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MIKE OLDFIELD/Two Sides-The Very Best of: How would you like to have peaked 40 years ago when you were 21? "Tubular Bells" might have been Oldfield's first and best, but once he recovered from rock star excess, he's maintained a lively career in Jolly Ol' even if he hasn't been given much thought here. Kicking it off with a nice chunk of the "Tubular Bells" suite and proceeding throughout his career, leaving a lot of stuff out across this twofer, there's more than enough here to cause you to re-evaluate Oldfield and perhaps dig further as he's got a lot of wonderful stuff here that escaped me on the first go round. Compiled by Oldfield himself, there's plenty here for left of center instrumental (with occasional lyrics) fans to get turned on by. Since it always existed outside the margins, it's stands as pretty timeless stuff as well. Check it out.

JERRY LEE LEWIS/The Killer Live! 1964-1970: Hot on the heels of Raven's collection of five studio albums from around this same period, this companion collection of four live albums shows there was a whole lot of shaking going on with The Killer all over the world. With a bunch of previously unreleased material from the original albums on board, the set from The Star Club is believed by many to be the first great live rock record. If nothing else, the energy here will bowl you over. Lewis is in prime Killer form throughout, and this was well before the age of recording sweetening. Playing with the fervor of a Baptist that already knows he's going to hell, Lewis could give meshugga lessons to Little Richard. For some reason, his self referential hyperbole never seems to put you off either. This unstoppable freight train shows more punk prototype than anything I can think of, and he's probably an OG to boot. When you play it all at once, it's one of the most magnificent rave ups of all time. There's only 2,000 copies, so snap to it before it's too late. Hotcha!!!!

JOY ROAD-THE COMPLETE WORKS OF PEPPER ADAMS (Joy Road Sampler)/various: Adams is one of those honking post WW2, Detroit sax men that time and tide are coming dangerously close to sweeping under the rug. A hard hitting cat that wasn't fully appreciated in his time, a jazz historian is out to right that wrong by bringing together a bunch of new players that have the spirit to keep the vibe alive. This is a five volume set, mostly available digitally only but with a physical sampler that does a great job of getting your head in the game. Even if it's played and interpreted by the new generation, it sounds like the real thing and you should check it out if you fancy yourself a real jazzbo. Fine stuff throughout.

ALEXIS COLE/Sings Pepper Adams: Actually a break out set from the five volume Pepper Adams tribute set, up and coming New York vocalist Cole takes the artistic leap of faith by singing recently written lyrics to Adams melodies. Cole comes up a winner here by finding the cabaret vibe in 50s jazz like this. Even when the lyrics get too heavy handed, Cole can handle her voice like an instrument and let's you just fall into the late night vibe that everyone needs once in a while. Very much a nice thing to reach for when you need something to give you the right dose of after hours.

THE MIRACLES/Renaissance-Do It Baby: Anybody that tries to deal with the public will go crazy if they listen to the public, and twofers like this are the proof. "Renaissance" was the first post Smokey Robinson Miracles album. He hung around to produce it to give the fans the continuity they needed to keep the franchise going. The music was right on but the fans didn't really respond. Bouncing back with "Do It Baby", everything was once again right as rain. Some people just don't like the first record and that's their loss. At worst, it's fine transitional soul music for the era, not just transitional to ease the Robinson sound out. These sets are from the early 70s when the Motown everyone knows and loves was still Motown even if it's feet were now in LA. This is a nice stopping point to give Barry Gordy props for time showing us his "secondary" stuff still rates as classic. This is a nice load of hits and those that should have been.

JIMMY CLIFF/Rebirth: And while we're on the subject of taking something old and making it new, reggae vet Cliff hooks up with punk Tim Armstrong for a cross pollination that gives reggae punk power but in the end, the streets of Kingston win out over the streets of Silver Lake. Way more upbeat and bouncy than you would expect from a senior citizen, this is a luscious pop/reggae set that's got it on the ball lyrically and musically making it grand party music with a message (?). Fun stuff that really takes it back to the streets with a certain vigor that's amazing and undeniable. Check it out, it's Cliff's best in years.

BOB MARLEY/In Dub Vol. 1: This is shaping up as a pretty good year for Marley fans as more and more stuff gets repackaged and repurposed for popular consumption. Available only as a digital download for the past two years, some dub versions of the Marley canon are getting an initial airing here. With more on the ball than something designed just to keep you coming back to the well, the music is malleable enough that in the right, younger hands, it can stay fresh forever. Wonderfully tasty skanking keeps it all irie here so get flat and lively yourself up, one more time.

Volume 35/Number 301
August 17, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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