The Tragically Hip come from a long line of bands that began as arena-rock-in-my-basement garage outfits, and actually soldiered on to make music worthy of achieving that aspiration. While it's true that 2004's In Between Evolution and the lackluster We Are the Same were missteps because they were squarely aimed at the ever elusive mainstream, Now for Plan A, the Hip's 13th long-player, produced by Gavin Brown, moves them back to their square, toward the immediacy of their earlier records. Its 11 tracks deliver a varied, mostly uptempo, solid sonic ride that combines big-budget rock & roll production with more basic elements of urgency, impulsiveness, and humor.
Keeping their forward momentum at warp speed, the Pointer Sisters brought the effusive Steppin' to bear in summer 1975. Having already danced into the spotlight across their first three albums, it was no surprise when the David Rubinson-produced LP, which boasted one of the era's best cut-out sleeves (slingback high-heeled tap sneakers!), cruised to number three R&B. Keeping their feet planted firmly in the older soul tradition which had served them so well, the Pointer Sisters continued to look ahead, carving their own niche in a genre soon to be glutted with contenders. This set is a thriller, from the opening funk groove of the number one hit "How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side)," which remains a delicious collision of mid-period soul, funk.
Don Patterson (1936-1988) wasn't the most distinctive organist to follow on the heels of Jimmy Smith's success. But, like Larry Young and Shirley Scott who also played piano first, Patterson was undoubtedly one of the more melodic and lyrical of organ practitioners. What's more, while his more popular peers ventured into soul jazz, funk and pop, Patterson stayed firmly rooted within the bop tradition. He recorded a whopping 15 albums for Prestige between 1964 and 1969, then recorded only five more for the Muse label until his final 1978 album, recorded a decade before his death.