Despite the presence of classic tracks like Joe Zawinul's "Great Expectations," Big Fun feels like the compendium of sources it is. These tracks are all outtakes from other sessions, most notably Bitches Brew, On the Corner, and others. The other element is that many of these tracks appeared in different versions elsewhere. These were second takes, or the unedited takes before producer Teo Macero and Miles were able to edit them, cut and paste their parts into other things, or whatever. That is not to say the album should be dismissed.
The time that has flown is Smokey's 50 years in the business, but it could just as well refer to the number of years since Robinson has released a smooth soul album: almost 20 full years! Smokey, of course, has stayed active during the interim, both on-stage and on record, but Time Flies When You're Having Fun marks a return to the coolly simmering quiet storm that was his stock in trade during the '70s and '80s. Apart from production techniques, not much has changed in Smokey's music during the time off, either: this is still smooth, unhurried soul that vacillates between elegance and supper-club classiness. Of course, since these are two sides of the same coin, they fit together seamlessly, with the only question being whether the immaculately polished music veers toward the corny, but whenever it does, Smokey's impeccably tailored vocals steer it back to toward the sweetly romantic. After all these years, Smokey still makes it all seem easy – so easy that it's puzzling why he hasn't made a record like this in so long, because as this comforting, velvety album proves, nobody does it better than he.
When Bishop played guitar with Paul Butterfield in the 1960s he fancied himself a countrified hippie named Pig Boy Cranshaw. His sense of humor remains intact decades later, evidenced on a relaxed blues-oriented rock program shot through with a smart sort of bumpkin levity. He never could sing (it was Mickey Thomas on his 1970s smash "Fooled Around and Fell in Love"), but his guitar rides roughshod over those of many a better-known blues artist.
From the title of this CD, the listener can guess where zydeco artist C.J. Chenier is going with this one. Recorded in 1995, Too Much Fun features a big sound filled with multiple electric guitars, saxophones, trumpet, and percussion instruments, along with the more traditional accordion and rub boards that distinguish the genre of zydeco. C.J. Chenier contributes to the party spirit by playing the accordion, alto saxophone, and providing vocals on the CD. The rest of the Red Hot Louisiana Band gears up for an album of party music meant for dancing. It would be unthinkable in the zydeco tradition to have too much fun without dancing being on the agenda, so dance tunes rule the record. Especially hot dance tunes include "Zydeco Cha Cha," "Louisiana Two Step," "Squeaky Wheel," and "Give Me Some of That," along with the title cut. There is a humorous and admiring nod to the ladies in "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)," as well as some gritty blues on "Louisiana Down Home Blues" and "Lost in the Shuffle." The CD goes out with one last lively dance number, "Louisiana Two-Step," so that no one can ever say that C.J. Chenier kept the dancers from having too much fun.
This 55-CD set chronicles the remarkable Archiv label, begun in 1947. Devoted mainly to early and Baroque music, the recordings presented here, in facsimiles of their original sleeves (a nice touch), cover the period from Gregorian chant to Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth symphonies, played on period instruments. There are stops in between for a great deal of Bach, music of the Gothic era, the French Baroque (Mouret, Delalande, Rameau, etc), Gibbons, Handel (Alcina, La Resurrezione, Messiah, Italian cantatas), Telemann, Zelenka, Gabrieli, Desprez, Haydn, LeJeune, and plenty of the usual, as well as unusual, suspects. There’s also a final CD with selections of new releases (more Handel, Cavalli, Gesualdo, Vivaldi).