as innovative as ‘The Mandrake Club' (featuring Norman Blake on guitar somewhere in the depths of it) are lost in an untenable dream world where music doesn't actually exist. (Tim Abrahams)
Low Kick And Hard Bop (Matador) on
Elisabeth Esselink's third missive from her Amsterdam sound collage dungeon is. like the Avalanches album. either a collection of brilliantly meshed samples or blatant thievery depending on how you see it. but as tends to be the case with these albums. Low Kick And Hard Bop is a hit-and-miss affair. When the overdriven harmonicas and slide guitars of the title track do battle with random breakbeats and brass stabs. the mind conjures up images of Captain Beefheart doing an all- nighter down the studio with DJ Shadow. ‘Have You No Shame. Girl?‘ pleasantly recalls the light funky feel of Cibo Matto or Le Tigre
without straying too
close to the big beat
corpse. but the overall experience is draining. This record is surely one or two samples over the legal limit. (Steven Clark)
COUNTRY VARIOUS ARTISTS
Down From The Mountain
(Lost Highway) 0”.
I Typical. Wouldn't you
just know it would take a George Clooney film to open people's ears to the neglected heartland of American music? But anyone who enjoyed O Brother, Where Art Thou? should fall on this DA. Pennebaker-filmed Nashville concert in which producer T-Bone Burnett reunites many of that film's musicians. Acoustically, with old- style microphones. they take on new songs and rework favourites: Emmylou Harris joins Gillian Welch and David Rawlings for Green Pastures. and most poignantly. there is the wonderful John Hartford.
who died amid a rush of
In 1991. My Bloody Valentine's lon
long-overdue recognition. (Ninian Dunnett)
CARLOS SANTANA Divine Light (Columbia/Legacy) COO
Carlos Santana gets the big billing on the 70s pastiche fold-out cover. but the small print reveals that this project is another of Bill Laswell's ‘reconstruction and mix translations'. in a similar vein to his earlier Miles Davis project. Pantha/assa. The mix- master has chosen material from a couple of Santana's most jazz- oriented albums. Love Devotion Surrender (1973). with John McLaughlin and Larry Young. and Illuminations (1974), his collaboration with Alice Coltrane. The 'reconstructions' are not as immediately striking as those on the Miles disc. but Laswell's take on the music creates a Suitably spacy, energised. and
g awaited album Loveless bombed on its
release. Creation Records was quick to point out that the critically acclaimed. shoegazing classic had fallen on ears that were deaf to sonic assaults but alive to the new funked-up indie played by the Mondays and the Roses. Yet a few months before Love/ess's failure. Creation had released the debut album by shoegazing throwbacks Ride and the indie faithful had gone nuts for it. It's hard to think of a band who launched themselves with a sound so out of step with prevailing musical fashion yet who still managed to be as successful as Ride. OX4 — The Best Of Bide, proves that they were at their best when they had this attitude. ‘Taste', “Vapour Trail“ and 'Dreams Burn Down' (all from Nowhere) are the highlights here and the tunes which sound the freshest. especially when compared to their response to Britpop. When they converted. with 1994's Carnival Of Light. to Oasis-style retro. they produced the odd stunner (‘From Time To Time“ and ‘Black Night Crash') but it all seemed a bit cynical and unsuited to the delicate voice of Mark Gardener. The box set. including a quality album of unreleased material and a weaker ‘Iive at Reading' affair merely serve to bear this out. (Tim Abrahams)
generally intriguing soundscape. If the Miles project is a guide. expect the remix album next. (Kenny Mathieson)
JAZZ SPRING HEEL JACK
Masses (Blue Series) 0000
Something of a departure for the Spring Heel Jack duo of John Coxon and Ashley Wales. Avant-jazz pianist Matthew Shipp has gathered a crew of cutting edge free jazz and free improvisation players for this album in Thirsty Ear's new The Blue Series. which Shipp curates. The duo's pulsing ambient soundscapes provide a surprisingly compatible backdrop for some fiercely abstract improvisation from the likes of Shipp. saxophonists Evan Parker and Tim Berne.
- trumpeter Roy
Campbell, and violinist Mat Maneri. among others. The reSults generally avoid the chalk-and-cheese non- union which is the fate of many such projects. Wonh checking out. from either side of the fence.
Laurie Anderson Life On A String (Nonsuch) Mrs Lou Reed returns with her first studio album in years.
Embrace lf You've Never Been (Hut) Erstwhile epic indie purveyors prove they're worth more than their first few hits with their third album.
Zeke Death Alley (Epitaph) A quartet of escaped convicts (well, they look like convicts) stomp out some hillbilly punk rock.
Various Artists Disco Kandi (Hed Kandi) More sugary sweet. grinding disco house flavours from this reliable series. Various Artists Ibiza (Perfecto) A varied breaks and trance selection from the crown prince of the white island.
No doubt it’s Skinny
Cover of the week undoubtedly goes to Skinny with ‘Sweet Thing' (Cheeky OOO ). two ten- year-old boys monkeylight one another's cigarettes — this sort of thing must be encouraged. Unfortunately the contents will have yOU hugging yOur old George McCrae records remembering those warm blooded soul times. Northern Irish soft cockers Relish cross the desert wrth an Arab man on their gospel tinged 'Rainbow Zephyr‘ (EMl OOO ). Which is actually much better than hanging 0th with Fife rockers Aieris whose new single ‘SophomOre' (No Label .0 ) is too much like being made to pick up the soap in the prison showers by that retard who fronts Muse. Painful and far too long.
Lemar's ‘Got Me Saying Ooh' (BMG O l will have yOu wondering how y0u can close those garage doors forever. Travis's 'Side' (lndependientie O. ) must have John Lennon quaking in his rotting sneakers with prescient lines like ‘We all live under the same sky'. No shit Fran.
If this is all too much for you. you c0uld always head for Tijuana with the Angry Mexican DJs. 'I Like It Funky' (Palm Pictures .0. ) is silly disco with a chilli con carnage twist. a little like Inner City taking heaps of mescaline and pillaging a brass band. Macy Gray's ‘Sweet Baby' (Sony 0... ) featuring Erykah Badu is anthemic. populist and quite divine. Ben and Jason's ‘The Wild Things‘ (Go Beat .0. ) sounds like late Dexy's without the schiZOphrenic paranOIa. so quite bland then. While the Manic Street Preacher's ‘Let Robeson Sing‘ (Epic COO ) is a passionate agit pop ode to Paul Robeson couched in a Manfred Mann riff.
Demon Seed. Demon Seed. the drum takes over in Love Tattoo's 'Drop The Drums' (Positiva COO ). Single Of The Fortnight is Everything YOu Need To Survwe' by Nibushi Shang Hong (Hong O... ). This IS lovingly constructed indie pOp that scunds like Costello and smells like early Bluetones. Someone ought to tell Spek the Daisy Age is over ‘Look Me Up' (Echo O. ) l w0uldn't bother. I'd rather spend two hours in the Edinburgh Dungeons with third-rate theSpians than have to listen to Victoria Beckham's ‘Not Such An Innocent Girl' (EMl O ) again. More blunted rubbish from i'iber pop thug Brian Harvey and his Refugee Crew. this time restless Fugee WyclLffe Jean gets in on the act. ‘Lovrng You' (Edel O ) is of c0urse dire. Baby Jupiter's The Shivering EP (Chrysalis 0.. l is Goldfrapptastic — come back Sandy Denny all is forgiven. Cosmic Rough Riders continue to camp out on Creedence Clearwater ReVival's lawn with the solidly uninspiring 'The Pain lnsrde' (Poptones OOO ).
But let's end on a high note. Starsailor's ‘Alcoholic' (Chrysalis O... l is lovely. in that low rent Neil Young way and Animal Ant Farm‘s cover of Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal' (SKG OOOO ) is great and stupid in that 'how long can I keep my head in the oven?’ kind of way. (Paul Dale)
(3 Strum) Sep 2001 THE LIST 105