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Music Reviews

Popular Music - # 42 - January, 2002


Graham Vine

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

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EVE SUB REBEL - SUPER DELTA THREE - KEYSTONE 10060010

Performance:
Sonics:

Musical progression has received a bad press in recent years - memories of 'prog-rock' and supposedly pretentious constructions with epic, over-long tracks making no particular point. No doubt some of the criticisms were justified. No names, no pack-drill! Genuine progression, introducing new ideas and techniques, has a long and honorable story to tell, and I need point no further than The Beatles to encapsulate the nub of the issue. So if I dare to register 'progression' as an attribute of Super Delta Three I run the risk of alienating some readers immediately. Please, everyone - read on!

The band has clearly refrained from leveling off as they reached a level of musical skill which would allow them to hold their own in the company of most up-and-coming groups. No, they have added to their repertoire of skills and have no fear in 'going for it'. Rich production is used where it fits; no excuse is necessary.

The album "Eve Sub Rebel" is a very interesting crossover between the rock and dance musical traditions. Most of the tracks have a 'groove' as their foundation. Some even have spoken vocals, but these are not angry, shouting type, but rather close-miked and suggestive in a subtle way. Other songs are sung in a shy, little-girl innocent way. Then again, track 3 has echoes of "Jumping Jack Flash" leading on to "We Love You", all done in their own style with some modern filtering effects used to bring out their own individuality.

A couple of tracks, "Something More To Think About" and "Hip-No Therapy" do not really say anything to me, or maybe I'm just not getting it. Either way there is still plenty in here to attract both the rock and the RnB enthusiast. A clever and well-developed combination which I hope gives much success to the group.

For reference, complete track listing:

1. Superdeltafreak
2. I Know Where You Live
3. Jumping The Delta
4. While You Sleep
5. Something More To Think About
6. Hip-No Therapy
7. Disdain
8. Space Geisha
9. Eve Sub Rebel
10. Charlie T

 

THE ROSE THAT GREW FROM CONCRETE, VOLUME 1 - TUPAK SHAKUR - AMARU/INTERSCOPE 490-813-2

Performance:
Sonics:

As a tribute, we might have hoped for more consistency than we find with this album. For Tupac Shakur is widely acknowledged as a great exponent of the genre and indeed co-wrote all of the material on this album. His untimely death should be honored with great care, and I cannot help feeling that some of the tracks on this album fail in this regard.

Amongst the highlights must be mentioned "Tears Of A Teenage Mother" which is quite short, but touching nonetheless. Jumping to a quite outstanding track, the last one has Chief Okena Littlehawk accompanied by some wonderful traditional sounds in the background. It has a great nature-loving message, as you might expect, and no violent subtext.

Although billed as a 'spoken word' record, there are numerous songs in the otherwise rap-based material. The Quincy Jones track is a big disappointment. Despite throwing a lot of production into it, the result does not work. The idea, based on the Don McLean song "Vincent" starts off promisingly with a brief paraphrase of the original and then lapses into an over-rapped remainder. Such a waste of all the effort that clearly went into the backing. A couple of other tracks start well (#s 12 & 13) with
fresh interesting ideas in the intro and then descend into the extreme (and unpleasant) end of the spectrum of this genre.

We end with a few words about the absolute top track on the album by a country-mile. Track 15, "Sometimes I Cry" by Dan Rockett, features acoustic guitar in the makeup of brilliant backing, and the slide guitar work is up with the best I have heard. That number, its companion "What Of A Love Unspoken" with its Spanish guitar and jazz-inclined flute work, and the aforementioned Chief are the only 3 tracks featuring in my personal 'compilation-worthy' list. A must to audition before purchase, this album.

For reference, complete track listing:

1. Tupac Interlude
2. Babatunde Olantunji & Sikiru Adepoju: Wake Me Up When I'm Free
3. Mos Def: Can U C The Pride In The Panther.
4. Sonia Sanchez: When URE Heart Turns Cold
5. Dead Prez: U R Ripping Us Apart
6. Jasmine Guy: Tears Of A Teenage Mother
7. Reverend Run: God
8. Red Rat: And Still I Love You
9. Mos Def: Can U C The Pride In The Panther
10. Providence & RasDaveed El Harar: If There Be Pain
11. Danny Glover, Afeni Shakur & the cast of The Lion King: A River That Flows Forever
12. Nikki Giovanni: The Rose That Grew From Concrete
13. Outlawz & geronimo ji Jaga: In The Event Of My Demise
14. Tre' from Pharcyde: What Of A Love Unspoken
15. Dan Rockett: Sometimes I Cry - great backing
16. Q-Tip: The Fear In The Heart Of A Man
17. Quincy Jones & Mac Mall: Starry Night
18. Russell Simmons: What Of Fame?
19. Rha Goddess: Only 4 The Righteous
20. Sarah Jones: Why Must U Be Unfaithful?
21. 4th Avenue Jones' feat KCi: Wife 4 Life
22. Malcolm Jamal Warner: Lady Liberty Needs Glasses
23. Lamar Antwon Robinson & The IMPACT Repertory Theatre Group: Family Tree
24. Lamar Antwon Robinson & The IMPACT Repertory Theatre Group: Thug Blues
25. Chief Okena Littlehawk: The Sun & The Moon

 

A FIT OF RAGE - DAVID NEIL CLINE - GAZOCHTAHAGEN 91-002-CD

Performance:
Sonics:

Multi-talented David Neil Cline has freshened up an earlier EP of his, "A Fit Of Rage", and reused the title in the way shown above for this 6-track CD of rock music. Playing guitars, bass, and keyboards to accompany his own vocals, he achieves an interesting blend of thrash and melody, variously described as heavy-rock and hard-rock. It steers clear of Heavy Metal (to my ears), though these descriptions are always bound to be subjective. Similarities are to be found with the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Whitesnake - unfortunately there is no equivalent to "Smoke On The Water" but then, sadly, we can expect few such classics in each generation.

The superbly clear sleeve-notes give due credit to three other musicians: Jeff Giovannangeli, J.D. Donnelly and Mark Mann; I presume the latter is not a misprinted version of that other musician Marc Mann. Between them, Jeff, J.D. and Mark account for some of the solid drums and bass on the album. Having mentioned the sleeve-notes, I have to remark on the lyric sheets. They contain some quite glaring typos and spelling mistakes. Hey David, next time I'll proof-read for you, OK?!?!

The stand-outs amongst the generally high standard of tracks are the instrumental "Bad Attitude" and the last track "False Reality". Both of these make excellent use of tempo changes, and a quite compelling throbbing beat. All the tracks have benefited from David's production skills - he makes good use of the sound-stage and, a very handy skill in the heavy-zone, he makes you believe the audio level has peaked, and then comes in with another layer of fuzz to knock you back again. Lovely! Shocking!!

There are some very slick references in "False Reality" that link in very nicely with some of my own (and I presume, David's) influences - like the arpeggiated chord sequence just before the "10538 Overture" quote, and the "Freebird-alike" after it. Quite a highlight to end this short selection on. Enough to whet my appetite for more of David Neil Cline, and I look forward to reviewing the following album from him "Malefic Influence".

For reference, full track listing:

1. Robbing The Cradle
2. Enforcer
3. U
4. Bad Attitude
5. The Metal Rules
6. False Reality


 - Graham Vine -

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Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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