Volume 93, Issue 61
Wednesday, January 19, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Zuul's serve up new concoction
Born Again Savage
Steve Van Zandt (aka Little Steven) is best known as the charismatic rhythm guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. After leaving The Boss in the early '80s, he released a number of pleasant solo albums before slipping from the spotlight and becoming involved in political activism.
He recently returned to fame as a cast member on the critically acclaimed television series The Sopranos and on the E Street reunion tour. The success of both projects seems to have renewed his confidence, as Born Again Savage is his first album in over 10 years.
Van Zandt is a fantastic musician and a strong songwriter. This, coupled with the fact that Savage features U2's Adam Clayton on bass and Jason Bonham (son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) on percussion, leads one to believe the results would be a gratifying experience. Alas, this is not the case.
Aside from being 30 years too late for its time, this meek attempt at a psychedelic album is simply not good. Instead of the joyful rhythm and blues tinged roots-rock style which Van Zandt made famous, it is an album of heavy, sluggish hard rock littered with pretentious lyrics, ridiculous song titles (for example, "Lust For Enlightenment,") and is painful to listen to.
The album's one highlight is "Salvation," which is anchored by a scorching guitar riff and the only discernible hook on the entire CD. It also happens to be the one reprieve from the album's formulaic garage rock sludge.
The remainder of the album features Van Zandt and his band thrashing away at some repetitive chord structure, while croaking out pseudo-philosophical new age lyrics. Mercifully, most of the songs on the album are rather short.
Judging from Born Again Savage's dated, soulless and almost completely worthless music, Van Zandt should hang up his guitar and stick to acting.
Aaron St. John
Zuul's Evil Disco
It is a sheer impossibility to grasp the true sound of Zuul's Evil Disco without attending one of their infamous live performances. That said, their newest indie effort, Homemade Prozak, does its absolute best to capture the band's auditory jambalaya of funk, disco, metal, rap and rock 'n' roll and does so quite well.
Those unfamiliar with the London funksters should imagine a ranting, flailing eight-pronged attack of sound, complete with a brass section, puppeteers and break dancers. Clearly, ZED appears to be a group of unstable individuals in need of chemical equilibrium.
Regardless of how one views the group's onstage antics, tracks such as "Lucky Love Sponge" and "Afro" accent the band's undeniable talent for fusing melodious harmonies with brash, in-your-face instrumentals.
"Superfantabulous" is probably the best example of the ZED sound, with a two part harmony accented by background exclamations, which in turn give rise to sudden bursts of metal guitar riffs and blistering rap lyrics.
In short, Homemade Prozak is a solid followup to their '97 effort, Funkalupatropolis. From start to finish, the album is a classy production by a not-so-classy group.
However, any amount of mastering in the world cannot compare to their live presence, for as the album liner proclaims, "You can't get down if you don't know what's up."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000