BUDDY GRECO/Hot Nights-Ready for Your Love: Hey, we love finger popping, hipster Greco as much as anyone, but when time and fashion passed him by 20 years later, he should have remained a cool cat and kept doing what he was doing rather than give into a pop/disco/geriatric hipster kind of thing that just had him buried in the mix. And doing it for phony labels that wouldn't do him any good anyway. Meh? Not quite. Both of the albums on this twofer were produced by Alf Clausen doing the best he could with what they gave him, which was probably very little money. Life is short but it sure is wide and these are the steps you have to take to eventually find your way to a long running job with "The Simpson". Now, for that "Love Boat" porno funk version of "Quando Quando Quando", the Dr. Dementos of tomorrow have their play lists taking shape now.
YOLANDA KONDONASSIS/American Harp: They should have called this intimate, personal recording "Yolanda Plays Just for You". Turning her ear to American pieces composed for harp, she isn't afraid to veer off the main roads and into the wilderness that will open your ears to the power and beauty she's been delivering on 16 previous albums. With it being all her front and center, there's no place for her to hide and she doesn't need cover. This is the kind of high octane set that'll have you reconsidering just what you think harp can do and where it can take you. Killer stuff throughout.
THE BIRTH OF SOUL JAZZ/various: Chrome Dreams has recently been putting out a series of jazz from the early 60s that delivers the goods but this soul jazz twofer just runs well ahead of this already august pack. Kicking off with the seminal riff from "Moanin'" and keeping an upward spiral from there, this is nothing but killer stuff throughout. Anybody younger than these sides probably never realized that Herbie Hancock‘s "Watermelon Man" was on the debut record of 22 year old Herbie Hancock. This was music by players that had a need to be heard and they deliver nothing but hot chops at every turn. This is stuff that you just can't stop once you get started, and as time has shown over 50 years on, it's totally timeless and essential. Get in here!
ELUSIVE PARALLELOGRAMS/Fragments: Pomo power pop? Everything changes. This group takes the Mixmaster to rock quadrants where it hasn't been before and sets the dial to abattoir. Your girl friend will say she likes it if you do, but she'll still think you're weird.
ERIK LOTICHIUS/Mood Indigo: Once upon a time, guys like Paley and Sarnoff hoped their classical music divisions would make money, but they demanded the divisions win awards. Lotichius is a throw back as to records sounded in that era. His orchestral Ellington is a treat as is the rest of the pieces he has on display here. Old enough to have been part of that era, this classic classical cat shows his modern side by making this a deluxe cd-dvd package that gets you inside the music and his head as well. The kind of set that makes an introduction to classical and classical sounding music inviting and unintimidating, any real muso looking for some joyful times that run outside the ordinary is well advised to kick back with some Ellington, some ragtime, some Gershwin sounding stuff and more that'll make him glad he did. A winner throughout.
BETH HART/Bang Bang Boom Boom: Striking a variation on a classic Vargas pose on the cover, adding tattooed love goddess accents, the veteran rocker, who spent a long time being her own worst enemy, comes back in fine form with a set that shows her being a contemporary blues rock mama in the company of some first call players surrounding her with the vibe it takes to make it, without having to fake it. Hanging in the company of arena rockers that are letting their stuff rub off on her, the bonus track here is a live duet with Jeff Beck honoring Buddy Guy at the Kennedy Center. Heady stuff, and that's just the opening shot, even if it is the closing track. If you tried being a fan in the past, give Hart another spin, this is the fulfillment of the promise you've been waiting on. Hot stuff.
PULP & POP CULTURE BOX V. 1/various: Sure, we can be snide with the advantage of 50 years between us and when the stuff in this 4 cd box was recorded and laugh at how trashy it is, but back then, just to put it all in perspective, post Korean war American was in it's second wild west phase. The thing that unites all these cuts is that the players were sincere and had heart. Hell, back around this time, high school kid John Stewart was recoding "Shrunken Head Boogie". There'd be no "Daydream Believer" if he had been discouraged. So kick back with fatly tracked discs of Martian invasions, wild guitars, voodoo and rebellion and return to the glorious times of prosperity in an America going nuts. Why should you check out this treasure trove of trash by people you never heard of unless you have scoured Salvation Army record bins with your sense of irony in tact? Because it's put together by Arny Schorr and James Austin, the marketing and a&r guys that did a ton of stuff like this for Rhino for years. That's why this looks like a scaled down Rhino project--what do you expect to happen under the lash of the new normal? These guys were the sherpas you followed down those musical back streets of totally uncharted territories that turned out to be gassers. Now let's all get together and get this nominated or a Grammy. This is the kick in the pants the times need. Volume 1? Please don't make that an empty promise.
ISLAND IN THE SUN/various: The only knock on this twofer from the early days of calypso when Mighty Sparrow was just turning the islands on thier ears is that it was recorded on primitive equipment on tapes that weren't expected to last. A heaping helping twofer of stuff long buried in your musical dna by soundtracks, morning zoos that co-opted the tunes and pop culture itself, this was the height of hip in the early 60s. Loaded with some of the genres mightiest singers doing seminal cuts, no frat boy backyard party can be complete without this. It's two cds of fun in the sun no matter where you are and what time if year it is. Check it out, this is the stuff!
Volume 37/Number 208
May 28, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
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