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RACHEL PODGER/Mozart Sinfonia Concerte-Haydn Violin Concerti 1 & 4: It appears the age of the hot, young Asian chick classical violinist is behind us as Podger brings something new to the works of contemporaries Mozart and Haydn, bringing out nuances and delivering a sterling performance. Lovingly played throughout, this expert violinist gives the composers a solid dose of respect for their works and goes the extra mile to really make the proceedings her own. A first rate set that never hits a sour note, this is a fine Christmas gift for your ears.

PRINCE LASHA ENSEMBLE/Insight: Anybody can put on an Elvis Costello hat, reissue The Shaggs can call himself a hipster, but Indiana Rick and his sidekick Karla Ravenscroft are not content to restrict themselves to being superficial poseurs. In their search to bring you the dustiest and the grooviest, we may never know if they've brought you the ultimate dusty groove or not, but this set certainly ranks way up in the inner circle of penultimates. Lasha was a sax playing school chum of Ornette Coleman and King Curtis all playing together in a high school band. He had to go to England to make this late 60s date which has never been released on cd and never been released outside of England---until now. This jazz date is so cool that we have to suspend our "Goddamn" rating system and replace it with the "Motherfucker" system and accord this set our first ever 4 Motherfucker!s. The hippest, coolest set of non-bebop daddio jazz, with Yusef Lateef arrangements and gratuitous Rick Laird, is the ultimate in jazz for non-jazzbos. Any pundits that don't have this in a lofty spot on the best reissues of 2009 list compiled it way too soon. This is internet journalism, dammit! Here we are scraping the end of December and someone clearly saved the best for last. HOT stuff!

JONATHAN PLOWRIGHT/Melcer Piano Concerto 1 & 2: A spiritual cousin to Concord's late Maybeck Hall series where one jazz piano player was on display at a time, front and center, this 44th entry in the label's romantic piano concerto series is a fine entry. Plowright loves his work and has a proper partner in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. A lovely addition to the series, it does what it sets out to and provides a solid hour of fine music, well played. Certainly a first call classical entertainment and diversion.

ARTIE LANGE/Jack and Coke: Oh, yeah, now I remember why I'm miffed at Uproar Records. They own the masters to a bunch of Belle Barth and Pearl Williams records that I used to bug them to re-release or else lease out to someone who will. Why is that relevant? Too many lazy writers will talk about the lineage of Lenny Bruce to George Carlin to Sam Kinison to Dice Clay etc that comes down to Lange. Bollocks! Lange is the demon spawn of Pearl Williams and Dootone era Redd Foxx. Lange ain't Jack Black. Lange is the guy who comes over to your house, drinks up everything you have and makes the night a total riot. Then he shows his appreciation by leaving you a pile of drugs. Unfortunately, when he gives you the drugs, he gives them to you in the form of a pile of puke in the middle of your rec room. Because he's such a riot, you call the cleaning service and have him back over the next night. Lange is not making a comedy record here, he's reviving the lost art/genre of the party record. Even if you listen to this a dozen times, you still feel like you won't know what the record is going to say next because Lange is such an unbridled live wire that a repeat playing of a polished monolog sounds spontaneous to the point of anything goes. Hokey smoke Rocky, you wanna talk wild and crazy guy? Great stuff throughout! Makes you wonder how far Moms Mabley could have gone if she had the Howard Stern show as a platform.

EDUARD VAN BEINUM & MYRA HESS/Unissued Recordings-Beethoven, Schumann: A piano player and a skilled conductor leading the Concertgebouew Orchestra of Amsterdam on a afternoon a few generations ago when classical music was august and wasn't mud wrestling along with the rest of the arts for a buck like it is today. It was probably never meant to be a record and as such has the purity that the hardcore love. A sterling performance of a pair of well known works, these sides have been waiting for you for 50 years. If you know this is your thing, it's a real deal you won't want to miss.

NANCY VIEIRA/Lus: The legacy of Cesaria Evora is in good hands when the time comes to pass the torch from the queen of Cape Verde saudade to the crown princess. Vieira has a lovely voice that is a heat seeking missile for the hope in the sadness that is the backbone of these songs. With a voice that goes right to your heart, this is a touching, lively performances that will remind of Piaf as much as it does contemporary saudade and chanson singers. Must hear adult world pop for discerning open eared adults.

LARRY HARRIS/And Party Every Day-The Inside Story of Casablanca Records: This is probably one of the top bathroom music books of the season because if you really were at Casablanca Records, you probably don't remember it. The place where Jerry Aldini could have done his greatest promotion work, this mega illusion factory couldn't help but collapse upon itself, but along the way, it took disco to the mainstream, gave everyone the funk and brought head bang to the suburbs. They've been over with for 30 years, but if you are a music geek of a certain age, this'll provide titters a plenty. This might not have been the place where sex and drugs and rock and roll were invented, but it was certainly ground zero for where they were perfected. A great tale of excess in the tradition of "Wall Street" and the rest of the fables, cautionary and otherwise.

THE HANGOVER: I shouldn't have to explain this every so often, but you can only have one "Animal House". You can only have one "American Pie". Now, you can only have one "The Hangover". This bad boy was the first and as the box office receipts show, it's pulled away from the current pack of general and generic gross out comedies to become the leader of the pack. As enjoyable and tedious rip offs come in it's wake, that's the flow that will make this one of the undisputed classics. A totally nutsed out weekend in Vegas for a bachelor party. It's been done before, right? Not like this. Available in uncensored DVD and on mind melting BluRay, this is what's going to help you deal with all the relatives you can't stand for the next few weeks. It might paint with broad strokes but someone really knows how to wield that brush. Hold on to your hat, hold on to your sides and let the good times roll. It's also probably pretty good for clearing the area of old people. That makes the Bluray a bargain at twice the price!

Volume 33/Number 42
December 12, 2009
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
© 2009 Midwest Record

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