record reviews

ROCK Jon Spencer Blues


Acme (Mute) *‘hr

A new Blues Explosion album is usually a chance to refuel on some gigantic music, but for once, the snake-hipped Mr Spencer is emphasizing the blues over the explosion in his group's music. With a few exceptions like the closing rabble- rouser 'Attack', there is a general retreat from punk volatility and more blues bluster of the most sexual kind. There are moments on Acme when it appears that Chef from South Park has taken over vocal responsibilities in the band. If anything, there is even less clarity than on preVious records. Sometimes the lack of a song is easier to overlook the bargain basement Beck of ’Talk About The Blues’, for instance but mostly this mess of an album ain’t so glorious. (FS)


Prolonging The Magic (Mercury)

* fir 1t

Despite line-up changes, the Cake sound is as distinctive on this album as on the prewous two. The songs, all written or co-written by frontman John McCrea, feature sharp tunes, wry lyrics and close harmonies, accompanied by rubbery bass, mellow trumpet, stuttering semi- acoustic gUitar and wiry stabs of electric gUitar. McCrea claims to have abandoned irony as 'chickenshit', and there are moments of touching Sincerity, espeCially in the lovelorn ’Walk On By'. The Californian five-piece embrace c0untry ’n’ western influences with splashes of pedal steel and even musical saw, but there’s also driving rock, notably on new single ’Never There’, the closest Cake have yet come to emulating their biggest hit, 'The Distance’. Still an above-average accompaniment to that double latte. (AB)

Dave Grohl

Music From The Motion Picture Touch (Roswell/Capitol) * e e at

It’s interesting that Foo Fighters mainman Dave Grohl’s debut album as a solo artist should coincidentally turn out to be his first foray into the world of the movie soundtrack. Co-produced by Grohl and Barret Jones (the

50 THE lIST 8—22 Oct l998

partnership that gave the world the hugely successful Foo Fighters debut) Touch is an atmospheric sketch book of mainly surf-styled and more moodily downbeat instrumentals with a shot of contrast offered by the album’s only fully blown songs: ’How Do You Do’ and the title track itself. All material comes credited to the pen of D. Grohl Esq. with the exception of those offerings from John Doe, formerly of LA punkers X and Louise Post of Veruca Salt. (LT)

Silver Jews American Water (Domino) at *‘k‘k

David Berman and Pavement's Steve Malkmus return with their third album of minor chord classics. American Waters stories are of tired travellers, jilted lovers and especially dedicated drinkers. It keeps a fairly respectable late Velvets pace, with occasional gear shifts in its more Pavement-esque moments such as ’People’ and the strangley titled ’Buckingham Rabbit'. Elsewhere the darker side of coffee house life is explored in the Mid-West phobia of ’Federal Dust'. But the greatest moment doesn’t arrive until 'Honk If You’re Lonely', an hilarious bumper sticker inspired, C&W pastiche with a catch-line of 'C’mon toot your horn and flash me those lights, Honk if you’re lonely tonight'. Another future classic. (PW)

Bob Dylan

Live 66: The Royal Albert Hall Concert (Columbia) *k t t ‘k i“

This is from the tow which electric Bob was decried as ’Judas’ by a confused audience member. Before the electric set, though, shimmers a ghostly 45- minute solo acoustic haze which, on the CD ROM dictionaries of the future, will serve as the entry for ’sublime’. The electric side, all amphetamine, is the topper, as Dylan and the nascent Band struggle to get across the jeering and slow handclapping. There are some great moments - Dylan burbling nonsense to shut the crowd up, the way the band take the rhythm of the slow handclap as the pace for 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down'. Curious, too, how his subsequent career is prefigured the high whine of ’Tell Me Mamma’ signalling last year's Time out of Mind, 'Just Like a Woman' pre- echoing Blood on the Tracks. File under 'Necessary’, alongside James Brown’s Live at the Apollo and the Stooges Metallic KO.(DL)


Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: a bit of a damp squib this time round

POP ' . * Elvis Costello 8r Burt Bacharach

Painted From Memory (Mercury) ****

The result of two years collaboration, this is a strange wrinkle of an album. a soft velvety fold of the sort pushed up when generations rub edges. There are flaws - the backing vocalists. for example - but when aren't there? Painted From Memory remains a fascinating artefact. and, what's more. one you don't have to study - though it gets better on subsequent visits - but one you can put on low at nights and allow to warm you. sadly. as winter deepens and drinks get longer. Those familiar with 'God Give Me Strength' - the single Bacharach 8: Costello produced for Alison Ander’s film Grace of My Heart -

Costello: one half of a strangely pleasurable wrinkles

will know what to expect: lush, undulating. sophisticated boom-boom. exactingly constructed and wrapped around meticulously crafted. towering everyday dramas of the heartbreak kind; pap music, in short, like no one

writes any more.

What's remarkable is that this sounds neither like Costello singing Bacharach nor Bacharach scoring Costello - the two have fused. Costello's singing - an acquired taste. granted - sounds strained in places, but this seems right: it‘s where the songs take him. As for the immaculate title track. Costello fails to do true justice to the song he‘s written. it'd take a Sinatra to do that but, then, is that any kind of a criticism? (Damien Love)

Ricky Spontane

Spontane Time (Old Eagle) a air air

The lobby against frivolity and general Silliness in music, especially indie musrc, is not going to like the latest student disco gatecrashers. Ricky Spontane is a Liverpudlian five-piece whose debut album is chirpy, irreverent, intermittently witty, and all those other descriptive terms loathed by po-faced music connoisseurs. Spontane Time places its creators firmly in the tradition of The Housemartins, The Farmer’s Boys, Cud, The Pooh Sticks and any other arch clever-clogs who fancy they have a way with a rhyming couplet set to a rabble-rousmg guitar/keyboard racket. Some of it IS pants, obvrously, but there’s some wryly observed kitchen sink tracks that resolutely fail to irritate after several listens. Coming to a freshers’ ball near you soon. (FS)

David Kilgour David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights (Matador) * ‘k f

Consistently pretty, thoughtful but relatively unexciting in the way that you'd expect cult New Zealand singer/songwriters' music to be, David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights is our eponymous Dunedin folk hero’s third solo album although he made more of an impact as mainstay of The Clean, as equisite a post-punk band as any to wait over to these shores. On more serpentine tracks like 'Digging For Gold', there’s a chance to get lost in Kilgour’s pseudo-Television guitar work, while the pithier tracks are more sweetness and light a dichotomy which served The Velvet Underground well and in Kilgour's case makes for a soothing soundtrack to calm one's crumblier, flakier moments.



Rosaria (Island) at it it it

Two years ago they ruled the indie world with their mullet haircuts, wonky vocals and heavy metal T-shirts, easily upstaging bands with years more experience. For some reason, these lopsided layabouts failed to get in the public’s face and subsequently under their skins, but given that Tiger were never going to be hostages to the vagaries of fashion, their abrupt re- emergence with Rosana marks as good a time as any to bust open the ’where are they now?‘ file. It’s a highly Iikeable affair when its daffy New Wave keyboards and untutored vocals recall The Slits, The Human League and Talking Heads’ bouncier moments, although dirgier songs like ’Girl From The Petrol Station' and glorified nursery rhyme ’Candy And Andy’ let the side down a little. However, any band willing to swrm against the tide should be welcomed back with open arms. (FS) Billie

Honey To The B (Innocent) * 1t

Billie is the fifteenoyear-old who featured in last year’s Smash Hits advertising campaign before landing a megabucks recording contract. Unfortunately, you are probably already overfamiliar with her chipmunk features and teeth- gnashingly irritating straight-in-at- number-one teenage riot hit ’Because We Want To’. Suffice to say her debut album is the anticipated bog standard mix of pop and swingbeat that the young people of today presumably go a bundle on. Her voice is highly reminiscent of Kylie Minogue’s one can only hope for a similar development in imagination on her future material, rather than this rehash of recent Spice Girls, Brandy & Monica and the like. (FS)