Ben Waters, Paul Brady, Jimbo Mathus, Quicksilver

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Ben Waters, Boogie 4 Stu. At the very start, Ian Stewart, Stu to his friends, was the secret Rolling Stone. He was a pianist non-pareil, but when manager Andrew Loog Oldham decided Stewart's lantern-jawed look didn't fit the Stones bad-boy image he got cut out of their public persona.

He still played on many of the recordings and was often onstage, but he also became their permanent road manager right up until his death. Stewart's droll wit and impeccable musical taste was said to be the thing that often kept the group honest to its roots, and his love of boogie woogie piano was legendary.

Pianist Ben Waters' loving homage to that music and beyond is an act of gracious kindness and hellfire fun. Not to meniton it swings like mad, careening around the room like a sprint runner's dash for the finish line. When the Rolling Stones (complete with original bassist Bill Wyman) reconvene for Bob Dylan's "Watching the River Flow," the heart races for that sound of sexual chaos: oh what could still be. And pin a badge of honor on Ben Waters for going the distance to honor an invisible hero to us all.
Paul Brady, Hooba Dooba. Talk about longevity. Irishman Paul Brady began pulling his own musical weight in 1963 when he was 16 years old on Irish bandstands. He's been a rebel ever since, playing rhythm & blues, folk music, rock 'n' roll and even a brief flirtation with pop.

When song scout supreme Bonnie Raitt covered Brady's "Luck of the Draw" in 1991, the bright lights started flashing and opened the doors to brand new opportunies. Lucky for us, the Irishman has taken advantage of them all on his new album. He can break your heart with a dead-on ballad, and then fill the dance floor with an irresistible rocker. To show there are no self-doubts, Paul Brady even takes on the Beatles' with a heartfelt run of "You Won't See Me."

While it's true no one beats the Beatles, this version can hold its head high, showing what happens when a musician has found that place where grace and grit meet. Say hallelujah.
Jimbo Mathus, Confederate Buddha. Deep inside the Mississippi Delta, Jimbo Mathus was once called "the singing voice of Huck Finn." He has an expansive sense of the world, something that takes in the prettiest sunsets known to man right next to the most destructive forces of mother nature's meanest assault.

Mathus is best known as the centerpiece of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, a band that threw all kinds of Southern influences into a big burlap bag and shook them up until they came out sounding brand new. For this solo flight, nothing is off limits, showing us the beauty of someone who probably started coloring outside the lines from the moment he could hold a  red Crayola.

Mathus' search for backyard preachers and holy teachers has led him into the farthest corners of the Magnolia State, places full of surprise and wonder. The sounds those wanderings have helped conjure up are lifetime keepers, and allow our Confederate Buddha to shine like a full moon over cotton fields and catfish ponds alike, smiling with a gold-toothed grin through it all.
Quicksilver Messenger Service. When San Francisco exploded with bands in 1966, it seemed like there would be no end. Groups like Jefferson Airplane, Big Brothers & the Holding Company, Grateful Dead and all the others were blazing new trails. Right up there with them, Quicksilver Messenger Service took guitar histrionics to new heights, with John Cippolina's Gibson SG blasting a fiery path through the psychedelic cosmos.

Unfortunately, this debut album didn't see light of day until 1968, so the Haight-Ashbury quartet effectively missed the first wave of the Class of the Summer of Love. That the music surpassed almost everything else coming out of the Bay Area then was little consolation to those who had felt their power first-hand.

Extended songs like "Gold & Silver" and "The Fool" colored the walls and the minds of the faithful in vivid improvisations, and still sound like sonic highlights all these years later. This reissue includes nine bonus tracks with the original six songs, showing a bluesy side to the band not seen before. For shivers and soundscapes that still thrill, Quicksilver delivers right on time.

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Bill Bentley got his first drum set in 1965 and still has it. He's been a deejay, record store clerk, publicist, writer, concert promoter, record producer and a&r director, sometimes all at once. He's worked at KUT-FM, Austin City Limits, L.A. Weekly, Slash Records, Warner Bros. Records and Vanguard…

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