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LAURINDO ALMEIDA & the Bossa Nova All-Stars: Viva Bossa Nova-Ole! Bossa Nova: These two albums represent why Capitol had to go out of business sooner or later, and it probably would have been sooner if Beatles and Garth Brooks didn't throw them lifelines along the way. These records weren't acquisitions from Blue Note or World Pacific or Liberty or anything, these were original Capitol Records. Why so grumpy? First, this is the first time these records have ever been on cd despite Capitol trying to capitalize on the lounge craze in the 90s. Really? Second, here you have a real Brazilian pro and what do you do with him in the middle of the bossa nova craze when it first hit? Well, it's a good start to surround him with first call west coast jazzbos. Then it's a bad finish to have them all play rec room bossa nova that would have been a step above some bargain bin off label crap if it wasn't for cats like Bob Cooper, Don Fagerquist, Howard Roberts, Jimmy Rowles, Milt Holland and Shelly Manne not wanting to show up for a session and take money under false pretenses. Goodness, out of 24 tracks, only five are real bossas--they rest are bossa flavored hits of the day. Bossa "Walk Right In"? At least they could have left in the original Gus Cannon lyrics about lesbians! Some Almeida is better than no Almeida and that's unfortunately the state of the marketplace. It's not horrible, a lot of this could be the soundtrack to "Austin Powers IV", but those who hang around will be rewarded by the bonus tracks, seven cuts from Bud Shank/Laurindo Almeida's "Latin Concepts", a 1959 World Pacific Dick Bock session. That's all jazzbos need to know, the rest of you should make an effort to get up to speed.

LOUIS PRIMA/The King of Jumpin' Swing Greatest Hits: So, let's see, you don't have the Bear Family box set but you do have the Capitol Collectors Series set and maybe one or two individual reissues. Yep, you need this set. With tracks culled from all the classics of his meaty 50s period, this fatly tracked set takes you places the "Collectors Series" didn't and it's prime Prima at his most meshugginah best. Recorded when he just married his 20 year old, fourth wife (and he was a bit older), everybody had everything to gain and nothing to lose by just going for it and wowing everyone with how over the top they could be, with Prima, Smith and Sam Butera all playing off each other like insane pinballs. Fatly tracked with only a few corny, dated tracks that really don't throw out an anchor, this stuff is the bomb just waiting for the next David Lee Roth and Brain Setzer to come along and launch a whole new revival. You just can't ever get tired of Prima's take on an old man rocking some jump blues in the shadow of Elvis. Hot stuff once and for always.

JULIE LONDON/Sings Latin in a Satin Mood-Swing Me an Old Song: As wonderful as London was, even she had to be a trooper when the record label had a ‘great idea' they wanted her to execute. Wisely paired together, these two albums show London up for any challenge, but these are not the right place for the newbie to jump in and look back as to what it was all about. First up is the obligatory Latin album pop singers seemed to have been required to make at some point. Snuff Garrett used all his pop chops to make something worthwhile here, and it's hard to go wrong with tracks like "Besame Mucho", but all the albums by everyone in this bag seemed to be filler the label required. Next up is a curiosity that Bobby Troup helmed capably where they had London doing mostly old public domain songs. The sultriest singer on the planet doing "Row Row Row"? And the honchos at Liberty were thinking...? Bedazzled by the profits from The Chipmunks and not thinking clearly? Luckily for fans, London could sing the phone book and some Stage Door Johnny would show up with a dozen roses and a diamond ring. Stuff for the real collector or the hard core kitsch freak.

JULIE LONDON/Julie is Her Name Vol. 1 & Vol. 2: You know you're dealing with some powerful stuff when all it took was a guitar, a bass and Jack Webb's first wife to knock Elvis off the charts. With the track, "Cry Me a River", the one that started it all for London leading off the set, this is still is as sexy and intimate as it gets, the better part of 60 years later. The sexiest voice in jazz, who later repudiated her recording career, obviously didn't know what she had or how long lasting it's effects would be. Amazingly not for nostalgia or kitsch freak only, this is London and Bobby Troup giving it their all and doing it by showing how less is so much more. Killer stuff that still reigns supreme.

JULIE LONDON/Calendar Girl-Around Midnight: Billed as two concept albums, it's easy to see how "Calendar Girl" is a concept album, but we'll get to "Around Midnight" in a minute. A serviceable record company idea, Bobby Troup is in the producer's chair once again taking the missus through a year's worth of tunes, each one featuring a different month. With a cover that's as easy on the eyes as the music is on the ears, this is a buoyant set that runs through a bunch of moods and serves up a nice ear candy for any fan of vocal music. "After Midnight" is a good record. Don't get me wrong. Chicago's Dick Reynolds takes London to dark places in fine style. The thing is, this record doesn't evoke midnight so much as it does a primer of music to commit suicide to until Leonard Cohen finally shows up a decade later. "Lush Life", "Something Cool", "Black Coffee", sheesh, anyone wan to gargle with razor blades? Luckily, balancing tracks like "'Round Midnight", "Misty" and "You and the Night and the Music" will have you reaching for the bandages and styptic pencil. These are some meaty entries in the London canon.

MARTY PAICH/I Get a Boot Out of You-The Picasso of Big Band Jazz: Here you have two classic albums by one of the great arrangers of the late 50s era and it's an interesting pairing because they show his greatness from different angles with vastly different underlying attitudes. "Boot" shows Paich in the safe confines of early Warner Bros Records when they were trying anything to get into your living room without offending anyone. With the obligatory, lightly sexy girl cover leading the way, Paich is turned loose on a heavily Ellington program leading the crème of the west coast jazzbos on a safe, living room romp that WB hoped would be the sound of the suburbs. If Paich was wearing a straight jacket, he was too much of pro to let it show. "Picasso" is another side of the story. Recorded for a feisty indie, they let Paich be Paich on a set of originals, with a different set of trumpeters and more west coast first call cats. Whether playing it safe or not, Paich was a giant and these are two towering, swinging big band albums that still have what it takes to light the fire and keep it cooking today. Great stuff throughout.

ACHMED SAVES AMERICA: While hipsters may shake their heads in wonder that Jeff Dunham is one of the most popular comedians on the planet, Dunham pays them no never mind as he steps outside his comfort zone and into the world of animation with his dead terrorist trying to use his bony fingers to stop the infidels but getting stopped in his own tracks with his love for all the things middle American has to offer. With enough stereotypes and insults to make his core audience probably cringe at the degree of family unfriendliness on parade here in the name of satire, hipsters may be forced to turn their heads and pay him some mind. With a lot more "South Park" in his mix than you might expect from the ventriloquist, this is a laugh riot that probably won't be appreciated in it's immediate time frame but will grow as time marches on. Crazy stuff that hit's the target harder than you might realize.
80525 (available individually on DVD and blu-ray)

KEY & PEELE SEASONS 1 & 2 COMBO: The paradigm has changed again with this duo of comedians that have put forth the most subversive, "off the radar" sketch comedy show since "SCTV". I don't know how off the radar you can be when you are generating about a jillion streams and hits and your clips occupy nine of the top ten slots on your channel's website, but these two hillarians are doing it. Loaded with the kind of stuff you can't believe they said, their lineage pulls from "SCTV" to "In Living Color" to "Chappelle's Show" with not a whit of worrying about the mainstream anywhere in their attack. Well in the running for funniest men on the planet, whether hitting you with recurring, stock characters or one offs, these guys will have your side aching from laughing too much, too hard, too often. Killer stuff that has your impatiently waiting for more. Get with the programs
7914988 (available individually on DVD and blu-ray)

HYSTERIA: And some stuff stays in the can forever because it's so disturbing, right? This pic, originally from 1997 by the director of "Massacre at Central High" is loaded with terror and horror of all sorts, really making the actors work for their money. Certain to find favor with the deep horror crowd, there's a lot of familiar faces here from "The Prisoner" to "Hunger Games" and they all band together to make this look at a psycho creating group think elicit lots of involuntary gasps and gaps at reaching for the popcorn. Wild stuff from a proven genre master.

Volume 38/Number 149
March 29, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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