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February 24, 1998 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-24

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 24, 1998

GRAPE GETS 'STUPID' WITH SECOND CD

Law guilty of G-funk

Seattle Sonics center Sam Perkins is a talented
and multi-dimensional basketball player, one who
possesses a sweet baby hook shot and hits 3-point-

Black Grape
Stupid Stupid
Stupid
Radioactive
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer

ers with consistency, yet still
blocks opposing behemoths'
shots and snatches defensive
rebounds with aplomb --
which is all the more impres-
sive when one observes the
fact that "Big Smooth" looks
completely fried every time he
ambles down the court, arms,
legs and dreads akimbo.
Likewise, Black Grape

aron Rennie frontmanlguiding force Shaun
Ryder is a versatile performer
- he plays Sean Connery's bad guy sidekick "Bully
Boy" in the forthcoming "The Avengers," and com-
fortably unleashes his mean hybrid of rock, dance,
funk and hip-hop for club kids and soccer hooligans
alike - yet he is completely out of his head at all
times.
This is a man whose rap
sheet for drug busts was so'
long that he temporarily could- t
n't get a visa to tour the U.S. in
1996, so instead he entertained
American journalists in com-
munist Cuba. This is the same
man whose tour bus was pulled
over by police officers who
smelled pot inside, so Ryder
decided to wake up his tour
manager by turning on a chain-
saw in front of his face (he was
unsuccessful).X
Ryder and his Black Grape
bandmates - rappers Kermit and Psycho, guitarist
Wags, keyboardist/saxophonist Martin Slattery,
drummer Ged Lynch and bassist/producer Danny

Saber - continue their merry partying ways on
their sophomore album, "Stupid Stupid Stupid."
Like the group's '95 debut, "It's Great When
You're Straight ... Yeah," "Stupid Stupid Stupid"
contains bawdy humor, catchy choruses and
danceable rhythms.
The album commences with "Get Higher,"
recently featured on "The Jackal" soundtrack. In
addition to its funky beats and Ryder's falsetto on
the chorus, the song is notable for its Ronald
Reagan impersonator, who says, "Tonight I can
report to you that former President Bush smokes
marijuana regularly. And there's one more thing:
Nancy and I are hooked on heroin."
Not for the prudish or faint of heart, the follow-
ing track, "Squeaky," includes one of "Stupid
Stupid Stupid"'s numerous sexual allusions: "I
wanna get cheeky with you / I wanna get squeaky
inside you." In his strong Manchester accent, how-
ever, it sounds like, "I wanna get jiggy with you,"
but I digress.
Saber, who has also pro-
duced the likes of David
Bowie and the Rolling Stones,
does a fine job layering the
song's big riff with the throaty
ragga rap of Kermit, giving
the tune a commendable bal-
ance of urban hardness and
Caribbean bounce.
"Dadi Waz A Badi" is a
fantastic track, which will be
a sure-fire fiesta fave if it is
ever given proper exposure.
The chorus - "You got it / I
want it /You know I'm gonna
get it" - is just as catchy as
that of one-hit-wonder Chumbawamba's
"Tubthumping," except about a million times
less annoying. All the instruments mesh perfect-

Those who think that G-funk died
when Dr. Dre left Death Row
Records, think again. It simply moved
from the mainstream to its rightful
home: the underground. Tommy Boy
artists Above the Law, while not as
well-known as the Doctor, also
helped establish the G-funk sound,
and keep it alive in "Legends," the
band's sixth album.
Cold 187's production is top notch,
mixing the laid-back G-funk style
with experimental sounds and instru-
ments, keeping the music familiar but
fresh. Even the most anti-West Coast
listener can't help but nod to the gui-
tars of "Deep as the Root," the ethere-
al "Worldwide," and the brooding
"Adventures of ..."
187's high-pitched flow comple-
ments KMG's baritone, and the two
approach this album like the true rap
veterans they are.
They successfully mix the smooth
pimp/hustler talk
that put them on
the rap map,
** with harsh ghetto
war stories that
Above the Law hold an unblink-
Legends ing eye to the
underside of life
Tommy Boy in Killah Kali
Reviewed by (like on the oth-
Daily Arts writer erworldly "Soul
JuQuan Wiiams Searching," and
the introspective
"Promise Me").
While good, this album could have
been better. 187 does a commendable
job taking chances on his production,

Courtesy of Radioactive Records
Shaun Ryder has two major roles In 1998: He's front-
man of Black Grape and sidekick in "The Avengers."
ly, while the admittedly less-than-Dylanesque
lyric, "My daddy was a good guy, he wore a good
guy's hat / Any chick with massive tits my dad
just had to shag," will likely produce a chuckle or
two.
Other highlights include "Spotlight," an uplifting
love (?!) song complete with horn flourishes, and
"Lonely," a winning remake of Frederick Knight's
1972 soul hit, "I've Been Lonely For So Long." And
despite a couple of filler tracks and Ryder's fre-
quently out-of-whack vocals and questionable
lyrics, "Stupid Stupid Stupid" is definitely a worth-
while investment if you're in the mood for good,
dirty fun.

but some of his efforts fall flat, like;
the hokey "Sumner Days," and-the
incomplete "LA Vibe." The guest rap-
pers aren't particularly memorable,
and one wonders why Above the Law
bothered to let Yuckmouth of the
Luniz. Jayo Felony and others waste
valuable studio time.
Also, some of the better songs ar
broken up by unnecessary skits and
trash-talking. Some of it happens
mid-song, and one may want to sim-
ply go to the next song when that hap-
pens.
The reports of G-funk's death have
been greatly exaggerate, and for six
albums, Above the Law has been con-
sistent with its sound and subject mat-
ter.
Its previous album didn't reach
expectations, but with "Legends"
Above the Law has returned to form.
For those of you still unfamiliar with
Left Coast hip-hop, you won't be dis-
appointed if you give these under-
ground legends a chance.

Swervedriver careens into 'Dream' and survives

Diverse 'Lebowski'
bowls itself over

Talk about bad luck. For the better part of the
past two years, Swervedriver has gotten the short
end of the stick and has fallen victim to the dirty
business that is the music business.
The band's first label, Creation, dropped them
right after the release of its
last (and best) album "Ejector
Seat Reservation." Needless to
say, this low-ball move left
Swervedriver Swervedriver in the uncom-
99th Dream promising situation of having
an album released without any
Zero Hour luxury such as promotion or
Reviewed publicity.
For the Daily by Over the past seven years,
Philip Son this Oxford quartet has been
able to develop a trademark
sound based on heavily layered guitars with oozes
of reverb, echo, and distortion.

But each album has shown a marked progres-
sion towards a more poppy feel and "99th Dream"
is the most soulful, consistent effort. Whereas
"Raise" was harder-hitting and "Mezcal Head"
more in-your-face, "99th Dream" is smoother and
more refined.
Tracks such as "These Times" and the title track
provide indelible pop hooks with an instantly
hummable chorus, "She Weaves a Tender Trap"
shows the marked improvement of vocalist Adam
Franklin's voice as he croons his way through.
The seven-minute closer. "Behind the Scenes of
the Sounds and the Times," is a post-Ride thriller
that recalls the best of the shoegazer scene.
Overall, "99th Dream" is a fine effort that
shows how committed and much improved the
band truly is. This is a testament to the band mem-
bers' strengths to be able to endure all the crap
they have, and to still be at the top of their game.

Would they, could they 'Freak' you out? Samiam returns

Samiam started in 1988 in San
Francisco in the same Gilman Street
scene as Operation Ivy, Jawbreaker,
Green Day and the Mr. T. Experience,
but somehow never quite fit in. Not too
much has changed since then. Samiam's
still not your typical punk band, proven
once again on their fifth and finest
album to date.
After releasing three albums on New
Red Archives records, Samiam signed
to Atlantic Records, where they
released the polished, diverse "Clumsy"
in 1994. After parting ways with
Atlantic, Samiam went on involuntary
hiatus. Four years later, Samiam is back
with a new record label, new drummer,
and a new album, titled "You Are
Freaking Me Out."
"You Are Freaking Me Out" takes off
where "Clumsy" landed, blending
Samiam's emo-core roots with a gen-
uine pop sensibility. Samiam's trade-

mark thick, wall-of-guitar sound and
Jason Beebout's pained, impassioned
vocals combine with new drummer
M.P's driving beats to create the most
definitive and interesting Samiam pack-
age to date.
Samiam's approach to fast tempos is
"been there, done
that," as evidenced
by the slower
** tracks like the
7 Samiam catchy "If You Say
So" and the sur-
You Are Freaking prising Beatles'
Me Out cover "Cry Baby
Ignition Cry." That doesn't
Reviewed by mean Samiam
Daisy Arts Writer can't still rock out,
camn Bartos though, which they
do on the majority

burners like "Don't Break Me" and "As
We're Told." This album is no excep-
tion, hitting the gates running with "Full
On," which deals with Beebout's
attempt at trying to let go of someone
who's obviously treated him horribly.
The first single, "She Found You," is
probably the poppiest song Samiam has
ever written, putting the listener in an
almost pogo-like trance. "She Found
You" just might be the tune to give
Samiam a little radio recognition.
The album just gains momentum
with the next track, "Factory" - an
aggressive tune to say the least. Beebout
continues his poignant observations on
interesting people on "You Are
Freaking Me Out," too, on songs like
"Ordinary Life," "Mr. Walker" and
"Nothing New."
Samiam's strong points always have
been intriguing lyrics paired with a
strong punk background. "You Are

Like many great sports, bowling is an
arena for athleticism, camaraderie and
sportsmanship. But just when you
thought it was safe to lace on the rental
shoes and roll a strike, Joel and Ethan
Coen hit a 7-10 split, and throw murder
on to the lane in their new film "The Big
Lebowski." "The Original Motion
Picture Soundtrack of The Big
Lebowski" shows that the mix of pins,
balls and blood is just as messy as it
might seem, as the album gives an odd
musical blend of classic rock tunes and
new-age and classical pieces.
The album kicks off with three rock
tunes. Bob Dylan's "The Man In Me,"
Elvis Costello's "My Mood Swings"
and Captain
Beefheart's "Her
Eyes Are A Blue
Million Miles,"
The Big combine to grab
Lebowski the listener's
attentions and
Mercury place him in an
Reviewed by average, dingy
Daily Arts Writer suburban bowling
Aaron Rich ally. Beefheart's
strong string-
plucking in conjunction with his robust
vocals make this song a true winner.
And like the memory of a perfect 300-
point game, this song sticks in the mind
for a while after the fact.
The incomparable jazz vocalist Nina
Simone sweetly croons "I Got It Bad
and That Ain't Good." Backed up by a
full orchestra, her vibrato cuts right to
the listener's melancholia - tears will
be shed. This is surely the anthem to the
gutter-ball.
There is also a new-age side to the
soundtrack. Moondog with Orchestra,

seemingly a Philip Glass knock-off,
play its tune "Stomping Ground." Thi
song sets up a good feeling of drama-
and expectation - two important fac-
tors in any movie about bowling.
Another new-age tune of note is
Meredith Monk's "Walking Song." This
piece must have been incorrectly
named, as there seems to be no walking
at all. Instead the song is made up
entirely of heavy breathing. (Sex on the
lanes, anyone?)
With a comprehensive mix of differ
ent styles and imagery, this is a darin
soundtrack. It seems as if film makers
have recently been more interested in
including flashy, popular tunes on their
albums instead of creating a cohesive
work of art in sound. This collection
would be a nice bit of art if it were not
for the fact that it is far from cohesive.
The songs follow no stylistic or chrono-
logical theme and therefore leave the lis-
tener frequently confused and bothere
by the jumpiness of the disjointed conti-
nuity. It is a fun and very eclectic mix,
though - perhaps the most eclectic in a
while.

Freaking Me Out" doesn't stray from
this formula, either. Samiam's longtime
fans will definitely not be disappointed
with this and new fans are sure to be
eager to jump on for the ride, too.
Samiam hasn't changed its style, just
tweaked it to the point that the band
really excels at what it does.

of the tunes.
Samiam's past

three albums have

started out fast, with emotional barn-

U

You are invited to
the sixth annual
for Campus and Community
A meditative service of Scripture, prayer, silence,
meditative singing of music from the Taize Community,
imposition of ashes and Holy Communion

HUSs T-cHno
SOSOE By nOJ1Ur=sHs
SPONSOREDBY MOJO CLOrrHING

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