- record reviews


Hole Celebrity Skin (Geffen) it sic-v: we

Apart from a collection of B-sides, this is Hole's first release since ’94 and a whole ocean of water has passed under the bridge since then. Courtney Love has gone from being recognised solely as Kurt Cobain's widow and uncrowned queen of grunge to acclaimed actor, friend of Madonna and svelte socialite. Hence accusations that Love has sold out and betrayed her fans in exchange for acceptance into American high society. Celebrity Skin is supposed to be the proof of the betrayal: a bland, toned-down Hole- lite, designed for radio and unthinking mass consumption Bollocks. The rough edges have been smoothed off in favour of a rounder sound but this is still unmistakany a Hole With teeth. It's by no means perfect: not every track is a winner and Love’s voice isn’t above the occasional honk but as a Whole it’s best to forget the fashion for Courtney-bashing and feel the passion instead. (JT)

Elliott Smith

XO (Dreamworks) air w 1:

It’s seemed of late that nary a month goes by Without the release of another Elliott Smith record. Where the recent Roman Candle, Elliott Smith and Either/Or were belated UK is3ues of albums preVioust only available on US independents, though, X0 is the genuine new-for-98 album, and Smith’s first for what we’re obliged to call a major label. For the uninitiated, this is a fine place to start, With the Bongload production team fleshing out Smith's usual hazy, sparsely acoustic concerns With a go-go-pop-battery of

instrumentation, Without losing that Original blurry focus. What comes far more noticeably to the fore than was preVious is Smith's immersion in the Beatles—Via-Costello songwriting school. (DLl

Adam Cohen

Adam Cohen (Columbia) a

Imagine, if yOu Will: Boyzone have split. One of them not, whatsit, Roland, or Squashed Brosnan, another one embarks upon a solo career. He’s always always been a bit ’dark', and preViously felt stifled. This is his

40 THE LIST 10—24 Sep 1998

chance to shine sombre and tell it like he feels it. Look out. Adam Cohen's debut album, horrible plastic airbrushed instrumentation and all, is exactly what this would sound like. It’s Sir Cliff in a black t-shirt, Gary Barlow gothic. Though his father is one of the people who make life worth living, Adam Cohen sings, frankly, like a girl. And a girl, moreover, who likes Sheryl and Alanis. This, people, is what depressing music is really like. (DL)

Rufus Wainwright Rufus Wainwright (Dreamworks) 1r * ‘k

The eponymous debut from the son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright Ill offers some compelling evidence, Adam Cohen not withstanding, in support of the theOry that this songwriting thing can in fact be passed on through the genes. Though featuring players such as the mighty Jim Keltner and string arrangements courtesy of Van Dyke Parks, resounding at the heart of Wainwright's lusth packed album is his piano, a simple filtered ring and echo that works something like the sad honey rub of memory, a sound perfect for the cusp of Autumn. With traces of American music-hall and showboat tunes rubbing against dramatic 60s pop, 70s pastoral and penSive Circus romps combined With the plangent swing of Wainwright‘s voice, the record emerges as a musical starring Ron Sexsmith, which, obVIOust, is the sort of thing to be encouraged. (DLi

Kevin McDermott

Orchestra Fair And Whole (Tulsa) is

Defiantly not a 'Best of’, the sleevenotes tell us that this collection of KMO tracks is more of a 'roadmap’ to different periods of McDermott’s output. KMO fans Will enioy the extensive sleeve notes and the alternative versions of old favourites

but newcomers may find themselves a

bit non-plussed. Like meeting a very

old friend and retelling well-worn

stories, you can enioy the quality and the warmth but yOU wonder where the sparkle went, (JTl

Sophia The nfinite Circle (The Flower Shop Recordings) a we

All is doom and gloom in the world of Robin Proper-Sheppard, head honcho of the supremely miserable, or at least mordantly introspective, Sophia

collective. As one of the driving forces

Hole: filling out their celebrity skin


Mansun Six (Parlophone) ***~k*

Mansun: not~ for e fai-hearted

Don’t you just hate it when a much-trumpeted magnum opus turns out to be overblown fudge? With their second album, Mansun could have found themselves in a tight spot. A promising debut album which took everyone by surprise can only be followed by one which delivers on that promise. Plus, the stakes are always higher when it comes to keepers of the 'serious epic rock guitars' flame like The Verve or Radiohead. Mansun are apparently poised to gain admittance to this select club, when they are actually better

than that.

With Six, Mansun really go off on one. Paul Draper - one of our most dramatic vocalists with that distinctive nasal howl - and cohorts arelike Super Furry Animals in a stadium, boasting the same surfeit of ideas and ability to push the right buttons with this audacious album which could be grand folly were it not so thrilling. ‘Shotgun’ starts off New York punk and ends up prog, while 'Being A Girl' slams from New Wave to runaway chorus to music box pirouetting in under a minute before the extended album version spins off into Pink Floyd territory. Elsewhere actor Tom Baker intones ominously and the Sugar Plum Fairy gets a facelift. Crazy scenes.

; man and not for the faint-hearted. (Fiona Shepherd)

in heavy prog monsters The God Machine he was a fairly intense kinda guy, and that was before their bass player Jimmy Fernandez died unexpectedly of a brain haemorrhage a few years ago. By the sound of Infinite Circle, things haven't been sweetness and light since then, but these relentless gruesome Iamentations make for an Emotionally tininvolvmg exorcism. The gentle string

arrangements recall The Bad Seeds but

SOphia suffer in comparison to Nick Cave who can make mourning s0und

achineg beautiful. (FS) Orchestral Manoeuvres

In The Dark

The OMD Singles (Virgin) t it w Whatever your long-term memOry might be trying to tell you with the popular phrase or saying ’Orchestral Maneouvres In The Dark', don't be fooled into believrng that OMD were ever hip nor that they are ripe for rediscovery. Soft Cell had the make-up, ABC had the suns, The Human League had the girls' off-key 'harmonies’ but OMD were JUSl resolutely uncool, This compilation of their singles from the early New Romantic electronica numbers like ’Enola Gay’ and ’Souvenir’ to the strained pop of 'Sailing On The Seven Seas' should only be listened to by misguided nostalgists (such as myself see star rating) and only as far as the Jean Michel Jarre-esque early 805 stuff at that. And what was that name all about anyway? (FS)

P.W. Long With

Reelfoot Push Me Again (Touch And Go) *see

First some biographical details. In his time Preston Long was once the driving force behind Mule a trio of motor city misfits cranking out spiky, messed- up swamp garage - and here on his second album as a solo artist ol’ PW has settled on a more downhome, bluesified sound. Neither straight ahead purist nor wired goofball hysteria as per John Spencer and cohorts, Reelfoot’s rolling and stumbling take on stompin’, hollerin’ garage blues nevertheless kicks up more that it's fair share of hard luck stories. Sound and mood-wise there’s a charismatically edgy Beefheartian quality to Reelfoot's way of doing business. (LT)

Trailer Hitch

The Long Tails And Highway Adventures Of. . .(Ivlan's Run) e***

The gear-crashin’, exhaust pipe-suckin’, beer and amphetamine-fuelled desperado mayhem that is Trailer Hitch bring you a crash course in thundering trucker punk. Gonzoid song titles and trailer trash lifestyle anthems like ’Gas Huffin’, 'Glue Sniffin’ Superman’, and 'Learned To Wrestle Real Good In Vietnam' tell their own lurid tales. ’This opus was recorded in Chicago in two days, fuelled by ten cases of Busch beer, four dozen donuts, trucker