It’s been 45 years since Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers entered a Chicago recording studio to cut the album that would change the face of American music forever. That self-titled release came out in August 1971 and launched an American institution, Alligator Records. Label boss Bruce Iglauer ran the operation from an efficiency apartment in the Windy City. In the subsequent decades, his imprint would issue roughly 300 titles, including releases from Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, and Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials, among many, many others. When quality blues records were hard to come by and majors turned their attention to the latest fashions, Iglauer stuck it out, giving a loyal fan base music they didn’t know they were missing. To see the Alligator logo on an album’s spine meant you were getting something handpicked from a friend who loved that music as much as you did. Maybe even more.
Official Release #91. In October 1971, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention played two shows in one night at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. The album, Carnegie Hall, celebrates that night's marathon – two shows (7:30 and 11:30 p.m.) with ticket prices ranging from $3.50 to $6 – featuring Zappa (lead guitar, vocals) with Mark Volman (vocals, percussion), Howard Kaylan (vocals), Ian Underwood (keyboards, alto sax), Don Preston (keyboards, gong), Jim Pons (bass, vocals) and Aynsley Dunbar (drums).
SOUTHERN BLOOD serves as a remarkable final testament from an artist whose contributions have truly shaped rock & roll throughout the past four decades. This is Allman's first all-new recording since 2011's GRAMMY® Award-nominated solo landmark, LOW COUNTRY BLUES. Produced by Don Was and recorded in Muscle Shoals where Duane Allman and the earliest seeds of the Allman Brothers Band were sown, Southern Blood is among the most uniquely personal of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's career. This emotionally expansive collection of songs written by friends and favorite artists including Jackson Browne, Willie Dixon, Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter, Lowell George and Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn serves as a salutary farewell to his legion of devoted fans and admirers. Deluxe package comes with two live bonus tracks, as well as Back to the Swamp: The Making of Southern Blood DVD.
Official Release #99. After numerous delays those who pre-ordered Frank Zappa’s Roxy By Proxy have finally received their CDs. The 13-track release was recorded at The Roxy in Los Angeles on December 9 and 10, 1973. Frank is listed as the producer of the project, which was mixed in 1987, though Gail Zappa and Joe Travers are listed as producers for the CD and compilation. John Polito mastered the CD in 2011 and it includes liner notes from band member Ruth Underwood.
Mudlark rates highly on many a Kottke fan's favorite list. This was Kottke's Capitol Records debut, and his solo instrumental sound is augmented with the addition of studio sidemen (bass, drums, piano). His playing is superb (no surprise there) and full of youthful vigor – a fusion of high-speed picking, brash slide work, funky folk, acoustic rock, and melodicism. Most importantly, Mudlark marked the debut of Kottke as a singer, an indication that Capitol was trying to shoehorn him into the singer/songwriter genre. Kottke himself has made disparaging remarks about his own vocals, but they add personality to his virtuosic guitar chops.
The superb compilation West Coast 1945-1947 brings together various studio and live radio broadcasts from bop jazz trumpeter Howard McGhee. Born in Tulsa and raised in Detroit, McGhee was a powerhouse bop trumpeter in the vein of Fats Navarro and Dizzy Gillespie. He was also a melodicist, which meant that he was capable of soloing with both dazzling technical proficiency and gorgeous romantic lyricism. One of the few bop musicians to relocate to California during the '40s, McGhee even backed Charlie Parker on some Dial sessions during the saxophonist's West Coast tour at about the same time he made the recordings featured here.
A decade of performing, touring and recording has given the three players in Phronesis a matchless rapport. That inspires an ever-flowing fountain of new music, captured to perfection on this, the Anglo-Scandinavian trio’s sixth CD and their fourth for Edition Records. The chemistry joining pianist Ivo Neame – with his Django Batesian rhythm-swaps hitched to classic jazz roots in Bill Evans and Chick Corea – to Jasper Hoiby’s double-bass muscle and the maniacally personal sound of drummer Anton Eger make Phronesis a wonderful live band. But though live recordings have represented them best, this single-day Abbey Road session gets very close.
Official Release #108. Original recordings produced by Frank Zappa. In September of 1978, Frank Zappa took the stage with his rockin' teenage combo (Ike Willis, Denny Walley, Tommy Mars, Peter Wolf, Arthur Barrow, Ed Mann, and the great Vinnie Colaiuta) at the Uptown Theater in Chicago. This album is the entire show and fans are going to love it. The leadoff track is a cool unheard guitar instrumental called "Twenty-One." Played in a 21-beat rhythm, it seems related to "Thirteen" from around the same time period (on YCDTOA, Vol. 6). "Easy Meat" features an earlier arrangement and a nasty guitar solo, while "Village of the Sun" adds a weird interlude with some additional lyrics that sets up the vamp for another fantastic guitar solo.