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DORIS DUKE/I'm a Loser: Southern soul from over 40 years ago that jumps right over time in a single bound. It's not fair to compare her to Aretha because this is Swamp Dogg serving up serious southern soul that's way more chitlin circuit than Detroit. The kind of set t hat shows the importance of Bering on a label that has the wherewithal to put it's money where it's mouth is, Duke was unrightfully denied a career in the wake of this killer set that has spare soul to burn. No need to deprive yourself any longer, any soul vocal fan is sure to flip out after getting a taste of this. Hot stuff.

Z.Z. HILL/Brand New: The Malaco stomping grounds were the natural home to Hill, so it was only a matter of time and tide that he would find his break through and greatest hits under the Malaco banner after a few false starts elsewhere. Swamp Dogg was one of Hill's early believers and set him up with a nice pop/soul/blues date that was a little bit too much of something for everyone in a bid to break Hill pop. A solid set nonetheless, Dogg had a magic touch that has made his records age well, just like this one. It's a very nice look at how the legend began. Check it out.

LIZZIE THOMAS/Easy to Love: The Nashville gal with the New York jazz diva eyes checks in with her second big apple jazzbo set showing her to be a real belter even when she doesn't set out to be. Enlisting a slew of top shelf big apple-ites, including a lovely contribution on flute from Anne Drummond on "Shadow of Your Smile" , Thomas determines herself not to get lost in the shuffle of divas working the same territory. Too bold to be a cabaret set, Thomas is just what the doctor ordered for listeners that like their jazz vocalists to hit with all four on the floor.

D. B. REILLY/Cross My Heart + Hope to Die: When did Brooklyn start becoming a hot bed of Americana? The well traveled Reilly is a shining example of a real pro flying under the radar. Having played everything with everyone in all kind of high profile settings, Reilly saved his best stuff for himself giving the roots fan everything they ever hoped would turn up on one album. Packaged in a wooden cigar box, the only thing missing to give this package total authenticity from top to bottom is the tobacco smell. Well deserving of all the recognition he's been picking up along the way, if this doesn't float your boat, your either aren't into Americana or are just an Americana tourist. Killer stuff throughout.

ARI SHAFFIR/Revenge for the Holocaust: Lenny Bruce meets the Borscht Belt in a pomo hug that has the comic doing a contemporary schpritz over everything. Certainly an edgy cat, he's got one hand on the zeitgeist and says the things a lot of people think, particularly when offbeat is in the air. A dandy laugh fest from left field that really keeps it real and doesn't care how far it has to go to wring the laugh. Well done.

TRACEY ASHLEY/Two First Names: For the uninitiated, Ashley can be a mindblower right out of the box. With a name like her's, you expect to be confronted by an airhead valley girl. Surprise. Ashley is a black, southern gal that sounds like she grew up on Carla Thomas berating Otis Redding on "Tramp". Renouncing her ABC background and launching into an inter racial marriage in Minnesota, Ashley has loads of contemporary takes to riff on. A great storyteller with a great flow, she is a hilarious newcomer on the rise that really has the sky as the limit. A bag breaker and mind blower throughout, Ashley hits on all eight here delivering a mainstream, comedy tour de force that just doesn't quit. Killer stuff throughout!

WILL DURST/Elect to Laugh: The times we are living in are good for Durst because now everything is fair game and everyone is a bad guy that needs to be ridiculed. Aging nicely into being a contemporary Mark Twain, we might not have heard from Durst in a while but he has lost none of his edge or observational skills. Skewering everything in sight, all of which deserves it, this is beyond political/news humor---this is the mirror we need held up to the national psyche. This is a thinking man's laugh riot, particularly if you can't take Lewis Black's energy level. Check out this post card from an old pal.

SCOTT ADAMS/Your New Job Title is "Accomplice": With the real economy in the toilet, Adams has the Dilbert gang sending out the bitch slaps in all directions in this collection that daily strips from the bulk of 2012. Bosses are fair targets since they continue to be ABC leaders that got us all into this mess without suffering any consequences. Of course, the journalist in Adams has the pot shots flying in all directions when Wally hires a monkey to keep his coffee warm and the monkeys that work at start ups gets it shoved in their face that they are working unpaid overtime in the guise of something for their own good. Life it's own self continues to be unending, hilarious fun under the Dilbert microscope. The laughs continue, even when they are sometimes painful.

PATRICK McDONNELL/Cat Crazy: Another year has gone by and that means it's time to look back at another whole year of Earl & Mooch's adventures. Yesh, the characters are springing into action once again as McDonnell's animal Zen world takes it all in, seeing the world mostly from an armchair and a back yard. Now with it's 17th annual entry on board, "Mutts" is part of the fabric of American comics that's an essential stop in any comics readings. The gentle wit, the subtle nostalgia, the whole shebang---it just keeps getting better and better. And this treasury edition is with oversized pages giving the panels the room to spread out they don't get in daily papers anymore. This is a nice look back at a well written year that sums up what lazy Sunday's used to be about and should be enjoyed before the wind blows it all away. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 12
November 12, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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