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HIP-O SELECT (www.hip-select.com)
MOTOWN AROUND THE WORLD-The Classic Singles/various: Once upon a time, in the great recession of 1979, there was a record label called Rhino Records that focused on the collector and kept things fun on the inside no matter how bad they were on the outside. Time passes, things change. I remember being in New York in the late 90s when staffers were laughing that Hip-O was a lame rip off of Rhino. Hip-O ain't no red haired bastard step child no more (like they were in the first place?) They've been doing a great job of safeguarding the Motown legacy in the face of industry and economic realities, but now they have earned the eternal gratitude of Northern Soul fans, Kathy Griffin's gays and Motown uber freek/geeks everywhere. Here we have a double cd of all the foreign language versions of Motown hits that shipped overseas with even more rarities heaped upon these rarities. The package comes with luggage stickers and liner notes in the form of a passport. The first time you play this, it's such a gas as the familiar Funk Brothers rave ups come into ear shot only to be trounced by a familiar sounding vocals coming across with an unfamiliar sound. Certainly the thing you need to shake up your next "Big Chill" party, if this ain't the living proof that Motown is a hit in any language and the classic singles will live forever, you are in denial. Hats off to Hip-O Select for being clever to the max. Extra bonus points: what language is Stevie Wonder singing "My Cherie Amour" in? Hint: it ain't French.
13187 (Motown)

MIRACLES/City of Angels: Knock, knock.
Who's there?
An album by an essential Motown bunch of hitmakers that spawned a #1 single but has never been out on cd even though it bridged the old group and new and the soul into disco chasm.
Oy, couldn't you have just said ‘orange'?
Making it's long overdue cd debut, having slipped even through the cracks of the great cd reissue boom of the early 90s, this hit album is finally getting the love it deserves with pristine remastering and a special bonus track on the original concept album about looking for love in LA, even with controversial for the times themes. It's the Miracles and it's an essential missing piece for any 70s soul collection. What else do I have to tell you, especially since it's how it's got a lot of how disco sounded before it went mass market and had a cloistered agenda. Still a winner.
13787 (Motown)

FLESHTONES/It's Super Rock Time-The IRS Years 1980-85: The garage rockers that were basically the Velvet Underground of their generation get a round up from their three IRS albums, along with various singles and eps, that shows why they are so beloved in the underground that spawned them. Still at it after all these years, it's a nice trip down memory lane full of youthful bombast that powers rock dreams no matter how time changes everything. Fun, raucous stuff that is too heartfelt to bend a contrived note. Hey kids, this is how parties get started.

GEORGE JONES/Great Lost Hits: Silly mook that I am, I always thought that money talks, especially in the record business. With that in mind how did these sides ever become ‘lost'? What did Time Life do that Bear Family couldn't? 34 of the 250 Musicor sides Jones recorded before moving to Epic, that have never been on cd before, have finally escaped from contract hell to fill in the 7 year gap in Possum's career that were the years when his legend was fortified. Raw country before Waylon and the boys made it hard country, these are the sides that made people say a Jones album ought to come with a six pack and a gun. As good as his Epic sides were, this stuff towers over them and hopefully Time Life got whoever owns Musicor these days to fork over the album of duets with Melba Montgomery as there's only one here. Had it with sippy cup Nashville and WalMart country? This is what all the shouting was about when country was country. Come on, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

CATHERINE RUSSELL/Inside This Heart of Mine: Christ on a crutch, this is one of those incredible albums you just won't know how to describe and can't do anything with except enjoy. Let's say our taste for this was primed by Lavay Smith, except Russell has a hyper cred jazz pedigree and she assembled a crew of players we've often raved about on this site. This ain't your typical diva/songbag collection. Russell reaches back to music she heard around the house, while her parents were in the employ of Louis Armstrong and Mary Lou Williams, and keeps true to the music while making right for contemporary ears. There's nothing newer here than Willie Dixon with nary a Cole Porter in sight. When you do get some Harold Arlen, it isn't anything you're used to. A note perfect set from top to bottom, this is state of the art, high octane, fun adult listening. It might be powered by jazz and swing but it's really for everyone. Check it out.

JACK COLE/Classic Pin Up Art of Jack Cole: Why do fans have to get into these pissing match discussions of who was the greatest pin up artist? Can't we all just get along and enjoy each of these artists take on the female form? The artist behind "Plasticman" and the early days of Playboy comics certainly deserves his place in the lite erotic art pantheon. Another of the artists that provided inspiration to the American male psyche as the country was coming out of the doldrums (damn, sound familiar?) his ‘estrogen soufflés' (cite: Spiegelman) were just the taste treat the country needed, and even in these over sexualized times, they are still a delightful taste treat. Since the out of print hardcover edition is changing hands for at least $80 a copy, the only thing we have to complain about here is that there's only a bit over 100 pages of fun when there should be a lot more. Those exchange rates speak for themselves. Hot stuff that'll make your blood boil, in a good way. Hotcha cha!!

Volume 33/Number 126
March 7, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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