record reviews


Lou Reed

Perfect Night (WEA) ‘k x ,4:

Recorded live in London at last summer’s Meltdown Festival, with an acoustic gUitar he's very chuffed With if the liner notes are anything to go by, and a three-piece back-up including veteran Reed cohorts Mike Rathke and Fernando Saunders, this is about as close to 'an intimate set’ as Lou Reed is likely to get these days The song selection is encouraging instead of yet another ’Sweet Jane’ we get an outing for the wonderful, deranged, long-buried ’Kicks’ and an affecting return to the old glory of ‘Coney lsland Baby', an unexpected 'Kids’ Three new songs too, taken from the awfully titled Time Rocker stage show, which —- listen to the way he breathes ’why don't you shut up’ at the close of ’Why Do You Talk’ point to interesting, brittle times ahead. (DL)

Sonic Youth A Thousand Leaves (Geffen) *k we at 7*

Now in their eighteenth year as a working band and with this their fourteenth album release, New York’s most celebrated and deconstructed rock quartet have existed long enough in a sub-genre of their own making and, true to form, A Thousand Leaves iS exactly the sort of LincomproniiSing collision of ideas you’d expect them to come up with. Still out there followng their own highly idiosyncratic star, still instantly recognisable, Sonic Youth are a living endorsement of tearing up the rule book, doing your own thing and waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. Highlights this time Out include the epic ‘Wildflower Soul' and 'Hits Of Sunshine’ —- a meandering, eleven-minute tribute to Allen Ginsberg. (LT)

Girls Vs Boys

Freak‘on‘ica (Geffen) we st 1:

Their fifth album and major-label debut sees GVsB continuing to mine the rich vein of invention that characterised their previous releases. Long established masters at concocting a catalogue of unsettling after—hours

42 THE U3T 30 Apr—14 May 1998

moods through their eclectic combination of heavy iarring grooves, their now familiar twm bass assault, Scott McCloud’s sleazy vocal commentaries and a creative way with samplers, GVsB frequently succeed in going places their unhip competitors can only ever dream of. Like the Jesus Lizard, GVsB remain one of the most distinctive sounding avts to have emerged from the crowded soundalike ghettos of US left-field rock. (LT)

All Natural Lemon And Lime Flavors

Turning Into Small (Gerri Blansten)

* k *

Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be. . . Kevin Shields! This is a band with a mission: in the absence of an MBV record, they’re gonna make one. Plus, they’ll throw a little Stereolab and Cocteau Twins into the mix.

You’ve got to respect a band who clearly don’t care about selling records, especially one with such an expensive effects-pedal habit to support. They’ve chosen the worst name ever and opted for a sound best described as ’swirly' and ’difficult'. Turning Into Sma/l may do no more than send you back to your copy of Isn’t Anything but, hey, that’s no bad thing. (PR)

Windy And Carl

Depths (Kranky) ***

This uncompromising double album from Michigan duo Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren is an intriguing proposition. Things get off to a shaky start with ’Sirens' an extended fuzzy, overdubbed guitar drone, but pick up with the threatening minimalist bass and keyboard effects of 'Undercurrent'. From there on in, it’s much the same: a quietly beautiful music, painstakingly constructed, building to a head in the title track nineteen minutes of reverberating guitar and other evocative atmospherics which seems evolved rather than played. If instruments could create music independently of human will, this would be the sound. (PR)

Love Nut Baltimucho! (Big Deal) 1r 1% at Love Nut are deeply frustrating. At one

stroke they are entering the career- shattering terrain of the mawk-ballad


Love Nut: Oasis want to be these men

(’If You Go Away') and coming out unscathed. At the next they have stepped into sub-Terrorvision cobblersville ('Casualty'/‘Miss Fortune'). And how many bands have been courted by Kerrang! and still produce a chorus which reminds you of Ant & Dec's cover of ’Stepping Stone’, as they have with 'Stolen Picture‘? Still, there’s something to be said for starting an album with a twenty-second wreckless guitar volley. Quite what though, I’m not certain. Probably the sound of Oasis in three albums time. (80)


Solex vs The Hitmeister (Matador)

1k vk *

How lo can lo-fi go? This puppy could limbo under an alligator's belly with a top-hat on. Solex lives with lots of vinyl and an old 705 keyboard sampler somewhere in a shop in Amsterdam and has made a record to prove it. It's probably unlike anything you’ve ever heard before: a pinball scatter of jazz- o-matic samples and vocals oscillate between a bliss-kissed tinkerbell, a choir of vampiric geishas and everything in between. Every title incorporates her name ('Peppy Solex' etc), reinforcing her indefinable, starkly original identity. Bjork comparisons are inevitable what with her being one of those kerrrazy foreign-types, but those mitts don’t fit. When reference-points are as untraceable as this, something worthwhile is going down. Probably. (PW)

The Jennifers

Dressed For A Dog’s Life (Human Condition Records) *‘k

Wildy uneven debut from local (ish) hopefuls that skates all over the rink in bald defiance of the maxim, ’Less Is More'. A lot less. Fifteen indifferently performed songs is too much for even the most undiscerning palate. Sure, songs like 'Honey‘ and 'Hamlet and l' are quite charming but mostly it's all artless punkpop that’ll make zero difference to anyone’s life. (PW)


People Freak (Arctic) **

Rare are the latest resting place for John O'Neill, formerly the wee schoolboy guitarist bloke in The Undertones, then the slightly more SOphisticated axe-wielder in That Petrol Emotion and now the almost-convert to dance and burying the riff away under layers of shimmering trip-hop ephemera. All of which you expect to hit the spot, given the man's faultless track record up till now. However, PeOp/e Freak does no great service to the moody pop legacy. Many of the tracks sound like undercooked Portishead, like the trimmings have either come before the meat and potatoes or are there to disguise the lack of songs. It's a not remotely unpleasant album, just not a very fulfilling one. (FS)

EddiReader Angels & Electricity (Blanco y Negro) irir

Like all writers, Eddi Reader is desperately aware of the need for beginning and ending with a flourish. With her fourth solo album Ange/s & Electricity, this means that tracks one

Hardly divine: Eddi Reader

'Kiteflyer’s Hill' and thirteen 'Clear' are stormers of the lilting, balladeering kind. Unfortunately, this is to the neglect of just about everything else. On this collection she has been aided by former Fairground Attracter Mark Nevin and Singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith, With whom she wrote a track via the Internet they are. part of a band leading the bland. There’s no doubt that her voice was cut through some divine intervention, but this album is something of a damp quib. See Frontlines, page 3. (BD)


Aretha Franklin A Rose Is Still A Rose (Arista) at

You know when peOple say ’so-and-so would sound good even if they were singing their shopping list' and it SOUndS like a valid statement? Well, it’s not and it's taken until this album for that to strike home. In fact, a simple shopping list rendition from Aretha might have sounded passable next to the bulk of this album but no, a great voice is absolutely no consolation when confronted with such a dog of a collection. Although it feels like dissing Homer, Beethoven and Michelangelo to say it, A Rose ls Stil/A Rose is a rank offering of soul—lite stuffed With those horrible chiming keyboards you thought you'd only ever hear on Lionel Richie records. (FS)


The Shamen

Collection/Stars On 25 Remix Collection (One Little Indian) *‘k */‘k***

Two singles compilations which tell The Shamen story from the beginning of their chartbusting era and sadly neglecting the earlier obscure-but- interesting singles from the days leading up to their position as dance Uberlords (different label, see). The likes of 'LSI’, ’Ebeneezer Goode’ and 'Phorever People' actually sound a little dated now, but still demonstrate why The Shamen were able to straddle the chart and club worlds and Dave the way for the likes of The Chemical Brothers in the live arena. The remix compilation is superior in that it locates a contemporary pulse with a climactic drum 'n' bass mix, in addition to alternative, house and acid megamixes. (FS)