Mmm. I just had two Mujjadara sandwiches from Kalustyans, a specialty store where you can buy middle-eastern sandwiches. Why two? Because I don’t go there too often. Was I able to finish two? No. Do I now feel sick? Yes.

The band is hotting up. Two or three more rehearsals before the show. I’m pretty excited about it.

Compilation: 'Le Coeur Qui Jazze' (CD; Partners in Crime; 1966-1974)
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'The most controversial and wanted cult-grooves', is apparently what's on this CD. Whatever that means. This is the only thing I have from the Italian 'partners in crime' compilation series, and I quite like it, but I think its tagline is a little strange. Why are the 'grooves' controversial? Having listened, I assume this is because some of them veer close (and over) the line of kitsch. The most prominent example of this is 'Here we are falling in Love', a Neil Sedaka song, sung by the Swedish duo of Meta Roos & Nippe Sylvens Band. In spite of its groovy Hammond organ introduction, and some cool Three Suns-esque effects, the vocals make this track a little too much for me (incidentally, the album it's taken from is a $200 album on ebay).

The compilation seems to have four distinct phases, one for each side of the record, making for a nice, varied compilation. The first is 'jazzy european pop'. It opens with a track which is now very familiar to me, 'le coeur qui jazze' by France Gall. It's a cool, jazzy outing with scat vocals, rather like 'Pense a moi'. Next up is a swinging Michel Legrand track, which I think is taken from 'les damoiselles de Rochefort'. Then Astrud Gilberto's familiar 'Aruanda' comes on, and you think 'why did they put this on there', until you hear that it sounds slightly different - it's in Italian...

The next phase has a Brazilian flavor, with contributions by two jazz musicians - Milt Jackson doing 'Autumn Leaves' and Jon Hendricks's superb 'Jive Samba'. The next three are by Brazilian musicians. Claudia's 'Panema Leblon' is a superb jazzy pop number (as is the LP it's taken from, 'voce'). Roberto Menescal's 'Five Four' is a cool jazz instrumental (guess the time signature). Leny Andrade takes on 'Samba em Paris', a very jazzy pop number which apparently was written by Nelsinho, but which sounds a lot like a Michel Legrand number.

It's at this point that the compilation starts to lose its way for me. 'Sombre Guitar' by Dancer's Inferno is a slightly cheesy soul-disco number. Charly Antolini's 'Uela Uela' is a repetitive but kind of incredible beat number with an enormous break beat. Big Jim Sullivan's sitar take on 'sunshine superman' is quite pleasant, but it seems strangely placed. Randy Weston's tense but understated 'In memory of' isn't a bad track (a lot of fender rhodes, horns, brooding and jazzy), but again, it seems slightly out of place here.

The final phase opens with the sleek organ/handclap groove of 'The mad doctors' by 'the mad mad doctors' (where this comes from, I have no idea). Next up is 'Laderia De Preguica' by Elis Regina, which actually does not seem to feature her vocals at all (what's up with that?). There are laid back jazzy grooves on Walter Kubiczec's 'Exotica', with wordless vocals, bongoes, flute and piano. It sounds like a typical library music piece to me -quite pleasant, but not amazing. The final two tracks are by The Silhouettes, and they sound like strange hybrid - on the one hand, cheesy female wordless vocals like the UK act Birds and Brass, but on the hand, a more tight, spare and jazzy backing.

Overall, the compilation has some strong moments, but somehow fails to completely hit the mark with me. I figure it was probably aimed at more of a Dance music/DJ crowd - people looking for something different to spin. Anyway, it's an interesting item, definitely worth picking up if you see it used...

Lee Hazlewood: 'The N.S.V.I.P.s' (LP; Reprise; 1968)
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This is one of Lee's 'talking' albums - each track is introduced by a cool 1-2 minute segment with Lee telling a story over some strummed chords, rather like he does on 'Trouble is a Lonesome Town'. The stories are without exception very funny and entertaining, and this ends up being a very engaging album. All the songs are sparsely instrumented guitar (often it sounds like a 12 string), a light bass and vocals. None of the brilliant lushly orchestrated and sonically startling stuff which I love him for. Yet this is still just as addictive. I don't know what Lee has exactly, but I want some of it...

'First Street Blues' is about Leroy, a friendly dragon who gave up eating people because he found something he liked more - wine. The songs don't always correspond to the spoken intros - 'I had a friend' is introduced with a funny story about Tarzan and Jane, but the song is a jaunty but rather chilling number about the mob killing someone for his beliefs - 'he read some books we didn't appreciate, so we shot Bill this morning. You missed the crowd, all filled with hate/we burned his house last night at 8/ain't you sorry that you're late/we shot Bill this morning.'

One of the most memorable tracks is 'Go die big city', which is about Tinker Mason, who hates cities ('you just name any city, and Tinker'd hate it for you. If he even got around somebody that even about liked a city, he'd throw a rock at them'). To try and heal Tinker, they send him to Barton Freud ('he wasn't a psychiatrist, but he was a chiropractor who did some heavy thinking'). The lyrics have a beautiful twist, which I won't spoil for you here.

Pretty much every track is memorable - from 'I ain't gonna be', (about Rodney Farms - 'he just left, and she ain't seen him since'), to 'I might break even' (which chronicles the mishaps which befall one unlucky chap who wanted to be a millionaire before he was 40).

Strangely, this was not one of the CDs in the reissue series on 'smells like records'. But if you're a fan of Lee as a personality, and enjoy 'trouble is a lonesome town', it's well worth seeking out.

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