How much water can one ex-Eagle tread? Prior to all of last year's Eagles reunion by-products, Frey released a Greatest Hits--Live album. Now here comes its studio equivalent, minus all the Eagles stuff on which Frey's dead ass and reputation still coast. For an entire lackluster solo career, Frey has operated under the foolhardy notion that if you pile on enough saxes, horns and Hammond B3 organs, sooner or later somebody's gonna mistake you for Otis Redding. A more "soulless" collection would be hard to imagine. "This Way to Happiness" sounds suspiciously like something you've heard a million times before, as if Frey wrote new lyrics to an ABCO food-store jingle. Ditto for "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed," a room-temperature rewrite of "Fever." For Frey completists who must own all things Glenn, the biggest disappointment will be the glaring omission of "Livin' Right," his embarrassing Jack La Lanne jingle! What a gyp! Buy this tripe and you'll only be contributing to a washed-up Eagle's early retirement fund.--
(Au Go Go)
The lovely ladies of Japan's 184.108.40.206's have been around for almost a decade and have now found themselves at the forefront of the latest "garage rock" (or "shit rock," if you prefer) revival. Yet the trio is not so much paying homage to the three-chord heroes of the early Sixties as claiming the twang and dirt as their own. And dumping it all, along with equal helpings of surf and cheese, into their own unique, clattering garbage can of sound.
Like Can't Help It!, the band's previous long-player, The 220.127.116.11's is guided by basement-production values and loaded with skanky hits. The cover tunes are well-chosen, from the opener, a rockified "Harlem Nocturne," to Freddy Cannon's "Tallahassee Lassie," punctuated by vocalist Chellio Panther's robust screams of death on every other bar. "One Potato" fits here as the band's punchy answer to its compatriot skag-queen rivals Supersnazz; the song one-ups the 'snazz wenches on who really owns "papa-ooo-mow-mow" nowadays.
The killer cuts, though, are the originals. "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield" conjures up images of the corn-fed cutie herself, with a guitar line that could be straight from the She Freak soundtrack. "Cat Fight Run" is another slice of sick perfection, a fuzzed-up surf/drag instrumental, a motor booty affair of another kind.
In short, what's not to worship? The 18.104.22.168's present the exciting new sounds of three decades ago, welcome relief in the current wash of so much sludgy hoo-ha.-
The least appreciated period of Hendrix's musical career was also his most documented. Producer Alan Douglas, given access to the Hendrix estate's voluminous tape archives, released a barrage of tedious albums following the Voodoo Chile's death. They contained everything Jimi may have whistled, strummed and moaned in an after-hours jam session. Some releases like Midnight Lightning and Crash Landing even erased parts by Hendrix's original sidemen, Mitch Mitchell and Buddy Miles, in favor of L.A. session musicians. It's a wonder Douglas didn't set music to Jimi's press conferences and try to palm them off as newly discovered tracks.
MCA's reissue series has done a lot to right the numerous wrongs wrought by Douglas' bungling of the Hendrix catalogue. Voodoo Soup starts from square one in its earnest attempt to approximate what might have been The First Rays of the New Rising Sun, the double album Hendrix was working on at the time of his death. This CD contains nearly all of The Cry of Love, the first and best of the posthumous Hendrix albums. Alongside that album's stellar tracks are such worthy accomplices as "Message to Love" and "Midnight," which were squandered on now best-forgotten LPs. Even with its amateurish album cover, Voodoo Soup is a superb musical statement which stacks up favorably to the three Experience studio albums that had Hendrix's full participation. 'scuse me while I kiss this CD!--Serene Dominic
Blonder and Blonder
Although the Muffs parody the Pretenders' first album cover inside this release's insert, Kim Shattack's songwriting owes more spiritually to Wreckless Eric than to Chrissie Hynde. If Screamin' Jay Hawkins were a girl fronting the Damned and covering Freddie and the Dreamers songs, it would probably sound something like this. In other words--fuckin' great! Fourteen ferocious and frivolous punk-pop tunes in little more than a half-hour, from the only band that has an official sweat shirt with a Claudine Longet album cover on it. What more do you need to know?--Serene Dominic
The buzz about this band is that it's the second coming of the Replacements, only this time with pedal-steel guitars. If that sounds more like the second coming of All Shook Down, the Replacements' in-name-only swan song, well, yeah, it does. "I Must Be High" is an undeniably catchy loser-in-love song which could have slotted effortlessly on that LP. But after a few tunes, you'll tire of hearing the whining of underachievers that Jeff Tweedy, this band's idea man, delights in championing--losers who blame their every failure on an inability to resist hops and barley. It's hard to sympathize with someone whose driver's license has been revoked bitching about having to always ride on the "Passenger Side." As if the slacker set needed its own version of Vince "I'll drive, you pay for the beer" Neil! To paraphrase Westerberg, "Someone take the wheel." Here's one A.M. you won't have trouble sleeping through.--Serene Dominic
It was General Boy, Devo's spiritual leader, who said that most artists and entertainers are just good-looking guys and gals who can't hold down real jobs. The members of Brit crew Elastica have a bit more going for them than just sloth and looks, though. In fact, they've formed a rather engaging pop group whose debut disc is not half-bad.
Elastica has listed Wire, the Fall, and the Stranglers as its forerunners, but most of these songs owe more to the Beatles (in particular, the one named Harrison) than to any of the arty farts of the early Eighties. Take "Line Up," the disc's first cut, as an example. The edgy number has a feel and tempo filched from the quiet Beatle's "Taxman." Then there's "Indian Song," whose tabla beats and droning vocals are directly down the caste chain from "Within You, Without You."
A Stranglers influence can be felt, though, in the trebly, hammering bass lines of virtually every song here, particularly in the bright synth fills of "Connection," and in the entire structure of "Waking Up." The latter sounds like something from the Stranglers' No More Heros, as if Stranglers vocalist Hugh Cornwell had been on helium instead of just acid. If there's a touch of Wire, it's in the compactness of the compositions.
Most of the great moments on Elastica can be found in the repackaged A-sides of the band's first four singles. Beyond that, there are simply pleasant, fuzzed-out jingles while the great moments are busy not appearing.--Shawn Swagerty
Pavement hasn't ditched the Sonic Youth and Fall shticks that got it so far on Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain; the band has merely diluted these bits with some Kinks, some Captain Beefheart, some country-rock stylings, and a few quirks that are actually its own.
The voice of Steve Malkmus, for instance, is his and only his. The singer delivers the bulk of his odd poetics as if he were horizontal in a lukewarm tub. The unique guitar lines that spice up both the perky and the lazy pieces have grown more exaggerated, and the chancy production shows that the four-track, lo-fi aesthetic lives on.
That is to say that Pavement's still finding new ways to do exactly what's expected of it. Like Sonic Youth and the Fall, the group extrapolates and expounds more than it evolves. Fine, just fine--it works for it.--Shawn Swagerty
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Mavis Piggott is the band name, apparently plucked at random--or so legend has it--from a dime-store romance novel. What's certain is that the six short, powerful songs on this debut from the Seattle duo of Nicky Thomas and Meghan Atkins show smarts about dynamics and melody that so many in the Northwest contingent just haven't displayed.
For purposes of comparison, say Mavis Piggott is like Luscious Jackson, only with a base of loud, tuneful rock rather than a foundation of soul and hip-hop. Themes range from the quotidian to the sublime, and encompass spiritual, sexual and social ambivalence, fatigue, frustration and assertiveness.
The music pushes and pulls, surges and ebbs with a little feedback, but nary a lurch. The five-chord guitar descent that opens "Cobalt," the eerie refrain on "Sirens" and the bruising verses of "Late Bloom" each make declarations that are beyond words. Now that's what music is supposed to do, isn't it?--Shawn Swagerty