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KRIS KRISTOFFERSON/Let the Music Play: With four albums under his belt at the time, it's hard to believe that Kristofferson wrote most of the great songs he would write by the time this 1972 live radio concert aired. He was knee deep in his "Spooky Lady" tour with then wife, Rita Coolidge, at the time of this set that introduced Coolidge to a wider audience that was about to find out she was more than a background vocalist. Certainly a non-record promotional tool that was right for the time, this is a fine snapshot of two talents that came together in quite righteous fashion but weren't destined to last. If any of you young bloods want to know more about that old guy in "Matrix" and other pics, this is a fine place to get your feet wet before digging into those old crates. This is a nice souvenir that's more than a trinket.

MY EDUCATION/ 5 Popes: The strange, minimalist album that started it all for My Education is back in print with very little changed or retouched for the long overdue, vinyl hipster edition. A strange head trip experience, this is what it was like to come down from the rave back in the day when you really didn't want that feeling in your head to be dissolved into chill down tempo. A bunch of Texans that bring their own special sauce to the proceedings, it's almost feeling like this album could be an underground rite of passage. Not for you if you wan to catch Britney in Vegas but check it out if you are looking go down some of Vegas' darker back streets. It's just the right sound for that.

PETE MILLS/Sweet Shadow: Working with the inimitable safety net of Matt Wilson and Pete McCann, this rising tenor ace can't do anything but play with a light shining on the future and with total fearlessness. A fine example of old man jazz played for today's aging children who will keep a session like this on their memory sticks for years to come, this is moving and grooving stuff with that special something that will satisfy moldy figs while bringing new kids into the tent. High octane throughout, this is loaded with the kind of moves that make you say things like "I haven't heard playing like this since Getz". Yeah, it's that good, check it out.

WANDA JACKSON/Before the Music Died-The Complete Recordings 1954-1962: I don't understand the title since she's still alive and she had nothing to do with Buddy Holly, but other than that, I have to ask, what more do you want? And I mean that literally. The near 100 tracks on this set make up every recording released during Jackson's uber prime period--from her discovery by Hank ‘Thompson to her reign as the female Elvis. As much of an era's icon as Bettie Page or Marilyn Monroe, we get it all from the prim start through "Havin a Party", "Rockin With" and more more more. A total gasser of an unintentional value package, hep cat and kitties have six hours worth of high octane partying on these platters. Jackson was one of a kind and the singularity of that legend lives on here in non-stop fashion whether she‘s serving ballads, country, rockabilly, honky tonk or early rock. With nary a dog in the bunch, this is one killer of a collection.

JUPE JUPE/Crooked Kisses: Often the original is good enough and the wannabes just feel like so many manqué. Sometimes the tide flows the other way. This bunch of alt.pop vets from Austin and Seattle convened in Seattle for an electro pop session that recalls early 80s New Order and fills in the blanks with things that have flowed in their wake, but damn if they haven't captured that dissatisfied college kid vibe with a lot of heart and sincerity so much so that your pop will be stopped in his tracks and go ‘hey, that sounds like........, I didn't know you liked them." Good one, pop. Now go make your underwater mortgage payment. This falls right in the pocket of tradition but moves it forward at the same time. Quite the nice, heady brew.

SEMBEH MA FA FE Roots Volume/various: Look, you have to give Moe Asch his props but with what young bloods like Stronghold Sound are doing with offbeat world beat, they really leave Asch in the dust, even if he was kicking up that dust 70 years ago. The gang set off for Africa, landed in Guinea and let the bytes gather it all up. From old timers banging the kalimba to young bloods waving around their electronics, this set takes it all in, serves it up in a cogent fashion that keeps you tracking the proceedings no matter how they twist and turn generally opening your ears to treats well off the beaten, gringo path. If your world beat ears are open, this is the stuff that you'll be glad to have fill them. Check it out.

MATT RENZI/Rise & Shine: It looks like you can count on a restless but good natured soul to make something we shall call friendly progressive music. This jazzbo, whose travels have moved him from San Francisco to Rome, enlists a few paisani from both sides of the pond to serve up this delightfully offbeat post-post-bop session that is different with a purpose rather than different just for the sake of it. Resting comfortably somewhere between mainstream and progressive lite, this multi reed pro slipped something in the special sauce when we weren't looking for something that borrows liberally from here and there but is uniquely it's own in the end. A real tonic for jaded ears that don't want to go too far a field looking for new kicks.

Volume 38/Number 60
December 30, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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