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April 18, 1994 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-18

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 18, 1994

Continued from page 9
America. But, because of their muta-
tion and mixing with indigenous,
Spanish and English lyricism, these
Africanisms are easy to overlook. It
takes a comprehensive collection like
"Africa in America" to prove the
prevalence of African traditions in all
varieties of American music.
The first of the three CDs high-
lights the syncretic music of the nu-
merous polytheistic religions in the
Americas. These excerpts range
through the subdued rhythms of a
Cuban Santeria ceremony invoking
the Yoruban god Ogun, the intense
three-drum polyphony of Haitian
Vodun, and a Honduran Canto from a
Dugu possession ceremony.
This first CD also includes a
strangely familiar gospel song from
Belize. "Walk in Jerusalem's" En-
glish lyrics, guitar accompaniment
and docile harmony allude to its 19th
century Protestant roots.
As if added as a counterweight, an
Afro-Brazilian candomble song, with
its complex percussive drive and call
and response singing characteristic of
African retentions, follows the gos-
pel ballad.
Disc two highlights the strong
Hispanic influences that mixed with
Africanisms in Mexico, the Carib-
bean, and Central America. Begin-
ning with the dense guitar raucous of
regional sones, the recording
progresses through brodown's gui-
tars, banjo, and accordion melodies,
and merengi's drum and scrape. One
son from Costa Chica is a rootsy revi-
sion of "La Cucaracha" done in local
chilena style.
Volume three takes the compila-
tion up to date with contemporary
popular styles. From here on, the
musical territory becomes more fa-
miliar, covering salsa from the Do-
minican Republic, Big Mama
Thorton's West Coast blues,
Antigua's Cable Wireless Hell's Gate
Pan Band doing the international soca
hit "Hot Hot Hot" and Clifton
Chenier's rollicking zydeco that dunks
Arcadia in the bayou.
As if that weren't enough, Carib-
bean guitarist Brad Pattico sings
"Nobody's Business,"a song that was
part of bluesman Mississippi John
Hurt's repertoire in 1928! The con-
nections in this collection make you
wonder at the depth and vivacity of
tradition through subjugationand over
miles and years.
- Chris Wyrod

Kirsty MacColl
Titanic Days
IRS Records
Kirsty MacColl's third album,
"Titanic Days," is all one could ask
for from an album. The English singer
/songwriter with the unusually clever,
poetic lyrics and a voice that manages
to be simultaneously sweet and raspy
has, hands down, put together one of
the best (and unfortunately, one of the
most overlooked) albums of recent
As far as lyricists go, MacColl is
definitely among the best, taking on a
wide number of roles and opponents.
As a singer, she knows how to twist
the conventions of the art and deliver
new takes on themes that have been
traditionally treated only one way in
the past. MacColl opts for subversion
rather than gang-busting vocal as-
saults. "I've been a token woman all
my life / The token daughter and the
token wife / Now I collected tokens
one by one /'Til I've saved enough to
buy a gun..." she half-sings, half-
whispers over the cool jazz of "Bad."
The majority of songs on "Titanic
Days" were co-written with Mark E.
Nevin, of the Fairground Attraction,
who is probably better known for his
work with MacColl's Brit-rock fa-
miliar Morrissey on his post-Smiths
efforts. The MacColl-Nevin collabo-
rations, musically, are Nevin's stron-
gest compositions ever and MacColl,
as usual, delivers her poignant rhymes
with an overwhelmingly capable vo-
cal ability, turning on a dime from a
lullaby in "Angel" to an aggressive
anthem in "Big Boy on a Saturday
Night," a rockabilly romp with a rag-
ing chorus.
Only one song on the album was
co-written with MacColl's otherlong-
time working partner and crony -
Morrissey's other affiliate, the mar-
velous Johnny Marr. His single con-
tribution to the album, the music for
"Can't Stop Killing You," is a phe-
nomenal one, complete with a funk-
bluesy intro and series of dazzling
guitar parts that reaffirm his status as
one of rock 'n' roll's most treasured
MacColl often dispenses with the
single chorus and instead engages the
listener with a whole slew of melodic
hooks. Her use of tempo-changes and
string accompaniment adds a sense of
excitement to her songs that has been
conspicuously absent from other pop
music of late. Every song is a memo-
rable one; whether it be the graceful,
acoustic "Last Day of Summer," the
brisk, emotional "Soho Square", or


Kirsty MacColl leaves anything "substandard" off her latest album, "Titanic Days." A true pop creation, it'll have you sh

any other track on the album, there is
not a hint of the substandard on "Ti-
tanic Days."
- Thomas Crowley
Various Artists
The Doo Wop Box
Traditionally, most rock critics and
historians don't take doo wop seri-
ously. For most, doo wop is only seen
as a nostalgic relic from the early days
of rock 'n' roll, when the music was
simple. Thankfully, "The Doo Wop
Box" proves these critics to be wrong.
With its 101 tracks, the collection
shows that doo wop is just as vital and
important as any of the other rock
subgenres. It will also silence anyone
who believes that Sha-Na-Na is what
doo wop is all about.
Doo Wop evolved from the gospel
and pop vocal groups of the '40s and
early '50s and the box appropriately
begins with "It's Too Soon to Know"
from the seminal R&B vocal group,
the Orioles. From there, the set traces
the history of black vocal groups and
how R&B became rock 'n' roll's doo
wop, as well as how white groups
picked up on the style during the '50s.
While it functions as a thorough
history lesson, "The Doo Wqp Box"

is also filled with brilliant, breath-
taking music. Although the music is
clearly from a specific era, it doesn't
hurt its impact in the slightest; the
strength of the singing and the mar-
velous vocal arrangements are time-
less. And all of the major hits are here
- "Sh-Boom," "Earth Angel,"
"Speedoo," "Why Do Fools Fall in
Love," "Devil or Angel," "In the Still
of the Nite," "Come Go With Me,"
"Get A Job," "Tears on My Pillow,"
"Book of Love," "Maybe," "A Teen-
ager in Love," "I Only Have Eyes for
You," "Stay," "Since I Don't Have
You," "There's A Moon Out Tonight"
and "Blue Moon,"just to name a few
- as well as many forgotten favor-
ites, known only to hard-core vocal
group collectors.
"The Doo Wop Box" is an all-
encompassing, definitive box set; for
most, these four discs are all the doo
wop would ever need. Not only is the
song selection flawless, the liner notes
explore each song in detail and pro-
vides a time-line of the genre's his-
tory, as well as several essays by
prominent R&B historians.
Although the set claims it covers
1948 to 1987, there are no tracks from
the 1965 through 1982 and there are
only two tracks from the '80s. The
first, "Morse Code of Love" by the
Capris, is a surprising delight - it
shows that the group had not aged at
all since "There's A Moon Out To-
night," as well as dispelling the myth
that the music is only for teen-agers or
people who were teen-agers during
the'50s and early '60s. But it is Johnny

Maestros & the Brooklyn Bridge's
live version of "My Juanita" that re-
ally pulls the heart-strings. During
the performance, Maestro proudly
jokes that he was one of the only
artists to receive any royalties during
those days -a check for $17.50. And
then you realize that most of the art-
ists that made the past 100 stunning
tracks were never properly compen-
sated while they were performing;
almost all of them were cheated out of
record companies when they were
recording. "The Doo Wop Box" stands
as a tribute to these under-appreci-
ated artists' wonderful, timeless
achievements; box sets don't come
any better than this.
- Tom Erlewine
Primal Scream
Give Out But Don't Give Up
Sire / Warner
Many people claim that Primal
Scream's 1991 record,
"Screamadelica" is a brilliant work
that seamlessly combines the classic
raunch of the Stones and Who with
the throbbing beats of the modern-
day dance floor.
Well, that may be true - some of
the songs from the album were unde-
niably catchy. But even if
"Screamadelica" is terrific, the ea-
gerly anticipated follow-up, "Give Out
But Don't Give Up" is truly, undeni-.
ably, awful.
Stripping away all of the dance
elements that made their previous al-
bum unique, Primal Scream refash-

aking your butt.
ions themselves as the Rolling Stones
for the '90s, apparently oblivious tp
the fact that the Black Crowes have
been doing quite nicely in that role
So, the boys from Scotland trav-
eled down to the deep south of Metri-
phis to find that serious, gritty blues
that theyjust knew was always hound-
ing their souls. They hankered down
in the seminal Ardent Studios (home
of everyone from Big Star to Afghan
Whigs) with legendary producer Tom
Dowd, called in the Memphis Horns
and had George Clinton drop by, all
in an attempt to make a "classic"
album in the vein of "Sticky Fingers'
or "A Nod is As Good As A Wink."
But from the very beginning of the
record, it is clear that the whole thing
will sink from the weight of its own
ambitions. Notonly are Primal Scream
incapable of writing a riff that can
rival "Jealous Again," let alone
"Brown Sugar," they can not come up
with enough energy to propel them-
selves through a single song.
Bobby Gillespie sounds bored
whenever he's singing, which is not
surprising considering how utterly
banal his never-ending string of lyri-
cal cliches are.
Gillespie's listless performance
wouldn't have mattered if the guitar
ists had managed to come up with one
or two hooks; similarly, if Gillespie
had the charisma of a Mick Jagger or
Rod Stewart, the lack of strong riffs
wouldn't have been so glaring. As it
is, "Give Out But Don't Give Up" is S
an ambitious album by a band that is
blissfully unaware of the limits of
their ordinary talent; consequently, it
is mind-numbingly boring.
- Tom Erlewine
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Open to the public
opwood awars
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