> Richard Hell
> Various Artists: Blade II Soundtrack
> Dressy Bessy
> The Chemical Brothers
> Josh Clayton-Felt
If there’s one good thing to come out of this whole Strokes business, it’s a renewed interest in the ’70s punk/junkie scene. Record labels are recognizing a new market for the first wave of stripped down, drug-induced rock in the denim-clad teens tuned into MTV2. And that’s where Richard Hell comes in.
Hell was a familiar figure at CBGB’s in the mid-to-late-’70s. He held court in Television, The Heartbreakers, and the Voidoids, all of whom are represented on Time, a collection of unreleased demos and live material whose release coincides with that of Hell’s newest book, “Hot & Cold.”
As expected, the recording is crude and muffled in places, but an impassioned performance finds its way through the static. Hell’s jangly, loose guitar riffs and strained urgent voice come through loud and clear.
From the innuendo-laden “Love Comes in Spurts” to junkie anthem “Chinese Rocks” and through covers of Van Morrison, The Stooges, and The Stones, Time finds Hell at his peak. He’s crass and rude, but still intelligent and original, two qualities elusive in rock circles in Hell’s time and beyond.
Blade II Soundtrack
There’s a fine line between ambitious foray and corporate gimmick. Combining the raps of today’s biggest with European-style dance-electronica-techno-break-whatever it’s called, the Blade II Soundtrack will really make you scratch your head.
Much like Immortal’s last two soundtrack genre blenders for Judgment Night (metal and hip hop) and Spawn (metal and techno), this disk’s collaborations are a lot of fun to look at. But listening to them is a different story.
Roni Size truly blesses Cypress Hill in “Child of the West” and the Dub Pistols provide a fresh groove lick for Busta Bus and Silkk tha Wackest on “The One.” Eve and Fatboy Slim give “Cowboy” bounce, while Bubba Sparxx and the Crystal Method make “PHDream” a reality.
But some of the beat destroyers don’t mesh right with the emcees, kinda like a peanut butter and salami sandwich; it seems good, but it doesn’t taste right. Ice Cube acts like he rhymes with Paul Oakenfold on “Right Here, Right Now;” two thumbs down. Mos Def’s “I Against I” monotone is almost as boring as his Massive Attack beat. BT and The Roots’ “Tao of the Machine” sounds Methods of Mayhem-lame.
I can’t imagine any rap heads bumping this, but it has got more fascinations than most other soundtracks.
Sound Go Round
Tammy Ealom leads this cutesy Denver foursome through a bumpy ride on the candy pop highway. Following the lackluster California EP and oppositely kick-ass debut Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons, Dressy Bessy marks its full-length return with middle-of-the-road competence.
The band turns the gloss up, but there is enough charming fuzz in “I Saw Cinnamon” and “That’s Why” to keep the head-bopping masses appeased. The painfully annoying “Just Being Me” and “Fair Thee Well” battle the Euro-cool of “Oh Mi Amour.” The result — the album’s primary distinction — is a split decision between shamefulness and near-greatness.
Sound Go Round suffers from both lightweight engineering by guitarist John Hill (also of The Apples in Stereo) and songs that are mostly just dorky-for-dorky’s-sake. Still, Creed it is not, and because there isn’t yet a Bangles for the 2000s, Dressy Bessy’s unapologetic retro-sass is admirable.
Dressy Bessy will play the Khyber on March 26.
The Chemical Brothers
Come With Us
On the Chemical Brothers’ fourth full-length studio release, the DJ-ing duo throw in a little bit of each of their styles, perhaps in a bid to have something for everyone. There’s psychedelica, funk, breakbeats, house and the obligatory Beth Orton tune. The problem is, most every song is on the dull side and the Brothers are capable of much more.
There are some highlights, however; “Galaxy Bounce,” is indicated by its title and the collaboration with Richard Ashcroft, “The Test” is up there with the stuff he wrote for Urban Hymns. “It Began in Africa,” seems great for clubs because it can only be appreciated when played loud. Within the past few years, the top dance acts like Basement Jaxx, Fatboy, and Daft Punk have been releasing amazing and strong material. Unfortunately, Come With Us doesn’t come close to matching the Chemical Brothers’ peers.
Spirit Touches Ground
Aficionados everywhere try their best to classify music into specific genres. Oftentimes this can prove problematic. Music these days transcends boundaries, and categorizing it can be a futile effort. There are just too many combinations to accurately account for.
But Josh Clayton-Felt’s final effort, Spirit Touches Ground, is easy to pigeonhole as classic rock. His straight-ahead, no nonsense attitude came about after his days with his more experimental, yet equally influential outfit School Of Fish. He traded in the high-production techniques for the drum-kit and guitar sound that got him into music in the first place.
Clayton-Felt lost his fight with cancer in January of 2000 at the age of 32. Spirit Touches Ground is really Clayton’s 1999 sophomore effort Center of Six, which was blocked from release by Universal. Finally, the label gave his family the rights to the music, and they found a taker in Dreamworks.
Spirit is a collection of 14 purebred rock ‘n’ roll tracks. Some are funky, some are catchy, but all were worthy of seeing the light of day. Highlights include “Diamond In Your Heart,” a southern jaunt reminiscent of Blue Mountain, and “Invisible Tree,” which best captures the spiritual essence that Clayton is renowned for.