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CARLOS MENCIA/New Territory: The roll off audio from a recent, new special, Mencia seems to have had a 1972 George Carlin moment where he feels the need to leave the beaner and de de de de stuff behind, showing a politicized consciousness, laser observations and a lot of spirit. Coming across more as a preaching Chris Rock than a politicized George Lopez, Mencia delivers some state of the art comedy to a newly browning America that's right in line with the shift. No longer under the weight of the mantle of being a quick fill in for Dave Chappelle, Mencia is now his own man all the way, direct from Honduras and owning his heritage. Perhaps this set is the Hispanic version of Carlin's "AM & FM". Well done.

JOBERG & GURNER/Manhood: The big time re-release of a recent underground classic, this musical satirist duo exists somewhere between John Valby, Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg. Loaded with smart ass Jewish humor takes on everything from gross out stuff to just poking fun at everything, this set is full of stuff that belongs in the potty---it's not blue, just off the wall with implied dirtiness---and more. Humor coming directly at you directly from the back of the class room to be enjoyed by kids of all ages who are loaded with unrepentant doses of merry prankster.

FRED WESLEY & THE JBs/The Lost Album: Did you know that prior to Parliament recording, there was a rule that soul, jazz and funk records had to contain covers of white pop singles? If that wasn't the case, how come this set has "You've Got a Friend", "Alone Again (Naturally)" and" Love Letters". Otherwise Wesley is blowing some serious early 70s funk with top New York session cats that would go on to make highlights under their own names, this is killer stuff, the kind that turns out when nobody is looking (like exec producer James Brown not hanging around for the sessions). Of course, it lingered in the vaults for 40 years as a result... Kicking it in fine style, even when setting jazz fire to the white pop covers, Fred Wesley was not one to take any non funk guff and delivered probably more than the market could bear because this set is not made up of table scraps. Not only for James Brown completists, Wesley was staging his own horny horn revolution in nascent form. Killer stuff we love having on our shelf instead of the record company shelf. Check it out.

MARVELETTES/Forever More--Complete Motown Albums V. 2: Funny thing about the Marvelettes. The delivered Motown's first hit, they were on the label until 1970, but in the end, they were like the label's Moses. They brought the label to the promised land but they weren't really allowed to enter. With the 50th anniversary of the hit that began it all right around the corner, Universal's reissue department rights Motown's old wrongs and vindicates northern soul fans everywhere by rolling out the red carpet for the second phase of the Marvelettes career by digging up their late period albums, b sides, rarities, special mixes and all the stuff that gets uber collectors to cough up to own every last note. A generous and lavish collection that will make any hard core soul fan's mouth water, this shows that the group might have been relegated to b team status behind the Supremes but the behind the scenes a team kept showing them the love. There's so much unreleased and long awaited stuff on board here that this is a must for anyone that ever answered to the call of Chalkie.

SMOKEY ROBINSON/Solo Albums v. 6 (Warm Thoughts-Being With You): C'mon, like "Being With you" wouldn't peak enough interest in this new twofer in the series by itself. Warm Thoughts, now on cd for the first time, was not as big a hit as Cruisin' before it, but some Robinson fans just love this one most of all. Of course, Being With You got he 80s off to a great start for Robinson as he never sounded better or more at the top of his game. Not comeback sessions because he was never really away, he weathered time and tide well and kept delivering the goods. Smooth, smart commercial soul as good as it gets. And that's the whole story.

SUPREMES/More Hits by the Supremes--Expanded Edition: No two ways about it, this is one of the Supremes/Motown crown jewels, recorded when the band was riding almost as high as possible. Loaded with hits and some that should have been, this expanded edition has live tracks, stereo and mono mixes, interviews, commercials and everything the uber geek demands to have in their possession at this stage of the game. A lovely offering to mark a 50th anniversary sonic celebration, although this original set came along later, everyone's heart is in the right place. Anyone that this would make feel young again is now in their 60s but some things are simply enduring. One of the things that really proves you can make a good thing better.

MICHEL LEGRAND/Noel Noel Noel: What, just because he's an old guy he can't gather up a bunch of hipsters, whipper snappers and others (Carla Bruni and Iggy Pop together?) (Emilie Simon on "Santa Baby"?)? A cat in his 70s delivers more of a pomo holiday set than the participants probably would have done on their own, showing real hip never fades away. A mainstream/off beat holiday collection that will shake up your holiday guests in just the right degree as they hear a load of stuff that should be familiar but just isn't quite right. You'll like it in your headphones as well,.

ETTA JAMES/The Dreamer: Recorded two and a half years ago and released right on the heels of a recent, lavish box set, this set turns out to be James swan song in light of her recent terminal diagnosis and it ends quite fittingly with "Let Me Down Easy". Recorded while in failing health but still in command of her powers loaded with the will to make a firm statement, this is a wise, mature version of the James of old that still knows how to get the joint jumping with more on her mind than being the token soul act on a new age label. Hot stuff from one of the greats enjoying the fruits of going out swinging.

Volume 35/Number 51
December 21, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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