record reviews

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Texas God Starvation (Human Condition) ** *

Glaswegian quartet Meth O.D. stride into view wielding low-slung guitars, curled lips and belligerent attitude. Inhabiting a musical territory somewhere along the line which connects Pavement to Rocket From The Crypt to Sonic Youth, they fit a description which might make them sound like most other alternative gurtar bands to come out of the city in recent years when, in fact, there’s enough of a distinctive voice on tracks like ’First Zen Temple In New York’ to mark them as Ones To Watch, if not Ones To Love just yet. (FS)

James Whiplash (Fontana) int

Perhaps they're suffering a mid-decade blues, but James are developing a knack for turning out unmemorable records. On Whiplash, Tim Booth is in fine vorce, but immersed in a dense, churning soundscape that seems to have been piled up while the band were waiting for inspiration to strike. They try dance beats on for size a couple of times, but they don’t fit either. Nothing here matches the glory that Booth, Badalamenti and Butler whipped up on last year’s ’I Believe', but the closing track, ’Blue Pastures’, comes as blessed minimalist relief. (AM)

The Diggers

Mount Everest (Creation) **

I really wanted to like this but by the time track two ’Peace Of Mind' had kicked in by shamelessly pilfering the ’People Are Strange’ riff, all sympathy had been shelved. It does have its moments the lilting ’Harmonious’ (even if it starts off like ’Suspicious Minds’) and the tilting ’Passport To Rec.’ (even if it starts, middles and ends like a Crowded House b-side). Yet, the emptiness of the whole project leaves little for the listener to rush home for. I can only hope that Mount

(a /, g .

42 TIIE UST 7—20 Mar 1997

Everest isn’t their peak though summit tells me that bargain bins around the globe await. (BD)


Republica (Deconstruction) he

Pumping rhythms? Check. ln-yer-face hard-edged guitars? Check. Foxy singer with attitude? Check. Dance/rock crossover credentials courtesy of band members’ previous groups? Check. So why is this meeting point of dancefloor and stage such a dull, unimaginative place? Beginning and ending with the irritatingly punchy single ’Ready To Go’, Republica rarely depart from this script. Former N-Joi vocalist Saffron gives it loads in her best Toyah style even though she’s got nothing to work with, while the rest of the band clatter through the same messy beats and guitars at breakneck momentum, like a Jesus Jones for the late 90s. Says it all. (FS)

Soma 50

Various (Soma) * 1r * ‘k *

Soma’s 50th release contains ten exclusive tracks from all the artists who are currently working on albums for the label. Slam kick things off with a swirling ambient intro before launching into the beats. Percy X follow with a beautiful and melodic Detroit workout. However, the real gems come from Maas and Equus who both produce gorgeous mellow outings, particularly Equus with their dreamy jazz musings. This album is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in the development of modern electronic dance music. Most of the tracks on here are so good that they could have been made by Derrick May or Larry Heard. And remember, this is the sound of the Glasgow underground. (JB)

Alfonzo Hunter

Blacka Da Berry (Cooltempo) * it * ir *

Alfonzo Hunter’s stunning debut album Blacka Da Berry is a must for all lovers of swing. Like last year’s awesome ouput from Horace Brown and D’Angelo (plus a touch of Stevie Wonder), this drips with as much soul and as much sweet sexiness as you

Republica: messy beats and guitars at breakneck momentum


Pop (lsland) ****

It’s a trait of U2's that they sound off about their influences long before they’ve managed to assimilate them. Hence, it's only now, eight years after Rattle And Hum. that Bono can sing a' line like 'it’s the stuff of country songs’ with any authority. Maybe by the time the next album rolls around they'll be able to back up sweeping statements like 'We believe in kitsch'. For Pop is one of the band's darkest. most anguished records, and, killer ' single ‘Discotheque' aside, one of their hardest to digest. It's also a rock album. Reports of their conversion to techno. trip hop or anything else have

been greatly exaggerated.

They explode in so many directions that it‘s hard to keep up. Pop encompasses storming rock tracks like 'Last Night On Earth', the take-no- prisoners percussion of 'Mofo', the broody ambience of 'If You Wear That Velvet Dress' and 'Miami'. a track that could have been left on the more experimental Passengers album with few complaints. While you're waiting for the whole caboodle to sink in, there's plenty that jumps out even on a first listen: 'If God Will Send His Angels’, the chorus of 'Staring At The Sun', where the ever-morphing Edge turns into George Harrison, and the spiralling 'Gone' for starters. Increased familiarity could even bump this up

to five-star status. (AM)

could hope to squeeze onto one record. The mid-to-downtempo vibe kicks off with the chocolate-smooth 'Weekend Thang’ before slipping into the oh-so-soulful title track. Other highlights include the single ’Just The Way (Playaz Play)’ and ’Groove On’ which addresses the ongoing East Coast/West Coast feud that dogs hip hop. For reference, Eric Sermon also has a hand in the production giving this an extra stamp of quality. (JB)

Cream Separates

Mixed by Deep Dish, Les Ryder, Paul Bleasdale and Darren Emerson (Deconstruction) * it t t

No, this isn’t just another mix album. Cream may be the biggest club on the planet at the moment but their decision to move away from the ‘guest Dl' phenomenon towards a residents- only policy must be applauded. A genuine commitment to the longevity of the dance music scene is reflected here in an excellent package. Unden~orld’s Darren Emerson lends a quality techno air to the proceedings, while original Cream boys Paul Bleasdale and Les Ryder serve up a more underground eclectic backroom vibe. But it’s Washington’s worshipped Deep Dish that really gives this credibility with a brilliant selection of true house grooves. (JB)

Kris Needs Musts

Various (Rumour) * ht

Notorious journalist, DJ, producer, remixer, party animal and spoon bender Kris Needs weighs in with a genuinely eclectic mix of his favourite party tunes. Now there’s a novel approach to the increasingly tired mix album scenario. The result is a chaotic but ultimately rewarding collection of tracks by Primal Scream (’Jailbird’), Secret Knowledge (’Let The Fun Begin’) and The Prodigy (’Speedway'). But, be warned, things start off quite mellow and dubby but descend gradually through house into harder and decidedly more punishing techno territOry. EaSy listening it ain’t. (JB)

Peter Maxwell Davies

Strathclyde Concertos Nos 9 and 10 (Collins) ** * it

This disc completes the recording cycle of this important concerto series with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (all but Nos 1 and 2 are on this label), and maintains the high standard of the set. No 9 is scored for an unusual combination of six woodwind soloists, while No 10 is a concerto for orchestra. Both are typical of the composer’s variegated, compelling and often surprising sound-world, and the disc is filled out with a substantial serenade, Caro/isima. (KM)