Pyrotechnics: New British Jazz (Blue Note)

Blue Note and Technics have collaborated to present us with a stylishly-conceived gathering at the young turks ot the new British jazz scene, but ‘Pyrotechnics’ should maybe have been called ‘Jazz, Not Jazz?’ (real cynics will say ‘Jazz, What Jazz?’) instead. With Andy Sheppard continuing to explore an electric band, Steve Williamson doing likewise, Jason Rebello cultivating a rather derivative lusion outfit, and Island releasing a re-mixed version at Courtney Pine‘s sort-ot-reggae album ‘CloserTo Home’, it is a legitimate indication ol the way things are moving.


The mid-price CD otters two specially-prepared cuts each trom Orphy Robinson, Diango Bates, Tony Remy, Sylvan Richardson Jr, Tommy Smith and The Mondesir Brothers. As a showcase tor ‘new British jazz’, it’s either a misnomer, or ‘iazz’ has tinally ceased to have any distinct identity, but has been subsumed within an amalgam ot soul, tunk, dance, ethnic and rock grooves, overlaid with an element ot improvisation, and

sometimes be acoustic to be itselt,

evidence at that in this attractiver easy on the ear collection. You don't have to be a bop revivalist to harbourthe suspicion that the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. (Kenny


not even that. Jazz needn’t to be jazz, but it does have and I don’t hear much

Tommy Smith


It’s A Shame About Bay (Atlantic) As prolitic proclivities go, the good burghers ot Boston are about as truittul as our own Bellshillians. And tortheir

titth album, The Lemonheads shadow the co-ordinates ot that other local

3 threesome, Buttan Tom (or is it vice-versa?). That is, ‘lt’sA Shame

, About Ray’ is winsome and tolksy,

l withoutdisappearing up its own

9 teckless backside. It’s check-shirted ; and rocky, without blurring the

i distinction between tire/ire and

5 headless discordancy.

' Evan Dando ‘only surviving original

voice and the slyly epic teel to his , songs at prime-time Smithereens. The , kick-oft, ‘Rockin’ Stroll’, is suitably

. i band member’ has the husky burr ota l

Evan Dando ot Lemonheads ( breathless, a short burst ot

hyper-charm. ‘Contetti’ tells how the hero ‘kinda, shoulda, sorta would have loved her it he coulda’; The Lemonheads as wastrels with aching longing. Likewise the title track, an unexplained paean to an unexplained

dude with an unexplained late.

Also present and very correct is Blake Babies’ Julianna Hattield. Doing ‘a Kim Deal’, her airy vocals drop in and drop out at the un-appositely titled ‘Rudderless’, lightening and 3 leavening. Further curveballs emerge : on side two, with the almost-country i gem that is ‘Hannah And Gabi’, and the i acoustic wander through ‘Frank Mills‘ : trom the ludicrous musical ‘Hair’.

Nothing here is as obvious ( (obviously) as the ’Heads mighty last 1 release, 1990’s cover ot Mike I Nesmith’s ‘Ditterent Drum’; but ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ is ultimately and subtly quite as editying. (Craig McLean)


The One (Rocket/Phonogram)

Elton may look like a middle-aged George Burns on the cover, but the tact that ‘The Dne’ is very much a

tortysomething album is the least of ourproblems. What’s

inluriating is the polished

inottensiveness ot the whole

endeavour and the smugness involved in knowing that no matter how bombastic and pseudish Taupin's lyrics, and how workmanlike Elton’s

' settings torthem, as long as they sound

like they could have been regurgitated trom any at his previous 29 albums, they’ll tly oh the shelves as last as they can be pressed. And it they sound tailor-made tor slotting on to the

credits sequence ot the next Hollywood :

blockbuster, so much the better. ‘The Dne' is so tormulaically assembled that such highly distinctive guitarists as Eric Clapton and Dave Gilmour can end up sounding almost interchangeable.

lsee trom Taupin’s drab iottings that ‘gotta’ has been liberated from the constricting detinition ‘got to’ and can now mean ’got a’ too. Now how about

doing the same tor ‘gonna’, as in ‘gone 2

a long way on a slender thread at talent’? Gonna go torthat, Taups? Elt? (Alastair Mabbott)


l Dim Stars: Dim Stars (Paperhouse) I can‘t deny that this has its (few and far between) moments. but Dim Stars is vastly inferior to the sum ofits parts. Richardllell. Thurston Moore. Don Fleming and Steve Shelley have got their reputations stacked up against them. and even if this was the debut of some completely new. anonymous band. it would most likely be met with waves of disinterest. A couple ofgood songs could be extracted ifthe superstar-jam side-project ethic hadn‘t predominated. but at the stage they‘re at they could mistaken for early lleartbreakers demos— probably the desired intention— with third guitarist Robert Quine attempting emergency first aid. Isthis how far Richard I Tell has come in fifteen years'.’ (Alastair Mabbott)

I The Floors: Truths And Distortions (Setanta) Seven tracks. 31 minutes. a short. sharp stab to the cortex. The Floors come from Dublin and rant and rail and cluck and soothe like bi-polar schizoids. David Donohue has a snarl in his larynx that enhances the already-feral crash of ‘She‘s Got A liabit'. He has an acoustic warmth glazed by guttural anguish on ‘Precious Thing'. He has Maria McKee and Tania D‘lleo as babbling harpies from the nethcrworld of confusion on ‘Another Fool‘. The Floors have all ofthese. plus a jangle and a spangle deliciously flavouring the multifarious tendencies which Truths And Distortions so recklessly ropes in. (Craig McLean) I Megadeth: Countdown To Extinction (Capitol) Back with a settled line-upat last. snarling Dave Mustaine again walksthe tightrope between musical perfection and consumable product. Not an easy task. since he's already juggling fiery aggression and icy precision. (’mmtdown is a cultured and considered attempt to resolve these

' conflictingforces.This

latest phase in Megadeth’s maturation heralds a further withdrawal from rebellion. .‘vlus‘taine must be hoping that his words

will speak louder than his often misdirected actions

did. but the mellowingof one of rock‘s most threatening and unpredictable personalities is to be mourned. This fifth studio album is always solid. but it fails to fully capitalise on Megadeth‘s vast potential. Hope it‘s not all downhill from here. (Richard lleggie) __J

i The July 1é92 41