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CHERYL BENTYNE/Rearrangements of Shadows: Making the kind of album a singer has to grow into, Bentyne tackles Sondheim songs that make any singer look good, but she adds the special sauce that has the singer making the songs look good. Having long proven herself as a commercial singer of the highest order, Bentyne now acquits herself as an artistic singer as well with a set that's more than Broadway/classics album. Made for real listening for ears that demand to be enchanted, this is the stuff. A smoking set that leaves plenty of options of a volume two that even Bernadette Peters would wan t to write the liner note fro. Hot stuff throughout.

ALAN SIMON/Songwriter: If you aren't a French/Celt prog rocker, this'll turn you into a genre hipster in no time. Recorded over 22 years from various of his rock operas loaded with big name rockers, the GoT feeling collection is timely in that genre and ass kicking in the whole "Riverdance"/Chip Davis kind of thing. Two discs of mind blowing Celtica and more, You'll be wondering how he was such a well kept secret here.

SONJA KRISTINA/Anthology: Name your thrush of the prog past: Anne Briggs, Bridget St. John, Beverley Martyn? Kristina, founder and lead vocalist of Curved Air, is right in the forefront of that pack. Culling gossamer tracks from her back pages and filling out this double cd with new stuff to show she's still got it, hippie schmatta queens still walk the face of the earth. If you prefer twee but steely to Wonder Woman, this double discer has just what your doctor ordered on tap for you.

KEITH EMERSON/Plays Emerson: You know those occasional scenes in a Clint Eastwood movie where he's in the corner of an empty bar noodling at the piano? While the energies of this set are all over the place, it has the same kind of vibe. Emerson is playing for his own enjoyment and amusement and doesn't care a whit that original punks had him in their crosshairs when they were yapping about dinosaurs. A real player first and always, this stripped down set might be a valentine for the hard core but it's a great snapshot of a real artist at the heart of his métier. Certainly one for the books.

CAIRO/Say: Can world and prog mash up righteously? Apparently so if this set is evidence. Wild and wooly almost with a multi media feel, this is a must for the malcontent that doesn't feel like being a brick thrower as well. A side door into the opium den, this is music (and spoken) made for driving into a pleasant haze.

HOUSTON PERSON/Rain or Shine: The label's a&r director takes a break from his corporate duties to turn in a sweet after hours sax set that raises the bar. Hitting the chestnuts with a combo in tow that knows how to properly play follow the leader, this set might be subtle but it certainly packs a wallop. Killer playing at it's best.

ERIC ALEXANDER/Song of No Regrets: The always tasty sax man swings up a storm here with some like minded pals that sound glad to be onboard. Always on point, this is a straight ahead grooveathon that delivers the goods throughout. Another Alexander treat that can't be beat.

FOCUS/Family Album: For years, I've been saying "Hocus Pocus" would be great urban movie chase music and it took "Baby Driver" to drive the point home. Hell, I wasn't even getting any money out of this. And now, revived interest in the classic Dutch prog rockers continues. This time around, Thijs and the crew dig into the back pages to come up with some rare, unreleased and new tracks to keep the train a rolling. Since this is meant to be an omnibus, the gang just filled this double cd with tracks that made sense and will thrill the fan. More than a valentine to long time fans, this is asking set of music that has grown over time with deepening chops. If only they had a real label behind them back in the day. Killer stuff throughout.

JOHN WETTON/Akustika-Akustika II: The AOR voice you all grew up on took the spotlight on his own in his later years before Asia reformed and sang out from the stages on two performances compiled here. A wall of bombast on his own without all the arena rock embellishments carrying on behind him, Wetton gives performances here that will live on and keep him in rocker's memories for quite a time to come. Two discs of the rock voice of a generation bringing down the house is something quite solid to behold. Check it out.

URIAH HEEP/Raging Through the Silence: Once upon a time, Jon Landau's ex-wife famously wrote that if this band ever made it, she'd kill herself. And here we are now, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their 20th anniversary concert. Well, that was a lot of words and notes ago. Tearing it up with the sound of hormones being released in the suburbs back before the Army Corps of Engineers said it was ok to build crappy houses in flood plains, the original crew kicks it out in the late 80s with proper 60s energy. If letters like FM mean anything to you, here's 2 cds and a DVD that mean something to you as well.

Volume 40/Number 360
October 27, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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