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Wed, Dec. 11

MP3s: Blues, mariachi, and Beatles

SONG: "Bang Bang Bang Bang" ARTIST: John Lee Hooker ALBUM: Live at Cafe Au Go Go RELEASED: 1967 RATING: 4 out of 4 stars  There's a lot of records in my musical history I attribute directly to my dad while growing up with his collection in the 70s. "Some Girls" by the Stones. "Briefcase Full Of Blues" by the Blues Brothers is another. Definitely "The Best of John Lee Hooker." It was old, scratched up vinyl and I loved it. Even today, when I hear a digital mp3 file of one of the tracks, I know exactly where the skips were on the vinyl version I first heard. My life would change forever with the movie "The Blues Brothers," and the classic scene of John Lee singing "Boom Boom" on Maxwell Street. Did everyone know this guy?, I wondered. I thought I had discovered him as an 8 year old! I'm still listening to John Lee almost 30 years later. Thanks, dad. The version I'm spinning on my mp3 player tonight is one of the best. Recorded live at Cafe Au Go Go from 1967. It's driving, it's relentless, it never lightens. It's a variation of "Boom Boom"; a song he never performs the same way twice. If you're feeling bluesy this week, treat yourself to this download. I also include it in homage of our web editor, John Kamin, whose album collection, too, is complete with the Cafe Au Go Go tapestry. But I included it mostly for the track's 0:42 mark. The King of the Boogie substitutes the word "talk" (as in -- "that baaaaabytalk") with a lazy burp in perfect time with the boogie and the whiskey. It's the single greatest moment in recorded blues music. REVIEWER: Steve Stockmar SONG: "Revolution" BAND: Blue County ALBUM: "Evan Almighty" RELEASED: 2007 RATING: 2 out of 4 stars I've been waiting for the release of this soundtrack for a while. It's a really fun movie, good for the family, but it blew me away with a sneaky Beatles cover version during one of the scenes. It sounded great in the theater, and I couldn't wait to check out the mp3 track. I found the soundtrack this week. Blue County hails from the world of country; a genre I usually avoid like dogfighting. But they turn in a decent cover with a grand Beatles rocker rarely taken on, so I'll give them a handshake and a howdy for going toe-to-toe with John Lennon's antiwar statement. They don't turn in anything especially new on "Revolution"; that's either smart of them to not tamper with popular music of biblical proportions, or it's a gutless defiance of experimentation, the Beatles' hallmark. Thumb's up to the drummer for kicking things off with the signature tempo-defining two-beat at the very beginning. Thumb's down to the lead singer for not including the hidden lyric "in" when Lennon originally sang, "When you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out-in." All in all, the attempt certainly proves that it's hard to mess up a Beatles' song [see: William Shatner's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"]. Therefore it rocks, of course, and it's a good spin with modern recording. It was also a pretty funny movie. You're better off downloading the best Beatle cover ever: "Hey Jude" from Wilson Pickett. Or the Jerry Garcia Band's "Dear Prudence." OK, somebody stop me.REVIEWER: Steve Stockmar  BAND: Los LobosALBUM: La Pistola y El Corazon RATING: Four out of four stars, a must-have for anyone who appreciates mariachi-like music One of my favorite groups of all time will always be Los Lobos, for their famous album, "La Pistola y el Corazon." And with a name that translates into "The Pistol and the Heart", how could anyone not find that interesting? These guys made their claim to fame with their famous rendition of La Bamba (which Ritchie Valens is famous for writing). They also have other albums, which are more in the rock category. But "La Pistola y el Corazon" is more along the lines of mariachi, and is very different from most of their work. For those of you who love mariachi music, this album is for you. It features lightning fast passages of violin on the track Mananitas Michoacanas, and an off-beat, almost tango-ish mix of violin and guitar in Las Amarillas. Another track that includes a memorable violin solo is El Gusto. The guitars that kick off the album with La Guacamaya are priceless, and you can hear perfect fingerpicking that sounds crystal clear. Another famous song is El Canelo, which many people seem to recognize. Several guitars combine for a priceless melody in this one.Lastly, the title track, La Pistola y el Corazon, is a sad song about losing a loved one. You don't need to understand Spanish to catch the emotion in this song. And that's why this album is exceptional - no matter what language you speak, true music fans will appreciate it. This is an album where the instruments steal the show. You won't hear any synthesizers, any distortion pedals, howling vocals, or any stupid catch phrases on this album.Amazon.com also features some samples of the music from this album. Click here to go to that page. REVIEWER: John P. Kamin
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