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May 1997

Various Artists
Squeeze Play, A World Accordion Anthology
Rounder

The profound and lowly accordion keeps threatening to bust out in the open, to conquer its reputation as an esoteric and perhaps outmoded musical tool. It hasn't quite happened yet, but it's not for lack of public exposure. Accordion fans could find much to be excited about on two squeezebox compilations that came out in 1995, Planet Squeezebox on Ellipsis Arts, and Legends of the Accordion on Rhino. Now comes Squeeze Play, A World Accordion Anthology (Rounder 1090; 73:13), another anthology that cuts across genres and cultures and shows the instrument in assorted contexts, from the bayou to Eastern Europe, including waltzes, reels, merengues, polkas and other folk forms. This package steers away from interesting enclaves of accordion lore, such as jazz and avant garde usages, instead focusing on vintage recordings, from the '20s through the '50s. The many tracks from the '20s, despite the humble fidelity, carry an immediate appeal that speaks well for the timeless wonder of this neglected instrument. All hail the mighty squeezebox.

Originally published in May 1997
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