Album reissues aren't always kind to the memories they're supposed to serve. Sometimes they point up such serious flaws it's a wonder the records were ever valued.

Happily, a couple of recently revised recordings by THE NIGHTHAWKS and POWERHOUSE will revive only good memories, primarily of local R&B. Both albums, originally issued on Billy Hancock's Aladdin label, document the early promise of these two bands. What's more, Powerhouse's album "Nightlife" goes well beyond that, reclaiming a joyfully swinging sound -- big, brassy and as invigorating as when it was first recorded eight years ago. The Nighthawks' "Rock'n'Roll," (1974) contains a dozen seminal rock and blues performances by the quartet shortly after its current members assembled. The band continues to play much of this material, and, not surprisingly, the more familiar tunes -- the aptly titled "Red Hot Mama," the coolly harmonized "Can't Get Next to You," the Elvis tribute "Little Sister" -- hold up the best. In a sense, the reissue might have been called "preflight," since it captures the band testing its wings and mapping the course it would follow for the next decade. Even here, on the band's first recording, its strengths are evident. Jimmy Thackery's slide-guitar work on "Mama" cuts bone-deep, and elsewhere, in what was to become a trademark of The Nighthawks, Thackery and harpist Mark Wenner exchange blistering solos and caustic fills and merge sweetly in surprisingly tight harmony. As usual, bassist Jan Zukowski and drummer Pete Ragusa provide a rock-steady, anchoring beat. When the album falters, it's usually because the band's vocals don't carry the necessary clout -- a problem to this day -- or because an occasional cover version (i.e. the Stones' "Memo from Turner") falls considerably short of the mark. Still, this album in no way resembles the kind of ill-conceived recording that comes back to haunt a band. The Nighthawks can take pride in "Rock'n'Roll": It's an honest, revealing and worthwhile recording. Powerhouse never had to contend with weak vocals, not as long as the irrepressible George Leh was wielding the microphone. Leh was and is a remarkably persuasive singer. As confident as Jimmy Rushing or Big Joe Turner, as mischievous at times as Fats Waller, Leh swings the blues effortlessly on this album. And so too do the other members of the Powerhouse sextet, including guitarist Tom Principato, saxophonist Dave Birkin and harmonica player Pierre Beauregard. As documented on the album, the Powerhouse sound was strong but subtle, brash but buoyant, consistent from performance to performance yet stylistically varied. On the band's namesake tune, B.B. King's "Powerhouse," the good-timey "Lovin' Machine" and the playful "Bloodshot Eye," the music has a special momentum, often the result of Principato's fluid swing drive, Birkin's hearty punctuation and a rhythm section that won't quit. In a different but not altogether characteristic mood, Principato also distinguished himself on a sullen Ray Charles blues with a lovely and poignant guitar solo. R&B veteran Bullmoose Jackson appears briefly and quite effectively on a Leiber and Stoller novelty called "Nosey Joe." The album shows that, for all the individual talents, Powerhouse, which disbanded almost five years ago, is best remembered as a cohesive ensemble. Whether reworking a tune by Charles or King, Willie Nelson or Dave Bartholomew, the members played uncommonly well together. It's a mystery why this record was out of print for eight years. POWERHOUSE -- "Nightlife" (Powerhouse P100). The Tom Principato Band appears Sunday at Quincy's. THE NIGHTHAWKS -- "Rock'n'Roll" (Varrick 007). Appearing Wednesday at the Bayou. Graphic: photo nh Lucian Perkins TWP The Nighthawks: These Oldies Are Still Goodies BY MIKE JOYCE

Album reissues aren't always kind to the memories they're supposed to serve. Sometimes they point up such serious flaws it's a wonder the records were ever valued.

Happily, a couple of recently revised recordings by THE NIGHTHAWKS and POWERHOUSE will revive only good memories, primarily of local R&B. Both albums, originally issued on Billy Hancock's Aladdin label, document the early promise of these two bands. What's more, Powerhouse's album "Nightlife" goes well beyond that, reclaiming a joyfully swinging sound -- big, brassy and as invigorating as when it was first recorded eight years ago. The Nighthawks' "Rock'n'Roll," (1974) contains a dozen seminal rock and blues performances by the quartet shortly after its current members assembled. The band continues to play much of this material, and, not surprisingly, the more familiar tunes -- the aptly titled "Red Hot Mama," the coolly harmonized "Can't Get Next to You," the Elvis tribute "Little Sister" -- hold up the best. In a sense, the reissue might have been called "preflight," since it captures the band testing its wings and mapping the course it would follow for the next decade. Even here, on the band's first recording, its strengths are evident. Jimmy Thackery's slide-guitar work on "Mama" cuts bone-deep, and elsewhere, in what was to become a trademark of The Nighthawks, Thackery and harpist Mark Wenner exchange blistering solos and caustic fills and merge sweetly in surprisingly tight harmony. As usual, bassist Jan Zukowski and drummer Pete Ragusa provide a rock-steady, anchoring beat. When the album falters, it's usually because the band's vocals don't carry the necessary clout -- a problem to this day -- or because an occasional cover version (i.e. the Stones' "Memo from Turner") falls considerably short of the mark. Still, this album in no way resembles the kind of ill-conceived recording that comes back to haunt a band. The Nighthawks can take pride in "Rock'n'Roll": It's an honest, revealing and worthwhile recording. Powerhouse never had to contend with weak vocals, not as long as the irrepressible George Leh was wielding the microphone. Leh was and is a remarkably persuasive singer. As confident as Jimmy Rushing or Big Joe Turner, as mischievous at times as Fats Waller, Leh swings the blues effortlessly on this album. And so too do the other members of the Powerhouse sextet, including guitarist Tom Principato, saxophonist Dave Birkin and harmonica player Pierre Beauregard. As documented on the album, the Powerhouse sound was strong but subtle, brash but buoyant, consistent from performance to performance yet stylistically varied. On the band's namesake tune, B.B. King's "Powerhouse," the good-timey "Lovin' Machine" and the playful "Bloodshot Eye," the music has a special momentum, often the result of Principato's fluid swing drive, Birkin's hearty punctuation and a rhythm section that won't quit. In a different but not altogether characteristic mood, Principato also distinguished himself on a sullen Ray Charles blues with a lovely and poignant guitar solo. R&B veteran Bullmoose Jackson appears briefly and quite effectively on a Leiber and Stoller novelty called "Nosey Joe." The album shows that, for all the individual talents, Powerhouse, which disbanded almost five years ago, is best remembered as a cohesive ensemble. Whether reworking a tune by Charles or King, Willie Nelson or Dave Bartholomew, the members played uncommonly well together. It's a mystery why this record was out of print for eight years. POWERHOUSE -- "Nightlife" (Powerhouse P100). The Tom Principato Band appears Sunday at Quincy's. THE NIGHTHAWKS -- "Rock'n'Roll" (Varrick 007). Appearing Wednesday at the Bayou.