Fricke's Picks: Dyke and the Blazers, Bob Frank and John Murry, MV & EE With the Bummer Road

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Arlester "Dyke" Christian, the leader and wild-funk voice of the Sixties R&B machine Dyke and the Blazers, knew a good thing when he had it. And he made the most of it, over and over, after the band's debut single, "Funky Broadway, Part I," hit the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. We Got More Soul: The Ultimate Broadway Funk (BGP/Ace, U.K. import) is two CDs of almost nothing but torrid variations on the Blazers' pimp-army strut and Dyke's fierce, James Brown-like growling on that first record. There's "Broadway Combination," "Funky Broadway Time" and even a '67 track, "Triple Funk," in which Dyke cites Wilson Pickett's Top Ten cover of "Funky Broadway." But everything here cooks hard. "So Sharp," the dance-floor-afire jam "The Wrong House" and the Top Forty hits "We Got More Soul" and "Let a Woman Be a Woman -- Let a Man Be a Man" are as rough and hot as the Godfather's best sides at the time. We Got More Soul has every number Dyke and the Blazers cut until his death in a street shooting in 1971. And it's all soul.

World Without End (Bowstring) is all bullets, blades and guilt without end: ten murder ballads based on true crimes and written and sung by Bob Frank and John Murry. This grisly parade of violence goes back almost to the founding of the Republic ("Madeline, 1796") and includes justifiable vengeance ("Joaquin Murietta, 1853") as well as pure evil ("Little Wiley Harpe, 1803"). But with his low, hanging-judge drawl, Murry sounds as severe and modern as Leonard Cohen, while Frank sings with a deep, gritty authority that may remind you of Warren Zevon -- if you don't already know Frank's solo work, including his magnificently stark 1972 Vanguard LP, Bob Frank. Tim Mooney's production here is as antique as a sepia print -- but also as immediate as the country anguish he makes in his own band, American Music Club.

"You can't pay the rent with happiness/You can't pay the rent with love": So goes "Canned Happiness" on Green Blues (Ecstatic Peace!), by MV & EE With the Bummer Road, a Vermont-based trance-folk troupe led by singer-writers Matt Valentine and Erika Elder. The collective makes a loose psychedelia that seems at times on the verge of blissful collapse: soupy-fuzz guitars, fertility-rite boogie and dislocated harmonies that, combined, sound like an iridescent-woodland powwow of TV on the Radio and Seventies German trippers Amon Düül II. But the pastoral drone and vocal om will, with time and exposure, feel like shelter from your storms.