Volume 91, Issue 76

Thursday, February 12, 1998




The Weakerthans
G-7 Welcoming Committee Records

"We emerged from youth all wide-eyed like the rest. I'll drown the urge for permanence and certainty; crouch down and scrawl my name with yours in wet cement."

In between the above two sentences lies the remainder of John K. Samson's wanton lyric set which comprise the song "Sounds Familiar." Musically, everything sounds familiar: quiet acoustic sounds with whispering additions or loud three-piece pop-punk jabs.

That is the extent of this Manitoba band's musical exploration. What makes the Weakerthans interesting is the aimless sauntering of Samson's lyrical ideas.

In the lead track, "Illustrated Bible Stories for Children", Samson steps to the mike to say: "Go over your lines, Iron your carefully crafted disguise. We'd all like to sing." His display of dissatisfaction with deceivers is universal and the sentences show a general dislike for any faker.

Samson continues his singing desires by recalling, "Hang our diplomas on the bathroom wall. Pick at the plaster chipped away, survey some stunning tooth decay, enlist the cat in the impending class-war," in "Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist." These confessions explain how the mind's negativity deals with an uncertain future, crumbling living spaces and cats, complete with smelly litter boxes.

It's a shame that neither of these songs have a tune or harmony that a CD player's laser beams can emphasize. The listener bears the weight of overlooking the basic song structures and disappointingly sung music, in order to appreciate the content of Samson's quirky and fascinating ideas.

–Jordan Mitchell

Dr. Alban
Dr. Alban: The very best of 1990-1997

Alban Nwapa was born in Nigeria and his ethnic background can be detected in his music – particularly with his use of traditional African drums in his dance mixes. At age 23, Alban moved to Stockholm to live with his uncle and study dentistry. The name Dr. Alban originated from his primary profession.

In an attempt to finance his studies at university, Dr. Alban started to make his own music. Very quickly he became well known in the music industry through his work with the popular Stockholm club Alphabet Street. The album, The Best of Dr. Alban, is a compilation of his work throughout the years 1990-1997.

This "best of" album includes many of Dr. Alban's previous hits. "Hello Afrika" is a song that asks Africa how it's doing and entails messages of liberating African people and self-empowerment. One of Alban's more popular songs, "It's My Life," acquired him many new fans and the album sold over 1.7 million copies.

At certain points in the music the beat becomes repetitive, although his sound is unique and lyrics convey a positive message. "Stop the Pollution" includes a reggae sound and encourages environmental awareness. The song "No Coke" encourages young people to resist the pressures of drug use.

Another positive message Dr. Alban conveys through his music is that it is possible to have two careers, even simultaniously. Dr. Alban has managed to sell over 4.8 million singles and over 3.8 million records during his music career and opened his own dentistry practice. Overall, the album is a refreshing change from the usual pounding dance beat and Dr. Alban's career is an inspiration to follow your dreams and stay in school!

–Doretta Charles

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998