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CYPRESS STRING QUARTET/Beethoven-The Middle String Quartets: Once again, this crew brings such living, breathing energy to Beethoven that it just blows your mind. Moving backward in time from previous releases, they turn this into an extravaganza of classical music that feels like classical music should. Loaded with more sweeping grandeur than four players should be able to produce, this threefer set gives them ample room to dig deep into the music and craft a work, that once again, is second to none. The kind of sounds that could turn a classical tourist into a devotee, this is a wonderful forward into the past sonic adventure that raises the bar. Killer stuff.

BLOSSOM DEARIE/Complete Recordings 1952-62: Talk about stumbling into a treasure chest of sassy sophistication! The heart and soul of Dearie's run on Verve, a best of Verve and two albums that predate it all from her 50s boho stay in Paris all under one cover. It doesn't get any better than this. With great songs backed by simple but killer backing, Dearie seems to have single handedly invented modern cabaret with what's on display here. Loaded with one classic after another, this is a mighty treat for jazz vocal fans. Even when she was finding her voice, we didn't have to search to hard for it. This is a collection for fans of classy music to have under their Christmas trees next week. The real deal.

HENRY MANCINI/Classic Soundtrack Collection: When you get to listen to Mancini's soundtracks out of the context of their time, you hear the reason why they were so good is that his albums, even if they were soundtracks, were complete statements, not a hodge podge of themes, underscores and what nots. And he always showed up to work, even if the movie was a clunker or a trifle. With so many undeniable killers shooting out of his baton, his legacy would have been assured if he only turned out three of the killers on display here---but he didn't stop there. A paragon of middle class hipness, this collection is a paragon of bachelor pad music if nothing else. A wonderful trek through the mind of Mancini, you can be sure there isn't a false note in the lot of these 18 cleffers. This is one killer collection.

JORDAN DE LA SIERRA/Gymnosphere-Song of the Rose: Would have expected the Numero gang to delve deep into progressive new age from years past? A set that sounds like Wendy Carlos facing off against Mike Oldfield is loaded with sounds that were ground breaking when originally released 40 years ago. Hell, Eno could have learned a thing or two off this set back in the day. Today, this is a good bet for new agers that like a bit of a wild ride through their cosmos. A twofer cd that full of space being the place, fire up that blunt and drift off into the mellow.

JAMES GALWAY/The Man With the Golden Flute-The Complete RCA Collection: It seems like Galway has been around forever yet the earliest sides in this collection only date from the mid 70s (which is probably forever for a lot of you). With a career loaded with the depth of and breadth that one would only expect from a Sinatra, this 73 disc set covers every note he's wrung out of his golden flute whether classical, Celtic, oriental, Americana and everything else you could check out. Encyclopedic in it's scope, this is a most charming and delightful look at the world history of flute music on the grown up side. Always classy and as shiny as his golden flute, Galway shines here as few other could. Killer stuff sure to get you through the coldest winter.

KROLL SHOW Seasons 1 & 2: Somewhere between rebooting Joel McHale and SNL is where "Kroll Show" rides herd. If you only know him from his comedy records, you don't know the whole story. A pop culture regurgitator, Nick Kroll takes it way beyond the range of stoner comedy that comes from the back row of the classroom. This collection of the first two seasons of his show is like an inside out version of Bravo in which pop culture is pummeled rather than revered, and in the end, Kroll wins as he trundles it all into submission with hard hitting hilarity that aims low and massacres the target. With an Ernie Kovacs sensibility for millenials and younger, Kroll has found the sweet spot for cutting edge, contemporary comedy. This is a total laugh riot.

BROAD CITY season 1: Being exec produced by Amy Poehler means that there's going to be no shortage of first call guest stars and that she's going to try and outdo her contemporaries at making a chick comedy that can match the boys for low humor shot for shot. Basically a hilarious, dark side inversion of "Two Broke Girls", these two vilde chi's taking on New York and trying to make New York bend to their terms is off kilterly off the wall in the extreme. At an earlier time, viewers would be going ‘did they just do that?', but now viewers laugh out loud and go ‘ hey, it's cable'. This is a fun show that words like ‘lmfao' were created for. Check it out; "The View" might be for women only, but once you cross over to this side of the fence...

JEFF DUNHAM'S VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: Explain how the family humor guy gets a parental warning on his dvd package... The guy with the dummies turns the holiday inside out as he revisits his 2009 production that helped cement his place on the map. This is the holiday companion you want when you've finally gotten tired of "It's a Wonderful Life", realizing all that snow is just flocking and you want something that reflects how it feels when it's Christmas time in hell. Perfect for when it's the time of night when you get marinated in spiked egg nog and want the good times to roll----after your weird uncle finally throws up for the last time and leaves so the real fun can really begin.

Volume 38/Number 48
December 18, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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