Volume 92, Issue 22

Wednesday, October 14, 1998

in living colour


Swingin' to a permanent beat

Jive's Alive!

On the top floor of a tall building in New York, there's a room where all of the record execs, advertising gurus and fashion magnates gather each year to choose the next big thing. In the past few years they've gone through grunge, electronica, ska and others, while each time milking the genre for all the cash it's worth – then leaving it for dead. This year they apparently chose swing music as their new cash cow, as seen in the new compilation Jive's Alive!

Jive's Alive! is more of a marketing tool than anything else. The fine print in the liner notes even admits the CD was produced by Universal's strategic marketing department. The producers obviously aimed it at the young, trend-conscious crowd who saw the "Khakis Swing" Gap commercial and felt behind the times.

The result is cold, calculated and has little personality. The liner notes to most genre compilation CDs come with an intro by the compilers telling a little about the bands involved and what's going on in the music scene. The liner notes for Jive's Alive! simply list the tracks and their copyright information.

Despite its unabashedly commercial packaging, parts of the CD are fun to listen to. Tracks like Royal Crown Revue's "Hey Pachuco" and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "Go Daddy-O" could bring out the swing fan in even the most hardened cynic. Swing has been around longer than most people who are alive today and even after more than half a century it's still the fun, happy music that made your grandparents dance. It's not the music's fault that it is begin taken advantage of.

Swing is fun, but its lyrics suffer from lack of depth. Most of the songs on Jive deal with such hard hitting issues as swing music, swing dancers and people who wish they were swing dancers. Like a bad date that won't shut up, modern swing likes to talk about itself too much.

If you don't mind stuffing the corporate music establishment's already overfilling pockets, give Jive's Alive! a try. A better idea, however, would be to support the artists directly and check out the CDs that Jive's material was ripped from.


Permanent Midnight Soundtrack
Geffen Records

In general, soundtracks are composed of leftovers from popular artists and contribute nothing to the music scene except for new compilations of specific musical genres. This soundtrack contains three of the most popular elements in youth-orientated music today – alternative, techno and pop. While it doesn't break the mold, Permanent Midnight proves it's not a bad compilation.

The material ranges from Spiritualized's trippy space pop tune "Your Time," to the Crystal Method's hard hitting techno assault on "Now is the Time," to "EPR," which is a driving alterna-rock anthem from Girls Against Boys. As a result, the collection feels like interesting segments of the cinematic whole.

Often a soundtrack is thrown together, but some of the songs on this CD were crafted especially for the subject matter of the movie. The storyline follows one man's painful fall from grace at the hands of his heroin addiction.

This subject matter was obviously one of the reasons Art Alexis of Everclear agreed to donate his poignant and touching track "Overwhelming." It combines meaningful, heartfelt vocals, the pain of horrible life experiences and decent instrumentation, helping make it one of the album's standout tracks.

Other tracks of note on the album include "Get Miles" from the band Gomez who have been receiving rave reviews of their first album overseas and "Honey," which is an excellent techno dance cut from Moby.

While the soundtrack has many songs which can stand alone, the album lacks a consistent, interconnecting flow. As soundtracks go, it's a good one, but it's certainly no Grease.


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

Copyright The Gazette 1998