After 365 days and nearly that many albums listened to, the Sun Tracks staff (with a little help from their friends) gets serious and decides on the best of 1992. Robert Baird
Sun Tracks editor
1. Jimmy Scott, All the Way (Reprise). Album of the millennium. Lured out of retirement by the prospect of finally making a recording the right way, Scott delivered one of the moodiest, sexiest, most stylish vocal albums ever made. Standards like Sammy Cahn's "All the Way" and Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" sound refreshingly new, thanks to Scott's gift for phrasing. Arrangements by Johnny Mandel and others are top-drawer. And having Ron Carter and David "Fathead" Newman in the band doesn't hurt, either. Listen closely for the sound of a crackling fire and a muffled bearskin rug.
2. Flaco Jimenez, Partners (Warner Bros.). There are those who would buy this one for the guest list--Stephen Stills, Dwight Yoakam, Linda Ronstadt, John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Emmylou Harris and Los Lobos. But that would be missing the point: After 20 years as undisputed "El Rey" of the accordion, Flaco signs with the only major label intelligent enough to produce him, and hits a home run his first time at bat. All the duets here work, but Flaco's pairing with Cooder on "The Girls From Texas" and with Harris on Butch Hancock's "West Texas Waltz" shine brightest. If you think conjunto is a second-class regional music that sounds too much like a polka, think again. All hail the king!
3. Buffalo Tom, Let Me Come Over (Beggars Banquet/RCA). Finally clear of the Dinosaur Jr. comparisons, this Beantown trio reaches a new level of promise: buzz-saw pop that builds and crashes in Hsker Desque splendor. White guitar noise doesn't get any better than this. Great songs, better vocals and a lot more meat and trimmings than Nirvana can even begin to imagine. "Tailights" and "Mineral" tie for the year's best alternative tune.
4. Soul Asylum, Grave Dancers Union (Columbia/Sony). The year's runner-up in the Replacements-Hsker D-Byrds derby, one of this land's best bands sidesteps nonsense about selling out and makes yet another outstanding disc. Here Soul Asylum has it both ways: manicured pop tunes next to structureless feedback sludge, all done with big production values. Dave Pirner's vocals have come a long way. And Danny Murphy's guitars now tower at least six stories high.
5. Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience (A&M). Local band? What local band? Tempe's own has become a full-fledged national act with a capital H, for "hit." If time spent on the CD player is the standard here, then the Blossoms' debut rates high on my list. Great songs, superior production and Robin Wilson's vocals make this disc a true contender. 6. Maceo Parker, Life on Planet Groove (Verve). Remember McFadden and Whitehead's butt wiggler "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now? It should now be retooled to read, "Ain't No Stoppin' Maceo Now." After a sparkling start with James Brown, sax master Maceo has embarked on a rippin' solo career that's put him in a tie with George Clinton for the title of funkiest man alive. If this album fails to move you, you're probably dead and don't know it. Recorded live to capture all the extra juice, this disc is the funkiest thing since Clinton's "Uncle Jam Wants You."
7. Joe Ely, Love and Danger (MCA). It used to look like a cinch that Joe Ely would tumble into obscurity without ever having made a good studio recording. Love and Danger changed all that. "Kicked in the ass" by producer Tony Brown, Ely got down and in record time cut what is the first big-time album of his career. It's also the first to compete on an energy level with his two live recordings and the first with the right mix of pop and grit to win Ely a larger audience. Filled with solid tunes from Ely, Robert Earl Keen Jr. and Dave Alvin, this album benefits from crisp arrangements and the playing of Ely's road-bitten band. 8. Tom Waits, Bone Machine (Island). Every so often, Baron Von Waits emerges from his lab with a new monster. Pieced together from every squeal, squeak and ominous rumble imaginable, Waits' menacing creations are clearly the work of a mad genius. But instead of terrorizing the countryside, these mutant giants are content to sit in your CD player and savage the savage beast.
9. Los Lobos, Kiko (Slash/Warner Bros.). A career-wrecking detour or a remarkably brave artistic risk? Either way this oddball album is another large step away from the curse of "La Bamba," as well as a surprising addition to the continuing saga of one of the most innovative forces in music today.
10. k.d. lang, Ingnue (Sire). Freed from her big-boned-gal country misstep, Lang emerges here as a world-class song stylist. She and collaborator Ben Mink have fashioned lush washes of sound that give lang's voice the room it needs to soar.
Best Recordings Still to Come in Early 1993:
1. Fudge, The Ferocious Rhythm of Precise Laziness (Caroline)
2. Pond, Pond (Sub Pop)
Contributing country music writer
1. Delbert McClinton, Never Been Rocked Enough (Curb). "Good Man, Good Woman," the Grammy Award winner for Best Rock Vocal Duo McClinton shared with Bonnie Raitt (from Raitt's Luck of the Draw album), is on here, too, but that's just a single course in this banquet of blues-rock. The fueled-by-funk "Everytime I Roll the Dice" and the jazzy, Delbert-penned "Cease and Desist" are among the spicier offerings, with Bob Marley's "Stir It Up" providing cool-mon island flavors. Few folks have ever manipulated a mouth harp as juicily as McClinton does, and his mastery herein makes this veteran rockabluesabilly boy's latest his greatest.
2. Rosie Flores, After the Farm (Hightone). Ex-Screaming Siren Flores takes us on a wild, careening ride with this top-fuel blend of beautiful ballads (This Loneliness), raucous rock (Blue Highway), fun funk (That's Me) and pork-cracklin' country (Dent in My Heart). This Magic Bus-style excursion boasts other roadside attractions, as well, all described by conductor Rosie's strong and soaring vocals. Pack yourself a barbecued-sprouts sandwich and git onboard.
3. Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Come On Come On (Columbia). In a stunning upset of Her Royal Highness, Reba I, Carpenter captured the Country Music Association's crown for Female Vocalist of the Year. Although this onetime folkie from Washington, D.C., finally negotiated the broad jump from college radio to prime-time country stereos with "I Feel Lucky," a whole heap of even-luckier album buyers are going to discover a cache of great songs. Songwriter Carpenter paints musical portraits of love in all its great and gritty mutations with a rich combination of lyric, melody and delivery that Music City hasn't heard since early Emmylou Harris.
4. Marty Stuart, This One's Gonna Hurt You (MCA). Once a very young guitar-slinging sideman to legends Ernest Tubb and Johnny Cash, Stuart has long since made his own mark with the best pure-bar country around. "High on a Mountain Top," "Doin' My Time," the video hit "Now That's Country" and the title track are among the treasures here that will ensure that the Nudie-suited Stuart keeps his crown as King of Honky-Tonk. And just as he has provided calm, natural leadership in negotiating truces in Nashville's civil war between the old guard and the new breed, This One's Gonna Hurt You shows both warring factions that the music itself provides plenty of middle ground.
5. Vince Gill, I Still Believe in You (MCA). CMA's Male Vocalist of the Year flat continues to amaze the masses with his tender, transcendental tenor. This multitalented ex-lead crooner for Pure Prairie League shares or commands all writing credit on each song herein, including the poignant "Say Hello," the clever "One More Last Chance" and the big-hit title track. At a time when Nashville cats are more concerned with creating crossovers than classics, it's nice to find the real thing, baby.
6. The Mavericks, From Hell to Paradise (MCA). Sure, Miami will never be mistaken for Nashville, but it did produce Raul Malo, a guitar-totin' son of Cuban migrs who wields a quick and clever pen, has a penchant for Hank the Elder and possesses an ethereal tenor. His quavering, high-pitched complaint "This Broken Heart" will shiver your timbers, while the title track tells the true tale of a 30-year battle for individual freedom. Add tangy, high-tone takes on Harlan Howard and Buck Owens' "Excuse Me (I Think I've Got a Heartache)" and you've got a debut disc worth climbing a palm tree for.
7. James McMurtry, Candyland (Columbia). It's clear that this son of Larry (Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show) McMurtry has inherited pop's prowess with a pen and talent for storytelling. Produced by pal John Mellencamp, the recording of James McMurtry's cool, clipped delivery fits well his tales of small-town Sturm und Drang through guitar-powered narratives like "Where's Johnny," "Vague Directions" and "Don't Just Waste Away." The down-to-the-ground realism of James' work is stark and, at times, terrifying. We want more.
8. Evangeline, Evangeline (MCA). This Cajun quintet's spicy stew of swamp-rock, country and bayou blues--delivered with choirlike harmonies--is richer than fil gumbo. "Bayou Boy," "Hey Ren" and "Bon Temps la Louisiane" will have you craving crawfish. Equally tasty treatments of the oft-recorded Nanci Griffith-James Hooker-Danny Flowers tune "Gulf Coast Highway" and Jesse Winchester's "Rhumba Girl" are sure to please your musical palate as well.
9. Don Williams, Currents (RCA). All this veteran singer-picker does is plop on that ratty old hat, sit on a stool and positively mesmerize all in earshot with a baritone that takes good story-songs like "Standing Knee Deep in a River (Dying of Thirst)" "Catfish Bates" and "That Song About the River" and renders them revelatory. You won't hear him much anymore on country radio--no nouveau-Nashville flash or hominy pop will ooze from this fellow anytime soon. Ain't that nice?
10. Jerry Jeff Walker, Hill Country Rain (Rykodisc). Okay, so old Jerry Jeff has become something of a walking 1-800 number of late. Yet with truly fine songs like "So Bad Last Night," "Time to Stay Home" and the title cut, Walker's warm and witty tribute to his Austin, Texas, heritage proves that this mellowed marketeer can still stand and deliver with the best of the west.
Contributing jazz music writer
Best Mood Music for Psychopaths:
1. Naked City, Heretic (Avant); Leng Tch'e (Toy's Factory). If John Zorn plays what he feels, the saxophonist-composer is not a very healthy man. Both of these Japanese imports are soundtracks for a toothache--guitars and drums constantly duke it out with keyboards and horns, while vocalist Yamatsuka Eye screams Oriental curses best left untranslated. If you're going to give tunes names like "Here Come the 7,000 Frogs" and "Mantra of Resurrected Shit," the music had better be intense. It is, the wonder of it all lying in how Zorn can make cacophony sound so organized. 2. Vijaya Anand, Asia Classics I (Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.). Composer Anand scores films in his native India, his forte being the blending of ancient tradition with 70s bad taste. This collection of gem movie cuts sounds like a bad acid trip at a Bombay drive-in. Imagine a theme for a Hindu James Bond, played on surfer guitar and disco drums by Mel Blanc characters. The music is so shockingly colorful, you overlook how equally dreadful it is. Asia Classics I is the equivalent of finding a dog so ugly that it's cute.
3. Tom Waits, Night on Earth (Island). Having a hard time getting really depressed? Try listening to this soundtrack of the recent Jim Jarmusch film about down-and-out taxi drivers. It's possible that the eclectic Waits might have fashioned this band out of a toolbox for all the unfamiliar noises he sends flying. These mostly instrumental nightmares are so wonderfully sluggish and morbidly heavy that Waits may have recorded the session underwater.
4. Howard Shore and Ornette Coleman, Naked Lunch (Milan). Avant saxophonist Ornette Coleman doesn't come blow his horn for just any sicko movie. He's saved his warped chops for this demented collaboration between weirdo director David Cronenberg and even weirder writer William Burroughs. Coleman's rantings closely follow the script's emphasis on giant cockroaches that eloquently philosophize out of their, uh, hindquarters. A great gift of inspirational jazz for those who obsess about pest control.
5. Sun Ra, Monorails and Satellites, Supersonic Jazz, Other Planes of There (Evidence Music). The best offering of the year: Evidence, the tiny, East Coast label, has this year reissued ten rare discs of the jazzman from Saturn, Sun Ra. The keyboardist-bandleader was pounding out his Outer Space Wisdom on the first synthesizers back when yer mama was still planning her prom outfit. (In fact, Ra may have outsequined her, as evidenced by some of these discs' accompanying photographs.) Always managing to somehow keep his headcheese just a few days this side of the expiration date, Ra turned out the most interesting and outrageous big-band music jazz will ever see. Best Off-the-Wall Jazz and World Music:
1. Barbara Dennerlein, That's Me (Bluemoon). Thought the Hammond B3 organ went out of style for good in the 60s? This gorgeous German organist stirs up the most funk since the days of Jimmy Smith. If the organ ever reappears as a popular jazz instrument, it will be because of Dennerlein and future albums like this gem of jazz phrasing.
2. Toninho Horta, Once I Loved (Verve). The Brazilian guitarist's first venture into straightahead jazz is a timid effort in some ways, but Horta keeps all eyes on him as he nakedly struggles with some of the meaty standards he covers. Actually, the more Horta sweats, the better the disc works. Nice to hear someone show that top-drawer jazz is supposed to be a bitch to play.
3. Various Artists, Accordeon: Musette/Swing/Paris 1913-1941 (Discotheque des Halles). This French import tracks the development of the romantic accordeon-and-beret music born in Parisian cafes. Something complex and intensely passionate about these 50 reissued 78s whisks them out of the realm of old-timey corn pone and into the halls of eternally popular love songs.
4. Kelvynator, Refunkanation (Enemy). Check out this black-rock funkster unit if Living Colour's groove is your thang. Guitarist-bandleader Kelvyn Bell and band have been at it as long as anybody, and tend to hammer out the funk a lot harder than their glamour-boy cousins.
5. Various Artists, Samba Brasil, Afro Brasil, Bossa Nova Brasil, Nordeste Brasil (Verve). You won't find a better overview of Brazil's varied music scene than what is offered on these four discs. The 79 cuts cover as much history as they do regional styles, reaching back to African roots and forward to still-popular samba themes. 6. Nels Cline Trio, Silencer (Enja). Cline is that rare guitarist who is able to flow from subtle coloring through strong melody en route to crazed axe whacking. His version of Gil Evans' "Las Vegas Tango" is as gorgeous as the self-penned tirade "Broasted" is goosey. One-stop chopping for all your jazz guitar needs.
7. Astor Piazzolla, Sur (Milan). Released on the heels of the Argentine composer's death earlier this year, Sur shows how the tango master spent his last days: pulling passion and sentimentalism away from lowbrow-soap-opera status and returning them to a much nobler pinnacle.
8. Eliane Elias, Fantasia (Blue Note). Maybe this stellar player realized that being just another Bill Evans-influenced pianist wasn't enough, and decided she needed to return to her native Brazil's compositions for an added dimension. Last year brought her disc of revamped Jobim standards. Fantasia is a no-less-radical stab at another set of bossa nova tunes often relegated to Muzak interpretations. The result is her second album of what may be the best Brazilian jazz ever recorded.
9. Defunkt, Crisis (Enemy). Defunkt leader-trombonist Joseph Bowie proves that a horn-driven jazz-rock band doesn't have to sound at all like Chicago. If you let this octet color your world, it won't be pretty; Defunkt revels in being power-hungry, pissed off and political. The Crisis will be not knowing whether to dance your ass off or burn something.
10. Philip Catherine and Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen, Spanish Nights (Enja). Since the flood of interest in accessible world music, the reign in Spain has mainly fallen on the plainest guitarists imaginable--Ottmar Liebert, for example. Not this time. Guitarist Catherine and bassist Orsted-Pedersen have long been two of the very best European jazz musicians. Having backed a jillion visiting beboppers and expatriates, from Dexter Gordon to Chet Baker, the two decided to cut this Spanish-flavored session for themselves. Both players escape the clutches of the orchestral backing and overdone song choices, not once falling into the Gypsy-princess goo and fake-flamenco clichs that abound on most pseudojazz travelogues. Danish musicians play American jazz with a Spanish feel--atlas music.
Contributing music writer
1. Sugar, Copper Blue (Rykodisc). Bob Mould's best stuff since the heyday of Hsker D. Mould's massive hooks and compressed, buzz-saw-guitar attack makes for great energy, great songs--great stuff. Killer cuts: "Changes" and "Fortune Teller."
2. R.E.M., Automatic for the People (Warner Bros.). Year-end polls are almost automatic for R.E.M. But this latest 12-song set is special. A melancholic return to form, highlighted by the wonderfully wistful "Nightswimming." 3. Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience (A&M). Pure pop for Tempe people. A strong, beautifully produced CD of accomplished songcraft and bar-stool metaphysics. The best local disc since Meat Puppets II.
4. Television, Television (Capitol). The grand old band of New York's New Wave reunites for a startling exhibition of economic six-string magic. A prerequisite for anyone even thinking of picking up a guitar. Great song: "In World."
5. Arvo Part, Miserere (ECM). Released in late 1991, this postmodern "classical" collection puts minimalism alongside ancient polyphony, with striking results. A truly transcendent piece of work.
6. E, A Man Called E (Polydor). More like a man called "Twee." The Pet Sounds tendencies are at times overbearing, but the curiously monikered E still comes up with a confident, original-sounding debut.
7. Del Amitri, Change Everything (A&M). A slew of stunning breakup songs best avoided by the weak of heart. Catchy compositions and an overall sense of maturity make this a good CD to grow up on and grow old with.
8. Catherine Wheel, Ferment (Fontana). Another sullen bunch of Brits, you say? Well, yes. But Ferment's blend of swoopy-doopy hooks and almost-industrial noisecraft is a delight from every angle. Best cut: "Black Metallic."
9. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted (Matador). The last of the great post-Pixies, post-post-V.U. bands. Pavement's monochromatic brand of emotive bloodletting is almost out of style these days. Too bad, really. These bicoastal bohos do the slacker-catharsis thing well.
10. Tool, Opiate (Zoo Entertainment). Controlled mayhem recorded live and in-studio. The psychotic spew of lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan makes this kinda sound like Jane's Addiction in a real testy mood. Pleasant tune: "Cold and Ugly."
Best Singles: "One" by U2, and Bruce Springsteen's "Human Touch." Proof that even over-the-hill megastars can come up with honest, heartfelt songs. Killer lyrics on both.
Best Record Company: Rykodisc. For the Big Star collection. And the Soft Boys rereleases. And the Sugar disc. And for giving John Cale and Buffy Sainte-Marie an opportunity to fail.
Best Retrospective: The massive Buck Owens box recently let loose on an underappreciative public. Worth the price for another hearing of "My Heart Skips a Beat."
Best Local Disc: Gin Blossoms' New Miserable Experience. No contest there. But watch for the likes of Chimera, Spinning Jenny, Grievous Angels, Beats the Hell Out of Me, Strangelove, Zen Lunatics, Galen Herod, genepool and the ever-promising Dead Hot Workshop to jockey for position in 93. Should make for an interesting onslaught of local tunes. David Koen
Contributing hip-hop writer
1. Arrested Development, 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of . . . , (Chrysalis). Call em P.E. unplugged. They brought songs about lynchings and black-on-black crime to Top 40 and wrapped them in the kind of sweet protest melodies that pick up where Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley left off.
2. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head (Capitol). Essentially, the Beasties' white-punks-on-dope-grooves formula all over again, only this time we're talking a live-instrument free-for-all that sends you straight for the meshuga pit. 3. House of Pain, House of Pain (Tommy Boy). The only thing better than the House's shtick is the music. Take away its carefully designed, Guinness-slurping image, and you've still got a rapper in Everlast whose voice is as awesome a weapon as any in hip-hop and a production team with impeccable taste in samples. Top o' the mornin' to em.
4. Brand New Heavies, Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1 (Delicious Vinyl/Atlantic). The British Heavies, a guitar-bass-drums trio, got together with a different American or Jamaican rapper on each song, and everyone's so busy hitting on everyone else's live grooves and discovering the essence of organic hip-hop, the songs take on the kind of warm glow that makes you glad they didn't invite the drum machine to the session.
5. Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Hipocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury (4th & B'Way). Stick with this album through Michael Franti's rote rants on TV, war and all the world issues Bono used to fret over. It's on the micro level that the ex-Beatnig really speaks volumes, rending heart-wrenching tales about gay-bashing and miscegenation that'll have you remembering Hiphoprisy long after you've forgotten Franti's views on the budget deficit.
6. Shabba Ranks, X-tra Naked (Epic). The anti-Michael Bolton, Jamaican dance-hall king's as hard-core as he is sexy, whether he's wrapping his whiskey n' spliffs vocals around a ballad or hurtling through the rocking fat jams like an L.L. of the island.
7. Ice Cube, The Predator (Priority). Sinad O'Connor wasn't too far off when she named Ice Cube America's poet laureate. With his smarts and fury and much juicy drive-by funk to back him up, it's safe to say Cube's replaced Chuck D as AmeriKKKa's premier prophet of rage.
8. Das Efx, Dead Serious (Eastwest). Not an ounce of fat anywhere. The group shows off its ultra-angular, slice-and-dice raps for the pure pleasure of celebrating the poetry and competition of hip-hop.
9. Public Enemy, Greatest Misses (Def Jam/Columbia). The anger may still be there, but not the inspiration to transform it into passionate new battle cries. P.E. apparently saved it for the remix half of the album, the best way to relive Chuck and Flav's glory days short of wearing out your It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back disc.
10. Kris Kross, Totally Krossed Out (Ruffhouse/Columbia). They may be prepackaged front boys right down to their nauseating, cute-as-pups image, but the Krispies have a scary grip on what it takes to warm it up--they bend rhythms at will, rap a million miles an hour, drop it Jamaican-style and even sneer out the sides of their mouths to make the point. Hip-hop's Jackson Five.
In no particular order:
Bruce Springsteen, "Lucky Town" (Columbia). The song, not the album, although the album was better than "Human Touch," which wasn't all bad, but would've made one good Bruce album when combined with the few great songs on Lucky Town, the album. If not for the tortured verbiage in the bridge (like in that last sentence), "Lucky Town" would be one of Springsteen's coolest tunes. Flea's acceptance speech on the MTV Music Awards--I know next to nothing about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but their bass player's first instinct upon winning something from MTV was to jump up to the podium and make frenzied, masturbatory gestures. The director cut away from this tender scene just as another Pepper stepped up to perform what appeared to be mock fellatio on his bandmate. It was, by far, the most entertaining moment on any awards show all year. Nirvana, Nevermind (Geffen). Actually released in 1991, of course--which means I could probably legally include John Prine's The Missing Years (Oh Boy) somewhere in this list--but my 1992 theme disc nonetheless. How many times did the line "Oh well, whatever, nevermind" run through my head during the last umpteen months?
Wonderful Russ hosting a Channel 8 pledge break a couple of weeks ago. Instead of the usual polite PBS appeals for cash, Wonderful, longtime Valley zane master and occasional KSLX morning-show contributor, did it this way: "I'm hearing a silence that is irritating to me, and I'm seriously thinking, I'm not saying I will do it, but I'm seriously thinking of starting to take these people who are answering the phones, and choking them one by one until you phone in with your pledges." Joe Ely, Love and Danger (MCA). Excellent road music, as usual, now threatening to replace Midnight Oil's Diesel and Dust as my favorite soundtrack for the drive to Tucson. Joe also sings the bossest sonic punch line of the year: "So I shot em down, one by one, and I left them long the rails/I only use my gun whenever kindness fails." Los Lobos, Kiko (Slash/Warner Bros.). Not as good as the great Los Lobos albums of the mid-1980s, but nothing is. Still, a rollicking, tuneful collection of songs. There's some folk here, some lilting border sounds, some blistering rock guitar playing, and everything swings. "The Zamboni Song," from Billy's Live Bait (Polydor) by Gear Daddies. Now played (as a sing-along) during the second intermission at every Phoenix Roadrunners game, this should become the hockey version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Dino, Nick Tosches (Doubleday). Tosches' masterful Dean Martin bio wallows lovingly in Rat Pack vulgarity. I couldn't put it down. Tom Waits, Bone Machine (Island). Talk about your wallowing! A wonderful collection of shrieks, groans and thumps, assembled to illuminate the theme, which is death. Not a great Christmas gift for the infirm. "All Alone on Christmas," Darlene Love (Arista). Written by Miami Steve and interpreted by the otherwise jobless remnants of the E Street Band, Love's contribution to the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York soundtrack sounds, as it was designed to sound, like the lost track off Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You. A thrilling cut. The Simpsons, 7 p.m. Thursdays, Channel 15. A weekly masterpiece. My favorite line of the season so far was uttered by Krusty the Clown, after Bart led an insurrection to reveal his hero's summer camp as a squalid rip-off. The clown is captured by rioting campers (after his return from Wimbledon) and forced to confess why he lent his name to such a horrible, exploitative enterprise. "They drove a dump truck full of money up to my house," wailed Krusty. "I'm not made of stone!" Brian Griffith
Dead Hot Workshop
1. L7, Bricks Are Heavy (Slash/Warner Bros.). Angry women, loud guitars.
2. Morrissey, Your Arsenal (Sire). Brilliant!
3. Ultramarine, Every Man and Woman Is a Star (Dali/Mute). Limp-wristed and loving it. My hand is on the closet door.
4. Soul Asylum, Grave Dancers Union (Columbia/Sony). Rock n' roll, beer guzzlin' and pool shootin'.
5. Sugar, Copper Blue (Rykodisc). Mould does hard-pop like nobody, no how.
6. Adulterous Woman, Camping in Anger (local tape). The most underrated album and band in Phoenix.
7. Alice in Chains, Dirt (Columbia). Only Seattle band that will last, besides Queensryche.
8. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head (Capitol). Best rap album ever.
9. Chimera UK, Heals Me (Expo). If Cocteau Twins met My Bloody Valentine at Long Wong's.
10. Spent Poets, Spent Poets (Geffen). Great album to smoke pot to.
Hall Sound Productions
Miles Davis, Doo Bop (Columbia). This album is grooooovin' in my book. Miles, the man with the horn whom I miss so dearly. This album is the soul of the streets. It's today's beat that puts you in that head-boppin' groove that will make a long day short, once you surrender to the feel! "High Speed Chase," the cut that just smacks you in the face, is one that Easy Mo Bee, Miles and Larry Mizell had to be cruising urban streets when they wrote it.
Arrested Development, 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of . . . , (Chrysalis). This band is really smooth. It's also one of the few hip-hop groups I can truly understand and relate to at the age of 33. A.D. is saying something positive, the groove is hip and the lyrics are real and innovative. If you like the truth told in a pleasant way, check it out! Al DiMeola Project, Kiss My Axe (Tomato). One of my musical fantasies come true. Since I'm a forever fan of Return to Forever. Seeing this man live at Chuy's twice in my lifetime has been so satisfying, I'm speechless!
Michael Jackson, Dangerous (Sony). The Man has got his musical trip together. I don't care what anybody says, his songwriting is definitely today's high standard. This album hits home for everyone, be he racist, black, white, Oriental, sensual, young, old, historian or even a ballplayer.
Owner, Zia Records
In no particular order:
Afghan Whigs, Congregation (Sub Pop)
Peter Case, Six Pack of Love (Geffen)
Television, Television (Capitol)
Flop, Fall of the Mopsqueezer (Frontier)
Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted (Matador)
Los Lobos, Kiko (Slash/Warner Bros.)
Beats the Hell Out of Me, S/T (local CD)
Giant Sand, Ramp (Restless)
Leesa Wright, Tales of the Northwest (Sub Pop)
Jayhawks, Hollywood Townhall (Def American)
John Prine, The Missing Years (Oh Boy)
McBride and the Ride
1. George Strait, Pure Country (MCA). Although this CD has only been out a few months, it has some of George's best stuff yet, including "King of Broken Hearts." Now if that ain't "Pure Country," I'll . . .
2. Wynonna Judd, Wynonna (MCA). She could be country music's strongest female artist. This woman's's got soul. What a production, too!
3. Marty Stuart, This One's Gonna Hurt You (MCA). Marty seems to boldly go where most artists only dream of. I like that approach.
4. Brooks and Dunn, Brand New Man (Arista). This album was released in 1991, but it's certainly lasted well through 92. A lot of great songs and a nice mixture of tempos.
5. Travis Tritt, It's All About to Change (Warner Bros.). Another favorite of mine well through 1992. This guy's got some seriously tough vocal cords. I love that Southern-rock thang.
6. Hal Ketchum, Past the Point of Rescue (Curb). There's something about this album that makes it easy to listen to; maybe it's Hal's voice. He's a great writer, though he didn't write all of his hits. Great choice of material for this CD.
7. McBride and the Ride, Sacred Ground (MCA). Favorite cut is probably "Sacred Ground." You're probably thinking I'm being partial, so . . . you're right! I am.
8. Lyle Lovett, Joshua Judges Ruth (MCA). I love Lyle's songwriting, also Matt Rollings once again shows his grace on the keys. Check out "I've Been to Memphis." It'll make you smile.
9. James Taylor, New Moon Shine (Columbia). I simply love anything James puts on album. (I've worn the others out.)
10. Little Feat, Let It Roll (Warner Bros.). Probably the CD I've listened to most over the last five to six years. Every song is excellent. I wish they could find or write more material like this.
President, Evening Star Productions, Inc.
1. John Prine, The Missing Years (Oh Boy). Grammy winner, my favorite guy to be on the road with, a totally wonderful, great-to-be-alive album. Get it!
2. ELP, Black Moon (Victory/PolyGram). Overlooked by radio completely. Great ballads, should've been played on AOR and AC. Greg Lake still has one of the great voices in rock.
3. Pearl Jam, Ten (Epic). Song for song, the best new rock band since Jane's Addiction.
4. Alice in Chains, Dirt (Columbia/Sony). Ditto number three. Great follow-up to its dynamite debut.
5. Eric Clapton, Unplugged (Duck/Reprise). Just because he is.
6. Bon Jovi, Keep the Faith (Mercury). He's grown admirably. This album is light-years ahead musically.
7. k.d. lang, Ingnue (Sire). The Voice is the choice.
8. Izzy Stradlin, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds (Geffen). Great swagger; I can see him moving when I listen to it. Can't wait to see his new band.
9. Roger Waters, Amused to Death (Columbia/Sony). Dynamite album from one of my all-time heroes.
10. Litl' Willie, Babani (Crybaby). The band to watch in 1993. A dad and his sons make the established group look like kids.
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1992 was one great year for music:
1. "Don't Care for Air," The Lincolnettes
2. "Dawn and Breakfast," Jim D. Pilsbury and the Boys
3. "The Monkey's Butt" film soundtrack by Richard "The Iceman" Kukling
4. "Why Do You Think They Call It Po-Po?" The Morgans
5. "Picking at the Moon," McNugget Band
6. "Comeback 92," Stevenson and Cassidy
7. "Dick You Around!!" The Around Dickers
8. "Baloney," Farters
9. "Too Steep for Chet," Mickey Dickle
10. "Xllnzptg," Hate-Roids
11. "The Laughing Cockroach," Ape-Fancy
12. "Detune My Balloon," Winston America
KJZZ Radio-Rhythm Room
Elmore James, King of the Slide Guitar (Capricorn)
John Lee Hooker, The Graveyard Blues (Specialty)
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, That's All Right Mama (Heritage/RCA)
Muddy Waters, Live at Mr. Kelly's (Chess)
Pinetop Perkins, Pinetop's Boogie Woogie (Antone's)
Frankie Lee Sims, Lucy Mae Blues (Specialty)
Blues Masters Series, Postwar Chicago Blues (Rhino)
Deep Blues soundtrack (Atlantic)
Creole Kings of New Orleans (Specialty)
William Clarke, Serious Intention (Alligator)