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  Listen Up! 3/26/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Mar. 26

Son Seals, "Deluxe Edition," Alligator Records. In many ways, Son Seals epitomizes the Alligator blues sound. Punchy horn sections, tight, compact rhythm sections, searing lead guitar, and not much concern about vocals. Seals barks rather than sings, but I don't mind much, because the groove is so infectious, and his guitar playing so incendiary. His tone is ringing, yet clean, with just enough sustain to strike you in the chest. He's a journeyman in the blues world, but he's probably as good a journeyman as exists.

Marty Erlich's Travelers Tales, "Malinke's Dance," OmniTone Records. Erlich is a magnificent musician, equally graceful and engaging on alto or soprano saxophone, and flute. His Travelers Tales band powers behind him, with the particulary groovealicious rhythm section of Jerome Harris (who plays acoustic bass with all the patterns learned from great electric players) and drummer Bobby Previte. Erlich and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby dance around each other; Malaby comes from the Coltrane school, while Erlich plays more fluid melodic developments. Amazingly, I always know how good Erlich is, but never bother to check out his records, which is probably a pretty common situation among people who have heard of him. This 2000 recording is as adventurous, enticing, and catchy a jazz album as I've heard the past few years.

Various Artists, "Punk Lives!," Sanctuary Records. Here's an interesting collection of oddball tracks from the heyday of late 70s punk. Some of these are rare, many of them are far from obvious. All the big names are here, like the Sex Pistols, Sham 69, the Buzzcocks, Johnnie Thunders, X-Ray Spex, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and more, but few of them are represented by what would be considered their best work, or if the songs are among the best, they're likely to be live. It's a cool document to people like me, who know the biggest songs like the back of our hands, but not very useful as an introduction to what made punk so great in the first place.

--Steve Pick



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