NICOLE HENRY/Time to Love Again: The soulful, jazzy vocalist has this unique ability to take hit pop songs that somehow were universally hated and turn them into something else. Dipping in to an oldies bag that starts about 40 years ago and reaches farther back from there, it's all made new in a fine way. With chops that just don't end, she takes what looks like a gift shop record on paper and turns it totally around on disc. This is way more than a journey though the past.
JOHN HARTFORD/Steamboat Whistle Blues: So, you write one of the most recorded and best selling songs of all time. That doesn't mean that 2 two major labels will know what to do with you. Shortly after being saved from major label hell by Flying Fish, Hartford took his banjo and clogs off to Germany to give them a taste of what it was to see him in a small club taking you places you'd never imagined. With true Hartford eclecticism at the wheel, he mixes in some John McLaughlin with the usual old timey stuff. You'd think this is the guy that wrote the book on one man shows, particularly on this, one his best records ever. And it wasn't even meant to be a record originally.
GRAM PARSONS/Early Years Vol. 1 & 2: Most of the material on this twofer has kicked around in various formats for years but it's never been collected like it is here. Not totally his early years, since there's no ISB sides, you get a look at the young rebel as he tried to be a Kingston Trio knock off, all the way down to Paul Surratt being by his side and his writing a knock off of "One More Town". You don't get a hint of what was to come with the Byrds or the Burritos (or the Stones for that matter), but you do get an early "Hickory Wind" and a taste of a talent that would not be stopped---and he hasn't been nearly 50 years later either.
LIVINGSTON TAYLOR/Early Years (1970-1977): Liv's Capricorn years were quite enjoyable. He was laid back and personable and seemed less intense than bro James. Just right for folk flavored pre-disco years. Listening to it now, the music has a clearly timeless quality and he set out to be his own man from the start---qualities that have served him and the music well. Just right for anyone looking for some folkie stuff that has worn well that you might also be hearing for the first time.
(Whistling Dog 1007)
GENE HARRIS & THE THREE SOUNDS/Ultimate Blue Note Collection: Charter members of the swing piano trio society of the late 50s/early 60s, this bunch swung like crazy and had it all on the ball. This collection pulls together 8 records made over two years that finds them not repeating themselves and delivering a groove that's still purely badass 60 years later. Their 70s stuff on Blue Note wasn't chopped liver either so the title might not tell the whole tale, but it's doesn't fall too far short. Killer stuff from a crew that owned that after hours vibe.
JOSEPH & THE VELOZIANS: I don't know how you get this sound out of Michigan, but this good time playboy like to whip his crew into a frenzy of R&B/funk/roots that skates around to all the different corners of the rink and promotes letting the good times roll. Let by a bass man that's been perfecting his craft over the years, turn the spigot on full and let the good times flow.
SNEEZY/Open Doors: A bunch of Chicago white boys that must have eaten funk records for breakfast and punk record for lunch find a spot to place this all in a jam band realm where the mix master is running on high. Their juice doesn't come out some questionable shade of brown or green. There's an early Zappa vibe to the elements of their sound but that doesn't tell the whole story. Imagine if David Peel and his guys refined their vision of thumbing your nose at the man music? Something like that. What they are is a great antidote to bullshit and they know how to administer it. Leave your seriousness at the door and enjoy this party.
(Code Red 103)
COREY HARRIS/Insurrection Blues: What universe are we living in that Harris had to go to Italy to make his first album in three years, a solo acoustic one at that? I'm glad this cat was the recipient of a genius grant, he's more deserving of the money that a lot of the other recipients. Being a real link in the tradition chain, if you never cottoned to this kind of solo blues before it's because you weren't listening to players that knew how to master the art. Not nearly the contemporary, political record the title might lead you to believe, this is just a cat in the spotlight by himself that knows what to do with it. Real blues right from the heart---beating strongly!
DINO GOVONI/Hiding in Plain Sight: Quite the opposite of an internet influencer, it took Govoni a decade to get in the studio because he didn't think he was up to making a new record and doing it in the company of a crew of august cats. Where to you find that kind of humility today? A solid sax man that can show up anytime he feels like it, this is a solid straight ahead date that does a fine job of ear dazzling. With a feeling that has you feeling like you're at your fave club and there's no cooties in the air, this makes a real jazzbo statement without even breaking a sweat to do so. Well done.
(Whaling City Sound 133)
SHAWNN MONTEIRO/You Are There: Despite the history of recorded music, and then some, being at our finger tips these days, it makes me laugh that the promo that came with this set says the songs are divided between standards and lesser known gems. Ouch, I knew all this stuff. A real jazz vocalist whose dad worked with Ellington and is herself a link to classy ladies like Sarah Vaughn and Nancy Wilson, this set keeps showing you how it's really done and frippery doesn't make it better or newer. A real penultimate set.
(Whaling City Sound 128)
Volume 45/Number 351
October 22, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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