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SHELBY EARL/Burn the Boats: Gadzooks. Some stuff is stronger than the hype. When it really has both feet on the ground and a powerful grip, it can just knock you over like a runaway train. Earl has been working behind the scenes in Seattle for a while and her networking and chop honing have really paid off. A genre defying performer that has it all on the ball and stands so far above and beyond the pack and the pale that you just aren't going to believe it. Feeling like Linda Ronstadt when she was with the Stone Ponies except more focused because she writes them as well as sings them, she power packs the songs from both ends. A fully realized all around performer that seemingly has sprung from no place, Earl is the whole package. Since she seems to exist outside the margins, it seems like a safe bet that isn't going to be an auspicious debut followed up by a void. Totally hot stuff.

MYRICK/PEACOCK: The lyrical goddess, Alice Peacock, teams up with a rocking Danny Myrick to come out as part of a duo this time around. They are more equal partners than Lucinda Williams and Gurf Morlix were but they ignite the same kind of sparks that Williams and Morlix did when Williams decided it was time to leave the blues behind. Peacock is still getting to the heart of the matters of the heart but now it comes across in a populist Springsteen/Mellencamp kind of way. The folk, the roots and the heart of the heartland are still in evidence but now they stretch out to the heart of the American night. A winning set from a killer duo that has the kind of simpatico that makes each raise the other's game. A winner throughout.

JOHN PRINE/The Singing Mailman Delivers: Is this two disc set essential? Well, Prine has had a significant 40 year career and all these songs, presented here live and in the studio, were recorded before his first album and were the basis of his first album, some extra surprises and side trips included. Whether you were there at the beginning or not, rolling back the clock over 40 years to when he was young, hungry and never thought he wouldn't be working for the Maywood post office is as eye opening as the Kristofferson publishing demos. Originally recorded in the WFMT studio by the station manager so he could send something polished to the copyright office, it just blows your mind to hear where it all came from. Found in his garage, poorly stored, it speaks well to WFMT to record this so well and the people that did the digital restoration that they were able to find so much in these simple but heartfelt demos to work with. If you're a fan, you've got the first album, you've got at least one greatest hits or live set and you know these songs by heart. Yes, this set is essential. To maintain a vital, on going career for over 40 years proves you have to have something on the ball and to come out of the box with killer songs like this is something most writers would give their left nut for. After all is said and done, Prine seems a little underappreciated and this is a wonderful valentine for his true believers. Check it out.

SCOTT ADAMS/Your Accomplishments are Suspiciously Hard to Verify: The liner notes say this volume is about keeping your eye on Wally as he sloths his way through the slog of work he avoids, but I think the boss shines as a screw up that's pretty good for nothing as well. This tome is a Dilbert treasury which means that you don't get the last year or so worth of strips, you get a themed greatest hits, over size collection. Going back to the earliest days of the strip to show how to screw off for 20 years, the gang is in high gear in this deep trip through memory lane that makes you wonder just how anything ever gets done---but then there is this mess we're knee deep in. Certainly a laugh riot of new stuff if you're new to this tent, Dilbert continues to be the "Peanuts" of the work place, still going strong when others have pooped out. Check it out.

CLOWNS: Federico Fellini, the man that brought dada to 60s cinema came in with a late period surreal masterpiece in 1970 as he laid bare his life long obsession with clowns. This ain't Bozo and Ollie kicking it, this is a look at a crew of whack jobs that hide behind the make up. This might be where people got scared of evil clowns originally. Envelope pushing stuff, this restored version brings it all into sharp focus and you just might not look at clowns the same way again. Music by Nino Rota and a book like the old special editions of special DVDs round this package up into some killer malcontent gift set.

Volume 34/Number 353
October 20, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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