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CD reviews

New Cd releases range from welcome to inexplicable

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Three new CDs have made their way to my desk and two are welcomed, while one is fairly inexplicable.

Howard Tate Live

Although I love classic soul music from the 1960s and '70s, I have to admit I had never heard of Howard Tate. Tate has a string of hits in the late 1960s that included "Ain't Nobody Home," "Stop," and "Get it While You Can."

He left music in the late 1970s and was re-discovered in 2003 after a life of considerable hard-ship. He was re-united with his former collaborator, producer and writer Jerry Ragovoy, in 2003. The team cut a new album, Rediscovered that year.

This new album was recorded in 2004 at the Tuno Island Music Festival in Denmark. Backed by an eight-piece band, Tate is in fine form as he performs some of his hits from the past as well as new material.

Tate's music is tinged with both blues and gospel influences and every cut has that big full sound of horns that is so rare to hear today.

If you're like me and love the rich sincere sound of classic soul, check out Howard Tate Live.

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Have You Heard Jim Croce Live

Jim Croce had a short time at the top of the music world in the 1970s. His three major label albums produced singles that popped up with regularity on the charts. Croce's biggest hits included "Photographs and Memories," "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," "Operator," and "You Don't Mess Around with Jim."

Croce's considerable career was cut short in 1973 when at the age of 30 he died in a plane crash while on tour.

It's tribute to Croce's working class sound that his albums have stayed in print and that his music is still being heard.

This new album is far more than a re-packaging of greatest. This is a chance for modern audiences to experience a live Jim Croce performance. The 19 tracks were taken primarily from the soundtracks of television shows where Croce played "unplugged" with his collaborator Maury Muehliesen.

Some of the songs include Croce's introductions that explain his inspirations for the tunes.

This is a great compilation of old favorites.

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The group Devo was part band, part art movement and part pop culture commentary. Anyone who followed music in the 1970s and '80s remember at least one Devo song probably the band's biggest hit, "Whip It" as well as their trademark yellow jumpsuits and inverted flower pot hats.

Now Devo member Gerald Casale has produced new versions of classic Devo tunes for the Disney Sound label featured a group of cheer well scrubbed tweens belting out "Peek A Boo," "Beautiful World," and, of course, "Whip It."

The result is perhaps the biggest Devo prank the group has ever pulled off. To create a tween band aimed at selling records to kids to watch the Disney Channel or listen to Radio Disney is pretty typical of the Disney media juggernaut. To have the material come from one of the most non-typical rock band ever is either a huge commercial sell-out or a delicious bit of irony.

What's next? A Disney version of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention?

This two-disc set has the music on one and music videos and extras on another.

Frankly I don't know exactly to make of it, but I'm going to have my 11 year-old granddaughter give a listen to it and see what she thinks.

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