House of Blues SWINGS! (Platinum Entertainment)
By: Alex Steininger
Swing is all the craze these days, and as such, many compilations have been popping up spotlighting the current swing boom. A lot of them, though, seem to be hastily thrown together, in it for the wrong reason, or just so inaccurate it gives the everyone a horrid idea of what is really "going on" in the swing cycle. This time around though, longtime swing lover, and manager of the best new swing band, Indigo Swing, Heidi Richman, has put all her love and knowledge into a tasty forty-two minute disc that goes coast to coast in hopes of truly representing the "movement."
Another thing that makes this compilation stand out is the desire to accurately represent females in the genre. And, well, I happen to love sexy female voices melting away with sensual music. Heck, who doesn't!
Opening up with The Jive Aces' "Planet Jive," the energy level quickly soars through the roof as the band starts stomping with some infectious, high-speed swing music that parallels the energy of 50's rock 'n' roll with all the silk and glamour of 40's swing. Truly modern, and making no claims otherwise, the band seems to be on a caffeine high as they shoot and dance around the notes with such clarity.
Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers slow it down a bit with "Blue Skies." Leading the way are Lavay Smith's dead-on, can't miss vocals which are as beautiful as the stars in the night sky, and as warm as the air on a breezy, sunny day on the beach. Coupled with elegant horn arrangements, and the soft flow of the background to play around with, the band is able to convince even the most stubborn anti-dancers to get on the floor and move their feet.
And what swing compilation would be accurate if it didn't include San Francisco's pride and joy, Indigo Swing. With relentless touring and a non-stop drive to spread their joyous swing music across the country, these boogie-woogie cats have proved themselves to be the band to reckon with when it comes to modern swing. Contributing a track off their Time Bomb Recordings debut, ALL ABOARD!, "Regular Joe" keeps the mood alive as they draw you and your partner close on this slow, intimate number.
Who would have ever dreamed of sitting country and western grooves next to swing melodies? Well, if you're Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys you don't think about it , you just do it. "Feelin Kinda Lucky" combines the best of both worlds into a slick package that you can dance and move along with, of course, but you can also feel slide and move around in your body.
Then there is The Savoir-Faire Pistol Pocket Dance Band with "5 Months, 2 Weeks, 2 Days." Female lead vocals keep the song soft and pretty, while the band jumps around with some vigorous swing that will have you sweating and shaking in joy from start to beginning. Expert swing dancers may find joy keeping up with this one, while beginners will have fun trying. Either way, you're bound to have a great time.
Ending with The Camaros' aptly titled "Love," the disc ends with some, excuse the over use of this word, lovely grooves that are moderately paced and easy to dance along with. The horns are steamy and the drums sparkle from beat to beat, all while the guitar and bass slides around with a softer angle. Together, they can't loose, and you can't either.
If you're looking for the real stuff, you can either go buy the classics, or you too can re-invent the oldies through the bands keeping the tradition alive. If you're into the later, this compilation is the disc you need. I'll give it an A.