This exciting CD has 20 diverse performances that were originally produced by Leonard Feather for the Victor label during 1946-47. The first eight selections feature various versions of Esquire's All-American Award Winners and have some unique combinations of musicians. "Long Long Journey" was the first record to match together Duke Ellington (who verbally introduces the song) and Louis Armstrong, and on "Snafu" Armstrong takes a surprisingly modern solo that hints at bebop. Trumpeter Charlie Shavers creates a remarkable improvisation on "The One That Got Away," ltoist Johnny Hodges plays beautifully on "Gone with the Wind" and other key players include tenor saxophonist Don Byas, trumpeter Buck Clayton, trombonist J.J. Johnson and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. In addition, there are selections featuring trombonist Jack Teagarden, the 52nd Street All-Stars (with Shavers, Hawkins and tenorman Allan Eager), the tenor of Lucky Thompson, trumpeter Neal Hefti, altoist Benny Carter, singer Mildred Bailey and solo piano records by Art Tatum and Erroll Garner. The mid-to-late '40s were a particularly rich period for jazz and this highly recommended CD is filled with gems.
In recent decades, both Reminiscing and Showcase have enjoyed less than stellar reputations among Buddy Holly fans and '50s rock purists, as both albums were made up of the products of producer Norman Petty's posthumous redubbing of Holly's unfinished demos. Apart from the bizarre inclusion of "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" – a B-side chosen by Petty for the single of the title track – Reminiscing is a very solid album, and was essential to the maintaining of Holly's memory, reaching number three in a six-month run on the U.K. charts in 1963; one can just about lay odds that various members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were among the listeners of this album or its successor.
Like jazz, the blues has its share of late bloomers – artists who didn't start recording or didn't become well-known until they were well into their 50s or 60s. R.L. Burnside is very much a late bloomer; the Mississippi bluesman was born in 1926, but it wasn't until the 1990s that he started to enjoy the publicity he deserved. Recorded in 2000, Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down finds the veteran singer continuing to be fairly unpredictable at 73. Essentially, this CD falls into the Mississippi blues category – Burnside maintains the earthy, down-home rawness that people expect from Mississippi country-blues. But Burnside certainly isn't without urban influences, and this CD illustrates his appreciation of John Lee Hooker and early Muddy Waters as well as the Texas blues of Lightnin' Hopkins.
The story of the Cranberries is one of dogged survival. Debuting with a maiden release that everybody seemed to rate as a portent of great things, the band suffered not only a "difficult" second album but also an absolute stinker of a third one, as the bandmembers strove desperately – too desperately – to live up to their reputation for sensitivity and thoughtfulness, and completely lost sight of their true virtues in the process. Internecine squabbling, health problems, and general disaffection all took further toll, so much so that, as the band prepared to release its fourth album, 1999's Bury the Hatchet, many observers were shocked to learn that the band even existed any longer, let alone was capable of actually making a new record – especially one that was as good as Bury the Hatchet turned out to be. Filmed at the Paris Omnisport de Bercy on December 9, 1999, toward the end of that album's accompanying tour, Beneath the Skin captures the full 84-minute concert performance, with the band ranging and, occasionally, raging through a veritable greatest-hits collection. The 22 tracks date back to the shimmering beauty of the Everybody Else Is Doing It era, fast forward through the highlights (and there were a few) of the two albums that followed, and then climax with eight cuts from the new record, including an opening salvo of "Animal Instinct," "Loud and Clear," and "Promises" that restates Hatchet's own defiant kickoff.
A dynamic live concert from the era of Humidity, blending moments of pure sonic improvisation with melodic pieces from the Fathom-era catalog.