URBAN RAG #29 Winter & Early Spring 2000

Andrea Florian “Somehurrygood” - Bathsheba Records 4936 Yonge St. Suite 726, Toronto, Ontario M2N 6S3. For whatever reason, I missed a chance to see Andrea Florian (flying solo) during CMJ but she did hand ma a cd at the convention and the next day didn’t seem to mind that I missed the show. Those wacky Canadians. Seriously though, very pretty voice, with a large band on the cd combine for a truly enjoyable listening experience. What I noticed early on is that Florian works in backup vocals (sometimes her own voice, sometimes another’s) that sound like spirits wandering the upper floors of an old Victorian. The desire to have the accompanist but not overpower the lead sometimes makes me wish they weren’t there at all. The same can’t be said for the squealing saxophone which is a refreshing break from the expected. She’s probably not the next rock diva, but whether recorded or live, you won’t regret lending Florian your ear.

Aswad “ Roots Revival” - Ark 21 Records, 14724 Ventura Blvd., Penthouse Suite, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 - Aswad (Arabic for black) has been a major presence in the world of reggae for two decades with 15 albums. The Brit outfit has captured the ethos if not the heavy patois of their peers in the Caribbean, illustrated on buoyant cuts such as Take It Easy, which advocates, you guessed it, slowing down and taking life in stride. The group got the nod early in its career from their Jamaican counterparts, performed with Burning Spear, Bob Marley, and Peter Tosh and was dubbed the “Young Wailers” by Bunny Wailer. The band has remained a major player in reggae and has more recently worked with Maxi Priest, Shabba Ranks and Sly & Robbie’s Taxi Gang and remains the only British group whose songs are frequently covered by other reggae acts. Roots Revival is a tribute to the classic songs of reggae, including “Caution” by the Wailers, and “Peace Truce” from the Gladiators. The disc features several new cuts from Aswad, which now consists of two original band members, Drummie Zeb and Tony Gad plus guest spots from Sting and Cheb Mami. Sting shares vocal duties with Aswad on an enchanting remake of Invisible Sun. - EAK

Roger Miller with Larry Dersch/The Binary System “Live at the Idea Room” - (1997) SST Records PO Box 1, Lawndale Ca., 90260. This one definitely stated in the crate too long. No, it didn’t spoil, but it was missed. 12 jazzy tunes - all of which were recorded live Oct. 3-5 in Long Beach Ca., (four of which were improvised over two of the nights (at 10:37 p.m., 10:58, 10:31, and 11:06) I didn’t realize that when I gave the disc the first couple of spins. Truly all of it could have been unrehearsed - but the piano based late night jazz all had a familiar ring. It’s wasn’t ‘till I read the liner notes that I realized some tracks were interpretations of other tunes I may have heard. The Boston globe described the improvs as “performances where drums and grand piano meld into a swirling junkyard of noise and rhythms.” But I’d say this is far from noise, or noize - if you prefer. A cacophony of sound, true - but noise, never.

Bob Perry “Light Fuse, Run Away” - Cropduster Records, 78 Track Avenue, Bayonne, NJ 07002 - A major guitar and songwriting talent from the arena of high concept music, Bob Perry graduated from Winter Hours and the collaborative group tabulaRASA to release his own recording on his own record label. Reasoning that getting a record deal is like playing the lottery, Perry formed Cropduster with former members of tabulaRASA to give them control over our own musical destiny Perry’s solo debut offers smart and likable music with vocals which are personal and without artifice, I guess a requirement in the singer-songwriter genre. We can be thankful he doesn’t subject us to a voice that is too schooled or over wrought in an attempt to wring more emotion out of his themes - the curse of many singer-songwriter types. Perry is augmented by the talents of his friends in the music business including Luna alums Justin Harwood(bass) and Stan Demeski (drums, also of The Feelies), James Mastro (electric guitar) from Health and Happiness Show and John Ginty whose stylings on the Hammond organ have also backed up Jewel. Like a sunny afternoon sitting on the porch with a wise old friend, this CD emanates warmth and familiarity. - EAK

Bouncing Souls “Hopeless Romantic” - Epitaph, 2798 Sunset Blvd., LA, CA 90026 How does a band distinguish itself in punk, a genre often branded as consisting of various combinations of three cords. As bands like CIV have discovered, catchy and complex melodies and engaging vocals do the trick, a formula Bouncing Souls has also discovered. The band remains true to the punk tradition both in terms of musical and business practice. They started their own record label and released some 7 records and finally a full-length CD funded by gigging out a lot. The recording combines the bombast and swagger of local punk with guitars riffs that are at times rich and lyrics which are funny and caustic. The band collaborates on all lyrics, often taking turns writing pages out of their personal lives and coming up with wise-ass zingers like “I’m a hopeless romantic; you’re just hopeless” on the title track. - EAK

Bumbershoot: live at Seattle Center, Seattle, WA Sept. 1999 Partaking of the music at Bumbershoot (it means umbrella) is like trying to sip from a fire hydrant. During four days, 100s of bands perform on a half dozen stages and venues near that familiar icon in the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle. One of the highlights for me was Queens of the Stone Age - an outgrowth of the stoner rock supergroup Kyuss. The band still has a sonic, spacy very hard rock sound but in this incarnation is more universal in its appeal. The line-up includes keyboards, vocals that recall Roger Waters or other rock singers in the higher registers, heavy grooves, and crafty guitar licks that had the crowd bouncing. Cibo Matto also pleased a sizable crowd in the Key Arena with their cute brand of keyboard powered pop. The lead singer generates a lot of cuteness with her heavy Japanese accent, and although her voice is a little shrill for hip-hop, she still managed to bust a few rhymes admirably. Sean Lennon put in a credible performance on the bass guitar. Many local acts were contained within the umbrella of this festival including the frenetic mixture of rockabilly, Calypso, Latino, and rock by self-proclaimed purveyors of “Siberian surf” the Red Elvises, the smooth soul/blues stylings and Hammond organs of Maktub, and the unabashed glam-rock of New American Shame. The band is 80s rock without the hairspray with the harder sounds of KISS or Molly Hatchet mixed in, and the band members are well aware of it, hamming it up with the index finger and pinkie salute thrown up by Beavis and Butthead and Ozzy fans since the 80s. Biggest disappointment of the festival was Sonic Youth, a band I have long admired. Their set tended toward long repetitive jams which summoned up the most boring aspects of the “1,000 Leaves” CD and none of the verve of earlier SY.- EAK

Cheb Mami “Meli Meli” - Ark 21 Records, 14724 Ventura Blvd., Penthouse Suite, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 - Cheb Mami stands poised to introduce to North America his exuberant take on the Algerian music style known as rai. Rai (“opinion”) is a form of music blending traditional Middle Eastern and Western instruments that had been used to criticize the government until it was banned in 1985. Mami was one of many rai musicians to flee a fatwa (death sentence) declared by the Islamist government. In exile, he has refined his upbeat style and blended it with rap, first with LA’s Baby Girl and on the current CD with French rappers K-Mel, K-Rhyme, and Imothep. The melange features a rich blend of styles, with rapping, drum machines and programming effects over strings and brass sections and traditional instruments such as the derbuka, tabla, and flute. Mami’s vocal has the plaintive quality that sounds to Western ears distinctly Middle Eastern. The artist has taken on a certain political import, noting the similarities between marginalized populations in many countries and bringing the issue of African poverty to the world while participating in the NetAid benefit in October. Mami has also caught the attention of Sting, with whom he recently toured. The Algerian expressed great respect for Sting as a professional musician and as a friend and plans to do a duet with him on an upcoming release. - EAK

Chris Perez “Resurrection” - Hollywood Records, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA91521 - This multi-talented musician crafts songs that stick with you. The combination of a soulful voice not unlike early Michael Stipe or Dave Pirner that imbues the lyrics with strong emotion and catchy guitar riffs insure you will find yourself humming these tunes while you’re in the shower. The band Perez has assembled shows ample talent - as the rock instrumental take on overtones ranging from disco to ska to hard rock. Perez also shows his Latino roots singing in Spanish and English (with lyrics in both languages on the liner notes)and use of the brassy instruments which remind us of mariachi music. - EAK

CMJ 1999

Gone were the rows of indie labels hoping to reach out directly to college music disc jockeys and station programmers. Last year’s convention replaced those who break new music on the front lines - the low-power college stations, with booth after booth of MP3 companies, who have their own ideas about how to break a new act. ... Companies, who for a small fee, will beam music right to your desktop. I can understand this trend, pay-per-view movies work about the same way, but the real head-scratcher in the CMJ Expo hall was the guy promoting movie downloads - which could take hours. Who would tie up their desktop ‘puter - then sit there and watch the thing?

Panels: Hackers and hacks: Music Print Publication vs. Online Music Sites. The netheads showed up in force for this chat about the new frontier and its impact on rock criticism, I wont say journalism, because the talk was more about how fast can you shoot it up on the Web, than how much detail you can go in to.

Sales are up, but we’re down: Rock sales in decline. Forget trying to sell rock music, try getting more than two panelists to show up for an indie-rock panel. Sure Tropical Storm Floyd was raging outside, but it’s as if these folks gave up the ghost long before the skies clouded. To answer Jared (Atlantic) Zimmer’s question: “What do you do when the tour ends?” Go back to work at the copy shop.

FILM: “Southie” All during the first leg of this South Boston tough-guy flick I was waiting for the hip-hop to begin, then sure ‘nuf, there it was. Danny Quinn (Donnie Wahlberg) returns to a tough Irish Catholic working class neighborhood. It’s a bitch, ‘nuf said? OK, more. They researched the neighborhood thoroughly, to capture the feel of the cars, bars and interiors accurately on film. I thought it was an extremely believable and realistic look at life in a blue-collar part of town. Ultimately the good guys wins and the bad guys get shot full of lead. That’s where the realism ends. The under-lit look, and extra 40 % “fuckers” in the dialog, are what would prevent this flick from becoming a commercial success.

“The Minus Man,” starring Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Dwight Yoakam and Sheryl Crow. Mundane, I say. Wilson, who opens the film washing a pick up truck, if memory serves, remarks “Corn is good, if it’s fresh. Sometimes it will make you feel better,” Later he observes, “If you know how to swim, it would take much too long to drown.” The lead goes through the flick killing people, and evading capture as your basic simpleton. Nice distraction, which by now should be finding its way on to the Sundance Channel or video rack.

“Woody Guthrie - Man in the Sand” Billy Bragg’s long-term lady friend (Juliet deValeria Wills - could that be right?!?) produced this as a sort of companion to the Billy Bragg and Wilco CD Mermaid Avenue, whereon music was created for lyrics drafted by Guthrie before his early death. Bragg screened a video of the work, then fielded questions about it, the album, and future projects. “If you’re interested in the kind of music I make, all roads lead back to Woody,” Bragg said. But he also suggested that Guthrie was a “bit too raw” for him in the early days. “I was inspired more by Bob Dylan. The filmakers revisited the spots where Guthrie lived and worked, and in the end, the film is much an American history as a musical one. The power struggle between Bragg and Wilco’s Jeff Tweety, who collaborated - to a degree in the composing of the CD’s tracks and those yet released songs, was also clear. A suitably tumultuous element for a film about words written by a man with as tumultuous a life as Guthrie.

“Yellow Submarine” You read right, The Beatles 1960’s psychedelic animated feature has been remastered - picture and sound. It held up about as well as on tape, but great on the big screen. At lease the folks controlling these purse strings had the sense to restore the original, rather than recreate the classic as was done for Fantasia 2000. I mean, who comes up with this shit?

“Westway to the World: The Clash Documentary” One of the best rock documentaries I’ve seen, probably due to the fact that the guy who put it together, Don Letts, was around to produce the bands videos back in the day. Somebody said The Clash are one of the legendary garage bands that should be quickly returned to the garage with the doors locked and motor running.” Maybe it was a member of the band, maybe the audience, who knows. Interviews with the members of the band, made this more great, rather than minute after minute of the talking heads of the people who knew them or thought they did. Wisdom came from Topper, who’s heroin addiction probably destroyed the band. “Drug taking sucks,” I think he said. Letts said making that while making The Clash videos, the guys were happy to remain as a band. “They didn’t want to be actors,” he said. Of the documentary, Letts said the band was reluctant to dredge up the past, but when they did they were happy that it was worth documenting. “I’m really pleased that they managed to tell it themselves,” Letts said. “Part of being a great band is knowing when to stop. Longevity was never the point.” Proving that some folks just don’t get it, the director had to shoot down a would-be heckler who asked why he hadn’t gone into the Big Audio Dynamite or New Clash era.

“Bubblepac” This followed the life and times of a collection of large and small bubblepac. You know, the stuff that goes “pop, pop, pop-pop-pop, when your girlfriend finds some laying around. We first meet the plastic in question duct-taped around a corpse.on to document Big Audio Dynamite or the New Clash.

Billy Bragg: live at Town Hall (CMJ), New York, Sept. 18, 1999. The anticipation of waiting three hours for the only show of the week I wanted to see was nerve-splitting. Finding the “sold out” sign hanging at the theater didn’t help. But the mismanaged, short supply of tickets reserved for convention goers was the worst. Eventually, I did get in. Bragg and his backup band, The Blokes, took the stage at 9 sharp and played several tunes from Mermaid Avenue (the Natalie Merchant track wasn’t the same without Merchant) and “California Stars,” and many more of his own; “The Warmest Room,” “Union Song,” “Greetings to the New Brunette,” “A New England.” Gone was the jangly guitars of his solo days for just about all but the encore - but returned was the political polical soapbox. “The living wage is that - the absolute fucking minimum,” Bragg said, before inserting topical references to the “Great Leap Forward.” including a reminder that he’s long embraced capitalism, he sang the line “If you’ve got a Website, I wanna be on it.” Echoing a line from a concert nearly a decade ago at the old Ritz he suggested people “Buy this video,” this time however, it was to see what Bragg’s mother thinks of him.

Cowboy Junkies: live at The Chance Theater, Poughkeepsie Feb. 26, 2000. Margo Timmins didn’t dance as much as she might have, had she not been wearing an air cast from the day her dogs dragged her alongside a Toronto lake, but she sure sang sweet melodies. Along with tracks from recent Cds, including the mail-order only Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes, “A Few Simple Words,” and from the next release planned for Jan 2001, the band played mostly songs I’d never heard before - of course my Cowboy Junkies collection ends near the beginning, with Trinity Sessions. The country-tinged rock is just the right sort of stuff for a cold February eve, complete with a heavy dose of mandolin. “Five Room Love Story” evoked tears in my girlfriends eyes. It’s a song about a fellow who glued bits, baubles, and noodles to the walls of his apartment as memorial to his departed wife. From there, they segued into a much less lyrically-inspired song, which amounted to not much more than “I saw your shoes ... and I had to have you.”

DOPE ON HIP-HOP: Tricky w/ DJ Muggs and Grease “Juxtapose” - Island DefJam Records, 825 Eighth Ave., NY, NY 10019 - While most rappers’ styles could be compared to a shout, Tricky’s verbal stylings are more akin to a whisper with warm organic instrumental portions. The effect is seductive and soulful. The influence of DJ Muggs isn’t easily discernible on the recording; Cypress Hill fans may be disappointed that the grooves will not sound much like Cypress. Trying to get a sound that is more hip-hop rather than trip-hop, Tricky also enlisted the talents of DJ Grease, who produced for DMX. Whether or not the strategy worked is questionable, it still sounds more like a Tricky recording than typical hip-hop. Tricky, who got his start with Massive Attack, made quite a stir with his eclectic debut solo, Maxinquaye. The buzz faded as fans were disappointed by the limited offerings on the next 3 discs. Juxtapose comes the closest, though it still falls somewhat short of Tricky’s debut. - Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Nigga Please” Elektra - As Wu fans know, the moniker Ol’ Dirty Bastard is supposed to mean there is no father to his style. Actually he’s more like a bastard in the colloquial sense who wants to be as nasty as Luke wanted to be, only nowadays there is not much shock value in cursewords and raunchy sentiments. On Wu Tang records, ODB’s voice stood out as distinctive because it is raw, guttural and somewhat off-kilter. Its appeal wears thin when he is the main or only vocalist on every track of a CD with very few guest artists. The album is less appealing than his first solo, which stayed a lot closer to the Wu-Tang style. -EAK

Dr. Coss self-titled - Sontana/AME PO Box 55446, Valencia, CA 91385 - A very hard rock band hailing from Mexico. From the cartoonish portrayal of medical gore on the booklet, I detect a perverse sense of humor, but I don’t know enough Spanish idioms to get the themes of the songs. For instance, Rata Raton, probably means something more than the literal translation - rat mouse. I suspect the song Soldados (Soldiers) may have had some political overtones. I did understand Ahi Viene Elvis (Here Comes Elvis) but didn’t get any jokes it might have contained; the instrumentation was kind of dark and foreboding though. The music is good, guitar driven and at times pretty relentless. - EAK

Ernie Williams and the Wildcats: live at Casey’s North, North Creek, NY 3/11/2000 - This cat’s come recommended for two and a half years, or since I arrived upstate. Somehow, though, he’s evaded me till now. I was having a birthday dinner in an Adirondak’s tavern, expecting some singer songwriter to show up with his guitar, when in walks gray-haired black man, blue shirt and slacks, black vest, red hat, and his band. They opened a real bluesy instrumental, and worked their way through what I believe are standards like “Any way you wanna go,” and “Searching for Salvation” The former was classic twelve-bar-blues. The latter was too balledy for my taste. Before Williams hit the stage, someone told me he really knew how to work the crowd, something he proved during “Got My Mojo Working,” when he took his microphone out onto the dance floor to give the audience a chance to show their own mojo. Another guitarist in the band quotes Williams as saying “No I will not play BINGO.” In spite of the ice storm that accompanied the group up from Albany, this 70-something bluesman showed he was far too capable on his own axe to waste time waiting for “B4.”

Fully/Ladyluck split CD - (1997) IJT Records PO Box 20300 Tompkins Sq. Sta., NY 10009. Smorgasbord 50 Woodstock Rd. Carmel, NY 10512. Ugh. somethings are better left in the crate, or even fallen through the slots in the side while moving. Who likes this stuff? The Fully “side” of the disc is unlistenable. The second half, featuring Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret on bass and as songwriter is much, much stronger. I feel bad for Ladyluck, whose Debbie Harry-esque lead singer (especially noticeable on “Shut Me Out”) Denise Teperino, is enough to keep me listening, but who might never be heard after the first half of the album gets most to toss the thing. I’d actually like to hear more by Ladyluck, but they’ve probably long-since disbanded.

G Love and Special Sauce “Philadelphonic” - Okeh/550Music, 550 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10022-3211 - Like a vintage piece of hi-fi equipment that might have been called a Philadelphonic, this recording is a burnished and refined product. And like anything related to the city of Brotherly love, there is a thread of soul and a thread of funk running through this rock and roll/rap hybrid. There is a welcome familiarity and maturity to the lyrics and the sterling guitar work which is especially warm on the acoustic tracks. G’s hip-hop fans won’t be disappointed either, there is still plenty of scratching by DJ Roman, and laid back but masterful rapping in a style that one could argue has been “borrowed” by the recent crop of whiteboy rappers like Len and LFO. The CD has as many cultural references as a Beck song, giving props to forbears from Jimi Hendrix to fellow Philadelphian Fresh Prince, whose rap style was once one of the most novel in the biz and is emulated by G Love on the track Friday Night. - EAK

Ken Ardley Playboys “We’ve Got Ken” - Lucky Garage Record Company. “I’ll do anything at all to be famous... I wanna be a pop star.” from “Any Fing Two Be Faymus” get it. NO! you don’t. I for one think he’s kidding. Take this from the Website: “Ken is a recluse. Between a busy recording schedule and making live appearances at his day job (Ken is a schools inspector in the London borough of Southwark) he leads a solitary life and hang glides over his home city of Newcastle whenever he can.” 23 ditties seem to dwell on the media biz, some simpler things in life, and the essence of being English. I enjoy the stumbling trumpet and saxophone that intrude on some of the bumbling tracks. I think you’re s’posed to drink while you listen to the playboys. Then you might enjoy their kazoo-laden rendition of The Beetles “Fool on the Hill.” I can enjoy it sober, but it’s a tough go. Note: Packaged like an LP, complete with dust sleeve, cool.

Los Cafres “Popurri” - Sotano Records/AME Inc., PO Box 55446, Valencia, CA 91385 In the eclectic late 90s, music reviewers have to put as much effort into describing a genre or naming a new one as describing what the music sounds like. This disc was no exception; it’s hard to say if this Argentinian act is a Latino band with a reggae influence or a reggae band with a Latino influence. The blend between the two genres constitutes a pretty even mix. The band has that bouncy bass pulse, syncopated guitar riffs, and songs with good old Caribbean names like “Sinsemillia” or “Rub a Dub” mixed with lyrics in Spanish and a healthy dose of brass instrumentation. Los Cafres means The Savages but these smooth, upbeat songs bring to mind a languid sunny afternoon on the beaches of the Caribbean. -EAK

Love Alien “Lost Dark & Insane” - self released Cooper Sta. Box 242, New York, NY 10276. I feel bad that I haven’t seen them live, they play and tour constantly. Spacey, spooky, and at times too much to bear. The big, airy sounding cd is a throwback to the defenders of rock, who though they dressed strangely similar to their disco foe knew a rock beat when they heard one. I think they really belong in a stadium somewhere in Europe, with kids who don’t even need to understand the words, pulsing to the music. Yipes!

Merl Saunders “Fiesta Amazonica” - Sumertone PO Box 22184 San Franciso, Ca., 94122. Since Jerry Garcia’s death, Saunders says kids are looking to him for guidance, “for some kind of answer.” “All I can tell them is to stay focused and get high, but on music, not on drugs,” he says. Well, I think you could have a tough time getting high on some of these nine tracks, but you could surely dance to most of them. The cd is a musical (funk, salsa, world-beat etc.) journey through a rainforest education - at least in theme. I’ll say this for him, he’s got a lot of attitude. I recommend fearful rock snobs stay away, or be converted.

Orange Tree “Fixing Stupid” - Jump Up Records. Ska on steroids if possible, with falsetto vocals reminiscent of a couple of those Cali-punk bands of the early to mid 80s. It’s got that big sterol sound that I’m not crazy about it - but then I don’t care much for the Mighty Mighty Bore Tunes, either. I’m sure I’m not offending any die-hard skaankers out there, because I know that you know the MMBTs are just a couple of sell outs. While it’s nice to have a break through band in every genre - I wish they had more soul. I guess I question Orange Tree’s sincerity too. BUT... I can see where some out there, perhaps many out there, would like them.

The Chainsaws of Babylon self-titled - Side Be Recordings, PO Box 1841, Manchester, VT05255 - Guitar rock with the kind of humorous lyrics which might bring to mind novelty/rock hybrids like Phish or Presidents of the United States of America. Themes such as Trip on Butter are off-kilter and sly and the crucified frog on the cover art are pretty funny; Jesus on a Longboard has its moments too, though the theme of Jesus in pedestrian present day activities has been overused by too many bands. I really dug the tribute to America’s great hero, Evel Knieval, though it doesn’t beat the paean to the daredevil crafted by the Neighborhoods. There is some fine guitar work on this disc, ranging from funk to bluesy-jams to some mild acid rock that isn’t repetitive, as acid rock tended to be back in the day. The vocal is also somewhat novel, a chorus of male voices which hasn’t been too common since the 60s, think of CSN&Y with a lot of Y And less CSN. A real Vermont style product to pop in the player as you plow through snow on your way to Killington. - EAK

This is Solid State "Vol. One" comp. Box 12698, Seattle Wa., 98111. This mysterious disc was cluttering up the changer for months - separated from it’s case, so I had plenty of opportunities to listen. Powa-ful! Powa-ful stuf’ They’ve got the melodic punk, chugga-chugga-chugga thing down pat. For mosh happy fans at home or at home in the pit. 16 bands represented, so you know some tracks will be better than others I like Embodyment’s “Halo of Winter” it’s got that nice satanic feel that warms me all over - much like Living Sacrifice’s “Enthroned 98” which lacks the Napalm Death vocals, but makes up for it with other attitude. Solid State is definitely a label to watch.

Thrill My Wife EP - self released 1541 North Laurel Ave., Suite 206, Hollywood, Ca., 90046. I’m glad it’s just an EP and I’m glad I’m not married to any of these guys. Guess why! I wasn’t thrilled. Not even a little
Toni Brown “Dare to Dream” (3 song promo) - Relix PO Box 92 Brooklyn, NY 11229. Several things can be said about those folks at Relix, one is that they sure do like the Grateful Dead. Toni Brown is the publisher and editorial director of the magazine, and admittedly a dead head. While I don’t know the origins of those legend’s sound well enough to attribute her other influences, I can say that legions of Dead fans could be lulled to dance by Brown’s current venture into recording. If I were a bigger fan of the big guy and the rest of the Dead, I’d know if “New Speedway Boogie” was a cover of one of their songs or his solo work. I’m gonna go with the band’s because it sounds like some of that early 70s boogie bunk.

Type O Negative “World Coming Down” - Roadrunner Records, 536 Broadway, NY, NY 10012 - My Mom’s stories of growing up in Brooklyn always made it seem like a cheerful and vibrant place. The dark visions laid forth in song by Type O Negative’s Peter Steele indicate the borough may have a darker side to it. Type O Neg is kind of Goth meets Metal, but with none of the drippiness or repetition that limits those genres, respectively. The virtuosity and grandiosity of Steele’s vocals give a soaring and emotional shadings that somehow go well with the crunching but measured metal Type O Neg puts out. I wouldn’t recommend this for depressive folk, with songs such as Everyone I Love is Dead and Everything Dies, these guys are hardly upbeat. The band augments the metal backbone of guitar and drums with substantial programming effects, but uses them to advantage and doesn’t fall into the trap of using schlocky synth sounds that would make it sound like another 80s flashback. The CD includes a medley of Day Tripper and other Beatles tunes with a gravitas and verve of which the Fab Four never dreamt. On this, Type O’s fifth recording, they have continued to produce a high quality product and have stuck with the same label, Roadrunner, which has also consistently succeeded in finding metal/hard rock acts that don’t sound typical. - EAK

VP Records “20 Years” 89-05 138th Street, Jamaica, NY 11435 Ring the alarm - sound boys and dancehall queens are in the house... As they have been for 20 years at VP Records, the record label that has maintained a strong link between the Jamaica in Queens and the Jamaica in the Caribbean. VP has introduced a host of reggae and dancehall greats including Eek-A-Mouse, Yellowman, Foxy Brown, Shabba Ranks, Beres Hammond, Lady Saw, and Beenie Man to the world on individual releases and stellar compilations such as the smoke the herb CD. The label also promotes the smoother soul of musicians like Dennis Brown and Frankie Paul. The anniversary disc highlights as much talent as they could fit onto one CD. - EAK


cuz some old music is good music

Katell Keineg “Jet” - (1997) Elektra. Here’s a beautiful voice, and nice instrumentation to warm you inside and out on a chilly March morn’ or any other day. It was probably around the time this was released that singers like Dolores O’Riorden and Alanis Morissette made sexy strong voices in vogue. So labels like Elektra were taking chances on unknowns like Keineg. The record has an exotic quality that’s hard to place a finger on. The addition of instruments such as the lyre, tamburitza, and cheeky bina - whatever that is, complete the mood. If she hasn’t already, Keineg should rally the band behind some movie soundtracks. This could have worked well behind scenes in The Sixth Sense or other eerily romantic ghost stories. The disc goes in to regular rotation at the Ment Ranch.

Belinda Carlisle - (1997) Ark 21 Records 14724 Ventura Boulevard, Penthouse, Sherman Oaks, Ca., 91403. The former Go-Go ended up on California indie Ark 21 by some twist of fate involving a euro release on EMI and no guts stateside. Bravo Ark 21!. Why pass on such a sweet tremolo baby voice such as Carlisle’s From the moment she lets it wail on “California,” with it’s “Golden State, Golden State” refrain -you’ll remember staring at the cover of that old LP thinking: wow they did a good job pasting the band’s faces on those water-skiers. Somehow she remains vulnerable yet assertive, popish without joining the cheeseball ranks of the B52s. Well that’s my opinion, but then this is my zine.

Jorma Kaukenon “Quah” - Relix Records, PO Box 92, Brooklyn, NY 11229 - A remastering of a 1974 recording by the musician of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame. It comes as no surprise that this disc has a distinctly 60s singer-songwriter sound to it, something you’ll dig if you also like James Taylor or Arlo Guthrie without the humor. Nice acoustic guitar work though it’s more picking than cords. Overall effect is soothing, cute, quaint a