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click to enlarge Buddy Guy's Live at Legends cd

Buddy Guy

Live at Legends

RCA

File next to: Jimi Hendrix, Cream

Those who've seen Buddy Guy live know that his shows are a hit-and-miss affair. He can be as exciting as it gets, but he's also capable of drifting part-way through a set, letting things devolve into a series of extended, but ultimately aimless, guitar solos, song excerpts and needless banter with the audience. Live at Legends is closer to the "hit" category. Yes, there are a couple of drawn-out performances, but the bluesman mostly stays focused. "Best Damn Fool" opens on an especially combustible note, wasting no time before Guy rips out one of his patented fiery solos. It's followed by a blustery cover of Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy," along with a couple of Guy's best originals: the ballad "Skin Deep" and his signature "Damn Right I Got the Blues." With only 11 songs, half of Live at Legends' running-time is devoted to covers, including a medley that brings together unremarkable versions of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom," Cream's "Strange Brew," Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile," and still more Cream with "Sunshine of Your Love." More originals would have been welcome, given Guy's deep catalog of keepers, but it's still great to hear him in such amped-up form. — Alan Sculley

click to enlarge Parakeet's Shonen Hearts cd

Parakeet

Shonen Hearts

Self-released

File next to: Sugar, Shonen Knife

This London-based group is fronted by Mariko Doi of Yuck, who plays bass in that band. Here, she is joined by James Thomas and Jon Jackson of The History of Apple Pie. Parakeet's debut EP finds Doi bringing much more to the table than her role in Yuck might suggest. "Toumono," "Bananafish" and the title track are crisp rockers bathed in gauzy walls-of-sound guitars and hook-filled melodies. "Hiccups" is a more straightforward mix of garage rock with angular vocal and guitar lines. A poppier side emerges on "Darumasanga." At six songs, Shonen Hearts leaves one wanting to hear more. — Alan Sculley

click to enlarge Rage Against the Machine's XX cd

Rage Against the Machine

XX

Epic/Legacy

File next to: P.O.D., Incubus

As deluxe reissues of albums go, this box set devoted to Rage Against the Machine's debut album XX is about as extensive as they get. It features the original album on both vinyl and CD, as well as a second disc featuring original album demos, which are so highly developed that they amount to an alternate version of XX. There's also a pair of DVDs featuring the band's first public performance from 1991, another show from 2010, numerous other live clips, and the music videos for a dozen songs. It's all worthwhile viewing and listening from a band that essentially launched the entire rap-rock genre with its combination of distinctive guitar riffs and politically agitated lyrics. Twenty years down the road, tracks like "Killing in the Name," "Take the Power Back" and "Township Rebellion" sound as urgent, alive and relevant as ever. — Alan Sculley

  • Buddy Guy, Parakeet, Rage Against the Machine

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