HOBO NEPHEWS OF UNCLE FRANK/American Shuffle: The neat thing about marketing handles like Americana is that crews like The Band just didn't erupt fully formed as an Americana band. This duo has some of the Band vibe in their template, but they can call themselves Americana despite the industrial vibe because they do that songwriter thing and they add touches that don't fit anywhere. Certainly not for straight ahead Americana types but fun stuff for anyone that thinks Holy Modal Rounders are folk. Off center, off kilter and off and running. No wonder they have the unofficial Brett Favre theme song under their belts.
GIRLSCHOOL/London 1980: And where the Runaways left off, that's where Girlschool began. Recorded in front of a hometown crowd that liked it loud and proud, the gals thrashed their way into so many hearts that they're still at it 35 years later. Hard hitting stuff for head bangers everywhere, you can just picture Beavis and his kid head banging and devil horning to this, together.
TOM & BEN PALEY/Paley & Son: It took Paley 62 years to find his way from Elektra to Hornbeam to make his proper second album. Now he's up to his old tricks, returning to the studio but not to make his proper third album. Recorded over a two year span, this most righteous, classic, back porch feeling album is as good as it gets. With a crew of young whippersnappers closing in on AARP themselves backing him up, if this doesn't make you feel like what it was to be at an early Newport festival, you just have no soul. Old timey fiddling, killer playing, old timey songs-it's all here and it's all glorious with one of the remaining masters showing us how it's done. Killer stuff throughout that sets the new standard and doesn't feel at all like a last bow.
INSTANT EMPIRE/Lamplight Lost: Indie alt.pop for the college kid top 40 if they aim this at colleges where this is proper flavor. Remember how Green Day tried to sound like Brits even though they were from Oregon? Some things never change.
GARY McFARLAND LEGACY ENSEMBLE/Circulation-The Music of Gary McFarland: Y'know, if Joe Locke or Bruce Barth called and asked if I wanted to review their McFarland tribute album, I'd almost be tempted to write a good review and have it posted before it even arrived in the mail. And what ever good things I said wouldn't be that far off the mark from the final result. McFarland is another one of those cats that left us too soon and needs to be remembered more. The passion this crew brings to this session, all the way down to having just completed it in February and having it out now, should be quite handy in making that happen. Sharel Cassity picks up the sax and wails in a way that could only have contemporaneously be called Miles for normal people when this stuff was making it's first go round. Killer playing on killer material ad up to one killer date that any serious, mainstream jazzbo should wrap their ears around. Hot stuff throughout.
WALT WEISKOPF/Open Road: Super sax man Weiskopf makes it look so easy that before you know it kids will be picking up sax they way they picked up guitars when Beatles made it look so easy. Honking up a storm but never letting the wheels fall off, it's amazing what you can do with a killer set of chops. Tempering the spirit of freedom without going to far into other realms, this gives you a real workout without you ever leaving your chair. Great stuff for those that like their blowing hot.
THE 5TH DIMENSION/Up, Up & Away-Magic Garden-Stoned Soul Picnic-Age of Aquarius: You were either in grade or middle school when they had their first go round and you were amazed at black hippies singing to the suburban middle class about getting high. Then you went off to high school, got high to Zep and Kiss and forgot about all the stuff you liked when you were a kid. And that's the limbo these killer pop albums have lingered in over the years. They haven't been ignored but they haven't been given the proper respect killer pop with tunes by Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro with production by Bones Howe deserved. With four of their killer diller Bell albums, top heavy with their hits here with bonus tracks, remastering and handily delivered on two discs, it's time to go up, up and away with them and go back to that happy place where divorce, underwater mortgages and college bills didn't exist. Surry down, ya'll, this s a wonderful journey through the past that still feels in the moment.
DEVIN GRAY/RelativE ResonancE; A drummer that knows how to lead the crew with his angular, muscular jazz that borders on improv, Gray and company take you to the lofts for another spin around the block even if they themselves weren't there the first time around. Solid stuff for left leaning ears.
IAN TYSON/Carnero Vaquero: And the good news is that Tyson got his voice back. So, what can you say about a cat that's been hitting it out of the park for over 50 years and continues to do so with this trip up to the plate. Focusing on his cowboyography side, there might not be a "Navajo Rug" in the bunch, but it is loaded with "Horsethief Moon"'s and cuts that keep you coming back for more. Now in his 80s, we're glad to see he's still standing and still turning out the kind of work that landed him the honor of having written what was voted the greatest song in the history of Canada. Well done throughout
SAMUEL TORRES GROUP/Forced Displacement: I'm sorry, but I always applaud when someone gets some arts council money and is free to go wild but uses the money to further his art and career in meaningful ways. Given said money, Torres used it to woodshed and write an impressionistic suite about the state of affairs in his na´ve Columbia and how they need to be improved. A moving, widely encompassing work that you know comes straight from the heart from a skilled player, it's not all sturm and drang music as it shows both the hope and hopelessness that reside side by side. Egghead jazz that's not just for eggheads, this is a dandy work that really opens the ears in an off the clock way. Check it out.
Volume 38/Number 204
May 23, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record
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