Home! Home! Interactive Williamsburg Our Gallery Guide Local Restaurant Guide F. Sot Fitzgerald's Local Bar Guide Arts and Entertainment Picks Free Williamsburg's Online Gallery Film Reviews Alexander Laurence interviews the stars Music Reviews Book Reviews Crazy, funny, often pointless links talk to us Still Fresh

Sick of innovation? Want to fill out the glaring spaces your catalogue? Want something you know you're going to like? Then come rolling down those steps into the dungeun of the slightly cheaper. We'll have something you like. Of course, there is a price. A slightly reduced price.

Slint
7,816 out of 10,000
Spiderland

Yes! I got in a discount bin! Suckers!

"This Record was meant to be listened to on vinyl." The stark courier font reads on the back of this disc. So I bought the CD and taped it for my walkman. Don't tell me how to get my kicks.

From the first harmonic notes, this fully realized album lays out a whole new approach which laid the basis for "Post Rock". Who came up with that name? It's horrible. You don't name a musical movement like it's a style of painting. You call it Hip Hop, Be Bop, Funk, Skiffle, Punk, Ragtime, or even Grunge. Charlie Parker didn't play "Post Jazz" and it's time that droning, symphonic unbeat driven Rock gets a new Moniker. How about "Couch"? No, too loungy. "Drool"? Well the stuff often seems tailor made for drug use. How about "Hoop Drop"? Or how about just calling it "Spidertime"?

It's amazing how effective these guys are, with such a limited palette. There are the harmonics, some dark slow chugging chords, some weirdly angled notes and the immaculate pauses. By stretching out each song with extreme patience, there grows a continuous feeling that anything can happen. The songs might drift away, they might explode into groaning screams, or they might just keep chugging. The band doesn't mind. They're on to something.

There's a real sense that all six songs are one long symphony, and that this is a masterpiece. It's not a beach party, and I like fun, and there might be a little too much talking, so I deducted a couple thousand points. It's probably 9,887 points if you listen to it on vinyl.

Leon Redbone
No Regrets
6,894 out of 10,000

This is a bit of a departure for Leon Redbone, as, instead of his unique take on turn of the century Delta flavors, he goes for a complete stylistic makeover, with an arsenal of synthesizers. There are far more rap guest artists than one would expect, except that this record was recorded in 1988. So the appearance of KRS-1, while perhaps misguided, makes contextual sense.

Actually, that's all lies. Leon Redbone employ his unique take on turn of the century Delta flavors, emphasizing great taste and execution over innovation. If this is a little too sedate that's not such a sin when the music was made for hammocks and lemonades.

Redbone probably isn't really some Kentucky Colonel. He might not really be a bluesman, or a bluegrassman. He's probably a faker, but fakery has been much maligned in our literal society. He's such a distinctive put on, and he puts it on with such technique and love that he's become an authentic American voice. A low froglike, as opposed to froggy voice. He's so good that when he covers "Are You Lonesome Tonight" he doesn't seem at all like Elvis. Of course there's a fiddle solo instead of a long purple monologue, which helps.

He used to do those Budweiser commercials. Back in college, I would sing the "Bud Song" from my childhood, thinking of Redbone. The meatheads down the hall would yell out "Hey Bud Man! Sing the song!" and being the people pleaser I would. That has nothing to do with anything.
"She Aint Rose" kicks it off, signaling my review. There are better Leon Redbone albums out there, such as Sugar and From Branche to Branche, but if those albums are like the missing Rose in this song, "She ain't Rose/ She ain't bad/ and Rose ain't here".

Starship
Greatest Hits: 1979-1991 (Ten Years and Change)
unknown rating (Maybe 600 and change)

No, I didn't get it. I mean, it would be funny to be able to play "We Built This City" at will (it is, after all the worst song of the '80s), but I'm not spending $5.99 on a joke disc. But oh, my little CD, when you get the markdown to $1.99, you know I'll be waiting. There's "No Way Out", little CD. Marconi plays the mamba…

mAKE UP
Destination Love
7,987 out of 10,000

How do lose a CD? It's 4" X 4" dammit! It has to be somewhere in my apartment. I don't think I took it anywhere. Sounded good when I had it. I keep checking the other mAKE UP CD's in my collection. Sound Verite which I found in the same discount bin. Oh Sound Verite you looked so very crappy on the outside, such low budget red and black graphics. You looked as though you'd been knocked out in a day. You probably were, with that resonating live sound, so purely analog, so punkfully soul. You even stole an Al Green beat, down to the cymbal splash. "Hot Coals", "Gold Record Parts I and II". How James Brown! Ian Svenonius shrieking in paroxysms of channelled anguish. Not just a decent/horrible cheap record, but an actual discovery! How I wanted more. I even bought Save Yourself at full price. Ah, Save Yourself, with your high budget red and black graphics. "I am Pentagon" is the greatest geometry as love metaphor song ever written, and that phone call at the end of your "Hey Joe" cover is mustlistenalicious. Oh Sound Verite, oh Save Yourself, where is your sister album? Is it in one of my sportscoats? Where is Destination Love?

 

The Beatles
Rubber Soul
9,996 out of 10,000

Yes! I got it in a discount bin! Suckers! Well, that shows what wonders you can find. I've never owned this one. I've heard it, of course, a while back, but not in this, the British version. Here there is no "I've Just Seen A Face" or "It's Only Love" while there is "Drive My Car", "Nowhere Man" and "What Goes On". I couldn't go back. Here is the most important band of all time as they become something other and higher than they were. It is Rock & Roll godhood in adolescance. The mop-topped chart toppers turn into long haired long players.

Listening to the Beatles can make you a child, and start analyzing them from the viewpoint that they really all lived together in that mansion from "Help!" and that all the songs are really about other Beatles. I felt that way even on their solo albums, well into my maturity. In my mind, not only was Imagine's "How Can You Sleep" directed at Paul, with its mean barbs, but also, in a more oblique way, so was "Jealous Guy", one song later. "I was dreaming of the past/And my heart was beating fast/I bagan to lose control" what else could it be? It would be such a wonderful retraction, And of course these things are true. As Alan Moore explains in his Top 10 comic book, as Myths, Loki is always tricking Tiw into slaying Baldar. Likewise, John and Paul are eternally vieing for control over the spirit of the Beatles, as George and Ringo play their more limited roles.

Rubber Soul is magic for it's balance. New Beatles emerge from the old. Toughness and tenderness play together. Folk Indian and drug influenced music weave songs together subtly, to make a wonderfully blended pop, rather than rip the album apart, as on the gloriously off balance Revolver. John Becomes Paul and likewise as George becomes both and Ringo remains forever Ringo.

The album starts with Paul topping himself on "Drive My Car". It rocks, and he's singing joyously in his rough voiced psuedosoul. Any other band would have totally mined the concept of "Yeah" long before, and any other band would be thrilled with a hook like "Beep beep 'n beep beep" but the Beatles combine and improve both.

Then John signals a whole new darkness in childlike rhymes on his folky song about adultery and arson, "Norwegian Wood". Paul pops back "You Won't See Me". Is that drugs dragging out the notes on the chorus, as they dripped slowly through Paul's head? The notes are in little pools on "Nowhere Man" Lennon's nursery rhyme for Mr. Jones.

Harrison's first offering "Think For Yourself" is a straight out finger pointing song, full of sneering. Probably the darkest thing the maniacs had heard from the Fab Four. It's as if he's trying to be Lennon, or maybe Dylan. He can't quite do it, but he comes close, in an overdone meanness.

As if to compensate, John becomes Paul, singing an upbeat and sunshine filled ode to Love, "The Word". As if complacent in victory, Paul tosses of the genuinely sappy, though certainly beautiful, "Michelle". As this album is always happening, always being made, John has to be chaffing at this bit of sentimentality, even if he now understands that "the word is good." Still, we will have to wait for his response, as Ringo sings a country song, "What Goes On". Ah Ringo. What a lovely, comedic voice. What a refreshment of the palate. Now what will John do?

"Girl" is so amazing in how it melts sugar into a song of such distress. The weird breathing seems natural, and this dark story goes down like honey. Lennon even makes you feel love for this girl even as she breaks her lovers working class back. A wonder.

Paul rocks back with anger on "I'm Looking Through You". Again, are these songs about women or each other? Either way, it looks as if the edgier, Lennonier side has won. But wait! Once again John surrenders the edge, showing his sweetness and vulnerability on "In My Life", a love song to someone and everyone. It makes me cry.

Of course it's way oversimple to tag Paul with love and John with edge. But we've come this far, and like most oversimplifications, it helps the story. Thusly, Paul, all happy with the Love side of the Beatles Intact, ends his contributions with a sort of sea chantey, "Wait". It's short simple and perfect. All is well with the balance. Even George, becomes both John and Paul, together, just not as good, on "If I Needed Someone" On this song he tries to sing a love song, and fails, instead sneering at someone he'd rather not be bothered with, because he's so much in love. If "In My Life" is a love song to someone and everyone, this is a nowhere song for nobody. I would say it's a bad Beatles song.

Funny thing just happened. I've been clawing my way through the upper membranes of Hell, and have just gotten back to my computer. Seems I've just spent an instant eternity of damnation. Hmm. Now where was I? Oh yes. John and Paul become each other, George becomes John and Paul, and a perfectly balanced masterpiece, one that I got on the relative cheap, draws to a close.

Oh, and on "Run For Your Life" John threatens murder. End of album.


Advertise with us