Various Artists

Get in the Groove

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Some people just know how to throw a party, and when Billy Miller -- A-Bones vocalist, Kicks Magazine editor, and Norton Records pres. -- turned fifty, his friends decided to mark the occasion with a blow-out R&B bash of truly remarkable proportions. Miller's frequent collaborator and full-time spouse Miriam Linna put together a show with a powerhouse bill, including Andre Williams, Nathaniel Mayer, Lonnie Youngblood, the Mighty Hannibal and King Coleman, with Rudy Ray Moore as Master of Ceremonies. Thankfully, the show was recorded for posterity, and Get in the Groove documents a better birthday party than most people will ever have, even if they live to be one-hundred. Most of the veteran talent on deck is in fine form; the sole exception is Nathaniel Mayer, who performs six songs on this set, and while he has attitude and energy to spare, he sounds as if he blew out his voice the night before, and the rasp of his instrument wears a bit after a while. But even Mayer's numbers are great fun, and Lonnie Youngblood, the Mighty Hannibal, and Andre Williams all display a passion and effortless cool that would be the envy of men half their age. The relatively younger generation is well-represented by the Great Gaylord (still the greatest lousy singer on Earth) and Barrence Whitfield (a last-minute guest who tears it up on "Mama Get the Hammer"), and the backing bands -- the Bloodhounds and the Shanks -- draw sweat while generating maximum soul. And the appearance of the great Bettye LaVette for the encores is simply icing on the cake (if there's a sequel to this gig, give her a set of her own!). Get in the Groove sounds like one hell of a great party, and will doubtless help you throw a memorable get-down in the privacy of your own home. Just make sure the kids are out of the room once Dolemite starts talking.

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