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The artists, mostly from Texas, represent the Second Wave s; e. Of the 21 songs, 7 are instrumental polkas and 3 are rancheras with a polka beat. Liner notes are pretty good, sound quality varies. But this CD just doesn't capture the excitement I was hoping for. The CD also includes "extras" such as a cool video showing how a CD is actually burned -- but you can only view it if your computer's CD drive can play blue book multi-session discs.

On the other hand, I don't particularly like their slow numbers: Stephen Kaminski has done a fine job of producing, as well as contributing the hot sax licks on "Dance Like a Musician. NSA, [no date] In spite of the awful recording, uneven singing and lack of liner notes, after a couple of listens I found myself humming along to this CD. Chad did a great job of picking fifteen familiar songs for him and the Polka Rhythms to give their honky-style treatment.

The standout number is their instrumental cover of the Chris Montez hit "Let's Dance. Like many Czech bands, they have a sweet sound that I like. In addition to the usual polkas and waltzes, they effortlessly integrate a number of country tunes their version of "Orange Blossom Special" is great , aided by daughters Lori and Jodi's fiddle playing. Good horn section and smokin' organ by John Krawisz.

Unusually strong Caribbean influence -- they cover songs by calypsonians Lord Burgess and King Radio, as well as doing a ska version of the Rolling Stones' hit "Last Time. I like their Spanish songs. But they're not just joking around: Finally, engineer Gary Trumet gives the band a quiet, understated sound that's a welcome change from the echo-heavy blast of the usual polka CD.

This time, they've added a bit of cocktail piano in a couple places and a touch of synth elsewhere. John Picnic," written by Texan songwriter Daniel Klapuch. The Best of the Dujka Brothers, Vol. I'd say the same today. John Wilfahrt's band of ten or eleven pieces was large by today's polka band standards and that size enabled him to use more complex arrangements than you hear today -- particularly in Dutchman-style bands. The 28 tracks are mostly polkas, along with some waltzes and laendlers.

No liner notes and the sound quality stinks, but I like it anyway. They even have a snappy website. Unfortunately, the music doesn't live up to the hype. The singing is weak, the bass is boring, and the album is padded out with two live cuts.

I did like the a capella opening of "Pod Mostem" and their drummer is terrific. Raise to B- on On this CD, he plays almost all of the instruments, supplies most of the vocals, and wrote or co-wrote about a third of the songs. Most of the tracks have the bright, cheerful sound one expects from a Slovenian-style CD. I enjoyed pretty much all of the instrumentals particularly "Ribniska Valley Polka" and "Hot Peppers Cumbia" though more variety in the arrangements would have been appreciated.

The "Jolly Coppersmith Polka" is also quite good. The musicianship is also superb, as is Tom's production. His choice of material, however, runs more to the schmaltz than mine does: Traditional instruments used include the parmupill jew's harp and torupill bagpipe. I prefer the more recent recordings such as "Kas maletad kevadet oites? The thorough notes are in French, Estonian and English.

CD runs a generous 63 minutes. John Check's musical career dates back to , when he formed his first band in a Wisconsin high school. Over the years, he performed and recorded with both the Michigan Dutchmen when he lived in Michigan and the Wisconsin Dutchmen when he moved back to Oshkosh. This CD was transferred from two LPs of uncertain vintage. The "Lhanicka Polka" is done in a pure German brass band blasmusik style; the fine arrangement of the "Red Raven Polka" combines a touch of marching band, a dose of big band and a neat men's chorus; Russ Mikkelson lends an excellent vocal to the Tommy Dorsey hit "Marie.

Musicians are credited, songwriters are not. The transfer to CD is not entirely successful, as there is noticable "wow" on two slow numbers. No surprise there -- after all, this is the Dujka Brothers. The songs have a sweetness characteristic of bands that come out of the Texas Czech tradition.

But having listened to other Dujka CDs, I'm ready for a bit less synthesizer maybe they could take an analog drummer into the studio for their next recording. Ordering information is on their website www. They worked similar magic with Mozart, turning the Rondo alla Turca Sononta in A , into a dance bursting with passion. The rest of the CD is less interesting.

I count nine polkas, five valses rancheras waltzes and two ballads. Less polished but more charming than Los Tigres Del Norte. Includes some nice duet vocals.

His tempo is gentle and his tone is sweet. Like many other greats of the past, he's not afraid to venture beyond the traditional repertoire, covering the old minstrel "Alabama Jubilee" here called "El Circo" and Boots Randolph's "Yakketty Sax. Between the two CDs, buy this one; it has the better melodies. With brother Peter, also on concertina, the Peter and Paul Wendinger band had played polkas, waltzes, and "Old Time" music across the upper midwest for nearly 50 years.

Today, the band carries on as the Wendinger Band and has released this new CD featuring a eulogy by Paul's daughter Kelly, drumming and vocals by his son Jon and even some tracks recorded by Paul before his death. Unfortunately, the trumpet work is sloppy and there's too little tuba for my taste.

If Wind 'er up isn't listed on the order form, just write it in. At only twenty-seven and a half minutes, the album is painfully thin. C [ ] [Vendor: I can hear a distinctively Stravinsky-like sound, but I can hardly detect the traditional Austrian folk elements.

In any event, Austrian composer and bassoonist Christof Dienz led Die Knödel during the s, when they toured extensively and recorded several well-received CDs. For 20th century classical music, the compositions on this CD are quite listenable, beautifully performed and wonderfully recorded. The two polkas, "Jet Polka" and "Knödelpolka" are quite charming. Now I'm not sure what all the shouting was about.

Prime Drive had some fine players such as Eddie Siwiec, but their brief heyday in the s doesn't seem to have made a large impact. Their songs on this CD all feature fine musicianship and vocals, and the clarinets of Siwiec and Keith Habratowski are a welcome touch. The Dynatones, of course, are the legendary Buffalo polka band -- but their most legendary recording was over by Liner notes list musicians and some of the composers.

In Croatia, where it is known by the diminutive "tamburica" or "tamburitza," it has become the national instrument, used for folk, popular and classical music. In spite of his use of a synthesized tamburitza yuck! The other half of the CD is by Johnny Krizancic, probably the best known tamburitzan in polka circles. Most of his songs here sound a bit more "ethnic" than Haller's, almost reminding me of the Greek Laïkó sound. Liner notes are poor, attributing "Spanish Eyes" to the public domain instead of composer Bert Kaempfert.

But the operatic stage didn't provide an outlet for her wicked sense of humor, so she shifted to cabaret, billing herself as a "soprano comedienne. Having come to terms with her ethnic roots, Palasz was finally ready to issue a polka CD. She has combined her lusty soprano voice with Toby Hanson's marvelous arrangements in covering a wide variety of polkas -- Slovenian, Polish, German, and American, as well as two unique selections: C [] [Available from www.

On The Polka Element , Mike explores those diverse kinds of polkas in a series of original compositions which he has also arranged and performed, making this a kind of "concept album. I am usually skeptical or unappreciative of all-English polka albums, but this one is a wonderful exception because the songs and sound are so fine. I look forward to listening to these numbers many more times and to learning some to play at my own gigs. Congratulations, Mike, on a great achievement; I truly believe that this is genuine Grammy-class material.

This one was no exception. CK was a valiant attempt at "displaying a new sound in the polka scene" but the results were mixed. The Germanic tunes are excellent, particularly the spirited rendering of "Musicians Come Out and Play. But "Cecilia" cannot compete with Paul Simon's original; several tunes needed a larger band to be carried off successfully; and the German vocals sound like they were learned phonetically.

Their sound is loud, aggressive guitar rock. Their tunes are interesting; mostly written by the band or traditional polkas with new words by leader Dandy Don Hedeker. If you like your polkas played at a volume that can melt concrete, you'll love the Polkaholics. As for me, I'm too old for this. C [] [Available through the band's merchandise site: On the whole, this is 'way too authentic for my tastes.

C [] [Purchased through their website: It contains many fine tunes, including "The Girl Who Invented Kissin' Polka," "Everybody Loves Somebody Waltz," and "At the Russian Front Polka" but the sound quality is mediocre, the track listing is confusing and there's too little variety for my taste. Best track is the good-time "Polka Lovin' Gal. Sharp graphics by Wing Fong. Check out the video of their playing the "JoAnn Polka.

Six polkas and a polka-mazurka, 19 pieces in all. Anyway the album is a lot of fun. The typical ensemble might have members and a repertoire rich in German and Czech polkas and waltzes. This particular compilation has tracks from twelve different bands, all performed and recorded faultlessly, yet I could find no charm or joy in it. Bands, composers, arrangers and publishers are credited, and timings given, but there are no further notes. They have several nice songs on this CD.

I enjoyed their version of Anton Karas's "Third Man Theme"; I like the gentle rock feel of "Die Berge die sind mein zu Haus," and "Boarischer" reminds me of those great rock instrumentals of the 60s. Overall, however, I prefer a punchier sound. You can read accordionist Mike Surratt's thoughts on polkas -- German and otherwise. Though Boone's bagpipe playing on one of the polkas is an absolute delight, most of the music sounds like a quaint chamber ensemble.

Contains 24 cuts, 74 minutes of music. Wally Balicki's clarinet solo is breathtakingly good. No other musicians are credited. Outstanding cover art, no liner notes. C [Rated " B-"; reduced to C on because it's just not very interesting] Romy Gosz Romy Gosz and His Orchestra, Polkaland CD Roman "Romy" Gosz, one of the most important bandleaders in east-central Wisconsin in the 30's, might be described as the father of mid-western Czech Bohemian music. But this collection of 20 tunes just doesn't move me -- I don't particularly like that pre-war old-timey feel, the sound quality is poor, and the liner notes are worse.

C [] All Wound UP!! C [] His First and Last Recordings Don Santiago Jimenez, Arhoolie CD Santiago Jimenez is probably the second most important name in the development of the conjunto style, the working class Mexican idiom that adopted the polka as an integral part of its repertoire.

This, however, is a very strange CD: I prefer the more recent material, as the older tracks are a bit rough for my taste. There are thirteen polkas; as is typical for Mexican polkas, these are all instrumentals. Of the seven rancheras sentimental ballads , four are sung to a polka beat. These guys are really good; if only they leaned a bit more towards the polkas and bit less towards the free jazz, I'd like this album more.

In spite of my rating, if you're interested in the nexus of jazz and polka, buy this CD. Nice but they didn't knock me out. I like the peppy sound and the interesting arrangements. The engineering and performances probably by a studio band are first rate, but Legawiec must be saving his best melodies for his classical compositions because his polkas all sound alike. C [, revised ] Polka Can't Die The Polkaholics, self-published Polkaholics leader Dandy Don Hedeker is a tireless promoter of polka music, helped in the compilation of my favorite polka album, American Polka, and brought L'il Wally back to Chicago to play the Zakopane Lounge.

The Polkaholics sound is usually described as punk-polka but I think it's more heavy metal. C [; revised ; revised ] Gone Polka Jimmy Sturr, Rounder My first album by the pound gorilla of polka music today. Sturr has recorded over albums and won more polka Grammy awards than anyone else.

On this album he features singers Willie Nelson, John Karas, Brenda Lee and Arlene Crissan, backed by a tight ten-man band a "big band" by polka standards. The arrangements, mostly by Henry Will, are outstanding and the musicianship unsurpassed. The packaging is attractive and there are real liner notes -- the most thorough of any polka album I've seen -- with the composers, arrangers and all the musicians fully credited.

Only drawbacks are the album's short length under 35 minutes and MOR leanings. Read Amanda Fisher's review. C [I gave this a "B" on Downgraded to "C" on because it now strikes me as too close to easy listening. Their polka version of "Purple Haze" is extraordinary it's also on the American Polka compilation but the rest of the album is less satisfying.

Since their Humansville album is one of my all-time favorites, I had expected more from the Combo. Originally rated " B. Well recorded, packaged and performed but they ain't no Squirrel Nut Zippers. While I still don't have much to say about the genre as a whole, this album by one of the Eastern giants has 24 cuts, flawless playing, and a great period photo of Gene in the old days.

On the other hand, the sound is poor and there are no liner notes. They have several nice tunes and several of the band members, particularly Kasia Mychajlyshyn, have attractive voices.

Unfortunately, the arrangements and production are colorless. Liner notes are useless. I really like the songs "Wally G. This album contains a couple of nice songs but has an overall sameness of sound that makes me think that Joey recorded most of the parts himself on synth. C [Read Toby Hanson's remarks. The rest of the album didn't move me. This album has plenty of polkas and plenty of concertina.

The performance, arrangements and production are all highly polished -- unfortunately, you need to understand Spanish to appreciate the highly-politicized lyrics.

Includes an attractive full-color booklet with practically no content. Their performances are excellent, but the lyrics just aren't funny. Is this really what Les Paul had in mind when he invented multitrack recording? C- [] [Available through www. The Wiggles are a children's musical group from Sydney, Australia, who've become multi-millionaires through their live performances, recordings, merchandizing, theme parks and television shows.

If you're ready to barf from listening to Barney the Dinosaur, try the Wiggles instead, they're much less insipid. The CD comes with a full-color booklet that includes complete lyrics but, inexplicably, no credit for composers and songwriters. Slapdash production and no liner notes.

The polka is an important part of the chamamé repertoire. Chango Spasiuk, whose ancestry is part Ukrainian, is the modern master of chamamé which he plays on accordion in a particularly fiery style, either solo or backed by a small combo. Charming but 'way too folkloric for me. Packaging is major-label quality. It's still easy listening, but not as bad as I remembered: This CD is no exception. Humppa is a traditonal Finnish polka-like folk dance, recently revitalized and rocked up by several Finnish bands, somewhat like Brave Combo has done with American polka music.

This attractively packaged CD contains seventeen tracks of energetic music fronted by a man with an unattractive voice singing about "Humppa" -- yes, it comes up in every song. Too bad they don't always play in tune. The sound quality is awful, there are too many slow songs and the lengthy liner notes are in German only.

On the positive side, the CD is over 70 minutes, the notes list the date of recording or release I wish everyone did that , 16 bands are represented and there's even a bit of hammered dulcimer. Interestingly, Trikont's US distributor is Other Music, best known as a source for alternative, indie, experimental and electronic music. D [] Fantasztyczne Li'l Wally, Jay Jay There's a joke about a woman who returns from her vacation complaining about the resort, "The food was absolute poison.

There are just two polkas, both done in a gentle Slovenian style. Liner notes are complete, crediting all songwriters and musicians including talented multi-instrumentalist Tom Brusky. I could have done without the children's chorus, however. Not rated because it's not a polka CD. Anyway Da Yoopers are known for the kind of songs we used to sing on the summer camp bus.

They're either sophomoric or ribald, depending on your taste. I kinda like it. The production is first-rate, sounding neither like a field recording nor a goopy Nashville session. The liner notes are bare-bones.

Unrated because it's not a polka CD but recommended nevertheless. While there's only one polka on this album, it's one of the most enjoyable rock albums I've heard in years.

Not rated because it's not a polka album. There are plenty of original novelty tunes by bandleader Tom Torriglia, one of the founders of Those Darn Accordions. I hope they get themselves a really good singer and head into the studio sometime soon. The traditional banda repertoire includes plenty of polkas, waltzes and marches.

This CD, by one of the most famous banda groups, is nice but has too few polkas to be of interest to readers of this page. I'll look for something else to recommend instead. In other words, the polka blanketed Europe with the exception of the Iberian peninsula, the Mediterranean, and parts of the Balkan peninsula. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the immigrants brought it to the New World.

In Canada, the Ukrainians were important purveyors of polka. And from Mexico all the way down to Uruguay, wherever Germans went, the polka went with them. Read Jolly James' brief essay on the spread of polka and Troy Gawlak on the polka dance. Polish polkas are generally subdivided as follows: By now October , I can recognize about eight styles: You can make an approximate timeline for polka styles.

Before about , the music consisted largely of the tunes and musical styles brought over from the old country. About , the Eastern style emerged, influenced by the big band sound of contemporary American popular music.

Following the Eastern style came the Cleveland or Slovenian polka about , the Chicago Honky about and the Chicago Push about While the names of these four Slavic styles are well established, nobody seems to have named the stages in the development of Germanic or Hispanic polka. Read Gene Mikrut on the diversity in polka music, and Paul Gifford on the various polka styles. Well, these are just my opinions, but here goes.

The polka is a dance and dance music. The polka is a lively couple-dance in a moderately fast duple meter. It probably began in Bohemia around as a round-dance. It soon swept Europe and was adopted by ballroom and art composers e. By the late 19th century, European immigrants had brought it to North America.

See Maja Trochimczyk's essay on the history of the polka dance. Also see Troy Gawlak. The polka is American. By the 20th century, the polka was passé in Europe but it was flourishing in America. In spite of the fact that polkas are played in Canada, Mexico, and even Paraguay, the U. For Polish-Americans, the polka is a focal point for ethnic identity. For most polka-loving ethnic groups, the polka is just one of several dances that they enjoy. But for many Polish-Americans, it has become a cultural icon, having replaced the church as the center around which communal and familial bonding is ordered.

When working to promote cultural continuity, other groups might organize summer camps, parades, or language instruction for the children. Polish-Americans, on the other hand, go to polka dances with their families, sometimes wearing outfits of red and white, the Polish national colors. What is "old time music"? Victor Greene describes old time music as the Americanized and commercialized form of the peasant dances from the German, Czech, Polish, Hungarian-Gypsy, Ukrainian, Swedish, Italian, and Jewish ethnic groups.

In other words, it's a superset of polka music. On the other hand, most Americans use the term "old time music" to refer to the pre-bluegrass music of the southern Appalachian region -- music with English, Irish and Scottish roots and a strong African influence. In the polka world, the term "old time music" is seldom used outside of Minnesota and Wisconsin. What's the difference between a "two step" and a "polka"?

The way I understand it, the music is very similar, but the dances are different. Some ballroom dancers will choose to two-step or to polka based on the tempo of the music. Read what Mike Surratt has to say about polka rhythms. What are polka lyrics about?

The writings of Joe Rodgers on Usenet see alt. While my knowledge is still superficial, here's what I've learned so far. Joe points out that the Polish lyrics in most Polish-American polkas come from the folk songs of Poland. Those folk songs cover a wide range of themes such as insect songs "Mosquito Polka" cf. American-written polkas present a radical departure from these themes, centering instead on dancing, drinking, and familial and romantic love.

The "Down Home Polka," by Dan Gury of the Dynadukes, sings the praises of home and hearth in a way almost unheard of outside of the American polka. Polka presents an interesting contrast with country music. Since the days of Jimmie Rodgers, country lyrics have expressed feelings of wanderlust, conflict, loss, and heartache, as well as dealing with the topics of infidelity, crime, imprisonment, and death. He also notes that people looking for polka lyrics should start with the Li'l Wally Songbooks.

In the polka world, things were different. The parents were less assimilated and still danced to polka bands. The kids were still living close to home and themselves danced to polka music at weddings and dances. The polka boomers were not so much interested in a New Ethnicity because they still participated in the old one. As a result, the polka world was not re-invigorated in the 's the way the klezmer world was. I'm pleased to say that some people thought I had a good theory.

Is there anything you'd like to add to what you said last year? I think the CD market is still strong, even if the live audiences seemed to have dropped a little in the past few years. Our business is steadily increasing each year, but that may not be a market indicator, as new people are discovering our individual business. Do you think that legal downloads will replace CD sales?

No, I don't see that being an issue in the Polka Music market, as there are too many independent producers of the music, and none including Jimmy K Polkas seem anxious to explore this area. There were no big changes this year. The attendance at dances and the release of new CDs continues its slow decline. There's still plenty of amazing polka music being played and recorded. Maybe if we hold out another 10 years, there will be a revival of interest in polka music, as there has been in Europe.

But see why Joe Rodgers doesn't think that will happen. Should the polka be de-ethnicized? The polka world is changing. The ethnic groups that once danced the polka in places like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Cleveland, or Chicago started leaving for the suburbs decades ago. Nearly all the polka clubs are gone from those cities, as well as most of the bands. There is no more Polish Broadway. In response, polka lovers have been struggling with what to do so that the polka might regain -- or at least preserve -- some of its glory.

One particularly emotional part of the debate has been over the ethnic character of polkas. Here are some of the arguments, pro and con. The name "polka" should be replaced because it evokes ridicule. Similarly "Salsa" was a new marketing term successfully used to promote Latino music from the Caribbean during the 60s and 70s. A new name only turns off the die-hard fans who go to the dances, buy CDs, and join the polka organizations. And the Spanish word "Salsa" didn't de-emphasize the Latino origins of the music, but instead blurred regional distinctions the word included both Cuban and Puerto Rican music.

The word "polka" already does that. De-ethicizing polkas would increase their appeal to Americans particularly younger listeners who don't identify ethnically.

English lyrics should be emphasized to make the music more accessible. After all, Frankie Yankovic recorded and performed mainly in English. Polish lyrics ought to be be promoted because they have the emotional power to stir the hearts of the listeners. And the new energy brought to polkas by Li'l Wally was driven by his unapologetic association with his Polish roots and frequent use of Polish in his singing and recording.

Here's what long-time polka musician Don Lucki had to say: It drastically decreases your already small audience, which is not something we should be doing to try to involve a bigger audience. Polish vocals do have their place, though, but they should be more thoughtfully used. If we want to expand our audience and expose and get them interested in polka music, this has to be more than a consideration.

He sold a lot of records with that tune and helped him make a comeback. The few books in print are wholly inadequate there is no Rough Guide to polkas.

The liner notes with most polka CDs don't list the dates of the recording sessions nor the names of the musicians. Even the otherwise-exhaustively-thorough All Music Guide is limited to about six polka artists.

I can only hope that I make some small contribution to changing the current state of affairs. After all, I put up the first page on the Web devoted to Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs in the mids. Now there are about six different sites that cover their career. Everything here is based solely on my own opinion. If you spot any errors, please drop me a note. You're also invited to share your thoughts about your favorite polka albums.

Last updated October 6, Obviously you put a good deal of time into what you do and it shows. Thank you for the gracious mentions and thank you for putting construction time in for polka music. I for one truly appreciate all of your efforts. I've been meaning to send this note your way for quite some time but shame on me. In case you don't remember, banda "band" is the northern Mexican musical style that features big brass bands playing dance music which includes a generous helping of polkas.

The sharp dressed men of Banda Machos have been performing since and have honed a style some call Techno Banda because of its use of electric bass, synthesizer, and drum kit, alongside the traditional horns and percussion. In addition to their rhinestone cowboy outfits, mugging, and occasional dance moves, Banda Machos demonstrates consistently high standards of musicianship.

They're in fine form and look like they're having a good time, just like I do whenevr I watch them. The music is Balkan and Gypsy just a tad southeast of polka-land , played with the kind of manic gusto I imagine you'd hear from an old-world Górale combo, though these outstanding musicians hail from the city of Brooklyn.

Nice graphic design by Matthew Fass, though liner notes describing the tunes would have been nice. The group is built around the four Hucal siblings, with the addition of Bill Hawryschuk 's drumming and Karen Aniol 's wonderful violin playing.

His voice is always wonderful, his songwriting is excellent and his recorded output is always professionally produced. Not only that, he was the first person to write and tell me he liked my polka website.

It's a marvelous tearjerker and I love it you can see them perform it live on Youtube. Every track is to be savored and the liner notes are the best. This is the compilation I would have programmed if they hadn't thought of it first. Most of the songs are original and they're top notch, as is the performance, the mix and the packaging. The Polkaholix sound reminds me a bit of Polkacide or Babylon Circus. After you buy this CD, go out and get Denkste! Ed Goldberg and the Odessa Klezmer Band, self-published, , Because most of the 19th century interest in polka music centered around the "polka belt," which stretched north from Croatia all the way to Norway, there wasn't much overlap with klezmer music, whose compass was to the east, in particular Romania and Moldavia.

But Ed Goldberg is surely the man to make the match. But what makes it particularly appropriate is that kishka is eaten by both gentiles and Jews: Whichever you prefer, buy this CD and enjoy! I've loved his theater organ playing since , when I bought a CD of his duets with pianist David Harris. Now you can hear him play the "Clarinet Polka" on the Kimball-Wurlitzer at the Organ Piper Music Palace in Greenfield, Wisconsin, and enjoy two of life's pleasures at once -- the mighty Wurlitzer and polka music.

The music is great duh! Then grab your credit card and buy this CD. Includes an excellent booklet with liner notes by Carl Finch. It's your chance to hear one of the seminal bands of New Wave Polka. Back in the day, Rotondi named for an eccentric vegetarian author from California could be found playing on the same bill with Brave Combo and Polkacide.

The band members were a wickedly talented bunch: Mike Rose, who lent his classic sax chops to "She's the Lion," a Paul Lacques original with an Mbube-like groove, has played with the Ventures and done much other session work. All the music is original, written or co-written by Paul Lacques, the mad genius who put this wild bunch together. Paul has started or performed with more bands than almost any human alive today. Overall, the material ranges from manic to sweetly charming.

Good liner notes by Christopher Monger. A [Rated "B" on; raised to "A" on ] [Vendor: Each tune features about five tamburitzas, all played by Grcevich, who also wrote all the music. Styles range from traditional to Baroque to pop and beyond.

No polkas, but you should buy this anyway. A [] [Purchased from: Cedric was formerly with Whoopee John. If you want to join the fun, buy the CD. A [; revised ] [Vendor: Ed then recorded an entirely new band to accompany the Spetich tracks. The result is excellent. The band -- including Frankie -- totally rocks, with a sound I would call "neo Slovenian. Klancnik and Friends have a harder, ballsier sound, anchored by the robust and inventive bass playing of Jerry Zagar.

Lynn's vocals are solid and pleasant, the music is very polished. Not real traditional, but real good! The arrangements are generally characteristic of each country, with the addition of a bit of electric guitar. Performances, production and packaging are all major-label quality. My only complaint is that Wild Wilson got to this before me -- darn you, Wild Man!

Liner notes are in German. What makes that song so special -- along with much of the rest of the album -- are the enchanting triple-tracked vocals by Marilyn Lange. Thanks to excellent production and engineering she sounds a bit like the McGuire Sisters.

Back that up with a sharp 8-piece oom-pah band and they achieve a sound unlike any other polka band I know of. Recording Orchestra, Polkaland CD, original LPs released and A fine Wisconsin Bohemian album from Dick Rodgers, who started the band in , when he was still in high school, and led it through The songs are interesting and peppy, the 8-man band plays with skill and gusto, the arrangements are top-notch, and the stereo separation is crisp.

While a more modern recording would have a fatter bass sound, the transfer to CD is very clean Did they have access to the original tapes? I love almost every tune, but two stand above the others: Note that five other Dick Rodgers CDs have the same title as this one -- you have to tell them apart by their album numbers!

Whether you call it neo-folk, world music, or roots music, it's breathtaking and beautiful. Grzegorz Ciechowski's great remix of traditional Polish folk singing with dance grooves reminds me of Deep Forest. Jamaican and Polish singers collaborate on the poignant "Joint Zelene," singing in both English and Polish. Kroke is a classically trained trio from Kraków who are part of a revival of Jewish music from Poland. They play a sher "scissors dance" , which is a kind of Jewish square dance.

If you know Chudoba and you should, if you've been paying attention to my reviews , they're also represented here. Liner notes are thorough and in English. This CD is hot, hot, hot! Sounds a bit like Vallenato an afro-caribbean style from Colombia or cumbia. I imagine that the Buena Vista Social Club would sound like this if they were playing polkas.

Kryner, BMG Global. Kryner presents 13 familiar tunes, ranging from "Stardust" to "Like a Virgin," all flawlessly performed in the oompa brass oberkrainer style. These six brilliant musicians from Austria have been hugely popular in Germany, playing a style that originated in Slovenia. Lyrics are in English; the lovely booklet is in German.

CD was released in It's not polka, but you should buy it anyway. The sound is lush and extravagant I'd call it "swing band on steroids" and features the smooth vocal stylings of The Golden Voices of the Walt Procanyn Orchestra. You'll hear polkas, straight big band, and Dixieland, all performed to perfection by a group of nameless musicians except the drummer, who's credited.

Walt contributes his usual excellent graphic design. Best classical polka CD I've heard so far. Alison Krauss's hauntingly beautiful vocal on "Dream Lover" transforms the old Bobby Darin tune into a touching love song. It's very listenable and often downright beautiful; the recording is excellent, and the performances sparkle. They specialize in folk tunes from Galicia and neighboring areas, reinterpreting them with an array of acoustic instruments that include Jew's harp, mandolin, guitar, violin, dulcimer and flute.

Good liner notes in English. I call it non-stop fun from an amazingly eclectic band. Their music ranges from soca to bluegrass in the same song! I'll just say that they're totally amazing. Liner notes in both English and German. The CD booklet has lavish graphics and extensive notes in Slovenian. It ain't all polkas but it's a gas. Thanks to Greg Brown for giving me the heads-up about this fun group. The CD runs only 34 minutes, but Louie -- like L'il Wally -- has a wonderful polka voice and a warmth that makes you feel like you've been invited to a party.

Raised to "A" on Sure, there are no liner notes and it sounds like the vocals were recorded in a wash tub, but the album is so cheerful that I keep listening to it over and over.

Excitement" in my book. Sure there's a bit too much synthesizer and the vocals are uneven, but this CD puts a smile on my face every time. The songs range from bright-sounding Slovenian to sweet Czech, with Polish and German rounding out the mix. One website called them "German folk-punk with polka and gypsy stylings. There's a nuclear polka version of Piaf's "Padam Padam. Goldenstein Goldenstein has given us a generous 73 minutes of music collected from old records.

All the music is "Dutch Hop," i. The arrangements cover a pretty wide range from big band to hoedown, but it all has an appealing lilt. Some even reminds me of Scandinavian polkas.

Because of the age of the recordings, the sound quality is not so good, with the result that the hammered dulcimer -- characteristic of the Dutch Hop -- can be hard to distinguish. On some songs, the accordion player does an amazing imitation of a violin. Considering the care that the producer lavished on this project, the liner notes are surprisingly poor. I say that that's his charm.

Finally I can hear what those Eastern-style bands must have sounded like their heyday. Not only is the sound quality good, but the arrangements are rich and varied, and show off the breadth of Wagner's band. They can sound like Witkowski or Sturr or a straight big band. I particularly like Walt's singing on the minor key "In the Pines Polka. I only wish the notes had made clear which song is associated with which of those bands.

Otherwise, the notes are ok, crediting the musicians and songwriters. The excellent album art is uncredited, probably produced by some nameless drudge at Disk Makers.

Twenty songs, 72 minutes. Best Eastern-style polka CD I've heard so far. Flaco joins in duets with a variety of singers and plays button accordion throughout. Of sixteen tracks, one is a polka instrumental and seven are rancheras sung to a polka beat. Compiled from five other Arhoolie CDs of varying vintage so the sound quality is uneven but it's a lot of fun anyway.

They have a brilliant yet sweet tone. Their arrangements are of symphonic quality, employing more counterpoint than one usually expects from a polka band, and totally devoid of schmaltz. The tunes are mostly Polish, but there is one outstanding doo-wop number. There is plenty of variety, including two songs with vocals. The drumming is excellent -- listen for where Reinhard Hoffman doesn't play.

There is a bit too much echo for my taste and the limited liner notes are in German. At first I hated all three albums. They're loud and irritating like a drunken party when you're trying to get some sleep. I began to notice a real tunefulness under the noise. It turns out that those are the cumbias -- not the sweet cumbias of Mexico or Columbia, but cumbias that smack you upside the head. There are also polkas, played with all the energy and finesse of a good garage band.

The rest of the repertoire consists of chotes schottisches and mazurkas which I found less compelling. All instrumental, no liner notes. She plays polkas, waltzes, reinlanders and a couple marches, all with verve and skill. Jerry Bravo and Butch Kresovich accompany her with admirable subtlety. But don't be fooled by the snow-covered mountains on the CD cover -- this Norwegian fiddler lives and works in Florida.

Add a pinch of raunch from the Fugs, and what would you get? I have no idea. But that's the only way I can think of to describe the manic, sometimes vulgar, good-time music of Polkacide.

LynnMarie markets herself as a mainstream artist, but this is the best "alternative" polka album I've heard yet. Her "Cleveland, the Polka Town" is amazing. She brings new life to the hoary old "Beer Barrel Polka.

And the list goes on. LynnMarie and Charlie Kelley, her outstanding arranger, have done a dynamite job. The sound quality is a bit weak in places, but almost every song is a gem. No liner notes what a shame! Almost every song is a gem: Even Lawrence Welk is represented, and he sounds great. Carl Finch helped make the selections. The sound quality is good, even the stereo is mostly good. Packaging is attractive but the liner notes don't list the musicians.

Just 80 minutes of music is spread across two CD's ugh! In spite of its faults, it's a must-have. I see that you can get this on Amazon. If you don't already own it, buy it NOW! Becky Livermore has a great voice and there is some terrific harmony singing here -- even a bit of yodeling! The arrangements are understated but excellent. The packaging is nice and the liner notes list the band members. Too bad that the songwriters are uncredited e. Quite a few slow songs, but I love it anyway.

Die Schlauberger plays some polka, some Alpine, some bubblegum and some reggae, and they do it all well. This CD is so good that I barely noticed that the lyrics are nearly all in German. Buy it, it's an "A. Twenty-two mostly Polish polkas and waltzes, though one of my favorite tunes is the Czech-style "Moravia Polka" by Mark Halata.

The album has a strong Texas Country-and-Western flavor maybe that's true Tatra mountain fiddling in there, but it sure sounds like a square dance to me. I like it all, even the booklet. Thanks go to my brother-in-law, without whom I would have missed this band entirely, since they're usually booked as a "folk" act rather than as a polka band. While the Dujka Brothers are considered a Texas-Czech act, much of the album sounds Slovenian to me, with two accordions in front and bass guitar carrying the bottom.

Nevertheless, the infectious cheerfulness and quality of the arrangements, as well as the album's length and variety earn it an "A. These guys really know how to put together a set, varying songs between different styles, tempi and languages.

It still holds up. The vocals are perfect and the arrangements sparkle. The songs range from typical polkas to a tarantella "Butcher Boy" , from a bit of cocktail jazz to "Come Back to Sorrento. The sound is a bit weak in the treble, most likely because of the need for noise reduction in transcribing from the early recordings. The slim booklet is unusually good, listing sidemen with pictures!

The album could have benefited from a competent producer, but the producer would probably have made Wally sound like Frankie Yankovic so what's the point? I don't know what I was hoping for -- Polkacide? But I keep coming back for more Li'l Wally. I'm raising my rating to an A. While it has some of the studio sound that plagues Miskulin's Country Polkatime album, it fares better due to Gomulka's songwriting ability and great voice, as well as the interesting arrangements. Also, listen for some hints of rock and roll in the drumming.

Extensive notes and the packaging is very good, too. The more I hear Reko and Tikkanen, the more I like them, and the more I think they're crypto-klezmorim. I tracked down the band — John Fritzler and the Polka Band — and found that they're still recording and performing Ducth Hop music.

Further Googling turned up other active Dutch Hop bands: Their music has the kind of tuneful lilt I associate with the Scandinavian music of Minnesota , and Wayne Appelhans' dulcimer playing is a gas.

I love their conservatory-quality performance of folk music -- every note perfect, yet never too studied or academic. But what stands out is the amazing choral singing, presumably from the Croatian "klapa" tradition. Liner notes don't explain anything about the songs or say what instruments were used. It features the group's fine four-part harmonies, as well as Tom Staab's hot fiddle and guitar playing. The sound quality is excellent, the arrangements sparkle, and everyone sounds like they're having fun.

But are they really this good live? The answer is mostly yes. While they didn't bring their much-vaunted Marshall stacks, they did bring all of their enthusiasm, charm and musicianship. They have a solid "goodtime" -- almost honky -- sound that reminds me of Touch of Chicago or Pat Zoromski. I could have done without "Swingin' the Alphabet," and the "Prelude to Celebration" doesn't actually lead into "Celebration," but those are quibbles.

The CD is a lot of fun, the production is professional, and the liner notes are informative. I'd say they fall about halfway between Polkaholix and the Leningrad Cowboys.

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