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Lazy Eye Records America/Compass Records 7 4781 1
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Colin Hay, lead vocalist and guitarist of the Australian band Men at Work, has released a series of albums under his own name since 1987, all well received by fans and critics. I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, his 14th release, features the UK-born singer-songwriter’s interpretations of songs made famous by others. He coproduced the album with producer and multi-instrumentalist Chad Fischer, who provided the arrangements and much of the instrumentation.

Blue Note Records B0033158-01/Pacific Jazz ST-85
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

By the time Joe Pass began his recording career in 1962, he was 33 years old. A heroin addict through much of the 1950s, he had kicked the drug with the help of the controversial Synanon rehab program. His debut LP for Pacific Jazz Records, Sounds of Synanon, featured musicians who were fellow clients. During the five years that Pass was associated with Pacific Jazz, he appeared on recordings by other artists on the label, including Les McCann and Gerald Wilson.

Blue Note Records BN 2801/B003372801
Format: 2 LPs

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***
Overall Enjoyment: ***½

Don Was, president of Blue Note Records, penned the short introductory essay for the booklet that accompanies First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings, a newly released set of live recordings by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Was describes Blakey’s importance to Blue Note, both as band leader and accompanist, and goes on to praise his focus and inspiration, which drove the musicians he played with to do their best.

Zappa Records/Universal Music Enterprises/MGM Records ZR3846-1B
Format: 2 LPs

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Frank Zappa’s 1971 film, 200 Motels, is a surreal, comic look at rock musicians and their lives on the road. Zappa cowrote and codirected the movie with Tony Palmer, whose long career in film and theater has included everything from rock-music documentaries to opera. The movie consists of a series of comic skits, interspersed with footage of Zappa appearing onstage with the Mothers of Invention and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Among the guest stars are Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and Theodore Bikel.

Mack Avenue Records MAC1186LP
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

While there are plenty of jazz organists who continue to play the kind of soul jazz that Jimmy Smith made popular on the instrument, it’s hard to think of any who match Joey DeFrancesco’s commitment to that tradition. Larry Goldings is a formidable and accomplished player, but he also spends a good bit of his time playing jazz piano. John Medeski is an exciting, innovative musician, but his music takes in everything from jam-band rock to free jazz.

Blue Note Records/Universal Music Enterprises BST-84323/3808954
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ***½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Jazz pianist Duke Pearson spent most of his recording career with Blue Note Records, where he also arranged and produced for other artists. One of his later recordings for the label was a Christmas album, Merry Ole Soul. He recorded the album’s nine well-known seasonal songs in February and August 1969, with Bob Cranshaw on bass, Mickey Roker on drums, and, on three tracks, Airto Moreira on percussion. Blue Note released the album later that year.

Intervention Records IR-027
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The Church, formed in 1980 in Sydney, Australia, released four albums that sold well at home and stirred up some interest in Europe and the US, but it was the band’s fifth album, Starfish (1988), that brought an international following. The band’s previous albums had been recorded at studios in Sydney, but Starfish was recorded in the US, with Greg Ladanyi and Waddy Wachtel producing.

Rhino Entertainment/Warner Records R1 1935 (LP), R2 655956 (CD)
Format: LP, CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The Grateful Dead’s eponymous seventh album has no official title. It’s often listed as Grateful Dead, but is better known to fans as Skull & Roses, after its unique cover art. The two-LP set, released in 1971, was the Dead’s second live album in what was then the band’s four-year recording career, and contains a number of tunes that would turn up regularly at Dead shows over the years. Drummer Mickey Hart’s three-year hiatus from the band began with Grateful Dead, and keyboard player Tom Constanten had left the previous year. As a result, the Dead sound leaner on Grateful Dead than on 1969’s Live/Dead, the band’s first live album, which was also a double LP.

New West Records NW5514
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Los Lobos are well respected for the quality of their songwriting, but throughout their career they’ve also excelled at bringing a fresh take to covers of other songwriters’ material. Their discography includes tribute albums to artists as varied as Fats Domino, the Grateful Dead, and Doc Pomus, and their recording of Ritchie Valens’s “La Bamba” was a big hit for them in 1987. Their EP Ride This (2004) comprised covers of seven songs by musicians and songwriters who had appeared on the concurrently released Los Lobos album, The Ride, including Dave Alvin, Elvis Costello, and Richard Thompson.

Pacific Jazz Records/Blue Note Records ST-70/B0032877-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

If you’re a vinyl lover and a jazz fan, this is a great time to be alive. Blue Note Records has its Tone Poet and Classic Vinyl series, while Acoustic Sounds and Verve Records are collaborating to reissue titles from Verve, Impulse! Records, and other labels held by Universal Music Enterprises that don’t fall under the Blue Note umbrella. I’ve covered quite a few releases from all three reissue series here, and I had been planning to look elsewhere this month to mix things up until I played Katanga!, a Tone Poet reissue of a 1963 Pacific Jazz session co-led by Curtis Amy and Dupree Bolton.