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TOM LEHRER/The Collection 1953-60: During the Eisenhower years, a normal looking math professor somehow found an inner voice that had him singing and writing about nuclear annihilation, street crime, pimping, FBI surveillance, racism and stuff you might expect from Lenny Bruce or Mort Sahl. The reigning king of satire and parody who cleared the path for everyone from Allen Sherman to Al Yankovic, this twofer covers most of his recorded canon, which consisted of live albums repeating his studio albums and all of it hysterical. Sure, this stuff goes back over 60 years and the people that listened to it originally might not remember who "Lobachevsky" was while you young ‘uns probably never heard of him, we look the other way just like we do on the dated elements present in 60 year old works from Kovacs and Freberg. Always seen as the thinking man's humorist, he might be more Mark Twain than laugh riot, but in his own way, he is a laugh riot. Never one that was able to fit into a single pigeon hole, Lehrer has proven himself to be one for the ages and this is a must for anyone who appreciates musical humor. This is a fully stocked delight.

MILES DAVIS/Changes The 1955 Sessions: 1955 was one of those game changer years for Miles. He came roaring back to the top setting Newport on fire that year and rebuffed anyone who claimed he was making a come back by saying he had never been away. Still a few years away from a real game changer like "Kind of Blue" the four albums in this collection, recorded in four days with a who's who of everyone who was anyone, find him blowing a clarion call like he was Gabriel. Charlie Parker died a few months before this set of sessions began so we really weren't in the post bop era yet but we were firmly in the era of New York hot dissing west coast cool---and Miles had moved back to New York. Playing with the kind of presence of a jazzbo that didn't have movie sessions to fall back on, this is a killer reminder of what an original he was and why he's still so respected and influential today. Nothing but special sauce throughout, this is as real as daddio jazz gets. Hot stuff throughout.

WARREN ZEVON/Coffee Break Concert: A very candid, live in the studio solo radio concert recorded for an influential Cleveland rock station, this was done as Zevon was closing in on his break through and he came prepared with several songs that would propel same. The real Zevon fan has all these tracks in their polished form but they don't have the studio chit chat where Zevon seems more annoyed than not. Any fan of his acerbic humor will be rocking the house with this interstitial chit chat. Clearly a valentine for the hard core fan, here's a fun, sideways look at something that won't come this way again.

J.J. CALE/New Year's Eve in Tulsa: When Cale gave up on Hollywood, his manager asked him if he's rather be rich or famous. Cale opted for rich so he could stay home, like he did on this New Year's Eve, 1975. Only three albums into his Shelter years, he showed up for this with nothing but a greatest hits list anyone would envy. Not doing his usual mumble through the lyrics, this radio broadcast has the vocals right up front and center as he takes his sweet time stretching these oil field soul tracks out long enough to wring out every note in the groove. Solid stuff that his fans who felt he didn't record enough will love as well as making them wish they were at this party.

CHET ATKINS/Windy & Warm Radio Broadcast 1976: Still hot at RCA with his Chester & Lester duet albums, this was recorded before RCA started disrespecting him after years of top shelf service. A master class in how Atkins earned his CGP designation, here he plays a little of everything and wraps it all in the signature Atkins guitar style. Clearly one of those evenings when you wish you were there, the mastery and elegance on display here is just breath taking. This is a dandy buried treasure for serious acoustic guitar fans looking for the real deal.

BOB SEELEY/Industrial Strength: Here's the kind of under the radar gem that needs that extra shout out. Seeley, a piano player, is more than just a piano player. With his ten fingers he can take you around the block from cartoon music to barrel house music in the same song. A boogie woogie bad boy throughout, he has been lauded by Chuck Leavell, he has accompanied Sippie Wallace and he's gotten a few tips along the way from boogie piano great Meade Lux Lewis. For anyone keeping score, he's a member of the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame. If you ever had fantasies of hanging out at the kind of speakeasies depicted in "Godfather" or "Untouchables", this is surely the guy that would have been playing in the corner. This cat is the most and this record is the max. It might be the most fun you can have wearing headphones.

EPITAPH/Outside the Law: Between the time Hawkwind and Amon Duul defined the outer edge of Kraut rock and Kraftwerk, UFO and Scorps defined the commercial edge of Kraut rock, this bunch of Kraut rockers showed up in Chicago in 1974 to give us Kraut rock that sounded like CSN or Heartsfield. With all the miasma that swirled around this record, it's amazing how it's stood the test of time and still goes the distance today. Embellished with contemporaneous unreleased sides and live tracks from 4 decades later, this group could have written a book about what not to do as you try to make it to the top but we'd rather let their music speak for them and for itself. This is some of the best early 70s rock you never heard and it's a reminder of the big sounds that managed to fit into little clubs before the arena era took everything over. This is a load of hard rock delight and the band‘s definitive statement.

BONNIE RAITT/Same Old Love: This set opens up with Raitt giving props to Waterhouse Records, a local Minneapolis label that was home top Henny Youngman and Credibility Gap as well as Lemont Cranston Band, the group that opened for her that night. A radio concert from fourth of July weekend, 1979, Raitt was doing what she always did before and kept doing until the Grammys finally recognized it a decade later. Stacking the deck with her greatest hits and staples, Raitt and her crew were lighting up the night as handily as that weekend's fireworks. Ditching the faux badass persona that was displayed on earlier studio radio concerts, she shows the stage to be her métier and with guitar in hand, she's clearly the leader of the band. A sure bet for fans old and new. Now if the label only could have gotten the songwriter credits right and given us some band details...

Volume 39/Number 101
February 10, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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