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RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS/Icon: Ah, a look back at the good old days when all it took was two songs to give you a career that would last for years. Using Phil Spector's wizardry to distinguish themselves from the rest of the California kids that were trying to get to the top in the wake of everything California from Beach Boys to Bud & Travis, you can easily hear the difference between "Little Latin Lupe Lu" and the august classic "You've Lost That Loving Feeling". The duo has been well anthologized over the years and this collection gives all the casual fan they need.

BILLIE HOLLIDAY/Icon: Until the final gang war when Sony and Universal merge and swallow Warner and EMI, you won't be getting any of the Holliday tracks from "Lady in Satin" on a Universal anthology. If you're new to Holliday, it won't bother you that much as this collection is a bite size introduction that gives you all the career maker songs served up on a silver disc---er, platter, er...oh, you get it. A first rate collection for the newbie or the hold out too lazy to make a cdr or mp3 for the car.

CREAM/Icon: This two disc collection is loaded with a bunch of tracks that were the usher and welcome mat to the era of the super group. Made up of three players that had already made their bones and could write their own tickets, care was taken to chose hallmark tracks that are essential but stay away from coming across as too dated. Of course, there are the time pieces that are unavoidable, but you give the cats on board here their indulgences. This is where the book was written in hard rock, power trios----particularly those that could jam all night.

STEVE WINWOOD/Icon: A fine gathering of later period Winwood when he made another of his periodic reappearances in the late 80s and beyond. A fine look at a mature rocker that had grown up in public, "Higher Love" and "Back in the High Life Again" were the right tracks at the right time for yuppies who had the means to kick back with an old friend that still had something to say, particularly if he was about to express it in a manner in touch with time and tide. Proof positive he was always in it for the long haul.

TEENA MARIE/First Class Love-Rare Tee: Long rumored and contrary to popular belief, Marie wasn't just hanging around Motown for the three years before Rick James discovered his little Minnie Mouse. Recording with everyone from Ronnie McNair to Kerner/Wise, she was working hard in search of a sound and even sowed the seeds for later triumphs as one of the songs here was finally redone just a few years ago as a duet with Smokey Robinson and also foretold her conversion to a rocker after changing labels. As this collection was approved by Marie before her passing, this is not to be looked at as a cash in for the great digital garage sale we're in the midst of. Even if she wasn't yet in the ‘right hands', the desire and fire were in full effect.

TEENA MARIE/Irons in the Fire: The first of her two self produced albums for Motown, this revamped edition was brought to market at the request of Marie herself who was miffed that it was unavailable. Spiffed up with live tracks from a contemporaneous concert with Rick James and his crew in full effect to back her up, the classic tracks stand the test of time and show just how much she had it going on. Quite the essential bit of funk, the original set is just reconfigured enough that a real fan will want to get the set once again. This is really how you bring back a classic.

TEENA MARIE/Lady T: That's right kids, just a few years ago collectors were asking and getting $300 for a copy of Marie's second album, and it didn't have the remastering and popular pricing this collection sports. This is another Marie set that was somehow languishing out of print that she demanded a reissue on before her passing. Further proof that she wasn't just a sound for the times, this is a hard hitting set that still delivers the punch that made Marie a household name in all the hipper households. The expanded edition has a few extras but nothing massively relavatory other than the modern remastering letting you go a little farther into the mix itself. A winning set that all keepers of the funk need to drink at the fount of.

BUDDY GUY-JUNIOR WELLS-JUNIOR MANCE/Buddy & the Juniors: An album that almost didn't happen, this set is a testament to Buddy Guy's work ethic and a clue into his career longevity. With his recording career on the respirator, he trusted his career to tyro Mike Cuscana, then a college kid with a campus radio show that was giving Guy pretty much his only platform. Given a one day budget by Blue Thumb, this acoustic classic, half loaded with on the spot jams, escaped into the marketplace and became a revered classic that set the tone for Guy's later acoustic forays. Two west side blues men of long acquaintance jamming with a solid jazzbo---and over 40 years later it can still knock you out. With a great cover picture and loads of soul hiding behind it, the time is ripe for a rediscovery of this goodie.

Volume 34/Number 242
July 2, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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