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STACY JONES BAND/Live & Untapped: When we first heard this crew a few years back, we knew Jones was on to something. Since then, this crew has been Hoovering up Washington state blues awards. Not sure if we missed a few of her records between here and there, but this is one smoking session of white girl blues, even if she might be from the suburbs. Smoking blues that won't make you break a sweat, there's a relaxed easiness to this that gives it a special charm making it something out of the ordinary. Blues you can kick back with? Might be the start of a whole new subgenre. Hot stuff regardless.

LUNA BLANCA/El Dorado: New age meets jazz meets world meets the happy sound of Bert Kaempfert. Wow. Vacation music seasoned with Ottmar Liebert and Strunz and Farah, leavened with a sense of humor that spices the groove. Leave it to a bunch of crafty Germans to act Spanish and search for the city of the lost gold. This cd is a gas. A bunch of gleeful genre benders at play, this is first class summer music you'll be digging all year. The party never stops and that's just the way it should be. Well done. A winner throughout.

NICOLETTE LARSON/...Say When-Rose of My Heart: Unfairly perceived as a one trick pony that was only in the show for a cup of coffee, when she stopped getting a lotta love from the rock fans, she made a capable switch to country, signing up with MCA's 80s hit machine, and shot to the top of the genre. Somehow, her two hot shot albums for MCA Nashville have never been on cd until now. Once again, Raven has done it right and the wait was worth it. With sonics that sound like she's in the room with you, this is killer bridge music that came along as country was getting rockier. More pop flavored than rock, this is fine entertainment where the only message being sent is to enjoy yourself. Sounding organic rather than like a carpetbagger hanging on, Larson and compatriots made some wonderful trend and genre setting sounds that are still fresh today. A real treat for anyone that just couldn't embrace country back in that day. And of course, for anyone that felt that special affection Larson could pack into the grooves.

TOM TEASLEY/All the World's a Stage: This guy is always winning prestigious awards the average consumer doesn't care about, but it shows he's got special skills to pay the bills. On his latest, he comes with with a real hipster's delight of world/new age that anyone who ever envisioned themselves as being to hip for the room will wonder why they are enjoying it so much. Like Paul Winter's punky younger brother, the multi culti, multi instrumentalist takes it around the world and back again with a panache and style that draws you in, keeps you there and has you smiling all the way through. Killer stuff that melds the past and the future into a sonic gumbo, with some cous cous on the side, that thrills and delights taking your mind places Nonesuch Explorers never could. Check it out.

DEAN MARTIN/Collected Cool: Those Bear Family boxes and Collectors Choice twofers are starting to get smaller in the rear view mirror. Did that recent "Icon" collection whet your Martin appetite? It should have, and if it did, this new box set is an affordable kick in the head, just right for you or dad in time for Father's Day. The first two cds are career spanners giving you more high spots than the "Icon" set did. Then we proceed to a cleaned up version of the 1962 Tahoe bootleg that all hard core collectors have. Then we get a DVD of a British TV special that hasn't been seen since your grandpa last saw it. Sometimes it's corny, sometimes it's kitsch and sometimes it's dated but one thing it always is is cool. Whether an original fan or a hipster discovering some classic cool, Dino will make you want to take it over to da couch and settle in for a good time---long before the hangover sets in, pally. You owe it to yourself to gather the cool on board here.

RICH SIEGEL/The Way to Peace: Interesting little record that you think fit's the format but really doesn't. Coming in with a theatrical/folkie/cabaret vibe, Siegel sends out a Zen message about getting peace across the world. He doesn't hit you over the head with the message and it's actually a long way away from church basement folk music. Certainly this is a sound for anyone that was ever into passive resistance and civil disobedience but as we all know, in the end, you have to fight for peace. More for the Pete Seeger fan than the granola eater, this is more or less a well envisioned take on the gentle side of protest music.

ACE ATKINS (read by Joe Mantegna)/Robert B. Parker's Lullaby: A best selling mystery writer in his own write, Atkins picks up where Parker left off, dropping Spenser in some deep shit as he protects the unprotected with the help of Hawk when things get overly hairy. A feisty kid on the wrong end of a cold case about who snuffed her mother and left her in deep shit calls on Spenser to solve the unsolvable. He likes her moxie. South Boston serves up more than he expected. Does he triumph for the kid? Hey, this is Spenser...but we'll leave you to savor Atkins efforts at keeping Spenser vital for the future. Well done and it's really great they kept Joe Mantegna in the readers chair on this outing.

WARREN LITTLEFIELD (read by Bob Balaban)/Top of the Rock: Well played having Balaban do the reading here since he played a character on "Seinfeld" based on Littlefield. The cat that saw the rise of must see TV from the inside gives the kind of insider account of how it came together and how it came apart and this is the kind of tome that really would have been must hear listening when people cared about more than the Housewives of Somewhere and the rest of that ilk. Anyone out there that still fancies themselves as a behind the scenes buff will get a real charge out of what went on in one of the greatest runs in recent history of network tv. Or, you could look at it as a morality play. Either way, it's a wild ride that anyone into the "history" of tv shouldn't miss.

Volume 35/Number 231
June 9, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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