Disco and the Halfway to Discontent
Clinton delivers all the booty-shaking goodness that Cornershop’s When I was Born for the 7th Time, although critically acclaimed, failed to deliver. The anonymity of Clinton gives Cornershop’s two main figures, Tjinder Singh and Benedict Ayres, some room to breathe. The result is a journey through the ever funky.
“Party People in the Disco Hour” sounds a lot like Beck, but the song has a raw attack that would flabbergast even that “loser.” The line “Lean on the horn, there’s double parking on the dance floor” speaks volumes.
Disco and the Halfway to Discontent, influenced by decades of diverse, quality electronic music, is an ideal party album.
I’m willing to bet that anyone buying a Cracker greatest hits already has all four albums. So why does this CD exist?
David Lowery was never one to go away.
Camper Van Beethoven, Lowery’s pre-Cracker outfit, took the ’80s by storm crafting quirky college-radio pop songs. Camper fans are rabid and often look perplexed when one mentions Cracker.
However integral a part Cracker played in championing cheesy alt-rock, they have crafted some damn find rock-and-roll songs. “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now),” “This Is Cracker Soul” and “Euro-Trash Girl” are some career highlights. Their cover of Flaming Groovies’ “Shake Some Action” is also commendable.
Still not convinced Cracker was a decent band? Hey, they could have been the Spin Doctors.
Good Boys…When They’re Asleep
In many ways Faces ushered in the ’70s. Made up of three Small Faces and two members of Jeff Beck Group, Faces was the essence of rock music. If there’s one thing this new Faces retrospective confirms, it’s that Rod Stewart was once pretty cool!
Built around clean guitars and a B3 organ, Faces maintained the R&B tribute the Small Faces began. Faces was also the band in which Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and Ronnie Lane penned the finest songs of their career. Despite his success as a solo artist, “Maggie May” was one of the few solo Stewart songs that even compares to Faces.
The vocal talents of Ronnie Lane shine through on many of these songs. “Ooh La La,” might sound familiar to fans of Rushmore (the song plays in that movie’s credits).
Mars Electric is the quintessential example of a band whose members thinks if their make-up is perfect and their cheekbones are overtly defined, then they’ll sell millions.
Guess again, pretty boys!
Mars Electric started out simply enough. Lead singer Jacob Bunton had a dream to be a rock-and-roll star. He called up his girlfriend who asked her two muscle-bound brothers to learn bass and drums. Chris Simmons quit his Duran Duran tribute band and Mars Electric was complete.
Columbia signed the band after their first practice and this album documents their first few weeks as a band.
Let me tell you, this is the stuff of VH1’s “Behind the Music.”
A Place Called Home/Jehovah’s Hitlist
No, it’s not a split CD from these labelmates. Ignite and Blender sent their CDs at the same time to be reviewed. So naturally, we played both albums simultaneously. The overall effect is a little confusing at first, but definitely an improvement over listening to either CD on its own.
We think they just forgot to tell us that you are supposed to play both CDs at once. Anyway, this is a really amazing album(s). Imagine two bands playing in a room at the exact same time. Like a band “dialogue!”
Depending on which computer in the Temple News office you’re standing closer to, it sounds like either (a) The guitarist of NOFX joined Bender or (b) Ignite doesn’t have their usual “political” lyrics. Here’s a sample of the lyrical power of Ignite/Blender: “I asked the CHECK BITCH NO mothers, ‘Why don’t you FUCK THIS I JACK YOU walk away WITH A MIND PROBE?’ Abusive husbands…run, run, run.”
Joel likes Ignite’s biting edge. Neal prefers Blender’s music because it sounds like four guys in a BLENDER! Played together however, we both agree: Ignite/Blender ARE AMAZING!
Kind of like chocolate and peanut butter.
-Neal Ramirez/Joel Tannenbaum
The Piece Maker
(Tommy Boy Records)
How good can an official, record-company-enforced mix tape be? Puerto Rican veteran Tony Touch is out to set it straight with his latest release The Piece Maker. It doesn’t take long to tell that this is premium hip-hop.
If you’ve done your homework, you already heard the blazing, GangStarr-performed title track “The Piece Maker.” The Latin boy wonder teases us with the horn-heavy “The Return Of The Diaz Bros,” featuring Touch and his right hand man Doo Wop.
But the hip-hop offering doesn’t stop there. Tony “Toca” has seen to it that his track list overlaps with gem after gem, minus the annoying DJ shout outs. Early in, Tony fulfills The Flipmode Squad requirement with “Set It On Fire.” Busta Rhymes, Rah Digga, DJ Shok — enough said. The internationally known Wu-Tang Clan drop a classic Wu-banger, snatching all competitors on “The Abduction.” This one is a headliner because you get mind-stretching verses from the Genius, Rebel INS, RZA and Ghost, while True Masta adds strings and stomping basedrops.
Ruck, Rock, Starang Wondah and Tony entertain on the clever “No,No,No,” which flaunts a melodic Latin loop and addictive vocal samples. Following that track is the next single due out, “I Wonder Why.” An ode to DJs, Tony with the help of 2/3 of Total, touches the “He’s the greatest dancer” chorus demonstrating deft versatility.
The Piece Maker is wonderfully glazed with brilliant tag-teaming performances. Other winners include the “The Club,” featuring D.I.T.C, Kid Capri and Party Artie and “The Foundation,” blessed by Sunkiss, Reif-Hustle. The late Big Pun adds fire to the album.
This may be one of the most refreshing mix-tape compilations since Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor. Tony has definitely dropped something worth “touching.”
Love & Basketball
(Overbrook /New Line)
Most music soundtracks fail to pass two requirements: produce music that relates to the movie and serve the listener quality music. The Love & Basketball soundtrack passes both requirements.
Love & Basketball starts off with smooth vocals from Donell Jones’ “I’ll Go,” and continues with tunes from Lucy Pearl’s “Dance Tonight,” “Holding Back the Years” performed by Angie Stone, and Meshell Ndegeocello’s using a rendition of Chaka Kahn’s classic “Sweet Thang” on her own cut “Fool Of Me.” AL Green’s “Love and Happiness” only adds more soul to an already splendid soundtrack.
If you’re a fan of the ’80s, there are three tracks that will have you reminiscing about the decade when music was all about dancing and partying. Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two,” Guy’s “I Like,” and MC Lyte’s “Lyte as a Rock” will have listeners yearning for yesteryear.
The only weakness of Love& Basketball is that once you get into the soulful music and lyrics, the disc is only 10 songs deep.
Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai-The Album
(Epic/Razor Sharp/Sony Entertainment)
Rza fans everywhere were excited to hear about the release of the Ghost Dog soundtrack, since they haven’t heard anything by him on an album last fall’s disappointing Bobby Digital.
With the Wu-Tang family being so vast, the lineup was unpredictable. Although the album is not packed with many Wu favorites, well-produced beats and quotes from the movie keep good pace and make for easy listening.
The album opens with “Strange Eyes,” a track in which Wu-affiliates 12 ‘O Clock and Blue Raspberry lay smooth vocals, while Sunz of Man spit impressive darts. Overall, the album never seems to really pick up, but there are some highlights. Tekitha’s smoothed-out “Walking Through the Darkness,” featuring her sweet vocals over an up-tempo Rza beat, is a keeper.
Guest appearances by Kool G Rap on “Cakes” featuring the Rza (where they exchange razor-sharp rhymes) and Jeru Da Damaja on “East New York Stamp” are definite treats, along with the hip-hop ballad “Stay With Me” featuring up-and-coming rapper Superb.
The crowning jewels are the gritty Wu-bangers: “Fast Shadow,” featuring Meth, Ol’ Dirty, Rza and Masta Killa spitting short but hot, action-packed verses that leave you thirsting for more. The Rza’s solo “Samurai Showdown,” is one that original Wu heads are bound to feel.
The theme of the movie is well represented by the songs on the soundtrack. Ghost Dog:The Album is not a bad addition to your collection, but if this album was going to turn heads, some of the lesser members could have sharpened their darts.
-Dawan Malik McAdams