So, I finally finished the redesign of musical taste, and sent out an update email to all my users. I realize I must have been tired, because even after testing the email about 20 times, I still managed to insert one (temporarily) dead link, and repeat a string of text. I’m so professional! Oh well.

Ramsey Lewis: 'Maiden Voyage (and more)' (CD; Chess; 1967-1968)
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I bought this compilation for the 'Maiden Voyage' tracks, and for CD versions of four or five tracks from the exquisite 'Mother Nature's Son'. In fact, on first listen, the disc disappointed me slightly. Could it be that this stuff sounds better on vinyl? I'm not sure.

Whatever, although overall I like the production (by Charles Stepney, who as Ramsey notes could have become another Quincy Jones had he not died tragically early in the 70s), some tracks end up crossing the line for me and becoming too smooth. Stil, it's a nice disc, worth picking up for standout tracks like 'Julia', 'Good Night', 'Dear Prudence' and the soul-jazz 'Since you've been gone'.

Willie Hutch: 'The Mack' (CD; Motown; 1973)
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This is one of a growing number of high quality 'blaxploitation' soundtracks that I've picked up at my favorite CD store used for very little (in this case, $7).

This soundtrack isn't exactly mind-blowing, but it has great atmosphere. The opening track, 'Vampin', has that superb echoey tabla sound used to such great effect on Roy Budd's 'Get Carter' score. Mack's Stroll/The Getaway is also very cool - changing mood to become a tight funk track midway through. As it turns out, many of the other tracks are soul vocal numbers, which, while good, are slightly less to my taste. That said 'Slick' is really very cool, with sparkly sounds, harp, and doo doo doo vocals. The final track, 'Brother's gonna work it out', is another highlight, with a slow, quiet opening featuring snippets of film dialogue, and then a groovy funk sequence. All in all, it's not something I'm going to listen to every day, but it's nice to have.

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