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January 12, 1999 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-12

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 12, 1999 - 11

THERE COULD BE MIRACLES ...

'Sleep' finds label to
record long single

Considering the fact that Whitney Houston
has reigned as the penultimate pop diva of the
past two decades, her most current offering,
"My Love is Your Love," should be well-
received. Her albums have gone platinum a few
times over, and she should sell a few million
copies of "My Love is Your Love," just on her
name alone. But the public should be for-
warned, because this album isn't worth the
piece of plastic upon which it was burned.
After hearing the disc the first time, one might
wonder when Whitney will begin singing, for
she doesn't even attempt it anywhere near here.
The songstress, known for taking her art to
church, makes no apparent attempt to even lend
her vocal capabilities to the work. Instead, she
plays host to other artists, such as Babyface,
Wyclef Jean, Missy "Misdemeanor" Eliot, and
David Foster, who join her on keyboards and
background vocals. But their effort seems
wasted as none stand out in their contributions.
Maybe she's attempting to encompass anoth-
er genre. Maybe she's trying to alter her image.
Maybe she still doesn't
have what she used to.
* Whatever the case may be,
Whitney Houston has definitely
Houston taken a step in the wrong
My Love is direction.
Your Love The first song on the
BMG/Arista album, "It's Not Right But
Reviewed by it's Okay," begins with a
Daily Arts Editor few repetitive beats and
Christopher Tkaczyk features the annoyingly
overused chorus "It's not
right, but it's okay/I'm going to make it any-
way." Three cheers for Houston's optimism and
self-preservation, but she doesn't sing above
her backup singers. The punchy beat carries on
and on and on, making one wonder if there's a
defect due to the skipping chorus.
Houston's "Heartbreak Hotel" is to the clas-
Sic Eagles song what Motel 6 is to the Waldorf-
Astoria. Underscoring the entire song is a
breathy track of a woman's longing chant:
"Heartbreak Hotel." Frankly, one can do with-
out the sensual background brou-ha-ha, which

might sound better coming from the cofines of
a brothel, or a heartbreak hoe-tel.
The title track is nothing more than a slow-
paced repetitive chant of the song's title. Over
and again the backup singers join Houston in
claiming that "My love is your love and your
love is my love." OK, haven't we gotten past
the elementary lesson of sharing? Or is
Houston revisiting her kindergarten past? As
listeners, we understand that bad boy Bobby
Brown is the love of Houston's life (hear "You
Give Good Love"). Not only do the album
notes explain the song as a dedication to
Brown, but it joins the previous track as anoth-
er repetitive jingle thrown into a bag of R&B
mishmash.
The biggest disappointment is that Houston
doesn't let it out - she doesn't belt, she doesn't
scream, she doesn't shout. Her low-key, soft-
toned R&B tunes are decent, but they're not
good. As a make-out album, "My Love is Your
Love," doesn't even come close to Barry White.
Johnny Mathis would even suit better if one were
looking for a soundtrack to a romantic evening.
The one star awarded to the album (see box at
left) is reserved solely for the Stephen
Schwartz-penned pop vehicle that comes from

the recent DreamWorks release, "The Prince of
Egypt." "When You Believe/ (The Prince of
Egypt)" is Houston's duet with pop diva Mariah
Carey. While this song may be the only true
vocal exercise by Houston on the album, it's too
bad she has to share it with someone else. Even
though Carey is a trained opera singer, she has
opted to only record pop songs. It is a vocal
faux pas if one should ever exist. But her pres-
ence on this album is the only plus to a disc full
of minuses. The song is entirely out of place on
an album about love, and should have stayed
strictly to an inspirational compilation. If you're
the type of Houston fan (like me) who sings
along (in falsetto) to "I Will Always Love You"
everytime it airs on adult contemporary radio
stations, then you'll enjoy the number. The per-
fect blending of their voices is almost heavenly;
their junction of parts fuses into a special har-
mony. If this is the song you're after, don't
waste your money on the full-length "My Love
is Your Love," but instead purchase the CD sin-
gle of "When You Believe."
The final track, "You'll Never Stand Alone,"
stands far above the other pieces because it is a
terrific ballad, a dedication of love that doesn't
rely on the groovy/spunky sexuality of "My
Love is Your Love." The song could be a perfect
addition to a disc jockey's collection should he
ever play at a junior high dance. It is a brief
recollection of old Houston, a momentary
glimpse of the early-'80s pop that made the
singer famous.
Other slow-paced heart-racing R&B tracks,
such as "I Learned from the Best," "Oh Yes"
and "Until You Come Back" could have all
been written by the same musical hack, with
different mixers alternating the already-too-
slow rhythms. "Until You Come Back" tries too
hard to become a love ballad, but is limited by
its own simplistic ceiling. A song that is so
structured as this one is cannot escape past the
boundaries it already sets for itself.
Maybe Houston should stay away from
dependant/victim songs. From this album, it
seems her vision of love is one in which own-
ership plays a key part.

Blues-based heavy rock act Sleep's
final album, "Jerusalem," has finally
found its way to an official release.
The group was last under Earache
Record's backing and released its 1992
album "Holy Mountain" through this
label. Much hoopla surrounded
Sleep's follow up to "Holy Mountain,"
titled "Jerusalem," was regarded by
critics as a commercially suicidal
release. The album was recorded as a
single 52 minute song with no breaks.
"Jerusalem" was committed to in
limbo for more than a year while
Sleep's record company tried to figure
out what to do with the band. The
group was then dropped by its label,
broke up and all
the while, boot-
leg copies of
"Jerusalem"
Sleep found its way to
Jerusalem the loyal follow-
ing the group had
The Music Cartel established.
Reviewed by Indie label The
Daily Arts Writer Music Cartel, has
Adlin Rosli since picked up
the release rights
and has allowed "Jerusalem" to tran-
scend its underground circulation.
What "Jerusalem" has to offer is
nothing worthwhile to the uninitiated,
but an essetial fix fo the converted.
This is vintage Sleep. Black Sabbath-
style sludgy riffs abound and are
played at an amplifier's volume limit

in long elaborate jams.
The single song release that is
"Jerusalem" is a musical journey that
takes its time to get to its upbeat seg-
ments and stretches itself out during
the slower portions. And boy does it
take its time to get where it wants to
go!
The grand scope and ambition of the
record, however, is respectable. The
vision to release one long song (52
minutes) as an album shows that this'is
a group that wished to hold tight to its
sense of integrity and was not afraid of
depriving the radio and its record label
of a single.
But the group's style of Black
Sabbath-like riffage and the slow
momentum of this song makes the lis-
tening experience of "Jerusalem" a
slow and boring process that should
really be left to the group's loyal fans.

Femme rockers show
how to be women

ree sing
' January is usually a slim month for new R&B
releases. For instance, Erykah Badu's debut was the
only noteworthy release of January 1997, and noth-
Ing at all was offered for R&B listeners in January
4998. This year looks about the same, since there
iren't any more than a few R&B albums being
released this month. RCA
records attempts to take advan-
tage of that fact by releasing
"Black Superman," the first
Frum Tha album by III Frum Tha Soul, a
Soul new group from Cincinnati,
Mack Superman Ohio.
PrC Ro To help them make an

rom the soul
notable exceptions, this turns out to be a very
unspectacular debut for the group.
The biggest problem with III Frum tha Soul is a
lack of originality. You've heard everything they've
done before (like the supposedly seductive "Treat
You Right"), and you've heard it done better. On
top of that, there are instances where the group
misses the mark completely. For instance, on
"Fever," they take a perfectly good Barry White
song and butcher it six ways to Sunday. Even when
there is something original about the song, there is
always something else about the same tune that
makes it hard to listen to more than once. A perfect
example is the decent songwriting on "Denying my
Love," which is lost in the bland beat and unin-
spired singing.
The group does have potential, and it shows in
songs like the thoughtful "Damn," and the well-
sung "Diamond in the Sky." In fact, on one song the
Levert/Sweat tandem get right for them ("Break Me
Off a Piece"), and is the best song on the album.
The problem is, there really aren't enough songs

Mocking conventional notions of
femininity, the cover of "Are We Not
Femme?" features the three women
of the Butchies decked out in red
vinyl mini-skirts, sparkling pearls
and pink wigs.
Their stereotypical "girly" poses
barely mask the smirking, not-so-
subtle joke that even if they fit this
traditional version of "feminine,"
then it wouldn't be all that it's
cracked up to be. Merging the per-
sonal and political on its punk-spir-
ited debut, the band has created an
enjoyable document about life on
this side of the "feminine" ideal.

Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
JuQuan Williams

impact on their debut, III Frum
tha Soul brought in big name
artists Gerald Levert and Keith
Sweat to produce several

The Butchies
Are We Not
Femme?
Mr. Lady Records
Reviewed for
the Daily by
Jimmy Draper

Kaia Wilson,
Melissa York
(power hitters
from Team
Dresch) and
Alison Martlew
make up The
Butchies, but
don't expect this
band to mimic
the style of its
members' other

tracks. Unfortunately, the three of the four songs
they did for this group ("You Played Me," "Come
On," and "My Body") don't match their stellar
e~rts on "LSG" a year ago. In fact, with a few
Breakin Records
Star System

where you'll hear the combination of good vocals,
good lyrics, and good background music all at
once. If you're desperate for new R&B, then "III
Frum tha Soul" Isn't a bad choice ... but you cer-
tainly wouldn't be missing anything by just waiting
until Februrary's releases hit the stores.

°***** -Classic
'**** -Excellent
- Good
- Fair
*- Poor
No stars - Don't
Bother

- If you missed
a week of
Breaking
Records, check
out the Daily's
archives online at
http://www.
michigandaily.
corn

Upcoming Releases
January 19:
Ani Difranco - Up Up Up Up Up Up (Righteous Babe)
Lo-Fidelity All Stars - How to Operate with a Blown Mind
(Skint/Colombia)
January 26:
Boo Radleys - "Kingsize" (Creation)
Flotsam & Jetsam - "Unnatural Selection" (Metal Blade)
Ten Foot Pole - "Insider" (Epitaph)
The Long Beach Dub All Stars (ex-members of Sublime) -
"Burn Unit" (Skunk)
Goober Patrol - "The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Drunk" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Fun Lovin' Criminals - "100% Colombian" (Virgin)
Is Limp - "Guitarded" (Honest Don's/Fat Wreck Chords)

projects, or even adhere to a specif-
ic genre of music. In fact, the best
songs are those that listeners might
least expect from these ladies.
"Shooting Star" (a Cris
Williamson cover) and "To Be
Broadcast Live" feature hard-and-
heavy classic rock riffs - complete
with impressive guitar heroics for
the disbelievers. And if that isn't
surprising enough, just wait until the
keyboard-heavy "Disco (Feminist
Mix)" gets your groove on. With its
catch-us-if-you-can beats, this rave-
up would fit nicely between Blondie
and Donna Summer at your local
dance inferno. Elsewhere, the songs
veer between folky, punky and
anthemic. Cross The Butchies off
the list of bands that find one for-
mula that works, then use it to churn

out identical songs like an assembly
line.
Consequently, the album seesaws
between tenderness and anger,
laughter and disaster. It successful-
ly balances lighter tracks with
weightier subject matter. With ' a
hip-shaker like "Disco" next to the
wise-from-experience "Ellen D." (a
tribute to Ellen DeGeneres), the
album avoids sinking under its own
weight.
Songs like "The Galaxy Is Gay"
and "To Be Broadcast Live" rattle
with political rage, but slower songs
simmer with broken-hearted desper-
ation. On the aptly titled "Heartfelt,"
Wilson confesses, "I am remember-
ing why today is so hard," and signs
off with the short-but-bittersweet
"Unbroken." Despite the seemingly
disparate subject matter, the album
sounds surprisingly cohesive. Aid
when the personal becomes the
political on its best songs, the album
truly hits the mark.
With Devo references fully intact
("Are We Not Men? We Are
Devo!"), these women facetiously
ask, "Are We Not Femme?" Proudly
providing the answer on the back
cover, they stand confidently, sans
cheesy get-ups, proclaiming, "We
Are The Butchies!"

Courtesy of Righteous Babe Records
Ani Difranco

r,... ,........_.,

I

GRE CAT
#376

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Sat. Jan 23
Tue. Jan 26
1 Thu. Jan 28

9:00am-1:00pm
6:30pm-10:00pm
6:30pm- 10:00pm

Get An Edge.
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TEST2 TAKEBYSUNDAY, JANUARY31

Class 2
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Tue. Feb 2
Thu. Feb 4

6:30pm-10:00pm
6:30pm10:00pm

I

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