|Volume 92, Issue 63
Wednesday, January 20, 1999
elmer the elephant
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ray breaks sugar coating
As the title of their new album indicates, Sugar Ray aren't about to give up their 15 minutes of fame just yet, nor should they if this album is indicative of what they will continue to produce.
14:59 hits almost every note on the musical scale, ranging from hip hop inflected melodies to straight ahead power pop. This diversity should help see Sugar Ray through to a successful career. For anyone who thought Sugar Ray was a one hit wonder, think again, because 14:59 delivers.
The laid back, low key stylings of the first single "Every Morning" allow for maximum relaxing. The song, which is already receiving attention on the charts, makes effective use of the turntables and drum beats, yet not to the point where they become intrusive. Sugar Ray's collaboration with KRS-1 on "Live & Direct" is less successful it just doesn't grab the listener but it is an interesting song nonetheless.
Sugar Ray also stakes new territory by nodding to the Beatles and their counterparts, The Beach Boys. The ballad "Ode To The Lonely Hearted" has a 1950s doo wop, Beach Boys quality which subtly creeps into the background throughout the song. Alternately, the songs "Someday" and "Even Though" sound like the Beatles circa 1955.
If all of this isn't enough, Sugar Ray throws another twist into the proceedings by taking on Steve Miller with a version of "Abracadabra" which blows the roof off the record.
So saddle up boys and girls, because Sugar Ray will take us on a ride which can be described in one word sweet.
THE BLACK CROWES
By Your Side
So here is the great musical question of the '90s is rock and roll a dead art? In the radio world of "alternative" pop and dancing boy bands it's pretty easy to think so.
Many thought The Black Crowes were dead well not dead, but missing in action. The band has sparsely been seen since they turned their back on radio and decided to play with Grateful Dead-ish psychedelic jams.
After some personnel changes, the Crowes have returned to their bluesey brand of rock and roll. In fact, By Your Side could actually bring some old fans back into the fold, as the album is reminiscent of their early work as a premiere rock and roll band.
Like all blues-based albums, guitar work makes or breaks the effort. At the six-stringed helm for The Black Crowes is Rich Robinson, who manages to bring in some fairly good slide work, while providing plenty of driving riffs. A great groove can be found on tracks like "Go Tell the Congregation." However, ol' Rich does manage to bore the listener with "HorseHead," which is simply over-bearing and hard on the ear.
Fault cannot be totally blamed on the guitar work. Rich's sibling, Chris, occasionally likes to sing on this disc the problem with that is Chris is the band's vocalist. Chris' main problem is he tries to colour the tracks by adding a high note during a bridge or even a "Yeah, Baby!" but he doesn't hit those high notes very well.
The album does, however, have the potential to be a bit of a radio hit if radio will take them back.
The John Lennon Anthology
Recent times have seen many cash strapped has-beens or golden oldies trying to recapture past glory, with meaningless compilations of their released and unreleased material.
And then there's The John Lennon Anthology. This collection of albums deserves to be heard, rather than buried in a closet or studio.
At the time of his death nearly 20 years ago, Lennon left behind mountains of material, most of which has remained locked away and nearly forgotten by the music adoring public. With the release of The Beatles Anthology a few years ago, a glimpse of this unheard material was made available. This new collection allows the listener to experience Lennon at his best.
The John Lennon Anthology features 90 tracks over four CDs, including live performances, out takes and previously unreleased tracks, amounting to four hours of material. The package also contains a booklet written by Yoko Ono, giving insight and background on the collection, as well as the life and music of John Lennon.
The attractive packaging hints at the magnificence within. Among the material are unreleased, beautiful versions of most of Lennon's greatest works, including "Working Class Hero," "Come Together," "Imagine," "Give Peace A Chance" and "Jealous Guy." Also included is the original tape of "Real Love," which the other three members of the Fab Four released remastered in the Beatles Anthology 2, as well as short cuts of a young Sean Lennon strumming on the guitar and belting out lyrics from his dad's records.
The casual music fan may not love it as much as the Lennon enthusiast or music aficionado, but The John Lennon Anthology is sure to be a pleasure to listen to for anyone. The anthology shows Lennon in a raw, improvisational form and the albums are honest and real. The listener has the privilege to see the true Lennon, stripped down to the pure, superb musician he was.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999