LISA EKDAHL Lisa Ekdahl Sings Salvadore Poe (BMG)
A Swedish superstar with an especially strong French fan-base. Ekdahl is a Nordic beauty with a fetching. breathy little- girl voice. Previous recordings have exploited her equal facility for pop and jazz standards. Here she drifts and swings through bubbly and reflective compositions by New York hubby Poe. who also plays guitar. The style — bossa nova a la Astrud Gilberto - has a neo-classic cool that sometimes borders on easy-listening background blandness. with lyrics of occasional lovey-dovey banality. But it's a likeable collection of tracks. sunny and mellow. yet containing a welcome tincture of the bittersweet.
TOM TOM CLUB The Good The Bad And The Funky (RYKODISC) .....
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They may have been away for eight years but. by God are they back now! The Good The Bad And The Funky is a joyous explosion of reggae. funk. drum and bass. ska. and good old-fashioned pop which you'll ﬁnd extremely difﬁcult. if not impossible. to remove from your stereo. Having inﬂuenced artists from Grandmaster Flash to Mariah Carey. Tom Tom Club show who their own musical heroes are with a trance-style cover of Donna Summer's “Love To Love You Baby' and a version of Lee
Perry's ‘Soul Fire'.
E Good? Yes. Funky?
Definitely. Bad? Only in
the fly sense of the
word. (Kirsty Knaggs)
As Good As It Gets - The Greatest Hits (Universal) ...
Do we really need a Gene greatest hits collection? If precedent is any guide. Shed Seven did get away with it last year. and while Gene were no Smiths. they were always a cut above that particular band of simian journeymen. They weren't exactly experimental. and their rather lumbering sound never attracted too many imitators. but this compilation shows that when their tracks worked. as with the regal ‘Olympian' and the touching ‘I Can't Help Myself'. Gene's fusion of the tender and the muscular could be truly effective. Elsewhere. this compilation is dull as dishwater. but then that was Britpop for you. (James Smart)
POODLE ROCK BON JOVI One Wild Night (Mercury) .
Live albums are ropy affairs even if you‘re not a piss-poor poodle- haired rawk band. This live trawl through Bon Jovi's back catalogue brings back unhappy memories. and amazingly makes them sound even worse than normal. All the tight- trousered mince is here. from the early Van Halen wannabe of ‘Runaway' to the hilarious Charlatans rip-off of ‘Keep The Faith'. all of it pompous tripe. And for those who keep note of musical crimes. there's even a massacre of Neil Young's 'Rockin' In the Free World'. and a laughable version of ‘I Don't Like Mondays' by Boomtown Rats. One
106 THE LIST 24 May-7 Jun 2001
Wild Night? One pile of shite. more like. (Doug Johnstone)
Psycho Poetry (Twenty Stone Blatt Records) ...
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Spiky pop punk all the way from . . . Glasgow. This three-piece are influenced more by the current US movement than UK punk from the days of yore. Opener ‘Better Off Alone' sets the tone: spunky. in your face up-beat tracks complete with catchy shout—along choruses and a harsh guitar edge. This formula is even applied to their irreverent cover of the Cheers theme tune. another highlight. Far better than The Offspring but not quite up there with Green Day. Given time this band could go far 'cos Britain's crying out for a great punk act to call their own.
BEN HARPER Live From Mars (Virgin) ...
Through his three studio g
albums. Harper has been notable for taking the booze out of blues- rock and giving it an almost spiritual resonance. The guitar- heavy first disc of this double album features backing from his band. the Innocent Criminals. but it is the second. acoustic half that gives the delicate nuances of Harper's songwriting room to breathe. with ‘Walk Away' and the rousing ‘l'll Rise' particularly effective. His
"cover versions are
rather less inspired. a stagnant reworking of “Sexual Healing' and an insipid ‘The Drugs Don't Work' hardly redeemed by the spectacular.
ROCK POP REM Reveal (Warner) ....
That ‘difficult’ twelfth album then. and another experimental toe in the water for REM. The electronic dabblings of 1999’s Up are expanded here. but whereas that album dug up brilliant gems in dark. -. claustrophobic valleys, Reveal snatches at brilliance from sunny plateaux. Transcendence is Stipe's theme of the day, which couples with spacious production to best effect on the album’s opener, ‘The Lifting’ - a song already containing the hallmarks of an REM classic.
Another outstanding example of
where the band are heading is
‘Saturn Retum’. a delicate piano
: and vocal melody resting on layers of looped interference. beats and
For all its progression, Reveal also nods back to earlier material: the glittering, endearing road song . ‘Reno’ wouldn’t be out of place on 1997’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi; the haunting ‘Disappear’ is a twice- removed relation of ‘Try Not To Breathe’; and most interestingly. the skewed folk of “Chorus And The Ring’. stripped bare, could have made it onto Murmur.
But with such breadth of sound Reveal suffers from a lack of real cohesion,
I bar the thread of magic that characterises any REM album. The given
impression is that there were too many ideas, an assumption underlined by the general busyness of the mix which sometimes overcrowds the melody
g and vocals. Stipe’s lyrics are also lacking the certain sense of intimacy that is
one of his winning trademarks, and one reason his human voice and
concerns worked so well over the electronics of Up.
' Not a masterpiece then, just a good, interesting album. Barely a revelation,
. but more than enough to keep us attentive. (Jan F. Zeschky)
No new adventures for REM
TaXI. Wholly unoriginal. but rather likeable. (Miles Fielder)
rumbling cover of
| 'Whole Lotta Love' that closes Disc One.
I (James Smart)
ELECTRONlC/SOUL ERO 7
1 Simple Things (Ultimate
ELECTRONIC/POP VIOLET INDIANA
ROCK ~ IGGY POP Roulette (Bella Union) Beat 'Em Up (Virgin) ...
.. — “ "“ Not really as clever as it thinks it is this is the debut album from the collaboration that is; Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau Twms; and Siobhan De Mare of Mono. It all begs to be called haunting and Lynchian with mini- evocations of roadtrips through Utah via POrtiShead. the trouble is it really isn't that good. Though lovingly produced and textured Guthrie has here failed to Instill any of the passion he brought to his Lush or Felt productions. This is a dish best served cold. but having said that. “Feline Or Famine”. ‘Powder River' and ‘Killer Eyes' all bubble with a sort of Ricky Lee Jones caught on a deserted highway charm. (Paul Dale)
The old should be seen and not heard on planet 7 pop — and increasingly. Mr Pop himself has
I proved no exception. The man who once declaimed the lyrics to ‘No Fun' with such nihilistic conviction is now reduced to chanting 'It looks like shit. it tastes like shit. it must be shit' on the revealing ‘lt‘s All Shit'. and the chemical wreck who practically invented punk with The Stooges now sounds like a pissed-up pub rocker. Beat ‘Em Up is not a good album. and only the wry cynicism of ‘V.l.P.' and the sheer
malignance of ‘Savior' save it from being a
terrible one. Time for
another Bowie collaboration. perhaps? 1 (James Smart)
You'd be happy sitting
under a tree at the top
of a graSSy hill With a
bottle of wine on a
breezy Summer‘s day
; listening to this record. On the new Air. or
i English'Air. or whatever
; you want to call them’s
' debut. y0u'll chill to
cheesy listening. prog
rock. R88. trip hop. world music. the 708 American cop movie
(my favourite. on “End
Theme') and. well. Air
(all over the place but
immediately on opener 'I Have Seen'). And there
are enough retro organ
melodies to make you
wonder why they didn't go right ahead and cover the theme tune to