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December 10, 1996 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-12-10

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 10, 1996 - 13

Sued from Page 12
The Grateful Dead
The A rista Years
Af ta
-last, a box set worthy of its length.
.tf rateful Dead have been house-
mld mes for years, but like most of
the contemporaries, their entire 20-
0ar output has been reduced to a
1agihl of songs played and overplayed
4,Luseam on "classic rock" radio.
t heir post-hippie days are entirely
i pid. Can anyone other than a
I3ed|ad name a song after 1975
*ses "Touch of Grey?"
NT easy to forget, or not even to
nin the first place, that behind the
ie Le bootlegging and personal
t ics within the group lies some of
tbe-nst unique-sounding music of the
roA eru. The Dead were admitted stu-
diohobces, yet you wouldn't know it
from the music on "The Arista Years."
This two-disc collection spans the
group's five studio albums from 1977 to
1989,with a few tracks from their offi-
cially released live albums of this peri-
od. Yet if it weren't for the meticulous
liner notes, first-time listeners unfamil-
iar with the music would have an
extremely difficult time dating any of it;
all of the songs hold up so well that they
could be recorded today and still sound
vital and fresh.
Highlights include late '70s should-
have-been-classics like the reggae-fla-
vored "Estimated Prophet," the extend-
ed suite "Terrapin Station," the rousing
rocker "Alabama Getaway" and the
rsoulful "Far From Me," as well as more
recent tunes like "Hell in a Bucket;"
"Foolish Heart" and "Picasso Moon."

All are state-of-the-art productions that
prove that on the rare occasions the
Dead took time out from their tours to
record and were forced to constrain
their thoughts into five-minute songs
(as opposed to the extended jams that
became their concert trademark), they
could be just as influential a band. Even
the famous tracks stand up well - one
can't help but
sing along to
"Touch of Grey,"
the Dead's
1987 Top 10 hit,
and "Shakedown
Street," the
group's quirky'
1978 contribu-
tion to the disco
sensation which
has aged better
than anything the
Village People
ever did. This is Killing Joke.
"The Arista
Years" is essen-
tial for anyone who likes classic rock of
any kind, and who has not already dis-
covered the music of the Grateful Dead
behind the myth. In 100 years, when
most rock bands who had their 15 min-
utes of fame will be forgotten, these
songs will live on as standards. It's a
shame that there isn't yet a collection of
the earlier years of the Grateful Dead
that does justice to their music this well.
-_ Mark Feldman
Red House Painters
Songs For a Blue Guitar
Supreme Recordings/Island
Beautiful things often take their own
sweet time in revealing themselves.
Take the newest Red House Painters

album, "Songs For a Blue Guitar" for
instance. Though the band's previous
album only came out a little more than
a year ago, the Painters' singer / song-
writer / guitarist Mark Kozelek had to
leave his old label, 4 AD (allegedly over
a Kozelek solo album 4 AD rejected),
split up the band and find a new home
for his music on Supreme Recordings
before "Blue
Guitar" - the
lovely result of
all this turmoil
- could appear.
Fortunately for
Kozelek and his
audience, it's
worth all the
In essence,
this is the solo
album Kozelek
wanted to make
masquerading as
a Red House
Painters album;
no other Painters
are listed in the liner notes. This free-
dom from the group setting is evident in
the songs on "Songs For a Blue Guitar":
They're a diverse group, including gen-
tly hypnotic folk like "Have You
Forgotten" and "Trailways," country
rock similar to Mazzy Star ("Song For a
Blue Guitar") and Wilco ("Make Like
Paper") as well as a diverse selection of
Yes' "Long Distance Runaround,"
Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs"
and the Cars' "All Mixed Up" get the
Red House Painters' folk-rock treat-
ment, and the results are surprisingly
genuine. Mixed in with Kozelek's tradi-
tionally beautiful and sad material, they
bring light to the Red House Painters'
typically shadowy songs. "Songs For a
Blue Guitar" is an album to lose your-
self in - its deep beauty and emotions
make it another Painters masterpiece.
- Heather Phares
Killing Joke
It seems as if Killing Joke has been
around for forever. Half the hard indus-
trial musical acts always say they were
influenced by Killing Joke. Let's ignore
all that and listen to this album on its
The CD seems loosely themed around
political philosophies, at least at the
beginning and end. From "This Savage
Freedom" to "Another Bloody Election,"
"Democracy" gives the impression of a
unified front. The problem with that idea
is that several songs in the middle of the
album have nothing to do with politics,
other than the concept that the characters
within the songs must be under some
sort of political system. But that would

be like claiming an album was especial-
ly about America because all the inci-
dental love songs were supposed to take
place there. So it can't be a concept
album. That leaves us to the idea that
Killing Joke is just annoyingly obsessed
with politics. Gee, isn't that fun?
Sonically, Killing Joke isn't doing so
well, either. There's a lot of light guitars
combined with a Motorhod style vocal
presence, and it really combines most
unsatisfactori ally in a proto-industrial
amalgam of unpleasantness. There is a
sense that it is overly composed, that too
many things seem too intentional on the
album. That's the sort of thing that strips
all the energy from an album. And, with
one or two exceptions, it does so here.
Oh well. All good things must come
to an end, I suppose.
- Ted Watts
The Latch-Key Child
Young newcomers are popping up
everywhere. The latest, 13-year old A+
(Andre Levins), is definitely going to
be one of the high-quality artists of the
future. His debut release, "The Latch-
Key Child," shows he can hold his own
without any gimmicks or style stealing.
The topics that Plus rhymes about are
far from kiddie (no bubble gum raps) as
he talks about life in Hempstead, Long
island, the violence in communities and
his undying love for hip hop.
And A+ ain't rippin' up the tracks
alone. A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip
spices up "Me and My Microphone."
Plus also hooks up with Prodigy (Mobb
Deep) on "Gusto" and battles AZ, the
'90s Era Sossa, on "A+Z." These choice
cuts really show how Plus stacks up
against some of the prominent MCs in
the rap game. A+ blends well with the
veterans; there's no feeling of the artist
being overwhelmed by the talent of the
guest artists (compare with L.L. gettin'
all run up in by Keith Murray, Foxxy
Brown, Fat Joe and Prodigy in the "I
Shot Ya" remix).
Other definite pleasers are "My
Thing" and the disc's first single, "All
I See." The listener would also do well
to peep "Move On," where Plus dis-
cusses the problems with violence in
the hood. There's something on this
disk that is sure to please each "hip-
hop junkie."
Overall, while "The Latch-Key
Child" may not be up to Raekwon sta-
tus, it is definitely worth adding to any
music collection. As he explained, "My
name is A+ because you can't get any
higher than an A+, and I'm striving for
perfection while I'm young." You can
sense a kid who is maturing and becom-
ing wise beyond his years. Levins' hard
work and devotion to his craft should
propel him to premier vocalism.
- Henry Roberson

Which of these Red House Painters is doing his own thing? Which of these Red
House Painters is all alone?


I, g

The journey is everything.




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