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Volume 91, Issue 28
Friday, October 17, 1997
What's Your Name
Former Saturday Night Live star Adam Sandler is a talented guy. He has acted in comedies such as Shakes the Clown and Happy Gilmore and as singer/songwriter, he does nicely on What's Your Name. On this album, comprised totally of his comedic songs, he sings odes to misunderstood people from NFL place kickers "The Lonesome Kicker," to an abused talking goat in "The Goat Song."
Sandler is able to be a musical chameleon and with his talented backing band, is able to play such musical genres as rock, blues, reggae, country and in some instances, funk. His vocal delivery ranges from sounding like Bruce Springsteen to George Jones. As a comedic album, it is hit or miss with some songs being hilarious, while others are just ridiculous.
The songs range from strange, such as "Zitty Van Zittles," in which the narrator feels true love is a girlfriend that squeezes the zits on her boyfriend's back, to totally bizarre, like "The Respect Chant," with lyrics like "Respect/ respect/ you gotta show the respect," which are repeated over and over. Sandler even re-works his classic "Red Hooded Sweatshirt" with a piano arrangement, though the original version sounds better.
On one of the more interesting songs, "Four Years Old," Sandler takes the point of view of a four-year-old, going through a rough day. He sings, "Hey why'd you wake me from my nap?/ I'm not in the mood to play your games/ or sit on your lap." Sandler even had his own looser anthem, "Pickin' Daisies," in which he sings about staying home with his mother to avoid being picked on by bullies at school.
Sandler is a talented songwriter, but unfortunately, not all the tunes are equally good on this album. He tends to dabble in juvenile humour and though funny, it is not necessarily needed. All things being equal, this is a pretty good comedy album.
Best Kept Secret
Rod McInnis spent over two years composing songs for his first album and has just recorded and released them on his debut, Best Kept Secret. His years of piano and vocal lessons show on this well-produced "Pop" album. The first video single, "Trials of the Heart," received TV exposure on both MuchMusic and Country Music Television and the second single, "Someday," is being hyped to Adult Contemporary, New Country and Multi-format stations.
Both songs are well-crafted "pop" tunes, pleasant and almost "Eaglesesque" therein lies the strength and weakness of this album. "Hotel California" was so successful that labels everywhere (Nashville included) have been searching for years for bands with similar songs (but not so similar as to get sued for plagiarism).
The fact this music is being promoted to "Country Radio" says more about the sad state of country music today than it does about the musical ability of this artist. He is a very capable, talented pop musician.
His profile for the label notes, as a point of pride, his music is aimed precisely at "Mainstream Radio's Heart" and he hasn't spent years "slugging it out in smoky bars." To my ears, they're dead on the songs are melodic with great hooks and well produced to boot.
As great as this CD may be as an Adult Contemporary album, it sure isn't "Country." Though some songs are reminiscent of the Eagles (who weren't a country group by any stretch of the imagination) it would be preferable to have them more in the vein of Fred Eaglesmith's music, another Canadian artist who's reaching pop audiences but from a much more country/roots influenced base. Rod McInnes' music is much more influenced by Gino Vanelli and Journey, which bodes well for his success but it probably will not be played on any "Real Country" stations, although it probably fits into "New Country" perfectly.
Eighteen Over Me
She's got the voice, the rhythm, the mix of melancholy and angst. These ingredients are just right for launching Garrison Starr and her debut LP, Eighteen Over Me, into stardom.
Starr strikes an eloquent balance in this production, as lyrics and rhythm each do their part to the fullest; neither are afraid to say the piece in an oh-so-pretty way. Despite the aggressive tone, there is a certain hint of melancholy indicative of many recent female artists.
Starr takes the listener on a smooth ride, starting highspeed with tracks such as "Grounded" and "Superhero" and slowing down for drifty tunes such as "Ugly" and "Bruises." But the ride never comes to a halt. The album retains the listener's attention by its ability to cast new lights of style on different tracks.
Eighteen Over Me is a spectacle of Starr's talent as musician and songwriter. All songs except two are written exclusively by Starr and she also lends a hand in guitar and percussion. She pounds out some good clean American guitar riffs, mixed with Blues and strumming slow songs. Take this, paired with her slight southern twang and energetic lyrics and you'll soon be in agreement that every track is a listenable one.
Possessing all of these qualities, Starr establishes in this album an ability to take a firm stance in the world of music. She is sure to gain her rights of passage into the current tribe of female musicians, fitting somewhere between Liz Fair and Meredith Brooks. But it is difficult to categorize Starr; there is something unique about her and this just may be enough to make her a rising Starr in the competitive music scene.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997