Barbecue and rhythm and blues are two sides of the same coin, as is amply proven by the two-CD set that makes up the heart of Rhino Records' new Bar-B-Que Soul-a-Bration package. Favorites old and new are included, from James Brown's "Grits" and Willie Bobo's "Fried Neck Bones" to Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows' "Too Much Barbecue" (predictably, the list leans to older material).
If only they'd stopped there. Also included is a booklet of material by Gideon Bosker and Karen Brooks that includes some decent-looking cook-out recipes, but also a too-cute party planner with advice on everything from centerpieces to party games and karaoke lyrics. Karaoke at a barbecue?
Bar-B-Que Soul-a-Bration from Rhino Records, $31.98 at record stores or call RhinoDirect at (800) 432-0020.
Pop and Mop
We're for anything that will make dishwashing less boring. Bring on a garden's worth of vegetable-shaped pop-up sponges.
$1.99 at most Bristol Farms locations.