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ELLA FITZGERALD/The Collection 1938-45: I remember getting a record on Folkways that was nascent Fitzgerald as a featured singer with Chick Webb. If I was drawing a blank then, do you know who Webb is now? I thought so. I remember seeing Fitzgerald in some movie when TV was only a few channels and more aggressive stations ran old movies all night and there she was on a bus singing "A Tisket A Tasket". It was a WTF moment for my young head. Such an august singer singing such jive ass crap? She probably hadn't met Norman Granz yet. Here we get another look at her early days nicely and generously spread over 4 discs. This collection of early Decca sides has been batted around some over the years, from authorized to unauthorized, but this set finds Acrobat doing Fitzgerald justice, cleaning up the old tapes and showing that she was loaded with gumption and drive before becoming the queen of the songbook. It's not definitive but it's a great look at things to come.

AESTHETISCHE/Powerswitch: Time for a little 90s nostalgia from the time when industrial oontz oontz ruled the earth. In the tradition of Ministry, Front Line Assembly, Nitzer Ebb and the rest, this crew, with spiritual ties back to that era, follow in the footsteps of their fore fathers without even missing a step. The duo behind Brazil's must heavy duty EBM material have now reconvened as this crew and once again deliver the goods to get suburban parents grinding their teeth without dropping any E. Ah, the sound of the in fill suburbs strikes again.

B.B. KING/Ladies & Gentlemen...Mr. B. B. King: There's not a whole lot new or undiscovered on this wonderful 10 cd box, but sometimes, you just have to stop, sit back and savor in a leisurely fashion and let it all wash over you. One of the few recording artists that's spent 50 years on the same label, this set (as opposed to the 4 disc version), takes you even farther back to when King was a staple on the chitlin circuit as a young buck in the 40s and 50s. Giving you everything here in the way of hotspots, including stuff he did for diabetes, this is conclusive proof that King is the blues. Amazingly consistent whether in the spotlight or sharing it with high profile pals and guests, King may have not written the book but he certainly had a hand in proofing the later editions and leaving his stamp. Whether luxuriating in his roots or keeping it current at the time, he has always struck the right chord and this is the proof that he's venerable for accomplishments beyond simply lasting this long. A wonderful retrospective throughout.

CLIFFORD BROWN/The Singers Sessions with Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan & Helen Merrill: Brown was such a protean force in his short time and his many facets make all but the most hard core jazzbo overlook his other accomplishments from this far away in time. Here we find him in one of his roles hanging around the Emarcy stable, backing up some of the greatest singers of the era and giving them a great setting. The Washington's were an informal jam that rose to mythical proportions. The Vaughan session was her first 12 inch recording and it didn't hurt to have a cat on board that knew how to keep attention riveted for longer than 10 inch record lengths and singles. The Merrill set was her recording debut and is loaded with the kind of zip that gave her the latitude to make weepy, moody sets that are too shoegazy today. With mastering and care that out ranks some of the public domain foreign issues that cover some of the same ground, this is a must for the classic jazzbo or those who want to be them. Fine playing from a player that left us too soon and didn't seem to leave behind any false notes.

TOULOUSE ENGLEHARDT/Martian Lust: Englehardt is a cult hero and an acquired tastes, but once you've savored a taste of this guitarist, you'll be back for more. With a recording career that stretches back 40 years with less than a handful of recordings to show for it, this surfer dude knows how to apply instrumental humor to his work that will make you smile even without words. With cover art inspired by Wally Wood and guitar playing inspired by the night Chet Atkins met the Ventures after hours for a face off (that probably never happened), Englehardt is right here in the pantheon of left of center acoustic guitarists who's legends and impacts are far greater than their sales. Fabulously in the Englehardt pocket on another of his all too few sets, guitar fans that like it out of the ordinary will get this immediately. Another high water mark.

STEVE WHITE/Steve Ain't White: He's been in movies and TV for 30 years hanging out with Spike Lee, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx yet I'll bet you don't know him by name unless you're a real hard core comedy nerd. As long as those SAG payments provide him with a good living, we wind up winning because he can labor in the vineyards, beholden to no one and occasionally offer up topically funny records like this that cross racial lines and bring on the yuks. A really funny cat that deserves a wider audience for his stand up work, this is a right on, under the radar find that knows how to bring it. Certainly good for more than a laugh. Check it out.

Volume 35/Number 360
October 25, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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