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March 27, 1995 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-27

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 27, 1995 - 9

RECORDS
Continued from page 8
least, he has lost some of the magic
that made his music special.
Ignore, for a moment, that
Springsteen has enough exceptional
material to fill a box set or that not all
of his hits are included on the single
disc, because "Greatest Hits" does
not intend to present all of his best
material, nor does it intend to be
merely a roll-call of his hits. What
"Greatest Hits" intends to do is ce-
ment the classic Springsteen image
- a rock 'n' roll rebel with a con-
science. A rocker that isn't afraid to
tackle the "Big Statement."
Of course, Springsteen does the
"Big Statement" very well; "The
River" and "Atlantic City" are two of
the finest depictions of working-class
despair written in the '80s. Unfortu-
*gately, "Greatest Hits" only has "Big
Statements;" even seemingly light-
weight singles like "Hungry Heart"
and "Glory Days" are about some-
thing meaningful, whether it's leav-
ipg your "wife and kids in Baltimore"
or realizing your best days are gone
"in a wink of a young girl's eye."
Springsteen's trademark rockers
about cars and girls are nowhere to be
*found-there's a world of difference
between the raging teen anthem "Born
to Run" and the balls-out rocking of
"Crush on You," "Cadillac Ranch"
and "She's the One."
In fact, there are very few songs
about love or "Growin' Up" on "Great-
est Hits." Instead of picking highlights
from his first two records, the album
begins in 1975 with "Born to Run," the
textbook Springsteen song. After es-
tablishing the Boss as a misunderstood
angry young man with that song, there's
a quick run-through of the troubled,
conflicted soul that recorded "Dark-
nessontheEdgeofTown," "TheRiver"
and "Nebraska," before landing at a
chunk of "U.S.A." material - "Danc-
ing in the Dark," "Glory, Days" and
"Born in the U.S.A." At that point,

"Greatest Hits" is only halfway over
but most of Springsteen's best material
is past, at least in terms of this record. A
cursory mention of the harrowing "Tun-
nel of Love" - "Brilliant Disguise," a
reference to Bruce's troubled marriage
with Julianne Phillips - paves the way
forthe'90sandtheBoss' "BetterDays."
"Better Days" and "Human
Touch" signal the arrival of
Springsteen the Mature Songwriter,
at least in the terms of "Greatest Hits."
"Mature Songwriter" should be read
as "AdultContemporary Songwriter,"
since every hit since "Brilliant Dis-
guise" fits squarely into the synth-
laden, mid-tempo musical territory of
Contemporary Hits Radio and VH- 1.
With all the brooding, self-con-
sciously serious numbers stuck at the
end (with the notable exception of the
thundering "Born in the U.S.A." out-
take, "Murder Incorporated"), "Great-
est Hits" leaves the impression that
Springsteen considers his current
work to be his best, or at least his most
accomplished.
However, none of his songs since
1987 have the lyrical grace of "The
River," the melody of "Thunder Road,"
the grit of "Glory Days" or the passion
of "Born to Run," and that fact is all the
more evident when his past glories are
placed next to the newer songs.
Naturally, "Greatest Hits" contains
many great songs. Yet it distorts the
meaning of those songs and
Springsteen's career, making the al-
bum only a fitfully entertaining sam-
pler of a great artist.
- Tom Erlewine
WaX
13 Unlucky Numbers
Interscope
If Wax's "13 Unlucky Numbers"
wasn't such a good album based on its
music alone, the buzz around the band
would still be explainable. With a
Spike Jonze video and a song being
used for the soundtrack of a Nike
commercial, Wax has all the doors
being opened for them, and an excel-

lent album to carry right through the
doorway.
Although it's only 23 minutes long,
the 13-track album (only 10 of which
have anything on them) has a major-
ity of great energetic punk rock tracks,
reminiscent of Soul Asylum's early
work.
The first single, "California," is
one of the many good cuts on the
album. For this song, the band hired
video guru SpikeJonze (Beastie Boys,
Weezer) to make another one of his
breakthrough pieces. This video fea-
tures a man running down the street
on fire for the duration of the song.
Although the actual footage is only
12 seconds long, the film was slowed
down to fit the two minute, 15 second
song. MTV VJs also feel they have to
warn viewers"Not to try this at home,"
before each showing of the video,
because the average MTV viewermust
be pathetically stupid enough to set
themselves on fire and run down the
street.
The first track on the disc, "Who
Is Next," is one of the best on the
album, and also the soundtrack for a
Nike commercial featuring tennis
players Pete Sampras and Andre
Agassi putting up a net and playing
tennis on a busy New York City street.
The song is great, giving an all out
display of Wax's energetic and thrash-
ing music.
Other tracks like "Settle Down,"
and "Just a Visitor" fit into Wax's typi-
cal formula of Joe Sib's whiny vocals
and the band's fast and pounding mu-
sic, but still work great on the album.
"Jiffy Boy" takes on an acoustic
feel, but still sticks with the rest of
Wax's goofy songs. Sib sings, "The
jiffy boy is on, hurry up / he needs a
hammer, to knock his head around /
... the jiffy boy went down / hurry up
he needs a doctor / take the hammer
from his head / take the hammer, or he
won't be 'round much longer."
"13 Unlucky Numbers" offers
some great material. The only prob-
lem is that there are only 10 songs,
, 14k

and a total of 23 minutes. It's a good
23 minutes though, and is also one of
the best albums to be released so far
this year.
- Brian A. Gnatt
Local H
Ham Fisted
Island
One thing comes to mind immedi-
ately when listening to the musical
stylings of Local H: Nirvana rip-off.
Whetherit's the pounding, slacker rock
of "Cynic" or the monotonous "Ma-
nipulator," every song is tinged with
Cobain-style hooks, yelps, etc. This is
the epitome of an industry creation.
Complete with clean "grunge" apparel
and angst-ridden lyrics, it is clear that
vocalist/guitarist Scott Lucas and drum-
mer Joe Daniels smell like teen spirit.
This band should be playing par-
ties, local clubs and bar mitzvahs do-
ing their originals as well as all those
marvelous Seattle hits. Will anybody
be fooled into purchasing this? The
answer is probably yes. There will be
a small group of misguided young
fools that will support this band out of
sheer boredom. That is actually where
this record succeeds: It gives you a
sense of stoicism when you're sitting
in your room bored out of your skull.1
There's a little good in everything. I
- Gianluca Montalti1
James Carter Quartet
JC On The Set1
Columbia
Make no mistake, James Carter ist
for real. Rolling Stone has called himl
"the most exciting saxophone player in
25 years" and they are right on the

The ham-fisted Local H smell like teen
mark. Carter can do it all, from fast1
bebop solos to scratchy, soulful ballads
and everything in between. By far the
most interesting part of his playing is
his development of his own personal
style, somewhat uncommon for some-
one of his age - Carter is 25. Joshua
Redmans of the world, take note.
Where this album falters is not in
Carter himself nor in the pieces that

spirlt, which isn't fresh at all.
he plays; instead, it is his backing
group. While the bassist, drummer
and pianist all seem to have a handle
on their music and technique, they
nevertheless cannot match Carter in
intensity, feel and especially creativ-
ity. This may be because many of the
songs have Carter outrageously over-
miked, making the listener struggle to
See RECORDS, Page 10

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