MASSED ORCHESTRAL CHORD, a crowd's applause, then a voice dramatically intoning the words, "Renelvis has entered the building!" This Filipino Elvis impersonator, while looking nothing like The King (save the white sequined jumpsuit), has the moves and voice down perfectly. Cut after cut channels Col. Parker's Cash Cow--the fiftiesish ballad duet ("You Just Don't Know," which could pass for Elvis and Ann-Margret), the doo-woppish twangy rocker "What Would Elvis Do," the slightly Latin-flavored schmaltz of "Happy Birthday To You." But "The Power Of Positive Thinking," an electronic sound collage plus motivational self-help rap ("Visualize a goal in your mind...I can succeed!") is more Residents/Ween than Elvis. Hey, it just might help you ditch that tobacco, pill or burger habit, so there's the connection. (Write: Renesper, Box 561531, Charlotte, NC 28256)
TUCSON'S OWN FUZZ is a ferocious, bone-crushin' live band. Unfortunately, Lipsmack, its debut studio effort, fails to deliver the same sonic wallop. The patented abrasive, sludge guitar riffs, slabs of thick 'n' chunky bass and anguished vocals remain intact, but sound substantially flat in a studio setting. Comparisons to Helmet/Quicksand have always stalked the band; however, Fuzz chooses not to employ the same lurching, sledgehammer assault as those bands. Instead, Lipsmack's grinding aggro-rock onslaught jabs at the listener rather than executing the expected knockout blow. Song structures and tempos seem repetitive and slow, and crawl along like a slug stuck in molasses. Fuzz's fiery aggression and sense of urgency are sorely missing here. Lipsmack is a decent album, especially Josh Karchmer's biting and caustic lyrics, but it will certainly leave your musical taste buds salivating for more. For the ultimate Fuzz experience, go check 'em out live. Unlike this album, you won't be disappointed.
WHEN MILES DAVIS resurfaced in 1981, guitarist Stern was the band member most responsible for the lean-and-mean sound garnering all the positive reviews. The testosterone-heavy style is not much different now, 15 years later, apart from the fact that Stern in the studio prior to now has tended to sound considerably less vicious than he does live. Somehow he has transferred his onstage axe-snarling onto a studio disc, resulting in the best album he has recorded to date. The funky personality evident on these cuts make him a likely contender for the kind of attention John Scofield has received for his own style of ballsy playing. Like Scofield, Stern writes music that perfectly compliments his masculine guitar work. Even the gentle "Wing And A Prayer" is more stern (so to speak) than sentimental. A few more gutsy albums like this one and Stern may move from being a significant jazz guitarist to becoming a major name.
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