we hope his machete stays true as he continues to clear the underbrush. Fun stuff that certainly resonates with listeners of a certain age. Check it out.

SABER TIGER/Best of: Much to the delight of hipper than thou metal heads everywhere, Japan's own head bangers celebrate their 35h anniversary with their first ever greatest hits package in which they show that loud and proud head banging is an international language all it's own---and this bunch sings in English to boot. Culled from their later efforts, metal heads everywhere can now feel the gust when a Japanese volcano explodes.

THELONIOUS MONK/Complete Albums Collection 1954-57: Equally enigmatic and revered, Monk was a trailblazer that rode high acclaim but was almost forgotten by 1975. Playing with bear claws too large for a piano player's hand/fingers, he was often thought to play dissonantly to arouse his audience. Contrarily, he was doing the best he could but along the way, he did use those big hands to bring a unique attack to the keyboard. Grouping records that find him facing off with Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins and Duke Ellington together under one cover, this is a non stop flow of killer jazz plucked ripe right from the true vine. You can hear the whorehouse influences in his early playing that made this real jazz and you can hear/feel his unbridled creativity throughout. This is such a master class in forward thinking jazz that we might not be celebrating AACM's 50th anniversary right now if Monk hadn't happened in the first place. An undisputed champion set of recordings.

STEVE HOWELL & the Mighty Men/Friend Like Me: Are we responsible for this because we said we dug Howell blowing the dust off "Mr. Blue" on his last recording? Generally reaching farther back then "Blue" for this set, Howell and his posse go nuts on a bunch of old folk blues from Charley Patton, Bukka White, Gus Cannon, Josh Thomas and others. Playing exactly like the friend that you would welcome at your house when he shows up with his guitar and says "hey listen to this one I just found", Howell is exactly the juke box jaded boomer ears need to have around. Fun stuff that's organic without back porch trappings, good time rocking folk/blues has a new champion as well as a new subdivision. Well done.

FIFTH DIMENSION/Portrait-Love's Lines Angles & Rhymes/Individually & Collectively/Living Together, Growing Together: Raven's approach to indiscriminately digging through the crates works really well when representing the Fifth Dimension catalog. Serving up another hefty, unedited twofer is a great opportunity to restore the group's entire Bell days to it's former glory. With better mastering than previous label's reissues, these pop loving black hippies were one of the most soothing things around during one of this country's greatest periods of upheaval. Bringing the country together when AM radio still reigned supreme, these dazzling tracks where pop and soul resides comfortably together sound just as good now as they did then. This is quality that has never wavered or become dated. Well done and more then ripe for rediscovery and new appreciation.

MIKE ZITO & the Wheel/Keep Coming Back: It seems like we just reviewed something new by Zito but a riffle through my search box says ‘na ha'. So here we go. The shredding Texas blues rocker delivers the high octane action even as he's taking stock of misadventures and detours he's taken that he wishes he hadn't. Hot and heavy, this is solid roadhouse boogie that makes the night go by too quickly. With a solid dose of cautionary been there/done that in the lyrics, he doesn't hit you over the head with it but there's some cautionary tales lurking. Solid stuff once again.

ERIC BIBB & JJ MILTEAU/Lead Belly's Gold: With a long time connection to folk music, Bibb makes it clear very quickly that he's the right cat to do a tribute to Lead Belly. Folk is folk and Ledbetter was blues but the folkies loved him and this whole thing, recorded in France, really comes together on one of those Greenwich Village corners where all kinds of music came together in the late 50s. Bringing a passion to this that transcends just putting on a show, Bibb let's you know there's more to Ledbetter than saying good night to Irene and riding the midnight special. The audience is aware of all this and you should get in the know as well. Killer stuff, simply done but so powerful at the same time.

CHRIS STORROW/The Ocean's Door: Modern pop that tries to recapture the 60s but comes up being more Emmett Rhodes than Burt Bacharach. Aligning himself with some top selling cult heroes, Storrow seems bent on turning himself into a cult hero as well. A must for left of center pop tastes that find themselves outgrowing shoe gaze and looking for something to put the blue back in the sky as opposed to parking more blue in their psyches.

CRYSTAL GAYLE/Live in Tennessee: Recorded live ten years ago, a good fifteen years after country radio decided by fiat that it would no longer play acts that hits before 1990, Gayle could still wow. Coming to the show with a hits list that's second to none including a showstopper that she owns completely, Gayle reaches out to family, her Indiana heritage and even Joseph Spence to put together a show that show's how wrongheaded radio programmers can be. Packaged along with a DVD that gives more show than a cd can hold, when you look good, sound good and now how to hold a crowd in the palm of your hand, a good time for all is insured. Gayle delivers. This double barreled package will take you everywhere except down the wrong road again.

Volume 38/Number 365
October 31, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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