(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )
Miriam Makeba, Homeland (Putumayo). With decent-to-good material and even better accompaniment and production, the World Music matriarch clears the “female Harry Belafonte” bar with room to spare.
Mardi Gras Essentials (Hip-O). The musical essentials, that is, including lots of second line--the debauchery you’ll have to supply yourself.
Jerry McCain, This Stuff Just Kills Me (Jericho/ Cello). The latest from the seventy-year-old composer of the Fabulous Thunderbird’s “Tough Enough” and the most nonchalantly rocking and blackly comic of Cello’s recent attempts to provide old bluesmen and women with income and-or royalties before they die.
Midnight Syndicate, Born of the Night (Linfaldia). Packaged as a spooky, Halloween-party soundtrack and sold at Spencer Gifts, this minor-keyed, uneasy-listening music isn’t all that far from the eerier, and better, passages in Alan Parsons’ projects.
Charlie Musselwhite, Best of the Vanguard Years (Vanguard). Proof that during his Vanguard years Musselwhite played harmonica better than he sang--and that Barry Goldberg played the organ even better.
Willie Nelson and the Offenders, Me and the Drummer (Luck). In which the increasingly gray-headed stranger unplugs everything but the steel guitar and revisits his favorite break-up songs in the wee small hours.