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ASIA/Phoenix: Let's get this right. The punks killed the dinosaur bands and corporate rock rose up in it's wake. The funny thing is that a lot of corporate rock was made by rent asunder members of dinosaur bands that just recombined their DNA---and it often wasn't that far of a reach to recombine. These prog rock vets have reconvened for this double album. Their might be a load of intervening miles on them, but there ain't no dust. Powerful hard rock, this gang still knows how to kick it out and we can't even find the opening to sneak in any geezer snark jokes. With everything being deconstructed these days, you don't have a machine to get behind this, but you can easily reach out on You Tube and bring back the good old days without irony or nostalgia. These guys originally put the classic in classic rock in more ways than one and they more than show they've still got the goods today. The funny thing about this twofer is that it pairs up the Euro edition and the American edition of the same album. Check it out.

BILLY SHERWOOD & TONY KAYE/Live in Japan: A couple of in and out of Yes men circle the wagons in Japan showing just how much prog rock can be turned out within the power of two. Chopping away at their respective axes with a load of electronics Sherwood had in tow to make the big sound happen, there's plenty on board in this two cd, one DVD set that will have prog rockers bouncing in their seats no matter how uncool that is for them. A live wire of a set throughout, this kind of off the clock recording is the kind of set that really resonates with fans that want it as real as it gets from the mix board. Say yes if you're a Yes fan.

GREG LAKE/Greg Lake-Manoeuvres: Look, if Jesus could have some missing years, why can't Greg Lake? In the interstitial years between ELP ending and Asia starting, Lake was faced with the former super group member quandary of what to do next. Too long in the tooth and comfortable to go punk which was coming into vogue, he hit out to LA to face off with some of the crème of the LA rock crop who were reinventing the arena/corporate rock paradigm. Based on sales, he wasn't a lucky man. Based on making some blazingly hot rock with cats like Toto and other stalwarts, he was a success at putting the right moves in the right places. The reissue of these two basically unheralded albums is a revelation in that he was ready for the market but the market wasn't ready for him. You want to rock like it's not yet 1989? This is the stuff. Quite the worthy mining expedition.

MARTIN TURNER/New Live Dates-The Complete Set: Not wishing to spend his later years as a pain in the ash, Turner pairs up his two recently previously released sets in a generously packed twofer that practically rewrites the book Wishbone Ash originally wrote on journeyman rock that sets the night on fire before the caravan packs it up and heads to the next town down the line. Hard driving stuff that makes you think he's really half his age, the anthems keep coming with no sign of slowing down. Hot stuff that has the knack for making big rock sound personal. Check it out.

MARTIN TURNER/Life Begins: Ouch. Six years ago, Turner was celebrating the 40th anniversary of Wishbone Ash? Ouch. A generously packed twofer with a DVD in the package as well, this anni concert was also a reason to raise money to fight cancer. Playing the catalog classics like there's no dust on them, this is a much better find than the stuff that was coming out on some goofy indie on the 90s. Whether audio or video, this is a fine collection of pros on parade walking it back to the good old days in fine style. The fine sound of guitar rock as it sounded while the hippies were getting their business degrees before turning in yuppies.

HOUSTON PERSON & RON CARTER/Chemistry: And if you've ever wondered why we rave about the label's 80 year old a&r director any chance we get, this set that finds Person pairing up with Carter's bass and nothing more and that's all the explanation that's needed. Working out on tunes this pair with a million years of jazz between them could play in their respective sleeps, all you can say is ‘wow'. Person fills the room with sound, Carter underscores it all with utter taste and precision and the results are simply magnificent. Killer stuff by stone cold pros that can do it for themselves.

WOODY SHAW/The Tour V. 1: Probably not originally intended to be a record, this 1976 Stuttgart date finds Shaw leading a combo in a charge against the naysayers of the time that were saying jazz is dead. Hard hitting and swinging throughout, this is much more of a live wire than the tamer stuff he went on to record shortly thereafter for Columbia. Killer playing by all the all stars on board, this is that hard charging kind of stuff that makes the hairs on your arms stand up. A wonderful, wild ride.

LUCIFER'S FRIEND/Live at Sweden Rock 2015: It's not just a live album from a bunch of old hard rockers, it their first live gig together in 28 years. Is the majesty and force still in effect? Easily. In that sweet spot between giving the crowd what they want and tossing in a little of what they want, the band hits it out of the hard rock park like the years never flew by----and the crowd responds in kind, even if they weren't even born the first time around. This is the sound of the underground with no varnish or repent. Hot stuff like they would have made if their original shelf date didn't expire before arena rock came around.

DARRYL WAY/Myths, Legends & Tales: The old prog rock violinist that looks like an old folkie these days get commissioned to do a prog rock send up of Greek mythology. Sounds right in the pocket doesn't it? Whether you're D&D or Magic, this has got to be the soundtrack you need for your fun and games.

SPENCER MACKENZIE/Infected With the Blues: Feel like saying ‘no way'? Here's a white boy with the blues---but get this, he's 16, looks half of that, can shred like a badass and writes stuff deeper than ‘I got the blues, I paid my dues...'. And this white boy is from Canada. An award winner since 2013, he's got the smarts and knowledge to mix Dylan with Memphis Minnie next to his originals. This is one tyro that you'll want to applaud instead of slap across the face. He's on to something here, check it out.

Volume 39/Number 201
May 20, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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