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  Listen Up! 8/20/03 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Aug. 20

Lee Allen and His Band, “Walkin’ With Mr. Lee,” Collectables Records. I couldn’t resist the cover, one of those late 50s, early 60s crazy collages with Lee’s face, sax and hands put on a splotch of yellow ink representing a suit, and a whole collection of striped and polka-dotted kids walking behind him with their hands raised up in jubilation. I assure you it’s a gas. The music is fun, too, though not as wild as the cover would imply. Allen made his living blowing hot tenor saxophone solos on New Orleans r’n’b and rock’n’roll records of the 50s and 60s (before eventually winding up in the Blasters in the early 80s). As a leader, he meanders through some fast and slow grooves, offering up something that’s way too simple to be jazz, yet a little too adult to be for the kids. Maybe it was music for college mixers, or the New Frontier version of singles parties. Who cares about the market, though? This is a neat little oddity, one of thousands reissued on the very useful Collectables label.

Swimming Pool Q’s, “Royal Academy of Reality,” Bar None Records. The first song on here is catchy, and gorgeous. Then come a couple of very pretty but less memorable songs, before the band opens up with some more glorious stuff in the middle. My fave cut right now is “The Radio In Memphis,” which is the one giving us more of the wonderful vocals of Anne Richmond Boston, who is very much underutilized throughout this record. Unfortunately, circumstances are conspiring against letting me pay too close attention to this right now. It’s good, but I need to hear it without distraction.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Greendale,” Reprise Records. First time through one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and I’m not feeling it yet. Key word is “yet.” I will not give up on this record. We’ll see later on. Right now, though, I hear a distinct lack of melody, and a thin, punchless mix that doesn’t give me the shot through the eardrums that I expected to get from a serious Neil Young and Crazy Horse album. Yeah, maybe the lyrics are seriously good. I need the music to make me want to care. Once again, I reserve the right – heck, the hope and even the expectation – to connect with this album at a later date.

--Steve Pick

For more columns by Steve Pick click here



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