MARY MARGARET O'HARAMiss America
THIS REISSUE MAY find a more receptive climate than it did in 1988, but that doesn't mean the world has caught up with Mary Margaret O'Hara. Her vivid compositions and the remarkable voice that gives them life still defy comparison. Produced by O'Hara and Ambient guitarist Michael Brooks, Miss America reels with nerve and imagination, and eight years after its initial release it's still a starling record. O'Hara's croons, moans, shrieks and sighs unnerve and soothe while her unpredictable lyrics penetrate all psychic armor. Whether voicing joyful exuberance or piercing heartbreak, she wrings all passion from the moment. Hopefully this reissue foreshadows something more to come from a brilliant artist who's been giving us the slip for too many years now.
DAVIE ALLAN AND THE ARROWSFuzz Fest
FOR THIRTY YEARS Dick Dale has reigned as king of surf guitar. Unheralded Davie Allan has worn the unofficial crown as master of the fuzz guitar for nearly as long. Allan's career blossomed then faded during rock and roll's Love Generation, scoring low-budget instrumental soundtracks to Roger Corman's sadistic choppers 'n' chicks flicks like Wild Angels and Devils' Angels. With his revved-up and fuzz-drenched guitar themes, Allan's biker bonanza predated the consummate Hell's Angels anthem, Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," by a couple of years.
On Fuzz Fest, Allan unleashes a gas guzzling, screech guitar frenzy that kicks off with the apropos "Chopper," a sweaty and infectious hawg gruntin' rhythm that closely approximates the free wheelin' catchiness of Wild Angels' signature song, "Blues Theme." This may be 1996, but Allan still jump-starts his intoxicating, wheelie-poppin' intros like he did back in '66, making this disc in a throbbing, twisted mass of hot chrome and cool leather. Cycle-delic, man.
NASCIMENTO'S THE ONLY living composer/singer in Brazilian music who can match the reputations of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. His vocal range is amazing, and used to convey unforgettable melodies that sound a lot simpler than they are. Many will recognize "Vera Cruz," which has been recorded by a number of jazz artists. The orchestra and choir that back him on this live recording are not as effective as an unaccompanied Nascimento and his guitar, which shows just how potent a musician he is. It's a fine album in spite of overproduction, from an artist who, unlike Jobim, remains just a little too Brazilian to become a familiar name stateside.
Correction: Last week's scan of Lisa Germano, Excerpts from A Love Circus, was written by Jessie Piper.
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