ELERI WARD/Perfect Little Death: Part of the enduring genius of Sondheim that will unfold is the adaptability of his songs. Presented here away from Broadway bombast or cabaret emotionality, the material stands here as solid folk/pop songs as played by a guitar and her guitar. Opening the master to a whole new musical realm, in it's quiet way, this set is going to take it's place as a landmark recording.
KAREN MASON/Let the Music Play: The years might have turned her hair a defiant gray but the years haven't turned her from a diva to a doyenne. Still a big voiced vocalist, she can effortlessly deliver an anthem or bring what should be a roar down to a purr. Certainly still a vocal fan's best friend.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS/New Cast Album: The cats that revitalized Disney find their 1985 show that was the biggest thing on Broadway until, well, "Cats", getting a new revitalized look as well. Still in the pocket as the kind of show that can bring them in from the suburbs, it's a strange way to get some feel good fun but if man eating plants float your boat... A fine display of imagination run wild, in one way or another, this show will run forever. Well done.
VOCTAVE/Spirit of the Season: Acapella takes on holiday staples from Irving Berlin to Mariah Carey, the vocal stuff feels like the 50s but the presentation is now. A solid bet for anyone looking for some traditional sounding holiday sides to enjoy with their nuclear family while it still holds the core.
(Club 44 4112)
JOCELYN BARTH/Tell Him I Said Hello: A sensitive vocalist goes the offbeat cabaret route where it's mostly her and a piano doing songs whose journey down memory lane mostly stops at the Walker Brothers and doesn't make that many expected or usual stops. Deeply into an after hours mode, Barth has her charm wrapped up in unexpected ways.
GONG/Ungong 06: Recorded live at the Gong Family Unconventional Gathering at Melkweg, Amsterdam, this twofer doesn't stint on anything Gong. Allen and Hillage lead the charge. These cats were such outsiders even when they were in their prime that the music ages well because it really doesn't age at all. Some of the original players might have dropped off the planet but they left behind charges that know how to fill their shoes. Still capable genre blending, often all at once, they prove how true prog rock is timeless.
(G Wave 5)
ANIMALS REIMAGINED-Tribute to Pink Floyd/various: Since "Still Wish You Were Here" went so well, we get another geezer fest tipping the cap to another Floyd classic. There's a guilty pleasure aspect to a veritable old people's home of rockers gathering by the fire in assemblages that really have no business happening in the fashion they do and making it work. Probably everyone you ever liked with a left leaning edge is here and jamming away. 1977 was long enough ago that the material can now be approached as an unassailable rock classic ready to be dug again. Dig it.
L. SHANKAR/Christmas from India: It must have been hanging with Zappa all those years ago that gave his sense of humor the gumption to rosin his bow and tackle holiday classics made to sound like they are coming direct from India. A joyful recording that catches you off guard, forget all that woke stuff, this is just plain fun. Let a master loose to do his thing and stuff like this will happen almost every time. Well done.
SUNNY BLEAU/Breakfast Served Cold: A new kind of white girl with the blues, Bleau sings the blues from her soul but they're blues that cover the waterfront as well as things from a woman's perspective. The band knows how to simmer properly and it all comes together as nu blues under the watchful eye of a fearless belter that knows how to let it fly. A really solid workout throughout.
JOHN MAYALL/Sun is Shining Down: Great grand pa proves there's no dust on him as he calls in an impressive guest list mostly half his age or less for this rollicking, roadhouse roots date that keeps the joint jumping all night long. Loaded with snap, fire and verve enough to keep this in the forefront of contemporary blues releases until his next visit, this really underscores how he ran the finishing school for everyone that went on to greater glories 50 years ago. Just a knockout. And did I mention he wrote most of the songs---recently?
(40 Below 26)
November 30, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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