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  Listen Up! 4/21/03 Listen Up!

Monday, Apr. 21

Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills, “Super Session,” Columbia Legacy. Jamming has been given such a bad reputation in recent years that we sometimes forget it really did work out sometimes. Back in 1968, Al Kooper jammed first with Bloomfield, then with Stills, and came out in just a couple days with a really good record. There’s blues, modal jazz, and contemporary (for the time) pop and rock tunes, most all of them stretched out and reaching for the stars. Great stuff, really.

Earth, Wind & Fire, “The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire,” Columbia Legacy. Two CDs of classic after classic, this is a package that lives up to its name. First, because Earth, Wind & Fire truly are essential to any decent understanding of 70s black popular music, and secondly because this is truly a collection of essential cuts from their oeuvre. These guys pretty much believed that anything was fodder for their game. Jazz, funk, soul, blues, pop, gospel, and much, much more. As Papa Ray pointed out, they were genuinely about trying to lift people up through music to a higher spiritual plane. Maybe the mission has been forgotten, maybe it was a little quixotic, but it at least works every time I listen to them.

Ronnie Spector, “Something’s Gonna Happen,” Bad Girl Sounds. Ronnie Spector sings five classic Marshall Crenshaw songs. The musical backing on four of them comes from Marshall Crenshaw on guitar, Graham Maby on bass, and Robert Crenshaw on drums. The fifth one has some session hacks. Spector adds nothing to the original versions, but she’s Ronnie Spector! Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have her apply that familiar voice to great songs?

--Steve Pick

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