Linda Tillery, Los Lobos, Los Super Seven

Our reviewers give you the low-down on new and notable recordings

Linda Tillery & The Cultural Heritage Choir
Say Yo’ Business EARTHBEAT!

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” is usually rendered with great solemnity at political and cultural gatherings, but Linda Tillery’s Oakland-based Culture Heritage Choir turns “the Negro national anthem” into a joyous romp, complete with polyrhythmic hand and vocal percussion and Joey Blake’s bouncing basso. Culled from three festivals in Canada and a night at La Peña in Berkeley, the all-female quintet’s latest disc is all over the map musically, from spirituals and folk songs to James Brown and Bobby McFerrin; it even moves beyond the African disapora for trips to the British Isles with help from Laura Love and to Albania and Russia with Kitka. Other friends lending their pipes include Eric Bibb, Richie Havens, Odetta, Kelly Joe Phelps, David Worm, and–wailing in his best back-of-the-throat gospel squall on the solidly shuffling “Don’t You Ever Let Nobody Drag Yo’ Spirit Down”–the ferocious Wilson Pickett. Tillery has a musicologist’s respect for tradition, and a musician’s courage to tranform it into something that’s fresh and filled with joy. –Lee Hildebrand

Los Lobos
“El Cancionero–Mas y Mas” Rhino

Los Super Seven
“Canta” Sony Legacy

Throughout its career, Los Lobos has challenged countless musical stereotypes while embracing the traditions that bred them. As an East LA band that broke into the Top 40 in the early-’80s, Los Lobos solidified the modest footholds that Latinos had made into the world of rock ‘n’ roll. The band’s founders, David Hildago and Cesar Rosas, went on to expose their mainstream audience to traditional Mexican-American music, cannily blending it with folkier Americana and Blasters-style roots-rock. Rhino’s new four-CD retrospective runs the gamut of the band’s multi-culti influences–from the traditional “Guantanamera” to covers of songs by Buddy Holly, James Brown, and Richard Thompson. The box set also dips liberally into their Grammy-winning first album as part of the neo-traditionalist Latin American all-star band, Los Super Seven–a record that’s now been followed up, three years later, with an even more expansive vision of Pan-American pop. On Canta, the inclusion of Brazil’s Caetano Veloso and Peruvian diva Susana Baca signal the group’s determined southward exploration of the musical psyche of el mundo español. Los Super Seven infuses Latin dance music with lush sonic depth, making it accessible to non-Latino audiences in much the same way Los Lobos did for Mexican corridos and mariachi. Joined on the disc by country crooners Raul Malo (of the Mavericks) and Rick Trevino, these folks know how to indulge in the schmaltzy sentimentality and easygoing romanticism of boleros such as “Siboney” even as they expand on the traditional canon. –Lawrence Kay

Bob Marley & The Wailers
Catch a Fire: Deluxe Edition Island/Universal

Catch a Fire: Deluxe Edition is the first of a projected twenty-disc reissue program that will present the original albums in Marley’s Island Records catalogue in their “original” versions. The deluxe double-disc edition of Catch a Fire makes the original Jamaican recordings of the album available for the first time, and they’re a revelation. Marley knew Chris Blackwell was going to remix and overdub this album, so on this disc you have the early Wailers at their ferocious best–the music stripped down to its bare essentials that would soon make this band, and Marley, into legends. There are two tracks here that didn’t make the international release, “High Tide or Low Tide,” which is as good as anything in the Marley canon, and “All Day All Night,” a good but not great love song. The second CD contains the remixed and overdubbed album originally released in 1973. On the international version the bass is pumped up and the overdubs–especially Wayne Perkins’ steel guitar on “Stir It Up” and “Rabbit” Bundrick’s clavenet on “No More Trouble”–do add some commercial polish, but the vocals are buried in the mix, and it was the wailing power of those vocals that gave this band its name. So listen to the remastered international edition for your nostalgic hit, but put on the Jamaican version of the album when you want the real deal. –j. poet

Pete Krebs/Danny Barnes
Duet for Clarinet and Goat Cavity Search

Two loveable oddballs from the alt-country sphere, Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) and Pete Krebs (Hazel, Golden Delicious, solo) get together to play some back-porch music. The thing is, the porch in question is located in the boondocks in a dystopian Dark Angel/Bladerunner near-future. Krebs and Barnes sing and play all the instruments (guitars, banjo, keyboards, samples) on a clutch of songs that draw upon the influences of ’20s/’30s country, blues, gospel, bluegrass, and folk music, yet the homespun, spacious 4-track sounds of Duet for Clarinet and Goat impart a ghostlike yet strangely comforting feeling. Imagine spinning the radio dial late at night and picking up a 1934 Carter Family broadcast, with “leakage” from a station broadcasting some DJ Spooky or Luke Vibert, and you’re on the right track. “Shot at a Bird, Hit Me a Stump” is a zesty, clever Flatt & Scruggs trad-bluegrass tune and “Why You Been Gone So Long” is Woody Guthrie-meets-Trip-Hop. Duet is dust-bowl music from/for the Great Depression’s repeat performance. –Mark Keresman

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