MUSIC record reviews

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Fungus The Rookie Season (Food) it *

They like their power pop in Sweden, of that there is little doubt. However, prevrously successful bands from the homeland of Henrik Larsson like The Cardigans or The Wannadies have always had a slight mm to them, something Which is sadly lacking in the mediocre punky fare of Swedish four- piece Fungus. The Rookie Season is essentially a collection of upbeat but formulaic bounce-along numbers Which generally fail to impress. A lyrical tendency to be all sarky about fame and fortune doesn't really help them either, the likes of ’A Fanclub Would Be Nice' coming over like grapes of the sour variety. (Doug Johnstone)


Children Of Telepathic Experiences (Infectious) * * t *

Great debut from these precocious Australian cyber youths. How would you describe this? I suppose something like the Tom Tom Club (remember them?) remixed by Hanson (same question) then stolen by Moloko to be incorporated into their 1995 album Do You Like My Tight Sweater? but discarded at the last minute in a Sydney High School locker only to be found by the children of elderly hippies who let their children do what they want in their spare time. Highly recommended as it’s easy on the ear and fun. It all makes yOu realise how good it actually is to take candy from a baby. (Paul Dale)

The Amphetameanies

Right Line In Nylons (F & J Records) ****

Notorious throughout Scotland due to their dedicated t0uring schedules, this Glasgow-based ten-piece are capable of rocking any stage they can all fit on to. Making a damn fine Job of recreating their live magic on this, their first long-playing release, the 'meanies deliver drivrng ska madness in all its glory. Far from being a relentless barrage of ska brass thumpers though, the girls and boys vary the tempo throughout and make cunning use of Hammond on ‘Ghost Bus' amongst others and psychobilly twang on ’Last Night' and ’Fiend Or Foe'. Shorten your trouser legs, buy lots of beer and get skanking. (Catherine Bromley)

Various Artists

G-A-Y (London) Jr fir

Summer is here and unfortunately so are the usual bag of compilation nasties. This steady stream of pop ditties Wlll, in some cases, have you dancing around your colostomy bag While others qurte clearly belong in it. G-A-Y, if you haven’t guessed, is a gay club and the release of this album comcided With Mardr Gras, a festival celebrating a cultural identity. Sadly though, G-A-Y lacks anything ground breaking or uplifting. With Kylie mixes (more Pat Sharpe than Pete Tong) and the legendary ’ooh, ahh Just a little bit', this may not stir everyone's well. However, if you still find yourself in Tesco’s sl:pping your copy of Smash Hits under your Weight Watchers meal

48 THE “ST 6720 Jul 2000

for one, then this is your cup of herbal tea. In the words of pop’s princess, ’it’s better the deViI you know. . ,’

(Justine Watt)

Billy Bragg & Wilco

Mermaid Avenue Vol II (Elektra) ****

The sequel to Bragg and erco's lovrng homage to Woody Guthrie, the patron saint of folk blues and Americana, Vo/ume // is an inspiring collection of storming rockabilly, acoustic balladry, twelve-string blues and banJomania. It may not quite live up to Volume/ (according to the estimable John Peel at least) but it takes Guthrie’s lyrical tales of the personal and the political and gives them a solid musical platform on which to poeticise about Joe Dimaggio, UFOs and, well, on 'Meanest Man’, being a bad motherfucker. Billy Bragg as Ozzy Osbourne anyone? A complex and beautiful record. (Rodger Evans)

Dubstar Make It Better (Parlophone) t t *

Dubstar were a band that combined ethereal melodies With eartthund lyrics that invariably told three minute kitchen-sink dramas in a straight- talking Newcastle style. Five years on they’re still dorng it but as the album title implies, they've made it better. Sarah Blackwood‘s bittersweet vocal is still the drivrng force but she’s working With a much more diverse range of beats now, shown in the frisky country swmg of the first single ’I' and the mild techno of ’Take lt'. Although there are some shockers here, including the deadly dull ’Another Word', the album is more than redeemed by the pearly brilliance of ’The Self Same Thing' and ’Believe In Me’ (Catherine Bromley)



White Pony (Maverick) a: t v: 1k The key to heavy metal/rocik/thrash

call it what you Will - is that yOu know what to expect: dugga-dugga-dugga- soueal-bark-dugga-dugga-dugga, ad infinitum. Here, there is a certain unknown quality Which lifts the Deftones Out of the current quagmire of mediocre riffage. Technically, this is dynamic, big chorus rock but it exudes more addictive, thrilling, energising qualities than most. The grating, Blink 182-alike, stroppy teenagerisms have been dispensed With, replaced by everything from overwrmight retching to plaintive Mark Eit/el Whispers. Parading rushing, angular riffs laid into the familiar pop song frame, Deftones can congratulate themselves for successfully outmanoeuvring the pack. The only time they let us down is when they allow outsiders through the door, Tool's Maynard James Keenan adding his pompous roar to 'Passenger' marring what was seemingly a perfectly good track. Perfect is a bit much to ask I suppose. (Mark Robertson)

Various Artists

Nativity In Black II (Priority Records) ‘k * fir

Although you normally have to be dead before you have a tribute album made in your honour this is not the case for Black Sabbath With so many


Jurassic 5

Quality Control (lnterscope Records) * ‘k t *

They rule the (old) skool: Jurassic 5

Ever since Jurassic 5 strode into hip hop‘s arena with their self-titled EP in 1998, every subsequent release has been eagerly anticipated by all those hungry for another helping of their brand of fresh, vibrant and well-crafted, hip hop. Thankfully Quality Control does not disappoint. Its fifteen tracks constitute a funk-soaked, jazz-tinged, feelgood adventure in which mellow head nodders like ‘The World of Entertainment' rub shoulders with the tap dance mayhem of 'Swing Set.’ It's not all happy, happy. joy, joy though, the infinitely less whimsical ’Contribution' bluntly demands ‘what's your

contribution to life?’

JS's four MCs are musical all-rounders, writers of punchy and zestful lyrics, who are as adept at trading individual rhymes as they are producing sweet vocal harmonies, or weaving the two together (skills that are used to great effect on the title track). Their vocal acrobatics are backed up by deft, eclectic beats from Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark.

In their own words. ‘we are no superstars who want to be large and forget who we are', let’s hope they stay that way. (Dawn Kofie)

people desperate to worship at the altar of the Sabsters. Today's rockers such as Machine Head, Megadeth, Pantera and Slayer are out in force putting their own style and spin into those timeless classics like ’Never Say Die', ’Iron Man’ and Electric Funeral'. They are all good covers but even at the end of the day you still know who the real pioneers of rock are and these other chaps can only sniff at their greatness. All hail the Gods of metal. (Jane Hamilton)



Drama (Parlophone) at it at

British R&B. It's so downtrodden that the term verges on being an oxymoron. So desperate are we for a homegrown R&B star that every time someone With a decent vorce and a bit of savvy releases a single, they’re hastily crowned reigning monarch of the genre and hailed as its savrour At present Jamelia, a gamine nineteen- year-old from Brum, is Blighty's answer to Mary J Blige and Destiny's Child, current rulers of America's R&B roost It can't be denied that the lass has got a vorce belying her years, but her sound draws heavrly on the US scene This results in an album which, apart from the singles 'Money' and ’Call Me’, is chock full of downbeat numbers and heartfelt ballads. Although easy on the ear, none are partic ularly memorable. Only time Will tell if Jamelia \Vlll be able to play ball With her compaclres across

the pond. (Dawn Kofie)


Beenie Man

Art And Life (Virgin) * st * 1% at This little ragga muffin brings thick

chocolatey drawls Which reek of all the chronic authenticity of Jamaica. His signature eclectic, rough, rhythmic riding skills bring a bit of ‘2im zimma' to everyone. His JUICy frurts however, incorporate inconsistency. He devotes one tune to guns, the next to God, the next to girls, which is Why Art And Life Will be Widely accepted. It is an awesome one man show of spontaneous, rapid-fire toasting and singing skills With more inspiration from Cuban trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval, than guests Wyclef or ghetto diva, Maia. Whether chilling or partying, it exudes a feel good flava Which leaves you Ion, like a lion in

Zion (Angie Brown)

ELECTRONIC/POP Maher Shalal Hash Baz

From A Summer To Another Summer (An Egypt To Another Egypt) (Geographic) ‘k e ‘k it

It seems like a once-a-decade shot, from out of nowhere (aesthetically/ spatially) Maher Shalal Hash Baz have breathed transcendental Wisdom and Joy into blood-resonant gurtars, sweetly enunciated vocals and sad, melancholic brass in a way that’s guaranteed to make your average indie-consumer blush With guilt. From A Summer. . is