MUSIC RECORD REVIEWS
I Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart: Rising Above
Bedlam (East West) So many criminal acts have been committed in the name of World Music that Strangeways will shortly have to Open a new wing to deal with the offenders. J ah Wobble, though, will be granted his freedom, or at worst a suspended sentence. It's Wobble‘s bass that anchors this predominantly Middle-Eastern album. rescuing it from the fate of rootless global tourism. Invaders Of The Heart joyfully pillage foreign styles, throwing several into one song, rather than trying to imitate them. File it under pop, despite Wobble‘s gloomy vocals (not on every track). (Alastair Mabbott)
I Prokofiev/Bachmanlnov: Cello Sonatas (Sony Classical) Throughout the three movements of Prokoﬁev’s Cello Sonata in C major, Emanuel Ax‘s piano and Yo-yo Ma‘s deeply resonant cello admirably cope with some of the composer‘s more idiosyncratic melodic leaps. Rachmaninov’s G minor sonata, which follows, shows the strong influence of the great' Romantic composers on 20th century Russian music, and in its nostalgic approach, it is more immediately accessible, but perhaps less rewarding in the long term, than the Prokofiev. That said, the exquisite andanre is one of the most beautiful pieces written for these two instruments, and here reveals Ma and Ax not only as superbly talented individuals, but also a well-seasoned pairing. (Alan Morrison)
I Leo Kottke: The Essential (Chrysalis) I got turned on to Leo Kottke by a learned gent who loved the album Sir And Twelve-String Guitar. ‘lt‘s not happy or sad music,‘ he observed. ‘it just is.‘ A man who distrusts improvisation, Kottke sculpts his pieces in fine detail, playing a multitude of voices off against each other. Sadly, there are no inclusions from that album (it was on the Sonet label) on this compilation. But, for the first time. I get to hear Kottke playing with a rhythm section and singing, which reveals the ﬂipsidc of the above observation: always impressive, Kottke rarely engages emotionally. The vocal numbers, rather cosy and MOR, have a very elusive appeal compared to his solo instrumental ﬁrestorms - of which there are enough to keep aficionados
happy. (Alastair Mabbott)
_ MICHAEL JACKSON
Dangerous (Epic) Following ‘Bad’ as it does, the most apt title forthis would be ‘Worse’, but ‘Dangerous’ it is. Or rather isn't. Having seen how Prince pulled himself out of a slump with ‘Diamonds And Pearls', l was hoping that Jackson would do the same. Instead, his decline has gathered a momentum that shows no signs of slowing. ‘Dangerous’, Brian, is a game of two halves, the first being composed of Teddy Riley's dry, claustrophobic funk, into which Jackson’s voice is slotted like a beige Lego brick. The anonymity of it would be bad enough, but the
tracks are so dreary and uninspired that the effect is depressing in the extreme.
The second half of the album is mainly the work of Bill Bottrell, a contrasting writer and producer whose arena-rocker disposition seems as unsuited to Michael Jackson as Riley's rigid synthetics— although he does come up with ‘Black And White’, the very best track. The most recognisably ‘Michael Jackson' song on the album is ‘Heal The World’, and it's possibly the most sickly, syrupy song ever written. Is this really what we want?
Michael Jackson now wants to be known as the ‘King Of Pop’. Had he made that claim at the release oi ‘fo The Wall’, or ‘Thriller’, he might have been right. But not this year. (Alastair
_ THE AINTS
So what’s this doing in bold type, rubbing shoulders with two oi the biggest unit-shifters in the world? Two reasons, really: because Ed Kuepper has been making sterling rock music since U2 were in short trousers; and because I have to convince you that you need this record.
Kuepper was part oi The Saints, who, in the mid-late 70s, recorded rock songs of a sophistication, assurance and energy that showed up so many oi the punk movement (who, knowing when they were on to a good thing, claimed The Saints as their own) for the poseurs they were. When The Saints imploded, Kuepper resurfaced in The Laughing Clowns, a valiant attempt at a
jazz-rock crossover that produced many excellent moments. The Aints (geddit?), though, hark back to the melodic brilliance and knockout punch oi The Saints, but with a fiery abandon that comes as something of a shock aiterso many years.
It’s not just fierce guitars and a powerful rhythm section that make this six-track mini-album special. You can quite literally get that anywhere these days. It’s Kuepper’s authority, his vision and his skill in communicating to the band where he wants to go. It’s the atonal sax-one welcome hangover from The Laughing Clowns—that pierces the free-form section of the eleven-minute title track.
With ear-splitting guitars taking over the galaxy in the foreseeable future, it’s time an old master got his due. (Alastair Mabbott)
Achtung Baby (Island).
In a brilliant— and galaxy-wide exclusive - interview in Rolling Stone, Achtung Baby’s co-producer Brian Eno summed up U2’s antipathy to coolness, that ‘definitive 80s compliment’, thus: ‘The band is positive where cool is cynical, involved where it is detached, open where it is evasive.’
Upon such a mindset, character and stance is Achtung Baby built. Where in the past U2 have been grandiose and pontificating, stylised and aloof (all cool, yeah; all naff, right!), the new U2 has an attitood (problem) and dark manners, springing the album on us with the metallic, robotic distortion of Bono’s voice on ‘Zoo Station’. Later, in a similar step back from the oratorial vocal sweep, ‘The Fly’ unnerves with ialsetto bizarreness.
The scope is never as over-reaching as that of ‘The Joshua Tree’. The moves are never as blatant as ‘Battle And Hum'. The elements this time can be openly funky, as on ‘Mysterious Ways’, orthat trademark glacial Edge guitar sound, like on ‘Ultra Violet (Light My Way)’, oriust as plain menacing as ‘Love Is Blindness'. Bedrock such as this, and the absence of the portentous authoritarianism that made U2 as big as they are, are what make Achtung Baby their most swallowable work yet. (Craig McLean)
What a hoser. Adam Clayton has been modeling willy-warmers for at least a decade.
34 The List 6 — 19 December 1991