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JIM NORTON/No Baby For You: It seems like satellite radio has created a better venue for comedy than cable tv did 30 years ago. With satellite and podcasting bringing so much democracy to the dissemination of comedy, it has made the comics more competitive and given the marketplace greater diversity. A hysterical bad boy with a penchant for bitch slapping anyone and everyone, Norton's street level humor aims low and hit's the target with each track. This cat isn't afraid to shine a light on life's underbelly and invite you to hoot at it with him. Not for the puritanical but a good bet for everyone else.

CLARA PONTY/Echoes: Fusing her interests in jazz, new age and instrumental music with some German pals that all bring the right mix to the proceedings, why has Ponty been hiding this up her sleeve for several years? Quite the tasty set for when you need the adrenaline a heady instrumental brew can inspire, it gives you that kind of rush that makes you bounce in your seat and bob your head without realizing it. Deceptively complex in it's simplicity, this is a dandy, wild ride that hits all the right notes throughout.

CHESTER CT' THOMPSON/Mixology: The 25 year vet of Tower of Power and Santana returns to the leader's chair and brings his B3 with him. A great that honed his chops playing with the greats after being inspired by the greats, this is a greasy, after hours date that is dripping with everything the B3 jazzbo/funk fan could hope for. Always swinging with the highest octane fuel no matter what quadrant he's swinging through, Thompson makes it sound all too easy. Don't worry about cholesterol, this set has way too much pulse to let anything build up in your arteries. Hot stuff with the master leading the way.

TIM BUCKLEY/Look at the Fool: Dropping his folkie stuff to compete for radio space in the early 70s, Buckley warps into a blue eyed soul screamer with radio friendly jazzbos and background vocalists du jour in tow. Well left of mainstream except in heroin/speed addled early 70s LA, this certainly wasn't no update on "Happy/Sad" or a tour of Fred Neil's catalog. Hard core fans will still swear by it, listeners that want to know what Jeff's dad was all about will be slightly puzzled until the enter that canon at other portals first.

TIM BUCKLEY/The Dream Belongs to Me: This anthology has been around in various formats and sizes over the years. Here we find it a single disc divided into 1968 and 1973. The 68 sessions predate "Happy Sad" and two others that followed in it's wake but touched on these bases. The 1973 stuff is demos for his last works that finds them more in the early jazz/folk mode and are quite more compelling that what was finally turned out to make him the pop star the teen mags had been predicting since the 60s. Stuff that you weren't meant to hear in the first place, both ends of the artist show where Jeff got the chops to bring Leonard Cohen to the top of the pops way too many years later. This is a worthy look behind the curtain.

JOHN MARTYN/Remembering: So, who's the bigger underachiever, John Martyn or Roy Harper? Well, Harper is still alive and presumably has both of his legs at this writing. The folkie who thought he could live like a full tilt rock and roller, Martyn rubbed elbows with an amazing lot and was as beholden to Eric Clapton as J. J. Cale. While most of Martyn's indie output was spotty and not compelling enough to listen to throughout in one sitting, this anthology, largely pulled from his indie period has a load of live tracks with Danny Thompson subbing for Sacho Pinza and a load of studio stuff that even finds in him Chicago rubbing elbows with the co-writer of "Material Girl" and other nascent jazzbos. And then there's guys like David Gilmour and Phil Collins who proudly and unabashedly show up. A true original, this collection is lovingly produced and assembled with an eye toward giving his legacy the luster it deserves. A fine companion to the all star tribute album of a year or so back, Martyn is a cult act doomed to be rediscovered by those in the know again and again until the end of time, spoken of in hushed, reverential tones. If you think he's just an eccentric folkie, please get on the bus and get a taste of what you've been missing. Then pick up "Solid Air" and get your mind blown. Check it out.

SEXY GIRLS (VARIOUS ARTISTS)/Sing Sexy songs: In which we find all the glamour girls of the 50s, and their pre-punk rock sexy iconography, are now lapsing into public domain making it easier to do kitsch round ups like this collection. Sexy is often based on illusion and the annotator here didn't notice that Rita Hayworth was actually voiced by Anita Ellis, Audrey Hepburn was actually voiced by Marni Nixon and that not all the ladies here were known for being sexy. That said, it's time to enjoy the illusion, from the Elvgren inspired cover art to Carmen McRae's final notes on "Lola". Sexy kittens, jazzbos and producers that knew how to make music that went beyond being product---now that's a heady mixture. Coming around just in time to be enjoyed more by pomo kids than grandpa, we can't wait to see the karaoke nights this inspires. Fun stuff and great music, it all adds up nicely.

ABBA/The Essential Collection: Like Simon & Garfunkle, Garth Brooks and Eagles, you can repack this group 12 ways from Sunday and they will continue to sell each new configuration well into 6 figures and beyond. 39 tracks on 2 discs, all non-stop hits, all over 30 years old with no sign of slowing down or being unwelcome one more time. The only Waterloo this bunch is going to meet is on disc one, track 5.

Volume 36/Number 46
December 16, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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