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BEN CRAVEN/Great & Terrible Potions: This prog rocker went out of his way to have Roger Dean do the cover so you know at the very least he's serious about what he does. Taking five years to bring this from his mind to byte, you know he's committed about what he does as well. Kids, don't fret, he brought the goods. A prog rockers dream, this set is right in the moment classically, but very much today in sound and spirit as well. Like a prog rock Todd Rundgren hiding out in Australia, Craven does it all himself from down under and has all the drama, thunder, strum and drang you could want the spiritual grand child of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson to bring. Great genre fun.

RICARDO VILALOBOS-MAX LODERBAUER/Re: ECM: Something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, the amazing thing is that it happened at all, now, when ECM is enjoying it's status as the last man standing. When you have been around forever, you can lay credit to being the inventor of anything you want to say. ECM could lay credit to inventing, chill, new age, trance, whatever--but it really doesn't. It just stands behind making jazz and classical records that need to be made. The ECM catalog is ripe for the plucking for down tempo remixes and that just what these two ECM fans that have high ranking down tempo credits under their belt do. Opening the ECM catalog to a whole new generation of fans and movie music supervisors, moldy fig contingents will have strokes over the ‘sacrilege' performed here while today's youngsters will start digging in the crates. We can just picture grandpa and grandson firing a doob over this one while grandpa gives out history lessons and grandson actually cares about what he has to say. Kudos to all for their vision and execution, all the way from jump to now.

SVIATOSLAV RICHTER/Plays Mussorgsky and Prokofiev: Recorded at a time when The Cold War was just heating up, Richter had more of a chance to flower in England than he did in America and these piano solo takes on some keystone works of contemporary Russian classical music are simply without peer. Playing as nakedly as a piano man can, he was making music for the ages when he crafted these session over 50 years ago that still resonate with power and clarity today. Even when backed by a symphony, Richter is front and center showing he can take all the scrutiny that can be brought to bear. Simply a set of masterful performances that make digging in the crates a worthy past time.

BERLIN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA/Strauss-Don Quixote/Till Eulenspiegel/Don Juan: In which we find the Berlin classical cats giving Strauss his proper due presenting three of his works in quite a grand fashion that shows us Yanks that Goddard Lieberson may have set that bar for classical recording in the 50s but he didn't own that real estate exclusively. An ear popping classic recording of classical music, the Brits show us once again that they know where the good stuff is buried and can find it like heat seeking missiles. A whole new experience for most listeners today, these recordings from the 50s show a craftsmanship combined with passion that shows the difference between music and product. Killer stuff that even the most jaded classical ears will respond to.

ARTUR RUBINSTEIN/Chopin Piano Works: If there was a Texas Death Cage Match for classical music, Rubinstein in the 50s giving it his all on Chopin might have been the classical music equivalent of this wrestling staple. Rubinstein had a special affinity for the works of Chopin, and spread out here over 6 cds, you get what must have been everything extant. Certainly this set will give you a new appreciation for both participants as one of the greatest piano players of the genre was at the height of his powers and passion. Certainly one of those last word collections that gives you all you need, hits it out of the park and gobbles up all the rest of the superlatives you can heap on it. Breath taking. Simply a flawless collection.

ARTURO TOSCANINI/Verdi Requiem: This recording is 60 years old and has lost none of the firepower that Toscanini and his charges brought to bear when it was originally cut. Certainly giving Verdi his due, the remastering of this set brings the sonics into the presence and delivers such a punch that the dram packed into the music will knock you off your chair. Very much a definitive recording of a work that has seen it's share of high spots, this is one for the books for real enthusiasts. If you are unfamiliar with previous editions of this set, you might not be able to touch any other renditions once this one does it's thing on you. This is a real dream team effort on war horse classical repertoire. A winner.

CHUCK LOEB/Plain ‘n; Simple: In which we find jazzbo guitarist Loeb shrugging off where he's been to go back to where he came from, a New York kid pressing his nose against the glass and digging organ trios. Even if he's gone back to the root of his roots, he wrote most of the songs on this set so he's doing more than affectionately digging in the crates, he's adding to the canon as well. With Harvey Mason and Pat Bianachi rounding out the trio and a bunch of special guests on board from his peer group, you get a wonderful, smoking after hours date that happens when the pressure is off and the cats play like they should making the music you really want to hear. No dust on this outing, it's got what it takes to become one of your musical best friends. Solid throughout.

SOMETHING BORROWED: Nice, solidly made chick pic based on a chick lit best seller where today's capable woman gets to show hre rhesus monkey side as the competition for a mate heats up and the inner turmoil between loyalty and self interest roils the blood. A nice, new take on the old love triangle theme, director Luke Greenfield brings out the winning personalities that made us like the actors and actresses here in the first place--a nice feat considering that this pic could easily have you hating some of the characters. Everybody involved hits their marks solidly making this the kind of chick pic a guy can sit through to rack up points with his lady and actually enjoy as well. First rate entertainment.

Volume 34/Number 278
August 7, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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