By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
Ten underrated discs of 1993:
1. Tony Rice, Tony Rice Plays and Sings Bluegrass. Fans of amphetamine ax men like Joe Satriani should check out the frighteningly fleet fingers of acoustic guitarist Tony Rice. This sleek and terminally melodic solo disc from Rice is miles from the often-deserved stereotype of bluegrass as boring, bucktoothed mountain music.
2. Last Exit, Headfirst Into the Flames--Live in Europe. Could be that the best metal band in the world is this all-star group of grandparent-aged jazzmen. Guitar masochist Sonny Sharrock rants alongside the schizo sax of Peter Brotzmann; Last Exit's vicious improvisations are as subtle to the ear as a wire brush, and prove that real meanness comes with age.
3. Tom Waits, The Black Rider. Yeah, rave reviews were given to this latest disc by Tom Waits, but not much was made of its perfect coupling of Waits with fascinating literary loon William S. Burroughs. Waits understands and matches Mr. Naked Lunch's weirdness like the Siamese twin Burroughs never had.
4. Black 47, Fire of Freedom. Now that ex-Pogue Shane MacGowan is dueting with a bottle of Jim Beam, Black 47 is left to represent the ire in Ireland. Fire is far from a perfect disc, but is much more in-yer-face than any of the bands on the Straight Outta Ireland compilations or the latest Pogues release.
5. Various Artists, Johnny Otis Presents the Best of Rhythm and Blues, Volumes 1-5. Five discs of classic R&B, first issued on Otis' Blues Spectrum label in 1977. Fifties West Coast R&B greats like Charles Brown and Pee Wee Crayton are here, as is the Johnny Otis version of "Willie and the Hand Jive," and "Louie, Louie," done by its writer, Richard Berry. 6. Various Artists, Modern A Cappella. Rhino has put out the ultimate sampler of a cappella. The usual names are here--the Nylons, Bobby McFerrin, the Persuasions--but the less obvious inclusions are what make this disc a treasure. The Roches' version of "The Hallelujah Chorus" and a cut from Todd Rundgren's little-heard 1985 a cappella album both get a second chance. Best of all is "Only You" by England's matchless Flying Pickets.
7. Various Artists, Black on White: Great R&B Covers of Rock Classics. If you think Ike and Tina Turner's cover of Creedence's "Proud Mary" is preferable to the original, here's a whole compilation of other R&B artists' smoking versions of rock tunes. Al Green does the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" and Otis Clay kills Sir Douglas Quintet's "She's About a Mover." Check out how Howard Tate turns "Girl From the North Country" into a beautiful soul ballad that even Dylan must find an improvement on his original.
8. Joao Gilberto, Amoroso/Brasil. For well over 30 years, Brazilian composer-singer-guitarist Joao Gilberto has made ultrasensual music without ever falling into the realm of cornball. Though he composed nary a track, they are all so personalized that you'd never guess it.
9. Mark Knopfler, Screenplaying. This is no Dire Straits album. It's even better. Never mind that you may not have seen any of the four sleeper films represented--Knopfler's haunting scores, from which these sample cuts were taken, will grab you hard, nonetheless. 10. Kip Hanrahan, Days and Nights of Blue Luck Inverted and Vertical's Currency. New York composer Kip Hanrahan has finally reissued two of his lusty, late-Eighties masterpieces on CD. Part spoken word, part sultry vocals, part solid jazz or Cuban rhythm, Hanrahan's discs are nasty and neurotic contemplations of a variety of obsessions. Troy Fuss, editor, State Press Magazine
1. Jerky Boys. Makes you want to pick up the phone and bug someone. Don't bother--these three New Yorkers, who apparently had too much time on their hands, turned the childhood prank into an art form.
2. Bettie Serveert, Palomine. These four Hollanders interpret America's greatest export with original intent.
3. William S. Burroughs, Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales. Uncle Bill's sardonic growls twist with the same pharmaceutical potency as his writing. The combination is highly addictive, and should be taken under strict supervision.
4. Various Artists, No Alternative. Goo Goo Dolls, Breeders and a secret Nirvana track lead the superb performances by some of the shrewdest players at the Nineties musical table.
5. Juliana Hatfield Three, Become What You Are. Don't let the little-girl voice fool you. Hatfield is all grown up, and can play with the big boys. 6. Breeders, Last Splash. Apparently, Kim Deal retained custody of the creativity when the Pixies split up. Fortunately, we all have visitation rights.
7. P.J. Harvey, Rid of Me. She is woman, hear her roar.
8. Tom Waits, The Black Rider. Eat your Beefheart out, Captain. Theme music for greasy diners and alibis for restless wanderers. More true Americana on every track than a full season of The Andy Griffith Show. 9. BLS Isolationist Combo, I'll Be Right Back . . . . A laid-back veneer of instrumentation covers subversive and sneaky lyrics. Listening in the car may cause you to forget where you're going.
10. Didjits, Que Sirhan Sirhan. Eleven songs in 24 minutes. More effective than coffee in the morning--and much more fun.