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KANDIA CRAZY HORSE/Stampede: Every so often you come across an album that just stops you in your tracks and you just can't believe what you're hearing. It happens on both the good and bad side of the ledger but this debut is firmly on the good side of disbelief. Growing up black and influenced by CSN, Crazy Horse wended her way to recording after a stop off as a music journalist writing about Americana. The stars came together to inspire her to become the first female, African American superstar. The groove, attitude and chops all add up to make it seem like it's a sure thing. Enlisting a bunch of Shakira co-horts who must be enjoying a busman's holiday, Crazy Horse powers things along with the kind of deep soulful voice white girls are always trying to capture but can't hit having never paid the black tax. With each track being a bag breaker and a mind blower, this is a clarion call for jaded ears waiting to take it to the next level of the game. Hot stuff throughout.

THE BAND/Live at the Academy of Music 1971: 42 years later, this album is almost as controversial as ever. And there's not another man alive with another tale to tell---except maybe Robbie and Garth. Perhaps the Velvet Underground of Americana since their influence far out weighed their sales, this super sized version of "Rock of Ages" has a lot of tales to tell. It originally divided music fans when it was a double album as many thought it was a killer live date and many thought it was an indulgent mess. Even members of The Band went on to say that after the first album, it was just a bunch of personalities and not really a band. So, the first part of this collection is a redo of the super sized 2002 version of "Rock of Ages" left in Cheryl Pawelski's wake and chronics are already complaining they have bought that twice but a decade's worth of new technology give this part of the set a new clarity and depth (and eq) that could make you a fan all over again. The rest of the set is the actual new year's eve concert complete with Bobby the Zim, Allen Toussaint, Joe Farrell and Earl McIntyre. With a line up like that, how bad could it be even if it was the indulgent affair many have claimed? Kvetch or not, a lot of these songs and performances are a part of our collective musical DNA and modern technology does a great job of washing away the sins of time and tide. It's a beautiful collection from stem to stern and a nice addition to any real music fans collection, especially of they don't have any previous renditions. Go for the gold, you deserve it.

L.A. 6/Frame of Mind: There hasn't quite been a groundswell but there's been a lot of daddio music making it's way into the market lately. Possibly copping their name from the L.A. 4, the L.A. 6 are certainly purveyors of west coast cool jazz nailing it throughout. Kicking it off with some Sonny Stitt and winding it up with some Oliver Nelson, this bunch of daddios isn't mining the retro tip, they are playing music they love and turning in respectable originals to prove their claim. Feeling like a solid dose of daddio jazz direct from Hermosa Beach, there's no dust on these cats and they take the tradition into the future. Well done.

ERIC CLAPTON/Give Me Strength the 74/75 Recordings: After the place holding live album from the Rainbow, Clapton knew he had to kick it into gear again if kids were going to keep graffitting "Clapton is God" on any available walls. Taking it to Miami where he subsequently shot the sheriff, Clapton pulls the strings tight right out of the box for a string of albums that would lead up to the pop career defining "Slowhand". With two studio albums, a live album and some sitting in with a King, Clapton showed a renewed mid 70s fire and fervor that burned whether he had the heat on high or low. Loaded with the extra stuff needed to get you to buy it again, there's live tracks, unreleased tracks, extended versions and all the required musical bells and whistles. This kind of hot stuff is a wonderful trip down memory lane.

COMPLETE MOTOWN SINGLES V. 12B 1972/various: And now we know how this train is going to pull out of the station. When the series began, who knew how they would end it as the series could have easily gone on through 1986, have 12 inch collections etc etc etc. Well, the period comes in at the end of 1972 when the label pulled up stakes and moved to Beverly, Hills that is. The label's last six months ion Detroit were heavy on stalwarts and heavy on chance taking. This was a period when doubters were saying Motown lost focus because some of the shiny new products weren't hitting it like the old days etc etc etc. They might not have dominated the charts but the music smoked as always. These five discs complete the look at Motown's first golden era as the label made it's big farethewell to the Midwest. No fat as always, this is a fine send off to protean 60s/70s black music from the heartland that managed to cross all lines to be the sound of young America.

Volume 38/Number 46
December 16, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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