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PATRICK CORNELIUS/Maybe Steps: A three time ASCAP award winner when he was still wet behind the ears, this Texas bred sax man knows his ax and didn't need this third time to be the charm as he regularly steps up and hits it out of the park. Serious jazz for the serious listener that wants to sink into the music and let it take him where it will, the playing and writing here are first rate and diverse adding up to a solid listening experience with some edge and bite that never really stray far from pure listening enjoyment. A solid statement throughout.

DEAN MARTIN/Cool Then, Cool Now: So what makes this two disc repack of the Martin oeuvre any different for any other multi disc Martin reissue that's come out in the last 20 years? Well for one thing, the title states the obvious. For another, it comes with a cool book loaded with pics. And, of course, there's the updated remastering which let's you hear what Dino and the various producers heard in the cans when the tape was rolling. Newbies to the Martin canon will find it quite exciting to discover this paragon of cool from another era and won't be left quibbling about why, say, "Just in Time" was left off when the compilers had access to a wide range of masters. Those with the complete Bear Family boxes will be bitching about how there's no rarities or out takes. Hey, this set comes to praise Martin, not bury him. In case you didn't know due to the great maw of time and history taking their toll, once you got behind the drunk schtick, Martin was one killer diller of a swinging singer. Gorge at this feast that only whets your appetite for more.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG/Icon: Armstrong will not live forever because he invented jazz. Armstrong will live forever because 8 year old white boys lose their minds the first time they see him and have to do their imitations of him until they discover girls don't have cooties. This set is top heavy with the crème of said eight year old's delights from "Hello Dolly" to "Wonderful World" to stuff that sounds like it's from an old Disney movie. This is a little slice of Louie that's going to live forever regardless.

WILLIE NELSON/Icon: For a while it seemed like ol' Willie was putting out an album a week for Lost Highway and it seemed like they were sequenced in one for me/one for the label fashion. His one for me's weren't essential at this point in his oeuvre but they were some dandy, overlooked gems. With the exception of a few Island titles that should have been tossed in, this set of duets and impact solo performances is a nice summation of what Nelson has been up to this century, especially on the retrofits of the classics. Nelson is one of the few artists who can successfully compete with his younger self. While this set barely covers the recent water front, it's a nice place to check in on what you might have been missing.
(Lost Highway)

MAMAS & PAPAS/Icon: Wow, it's been 40 years since their first double album repack, which pretty much signaled the end of the band even though there was still a little gas left in the tank, and when you bring it around one more time, it still hits you hard right in the labonza. Very much a collection of iconic tracks, "California Dreaming" has got to be as much a part of the current crop of geezers DNA as "In the Mood" was to the geezers before them. This is certainly a collection that highlights the really timeless music of the 60s.

MUDDY WATERS/Icon: Tell the truth: how long did it take you to figure out what Waters was talking about when he kept saying he was a ‘main'? Seminal tracks that gave rise to urban blues as we know it, this distillation of his stay at Chess is all you need to know to get started on a blues treasure hunt of epic proportions. Solidly, smartly stacked, this is the last word on the first shot of the modern blues revolution.

THE KINKS/Kinks Kontrovery (Deluxe Edition): The transitional second album that finds them in position to be the band who could have been the Stones, the first disc is a sterling mono remaster of the original album and the second disc is the kind of stuff Kinks fans live for as it's goes way beyond the bonus tracks of reissues past. The real attraction here is the remastering which simply beings every note to the fore. Raw, raucous rock that gives you a real glimpse of the 60s and the British Invasion when the varnish was off.

MAMBO LEGENDS ORCHESTRA/Ten Cuidao Watch Out!: Mighty Sparrow's soca always seemed to have a lot of Ricky Ricardo edge to it for island music but I never really picked out the Tito Puente influence until this set. And what is it about me that makes Latin music played in the car that makes me feel like a cab driver? Hell, all the cab drivers these days are from Senegal or Russia, what's Latin music got to do with it? In any case, we have a crew of Puente mainstays doing the keep the music alive/bring it in to the future thing to great effect. They know this music inside out and they know the kids want their own thing no matter how vital old school is as it lies dormant waiting for them to go digging in the crates. The dust has been blown off, this isn't the usual Puente fare reheated once again and a hella good time is had by all. Muy caliente, this twofer provides all the heat you need for the feet or where ever. Certainly a great place to jump in and begin your journey backwards for the newbie, a good time throughout for the old time fan. Well done.

Volume 34/Number 290
August 19, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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