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BAND OF BROTHERS: One of those do gooder sets that is a benefit for veterans that isn't no kumbiya record. A smoking power trio singing about concerns to contemporary vets, like PTSD, shows this isn't your father vet benefit record. Joined by a host of guitarists that keep the amperage high and as far from kumbiya as you can get, this is more proof the times they are a changing. Hard rock for a good cause, lending a hand to vets never goes out of style. Lend a hand to those who sacrificed for you so they don't wind up like too many Nam vets did.

DARRYL ELLYSON/Been Out Traveling: You tell me why some musos are simply doomed to be road warriors. An itinerant white boy with rocking blues, Ellyson is one of the leaders of that pack. This set is loaded with the deceptively simple smarts earned from night after night of keeping the patrons on board to keep buying drinks all night. Packed with a load of things you just can't put your finger on, this set cooks with just the right heat and keeps you on board digging these songs you've never heard before. Tasty stuff contemporary, electrified blues fans are sure to love.

NIGHTHAWKS/All You Gotta Do: The conventional wisdom is that if it isn't broke don't fix it. So what happens here? The award winning blues rocking roots vets pull material from all over the map and come on like a gang buster of a party band. Proudly parading real rock for real rock listeners, this is a return to the glory days of bar bands that anyone born in the 90s or later just wouldn't understand but would find their jaws dropping once they get a load of it. Killer stuff that works throughout, these old dogs just don't learn new tricks, they could teach a few of their own. Well done.

ODED TZUR/Translator's Note: A bunch of like minded improvisers that met up in New York. Tzur is an Israeli that has immersed himself in Indian classical music to become the leader of a crew that delivers great egghead, left leaning jazz. A solid listening date that you can enjoy whether it's in the background or the foreground, it feels like this sax man is approaching the middle form the opposite direction all those 60s jazz explorers approached India from. A date that could have headed for ECM if Enja hadn't grabbed it first, you don't have to be an egghead to appreciate it. Well done.

ANTHONY PHILLIPS/Slow Dance: One thing about Genesis. Each edition of the group has it's supporters that think all the other iterations suck. Phillips commands the bunch that take it all the way back to the beginning. Originally recorded in 1990, 20 years after he left the group, Phillips made a session right in line with the rock as art music of the times that apparently was so timeless that it doesn't feel dated. A deluxe 2 cd, 1 DVD package that takes you as far into the music as Phillips himself went, this heads toward the contemporary classical realm can best be called prog rock after the sedatives kicked in. A set of grand listening music, the rising tide of grunge in the market place made sure that this only made it through to the real adherents in it's real time. It's now time for nu prog ears to made a wonderful discovery. The old pro hit it right on the nose and might even been ahead of his time.

FORCE M.D.S/Our Favorite Joints: Here's that fun kind of odd duck you're never really sure what to do with. The classic new jack swingers bring their outfits and voices out of moth balls to regroup for a rerecorded greatest hits session. The spanner in the works here? It isn't that the group is a bunch of ringers younger than you are just wearing the name. It's that this is a genre's greatest hits, hence the album title. Do we need it when the original recordings by the original artists are so easily available? Probably not. Do we enjoy it because they deliver the goods in first class style? Yeah. If you aren't too busy learning to code or be an investment banker, you can draw your own line in the sand here. It's certainly nice stuff no matter how you slice it.

CHRISTOS DC/Tessera: Can a Greek American from Chocolate City deliver skanking grooves with authenticity and then proceed to take it on a world tour? Well, tell me gamesu if I don't respond with a resounding hell, yeah! And he does it with recording covers of Mort Shuman and Neil Young instead of Papa Marley? Continued hell yeah. Great grooves to get baked to, get your irie where you find it. Skank on down and get flat at this party platter.

MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT/Live at Oberlin College 4-15-65: To answer Tom Paxton, yeah, I loved blues master John Hurt and he made me smile. This college concert, recorded after his late period rediscovery and shortly before his death, finds Hurt at his avuncular, grandfatherly best showing why he captured the hearts of a generation before Viet Nam took hold. Straying away from the murder ballads, stinky butts and all the songs he delivered in avuncular fashion that under cut their messages, this is almost a love and peace recording made before the hippies claimed that ground. Right in line with his stellar Vanguard studio recordings of the time, this set just proves how you don't need fireworks to be incandescent. In the right hands, all you need is voice and guitar. This is one of those non record recordings you thank the creator that someone had the foresight to roll tape and preserve.

SCOTTIE MILLER BAND/Stay Above Water: A Minnesota, award winning blues stalwart that isn't named Koerner or Murphy? Rollicking along in that tradition, and adding a few traditions of his own, piano man Miller amps it up for a party on a platter that falls right into the crevice between blues and rock, north and south and all the places he can stake out as his own territory. Smoking stuff that beats with the heart of a show band, minus the jive moves, this is the blue print for a solid good time. High octane throughout, this is the ticket to a party that rocks with abandon.

CHRIS ‘BAD NEWS' BARNES/Hokum Blues: This is no mere white boy with the blues. Barnes works in New York media, as do all his pals on board here, and with nice day jobs, they get to have lots of fun on the side. A lot of lip service is paid to hokum but this date gets down to the original, real hokum---the double entendre loaded barrelhouse blues that was meant to trick whitey with it's sexual and drug references flying under whitey's radar. Jumping, humping and rollicking along, this bunch knows how to keep it real but make it contemporary. Even if the moldy figs know all the songs here, this set wasn't made for them. Selling millions of well known records that were never properly accounted for, this is a wonderful journey through the past that those who don't require the straight and narrow will covet proudly. Just plain killer stuff you'll find you can't get enough of after the first taste.

Volume 40/Number 263
July 22, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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