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  Listen Up! 1/14/02 Listen Up!

Monday, Jan. 14

Big Jay McNeely & His Band, "Swingin' - Golden Classics," Collectables Records. I've seen this record in the store for almost as long as I've worked here, but I've never heard it before. It's the one with the great album cover, with a picture of (presumably) McNeely lying on his back blowing the hell out of the saxophone. The music lives up to the cover, hard swingin' proto-rock'n'roll, raucous r'n'b from the late 40s and early 50s. There's not much subtlety here, even on the ballads. The uptempo cuts are the real joys, just pushing the pedal to the metal and going as hard and fast as was imaginable at the time.

The Pentangle, "The Pentangle," Castle Music. Pentangle is always filed in folk sections in record stores, which isn't quite right. I mean, they play acoustic guitars, and some of their songs are traditional, but they incorporate so many other styles into the mix that it's not fair to put them in any section. John Renbourn and Bert Jansch were and are masterful guitarists who push boundaries all the time. Danny Thompson was and is among the finest bass players ever to walk the earth. Jacqui McShee is a good singer, though she doesn't exude the personality of the musicians around her. And Terry Cox was a great drummer; he's the only guy I don't know anything about his post Pentangle work. This was their first record. It is a masterpiece.

Jaguar Wright, "Denials Delusions and Decisions," MCA Records. The 70s diva influence has gone full throttle, right to the point of imitating really bad Chaka Khan solo records when she didn't have any songs to apply her full-throed roar to. Yeah, this record is funky, but it's boring. It's tedious. It has none of the fun of the great Jill Scott or Alicia Keys records.

--Steve Pick



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