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I mean does anyone in their right mind really want to hear Rollins A whose sole talent is that he can bench-press his own ego A rant through a version of "Four Sticks"?

I'd almost rather hear Tiny Tim cover Foreigner's "Head Games."
By Steven Almond

Perez Prado and His Orchestra
Mondo Mambo! The Best of Perez Prado and His Orchestra

If the word mambo conjures up anything at all in an age when the most popular forms of dance are "line" and "slam," it is probably some kind of slightly silly, Ricky Ricardo-esque vision, with a couple of ladies wearing hats made of fresh fruit bumping and grinding away. And if that's the case, step up and let Perez Prado, numero uno boss of smooth, seductive, hot-blooded music, set you straight.

The diminutive Cuban was a fave of Latinos and jazz aficionados in the U.S. in the early Fifties, but didn't catch on in a big way until 1955 with "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," a dreamy, midtempo throbber led by a liquid trumpet solo. The tune A track one on this well-chosen batch of twenty A went right to number one on the pop charts, buoyed by its use as the theme to the Jane Russell-and-Jayne Mansfield-in-bathing suits vehicle Underwater!

For the rest of the decade, there was no stopping him. The nation was in love with the mambo, and Prado gave the people what they wanted. A wild man on stage, the bandleader would goad his orchestra A and the crowds on dance floors A into a delirious frenzy with cries of "unngh!!" and "dilo!!" (Spanish for "say it"). And say it they would, with shameless, blaring horns, syncopated sax lines, and the constantly percolating bongo-conga-claves rhythm section that kept the whole glorious machine moving. Granted, there is a definite formula to these tracks, but there's no denying the joyful party spirit in every cut here. The mambo may have faded from memory, but don't let Perez and his music follow the same fate. Trade in those Santana albums and demand Prado. "Unngh!!"

By Peter Gilstrap

Eccsame the Photon Band

Lilys (really just Kurt Heasley) float airily atop the psychedelic-pop Bifrost, making quiveringly tuneful head-nod music occasionally reminiscent of Atom Heart Mother-era Pink Floyd. Over the course of 51 minutes, Heasley and several contributors weave a sleepy bliss by craftily mixing fuzzy, slowly strummed guitars; breathy vocals; a poky, metronomic beat; sundry instrumental fillips (vibraphone, staticy loops, organ, flĀgelhorn, French horn); and trippy, makes-no-difference-what-they're-saying lyrics, as evidenced by titles such as "FBI and Their Toronto Transmitters," "The Turtle Which Died Before Knowing," and "Overlit Canyon (the Obscured Wingtip Memoir)." Here and there they quicken the pulse with a melodic epiphany, while between cuts they insert seconds-long snippets of artful noodling, reverberating sound effects, and cartoony sonic bric-a-brac. Most lovely. Set the controls for the heart of the sun. (P.O. Box 1798, New York, NY 10156-1798)

By Michael Yockel

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