Volume 93, Issue 79

Wednesday, March 1, 2000


Wonder Boys a subtle wonder

Reindeer Games playfully follows the rules

Afterglow worth the long wait

Afterglow worth the long wait

Crowded House

In their prime, Crowded House was one of the most glorious and consistently brilliant pop bands around. Combining Neil Finn's elegant, impossibly beautiful melodies with an incredible production ethic and impeccable instrumentation, this antipodean foursome effectively raised the bar for modern pop bands.

Although it's been roughly five years since the group's bitter dissolution, a critical comparison to Crowded House is still synonymous with the phrase "perfect pop." Nothing illustrates this better than Afterglow, a long overdue epilogue to this criminally underrated pop outfit.

Culled from their 10 year career, this collection of unreleased tracks and b-sides only serves to further illustrate the depth of their collective talent. While it is by no means on par with some of the band's best work, the overall quality of this offering is still miles ahead of the collective oeuvre of most modern pop bands.

From the folky simplicity of "I Love You Dawn" to the subtle and moody "Help Is Coming," Afterglow proves that many of Finn's throwaways are still very much worth preserving. Although there are a handful of tracks which aren't up to Crowded House's particularly high standards (the clunky "Left Hand" and the maudlin opener "I Am In Love"), the bulk of these unreleased leftovers further cement the band's reputation as songwriters of the highest calibre.

–Mark Pytlik

Rick Nelson
A Night To Remember

It's difficult to determine the best section in the record shop for Rick Nelson's A Night To Remember, a "best of" collection in the form of a live concert recorded in 1985. Nelson's varied career spanned from the 1950s to the '80s and his songs reflect a wide range of musical styles.

Well-documented pop hits from the '50s and '60s are all present on this effort. Crooner anthems "Travellin' Man" and "Poor Little Fool" effectively blend mellow chords with Nelson's smooth voice. Later songs such as "Garden Party" and "Stood Up/Waitin' In School" reveal themselves to be early versions of what we know as modern country rock.

Nelson tries to transform his image by playing what was deemed "rebellious music" at the time. Unfortunately, in retrospect, these offerings hinder the album and conjure up the image of a 40 year-old singer trying to deny he's become a tired oldies act.

However, rounded out with the inclusion of five multimedia videos, this computer-enhanced CD will most certainly please those looking for a compilation of Nelson's best work and serve as an apt chronicle of his varied career.

–Rick Upton

Various Artists
Masters of the 1 & 2: History's Greatest DJs

They say that kids are buying more turntables than guitars nowadays, so in an odd way, this ambitious release couldn't have come at a better time.

Although it's generally difficult to succinctly capture the spirit and history of an entire genre of music in the span of one CD, this latest collection is an ideal starting point for anyone wishing to acquaint themselves with the finer points of both old and new school turntablism.

This MTV sponsored effort is a surprisingly succinct and relatively complete affair which offers up a well-rounded and balanced account of the history of the DJ. In addition to featuring tracks from pioneering acts such as Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash and De La Soul, Masters succeeds because it also gives the listener insight into where the genre is headed. Original cuts by new school innovators Coldcut, DJ Q-Bert and Peanut Butter Wolf help to successfully trace the progression of this tumultuous genre.

Like any compilation which attempts to define an entire genre, this one is hindered by some dubious omissions. However, History's Greatest DJs deserves credit for largely fulfilling it's ambitious promise and delivering a collection of some of music's most relevant turntablists.

More of a crash course in turntablism than a definitive lesson, Masters is still an engaging spin which is bound to inspire at least a few guitar trade-ins.

–Mark Pytlik

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