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Horny Horns 

The Byrds, What It Is!

These tracks will make you blow, man, blow:

The Byrds' new box, There Is A Season (Columbia/Legacy), is not exactly horn-drenched. However, one of the key aspects of the seminal 1960s folk-rock band's sound is how bandleader Roger McGuinn likened his 12-string Rickenbacker guitar to brass. This Byrds hallmark -- alternately termed chiming or plangent guitar by most rock critics (see your handy Rock Snob Dictionary) -- carries over four discs, making such classics as "Mr. Tambourine Man," "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" and "Eight Miles High" shine. Of course, "So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star" is included herein with its famous trumpet solo by South African jazz giant Hugh Masekela. And there are lesser known weird tunes, like the haunting, great "Draft Morning" full of martial horns. Lyrics yes, yes -- as when the Byrds take it to the bridge upon "5D": "And I opened my heart to the whole universe, And I found it was loving, And I saw the great blunder my teachers had made, Scientific delirium madness." Sure, the 1990 Byrds box sated many diehards, yet this reprise furthers an understanding of McGuinn & Co.'s construction of psychedelia. Extra: A bonus DVD with 10 vintage "live" performances (if you're a Gene Clark fanatic as I am, a bittersweet opportunity to see the late bard jingle-jangle).

http://ebni.com/byrds.

Fats Waller recently got boxed by Bluebird/RCAVictor/Legacy on a 3-disc set spanning the jazz pianist/bandleader/singer-songwriter's all-too brief career. Harlem-born Waller, king among stride pianists, died prematurely at age 39 in 1943. Also including a DVD of rare live footage, the box is sorted thematically, the compositions (many co-written with Tin Pan Alley lyricist Andy Razaf) ranging from moody introspection to upbeat comedy. Waller standard "Ain't Misbehavin'" still stands out like a beacon, featuring Benny Carter on trumpet as it does.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fats_Waller.

New Orleans music and material culture has never deserved to be celebrated as much as it does now, a year after Katrina devastated the Gulf region. To this end, Shout! Factory's has re-released its 2004 box set: Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans. This collection easily blends all Crescent City styles, from Latin and rock to klezmer and zydeco. And though inevitable classics like "Hey Pocky A-Way" and "Iko Iko" appear, more insider artists like Snooks Eaglin ("Red Beans") and the late James Booker ("Classified (Live)") are not forgotten in the mix. Nor is brass forefather Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, who holds it down on "Potato Head Blues" with his fabled Hot Seven group. Lest the producers be accused of saturating the proceedings with formaldehyde, acts that had been making hay prior to Katrina also show up: Galactic, Anders Osborne and artist/chef Kermit Ruffins.

www.shoutfactory.com.

What It Is! is subtitled: Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977) (Rhino). And the four-disc set rarely disappoints. At 91 tracks and clocking in at five hours, various artists are resurrected from Atlantic, Atco, and Warner Bros Records' rare groove vaults. Discs 1 (including legendary big bands the Bar-Kays and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band) & 4 (with Howard Tate, Labelle and forgotten black rock diva Claudia Lennear) are best. James Brown sideman Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns bring the funk on "Four Play," while Funkadelic cult hero/guitar god Eddie Hazel memorably covers "California Dreamin'." But this equal opportunity collection doesn't overlook notable white funkateers Cold Blood (once produced by Atlantic legend Donny Hathaway); front belter Lydia Pense works it out over fiery brass blasts on Bill Withers' "Kissing My Love." Cop this and dig what continues to inspire generations of hip-hop heads on their groove quest.

www.rhino.com.

Little Feat is celebrated for its eclectic blend of blues, rock, R&B, country and Nawlinze funk -- even now, decades after the band's founding in Los Angeles in 1969. The Best of Little Feat (Rhino) primarily spotlights the Lowell George era (the band was launched by George and another former member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Roy Estrada), with such horn-spiced staples as "Dixie Chicken" -- plus trucker anthem "Willin'" (covered by the late period Byrds on the above box).

www.littlefeat.net.

Bonus Track: Idlewild (LaFace/Arista) by OutKast is not strictly a soundtrack for their film of the same name, but rather accompaniment as sound collage. Although Big Boi and André 3000's latest release has so far received lukewarm reviews, Idlewild does include at least two great horny cuts: Boi's "The Train" and the sole meaningful collaboration "Morris Brown," which invokes that ATL college's noted marching band.

www.outkast.com.

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