Hubert Laws hits an 80s groove here – but the shift doesn't seem to dampen his soul at all! At some points, the rhythms are a bit more pronounced than before – bouncy and funky at points, with a slight nod to the clubs – yet other points still have that soft, airy finish that made Laws' flute such a big hit earlier in the 70s – mixed here with some nice vocals from Rod McNeill and Eloise Laws too. Most of the album's still instrumental, though – and other players include Bobby Lyle on acoustic piano, Randy Waldman on Fender Rhodes, Nathan East on bass, and Ndugu Chancler on drums. Titles include "Stay With Me", "Morning Star", "Life Cycles", "Gonna Be Happy", "Make It Last", and "Happy Anniversary".
This edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers is an unusual one. The personnel includes Blakey veterans Lee Morgan (returning to the band after some success as a leader), Curtis Fuller, and Victor Sproles, along with John Hicks (who appeared on three other Blakey records) and the tenor saxophonist John Gilmore (of Sun Ra fame) in his only appearance with the band. As was typical of Blakey-led groups, the emphasis is on original material by its members; the one Broadway show tune included, "Faith," is from a long since forgotten I Had a Ball. Morgan's driving blues "'S Make It" is easily the highlight of the session, though Hicks' richly voiced "Waltz for Ruth" and Fuller's Latin-flavored "Little Hughie" also deserve to be better known than they are. It's a shame that this was the only recording by this particular lineup of the Jazz Messengers, as Gilmore's strong blowing complements Morgan very well.
Rhino Bucket spits out a thick, heavy rock in the style of the idols AC/DC. The riffs are more important the song and, in the band's favor, they come up with a fair share of solid hooks. There's not enough killer material to make Get Used To It completely interesting, but the chunky chords and scathing vocals make it an entertaining listen for diehard AC/DC fans…
Michael Burks' third release on Alligator Records, Iron Man, is as close to being a live album as you can get from a studio performance. This could be attributed to Burks using his seasoned road band on this date instead of the Memphis studio musicians used previously on Make It Rain and I Smell Smoke. Alongside Burks' searing Flying V strut, Wayne Sharp's greasy Hammond B-3 dominates this set, reveling in soul and rock influences, including a cover version of Free's "Fire and Water," a definite nod to the blues-rock audience Burks has gained over his 30-plus years on the road. While Iron Man is an overall inspired modern electric blues disc, a few missteps hamper the session. "Ashes in My Ashtray," penned by Chicago bluesman Jimmy Johnson, would have made a better instrumental in this particular case, as the lyrics get in the way of an intense Burks guitar performance.
Under The Water-Line is the debut album from the Dutch band Ten Sharp and contains the hit singles "You", "Ain't My Beating Heart" and "Rich Man". The album was released in March 1991 with seven tracks, but by the time "You" became a national hit the album was expanded with three new songs to make it a full album. The album itself entered the top ten in Norway, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland.
Easily the longest of any Capitol single-disc compilation, 2005's The World of Nat King Cole also benefits from a fresh remastering of its material to make it the best introduction to the interpretive brilliance of Nat King Cole. Nearly all the hits that need to be here are indeed present: "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "Route 66," "Nature Boy," "Too Young," and "Mona Lisa." The compilers also wisely chose a few representative songs to replace some of the middling hits; the only surprise is the absence of "The Christmas Song" and "Lush Life," although the chart hits – "Answer Me, My Love," "Pretend," "Looking Back"…
Another installment in Collectables' The Ultimate Christmas Album series, volume four gathers a mix of well-known and offbeat holiday tunes, including Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas," the Platters' "Winter Wonderland," and Perry Como's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." Brook Benton's "You're All I Want for Christmas," Percy Faith's "Christmas Is," and Otis Redding's "Merry Christmas Baby" are some of the collection's soulful highlights, while Santo & Johnny's "Twistin' Bells" and Stan Freberg's "Christmas Dragnet" add some novelty to the festivities. Though it's a somewhat uneven collection, The Ultimate Christmas Album, Vol. 4: WCBS 101.1 has enough interesting and classic moments to make it worthwhile for anyone looking to go beyond the season's basic music.