RECORD REVIEWS MUSIC
I Arab Strap: The Week Never Starts Round Here (Chemikal Underground) Bleak is hardly the word for it. Falkirk’s finest. not that there is much in the way of excessive competition for that mantle. have produced a stripped-down and close to the bone collection that tnanages to be both odd and audacious. Titles such as ‘Wasting‘ and 'Coming Down' give you a rough idea and lyrics along the lines of ‘I work in a saloon/pulling shit pints for shit wages . . . /full of all the girls I've ever shagged or tampered with' leave you in no doubt. Jtrlio lglesias it ain't. Don‘t call them lrvine Welsh put to music. Just see them as a breath of freshish air. (Brian Donaldson) I Dominic Waxing lyrical: Dominic Waxing Lyrical (Neptunes) This eponymous debut album from the Edinburgh group contains all the quirky gems which followers of the city's live music scene have gawped at in bemusement. come to accept and then come to love. The musical line-up of voice. rhythm section. drums. bass and cello is as idiosyncratic as the thought-provoking lyrics. Alternatively bitter. sweet and aching. the musical mixture is like a bizarre cross between a leftlield. nouveau folk interbred with an intellectual
1 performance art group.
7 ()h. and there's some
' Middle linglish Chaucer
in there as well. You will
never hear them on 72),; O
; The Pops- but one suspects
i that they would rather be E flung frorn a cliff top then i be labelled. marketed and i flogged. (Jonathan Trew) DWI. i.\‘ available/font
flit/(’[H’IN/(‘lll record shops.
- I Biﬁrk: Telegram (One little Indian) If you like Bjork's solo work. chances are you like eclecticism; so you'll
, probava delight in this ‘ collection of guest
remixes. mostly of songs
from her last album I’oxl.
llanding over her material
,. to a few favoured artists. the Icelandic squealer has 7 given them a free hand.
and contributed some new vocal tracks. As you’d especl. the range of styles is broad. from the Brodsky ()uartet's chamber-music ‘Hyperballad' to l)obie's
Blo'rk: post-modern Postmlstress
hip hop ‘I Miss You' to Mika Vainio’s spare.
spacey ‘0 Remix' of
‘Headphones'. Much to enjoy. and — like most various-artists compilations — a few
I tracks you might want to
skip. (Andrew Burnet) I The Smiths Is Dead: Various Artists (Sony) This album is abysmal. Morrissey may be a sad git now but his work with The Stniths deserves better than this shoddy collection. The featured artists. including the Trash Can Sinatras. Billy Bragg and Therapy. butcher sotne classic songs and manage to sound like useless sixth form bands. The basic problem here is that none of the covers sound like the originals. That may be the point but when the originals are as good as most of I he Smiths‘ back catalogue why pay a bunch of shitty indie bands to destroy the memories‘.’ Avoid at all costs. (Jim Byers)
The big names roll ottt for the Christmas market. with new releases from Alan Jackson. Dolly Parton. Reba McIntyre. Trisha Yearwood. and overdue albums by Michelle Wright and K. T. ()slin all elbowing for browser space in a store near you. Kate Mackenzie is not in that commercial league. but her glue ()1 Illltm't'llt't’ (Red House) is another low-key but delectable slice of rootsy. bluegrass-inspired music that deserves an audience. The great Peter Rowan cttt Blm'gruxs Bov (Sugar Hill) before Bill Monroe died. but his cover shot bears an eerie resemblance to the father of bluegrass. and he could hardly have come up with a better memorial. The playing is as good as it gets in this music. and Rowan gives it that special twist which is his trademark. while staying true to the spirit of the genre. Shaver. a band co- led by the gri/Jled Texas singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver and his guitar- wielding son liddie. scored a triumph with the brilliant 'I'rump ()1) Your
Street. but the songs on
their much anticipated studio follow-up. Ilic/trvuv of Life
4 ('l‘ransatlantic). are a little
disappointing on early acquaintance. and there is a generally underheated feel about the
performances as well.
Back in the commercial
'I world of Nashville. TONI
Clark has been one of the
. more interesting of the
recent flood of newcomers. and if ./u.\'!
The Stone (Mercury) has its share of formulaic Nashville-by-numlms
aspects (notably on the big ballads). she carries it off with considerable panache. and exhibits a pttnchy grittiness on songs like \Varren '/.evon's 'l’ool'. l’oot' l’itiftll Me"
which marks her out as worth a listen. Gretchen
Peters is better known as a songwriter than a performer. but The Secret of /.i/(' (Curb) reveals that she can sing just fine as well. Smooth. literate country-pop ballads are her speciality. and the only song she didn't write here is a cover of Steve liarle's ‘I Ain‘t liver Satisfied'. which doesn't really come off in this lush treatment. Nothing
lush. however. about the hard-rocking Dave Alvin and The Guilty Men. caught in a club setting on the live album Interstate (‘itv (llightone). Alvin has been prowling the ‘ periphery of country for some time now. but there is another movement afoot these days out on the fringes. Lonesome Bil/v (Beggars Banquet) is a largely acoustic roots album from Buffalo Tom's Bill Janowitz. and it belongs with a new wave of alternative roots artists - the currently hip label is 'insurgent country‘ — mixing a post- grunge. indie sensibility with roots rock tendencies. Back in the post-punk. pre-grunge days. Jason and the Scorchers were alternative themselves. but they sound more than a trifle dated on a raucous new album. (‘leur II)!/)('lll()tl.\' Morning (Mammoth). If this all sounds way too far from the mainstream (or just too terminologically confusing) for you. then seek solace in a solid Greatest Hits set from Clint Black (BMG) instead. (Kenny Mathieson)
Shaquille D’tteil’s You Can 'I Stop T/ll' Reign (MCA) is a problem: it‘s actually quite good. but you can't get away from the feeling that he should
just stick to shooting
hoops. Against all the odds he rips through a few good tracks. but that might have a lot to do with the fact that Snoop. Biggie Smalls. Mobb Deep and Bobby Brown all guest. I’m not convinced it would be as good without them. Buy it for the guest rappers if the novelty value isn't enough.
Snoop Doggy Dogg’s second solo album 'l'lru [)0‘qg/rlI/tr'l' (Death Row) sees the lanky rapper ptttting his problems aside (he faced a murder charge) and returning to a more stripped down rap than some people might expect frotn the man who dominated in such style. first on Dr Dre's awesome (‘lironn' album. but also on his own debut project l)o_eevslvlv. The gangsta references are still very tnuch in evidence (‘This is dedicated to the niggas that say gangsta rap is dead/fuck y'alll'). and so are the sexually explicit lyrics. but altogether this is a much more mature collection. Naturally. it’s highly funky and Snoop‘s trademark soft. stoned
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Snoop Doggy Dogg: sort, stoned delivery delivery is in full effect. Plus. there are more samples. even jazz. elements and some typically dtunbass macho rapping (‘She was just a groupie/How much money can one playa make/how much ass can a nigga take'."). If you‘re into real gangsta rap. this is for you.
George Clinton’s (irr'utcx! I’ll/Illin' Hilv (Capitol) captures the great man in all his glory. The man who helped shape rap and hip hop in the 70s with his bands Funkadelic and Parliament isjoined on this greatest hits compilation by some of today‘s outstanding artists. We get ‘Atomic Dog' with Coolio. ‘lilttsltligllt' with Busta Rhymes. ()|' Dirty Bastard and Q Tip. plus an appearance from Digital Underground and Ice (‘ube If you want to
TIIIIII '8 SE61:
know a little about the history of rap and hear some of your favourite artists. get this immediately.
Later Volume Two Slou- limtv (Island) showcases the highlights of the .lools Holland show on BBC. .-\s the title suggests. it's a veritable trip hop fest. kicking off with Massive Attack's positively dreary 'ls’armacoma' and taking in the likes of l’ortishead. Tricky and Shara Nelson. What saves it from being just another cash-in compilation is the fact that the songs are all captured live. The full power and sheer latent emotional impact of these slow tracks shines through tn their live formats. This is a particularly brilliant compilation of dark. scary stuff. ()ther featured artists include Bjork. (iuru. Soul ll Soul. Ice T and Neneh ('herry. (Jim Byers)
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The List 2‘) Nov - l 2 Dee two 41