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RACHAEL MacFARLANE/Hayley Sings: So, in the opening episode of this season's "American Dad", Hayley gets a job in Roger's bar singing oldies. How's that for a roll off project. On the heels of her brother's oldies album last year, this MacFarlane goes the big band/Fabulous Baker Boys route and certainly knows how to pull off the clip joint thrush riff with chops to spare. Not restricting herself to pre-60s songs, who knew hippie pop that should be dated could sound so sexy? It seems classic but there's a subversive pomo element running through the cocktail jazz that makes this enjoyable for a wide age spectrum along the lounge lizard hipster continuum. Fun stuff from a gal that been making us laugh for seven years now---even if we wish she would have explored the stripper side that she was pursuing a few years back a little farther.

NEIL DIAMOND/Hot August Night--40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition: Once upon a time, back when Diamond was still the Jewish Elvis and hadn't stumbled in new age thinking and going back to his schmatlz roots, Diamond powered his way out of his Brill Building past with this blazing live album that delivered the greatest hits with loads of sweat dripping. Technology and vault explorations have only served to expand and explode this release even more in it's various go arounds. There are more tracks added here, but if you don't have the album yet, the real attraction is the sonic improvements. Yes, you are there, even if there was 40 years ago. An incendiary career maker of a date, I dare you to get involved in this record and not join in on the "Sweet Caroline" ‘bomp bomp bomp's whether in your car, at the gym or whatever. Yep, the 70s were a time of musical something for everyone we remember fondly which is why we cram stuff like this down young people's throats in every possible public place where recorded music is piped in.

JOEY DeFRANCESCO/Wonderful! Wonderful!: Just because he's finally in his 40s, the title of this set doesn't mean he's doing a tribute to Lawrence Welk in his "old age". For this tenth set for the label, DeFrancesco pares it down to an organ trio, joined by Larry Coryell and Jimmy Cobb, for a work out on a lot of pop oldies that are all in the right hands here. With more Miles under his belt (get it?) that a lot of other players, the man that would make Jimmy Smith proud delivers the goods with a sound light years ahead of the hippest roller rink you could ever find. This is the kind of jumping work out B3 fans hang in and on for. Check it out.

LETIZIA GAMBI/Introducing: Ain't it great to have friends? Lenny White discovers a jazz vocalist in Italy that he just flips for. Then he calls Gato Barbieri, Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Gil Goldstein, Wallace Roney and Patrice Rushen and asks, ‘l'il help?'. Wow, did they all come throughout. A bit of an atavistic 60's pre-Beatles game changing era date when you could take a full voiced thrush and give her a great setting with a bunch of pros for a killer result that didn't have to yield singles to be a hit. Just, wow. No wonder a well heeled pro had to go outside the system to get a hip smasheroo like this made on his own terms today. Clearly one of 2012's best newcomers, this set will keep you coming back for more as it grabs hold and just won't let go.

JOY MOVER: Hmm, Ira Sullivan (who shows up here) bounced you on his knee when you were a kid and your brother, Bob (who shows up here) works with Esparanza Spaulding. The chops list can go on and on but it's better to listen to this jazz singer that's been keeping it bottled up for way too long than blather this background stuff. A dazzling debut that mixes pop, originals and chestnuts into a stew where the old seasonings create a new flavor. She's got so much energy and octane powering her that she should feel free to give up her day job any time she wants as she's built a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to her door. The real deal throughout.

MIKE OLDFIELD/QU2--Deluxe Edition: Recorded in the early 80s, long after we'd all forgotten about Oldfield, we were right to dismiss him after "Ommadawn" and "Hergest Ridge", but we were wrong to write him off. This was a mighty album to follow the disco crash with as it foretold the coming celtica explosion, gave some solid jazz/rock and world and generally showed there was plenty of life left in the old bones. Taking dinosaur rock to a new place and pretty much charting the course of adult pop after new age and NAC took hold, since you never heard this, it sounds new and fresh today. The deluxe edition is stocked with a contemporaneous live recording of this material along with some previously unreleased material that augments nicely and deserves to have escaped from the vault. Just right for the post new ager, even if it's come along 30 years too late. This is a nice invitation to get back in touch with your old "Tubular Bells" buddy, that you, of course, came across a year before it was the soundtrack to "The Exorcist".

THE ROYS/New Day Dawning: How often does an album grab you for keeps just within the first 8 bars? The Roys not only have done it again, they've done it first class all the way. Flat out killer bluegrass/pop, this sibling duo must have spent a lot of time practicing in their supportive parent's rec room to be able to top themselves with a release that should have been loaded with sophomore jinx. The writing, the singing, the playing---it's all flawless. If this was a vinyl album, you can be sure you would wear it out. Top shelf all the way that's so seamlessly executed you might not be able to get your jaw back up once it drops.

CHERYL BENTYNE/Let's Misbehave-The Cole Porter Songbook: This is a no brainer. Bentyne brings her well seasoned jazz vocal chops, the jazzbos show up to play and Porter wrote all the songs. With the special sauce that separates this from all the well meaning thrushes that try to till this well trod ground, Bentyne knows how to bring it for something that might not be essential but certainly is required. A well staged, well mounted set of entertainment, jaded adult ears will welcome one more dip in the Porter well when it comes out sounding like this. Well done throughout. On top of all that, this set is Bentyne's gift to herself for kicking the crap out of cancer last year. Talk about having what it takes!

Volume 35/Number 300
August 16, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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