record revievvs



Primal Scream

Echo Dek (Creation) *

The Scream's Vanishing Point seemed somehow overlooked this year. Its blend of wailing guitars, hip hop beats and dubby textures certainly didn’t get the credit it deserved. Echo Dek, an album of dub remixes of Vanishing Point tracks by Adrian Sherwood, sounds like a lip-smacking idea at first, but it turns out that, on the original album, the band had already exactly struck the right tone of pop and weirdness that suited the songs. This remodelling exercise, the like of which could have shone a new light on many rock bands’ material, is just unnecessary in the Scream’s case, and doesn’t pack even a quarter of the impact of the originals. (AM)

Greg Garing Alone (Paladin/Revolution) at it

The story has it that Greg Garing, a fast-rising country singer, saw a future stretching out before him as the next Hank Williams Jr, turned his back on it and fell in instead with rock-star image-maker B.P. Fallon, who turned him on to Garbage and other sounds in the indie/alternative bracket. That’s certainly what Alone sounds like, and not unpleasantly so, either. From country he’s brought a pure-sounding voice and a respect for its lyrical tradition, but he’s left behind the 'hat

act’ trappings and has proved adventurous enough to collaborate with Mike Watt and Ruby's Lesley Rankine. With Alone, a new ’alternative country’ radio format may be born. (AM)


What's Up Matador (Matador) at *t if Yo La Tengo, Bettie Serveert and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 are just names to you, you could do worse than pick up this compilation of near- hits from America’s leading indie label. And even if not all of the 24 selected tracks are as stupendously wonderful as Yo La Tengo’s opening ’Tom Courtenay', choice moments from Liz Phair, Pavement, The Fall, Guided By Voices and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion make it a fairly safe purchase. A bonus disc of twenty more unreleased tracks is a further sweetener. (AM)

Appendix Out

The Rye Bears A Poison (Drag City) *t* *

Judging by the amount of lyrical references to seagulls, seasons and stuff, Appendix Out’s Ali Roberts is something of an outdoors type. In a windswept and poetic way, mind, as songs come blinking into the light with fragile vocals that make Will Oldham s0und cheerful. Plaintive croons accompany sparse acoustic guitar, cello and smatterings of piano. The result is a haunting hybrid of Scots folk whimsy and lo-fi Americana, though the nearest these kids come to rocking out is the jaunty ’Lassie, Lie Near Me’ and the Yo La Tengoish ’Brazil’. Music to watch the stars go by. Sigh. (NC)

:‘T-he Spice Girls ‘fSpiceworld (Virgin) 3H”:

'7‘7‘h'eights with the rest of the album.

gimprovement. (Fiona Shepherd)

‘-"" “ii”.-if=niit:i‘w; rugk—"i’i’. ' I

. It was the same story on the first album - hit us with a mega single (or two mega singles in the case of Spice) to get us all wound up in anticipation

lthis obviously only applies to the true Spice faithful - everyone else will

4 take issue with the merit of any Spice Girls song) and then fail to hit the

'Spice Up Your Life‘ mambos is way straight into Number One and icouldn‘t be a sassier way to kick off Splceworld, but there’s nothing as

;_ jjmmediate to back it up. It hardly seems to matter though. As The Spice ijGirls become more and more a commodity, lending their name to practically

;;.any cause or event going (these days they'd turn up for the opening of a

fidoor), their music takes on the role of background accompaniment to their .-;a'ntics. ‘Move Over' is certainly nothing more than their Pepsi jingle.

isn't to say it’s not fun. There's the same blend of disco, funk. ,swingbeat and sultry ballads to suit the ‘variety is the spice’ ethos. There's same reliance on Mel C to sing all the more testing vocals. There's the

same overriding having-a-laugh atmosphere, nowhere more evident than

11' 99rdosing track 'The Lady Is A Vamp', which is the girls' tribute to pop

' “culture icons (including themselves). But when you consider that Madonna's

' j’Vogue' did it far more stylishly, you realise how much room there is for

48 THE UST 7—20 Nov 1997


album4 (Blast First) ****

More accessible than of previous, these weavers of delicate soundscapes have turned out an album that might yet find its way onto the stereos of casual Portishead or Cocteau Twins fans. Great as background mood music, yet too involving to be classed as ambient, much of this is contemplative stuff played on piano, strings, discreet organ and delicately-plucked guitar, though Labradford can summon up the stillness and poise of Satie or Harold Budd in places. Occasionally, vocals surface, and with them a more sinister atmosphere. (AM)

The Shirehorses

The Worst Album In The World Ever (East West) Hr * it

In which Mark Radcliffe and Lard pastiche the current crop of crap which is cluttering up the charts and mercilessly rip the piss out of it. Hence the John Spencer Blues Explosion becomes the Frank Spencer Blues Explosion and a little known combo called Po-Fasis sing that well-known ditty 'C um On Skweeze Me Boils’. Personally, I’m torn between the Dick Cave And The Bad Cheese version of 'Hapless Boy Lard’ and Peela Tater’s ’Ta La’. Older colleagues point to the taint of naffness with which the Barron Knights tarred the pastiche in the late 70s, but just ignore the fact that in three months time you'll be too embarrassed to admit that you ever bought this album and enjoy the belly laughs. (JT)

SOUL The Lighthouse Family

Postcards From Heaven (Wildcard) ** *

The first thing that strikes me about this second album from The Lighthouse Family is the old 'it’s not as good as the first one' cliche. Certainly, there's not enough ’Lifted' and ’Ocean Drive’ size anthems to warrant any sharp intake of breath. The Current Single ’Raincloud’ is as near as we get, but even that isn't nearly as good. That said, singer Tunde Baiyewu is still in possession of one of the most unique voices I've heard in years and for that alone, this deserves to be heard. The album is solid enough, but nothing more challenging than that. (JB)


Face The Music (Filter) it t ‘k at

It never ceases to amaze me that ordinary people all over the world can make extraordinary music. Like Carl Craig in Detr0it or Larry Heard in Chicago, 23-year-old Glaswegian Paul Flynn has an extra special quality to his music which raises it head and shoulders above everyone elses. Here we get a glimpse of the genius that lurks Within him. It’s best heard on the single ’We Are One’, with its irresistible hooks and spoken word poetry, but can also be found on the two deeper, down-tempo cuts which round off the album (and if you can find it, on his recent 'Feelin' Moody' single on Go Beatl). If you like yOur house/techno on a Glasgow meets Detroit Vibe, then this is the one for you. (JB)

HIP HOP The Firm

Firm Biz (Columbia) ***

This is an interesting little collaboration between Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ and new Trackmaster signing Nature. It’s the fine and funky, headnodding hip hop (more hardcore than commercial) outing you’d expect from such artists. Best cuts on an overly long album (18 tracks and usual nonsense skits) are the nicely Foxy Brown/Nas interplayed 'Firm Fiasco’ and the forthcoming single ’Firm Biz' which makes tidy use of vocals from former En Voguer Dawn Robinson. (JB)


Joe Henderson Porgy and Bess (Verve) aunt

Joe Henderson has enjoyed such a vivid purple patch since joining Verve that a relative disappointment was almost inevitable. To these ears, this jazz re- creation of the Gershwin’s opera is it, and the problem may be that the project itself is misconceived, rather than that anything much is lacking in the actual performances. A stellar instrumental ensemble has been assembled for the project (plus a forgettable vocal from Chaka Khan on ’Summertime’ and a better one by Sting on ’lt Ain’t Necessarily 50’), but the whole thing has a dutiful air of high competence, rather than a sense of genuine inspiration, and falls short of the Miles Davis-Gil Evans benchmark. (KM)


Kronos Quartet Early Music (Nonesuch) ‘A’ air ‘k ‘k

The superstar ensemble of cutting edge new music periodically turn their attention to a more populist prOject. This is their most widely accessible disc since Pieces ofAfrica, and combines arrangements of early music from the likes of Machaut, Dowland, Perotin, Purcell, and traditional folk With work by more contemporary composers (Moondog, Lamb, Part, Cage, Partch, Schnittke) which draws in some way on early music models, or otherWise

The Firm: fine and funky. headnodding hip hop