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April 19, 1994 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-19

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RTS

The boys are back and hanging tough

By EUGENE BOWEN
The New Kids on the Block
(NKOTB, get it?) are back, attempt-
ing to polish their tarnished public
image (or perhaps trying to cash in on
NKOTB
Face the Music
Columbia Records
it). The guys have changed their name,
trying to sound more streetwise (ac-
ronyms sound so masculine, ya
know?), but when it comes down to it,
they're the same Donnie, Jonathan,
Joe, Jordan and Danny who exploded
on the scene five years ago, and then
died a painful death due to everything
from trouble with the cops to the
discovery that a once almost cultic
mass of fans had turned their backs on
them.
When "Face the Music" went on
sale, it seemed reminiscent of
NKOTB's debut. Once again, some
music stores were crowded with
mostly white, teenage females scream-
ing and clawing each other trying to
get a copy of this CD. But, is the CD
good?
In all honesty, it is.
It's an undisputed fact that these
guys can sing. They haven't lost their
voices which, five years ago, actually
had people thinking they were Black.
But, there really isn't much differ-

ence between "Face the Music" and
NKOTB's earlier "Hangin' Tough,"
with two possible exceptions. One,
there are more slow songs in "Face
the Music." Two, although NKOTB
is out to look more "gangsta-ish" this
time around, their music puts them
more in the sphere of Sir Mix-A-Lot
and Wilson Philips than Guns 'n'
Roses and Dr. Dre.
Most of the CD's slower tunes are
reminiscent of the group's earlier
"Please Don't Go Girl." "If You Go
Away," which is arguably one of bet-
ter songs on the CD, is one such
example. "Since You Walked Into
My Life," "I Can't Believe It's Over"
and "I'll Still be Loving You" also
qualify.
Perhaps the best thing about these
slow love songs is that none of them
are generic copies of the other. When
L.A. Babyface sings a slow song, we
know that he'll be begging some
woman to take him back. When Teddy
Pendergrass sings, he, as Eddie
Murphy once noted, "scares the
(women) into liking his ass."
NKOTB's love songs each have their
own unique flavors.
NKOTB does include faster songs
in "Face the Music," and for the most
part, this was their big mistake. "Intro:
Face the Music" is a big mess of
mixes, scratches and incoherent
voices. "You Got the Flavor" is even
worse. The beat is corny, and the
lyrics are stupid; it's hard to believe

Teddy Riley wrote this. "Never Let
You Go" makes NKOTB sound like a
group of Tevin Campbell clones.
One rather admirable, faster-paced
cut is the song "Keep on Smilin'."
This very beautiful song can also be
found on the "Free Willy" soundtrack.
The central drawback of "Face the
Music" is that many of the cuts sound
like carbon copies of the group's pre-
vious songs. NKOTB is coming back
trying to sport a new image, but the
only real change from the New Kids
on the Block of the past is the name
change, and changing to acronyms is

far from radical. Hell, Donnie still has
that stupid goatee, and Danny still
looks like he spends his free time
getting plastic surgery.
Nevertheless, "Face the Music" is
a decent CD. If you're willing to turn
a deaf ear to any biased opinions you
may have towards the group due to
previous events and buy this CD, you
will find that you probably will enjoy
at least some of the songs. Even if you
don't like this CD, keep it as a
collector's item as it is most likely
that NKOTB may soon have to face
the music as well-their swan song.

NKOTB are wicked awesome, man

By MATT CARLSON
The 'Kids are back and better than
ever, kickin' out those wicked awe-
some jams and rockin' up tha charts
like ya knew they would. No more
games indeed. This time around, they
have a wicked awesome new name
and a new album with more hooks
than a tackle box. NKOTB has just
released "Face The Music," so brace
yourself for the wicked awesomest
tunage on the face of the earth.
The record kicks off with "Intro:
Face The Music," a kinetic outburst
of wicked awesome hip-hop beats
that are so phunky phat! Donnie D
(Wahlberg) did the mixin' on this
track himself, which illustrates his
many faceted talents.
The dance groove continues into

"You Got The Flavor," a track that
contains the truly poetic line "Let's
not get fakin'/I want you to shake it."
The first single, "Dirty Dawg," has
got that steamy hot sexy groove thang,
which only proves that the 'Kids are
steppin' up to the big leagues with
this wicked awesome release.
These fine young lads know how
to drive the girls crazy, and, boy , they
sure do on "Girls," a tribute to tha
most wicked awesome creatures on
the face of this freakin' world. Again,
the 'Kids show off their Milton-esque
poetic license with this wicked awe-
some line: "Where would boys be
without girls to love?" Indeed, a truly
thought provoking question.
The 'Kids bring the beat back on
"Keen On Smilin'." a track that shows

NKOTB are sooo very cool that we decided we should give them two reviews.

the group's deep political conscience
with their timely and wicked awe-
some statement "Peace." Man, is that
simple but totally completely earth
shattering or what? On "Keepin' My
Fingers Crossed," the 'Kids have that
wicked awesome Boyz II Men har-
mony thang going, and boy oh boy, is
it ever great!
Little Joe McIntyre steps up to the
microphone on "Mrs. Right," and
man, does he pack more punch than
ten Evander Holyfields!
On this wicked awesome track, as
well as a few others .honnie D is

Husker Dui
The Living End
Warner Bros.
Seven years ago, Husker Du took
off for a whirlwind 10-date tour (in-
cluding a stop at the Nectarine Ball-
room) which proved to be their last
gasp as a band. Since their break-up,
they have proven to be arguably the
most influential and best band of the
past decade. Although they started as
a blinding hardcore punk band, they
soon broke through the strict confines
of that genre, bringing pop sensibili-
ties and stunning songwriting to their
massive guitar roar. And their cre-
ativity was staggering; from 1984 to

1987, they released two double al-
bums and three single albums, along
with a couple singles and a number of
tours.
Pasted together from several per-
formances on their last tour, "The
Living End" stands not only as a tes-
tament to their brutal live power, it
also shows why the band continues to
be worshipped to this day. Balanced
equally between Mould and Hart num-
bers, the tracks range from their early
single "In A Free Land" and "What's
Going On" from the landmark "Zen
Arcade" to several selections from
the classic 1985 albums; "New Day
Rising" and "Flip Your Wig," and a
number of songs from their last al-

bum, "Warehouse: Songs and Sto-
ries," as well as a couple of rarities
like bassist Greg Norton's
"Everytime" and a cover of the
Ramones' "Sheena is aPunk Rocker."
On "The Living End," Husker DOi
does not sound like a band on the
verge of the end; they tear through the
songs at a break-neck pace, as if their
lives depended on making it through
the show. And in a way, it did. After
the tour, the band split apart with
severe personal difficulties and ad-
dictions. Hart wound up in Nova Mob,
struggling with drugs over several
years; he has a new album scheduled
for this year. Mould made two terrific
solo albums before forming Sugar,

which gained him the following he
always deserved. And Norton is an
acclaimed chef in Minneapolis.
Without Husker DO, the "alterna-
tive revolution" of the '90s could not
have happened. They were the first
band to really harness the power of
punk in a pop song, paving the way
for everyone from the Replacements
and Soul Asylum to the Pixies and
Nirvana. Their sound and their songs
have lost none of their power over the
past decade; "The Living End" is vivid
proof that Husker DO is one of the
classic rock bands and that their mu-
sic will continue to sound as vital as it
was the day they recorded it. Without
a doubt, it is one of the best live

albums to come around in quite some
time.
- Tom Erlewine
Anthrax
Live: The Island Years
Island
Anthrax's "Sound of White Noise"
last summer created an environment
sympathetic to forgetting just how
cheesy Anthrax used to sound. They
didn't sound entirely bad, it was
mostly the vocals. But boy, the vocals
of Joe Belladonna are really, really
horribly clichdd on this album, re-
corded largely in California on
Anthrax's '91 tour with Public En-

rappin' up a storm with his wicked
awesome words of wisdom. Vanilla
Ice has nothin' on this white-bread
homeboy!
"Face The Music" has more hot
licks than a Tabasco flavored Tootsie
Roll Pop.
If you can't dance to this wicked
awesome album, you have no busi-
ness ownin' feet. Elvis, The Beatles,
The 'Stones, the Ramones, Public
Enemy -yeah, sure, whatever. They
all got nothin' on the wicked awe-
some stylings of NKOTB. The album
of the millennium.
emy.
But other than Belladonna's pesti-
lent screeching, this CD is pretty good.
Anthrax has a hard driving beat that
could keep any crowd moshing (with
the potential exception of a crowd of
people who don't otherwise go to
concerts getting together to listen to a
disgustingly popular band that's too
self-righteous for their own damn
good). Background singing and yell-
ing by Scott Ian is among the moso
entertaining around, and when it is
featured on some tracks (like "Keep it
in the Family" and "Caught in a
See RECORDS, Page 12

a

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