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HOT CLUB OF SAN FRANCISCO/Cool Yule: And now for something completely different…a group whose lode star is WWDD (what would Django do?). Following that dictate, this clever crew comes in with the holiday record Django and Stephane might have made if they got around to it. The original Hot Club is smiling. Masterful playing with an unbridled sense of musical humor makes this the record you want to pop for in a tight economy as Rudolph goes Latin, Djangle Bells are ringing and Steve Allen gets a dusting off. Fun stuff that will keep you captivated throughout, this is the can’t miss holiday treat that comes in from left field nicely.

HIP-O SELECT (www.hip-oselect.com)
GRIN/Gone Crazy: A real intermediary set in the Nils Lofgren canon, this was the last of four Grin albums. He was moving away from Neil Young, drifting into his own solo career and unaware of the tenure with the Boss that was waiting in the wings. Today, it sounds like a nice, solid 1973 pre-AOR teen angst rocker that was made to be the sound of suburban bedrooms when you still had 12 inch album covers to sort seeds and stems on. High in the realm of teen angst classics, it rocks hard within the dictates of the times and is loaded with stuff kids today will still relate to although they are getting jaded at younger ages.

AMERICAN MUSIC PROJECT/On the Bright Side: With an introductory rap that kicks the disc off and makes you think you are back in Gil Scott-Heron’s glory days, this set goes farther than the bare bones production of his early works and goes into a more fully dimensional realm of sound but doesn’t stray far from the civil rights jazz sound of that era. A real throw back that will ping memories of back in the day in black militants of all colors (remember the white panthers?) this is that era filtered through rap and digital technology but there nonetheless. A hard release to pigeon hole, those with old school, left leaning tastes will get it immediately.

BETTY DAVIS/Nasty Gal: With the Miles Davis divorce money only going so far and good Christians like Patti LaBelle ripping of her space Negro look and bringing in Allen Toussaint to make nasty funk palatable to the masses, Davis was left with little choice but to turn it up a notch and invent lingerie funk when the mothers of today’s hos and bitches were still watching “Scooby Doo”. If you like James Brown, you have no business casually tossing this off by saying she got rid of lyrics and melodies. Brown wanted to jump back and kiss himself. Davis wasn’t that inner focused. A whollop of nasty funk that delivers the knock out blow still today. Making it’s cd debut, like the rest of her catalog has recently, this is the real deal for the true believers in the power of funk. You bet it lives up to it’s title.

BETTY DAVIS/Is It Love or Desire: What could Davis have done to the powers that be at Island Records that her 1976 release is just now being heard practically for the first time outside of the studio where/when it was made? For the record to be buried this deep, she would have even had to piss off the accountants that at least would have advised Chris Blackwell to release it and capitalize the master loss cost for tax purposes. Tracks like “Whorey Angel” weren’t that scary even 35 years ago. And the cover is her most demure cover in her ouveur. What gives? Bad ass shit you need to complete the package and complete your set of great lost 70s funk.

NICE GUY TRIO/Here Comes: Adult music alert! Here’s a trio that can play like almost nothing you’ve ever heard. Tango goes to the Weimar Republic by way of the Balkans and back again to jump, taking the long way around. The playing is that deep kind of stuff that seems to be touching you but is really grabbing you with no intention of letting go. Not yuppie brunch background music, this is real listening music that will provide a wondrous buffer between you and the rest of the world once you slip the headphones on. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to fall under the spell of this trumpet/accordion/bass trio and don’t attempt operating heavy machinery while listening. Killer stuff either from either another time zone or another dimension that will really knock you out.

LAURIE MORVAN BAND/Fire It Up!: Bringing pop to blues, Morvan just keeps making the brew steamier, this time around with a set that reaches out beyond traditional electric blues fans. Building on the base of the ladies before her, like Marcia Ball, Morvan brings it on from the heartland without any of the west side Chicago hangover. A high octane outing that just keeps delivering track after track, she’s here to stay as a hot and heavy entertainer that really knows how to turn it on and turn it up. A tasty, all original, fun romp that’s hard to resist.

TONY FOSTER/In Between Moods: One of those cats you might not know that labors so well in the background, the Seattle piano man gives his trio a debut set that finds him in a left leaning groove where the playing is lightly progressive and always hot. A solid outing that showcases the action well, piano trio fans have a set well worth seeking out here.

Volume 32/Number 359
October 25, 2009
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
©2009 Midwest Record

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