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Reviews of new CDs from Skavoovie and the Epitones and Muddy Waters

CD Reviews

Skavoovie and the Epitones, "The Growler"Muddy Waters, "The Lost Tapes"(Click on a CD title or cover to order that CD from
Play These Songs"Blue Indian""Surprise Valley""The Waker"

Real Audio Required -->Skavoovie and the Epitones, "The Growler" (Shanachie Records) — Skavoovie picks up where its last release, "Ripe," left off, with 14 glorious tracks of ska infused with swing, jazz and big-band sounds. This album has the same sense of humor as "Ripe" did, with goofy sci-fi tracks such as "Tiny Machines," "Soul Searcher" and "Zombie Song" picking up where "Japanese Robot" and "Aquaman" from "Ripe" left off.

Skavoovie and the Epitones also venture into the realm of love songs with "Lucy" and "Salad Days," backed up by some able, and welcome, female vocals.

"The Growler" is a richer album than Skavoovie's previous efforts, with more production and thicker, lusher horns. And it takes more from diverse styles. Sometimes they sound a bit like Morphine, sometimes something like They Might Be Giants on steroids, and of course, every now and then, like the legendary Skatellites.

"The Growler" is a surprising, fun, dance-inspiring work from one of the finest ska bands around.

— Mark Stroh

Play These Songs"Summertime""My Funny Valentine""All Soul"

Real Audio Required -->Muddy Waters, "The Lost Tapes" (Blind Pig) This previously unreleased set of live Muddy Waters performances is culled from two 1971 shows during a tour of the Northwest college scene. At the time, Waters was emerging from a period of poorly conceived records, a car wreck and the loss of his longtime piano sideman, Otis Spann. But as this CD ably reflects, nothing could stop Waters' gritty blues soul or his stately, personal charisma.

Although the set list is full of tunes any McKinley Morganfield fan has heard more than a time or two, these romping live versions are well worth the trouble. Muddy's slide slices razor tough, and his voice oozes confidence and trouble. George Smith wails on harp while Pinetop Perkins hammers out piano fills. For those of us who never got to see Muddy live, there's also an interactive bit that shows why the man was a fearsome but gentle legend.

— Ames Arnold

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