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February 16, 1999 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-16

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 16, 1999 - 9 A

KIDS STILL HANGING TOUGH ON 'GREATEST HITS'

Gunn brings jaz
into hip-hop re

z

-.4

A wise man once said, "Just remember they could
be us, remember we all are brothers."
That wise man was Jordan Knight, de facto front-
man of Dorchester, Mass.'s favorite sons, New Kids
on the Block, on the "very serious message" of a
charity song, "This One's for the Children."
Super-cute Jordan could just as easily have been
referring to the current pop landscape of Backstreet
Boys and 'Nsync, which follow step-by-step, ooh
baby, in the New Kids' path of 5-boy-band super-
stardom.
As both a capitalization on the resurgence of such

New Kids on
the Block
Greatest Hits
Columbia
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Bryan Lark
Wahlberg, Danny

pretty boys and a testament to
their '90s counterparts' rela-
tive emptiness, the New Kids
are still hangin'tough on their
first greatest hits compilation,
a 14-song collection of light
dance and faux soul ditties
that holds up surprisingly well
a decade later.
It somehow seems further
back than 10 years ago, when
Jordan, Jon Knight, Donnie
Wood and little Joey McIntyre

were selling out stadiums on their "Magic Summer"
tour and selling out in general with pillows, sleeping
bags, lunchboxes and posable dolls.
Perhaps the most cross-promoted pop act in his-
tory, the New Kids were not the first teen idol phe-
nomenon of the '80s (Ronny, Bobby, Ricky and
Mike, Ralph, too) but were the last word in female
pulse-raising efficiency.
* From its first minor hit, "Didn't I (Blow Your
Mind)," in 1986 to its breakthrough album "Hangin'
Tough" in late 1988, to its inevitable nosedive in
1990, the New Kids reigned supreme for only about
two years, a blip on the radar screen of prepubescent
hormones.

But for anyone who knows what lies on the other
end of 1-900-909-5KIDS or who tried to replicate
the "Step by Step" choreography, New Kids on the
Block hold an indelible place in music history.
That's mainly due to the pop perfection of their
signature songs "Hangin' Tough," the aforemen-
tioned "Step by Step,' "I'll Be Loving You Forever"
and "You Got It (The Right Stuff)," which are prob-
ably better than you remembered or ever gave them
credit for.
Actually, producer Maurice Starr deserves the
most credit, as the Pygmalion figure who built this
Tiger Beat institution from the Beantown ground
up.
At least Starr had the artistic savvy to have the
Kids cover a great soul classic like the Delfonics'
"Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)," instead of covering
sap like RM. Dawn's "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss"
or Christopher Cross' "Sailing," as Backstreet Boys
and 'Nsync, respectively, have done, laughably, in

recent months.
The Kids' original "Please Don't Girl" plays like
the nice guy's pleading answer to the desperately
confident strains of "Didn't I" and provides a show-
case for the youngest and arguably most beloved
New Kid Joey McIntyre, he of the smooth flasetto
and fedora with the top cut out.
McIntyre, like Knight, is attempting a solo come-
back in this age of Backstreet, but it's doubtful that
his voice, likely now deepened, will ever match as
lush a bass-heavy arrangement as perfectly as on
"Please Don't Go Girl."
"Please" marks the halfway point on the record,
after which the "Greatest Hits" dissolve into little-
known album cuts and B-sides that show the New
Kids, renamed NKOTB in 1991, and their music
unraveling in later years, ultimately folding in the
face of Mariah Carey and C&C Music Factory.
It's unexpected that the greatest surprise the sec-
ond half has to offer is a forgotten treasure called
"Call It What You Want," which, on a 1990 remix
album, was produced by C&C Music Factory and
signified the beginning of the end for everyone's
favorites: Jordan, Joey, Jon, Donnie and Danny,
who, sadly, was no one's favorite.
"Greatest Hits," then, signifies the end of the end
for NKOTB, with Jon and Danny retired from enter-
tainment, Donnie a full-time actor (struggling out
from under little bro Mark's consiberable shadow
for once), and Jordan and Joey hell-bent on unleash-
ing their solo, so-so "talents" on the masses.
Joey's first single is called "Stay the Same" and
that's exactly what the New Kids will do in memo-
ries everywhere.
For a short time, the New Kids on the Block had
the right stuff, when we were 12, when our music
tastes were impressionable, when the bubblegum
pop stuff was right to be had. Oh, oh, oh oh oh, oh,
oh, oh oh, indeed.

When you think of great jazz horn
players, names like Dizzy, Coltrane and
Parker automatically come to mind. It is
rare that a new talent comes along that
can lay a legitimate claim to the lega-
cies of these greats. The hornblowers in
the Marsalis family were the latest to do
this in the '80s, but now the '90s has its
own protege: Russell Gunn.
From the rapid-fire blowing on the
novel B.D.P. remake "Black Widow," to
his soulful arranging on the vintage
"Woody 1: On the New Ark," Gunn's
trumpet playing is fresh, innovative,
and yet very easy
to listen to. Gunn
has found a way
to show off the
Russell Gunn talent of a virtu-
Ethnomusicology oso while main-
vol. 1 taining the main-
Atlantic stream appeal of a
Reviewed by contemporary
Daily Arts Writer jazz artist. This
JuQuan Williams shows best on
"Doll," where
Gunn's neoclassic trumpet work makes
a strange but entertaining mixture with
a "smooth jazz" groove better suited for
less talented musicians. Everything
comes together on "Folkz," which sets a
fast-paced, hip-hop atmosphere with a
rumbling bassline and sinister piano,
and then touches off with outrageous
horn harmony by Gunn and Gregory
Tardy. It's a surefire head-nodder.
Unfortunately, some of the songs on
this album aren't head-nodders, and

that's a bad thing be
to make this appea
ences as well as ja
Indian-influenced so
of circus music, whi
ignore the great trun
does on it. This hap
J.B.'s homage "Sybi
the confused "Mr. I
Gunn's trumpet play
ing grace of the othe
songs.
Hip-hop fans wh
jazz may find "F
enjoyable, but Russe
more likely to appea
audiences. Gunn's trt
this album worth ch
music evolves and in
doubt become one
greats. Grab
"Ethnomusicology,"
ground floor.

LaseGnnmie
r
zz ans "hiv"'
s
lhmsit eayr t
V's Bre a d o
4
cause Gunn aimed
i to hip-hop audi-
zz fans. "Shiva"'s
a
iund is reminiscent
ch makes it easy to
mpet playing Gunn
pens again on the
l's Blues, and on
aurt." In all three,
ing is the only say-
"rwise uninteresting
io aren't afraid of
Ethnomusicology
.I
ell Gunn's debut is
i to hard-core jazz
uimpets alone make
iecking out. As his
nproves, he will no
of the next jazz
a copy of
and get in on the
6
4
LungY
R
i
3 sr r~y:' .. t
s a
I
a
Y
t
What'll happen if
"Among Whom +
rill happen. And if
.the cynic in you, I
death--.

arry
Scores with
~Beyond
His name is Barry. John Barry. He is
one of the most prolific film composers
of our time, with a multitude of hit
riies, Emmy awards, and Grammy
awards under his belt. His name is linked

Poole presents perfection with a good t

We all know people in our lives who
are just too positive. The boyfriend that
gives you too many flowers, the girl-
friend who never
disagrees.
Despite these
seemingly pleas-
Poole ant qualities there
Among Whom is always a distinct
We Shine and annoying
Spin Art residue that an
Reviewed by opaque personali-
Daily Arts Writer ty leaves with you.
Matt Lurie Hence, the prob-
lem with Poole.
Fabulously clean production, nice
power-pop guitar hooks, "cute" lyrics:
The absoluteness of all these is what
make Poole such a complete drag. There
is no tension, no sign lyrically of any sin-

cere or genuine pathos, no acknowledge-
ment of their postmodern reality.
Although innocuous, "I'm getting laid"
music can certainly be pleasant, it is
Poole's naive presentation of it that
makes "Among Whom We Shine" a
frustrating listen. -
First, though, one cannot help but rec-
ognize Poole as a talented group of musi-
cians. The tight rhythm section of Dean
Nitz's agile bass and William Campbell's
studio-accuracy drumming are key
ingredients to the cleanness of their
sound. And each track is laced with the
Big Star guitar hooks of Harn Evans,
who ably fill his role.
Poole also does passably succeed
every once in a while, as on "Anyway"'
one of the few highlights, bearing a strik-
ing similarity to the sumptuous lounge-

pop of the Aluminum Group minus the
interesting lyrics. The smooth multi-part
harmonies even recall the Beatles with
their exquisite clarity. Lyrically, howev-
er, "Anyway" unfortunately clarifies the
apathetic nature of the group: "My heart
is true/ It's just for you/ It makes no dif-
ference what you will do/ I'll be here
anyway." Poole's music, too, does not
bend to or absorb anything beyond its
narrow, "heart is true" esthetic.
And on "Feelin' Ill Tonight," another
ultimately hummable tune, front man
Harry Evans confronts a girl who has
been wrongfully leading him on. In
what would appear a great buildup, the
result of this monumental embarrass-
ment is that he feels a little sick.
The extent of Evans' and Poole's wor-
ries are probably best exemplified in the

John Barry
The Beyondness
of Things
London/Polygram
V' Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
JuQuan Williams

to James Bond the
way that John
Williams is linked
to Star Wars and
Indiana Jones.
Now, the compos-
er of the "Dances
With Wolves,"
"Out of Africa'
Proposal" and
"M i d n i g h t
Cowboy" sound-

tracks strikes out with his first non-movie
work, entitled "The Beyondness of
Things."
Anyone who knows John Barry's
music or has heard any of Barry's film
scores will recognize his style. Barry's
scores always have a definite overall
tme to them, and this is no exception.
k from listening to the first two tracks,
one can tell that there is a definite "coun-
try homestead" theme to the album. The
clever use of harmonica on "Kissably
Close" is an example of that. The music
lacks the sense of grandeur and self-
importance that might be found in one of
John Williams's epic movie scores, but
songs like the title track move at a much

slower, more relaxed and intimate pace.
Barry stays true to his style, always
looking to make simple, catchy melodies
like on "Nocturnal New York," and add
interesting change-ups for dramatic
effect, such as on "A Childhood
Memory," and the romantic "Dawn
Chorus." The orchestra plays well, as evi-
denced on the wondrous "Gifts of
Nature" and "Dance with Reality" shows
that Barry still isn't afraid to take chances
with his composing.
Longtime Barry followers who are
looking for cool, James Bond-styled
music might be a little disappointed.
Barry has abandoned the sinister
melodies, haunting synths, and vicious
guitars that made him and the Bond
sound famous. The closest Barry gets to
this style of music is the reminiscent "The
Heartlands," and the desolate "The
Fictionist."
This album is definitely not for people
who don't like movie soundtracks. While
not made for any movie in particular,
"The Beyondness of Things" still plays
like a soundtrack, and may provide some
engaging background music while study-
ing or reading a good book. Barry's latest
effort is good enough to make one pay
more attention to the background music.

Amber Asylum shows sadness of life with sex,

Amber Asulum
"Songs of Sex and
of songs built mai
the cello, violin,c
Amber Asylum
Songs of Sex
and Death
Release
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Adlin Rosli
and haunting melc
sophomore release
and seems to have

has returned with its latest offering, t record to an even darker domain.
Death?' The group offers a collection This time around, even the cover follows this down-
nly around singer Kris Force's voice, ward spiral, as it is graced with an eerie image of a girl's
organ and c-bow, with samples and face (or could that be one of the pretty boys from
textures from other musical N'Sync?) in mid drown.
instruments accompanying the Songs like "Devotion" and "Secret Ions" are prime
compositions. Think of them as cuts from the release as they showcase the adeptness of
sort of The Rachels with a girl Amber Asylum at their ability to evoke the mysterious
singer. and the meloncholy. Other songs on the record, like
The group seems to have mas- "Luxuria," "Vampire" and "Dream of Thee" also pro-
tered the art of song writing for vide ample proof of the group's talent for constructing
the people with only black in musically rich compositions. Steve Von Till of the sem-
their wardrobe and the prozac inal ambient metal group Neurosis joins the line-up this
deprived as "Songs of Sex and time to bring about some c-bow expertise to the pro-
Death" carries the listener ceedings.
through a journey full of dark Amber Aylum's "Songs of Sex and Death" is the per-
)dies. This release follows the group's feet antidote for the current wave of saccharine sweet
e "The Natural Philosophy of Love" happy boy bands. Another winner from a group that has
e taken the lyrical themes of the last the gift of turning sad feelings into gorgeous music.
Saturn renixes and B-sides

question he poses,"
I'm never sad again?
We Shine" is what w
that doesn't reawaken
don't know what will

Goldie returns new collection of

Goldie's career appeared extremely promising
a year ago. Nearly every music publication and
others as diverse as "GQ" and "Newsweek" fea-
tured articles hyping his then soon-to-be released
second album, "Saturnz Return." His ambitious
1995 debut double-album, "Timeless," had given
the then evolving drum and bass genre credibility
as well as its first unanimous classic.
As you probably already know, Goldie didn't
match up to those lofty expectations. Despite
some moments of brilliance, "Saturnz Return"
failed to convert America's rock and rap listeners
to the high-speed breakbeats and complex
rhythms of drum and bass. In retrospect, it seems
interesting to question exactly why the album did-

n't meet its expectations.
Was it too ambitious? Perhaps America's mass
market wasn't ready for an album combining ele-
ments of hip-hop, heavy metal, soul, classical and
punk with drum and bass.
Now a year after the
** release of "Saturnz
Return;" Goldie releases
Goldie his next effort, "Ring of
Saturn." More a collection
Ring of Saturn of remixes and B-sides
London than an album, "Ring of
Reviewed by Saturn" should never have
Daily Arts Writer been released. This album
Jason Birchmeier lacks ideology, consistency

and musical progression. Goldie's image will only
deteriorate further.
The other new songs on the album such as
"Kaiser Salsek" function as nothing more than
traditional hard-hitting drum and bass with haunt-
ing atmospheres, rhythmic drums, awkward
basslines and banging breakbeats. In a way, this is
a refreshing simplification of his previous exper-
iments mixing various genres with drum and
bass.
The best songs on the album cannot even be
credited to Goldie himself. Originally a heavy
metal song with digitally constructed drums and
bass, the Grooverider and Optical remixes of
"Temper Temper" reverse the traditional rock for-

mula. The new versions disregard rock's verse-
chorus-verse structure in favor of drum and bass'
expanded freeform structure. Perfect for dancing,
moshing, rocking or rolling, these remixes fore-
shadow the future of "hard" rock.
No logical reason can explain the untimely
release of "Ring of Saturn" The remixes on the
album prove Goldie's ideas often override his
talent. Yet on this new record there seems to be
little sign of any underlying concepts besides
diversity and simplification. The lack of appar-
ent ideology focuses the listener upon his weak
nesses as an artist. Hopefully, when Goldie
returns with his next novel concept album, lis-
teners will still be interested.

SALES & MARKETING INTERNSHIP
niversity Directories, the nation's largest publisher of campus tele-
phone directories, is hiring students to sell yellow page advertising for
the University of Michigan campus telephone directory during the sum-
mer of 1999. This is a full-time summer job open to students and recent
graduates who are not attending summer school.
We will be attending the Career Fair on February 17th and would love
to sneak with youa hout the internshin . esure to ston hv our dignlav

g 5

4-

K

t

r . .. ._.. ......._ ....':'4.

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