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Lonesome Onry and Mean: New Records from Nicholas Tremulis and Felix Cavaliere

Nicholas Tremulis with Robbie Fulks, "Mystery Train"

Some killer records have recently fallen through Lonesome Onry and Mean's cracks, either due to a lack of space in the paper or LOM having just found the CDs under the seat of his truck. Yeah, stuff happens.

The Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra's Pinky is a monster blues-rock record. Actually, to call what Tremulis does blues-rock is to set a musical limit that doesn't exist. What does exist with this road-hardened band of full-grown men is a withering musical attack and street survivors' soul. With its stinging slide guitar solo, "Happy Isn't What You Want" may be LOM's favorite track of 2008; "Invisible Woman Standing on a Bridge" runs a close second.

Big and powerful, both tracks jump right down your throat from the first note. If these guys lived down here, they'd be bouncing back and forth between the Continental Club and Gino's like a blues-infused ping-pong ball. It's unfortunate - criminal, really - that places like Croatia and Serbia are hipper to these guys than us. LOM recently played this record for HCC professor Dr. Roger Wood, and he bought it online the next day. Wood currently has it in heavy rotation, albeit also noting that Pinky kinda scares his wife.

 

Young Rascals, "In the Midnight Hour"

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Another killer record as yet unheralded is the wonderfully titled Nudge It Up a Notch by Stax Records house guitarist/MG/Blues Brother Steve Cropper and Rascals singer Felix Cavaliere, easily the finest soul record in years. There's not a moment of slack or slouch or saccharine anywhere on this tour de force. Cavaliere's Young Rascals (the Young was later dropped) were responsible for string of huge hits in their '60s heyday, most noticeably oldies-radio staple "Good Lovin'."

However, the NYC group also had the second-most successful version of "Mustang Sally" as well as "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore," "I've Been Lonely Too Long," "How Can I Be Sure," "You Better Run," "A Girl Like You" and "Groovin," which became another standard of the time. Cavaliere's voice is so smooth Otis Redding once stuck his head into the studio to assure himself that Cavaliere really was an Anglo.

Yeah, he's that good, and Cropper's guitar prowess has never been more on display on a single disc. The mix is great, the arrangements are stellar and Cropper just wails on that Telecaster. No one is making records like this one these days - check out "One of Those Days" to see how well these two soul brothers know their business. - William Michael Smith

 

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