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Blue Lunch 

Big Sound Blues (Wilbert's Records)

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The hep cats of Blue Lunch have always been a diverse outfit, tapping their love of classic R&B and doo-wop in addition to "straight" blues. The band's celebrating two decades of music with the release of its fourth CD, a collection that comes hard with predictably rock-solid playing and a distinctive stylistic mix.

The iron man here is guitarist-vocalist Bob Frank, whose versatility clearly grounds the band. Not many outfits that strut their swing stuff so well can put on a country-blues face that's just as respectable -- as Blue Lunch does here on Frank's version of Robert Lockwood's "Little Boy Blue." Frank's originals stand up nicely alongside the well-chosen vintage covers; his sly Latin/lounge mash-up "You Got to Dance the Cha Cha With Me" is as good as almost anything from Roomful of Blues or Little Charlie & the Nightcats. The best track, though, is the smokin' cover of the Five Royales' "I Do," which, in an ideal world, would be Blue Lunch's radio single.

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