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LINDA RONSTADT/Sausalito ‘73: What a difference a Brit makes. Touring behind her Asylum debut record but already in pre-production on "Heart Like a Wheel", Ronstadt hit's the ground rocking in the company of John Boylan, Skunk Baxter and Andrew Gold and let's the listener know it's been a long, long time since her country rock days in Phoenix. Culled from a live FM concert, she was already a known quantity but this is just a hint a the greater glories that were yet to come. C'mon, who out there of a certain age doesn't love classic Ronstadt? This is a valentine for them with Cupid's arrow arching it over a 40 year divide.

TOM WAITS/A Small Affair in Ohio: Recorded around the time of his biggest commercial breakthrough, Waits was always the modern definition of a cult hero and as such, he was accorded the room to make his sets as unconventional as possible to adoring audiences. Culled from a live FM 1977 broadcast, the road weary road warrior might have been well into turning himself inside out, but once again, he was up for the task once the lime light was turned on him. Kind of a "Nighthawks at the Diner" lite kind of set, Waits fans will devour this find but you can expect casual fans to be enchanted as easily. A dandy find from deep in the archives.

BRIDGET ST. JOHN/Dandelion Albums & BBC Collection: Talk about your misfires! 45 years ago, St. John was the audio darling of the most powerful dj in England who subsequently started a well intentioned record company to record her. Good intentions was all the company had. Her records were picked up in America by Elektra who positioned her as an early version of Kristin Stewart pictorially and as a gothy folkie aurally, all moody and with screwy song titles. Her English dj didn't have the kind of pull in the states as he did in the UK and another career rolled off the rails. But St. John was an act that wasn't about to go away easily and has lasted as more than a cult act while under the radar for all that time since then. These early sides have been in hiding for quite some time and it's delightful to hear them again. Not quite an unrepentant art chick, St. John hung with screwballs like John Martyn and Kevin Ayers so she certainly had a wild side which is probably the hidden under pinning that kept this stuff so buoyant for so long. You really want a taste of the 60s? Check this 4 cd bounty out.

GRANT GREEN/Racing Green-Guitar Solos 1959/62: Here's an interesting greatest hits twofer. In short order after being introduced to Blue Note, he became the house guitarist for the label. Disc one is culled from a bunch of his early solo albums, disc two is culled from sideman appearances on other hot shot Blue Note dates. Playing his ax with the heart of a be bopper, Green dazzles every time the tape is running. This is a must have collection for any electric jazz guitar fan that doesn't already have these sides nestled in their collection.

FREDDIE HUBBARD/Classic Recordings 1960-62: A good 30 years before blowing out his lip, Hubbard was a young lion to be reckoned with. Kicking it off here in high gear as a solo act and subsequently finding him holding his own with Oliver Nelson on a classic and Hank Mobley on a timeless winner, there‘s killer jazz throughout. Hell, the young man with the horn held his own with all the greats and titans of the era. A be bopper in his soul, these sides go way beyond the daddio stuff that was popular back in the day as he moved the game to a higher plain. Still wonderful blowing that just plain blows the roof off the sucker in a most right on, hard charging, jazzbo way. Certainly a well rounded set and a sure winning bet for the budget minded jazzbo.

JAMES TAYLOR/Live in Atlanta 1981: Kind of funny to look back at it now and see that by the time 1981 had rolled around, Taylor was on his 10th album and pretty much already said everything he had to say. Also funny, this set was recorded on a tour behind his latest album, "Dad Loves His Work", and he's pretty much been showing that for the last 35 years even if he said all he had to say back then. Touring with a crack band that took the laid back SoCal pop sound to the next level of the game adding lite jazz and lite white soul, at this point it was all about bringing out the crowd and letting everyone, on both sides of the pit, have a good time. Certainly a warm and winning snapshot of a time and place that's long gone.

FAIRPORT CONVENTION/Myths & Heroes: Just a hairsbreadth away from their 50th anniversary, the venerable English folk/rock crew doesn't paint by numbers this time out. Using cover art similar to their early "Full Hose' album, an energy level that belies their senior citizen status, a new song by Ralph McTell and a host of good vibes, with folk music making another comeback, this could be a leading edge set for the next wave as it really does raise the bar to heights that haven't been scene in a while. Mighty fine stuff that almost makes you want to blow off Lolla and head for Cropredy. These cats have come too many miles for it to be a surprise they can play like this at this level. Well done.

RAIN PRYOR/Black & White: Her father left her some mighty big shoes to fill but he also encouraged her to pick up the mic and continue the legacy. Oddly enough, this set's producer's father kick started Brother Rich's recording career and now the sons and daughters get together to tear it up for another generation. Taking her 20 years to feel comfortable after her father told her to go for, it's good for all that she took her time to grow into the role. It might be harder to shatter taboos now than it was in the 60s, but Pryor does a bang up job of upending the current status quo and making us laugh along the way. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 181
April 30, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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