Volume 91, Issue 61
Friday, January 16, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
CD Reviews: Re-releases for serious fans only
Second Hand Smoke
Sublime can not make any new music because of the untimely death of its lead singer. However, it's insulting the way the surviving members of the band are trying to milk the success of their previous, self-titled release.
Second Hand Smoke is a compilation of re-released and previously un-released tracks which weren't good enough to make it onto Sublime. Some come from the first two albums, 40 oz. to Freedom and Robbin' The Hood, while others come directly from the cutting room floor, where they should have remained.
Sublime's earlier self-titled release is a great CD which can be played from start to finish over and over again. This is not the case for Second Hand Smoke. Although the beats and tunes are consistent with the band's original sounds (not to be confused with Snoop or Warren G), the lyrics lack the viciousness found on Sublime.
There are no "mushroom tips," "kung-fu grips" or anything going "drip, drip, drip" for that matter. And the only ones doing anything the "Wrong Way" are the band members.
Perhaps it's unfair to compare Second Hand Smoke to Sublime. However, this band created one great album and anything slightly lower in quality must now be considered sub-par. True, hard-core Sublime fans will get a kick out of "Superstar Punani" and "Saw Red," which features No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, but the rest of the CD is just hot air or second-hand smoke.
Ben Folds Five
Naked Baby Photos
Context is everything sometimes. Take the new collectibles disc by pop darlings Ben Folds Five. As a bonus disc tossed in with a new studio album it would be quite a delight. On its own, however, as a bonafide stand-alone release, it's a rather slight addition to their catalogue.
More context. Naked Baby Photos is released by Caroline Records, the Five's early independent home. As such, this is a bit of a farewell to their short-lived stint as indy darlings they had one album to be exact. Add on their major label Sony debut last year and you have the odd case of an act with two albums to their name, saddled with the responsibility of filling out a decent out-takes B-sides album. But in the end, it's a case of too-much-too-soon. There's just not enough interesting goodies in the vault to justify the bother.
However, one shouldn't slag Naked Baby Photos too much. There is some interesting material here, including their first single, good cuts dropped from the first album and live takes of some of their best material. And truth be told, things move along quite nicely for the first half of the disc. But after a few too many frenzied guess-you-hadda-be-there live experiments and throwaways, things start to wear a little thin.
Once again, context and perspective. For fans, this could be considered essential for novices, decidedly less so.
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