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HARRY ALLEN/Rhythm on the River: If it sounds like Allen and his Arbors pals are playing cartoon music jazz it's because most of the songs here are from the 20s and 30s. Does it sound dated? Clean out your ears if you think so. The master sax blaster once again delivers a set that you should drop everything and listen to as soon as you can. How one cat can take nothing original and make it sound so original is the stuff of wonder. From swing to noir to bop and back again, this is another in a series of tour de forces from a cat that just can't blow a false note. Well done.

THE BLUES-AN EVOLUTION/various: With Alligator Records being around for 40 years, the next generation blues labels are springing up around Chicago and this one is now showcasing four of it's acts that "aren't your daddy's blues". Actually, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, even if this set is driven by white boys that are ‘messing with the blues'. If you're a frat boy that isn't into shoe gaze, this is the stuff you'll be fondly remembering when you look back that the ghost of beer blasts past. The blues is a living thing.

LIFTOFF/Sunday Morning Airplay: Acid soaked 808s should make parents glad that trance isn't headache music and that their kids are safely doing mushrooms rather than the harder stuff that leads to dental problems. It's time to bliss and trip once again and there are new soundtracks for it in the air. Here's one

BEVERLY McCLELLAN/Fear Nothing: The brassy vocalist with blues leanings has fired out of Ft .Lauderdale with a real fireball newly inspired by established acts and network exposure. Taking more control than she had on her past DIY efforts, the steam roller has now left the gate. While she may not be the stuff of top 40, she's the stuff of music that has legs and gets passed around a lot. A rollicking set that brings the roadhouse to you with blues/rock good vibes for all from a hot mama that just keeps turning up the fire. Hot stuff, of course.

BRAZILIAN BEAT/various: Unless you are an uber hipster, this set underscores the power of branding. There's only a few acts here you would readily recognize .but the sounds are all welcome as Putumayo takes you around the horn of Brazilian music with beats percolating through samba, bossa, jazz and more. Whether unearthing some unreleased sessions or spotlighting home grown trajectories, if you like all things Brazil, this something for everything set will please you just fine. This has got a great vibe that just won't quit. Hot stuff.

KENNETH BRIAN BAND/Welcome to Alabama: Southern rock really does have individual flavors based on the state and region. Brian sounds like what Hank Williams Jr would sound like if he was young today doing his early albums for Curb in today's context. With a load of the South in tow from Macon and Muscle Shoals, this is nu southern rock that cooks. Timely lyrics, classic sounds and the right over all attitude for the times make this an underground session to be reckoned with by a real comer. Killer stuff that's as much the voice of the proletariat as Woody Guthrie and just as hard hitting as "Deportees" was in it's time. Check it out.

CATHERINE RUSSELL/Strictly Romancin': Russell's third outing was our first exposure to her and it left us wanting more. Here it is. There's an old feeling vibe to this set that finds her squarely in the torch song era, but it isn't done with nostalgia--just a lot of real feeling. From the Hot Club to Bessie and Billie, Russell is on target making one of those welcome albums that exists squarely in it's own time zone. Very much in the pocket adult listening, Russell leaves us wanting more once again. Check it out.

DOLPHIN TALE: Surprise, you can have inspiring, uplifting family entertainment without it having an Christian message attached. A dolphin gets caught in a crab trap and injures her tail which will mean she will die. A kid gets upset, a marine biologist stretches his skills and a prosthetic expert makes a new tail that can be grafted on to the dolphin. And they all live happily after. Based on a true story, with the real dolphin playing herself, the bathos and the pathos are real without having to manipulate you into seeing how the world is all connected and how fragile it all is. Expect this to ping the chords of all the suppressed emotion you have in you as it comes to a happy conclusion and resolution. A delightful pic that's almost one of a kind. The blu ray comes with a dvd and ultraviolet digital copy. Check it out.

Volume 35/Number 40
December 10, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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