What unites these 26 tracks? They're all black vocal group sides from 1960-1970, originally released on the Galaxy, Fantasy, 4-J, Riverside, and Specialty labels. That might be a fragile thread to tie a compilation around, but basically it's a way for Fantasy, which now distributes Specialty, to round up a bunch of doo wop, R&B, and soul rarities that it has license to. It's an agreeable though not great listen, illustrating in a modest way the transitional links between doo wop and soul music.
For sci-fi lovers the world over, Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is sacred text, so it comes as no surprise that its arrival on celluloid has been met with considerably furrowed brows, especially in the wake of its author's death – Adams suffered a fatal heart attack in 2001 in the midst of writing the screenplay. However, if the film's gloriously skewed and occasionally beautiful soundtrack is any indication, the Guide is in good hands. Director Garth Jennings tapped the considerable talents of award-winning U.K. composer/arranger and Divine Comedy member Jobi Talbot to swing the baton, and his reverence for the source material is evident from the very first note. Using Stephen Fry's wry summary of marine life's misunderstood intelligence to set the stage, Talbot unleashes – along with a chorus that includes a bawdy choir, a little girl, and an opera singer – "So Long & Thanks for All the Fish," a rousing, Broadway-style farewell to the planet (and its befuddled citizens) that's equal parts Rocky Horror and Monty Python.
The seemingly bottomless record collection of Nick Saloman from the Bevis Frond has spawned the third in an ongoing series of albums collecting obscure instrumental tracks from the '60s and '70s, and while many of these songs support the popular notion that the hipper and more interesting rock artists of the day were fond of vocal numbers, there are some fun and exciting tunes to be found on this set. Roaring Blue draws its title from the lead-off track, a swinging dance tune by the Sound of Jimmy Nicol, featuring the drummer who briefly replaced an ailing Ringo Starr during a tour in 1964 (this may explain why Nicol's drums are so far up in the mix), while members of the long-running U.K. pop band Blue Mink appear on the track "Beat Party" under the pseudonym the Underground, and John McLaughlin adds guitar licks to "Trans-Love Airways" by Big Jim Sullivan.