One of the brighter debuts to emerge in the late '80s, Britny Fox established themselves early on as hard-hitting contenders, only to expose a glass jaw in subsequent bouts. Often labeled clones of sister band Cinderella (whence they got their image, guitar player, and record contract), the quartet overcame expectations by filling their first album with song after song of top-flight '80s glam, marred only slightly by the cliché-ridden lyrics. The boys each play to their strengths here, which results in killer riffs and licks from Michael Kelly Smith and impassioned howling from Dizzy Dean Davidson. On later platters, they would overextend their talents and become just another struggling bar band, so enjoy the chemistry while it's still there. Among the many highlights are "Long Way to Love," "Girlschool," and a cover of Slade's "Gudbuy t'Jane."
Covering prime early recordings from 1956-1960 and one mid-'80s cut, Blue Note's The Best of Jimmy Smith offers up a fine introduction to the trailblazing jazz organist. Smith's Blue Note sessions not only introduced the world to the complex solo possibilities of the Hammond B3 organ, but simultaneously ushered in the soul-jazz era of the '60s, spawning a wealth of fine imitators in the process. Before delving into more commercial terrain on Verve in the late '60s, Smith cut a ton of jam-session dates for Blue Note, often with the help of hard bop luminaries like trumpeter Lee Morgan, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, tenor saxophonists Tina Brooks and Stanley Turrentine, and drummers Art Blakey and Donald Bailey. All are heard here on classic cuts like "The Sermon," "Back at the Chicken Shack," and "The Jumpin' Blues," with Smith regular Turrentine and a young Morgan availing themselves in especially fine form. For his part, Smith eats up the scenery on all the sides here, taking his solo to particularly impressive heights on a fleetly swinging rendition of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".
Erik Söderlind is a young man in no particular hurry. Not yet 30, he plays jazz guitar with supreme assurance, and on his debut album Twist For Jimmy Smith, he has put together a lovely, leisurely paced, always swinging collection of standards and originals that deserves worldwide recognition. Of course, he's unlikely to get it. We live in a world obsessed with image, a world that all too often mistakes image for the real thing. Should Sweden's Söderlind be passed over, it's the world's loss. Here he teams up with two other extremely talented local musicians, organist Kjell Öhman and reed man Magnus Lindgren to make an album that brooks repeated listening. Söderlind plays in a line stemming from Charlie Christian and continuing through Wes Montgomery and George Benson—and that's George Benson when John Hammond billed him "The Most Exciting New Guitarist On The Jazz Scene Today." Before someone discovered he could sing, dressed him in glittery suits and stuck him on the cabaret circuit. Twist For Jimmy Smith provides a glimpse of what jazz was all about in those far off days; though this album is not about nostalgia. It's about the real thing, what Söderlind, on the sleeve calls "the joy of making music" and communicating that joy.