The only album of The Marcus Hook Roll Band of Australia—Tales Of Old Grand-Daddy—has finally been released stateside by Parlophone 41 years after the fact. There never was anyone named Marcus Hook. To think that if these drunken teenagers ever took themselves seriously enough in 1973 to promote the record and actually tour, there might not have ever even been an AC/DC. Malcolm and Angus Young just wanted to drink in the studio and bash it out. Younger brother George along with Harry Vanda brought the Ol’ Grand Dad bourbon whiskey and the result is this long-lost hard rock gem. Truth is, they never toured. When Malcolm and Angus formed AC/DC just months after this album was recorded, Vanda and George Young formed The Easybeats. They should’ve toured behind this. I actually like it better than AC/DC.

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Two Jazz Masters: Piano Man Keith Jarrett… Bassist Charlie Haden. Their history together goes back decades and if there was one wish as a listener that could have been granted me, I would ask that within all of their groundbreaking pioneering efforts since the ‘60s, boy would I love to just hear the two of them perform standards with their particular sensibilities for the avant-garde, for dissonance and for progressive changes that wind up ameliorating such beloved fare as Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” Bud Powell’s “Dance Of The Infidels” plus such otherworldly chestnuts as “It Might As Well Be Spring” from the 1945 film State Fair and Cole Porter’s 1944 “Everytime We Say Goodbye” (that I’ve swooned over by Ray Charles and Betty Carter). My wish has been granted. Last Dance, recorded in 2007 as part of a different project, has been gathering dust…until now. It is the most accessible you will ever hear these two masters and, as such, a total delight.

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Giulia Millanta is The Funambulist on her self-released fourth album. She’s a deeply evocative singer with a dash of Piaf, a sprinkle of Lady Day, a pinch of Norah Jones and a teaspoon of Madeleine Peyroux. Her theme is travel and her songs bestow the dreamy experience of the long-distance ride looking out the window and pondering life’s inequities. She came to live in Austin from her native Florence, Italy, and her songs (I like the ones in Italian the best) are like little feel-good pills you swallow and awake refreshed. By the way, a funambulist is a tightrope walker.

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All The Right Moves (ELROB) by Little Mike & The Tornadoes puts you right smack dab in the middle of a hot and sweaty roadside bar of jiggling easily accessible females moving to the music, wanting to dance, and hoping you will buy them a drink. It’s a propulsive urbanized Chicago-style of blues with sizzling electric lead guitar solos (Tony O) fronted by Mike’s craggy voice and honking harmonica. Stand-out tracks include “Since My Mother’s Been Ill,” “I Got Drunk Last Night” and “The Blues Is Killing Me.”

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Singer/songwriter/guitarist Seth Walker is a triple-threat artist who, along with a hot hot six-piece of masterful players, has created an anthemic Americana album of earthly delights. Dude’s been around: North Carolina to Texas to Tennessee to Louisiana. Sky Still Blue (The Royal Potato Family) is an 11-song optimistic-in-the-face-of-rough-waters manifesto that features producer Oliver Wood co-writing. Walker spent some time with The Wood Brothers (Chris Wood is the Wood in Medeski Martin & Wood) but don’t expect prog-rock jazz fusion here. This is down-home truthiness which, after repeated listenings, turns into a life mantra. Songs like “High Wire,” “Grab Ahold,” Easy Come Easy Go” and “Way Too Far” all seem to have little life lessons in them. And hey, if you don’t want to delve that deep lyrically, it can also be thoroughly enjoyed as simplistic laid-back bluesy folk-rock with some exquisite guitar work. Either way, this one’s a keeper.

 

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