Volume 92, Issue 26
Wednesday, October, 21 1998
bound and gagged
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Rollins has Cake and eats it too
Prolonging The Magic
ProlongingThe Magic seems like an ideal title for this album. Ideal because it seems to be a last ditch effort by Cake at retaining some of the band's earlier popularity. It is in truth, an exercise in prolonging its income.
Cake has undergone major lineup changes since its last album and it shows. The former lead guitarist has left and with him, a lot of the creativity and vibrancy of the band. The remnants, while all the while composing delightful, insightful, witty and clever lyrics, just cannot replace his charisma, creativity and musical leadership. The lyrics are good. The instrumentation is "blah."
The first single "Never There" is radio-friendly and nice, but lacks any depth. And the rest of the album follows suit. Not to say however, that the album is atrocious it isn't by any means. The fact is one can't compare everything in a vacuum and having heard Cake's earlier work, one can certainly tell this is not it. The songs are all nicely composed and the lyrics are clever but they lack the added punch that earlier hits, "The Distance" and "I Will Survive" possessed.
If you are, however, a fan of Cake and love its slinky, jazz-infused beats, this album mayprove worthy. The album is indeed Cake, just a toned-down less-interesting version. The clever lyrics are still there, but the disappearance of Cake's former lead guitarist has hampered the ability to produce songs that invigorate when heard.
For all of you Henry Rollins fans out there who stare wistfully at your CD collection and wish Henry would be a little more outspoken, take heart. Yes, the self-proclaimed aging alternative icon is waxing some intellectual opinions with a vengeance on his new album, Think Tank.
Usually, one does not have a great expectation for celebrity spoken word albums, since they usually fall into the quagmire of narcissistic bullshit. However, anyone who is familiar with the hard-driving sounds and gritty intelligent lyrics of the Rollins Band or Black Flag, knows that ol' Hank doesn't make stops on the pretentiousness turnpike. There is no whining about the emptiness of fame, riches and raw, uninhibited groupie sex with Rollins, nor any blatant attempts at empathetic sensitivity reminiscent of Jewel's book of verbal diarrhea, which she deems "poetry."
With Rollins you get exactly what you want straight musings from his cerebral cortex on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. His stories, theories and experiences are not limited to those of the modern-day rock star elite. Rather, they are the beefs and concerns of the common man.
Tracks like "Airport Hell," which deals with the moronic people who cannot seem to fathom getting through airport obstacles in a reasonable time are common rants anyone can relate to. Other selections like "Fax for the Exempt" exhibit Rollins' playfully cynical humour, while "Marius" details his visit to a terminal cancer patient in a frank manner without any sort of self-applause.
In short, Think Tank is a CD that comes along very rarely among the shallow celebrity elite. It is an album which bleeds not narcissism or shallow opinions, but something which is the lifeblood of Henry Rollins the truth.
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