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New or recent releases

New or recent releases

In The Groove

Barry Goldberg

The words in the only song that has any are sung by Les McCann and—according to one source—address Donald Trump (antagonistically, of course). Otherwise, the producer Carla Olson keeps the focus off virtue signaling and on Goldberg’s Hammond B3, Joe Sublett’s sax, and the slinky R&B melodies of the covers (including those of Doc Bagby, Milt Bruckner, Johnny and the Hurricanes, and Sil Austin) and Goldberg’s own compositions. Target audience: anyone who thinks that Goldberg’s roots only go back as far as Newport ’65.

Tokyo Bay

Nick Lowe

This four-song EP (two 7-inch singles in the vinyl version) is being heralded as Lowe’s return to “rocking hard while hardly rocking” after 20-plus years of crafting crooner-friendly country-and-soul-tinged gems. But Lowe has been performing “Tokyo Bay” for at least six years, and his deep reading of Dionne Warwick’s biggest ’80s hit hardly qualifies as a sayonara to introspection. What’s new is the way that his Christmas-tour collaborators Los Straitjackets have tailored their surf-rock into a genuine Cowboy Outfit.

Jon Savage’s 1965: The Year The Sixties Ignited

Various artists

Because it follows the same modus operandi, Savage’s latest musical yearbook is as enjoyable as his others, creatively sequencing songs that were hits on at least one side of the Atlantic with songs that were obscurities on both. Their common denominators are that they’re good and that they enliven Savage’s memories of himself at 12, tuning into pop-music TV shows and pirate radio to pan for gold amid, in his words, “what seemed like oceans of dreck.” “Oceans of dreck”? Now there’s a compilation waiting to happen.

Back Being Blue

Kelly Willis

Willis and her cohorts deliver these enjoyably no-frills songs with one of their collective feet in country and the other in pop. Make that pre–Shania Twain (hence pre–Taylor Swift) country and pop—the simplicity and the immediacy of the sentiments, Willis’ mellow alto voice, and the instrumentation (especially Eleanor Whitmore’s fiddle and Geoff Queen’s steel guitars) suggest zero interest in, or awareness of, the digital era. Maybe that’s why Willis’ most convincing original is the one in which she seeks release from the “modern world.”

Michael Ochs Archives

Vince Guaraldi (Michael Ochs Archives)


Never let it be said that Omnivore Recordings oversells its product. “Guaraldi’s voice,” writes Derek Bangs in the booklet accompanying Vince Guaraldi’s The Complete Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Recordings, “is untrained at best, off-key at worst, and ill-advised in both cases.” Bangs is a Guaraldi expert, but he’s wrong. Guaraldi’s singing may have been untrained, but, at least on the two Tim Hardin covers to which Bangs refers, it’s on-key and, frankly, rather pleasant.

But Guaraldi achieved fame as a jazz pianist, and, his Hardin covers aside, that’s the role he inhabits on the quirky Warner Bros.–Seven Arts sessions that he logged from 1968 to 1970. To prove that he was more than a trio-leading Peanuts composer, he played electric harpsichord and guitar, expanded his group, and covered a wide array of material. The results fit no then-popular niche. That they still don’t is one reason that they remain vibrant. Expert remastering is another. —A.O.