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JOHNNY A/One November Night: Journey man guitar rocker jumped off the merry go round several years ago to spotlight his own twang. With a simply, tasty and tasteful trio, A has worked the back 40 nicely and hand sold 150,000 cds along the way. This cd-dvd combo pack winds up the first phase of his career, not that anyone outside of a knowing circle would know the difference. A smart picker that could make your ears bleed if he wanted to, he just wants to show boomers a good time. He can go Les Paul, he can go Hendrix, his fingers are just that smart and nimble. Aging boomers will hear this as a first class clarion call back to the late, lamented, college coffee house days. Sterling work throughout.

GRIN/All Out: Nils Lofgren was still only a few heartbeats away from being a teen aged terror when this came out. It was recorded between stints with Neil Young and before Brooce! had dropped his debut album. The Young influence is well in evidence as Lofgren struggles to create his own identity in its wake. This set has never been on cd before and it fell a little short when it first came out because 1972 had a lot of albums to could cast long shadows. If you're a Boss or Young completist or just have an eternal teen aged side, this wise beyond it's years album has earned a reconsideration by you. It's about fun, not a statement. Oh yeah, there's also a bonus track for all you uber geeks.

BLOODSTONE: Long over due 1972 debut from a doo wop pack that went to England and found the funk, as provided by a white Limey. A solidly funky set right in the tenor of the times that undeservedly fell flat on it's face upon release. Energetic and super fly bad, it almost feels now like Mike Vernon was trying to produce something timeless rather than a chart throw away. Certainly something to make Northern Soul fans salivate, this is a good bet for any other funky fellows to take a bite of as well. Hot stuff.

WHITE STAR ORCHESTRA/Titanic-Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage: Ian Whitcomb almost missed his calling being sidetracked by a pop hit in the 60s. It's easy to see John Wood playing him as a dotty musicologist that digs up the golden nuggets of the forgotten past flashing an off kilter smile as he plays you his find. That's pretty much to role Whitcomb has taken in the 40 years since he last hit the pop charts. Here he recreates the dance band on the Titanic, recreating their set card in all it's rinky dink glory. Certainly there's no movie to tie this to now, but it's such fun. So, nutty, pomo types will revel in it's cheesiness but digging it for ironic reasons is to miss the point entirely. One of the more fun diversions to come along in quite some time.

STEFANO BATTAGLIA-MICHELE RABBIA/Pastorale: An afternoon of piano/drum improv from a duo that have been together a long time in a lot of configurations. A solid, atmospheric/impressionistic date that art jazz ears will be open for. New age or not, this is great session for upscale hot tubbing when astral traveling might be in the air.

JIM PEARCE/I'm in the Twilight of a Mediocre Career: A little self deprecating humor goes a long way and Pearce could be a stand in for his apparent hero, Dave Frishberg, with very little ramping up. A twinkly jazz piano man, he's got that Frishberg sound, vibe and vocal down so well, it's easy to take him for granted, but if that was the case, his music wouldn't be turning up in so many places and gathering so many awards and recognition. Where Frish can get a little dense and wordy at times, a product of the times a lot of his classics were written, Pearce just cuts to the chase and really knows how to work those keys as well. Fun stuff for people out for a good time mixed in with their jazz.

ROBERT PARKER (read by James Naughton)/Split Image: The Parker farewell tour continues as this Jesse Stone tale completed shortly before his death makes it's debut. Stone is getting closer with Sunny Randall here which makes us wonder if we'll be getting a final visit from her. Mob stiff, twin gun molls, moral uncertainty, all the stuff that makes Stone a flawed hero that makes us keep coming back for more is on board here. A solid Parker tale of detective intrigue that proves yet again why he will be so missed. Unabridged for fans to get the full on experience to savor.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE: In which we find the unlikely production pairing of Tom Hanks and Spike Jonze as they team up to bring life to a Maurice Sendak classic with an all star cast in tow. A lower middle class kid with destructive tendencies is fed up with his dorkheim family so he sets off for the land where his impulses are appreciated. He is immediately befriended by Tony Soprano who likes his style. After going on a tear and having the time of his life, the little bastard is stricken with a case of "Wizard of Oz" and you know the rest. I don't think there are going to be a lot of objective reviews of this pic because it seems like a sure bet the writers analysis is going to be colored by the baggage he brings to the table. Is it well done? You bet! A good thing for kids of all ages? Sure thing. There's a lot of good talent here used wisely and it all comes out right in the end. The blu ray version includes a dvd and a digital copy as well as a Sendak short that is also highly pedigreed behind the scenes. Sendak is a trusted brand by those who know and that alone raises this presentation to the level of unknockable. You'd have to try to get it wrong.

Volume 33/Number 122
March 3, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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