The five variations of the title piece find Bryars returning somewhat to the more overtly experimental, not to say whimsical, aspects of his earliest work. They take the form of brief instructions in the fine art of cardsharping, with musical accompaniment, to be broadcast over radio during unoccupied stretches of airtime.
Although Man had reformed in 1983 to perform live, The Twang Dynasty was Mans first studio record release in sixteen years. The album was a very strong comeback that stands alongside the bands work in the 1970s. Featuring a line-up of Micky Jones (Guitar, Vocals), Deke Leonard (Guitar, Vocals), Martin Ace (Bass, Vocals) and John Weathers (drums), The Twang Dynasty featured excellent material such as A Feather on the Scales of Justice, The Chinese Cut and The Wings of Mercury (dedicated to the late John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service who had performed with MAN). The deluxe set is newly re-mastered and features two additional CDs of Mans complete set at Glastonbury Festival on 25th June 1994, featuring many tracks from The Twang Dynasty, along with splendid performances of classic tracks such as CMon, Many Are Called, But Few Get Up, Bananas and Romain.
It is so cool to find an album that was cut by professional musicians that sound like they are having a blast and doing what they were born to do, and a perfect example of this is Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King’s Fat Man’s Shine Parlor, a killer disc from their recent return to the venerable Blind Pig Records label!
Pianist Jaki Byard (who also plays a bit of tenor and alto) uses a trio/quartet on this Muse album consisting of bassist Major Holley (switching to tuba on one tune), drummer J.R. Mitchell (on the 17½-minute five-part "Family Suite") and drummer-percussionist Warren Smith. In addition to a two-song medley of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Byard performs the episodic "Family Suite," this early theme "Just Rollin' Along," the eccentric "L.H. Gatewalk Rag" and the thoughtful "Ballad for Louise." A typically stimulating and eclectic program of music by Jaki Byard.
Recording The Nylon Curtain exhausted Billy Joel, and even though it had a pair of major hits, it didn't rival its predecessors in terms of sales. Since he labored so hard at the record, he decided it was time for a break – it was time to record an album just for fun. And that's how his homage to pre-Beatles pop, An Innocent Man, was conceived: it was designed as a breezy romp through the music of his childhood. Joel's grasp on history isn't remarkably astute – the opener "Easy Money" is a slice of Stax/Volt pop-soul, via the Blues Brothers (quite possibly the inspiration for the album), and the label didn't break the pop charts until well after the British Invasion…
This double-CD set gave bassist Milt Hinton an opportunity to engage in reunions with many of his old friends from the 1930s. The seven sessions were compiled during a 12-month period and the results are often delightful. The opening "Old Man Time" is sung by Hinton himself, and it is both insightful and humorous. The other highlights include Joe Williams singing "Four or Five Times" (which features some very rare Flip Phillips clarinet), three bass guitar duets with Danny Barker, appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Ralph Sutton, and the formation of a group called "The Survivors" that has guitarist Al Casey at age 75 being the youngest member; the latter band also includes 85-year-old trumpeter Doc Cheatham, Eddie Barefield, Buddy Tate and even Cab Calloway. A lot of storytelling takes place during the songs and, in addition to the 92½ minutes of music, there are two "Jazzspeaks." The 13-minute one features Hinton, Calloway, Cheatham and Barefield reminiscing about their experiences in the early days, while a marvelous 45-minute monologue by the bassist covers most of his long and productive life and is consistently fascinating. Highly recommended.