CSC FUNK BAND/Things Are Getting too Casual: Looks like Brooklyn doesn't just mean jazz that got priced out of Manhattan anymore. From punk they came but now those malcontent kids have grown up and discovered funk and they just want to get the party started, yesterday. Solidly hot and sweaty funk that gets everything moving, especially once you properly lubricate the parts, and the fun(k) just doesn't end. Originally just started out as a jamming joke, if this was the outgrown of a joke, it just shows how seriously fun is undervalued in some quadrants. It might not be your daddy's funk but it's properly funky stuff nonetheless. Turn it up and turn it out!
MICKEY THOMAS/Marauder: For his first solo album in seven years, the voice of later period Jefferson Starship pays tribute to his contemporaries? I don't get it. He's got the pipes but most of these geezers that are still alive or ambulatory are on tour this summer anyway. If you are in the market for a really grand covers album, Thomas knows how to deliver the goods but unless you are a real hard core fan, it seems like something more suited to an American Idol than a cat that's seriously part of the soundtrack of you life. Hey, nobody asked me before the fact.
HOLE IN THE RAIN
JOHNNY BOY WOULD LOVE THIS...A Tribute to John Martyn/various: John Martyn was the Velvet Underground of folk music--he might not have been known far and wide but everyone that bought one of his albums ran out and started a band. You've got Phil Collins rubbing shoulders with Vashti Bunyan, Beck, Danny Pritzker and a wild host of others here. All phases of his career are represented here, and while everyone had differing opinions on Martyn's different skins, this album hangs together as cohesive whole all the way from his folkie days to his trip hop end games. A damn good reason for you to finally discover his classic "Solid Air", this collection is actually a good starting point for the uninitiated that want to know what all the hub bub is all about. Hey, look what a good celebrity tribute set did for Leonard Cohen a generation back. A great field guide to a musical eccentric ripe for rediscovery. A double cd that could have gone on longer, it's well done throughout.
GRUPO FALSO BAIANO/Simplicidade-Live at Yoshi's: One of those unexplainable albums that just pops out of nowhere and is a delightful surprise due to being loaded with chops, charm, skill, sterling musicianship and that special something extra. A young crew of players that has Brazilian music in their blood, with no traces of vacation gifts shops anywhere in the mix, simply delivers a set hat hits some atavistic chord in you that just won't quit resonating. The could easily have been gift shop music, but it's just the real deal from players that must really love it. Now that we've done the 50th anniversary of bossa nova, it might just be time to rediscover choro, just for the joy of it. A winner throughout.
YVONNE WASHINGTON/Trust in Me: A thrush with pipes that have over 40 years worth of miles on them and a solo piano prove that's all you need for some expressive, up close and personal jazz vocalizing. They stand and deliver on a group of tracks you know and love with nothing getting in the way of the emotion and you. The kind of sitting down jazz you really need when you feel like you want someone to read you a story.
RON CARTER/Ron Carter's Great Big Band: When he was on Blue Note a decade back, one of his new releases could be counted on to sell 7,500 units. Someone just wasn't trying. The bass that launched 1,000 hits deserved more than that. Now, we find him back leading a big band doing a cornucopia of jazz's greatest hits. Oh, the jokes we could make if this was done in lesser hands. Well up in age without having lost a step, Carter's got it going on, adding loads of left turns to familiar music, keeping it relevant and lively. Certainly this isn't an essential album but Carter takes great pains to keep it from being just another album. Check it out.
LIVE LIKE A COP DIE LIKE A MAN: Why bother with the Riggs & Murtaugh banter when you can just hunt down and kill the perps and get it over with? An Italian cop/detective pic that's reputed to be the most violent pic ever, with a trail of censorship in it's wake to lend credence, these are the kind of license to kill cops everyone thinks really do exist, but they hope they only exist in movies. If you've got a thirst for violence and pathological behavior that starts where Herschel Gordon Lewis ends, this 70s cop pic is just for you. Now put those chainsaws away, we'll do Tobe Hooper deconstruction another time.
LA RABBIA (THE ANGER): Long before Dan pointed out Jane was an ignorant slut, point/counter point was alive and well in Italian cinema as a popular rightist and a popular leftist faced off in their own halves of this pic. Very radical at the time of it's release in the early 60s, it was powered by two of the most influential thinkers of the time and explored the big issues of the day. If you are into history, this can give you some good insights into lingering questions today, but this will add the flavor of what was going on when these questions first started being asked. Restored and uncut, this is an intellectual's delight.
THE SECRET OF DORIAN GRAY: It took the Italians in the 70s to peel away Oscar Wilde's gay subtext in the story of Dorian Gray and almost move it front and center. In the wake of Stonewall, people could see through that and the pic acquired a heavy gay following. Now released in the US for the first time on DVD, the cats out of the bag, or closet, or whatever. Just like "Claire of the Moon" wasn't as groundbreaking when viewed today, time has softened Dorian's edges as well. Still, the restoration and all make it worthwhile for any genre fan that'll get a hoot about how the quest to quell vanity never really changes.
Volume 34/Number 265
July 25, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record