I Sugar: Beaster (Creation) After the sweetener of Copper Blue come six tracks representing the darker side of Sugar. A bruising. thematically interconnected quartet of them includes ‘JC Auto‘. the song that cathartically concluded their live sets last year. These are songs with raw nerve endings. played with a fierce determination that won‘t alienate the fans Mould made while in Hiisker Dii. Of the two remaining tracks. the aptly-named and almost REM-ish ‘Feeling Better‘ shows its Copper Blue roots. while ‘Walking Away‘ is an oddity featuring only vocals. keyboards and a few effects. It brings to mind an image of Bob Mould seated at a Wurlitzer descending through the floor of a cinema. but perhaps that‘s just my problem. (Alastair Mabbott)

I The Werefrogs: Swing (Ultimate) Should ardent music fans be allowed to make records? Not that it‘s utterly transparent what The Werefrogs have been listening to just everything. at a conservative guess but can fans ever hope to transcend the sum of their listening pleasures? The Werefrogs can‘t. so instead they go about creating a multi-fiavoured indie pop cocktail with a twist of bitter lemon. ‘Green’ could be Bob Mould at his poppiest. Singles past (the pile- driving 'Nixie Concussion‘) and present (the waltzing ‘Potvan‘) are exhilarating but unsurprising. The real unassuming gems. however. are slipped in to muddy the college rock waters the dolorous. Cohenesque ‘Goddess‘ intrigues but it‘s the contemplative ‘Doctor Pain‘ and ‘Lighthouse‘ that elevate Swing from the mid-league wilderness. (Fiona Shepherd)

I B I. Retention: Firehoy (Beggar’s Banquet) ‘Sometimes you wake up and you don ’t know what time it is. You ask yourself a question like what life is.’ Former

Go-Between Grant Mac has a nifty talent for putting existentialism to a contagious pop tune. demonstrated convincingly on I991 ‘s Watershed and continued in some style on Fireboy. ‘Surround Me‘ and ‘Bathe‘ bear comparison with anything he‘s ever done. which for a man with McLennan‘s back catalogue is saying something. When he wanders from the path of plaintive pop he’s on shakier ground (the eight minutes of ‘Pawnbroker‘ being the most irksome aberration) but this is mostly sublime. ‘lt‘s a front porch thing‘ indeed. (Tom Lappin).

I East 11: Walthernstotr (London) East I7 like dogs. Their own pooch. Levi. provides guest backing vocals throughout Walthamstow and in the process lends further credence to the theory that his masters are to street- sussed homey-hanging rap what Rolf Harris was to the neo-Expressionist post-modem art movement. Walthamstow is an endless stream of canine effluent on the lamp post of good taste. When music (and I use the word with caution) is this wretched. sod your constructive criticism. it‘s time to notify the authorities. So a copy of this LP. along with a licence to bear arms and kill by any means necessary is even now on its way to Ice—T. Ice Cube. NWA. et al. Class dismissed. (Calvin Bush)

I Various: Fall On, Edition One (Deconstruction) Why were Usura and Felix hits? Partly the addictive strength of the records themselves. but more strikingly the belicfof the record company above. Deconstruction. mischievious little brother of RCA. has an excellent flair for picking up underground house tunes from across Europe and turning them into. at the very least. club anthems. Sidestepping the more familiar Usura. Felix. Lionrock and Definitive 2. Full On is a bIow-by-blow account of House

excellence. From the trancey flotation therapy of Orson Kane to the manic pulse of Visions Of Shiva. from the cold ragga dub feel of Frenzy to the warmer garage moods of E-Lustrious. every housey spectrum is covered. Throw away more cantankerous compilations and switch yourself Full On. (Philip Dorward)

I Fatima Mansions: com Back My Chlltlren (Kitchenware) ‘Come here my children.‘ syrups Cathal Coughlan. ‘and check out my fetid. fevered etchings. my tales from the crypt(ic).‘ ‘No fear.‘ reply the kids. ‘you‘re an inveterate curmudgeon. a satanic balladeer. and very clearly off your chump. Now clear off and make a proper new record.‘

Not for nothing do we love Fatima Mansions. ‘If you want to moan about the principal of re- packaging and what it says about the groups. carry on.‘ their singer mouths. ‘I won’t be listening.‘ So Come Back My Children is a self- promoting and cynical compilation of the Fatimas‘ earliest examples of baroque bizarreness. designed to tide over band and record company. It‘s brilliant. ‘Only Losers Take The Bus‘. ‘Blues For Ceaucescu‘. ‘Bishop Of Babel‘. ‘You Won’t Get Me Home’ these and eleven others. all over-the- top. under-the-weather. beyond-the-pale. round- the-bend. Cathal Coughlan is thirtysomething. loves golf and sounds like God with a hangover. Let us prey. Keep music evil. (Bible Craig)

I It: Solaar: Illl Seine le Vent Beeolte Le Temo (Talkln’ load) It was only a matter of time before we got a French rap superstar - a perfect language for the slinky dextrousness that the best Anglo- American rap only achieves with the aid of drugs and crap rhymes. True. MC Solaar‘s languorous words might be utter tosh too. but the overall effect is cool. Attempting to match his husky vocals are stoned funk tracks and jumpy ragga. But smartest of all are those interlinking bits that all rap albums validate their ‘holisticness’ with. Only in this case ‘Intro‘ (tropical lushness). ‘lnterlude‘ (sensual jazz) and the final ‘Dreamer‘ (Philly goes to Detroit) are prime cuts in themselves. ‘He Who Sows The Wind Shall Reap The Tempo‘ the title means. and MC Solaar’s debut album has just winged by. fleet-footed


I Schoenberg: Pelleas Intl mum (Erato) Pierre Boulez displays considerable empathy with the early Pelléas und Mélisande. 0p. 5. but does likewise with the more stringent serialism of the Variations for Orchestra. 0p. 31. despite his avowed dislike of Schoenberg‘s serial works. Boulez finds his way through the orchestral densities of these contrasting pieces with his customary sharp ear for the shape and structure of the piece. and a marvellous attention to detail crucial in these scores. Not easy music. but rewarding. and the Chicago Symphony rise impressively to the chaHenge.

I Debussy and Prokofiev: choral Works Debussy‘s evocative Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien (Sony) is unjustly neglected. and Michael Tilson Thomas does much to argue its case in this sensibly shortened version, albeit at dangerously slow tempos in music which has a fairly static harmonic impetus. The lingering devotion to colour and mood more than compensates. and Leslie Caron is a good narrator. Prokofiev‘s Alexander Nevsky is a much stronger work than its companion on

Rostropovitch’s two-CD set for Sony. Ivan the Terrible. which comes over as something of a mish-mash. while the English texts lack the authentic Russian resonance.

I Richter and Sandor: 20th Century Piano Music This two-CD set of Sviatoslav Richter playing 20th century music (Vol I of a new Decca series) should have been a winner, but is seriously marred by a live recording which foregrounds the extremely noisy audience and distances the piano. which is a great shame. since there is some superb playing on works by Prokofiev. Shostakovitch. and Webem. among others. It is good. however. to have Gyorgy Sandor‘s great I955 recording of Bartok‘s epic Mikrokosmos available again on Sony Masterworks (two-CD). to supplement an earlier disc of selections played by Bartok himself. Recommended. (Kenny Mathieson)

I Rossini: la Donna eel Iago (Sony Classical) This splendid version of Sir Walter Scott’s narrative poem opens on a pastoral Scotland of the 16th century with a rousing hunting chorus. which sets the scene for subsequent melodrama and political intrigue. The text. linking the rugged

mountain settings to the patriotic fighting men. may be Scottish in setting. but it is roundly trilled by a mainly Italian cast under an Italian baton and supported by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. While lacking the finesse of Donizetti‘s more famous Scott adaptation Lucia di Lammermoor. it nevertheless shows a worthy opera serie side to Rossini. A very welcome reissue. (Alan Morrison)

I M ll Flats Blarelnlera (Teldee) The use of period instruments on Teldec‘s impressive Das Alte Werk series does more than bring a freshness to live opera performances; it also opens up new insights into well-known works or. in the case of this recording. captures the youthful energy of an unfamiliar piece. Here are Mozart‘s early attempts at an opera bufio. as they sounded to an audience of the time: already he is playing with the conventions of a typical libretto and creating stronger musical characterisations than his contemporaries. Few conductors are as comfortable with original instruments as Nikolaus Hamoncourt, while a ‘star’ cast features Thomas Moser. Edita Gruberova and Dawn Upshaw (still riding high in the classical charts with Gorecki‘s Symphony No3). (Alan Mon'ison)

and sure-footed. (MC Lean)

I PM Dan: the Bliss Albeit . . . ? (Gee Street) PM Dawn elevate themselves to a higher plane of consciousness than we mere mortals. and Prince B casts himself as an oracle possessed of infinite wisdom and a voice from on high. This is rap as cerebral spirituality. Their mantras are as wordy as ever and as hippy-dippy as usual. though at least on several occasions (‘80 On And On‘. ‘Plastic‘. ‘Looking Through Patient Eyes‘) PM Dawn ground their cloudy ethereality in solid. sweet soul-rap. Banks of angelic backing vocals courtesy of George Michael. Boy George and Cathy Dennis also serve to firm up Prince B’s more airy-fairy lyrical zen-ery. Stretched over an hour. however. and a tad too convinced of its own new age import. the ‘?‘ tacked onto the end of the title is most fitting. (Craig McLean)

I Black Dog: W12: Electra-Sonia (Warp) Two more chapters in Warp’s continuing Artificial Intelligence series from a couple of pioneers of the

glowing ambient electro- groove. 90s style. Forget the whale noises. jungle calls and pseudo-Timotei advert atmospherics one readily associates with the ‘ambient‘ tag. Bytes and Electm-Soma are more interested in soundtracking sub- aqueous post-bass moments of cherishable futuristic warmth. Imagine Blade Runner was a poignant love story instead - these are the aural accompaniments. Of course. both computer- obsessed acts would rather hack than jack. but the subtle meandering backbeats help achieve a most floatacious state of neo-dance trance. (Calvin Bush)

I The Reese Project: Faith Hope And Blulty Remixed (Network) Mix- amatosis madness. Originally released in limited numbers last year. Faith Hope And Clarity showcased Detroit DJ Kevin Saunderson‘s other band (after Inner City). and was booming proof of the techno originator‘s skill at remoulding the sound of Detroit techno into a sublime. spiritual. soulful derivative. Now. inevitably. you get the

remix package. courtesy of Bump. MK, New York’s Tony Humphries and disco king Joey Negro. Definitely worth selling your granny for. particularly the life- enhancing Groove Corporation reworkings. tho‘ hard to imbibe in one full swallow. (Calvin Bush)

I do Basehead: lot In Kansas (Imago) Dc Basehead is Michael lvey. an alcohol-swigging spliffo-maniac so rutted in his melancholic ways he makes Morrissey and Leonard Cohen look like laughing loons. Really. On last year‘s Play With Toys. his jazzy ‘De La Soul plays lowdown front- porch blues‘ style of rap reinvention was refreshing. honest. downbeat stuff. Not In Kansas. however. takes that solid debut to a ridiculous. joyless extreme. lncessantly grating from the third track in. not even the unusual melange of real instrumentation. jazz licks and mordant humour can save this from the realm of the tirelessly self- indulgent. Someone get this man a life. (Calvin Bush)

The List 26 March—8 April I993 31