NEVER MIND THE opening cut, a Frankensteined post-mortem Lennon ditty called "Real Love," which sounds like cutting-room ELO. No, for diehard Fab Four fanatics, keepers of the faith, the real meat begins with the mournful "Yes It Is" and ends 43 tunes later with the pre-Phil Spector splendor of a stripped-down "Across the Universe." This collection reveals the lads' post-1964 mastery of the recording studio, showcasing their best and most experimental years. High points are a highly tentative "Strawberry Fields Forever," a sitar-only "Within You Without You," and a forgotten, Ringo-led outing called "If You've Got Trouble," in which Mr. Starkey begs "Rock on--anybody!" Essential Beatlemania.
MICHAEL FRANKSAbandoned Garden
Warner Bros. Records
FRANKS MIGHT AS well face it: He'll always be listed in jazz encyclopedias under Wussjazz. While his featherweight style remains about as far from Coltrane as is possible, he has always leaned heavily in the direction of bossa nova, a significant influence on jazz in the '60's. Just his luck, he finally partners with the great Antonio Carlos "Girl From Ipanema" Jobim only shortly before the latter's death, finally producing the jazz album that 1977's Sleeping Gypsy suggested he was capable of. Though he has always backed himself with weak jazz figures like Joe Sample, this time he employs hard hitters like Art Farmer, Joshua Redman, Carla Bley and Brazilian pianist Elaine Elias. Previous efforts have tended to sound like make-out albums for the condo crowd; this disc is primarily a tribute to Rio's version of George Gershwin. Franks fans who move from this to some of Jobim's discs--most are even on the same label--will understand the guitarist's reverence.
WITH THE EXCEPTION of Oasis, which fully grasps the prime imperative spelled out in the term rock 'n' roll, all of the new wave of Brit-Pop bands sound like walking tribute albums. The stilted Kinks of Blur, the fragmentary Wire of Elastica, the helium-voiced Small Faces of Supergrass--and now these also-rans taking a fourth shot at the U.S. market. Lessee, "Common People" channels Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, while "I Spy" flirts with sub-Serge Gainsbourg cinema pop, and "Disco 2000" tries to pretend that Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople never existed. Did I mention Bowie yet? Suede already fizzled. Most bands draw upon influences, but Pulp fails to transcend them. (Make no mistake: Oasis' Beatles fixation is fully integrated into the overall sound.) Go away, U.K. twits. Record tracks for your tribute albums, and leave us alone.
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