This Week’s Hit Parade: PARTY DISCS (Part One)

Don’t let the wind-chill factor fool you… it’s spring! And that means, sooner or later, we’ll all be out on the deck/porch/roof putting the work week behind us in the best way possible – sipping the cold drink of our choice while someone we love/like/tolerate grills up mass quantities of vittles. Well, you can’t have food, drink and friends without tunes, so here are a few suggestions your Genius might miss. Play ‘em loud! Your neighbors will thank you!

Duke RobillardDUKE ROBILLARD – “Passport to the Blues” (Stony Plain, 2011)
Almost 50 years in the business, and the Duke can still cook up a house-rockin’ date with the best of them! No gadgets or sweeteners here – it’s just Robillard and his working band, blasting some of the nastiest guitar blues on offer. “Working for My Uncle” well and truly drops the hammer on tax breaks for the rich; “Text Me” sums up intimacy in the 21st century; and “Rhode Island Red Rooster” is a fine update on Howling Wolf’s original. This one’s a natural!

The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main StreetROLLING STONES – “Exile on Main Street” (Rolling Stones/Atlantic, 1972)
Stones fans will never settle it: “Exile” or “Let it Bleed” – Which One’s Best? When it comes to party music, though, Exile leaves its rival deep in the weeds. The vibe’s way more relaxed (Not surprising, if the stories about the recording “process” are even halfway true), and the date is filled with not-ready-for-radio diamonds like the country honk “Sweet Virginia”, the crunchy blues “Casino Boogie” and the gospel improv “I Just Wanna See His Face.” Truly classic rock!

John Scofield: A Go Go JOHN SCOFIELD – “A Go Go” (Polygram, 1998)
As good as “Out Louder” is, this first collaboration between Scofield and jam-band icons Medeski Martin & Wood is just too tasty. Guitar and Hammond B3 is the musical version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and the über-guitarist has never had a better rhythm section. The shoulder-shaking groove never really stops, whether these four soulmates are playing amped-up reggae (“Southern Pacific”), fuzzy blues (“Green Tea”) or down-and-dirty funk (“Chank”).

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: I Learned The Hard WaySHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS – “I Learned the Hard Way” (Daptone, 2010)
A heady mix of Stax soul, Tin-Pan-Alley girl-group pop and blaxsploitation-film soundtrack, with Jones’ phenomenal vocal stylings up-front and center. The emotional temperature swings from super-cool on the grinning kiss-off “Better Things to Do” to well-past-coming-of-age stories like “She Ain’t a Child No More,” but dancing is always an option. The horns on “Hard Way” are monstrous, and every track shows all the miles (and all the lessons) Jones has earned.

Bob Marley & The Wailers: Babylon By BusBOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS – “Babylon by Bus” (Island, 1978)
This one’s perfect for anyone who loves live music and hates Greatest Hits collections. “Babylon” was Marley’s second concert disc, and it needed to be a stone-cold killer to match the fire of “Live!” Whether it makes the grade is an argument for another day, but the treatments of Marley classics like “Punky Reggae Party,” “Lively Up Yourself” and “Is This Love” will have you skanking across the room before you even know it. It’s okay, though: Everything I-ree.

Reviews by J Hunter

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