Volume 91, Issue 50

Wednesday, November 26, 1997



CD reviews

Various Artists
Money Talks
Arista Records

Yes, like most soundtracks, Money Talks assembles some of today's hottest commercial artists. The music found on this soundtrack is comprised of mostly R&B and a fair share of hip hop tracks. Unfortunately, many of the tracks fall short of expectations, but with some notable exceptions.

Grand Puba, Sadat X and Lord Jamar, reunite to form Brand Nubian and prove why they were and still are a major voice in the hip hop community. "Keep it Bubblin" retains the ass-shakin' beats and strange lyrical wizadry that Brand Nubian fans have always loved and come to expect.

The Refugee All Stars, featuring Pras with Ky-mani, grace this album with another solid Fugee single and "Avenues" is a fresh remake of the '80s hit "Electric Avenue." Much like the original counterpart, it has a good party vibe and you'll find the catchy chorus echoing through your head for the rest of the day.

When looking at this album, much like the top 50 R&B/Rap charts, the one thing surely found is the Bad Boy Label's presence. Money Talks features Faith Evans singing with R&B's original aphrodisiac Barry White on the track "My Everything." Next up is Puff Daddy spitting out another formula Bad Boy hit and by no surprise, Puff's sidekick Mase is right behind him with his cut "Feel So Good." Despite this, Bad Boy serves up the best shot on the album with "Money Talks" performed by the baddest of the Bad Boy crew at present, Lil' Kim. Her hardcore lyrics and wicked flow blend perfectly with the tight production of Timbaland.

In the end, Money Talks has earned the right to talk the talk but due to a few whack tracks hasn't earned the right to walk the walk.

–Sebastion Kowalik

Jane's Addiction
Kettle Whistle
Warner Bros.

Six years after headlining the inaugural Lollapalooza festival and on the verge of becoming one of the biggest bands in the world, Jane's Addiction decided to call it quits. The band's final album, Ritual de lo Habitual, was a sprawling, complex tour de force that came out at a time when acts like Vanilla Ice and M.C. Hammer ruled the airwaves.

The release of Kettle Whistle, a mostly live album which also includes several studio out-takes and four new tracks, proves that Jane's still has something left to offer and their music is every bit as vital today as it was in 1991.

"Kettle Whistle," the title track, opens the album with its tribal drums and meandering guitars which establish a moody, trance-like vibe. When Perry Farrell delivers his opening lines it is clear that Jane's has returned and evolved into something more diverse and impressive than before.

Following this tune is "Ocean Size," an out-take of a song that would eventually appear on the band's major label debut, Nothing's Shocking. It was this recording that convinced Warner Bros. to sign the band and it's easy to see why. Farrell's voice, which is more a primal scream than anything else, is matched step for step in intensity by the fluid lead lines of guitarist Dave Navarro and probing bass riffs of Eric Avery.

Highlights are abound on this album, but it hardly gets any better than the version of "Jane says," which was taken from one of the Lollapalooza shows. When Farrell sings the classic line "She takes a swing but she can't hit!" the urge to sing along is nearly impossible to ignore.

As uplifting as this album is, there is a residual sadness that comes with listening to it. Farrell and crew have already put to rest any notions of a new studio album. After they finish touring, they all plan to return to other projects. For the band's fans, however, the musical void that has existed for the last six years has temporarily been filled. Unfortunately, in a few months it will re-open and one of the great bands of our time will once again be nothing more than a fond memory.

–Jeremy Giles

The Spell
Tox Records Inc.

Hold on tight because you are in for a roller coaster ride once you pop this CD into your stereo. Before this ride begins, you may be asking yourself, who is the Ivan guy. Well, he is the voice of Men Without Hats, if that clears anything up.

While these tracks are being publicized as purely dance, this is not necessarily the case. In 10 words, a description of this CD is as follows – jumpy, techno, relaxing, harmonious, fast-paced, inspiring, relaxing, discoish, glitzy and fantasy-like. Now, one might say, "Wow, how can one CD pack so much punch?"

While this may be so, the truth is that The Spell is likely to have only a few songs to draw you in and make you want to stay.

The strongest songs on this CD will immediately catch your interest. "Open Your Eyes" is a very fast-paced, melodic tune that does a good job of soothing the mind. "You" is very inspiring song, as it has the ability to take you into the clouds to a relaxing and fantasy-like state. If you close your eyes and let it all sink in, you can almost see the flashy sparkles. The tune "WWW," starts off with birds chirping and jumps into some hip hop, which is definitely an odd blend.

This album does not exactly have a line up of songs which will knock your socks off. It has a few cool moments, but that's about it. Don't count on loving every song on this album, because chances are you won't.

–Elliott Platt

Scouts Honor

In light of all the bad press it has received recently, hip hop has begun to rise from the ashes of a bitter and tragic coastal rivalry. With some of its most famed MC's fallen, the east and the west were left to pick up the pieces. Passing up the temptation to point fingers, with its newest collaboration, the Flip Mode Squad has unveiled Rampage's "Scouts Honour, by way of blood." Under the tutelage of Flip Mode head honcho Busta Rhymes and right-hand man The Last Boyscoutt, Rampage takes to the mic. As expected, Rampage's Lyrical Lieutenant brings some more of that ol' "Flip Mode'ism" to his solo debut.

The production on Scouts Honour is seamless, with beats courtesy of DJ Scratch and Busta himself. Still, it is the production that makes Rampage stand out among the masses of MC solo albums. From start to finish, Scouts Honour proves once again why the Flip Mode Squad has been so successful. Tracks like the prophetic "Wild for Da Night" and "Take it to the Streets" go far in showing what this record is all about – tight beats and rhymes... F.M.S. style.

Rampage has all the raw talent an MC needs to battle on the mic, but the repetitive content of his rhymes grow tiresome during tracks like "Talk of the Town" and "Hall of Fame." Luckily Busta and The Last Boyscoutt, appear on most of the album's tracks, keeping Scouts Honour in check and on point throughout.

The album features several interludes ranging from the usual "oh girl-don't bite it!" to a couple of guys throwing up on the street. Scouts Honour can be taken exactly for what it is – a solid crowd-pleasing album with plenty of bangin' beats and verbal battling that should keep headz feeling it and coming back for more.

–Jeff Borsato

Various Artists
We Will Fall: The Iggy Pop Tribute

Various Artists
One Step Up: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen
Right Stuff/Capitol

Among statements rarely uttered, "I wish there were more tribute albums" must surely top the list. Once an imaginative concept, the field is now cluttered with these things. Some artists even have more than one.

Perhaps the most absurd entry to hit the racks recently consisted of country acts covering Rolling Stones tunes. What could possibly be next? Pavarotti covering the music of Kurt Cobain?

And so we have two more to consider. One for the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop and the other dedicated to The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, both admittedly worthy subjects. But the road to hell is paved with worthy subjects. So just coming up with the concept isn't anywhere near enough anymore. The material must be covered by artists up to the task. Fortunately, on this count, both We Will Fall and One Step Up land more punches than they miss.

Given Iggy Pop's status among the ex-flannel crowd and aging punks who basically aped his act wholesale, it's no surprise their work on We Will Fall provides an engaging listen. Admittedly, the best work here is front-loaded – Joey Ramones "1969," Joan Jett's "Real Wild Child" and the Misfits' "I Got A Right" are true highlights. The disc certainly could've used a bit of an edit, but hey, that's what the program button on your disc player is for.

Same for the Springsteen set, as its two discs of music could have made into a tight single-disc collection. Highlights include Marshall Crenshaw's "All Or Nothin' At All" and John Wesley Harding's wistful transformation of Jackson Cage, among others. Overall, however, Springsteen was better served on Rhino's single disc Cover Me, some years back.

When all is said and done, We Will Fall and One Step Up take decent kicks at the artistic can, while in the process implicitly making creative arguments for the continued worthiness of the tribute disc. Actually, all's well, as long as they stop before a tribute to "The Legacy Of Perry Como" is considered.

–Bob Klanac

Black Lab
Your Body Above Me
Geffen Records

Black Lab's Your Body Above Me is an album with a steady flow of drums and guitar mixed with vocals and layered with meaning. Each song also contains its own specific theme, which in most cases is love, hatred or revenge. The band, reminiscent of Our Lady Peace and Match Box 20, portrays its influences to the listener.

The lyrics of Your Body Above Me hint regret and past mistakes which can be quickly tuned into by listening ears. This display of emotion emphasizes lead singer Paul Durham's passion in his search for the purpose of life. Unfortunately, these lyrics lack a quality that will unglue Black Lab from the sidelines.

Greater originality, however, is required for this band to attain longevity within the music industry. Their music moves in such a predictable fashion that nothing is left to the imagination.

Your Body Above Me is a stable, though predictable album in which Black Lab holds nothing back. The search for something more remains a constant theme, which is open and on the table for listeners who are looking for the answers to life's questions.

–Erin Bateman

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997