THE CACTUS BROTHERSThe Cactus Brothers
DESPITE THE COVER art of a psychedelic third eye and flying buffaloes, The Cactus Brothers fall firmly in the genre of commercial "New Country." Stellar high-gloss production helps showcase this seven-piece band--with some tasty fiddle, dobro and mandolin especially well placed. The tempo here is mostly upbeat and toe-tapping, with the requisite dirge-like tear jerkers expertly placed--as prescribed in the Country Rock Bible for Chart Success, Chapter One. There's obviously a heap of talent in these boys, with a bigger heap of calculation mixed in. I can hear the accountants now: "There's gold in them there hills!"
ELVIS PRESLEYHeart And Soul
SAY WHAT YOU want about The Pelvis, he's still the best dead balladeer of all time. This 22-song collection delivers some of his best-known love songs--"Love Me Tender," "Are You Lonesome Tonight," "Suspicious Minds," "Love Me," "It's Now Or Never" and "Always On My Mind" make the digital transfer with vibrant glory. Remove the hype, swiveling hips, orchestral arrangements and doo-wop back-up singers--and all that's left is one of the most emotionally evocative singers in pop music history. Nice vintage '50s/early '60s photos complete the package, preserving our memory of the young King.
MULEIf I Don't Six
THIS OPENS WITH the sound of a trailer park chick pettin' the pearl and gettin' her rocks off while the band lurches drunkenly through "Hayride," a punk-blooze tour de force that celebrates redneckdom as much as it trashes it. Next up is a "Codine" pastiche ("X&29"), then a fragmentary 12-bar noize epic ("The Beauteous"), then a lengthy organ-and-guitar workout that sounds like Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield if they'd grown up listening to Captain Beefheart records (with vocalist P.W. Long as The Captain and Joe Cocker's half-wit love child, for sure). Grimy, nasty and mesmerizing, in ways only a true musical hybrid can be.
VARIOUS ARTISTSStolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool
WHILE DISMISSING A benefit disc may seem cold, there's not much here that's either hot or cool. The AIDS theme is not enough to keep the hip-hop lyrics from sounding thin in the company of the hardcore jazz players, even when the latter are consistently relegated either to pointlessly brief and stuttering sampling, or simplistic rhythm-based moods for the hip hoppers to rap over. Saxman Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has A Master Plan" is the only full-strength, uncompromising cut on the album.
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