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Maria Muldaur

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"Waitress In A Donut Shop, " Reprise MS-2 194 With the release of her first solo album last fall, Maria Muldaur burst on the scène as one of those new discoveries who had already been recording for several years. That album was so refreshing and so sensual that it enabled Maria to capture the hearts of millions of Americans, even though the singles were much overplayed on AM radio. The beauty of last year's album was that Maria assembled the best musicians to help her record very select material in her own personal style. And make no mistake about it, this woman has STYLE. Well, everything that was so good about the first album is present on "Waitress in a Donut Shop" - and then some. First, the material. Whoever is choosing Maria's material (her or the producers) has impeccable taste. There are old tunes by Clarence Ashley, Skip James, and Fats Waller, another Wendy ("Vaudeville Man") Waldman tune, and "Cool River" by Anna McGarrigle, sister to Kate who wrote the "Work Song" on the other Muldaur LP. SeconÜ, the production. Three tunes, "Squeeze Me''Sweetheart," and 'it Ain't the Meat" were done with big band arrangements written and conducted by Benny Carter. "Gringo in Mexico" has Lowell George and Dennis Budimir on guitars. "Cool River" features the McGarrigle sisters on back-up vocals. Paul Butterfield playing harmonica on two cuts serves up the album's top instrumental performance on 'i'm a Woman." Doe and Merle Watson turn up on one cut and Geoff Muldaur and Dr. John each did one arrangement. Whew! Third, the Lady herself. This woman has more style than any other of the women pop singers. She doesn't have the voice of a Linda Ronstadt or a Tracy Nelson. She lacks the musicianship of a Bonnie Raitt, but of the song stylists (Christmas Carole King, Carly-the Rock and Roll Housewife, et al.) Maria is supreme. She takes a lyric, wraps her mouth around it, and caresses it until you really'feel it. She also shows an appreciation for an old-time song and the skill needed to do it with a big band. She shifts from funky blues to tender ballads as smoothly as a power-glide transmission. Ön "I'm a Woman," a song she's done for years, she gets about as funky as can be ("Jump in bed at five, rock till six., start all over again"), then follows it up with "Sweetheart." a heart-rending bailad about a waitress in a donut shop. This tune is so perfectly delivered it'll break your heart. And what Maria album would be complete without a sleaze number or two. On her first album she warned. "Don't you feel my leg," and now she points out that "It ain't the Meat, it's the Motion (that makes your mama wanna rock)." If Maria comes back to Ann Arbor, make sure you see her perform live where she's at her best, but don't deprive yourself of this album "guaran teed, stone guaranteed to blow vour mind."