Three major talents with local connections - Thom Bell, Larry Fine and Bob Marley (!) - are getting "props" in new CD, DVD and screen projects.
Ringing the Bell: A prime architect of the Philly Sound gets his due on the just-out Peak Records/eOne album "Bob Baldwin Presents 'Betcha By Golly Wow': The Music of Thom Bell." Too bad Bell's songwriting collaborator Linda Creed couldn't also have made the title. Keyboardist/arranger Baldwin prefers the term "New Urban Jazz' to "Smooth Jazz" to describe his treatments, though they're often close. Guitarist Russ Freeman chimes in on the Delfonics' hit "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time," the Spinners "Rubberband Man" is rewarded with an intriguing ambient soul/jazz rendering while saxman Marion Meadows sails smoothly through "People Make the World Go Round." I'm especially loving the vocal cuts - including singer Will Downing's dynamic take on "Break Up to Make Up" and Philly-based Vivian Green's haunting remake of the Delfonics "La-La Means I Love You."
Philly's Stooge: He's immortalized in mural form on South Street, and starting Friday in a new but faithful to the original "The Three Stooges" comedy flick. Still, the best tribute to home-grown comic genius Larry Fine and his fellow Stooges - Moe Howard, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser and Curly Joe Derita" - has to be "The Three Stooges Ultimate Collection" a $100 (list) 20 disc box set from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, coming out June 5. Putting all their Nyuks in a row, the splendiferous set of slapstick collects all 190 short films we loved watching/aping as kids, plus three discs of rare and unreleased content - including the new to DVD full length Columbia films "Have Rocket, Will Travel" and "Rockin ' In the Rockies."
Marley's Ghost: If you're a devotee of Bob Marley, you must see the definitive Kevin Macdonald-directed documentary "Marley" which Magnolia Pictures is releasing April 20 to theaters (with a home video version sure to follow.). There's great and rare performance footage, of course, tastes of 50 Marley songs. What makes this project rise above, though, are amazing on-location in Jamaica interviews with the reggae legend's family members, friends, lovers and fellow musicians. I especially loved hearing his early youth music teacher sing the first sweet song that excited Bob. Also among the film's "surprises" are insights to the prejudice Marley felt as a mixed-race child and discussion (already familiar to many here) of his 1960s and early '70s time spent in and around Wilmington, Delaware - where his mom resided, where Bob toiled at the Hotel DuPont and a Chrysler factory (in Newark) and where Bob and Rita's son Stephen was born.