SupergrassI Should Gogo
A DELIRIOUS TWIST of Sixties Brit Invasion pop, Seventies power-glam, and Eighties new wave of the early Elvis Costello variety comes across the big puddle from England.
"Mansize Rooster" is a Dave Clark Five rave and "Time" is an obvious--but completely delicious--nod to John Lennon's bluesier efforts, while "Sofa Of My Lethargy" reminds the listener of John's swims in lysergic acid.
Don't be fooled by all the name dropping, this isn't a nostalgia trip--it's a vacation in English popland with a trio of young Brits guiding you through a fresh whirl of familiar sounds.
The WhoSell Out
A WORK OF visionary, and fun, psychedelic rock craft when it was first released in '67, this remains so in its remastered reincarnation. Tragic pop balladry sketching out the ups and downs of acne ("Odorono") fit neatly beside thundering rock swagger/paranoia ("I Can See For Miles").
In addition to a handsome, informative booklet (terrific Dave Marsh essay), a slew of bonus tracks extends the length to 71 minutes. Of note: a tough heavy metal Coke commercial, bootleg staples "Glittering Girl" and "Early Morning Cold Taxi," familiar sounding pre-Tommy excursions "Jaguar" and "Glow Girl," and an amazing, Who-freakout arrangement of Grieg's "Hall Of The Mountain King."
FIGHTA Small Deadly Space
THE UNDERSTATED PROMO sheet says, "The songs pound like fists against the evils of AIDS, prejudice, the Holocaust, child abuse, and domestic violence (inspired by the O.J. Simpson case)." Wow, this album's like a mini-history of the entire 20th century! And as an extra bonus, it's also "more fun than an indoor off-road-monster-truck-tow and Miss Beer Bikini show!!!" Silly me, I thought that former Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford was going to deliver another pretentious, mundane, absolutely worthless piece of puerile metal garbage. I pity the fool who don't head-bang to this sensitive, intelligent work of art! And they're from Phoenix! And they've got tattoos!
PLASTICLANDMink Dress And Other Cats
Timothy's Brain Records
MILWAUKEE'S PLASTICLAND IS only now receiving their full due as one of the planet's best psychedelic pop acts. They've released a plethora of vibrant and expertly produced singles and albums over their almost 15 year history. Many of their earliest releases were limited edition instant collectors items, and Mink Dress... collects these aural nuggets together on CD for the first time, along with some essential outtakes. It should be noted that the songs that Plasticland consider "outtakes" are more interesting than most other band's actual releases--that's a testament to Plasticland's high standard of creative achievement. The 19 original tracks here are a remarkable, cohesive peek at pure pleasure.
THE LYRESThose Lyres
JEFF CONOLLY'S LYRES rival Billy Childish in the realm of proficiency--both seem to release a 45 every other week! Besides driving collectors crazy, Conolly and company make sure each of these vinyl slabs are essential tastes of garage-punk-pop delight. Norton Records has established itself as one of the most consistently quality-conscious indy labels over the past few years, and here they thankfully collect six recent Lyres 45s onto one CD, with 14 1993 "live" concert tracks as a bonus. The 45 tracks are mostly pure genius, with Conolly's take on the obscure "Baby It's Me" summoning a particularly potent spine tingle. Was garage music ever supposed to be this good?
NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSEThe Complex Sessions EP
AS A COMPANION to Sleeps With Angels, this is peerless. "My Heart," "Prime Of Life," "Piece Of Crap" and "Change Your Mind" were recorded live on a soundstage for Jonathan Demme's 30-minute video of the same name.
With Young's echoey picking substituting for the recorder trills, and adopting a sort of stoned rhythmic throb, "Prime Of Life" is more celebratory than ever: "When I first saw your face/ It took my breath away." And in "Change Your Mind" Young and Sampedro riff and pirouette so intensely, and on such an intuitive level, you literally get chills as each new set of changes rolls around. Call it the "Cowgirl In The Sand" of the nineties.
AHMAD JAMALI Remember Duke, Hoagy & Strayhorn
THE JAZZ MUSICIAN'S joke of quoting other songs in the middle of a rendition, like a nonsequitur for those who are really listening, can sometimes get tired. Cutesy even. But in this tribute to three songwriting greats, Jamal integrates phrases, rearranges sections, creates interludes, extensions, and codas with such mastery and utter playfulness, it's like an animated, enlightening conversation. A heavy influence on Miles Davis, Jamal uses sparseness and economy of expression just as beautifully as he does florid lushness. Arti Dixson, drums, and Ephriam Wolfolk, bass, always complement. Done right, these standards never tire.
PAQUITO D'RIVERA, Andy Narell, DAVE SAMUELSThe Caribbean Jazz Project
REMINISCENT OF BAYA, L.A.'s hot Caribbean Jazz band of the Eighties, this group's mix of African-influenced musics of the Americas makes you wonder why there isn't more of this around. It's such a natural. The players here too are more than up to the task. Putting vibes/marimba, sax/clarinet and steel drums as leads would seem overkill of a certain timbre but given the orchestrations and hard-core talent of both the rhythm sections as well as the leads, the effect is uplifting and inspired. Definitely dance music. (The band includes Dario Eskenazi on piano, Oscar Stagnaro on bass, percussionist Luis Conte and drummer Mark Walker.)
DRAWING OUTSIDE THE lines seems to be the norm for this instrumental combo. There are recognizably "surf" moments, such as the elongated twang of "Nothing Lies Still Long." Yet a number like "Anna Karina" is beautiful, haunting, and spacey, like a Yo La Tengo tune. For that matter, "Constellation" has more in common with Television than "Telstar," while "Blacktop" references Velvets over Ventures. And the wobbly, pulsating, ethereal "Drift" seems to come from some middle European country. Where, I couldn't specify. It's this out-of-time/out-of-body feel to Pell Mell's material that makes for such a compelling listen.
ONE SORRY, PAINT-by-numbers, swansong for the brothers Ramone. They obviously don't care anymore; what else accounts for allowing bassist C.J. his excruciating vocal on "Cretin Family"?
It's telling that the best songs are covers: Tom Waits' silly "I Don't Want To Grow Up" and Johnny Thunders' tender confessional "I Love You." And why did Dee Dee, long departed in a cloud of dope 'n' acrimony, co-write nearly half the material here? Even the punkish cover of the "Spiderman" theme song (a hidden track at the end) is revealing: given that scores of other groups have been covering this for ages, it would seem that the band's much-touted sense of cultural irony has dried up as well.Thwipp! Crash!!
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