It's hard to believe that Mark Carpentieri's M.C. Records has only been recording and releasing music for the past six years. This powerful taster is a glimpse into what makes this such a respected enterprise and what blows Mr. C's hair back.
Four of the 16 tracks come from the label's anchor, Big Jack Johnson, beginning with the opening "We Got To Stop This Killing," one of the most dynamic songs he's ever cut. "Miss Magalee Hall," Cherry Tree" and his outstanding take on "My Babe" all point to his stylistic diversity and music brilliance.
Fortunately, the label has had more than one ace up their sleeve over the years. Kim Wilson, who has recorded with Johnson as well with his own sizzling group, checks in with a fresh take on "Oh Baby" that is instantly classic and wholly classy. The legendary Odetta has released a pair of discs for the label, too, and her take on "Please Send Me Someone To Love," from Blues Everywhere I Go is a treat. It doesn't touch the chill-sending "Bourgeois Blues" from her Leadbelly tribute, Looking For A Home, one of the finest of her 50 year career. R.L. Burnside turns in a stellar performance on John Lee Hooker's "Hobo Blues," from the equally impressive Well, Well, Well. And more of the same comes from Phillip Walker & The Big Band (with Angela Strehli sharing vocals), Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson, rockabilly icon Sleepy Labeef, Ann Rabson, Joanna Connor, and the great Wild Child Butler (with Sam Lay and Pinetop Perkins on board).
As added incentive to check out the label's goods, the closing number is a preview of coming attractions of sorts. An upcoming tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one of the legends of gospel music, will feature Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, Marcia Ball, Janis Ian, Joan Osborne, Phoebe Snow, Victoria Williams, Michelle Shocked, Angela Strehli, Odetta and Toshi Reagon and Sweet Honey In The Rock. Also on hand will be Maria Muldaur and Tracy Nelson who here offer "Up Above My Head" from this highly anticipated release. It's a bit more upbeat of a version than I've heard before, but it definitely grabs the ears and shakes them around. It's a fine closer to a first-class and highly recommended disc that should do wonders to bring new converts to the label and remind established fans why they look forward to each new M.C. release.
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