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Music Reviews

Popular Music CDs - Part 4 - May, 1998


Graham Vine

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Aretha (2425 bytes)

"A Rose is Still a Rose"

Aretha Franklin

Arista; 07822 18987 2

Performance: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)
Audio: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)

"A Rose Is Still A Rose" is the latest album from Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul. Well, that's the nick-name she was given in the '60s, and how I wish she had kept to the style which warranted that title. The album seems such a waste of her voice. She is trying ever-so-hard to be up-to-date but has adopted vocal gymnastics in lieu of a good melody. The songs are poor - they just do not seem to go anywhere. The producers have not done Aretha a service on this issue. Some honest guidance on tune-selection, a more mainstream approach to vocalizing the melody, and the studio treatment of the songs would have all resulted in an album worthy of Aretha's talent. Most of the songs have, well, just too much going on. With that persistant 'groove' and the gospel-style voices, the songs are oppressive; they crowd in on you. I would much prefer an open sound that allows me to explore different facets of the songs in my head. "A Rose Is Still A Rose" is the current single as well as the title track. I shall watch with interest whether Aretha's reputation carries her through this phase in her career. Bring back R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I say!

Track Listing:

1. A Rose Is Still A Rose

2. Never Leave You Again

3. In Case You Forgot

4. Here We Go Again

5. Every Lil' Bit Hurts

6. In The Morning

7. I'll Dip

8. How Many Times

9. Watch My Back

10. Love Pang

11. The Woman

- GV -

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Shangri-Las (4597 bytes)

"Myrmidons Of Melodrama"

Shangri-Las

RPM; RPM136

Performance: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)
Audio: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)

They told their story. Of love, of loss, of relationships - though back in the 60s no one would have used THAT word! And it's all captured here on "Myrmidons Of Melodrama", a 33-track epic of a CD including all the Shangri-Las' singles, numerous 'B' sides, album tracks, and even a couple of radio commercials.

We kick off with "Remember (Walking In The Sand)", a successful single from 1964. On track 3 we find their other UK hit, "Leader Of The Pack" which charted several times over the '60s and '70s.

Now maybe I've listened to too many oldies shows on the radio, but I felt sure that "Give Him A Great Big Kiss" and "Past, Present And Future" had been hits, but no, not in the UK. I guess the exposure given to "Past, Present And Future" has been out of all proportion to its chart success, based as it is on Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Even the sleeve-notes describe it as 'possibly the most extraordinary record ever made'!

The people at RPM records are proud of the sound quality they have achieved but I have to report here that perhaps 3 or 4 of the tracks are somewhat distorted. I can only assume that the best original recordings available were already distorted because the rest are just fine, and CD is a much better way to take in your Shangri-Las than your now-wearing-out vinyl copies!

As a compilation, this has to be the definitive Shangri-Las collection. It captures the era and their dramatic rendition of songs perfectly. I enjoyed it. And a Myrmidon? It's a 'hired ruffian', or 'base servant'. Huh?

Track Listing:

1. Remember (Walking In The Sand)

2. It's Easier To Cry

3. Leader Of The Pack

4. What Is Love

5. Give Him A Great Big Kiss

6. Maybe

7. Out In The Streets

8. The Boy

9. Give Us Your Blessing

10. Heaven Only Knows

11. Right Now Not Later

12. The Train From Kansas City

13. Never Again

14. I'm Blue

15. What's A Girl Supposed To Do

16. The Dum Dum Ditty

17. You Cheated, You Lied

18. I Can Never Go Home Anymore

19. Bull Dog

20. Long Live Our Love

21. Sophisticated Boom Boom

22. He Cried

23. Dressed In Black

24. Past, Present And Future

25. Paradise

26. Love You More Than Yesterday

27. Wishing Well

28. Hate To Say I Told You So

29. Give Him A Great Big Kiss (alt take)

30. Radio Spot #1 How pretty can you get

31. Radio Spot #2 Revlon endorsement

32. Radio Spot #3 Good taste tip

33. Radio Spot #4 Dating courtesy tip

- GV -

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Boogie Nights 2 (4581 bytes)

"Boogie Nights 2"

Various Artists

Premier Soundtracks 7243 4 93076 2 9

Performance: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)
Audio: Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)Star (605 bytes)

So much good music in one film! The film is called "Boogie Nights", and a soundtrack CD was released to coincide with the UK release of the film. Then right out of the blue, another CD! Seems there was too much material in the film for just one CD, so another is called for.

Once again we have a splendid selection of tunes from the era - remember the film is set in the '70s. They're not all so obvious - in fact I've got my CD player set to skip for track 10, "I Want To Be Free" by the Ohio Players. I just don't like it. But with "You Sexy Thing" in there and the sadly under-rated "Joy" (Jesu Joy Of Man's Desiring) by Apollo 100, there's enough to keep most listeners attention. Other highlights are "Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'n' The Tears (who?!!) a soulful "Fooled Around & Fell In Love" by Elvin Bishop and a track called "Feel Too Good" by The Move from the era when Jeff Lynne was in the band, just prior to the formation of The Electric Light Orchestra, who were on the first of these two soundtrack albums. "Feel Too Good" is a 9 minute epic with Jeff and Roy having a good laugh at the end. If you like compilations of '70s music, this album might well be for you. 

Track Listing:

1. Three Dog Night - Mama Told Me Not To Come

2. Elvin Bishop - Fooled Around & Fell In Love

3. Hot Chocolate - You Sexy Thing

4. KC & The Sunshine Band - Boogie Shoes

5. Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - Do Your Thing

6. Sniff 'n' The Tears - Drivers Seat

7. The Move - Feel Too Good

8. Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl

9. Sound Experience - J. P. Walk

10. Ohio Players - I Want To Be Free

11. Apollo 100 - Joy

- GV -

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