Recordings

Nature will deserve a harder look once the band learns to mix its speeds. Manic, thrill-kill vibes abound here, but the aggression turns excessively campy and cartoonish without a breather. In the end, all tension and no relief make Nature a dull outing.--Ted Simons

Nature is scheduled to perform on Sunday, October 29, at Electric Ballroom in Tempe. Call for showtime.

Blind Boys of Alabama
I Brought Him With Me
(House of Blues)

Who wouldn't be in church every Sunday if his house of worship offered the kind of foot-stompin', get-on-up gospel that vocalist Clarence Fountain and friends have been preaching for almost 60 years now?

Even the most fervent nonbelievers will have a hard time resisting the powerhouse six-part harmonies and deeply funky guitar/bass/drums instrumentation on the Blind Boys' first-ever live album. Guest appearances by Koko Taylor and Solomon Burke help take this album to the promised land.

With the exception of the pensive, a cappella "Listen to the Lambs," I Brought Him With Me speaks the good word over hot grooves worthy of James Brown's back-up band, the J.B.s. "Didn't It Rain" recounts the tale of the Biblical flood in front of righteous keyboards and a speedy snare, while "He's Got What I Want" jumps along with such a funkadelic bop that it's hard to believe the chorus is praising God and not sins of the flesh. Somebody get a witness already.--Matt Golosinski

Vince Neil
Carved in Stone
(Warner Bros.)

Nobody extends a hand to fallen stars like Americans. This very evening, O.J. is free to start beating up Paula Barbieri, Michael Jackson is reportedly globetrotting with little boys, and Vince Neil has just released his second solo album. Neil exists to the chagrin of fans of Hanoi Rocks, whose drummer died nine years ago when a drunken Neil slammed his sports car into a concrete wall.

Probably no one was more surprised by Neil's self-resurrection than the tattooed dumbos in Mtley Cre, who bounced Mr. Vehicular Manslaughter out on his spandexed derrire in 1992. Perhaps they were expecting a replay of the post-David Lee Roth/Van Halen saga. Too bad Mick Mars can't hold a stage prop candelabra to Eddie Van.

Last year, the Mtleys got so desperate for headlines that they heralded that earplugs are sold at every Mtley Cre concert--a gripping human-interest story only the androids at Entertainment Tonight fell for.

Who'd-a thunk Vince Neil would emerge from all the bullshit smelling like a rose? What smarts he lacks in driving skills he more than makes up for in the studio. Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of people out there who not only still like metal, they luuuuve it! The huge hook on "The Rift" sounds like it could be off the Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest, while "Find a Dream" mates Jane's Addiction drones with L.A. riot samples straight outta Public Enemy. On "One Less Mouth to Feed," Neil actually approximates a Steven Tyler vocal (i.e., he finally sounds like he can carry a tune).

This is a crystal-clear production with some impeccable harmonies and surprisingly little dross. If you're willing to forgive yet another celebrity his sins, Carved in Stone is one guilty pleasure you'll hate yourself for enjoying. Ah, g'won, party like it's 1984.--Serene Dominic

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