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CHRIS LORD & CHEATIN' RIVER/Chunkabilly Blues: From Seattle they came with Texas in their souls, this bunch that has it all on the ball from Freddie King to Stevie Ray with some Bakersfield honky tonk in the mix showing they did stop for gas on the way south. Unbridled nu honky tonk for rocking down the blue highways in fine style is what's on unlimited tap here. Fun stuff that never made gonorrhea sound like so much fun.

BEKA & DJ LOGIC PROJECT/Chillin' in Batumi: The teen jazz piano phenom is still in his teens but here we find him acting more his age taking improv to new heights by mixing it with electro action and showing that he can keep the ship right side up no matter what he's playing and where the modes take him. Jazz for younger tastes to be sure, but it has lots of elements of jazz for tomorrow. Hip hop is the new bebop? Could be. We were impressed with his straight jazz and we're impressed with his new journeys into tomorrow. Hot stuff, particularly if satellite radio comes naturally to you.

BABY BABY/Big Boy Baller Club: It's been at least 25 years since we were first smacked in the face by Beastie Boys and a whole generation has come up since then that could be influenced by them but not copy them. The sound and fury is there in full, but these kids fill the lyrics with today's concerns. Face it Pop, your kid doesn't want to go to Paul's boutique with you or have to take him to get his license to ill but he does want to fight for his right to party. Amazingly in the pocket rock rap stuff that stands on it's own two feet despite all the baggage it should be carrying. Now you know how your parents felt when you were blasting all that rebel without a clue stuff.

YANK/Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording: Ok, here's another reason why PS Classics is such a cool label. The show this cleffer was taken from ran to acclaim a few years ago but no one thought about making a cast album at the time. Time passed. PS reassembled the cast to make the cast album that should have been. The result? Nothing less than you've come to routinely come to expect from the little label that could. This show is a semi-fictionalized account of gay soldiers in World War II. How's that for a mind blowing concept? Another of the label's subtle ear and eye opening LGBT efforts that does more to expand people's world view that all the marching and diatribes could accomplish, it's a nu world, Goldie. Wild stuff that furthers the gay ‘cause' by accenting how there's more to gay than stereotypes and that if you look to the right and look to the left... Well done throughout.

LINDA RONSTADT/Duets: Kicking it off with three duets with Ann Savoy, you know this is more than a quicky cash in set thrown together to capitalize in her induction into the RRHOF. Riding pretty hard on deep catalog cuts, this is a solid collection that goes nicely beyond the basic hits repack. The set showcases a lot of depth as it shows different facets of Ronstadt from soundtrack to bayou to lite soul and more. She's pretty much been away for a while and this is a nice way to bring her back into focus. And of course, there's a previously unreleased track.

SMOKE WAGON BLUES BAND/Live in Hamilton: The perfect antidote to manufactured pop, this Canadian blues band has been tearing it up to great acclaim for 15 years now and this live album only gives you a fraction of a taste of what it's all about. Not only live but live and direct, this is music like the kind that used to get you off on a regular basis. Showmen enough to know that they should kick it off with a grabber like "Ain't No Sunshine" before launching into a bunch of originals, you can't remember how many times you got drunk to sounds like this in college, back in the day. Smoking all the way, this is smoke that brings the fire as well. Check it out.

MICK KOLASSA/Michissippi Mick: This isn't your ordinary white boy blues set. Kolassa is a native of Michigan that's been living in Mississippi for over 20 years and is on the board of directors of the Blues Foundation. With a vibe that fuses admiration with authenticity, you can't deny this cats pedigree when it comes to loving the blues. The proceeds from this record are going to the foundation, and if that isn't commitment, what is? Easy rolling stuff that you might hear in a folk club by an old white guy who thinks he's black but never paid the black tax, the spirit and vibe in this set are infectious and non-stop. Just flat out fun stuff that sneaks up on you and never fails to keep it's mojo working, fueled by conqueroo. Check it out.

ELLA FITZGERALD/The Voice of Jazz: With such a long career and so much deep catalog, can 10 fully stuffed cds really do Fitzgerald justice? Normally a project of this scope would have somebody bitching about something, but as of the time this review was posted, all the user generated comments on Amazon gave this set five stars and universal admiration. The only complaint one reviewer had was that he couldn't give it more than five stars because Amazon doesn't accommodate that. Anybody else you can think of that can create and built that kind of consensus? As her older catalog is lapsing into public domain in England, it's good to see Universal taking the time and care to remaster the original tapes and give us the good stuff from the true vine. One of the few pop artists deserving of the Sinatra sized admirations, this collection of over 200 important tracks just scratches the surface and only hints at the mega load of unreleased stuff that happened as the tapes kept rolling. This is certainly one of the most wonderful, all encompassing collections devoted to a single artist that can ever come along.

Volume 38/Number 126
March 6, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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