2007 ISSUE #96
Lee Lewis Time Life
If you ever needed any visual proof that Jerry Lee
Lewis was one of the more important artists from the early rock
era, look no further than this short but sweet DVD from Time Life.
What this disc lacks in quantity (there's only 12 songs and one
medley, timing in at 71 minutes) it makes up for in quality.
The performances range from the 50s into the 70s,
at the point where Lewis had crossed over into country music.
The early footage is fiery and wild, much like you'd expect. A
1958 live take of Breathless from The Dick
Clark Show is especially cooking, with the crowd of clean-cut
teenage kids looking on with a bit of confusion while Lewis rips
through the song like a raving lunatic. One disappointing section
comes with two tracks taken from the Dewey Phillips' Pop
Shop in 1957. The songs are obviously lip-synced and the
sound is choppy, yet to its credit, the clips still hold some
historical value at the very least.
The real treasure here is the six songs from a performance
on a British TV show special in 1964. By this time, Lewis' popularity
was on the wane in the US, but still a hot commodity in England.
The intensity of the performance grows with each tune, and the
kids go wild as Lewis turns on the madness. At one point they
surround his piano and go ape while he bangs away at the keys.
By the end of the set, he's on top of the piano shaking his hips
with the crowd of teens are in a frantic state. This is great
stuff, and worth seeking out just to see this performance.
The last bit from the 70s is taken from the cheesy
Pop Goes The Country television show. The only highlight is a
five song medley with Mickey Gilley that slowly picks up steam
into a real barnburner, when some of that old Lewis magic kicks
in. By the end of the medley, he's up on his feet playing the
piano like a man on fire once again.
The DVD ends with a so-so interview from the early
90s. By this point, Lewis was way past his prime and a little
long-winded in the interview. Interesting stuff, but somewhat
of an anti-climax after the fireball we've witnessed from decades
MISH MASH Mandate: Shake, Baby, Shake
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Six Degrees Records
15 song CD
Do yourself a favor and introduce yourself to the music of Maria
do Céu Whitaker Poças, aka Céu. You'll be
glad you did, and you can thank me later. Hailing from São
Paulo, Brazil, Céu blends the traditional sounds of her
home country with the ultra-modern sounds of contemporary music,
and trust me, it is powerful and unforgettable.
Céu takes the samba and bossa nova and collides them
with reggae, dub, and electronica in a compelling mix. The music
bounces and grooves, slipping around with beats from around
the world. Many have tried to make this transition with various
forms of Latin music, but few have been as successful as this.
It feels natural and not forced, as if this kind of musical
collage had been here all along and we never quite noticed it
before. Simply gorgeous.
MISH MASH Mandate: Summer Samba
Six Degrees Records
When Your Feet Hit The Stars
10 song CD
When Carrie Biell begins to sing, her voice grabs your attention
completely. With a slight raspy twang delivered in a half-whisper,
Biell commands attention with subtle quirkiness. While it's not
a particularly beautiful singing voice, it is striking in its uniqueness.
Biell's music style fits well with her voice, sort of an alt-country
sound that is understated and simple. Steel guitar, banjo, mandolin,
bass and drums meander along in no hurry, laying down a quiet and
steady pace for Biell to paint her melancholy vocal pictures.
MISH MASH Mandate: Melancholy Country
Carrie Biell Website
Mebane's Eleven: Tunes For Two
11 Song CD
Hailing from the Bay Area with female drummer Sheryl Mebane as
its leader, the Tangria Jazz Group bases its sound in classic bebop
jazz with a modern twist. The approach is laid-back with a light
soul jazz groove, at times reaching towards acid-jazz in rhythmic
flavor and attitude.
Mebane is the group's leader/composer, watching over her group
with loose reins, allowing them to venture out and experiment within
the confines of the classic jazz trio. Bassist Justin Hellman and
keyboardist Simon Rochester skillfully play their way through the
tunes, interacting with Mebane beautifully throughout the album.
The group is tight, and it is obvious that they have found the true
spirit of jazz in their midst.
MISH MASH Mandate: In The Groove
Tangria Jazz Trio Website
7 song CD
Just when you thought that the days of great, smart-aleck power
pop were long gone, the Action Painters have breathed new life into
our old and missed friend. This is indie college slacker rock at
its finest, complete with sloppy droning guitars and whiny vocals
that are mad at everything and nothing at the same time.
The band conjures up everything from the Buzzcocks to Big Star,
leaning heavily on attitude all the while. There's a touch of 80s
New Wave in the addition of synths, but the main attraction is the
ever-present full-tilt guitar. Rock on.
MISH MASH Mandate: Poppy Power
Action Painters Website
Gene Butler Band
10 song CD
The name Concrete Country rings true with this seriously countrified
album from the Gene Butler Band. This isn't the slick pop country
of the mainstream, this is the classic gritty country you'll find
in the dives on the outskirts of a small town.
Butler sings with a gravelly tone, rough around the edges, and
thankfully lacking that faux overstated drawl of the Nashville
pretty boys. The music is simple and straightforward, falling
back on the tried and true progressions and sounds of yesteryear,
borrowing just enough from the blues to add a little soul to the
MISH MASH Mandate: Deep Fried Country
Gene Butler Band Website
11 song CD
Progressive rock meets quirky indie in this brilliant little release
from the trio Limbs. The rhythms are adventurous and creatively
disjointed, the songs are decidedly unstructured and freeform in
nature, and yet the band still swaggers with attitude. The result
is a unique sound that fails categorization.
The underlying angst gives the music an edge that removes it one
full stop from being purely prog for prog's sake. While the band
wanders and meanders outside the pop realm, they do so with an indie
rock aggression that keeps everything grounded, without venturing
too far into left field.
MISH MASH Mandate: Progressively
Distant Borders Revisited
World View Music
12 song CD
Jazz artist/guitarist Glen Helgeson takes us on a world-wide journey
through music, following a non-linear path that incorporates a wild
mix of styles from every corner of the globe. This is cultural diversity
in its truest sense, a melting pot that crosses boundaries of every
African beats meet Latin rhythms and European attitudes as Helgeson
incorporates his jazzy guitar lines into a tasty musical soup. Instruments
of every persuasion make an appearance -- from violin, sitar, congas,
berimbau, mandolin, to djembe, and not always in the places you'd
expect. Every song is a wonderful surprise and adventure.
MISH MASH Mandate: Globetrotter
World View Music Website
© 2007 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved