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Various Artists

Rhino

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One is tempted to suggest that Legends of the Accordion is the only disc you’ll ever need, encompassing as it does so broad a spectrum of the musical universe. That all this music is, in fact, played on the accordion tempers such wildly impetuous notions somewhat. But if this 18-track survey of that most maligned of instruments is not, perhaps, essential, it remains both instructive and appealing. From schmaltzy polka pop (Lawrence Welk’s “Dakota Polka”) to Cajun boogie (Andrew Cormier’s “Creole Stomp”) to rockin’ zydeco (Clifton Chenier’s “Squeeze Box Boogie”) to Those Darn Accordions!’ reverentially hip rendering of the hiply reverent Perry Mason theme, few styles and moods are left unexplored—or unscathed. Yes, “Lady of Spain” is included, though Dick Contino’s take is so frantic it seems as if he’s merely racing to finish some Olympic accordion compulsory. And yes, both Yankovics—“Weird” and Frank—are included, but the great surprise and delight is the discovery that Milton Delugg is such a mad swinger. On “So What’s New?” the one-time bandleader for The Tonight Show offers a finger-snapping Happy Hour theme, accented by an Esquivel- esque hep cat jumping in with suavely delivered asides, “Uh-hunh,” “Oh, yeah,” “All right!” Which pretty much sums up this recording.