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SOUND CHECK.

Various/``Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Boom 1950-70'' (Rhino)

Here's a perfect companion to ``Positively 4th Street,'' David Hajdu's compulsively readable cultural history of the '60s folk renaissance. Hajdu's heroes - Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Richard Farina and Mimi Baez Farina - are represented in this triple-disc anthology of folk music that emerged from New York's Greenwich Village. Also on hand are the usual suspects (Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul & Mary, Phil Ochs) and some obscurities (harsh harmonizers Kathy & Carol).

The wildly diverse set includes mournful spirituals, baleful blues, angry protest songs and goofy novelty tunes. But this juxtaposition of styles and sentiments can be off-putting partly because some of this material just hasn't aged well. There's a good reason jug-band music never caught on.

But the best of the music retains the power to stir souls. The Chad Mitchell Trio's earnest rendition of Ed McCurdy's classic campfire song, ``Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,'' seems to arrive not simply from a different time but a different world. And Arlo Guthrie's ``The Motorcycle Song'' still prompts a smile, even if hearing it once every 10 years is enough. Three stars

- Glenn Whipp

Various/``More Songs of Route 66: Roadside Attractions'' (Lazy S.O.B. Recordings)

A sequel to producer David Sanger's 1995 compilation of songs about the Chicago-to-L.A. highway, this almost all-Texan affair features blues, western swing, jump boogie, truckin' country and surf entries, each tied to a different place along the legendary artery.

Many of Sanger's fellow Asleep at the Wheelers participate, Dale Watson does double duty in Tucumcari and Gallup (and who knew there was more than one song that mentioned either place?), Jimmy LaFave does a wonderfully mournful take on Woody Guthrie's ``Oklahoma Hills'' and the steel guitars all but twist the asphalt into ribbons of melody when it's ``Midnight in Amarillo.''

There's enough enjoyable roadside hokum here to make anybody want to drive through the desert with the top down - but try to restrain yourself 'til the end of summer. Three and one half stars

- Bob Strauss

Soundtrack/``Dr. Dolittle 2'' (J Records)

Here's a surprise: a hip-hop soundtrack featuring Snoop Dogg and Lil' Kim that doesn't require a parental advisory. This top-notch companion disc to the current screen hit proves up-to-the-minute r&b can be hard-hitting without the depressingly insipid cliches that make you want to dismiss the entire genre.

Potential hits abound: the tight groove of album-opener ``Cluck Cluck'' by the Product G&B with Wyclef Jean, ``Do You Wanna Roll (Dolittle Theme)'' with an inoffensive Snoop and Kim, ``What It Is (Part II)'' by Flipmode Squad featuring Busta Rhymes and Kelis.

Also on board is a who's-who of current hitmakers, including Fabolous, O-Town, Jimmy Cozier, Luther Vandross, Lil' Zane and Alicia Keys. All very listenable and, as the doctor himself might say, barking good. Three one half stars

- Fred Shuster

The Kennedys/``Positively Live!'' (Jiffyjam)

Strum-happy couple Pete and Maura Kennedy put an enormous amount of sonic energy into their gigs and they do it with little more than two acoustic guitars and Maura's crystalline voice.

Folkies with tradition (``Come in My Kitchen,'' ``The Coo Coo,'' even ``Orange Blossom Special''), flower child idealism (``Life Is Large,'' ``River of Fallen Stars'') and even classicism (Bach's ``Jesu, Joy of Man`s Desiring'') in mind, the D.C.-based duo is always up for an eclectic aside or a virtuoso picking run. It gives this collection of concert tracks a cheerful abundance of surprise fun and good humor. Three stars

- B.S.

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(1) Peter, Paul and Mary

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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review; L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Jun 29, 2001
Words:603
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