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FROM THE BOTTOM UP BROWNSTONE EPIC Brownstone is Nicci Gilbert, Maxee Maxwell, and Mimi Doby. Their brand of black-popurban contemporary music is rich, engaging to a mass audience and dripping with gospel soul. The harmonies and arrangements come straight from the church, but the production is all uptown. The result is a first-rate example of music which is the flip side of rap: soothing, melodie, conventional yet interesting, and accessibleto abroad audience. The twelve cuts on this recording are produced by ten different production teams. Two production teams stand out "Jam" Hall on "Grapevyne" and Troy Taylor and Charles Farrar on the Eagles classic, "I Can t Teil You Why. " "Grapevyne" is about as soulful and gospel as contemporary secular music gets. The tight harmonies are straight from the choir loft, driving the silky sway of Nicci Gilbert's suttry voice. All the county twang undertying the Eagles' cover is transposed in Brownstone's rendition. Instead of a country lament, "I Can 't Teil You Why" becomes more intímate, sounding more like a private conversation than a public proclamation. Coupled with extraordinary harmonies, its soul conversión, from a relatively modest tune to a much more compelling and con vincing number, shows the power and appeal of Brownstone. Theycould probably make The National Anthem sound great. This is an exceptional recording. WHERE THE RIVER MEETS THE BAY STEWART FRANCKE SCHOOLKIDS' RECORDS On "Where the River Meets the Bay," Stewart Franke repeatedly blends mature melodies and strong musical arrangments with exquisite poetic imagery. Through hispoetry Francke shows usplacesimportant to him - a Zitwaukee road, a Union Town, "in the Saginaw Valley," "where the river meets the road" - exactly as he wants us to see them- in detail, full of nterprethe perspective yet clear and obvious. By turning a phraae, changing meter, or altering a line, Francke's lyrical images make us linger just enough, with just the right amount of subtle emphasis, that through these remarkable eleven story-songs, we become more and more familiar with Franke's world and closerto the themes and situations he finds important and wants to communicate. The result is one of the strongest recordings on the Schoolkids' label. For nstance, when Francke tells us that "an Bvis song whips through the window like a child gone wrong" (Days of Hope and Glory) the reference connectingthisholy-terrarwiththeraucousenergyofEtvis' music is clear. When Francke reveáis that 'Tve got blood on my hands, an ancierrtlieon my lips. l'mgonna shed my skintonight, gonna bum my fingerprirrts. FooVthat I am, hit ty the lightning of desirewaited on the rain, but lightning's oftenbefore fire," (Union Town) the angst and anxiety is obvious. And when "The weeds bend west; Lizzie's barefooty walking slowty 'cross her bedroom floor.Her thirty years and all she counted onfall like dust on her slatted blinds," (The Gypsum Fair) Lizzie's lost hopes are ours. This recording is great listeni ng. ROCK THIS JOINT: THE ORIGINAL ESSEX RECORDING 1951-1954 BILL HALEY AND THE COMETS SCHOOLKIDS' RECORDS Bvis may be the King of Rock and Roll, but there is certainty a case for Bill Haley being the Father of Rock and Roll. Before Haley became ntemationally famous in 1956 with the Decca necording label classic "Rock Around the Clock," he recorded almost exclusively for the smallPhiladelphiaEssex label. Heneis where Haley blended country elements (steel pedal guitar, thumping honky-tonk step rhythms) with accessible city dance music to form the sound that would grab both kids and adults: Rock and Roll. This record is hol Out of 24 tracks, there 's not a bad cut on il Even the comba numbers- "Dance With a Dolly (With a Hole in Her StockingV' "Ton üttte Indiana," "Chattanoogo Choo Choo" - the tempo is driving, the production is surprisingly clear, and the energy is up from K's great Rock and Roll! This recording is a must and should be in everyone's collection.' LOADED DICE LOADED DICE SCHOOLKIDS' RECORDS This blues combo from East Providence, Rl sound like they lived a lot of years with the blues. They're sweaty, funky, low-down and dirty. Featuring Bob Soitist on drums and vocal s; Peter Shonk, harmonica, vocals, and slide guitar, Rob Nelson, lead guitar; Vin Eamshaw, bass and vocals; and guest Matt McCabe on keyboard, these guys dish up some infectious East Coast jams. "Riding the Rails," 'Taxi Driver," "Fire Blues" and "Buzz Bomb" are partjculariy strong tunes. Each shows a tight group of musicians with a shared aesthetic playing music they dearty love. Add this to you blues collection.


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