We're Outta Here!
THE RAMONES REALLY ceased to exist circa 1987, when Dee Dee left to pursue his ill-fated rap career. The remaining members, and replacement bassist C.J., became caricatures of their former selves, even appearing on an episode of The Simpsons in full-blown cartoon buffoonery. This barely limping live set recorded at the Ramones' last gig ever (care to place a wager?) on August 6, 1996, at the Palace in Los Angeles, features all their greatest hits with pointless embellishment from several "guest" musicians. Among those are Lemmy from Motorhead, Lars and Tim of Rancid, Eddie Vedder, and sadly, an awful-looking Dee Dee. The main problem with this swan song is the way in which the Ramones, including a pot-bellied Joey, run through the 32-song, 75-minute set list with robotic stage moves and zero enthusiasm. Their performance has about as much electricity as a rusty, worn-out Energizer Bunny floundering in a vat of Carbona. What is top-notch, however, about this specially-packaged, limited-edition collector's item is the added attraction of a fantastic two hour-plus video companion. Documented are the final show, a heaping load of early and rare video/concert clips, interviews with many of the original players in the New York punk scene, and casual, behind-the-scenes chat sessions with all of the Ramones. Gabba Gabba, Hey!
THE MILESTONE/FANTASY/ Pablo conglomerate have gathered up a load of their labels' previous Brazil-related jazz cuts that show just how many flavors of Rio this trio of record companies has produced. There's vocalist Mark Murphy singing an Ivan Lins song, a dated but interesting Flora Purim fusion cut from 1974, Sarah Vaughn tackling Jobim's "Song Of The Jet," and bossa nova legend Luis Bonfa dropped alongside Jim Hall and Joe Pass. As well as offering an impressive range of Brazilian styles, the disc does even better in near perfectly balancing jazz with samba and bossa nova influences--just the right amount of jazz, just the right amount of Brazil. It's a great intro to the ongoing romance between the two for anyone unaware of the affair.
Chinga: The Best of San Jacinto 1988-1998
TEN YEARS AND only 18 tracks? That's only five more tracks than 1988's Vecinos del Pueblo Viejo, San Jacinto's vinyl compilation of Tucson bands. If it was worth doing at all, it might as well have endeavored to reach an audience wider than compulsive buyers of local recordings; maybe he should've included a second CD, with the good stuff. As it stands, forgotten gems like the Infinite Beauties' "Fossil in Motion" get passed over in favor of narcissistic nods to no-name bands like the producer's own Luminarios. The trouble with local labels is that they too often reflect only one person's taste: in this case, dusty desert rock swaying towards either dopey pop or trying-to-be-deep Neil Young rave-ups. All the great Tucson bands whose members are under age 25--such as Doo Rag, The Fells, Mondo Guano, and the Pork Torta--are here and everywhere ignored by Head Jacinto Rich Hopkins and his love of old-fart rock and roll. This, coupled with whiny liner notes and absolutely no information on the contributing bands, makes for one agonizing stroll down memory lane. Given that the desert country jangle rock fad died out with Nino's, it's curious why anyone would want to relive such a ghastly time in Tucson's musical history. To each his own.
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