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KINKY FRIEDMAN/Circus of Life: 45 years after taking the reins as the Clown Prince of country music and pre-eminent Bob Dylan blower-offer, Chicago's own Richard Friedman serves up a serious, personal album that it should be no surprise he had in him all along even as he refused to let it out. With super simpatico accompaniment from pros like long time pal Little Jewford, Augie Meyers, Mickey Raphael and others, the Kinkster has delivered a late career masterpiece of country/folk/singer-songwriter stuff that is unmatchable. One for the ages, this is a classic from any angle.

YOUNG GUN SILVER FOX/AM Waves: This Brit duo looks nothing like you'd expect them to sound or else sounds nothing like you'd expect them to look. In any case, they have the yacht rock sound down cold. Sounding very much like something you'd expect to be coming out of the gate at Warner Bros in 1972, they're modern but they are first class throwbacks. Hey, the kids are fond of the classic stuff these days, right? Check it out for a solid dose of neo modern nostalgia.

DENNIS K. DUFF/Songs from Lyon County: This set rests somewhere between the Lomax's efforts and contemporary Americana focusing on tales from Kentucky based on things that happened nearly light years ago. Tilling the rich southern loam these ideas came from, you can accept this as killer back porch music or a history lesson that has no dust on it. A well conceived, well played set, however you slice it, this is great music to kick back with a let the world pass you by for a while. A winner throughout that deserves all the ears it can get.

GREEN ORBS/Thumb Wrestling Champions: Don't get me wrong, I loved my Yogi Bear records back when I was a nascent music critic wearing baby clothes, but it would have been cool if there were records like this handy after I got tired of Yogi and Captain Kangaroo. A fully produced, theatrical feeling record that doesn't talk down to the kids and kiddies, the sibs behind this pile on so heavily even the most ADD tyke won't have time to get distracted. Get ‘em rocking out at an early age and they probably won't go wrong. Killer stuff that even parents and grand parents will enjoy during quality time, this is the kind of stuff that raises the bar. They started out as You Tube stars and the paradigm is forever changed.

DEE BROWN/Remembering You: This guy's pals are all key members of hot shot's squads so it's really no wonder that he might be a hitter in waiting that you've yet to hear of. The guitar man fashions this date as a tribute to his late fiancée and he succeeds in making a joyful tribute to her memory. A smooth jazz deluxe outing, this cat is so deep in the pocket that it feels like the late 80s all over again. A picker that won't be played, he is the playa! A wonderful date not to be missed.

LONNIE McFADDEN/Live at Green Lady Lounge: A great record for those who want to be entertained and aren't too cool for school. A snapshot of classic Kansas City jazz in action, this throwback to all around entertainment is on point throughout, so live and up close that the cd almost feels visual. Fun stuff throughout that almost make s you want to dress up before you go out for the evening. Killer stuff.

OTHER BARRY/Escape Route: Poll winner George Collagen rounds up a pair of his students for this eclectic, electric jazz trio that proudly wears it's Zappa and Jan Hammer influences on it's sleeve. A must for the left leaning that like things that color outside the lines, but with purpose, this hard hitting stuff is a trip into ear opening country that'll knock their socks off. Winning stuff that knows no bounds.

ROYAL KRUNK JAZZ ORKESTRA/Get It How You Live: Taking big band into the land of tomorrow, the Grammy winners on board here have no time for fooling around interfering with this mission. A creatively progressive date that finds it's roots in the heart of the heart land whether tipping the cap to Cyrus or Sun Ra, this is a mind blower no matter where it goes or where it takes you. This is the next stage of "On the Corner". Hot.

JEREMIAH JOHNSON/Straitjacket: A hard charging Texas blues rocker finds it's not corny to clean up, get political and aware and punch that message out. A heavy hitter that has rubbed interesting elbows and climbed to the top of various blues mountains, he charges up his show band here for a date that blows the ears open wide, and will do so live, well into the night. Hot stuff that shows no weakness anywhere, this white boy with the blues is keeping the future of the form in good hands.

JENNIFER LEE/My Shining Hour: Bay area jazz vocalist Lee took her time coming out with her third album because she's leaving the great American songbook and Brazil behind to show the good stuff that can come pouring out of her own pen. With a bunch of names so heavy on board that you would know them even if you aren't a Bay area local familiar with the scene, she has the nuance as well as the power to deliver a tour de force that goes the distance. With everyone on board on point throughout, this a real treat from start to finish.

Number 41/Number 251
July 9, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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