Andrew Hultkrans

  • Various Artists, 'Fania Records 1964-1980: The Original Sound of Latin New York' (Strut)

    Founded by Dominican bandleader Johnny Pacheco and Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci, Fania brought together various strains of Afro-Caribbean music in 1960s-'70s New York (championing greats Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, and Héctor Lavoe). This dance-floor-ready two-CD set is notable for its looser, funkier take on salsa's roots in mambo, soul, and boogaloo. The story told is analogous to Appalachian folk's transformation into modern Nashville country.

  • Aretha Franklin, 'Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia' (Legacy/Columbia)

    Before she was the Queen of Soul on Atlantic, the prodigious young Aretha spent nearly seven years recording torchy ballads and polite standards at Columbia. The majority of the material on this staggering 11-CD box is string-laden nightclub fare reminiscent of Aretha's idol, Dinah Washington; but even though her voice lacks that familiar, subtly breathy rasp, its beauty and athleticism predicts the genius to come.

  • Nick Lowe, 'Labour of Lust' (Yep Roc)

    Veteran of preeminent pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz and lesser-known pop-psych combo Kippington Lodge, Nick Lowe was, by 1978, playing souped-up rootsy rock with Dave Edmunds in Rockpile; he'd also just produced Elvis Costello's Armed Forces. Recorded alongside Edmunds' Repeat When Necessary by the same musicians, Labour of Lust was Lowe's breakthrough, deftly blending pop, rock, country, and wry humor, especially on smash single "Cruel to Be Kind." This remaster adds the chilling 1979 murder ballad "Basing Street."

  • Various Artists, 'Those Shocking Shaking Days: Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk 1970-1978' (Now-Again)

    The frontman for psych-rock eccentrics Panbers opens this revelatory compilation by singing, "I like Beatles songs / I love Rolling Stones / I love Led Zeppelin." Suffering under a brutal dictatorship, bands in '70s Indonesia also took refuge in James Brown, Grand Funk Railroad, and the Incredible String Band. If I thought it were possible, I'd even say they were fans of Brazil's Os Mutantes, both for their far-flung musical influences and politically rebellious spirit.

  • The Flying Burrito Brothers, 'Authorized Bootleg -- Fillmore East, New York, NY: Late Show, November 7, 1970' (Hip-O/A&M)

    Pioneers of what cofounder Gram Parsons called "white soul music," these country rockers were an offshoot of Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds, featuring Parsons, Byrds bassist Chris Hillman, and later, Byrds drummer Michael Clarke. By this live set, the earliest official concert recording of the group, Parsons had departed, but the band's sound was still distinguished by the innovative pedal-steel pyrotechnics of Sneaky Pete Kleinow, plus a blend of covers and originals.

  • Tony Cook, 'Back to Reality' (Stones Throw)

    Hired as James Brown's drummer right out of high school, Tony Cook also backed Etta James and others in the '70s and '80s; meanwhile, he recorded his own material for seven-inch singles -- "On the Floor" has even been called the first house record. Compiled by Stones Throw's Peanut Butter Wolf, this set features singles, club mixes, and unreleased tracks, including the George Clinton-esque electro of "On the Floor," plus mid-'80s synth-dance tracks that recall Prince and DeBarge.

  • Various Artists, 'Psych Funk Sa-Re-Ga!' (World Psychedelic Funk Classics/Now Again)

    The West looked to India during the psychedelic '60s, and India returned that gaze, incorporating Shadows/Ventures-style guitar instrumentals with Eastern scales and later, wah-wah funk, often into Hindi film scores. This comp collects wondrously unbound artifacts featuring psych-funk outliers (Atomic Forest) plus Bollywood mainstays (Kalyanji Anandji, R.D. Burman, singer Asha Bhosle), often suggesting an alternate soundtrack to the 1968 Blake Edwards-Peter Sellers comedy The Party.

  • Vagrants, 'I Can't Make a Friend 1965-1968' (Light In The Attic)

    A Queens, New York proto-punk band that earned a spot on Lenny Kaye's original 1972 Nuggets comp, Vagrants featured future Mountain guitarist Leslie West, backed by his brother Larry and neighborhood friends. Known for a literally explosive stage act and sludgy, screwed takes on the Beatles and R&B (most notably Otis Redding's "Respect"), they were admired by the young Ramones (who went to their high school) and Vanilla Fudge (who stole their act to greater acclaim).

  • Various Artists, 'Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude' (Year Zero)

    Compiled by Kris Needs, former editor of U.K. magazine ZigZag, this two-CD roots-of-punk anthology places Sun Ra, the Last Poets, Silver Apples, and Can alongside usual suspects the Seeds, the Stooges, and New York Dolls. It also integrates more arty, progressive influences that undergirded 1976-77 punk -- after all, Johnny Rotten cited krautrock and dub in late '70s interviews and guest DJ sets. Annotated with a 76-page booklet, Dirty Water is as scholarly as it is entertaining.

  • Willie Wright, 'Telling the Truth' (Numero Group)

    Willie Wright, 'Telling the Truth' (Numero Group)

    A singer-songwriter with bar residencies in 1960s -- '70s New York, Boston, and adopted home Nantucket, Wright followed a hard-to-pigeonhole folk-soul muse reminiscent of Bill Withers and Gordon Lightfoot. But labels didn't know how to market him in a still racially polarized environment; hence, 1977's Telling the Truth was made at Variety Recordings, New York's cheapest studio -- in exchange for a cheesy radio-style ad (included here). Warm, soulful, occasionally political, Wright was a private-press gem who deserved more.

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