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September 12, 2000 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-12

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9-The Michigan Daily -Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Outbound, Bela Fleck & The
Flecktones; Columbia
By Ben Oxenburg
For Daily Arts
Outbound shows that Bela Fleck &
The Flecktones have come a long
ways and possess the method and
mind-set to take themselves even fur-
ther. The Flecktones are continuing to
do what they do best: Experiment. The
band's tight sound is apparent as Bela
and co. delve into a variety of differ-
ent musical genres. In addition to their
standard fusion of jazz, bluegrass,
funk and pop, the disc also includes
some heavy "global" influences, from
folky Irish melodies to funky African
rhythms. Shawn Colvin, John
Medeski, Paul McCandless and
Sandip Burman are a few of an assort-
ment of guest musicians. Highlights
include "Earth Jam," with fast pace
and collection of ups, downs, crescen-
dos and climaxes (not to mention an
interesting bass solo/vocal jam by Vic

Art and Life, Beenie Man; Virgin
By Christian Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
Though Jamaican dance hall reggae
sounds little like American rock n' roll,
the two are both easy to do badly, with
a cheap Casio keyboard for one, a
cheap fender stratocaster for the other.
But unlike many of his toastmasting
brethren, Beenie Man doesn't take the
easy way out. His sophisticated brand
of dance hall brings together old school
and new school (reggae and hip hop),
touches of latin jazz, as well as some
ingeniously-chosen samples. With "Art
and Life," he's made a dance hall
record that can make the kids dance
and the critics smile.
Considering that the record boasts a
cast of guest musicians, ranging from
Wyclef Jean to Steve Perry of the
Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and tunes
that borrow from everyone from the
Bangles to the Staples Singers, one-
might wonder if Beenie's plate is a bit

-Now: Volume 4, various artists;
*niversal Music Group
Cy Chris Kula
Daily Arts Editor
How do you think Eminem felt
when, after sitting at the' top of the
charts for most of the summer, his
'The Marshall Mathers LP was
knocked from its pinnacle by a col-
lection of teeny-pop hit singles?
He probably loved it, because the
tists on Now: Volume 4 are just that
This early-August release was
.suite possibly the sign of the apoca-
lypse. Forgoing the antiquated cus-
:om of developing actual albums, the
folks at Now threw together 18
straight-from-pop-radio hits onto
one cd and watched it sell like the
fall season of toe rings at The Icing.
Tell you the truth, I didn't even
*eed to listen to this ba4l boy to
review it: Each and every 4 song on
Now: Volume 4 were big, ol' radio
hits. In fact, most of them were still
getting beaucoup airplay when the
disc was released.
Let's take an artist roll call:
Britney Spears is present, and
she's hot. ,
The guys from Savage Garden are
here, and they're hot (for eaclh other).
0 Ben Harper is here and - hey,
what's a respectable musician like
Ben Harper doing on this bupblegum
platter? Well, it ,might have some-
thing to do with the undeniable
catchiness of his "Steal My Kisses"
track (Benji, you're a pop criminal,
but the jury finds you innocent this
As for the young'uns who were
snapping up the compilation, well,
t n you really blame them? If I were
14 year-old girl (and I dwell on this
scenario more than I really should), I
wouldn't want to buy Train's whole
album either: Just give me "Meet
Virginia" - and if I could get Macy
Gray's "I Try" AND Backstreet
Boys' "Larger than Life" with that,
too, then sign me up and call me
Remember what I said about the
vocalypse? That might be a little
harsh, but there's definitely a new
moment on the pop music horizon,
and I'm not talking The Robot.
Already the pop compilation com-
petitors are springing up, led by the
similarly-designed Platinum Hits
2000. Can somebody perhaps come
up with Abbey Road 2000 instead?
Or at least Thriller 2000?
Grade: D

Wooten) , and "Scratch & Sniff," a
jazzy song with a hint of reggae and
funk so thick that I find myself
mouthing the wah-wahs of the guitar
each time I listen to it. "A Moment So
Close," is too poppy and "Hoe Down"
is an out of place bluegrass rendition
of an Aaron Copland composition (the
piece from the "Beef: It's What's for
Dinner" commercials). The
Flecktones still sound best on stage.
Grade: B

too full. What's remarkable is how
well he makes all of it work, traversing
from the roots-reggae of the title track
to the sexy pop-funk of "I've Got a
Date." And if you can't quite make out
the words, that's alright: suffice to say
that, like Beenie's music, his lyrics
blend a touch of the sublime (artful
rhyming) with a touch of the worldly
(traditional dance hall sexual boast-
Grade: B+

Naturally, The Benny Green
Trio; Telarc
By Tom Sinas
For The Daily
Jazz pianist Benny Green has 16ng
been identified as a "keeper of the
flame" and a proteg6 of piano giant
Oscar Peterson.
His latest recording, this summer's
Telarc release Naturally, is the fol-
low-up to '99's These Are Soulful
Days and features the same trio of
guitarist Russell Malone and bassist
Christian McBride, Unlike Soulful
Days, which presented obscure
melodies from the Blue Note vaults,
Naturally boasts a blend of original
compositions and solo piano fea-
While the similarity to the Oscar
Peterson trio cannot be ignored,
this trio ultimately bears resem-
blance only in theory, not in prac-
tice. The use of economical
arrangements and steady, swinging
time is apparent, but this group
lacks the adventurousness and cre-
ativity that was the hallmark of the
Peterson trio. The arrangements
are functional but lack attention to
detail and the original composi-
tions, while melodic and lively, do
not take many chances.
From the Art Blakey-esque
"Pittsburgh Brethren" to the Ray
Brown influenced "Captain Hook,"
the compositions read like more of a
textbook of jazz personalities than a
personal testament from Mr. Green.
Bassist Christian McBride is consis-
tent, while Malone's playing borders
on corny.
Grade: C

Fantastic, Vol. 2, SlumVillage; Goodvibe
By W. Jacari Melton
Daily Arts Writer
Finally, after over a year of being pushed back
and being dropped from their label, Slum Village
released the highly anticipated "Fantastic, Vol.
2." Tracks like "Climax", "Players" and "Raise It
Up" have gained club, radio and commercial spot
exposure. Much of this acclaim can be attributed
to Jay Dee's production. He's the man behind hits
like Q-Tip's "Vivrant Thing" and "Breathe and
Stop," not to mention a good share of Common's
latest album. His status allows him to recruit the
likes of D'Angelo and Busta Rhymes to lend
their talents to this album. However, SV is
plagued by minimal lyricism. The verses on
"Fantastic" are littered with references to sex,
money and "tha D."
Despite these .weaknesses, SV prevails with the
work done by one of the most respected producers in
hip-hop. Also, one can sense that they are having

The Rising Tide, Sunny Day Real Estate;
Time Bomb Records
By Christian Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
Considering that Seattle's Sunny Day Real
Estate is one of the pioneering "emo" (short for
"emotional") bands, it's not surprising that The
Rising Tide, the trio's fifth album, is chock full
of both wounded-heart meditation and admirably
lush songcraft.
But for all of its laudable qualities - singer
Jeremy Enigk's voice is one of them - SDRE is
a bit of an acquired taste. Fans of mainstream
rock will be put off by the relative hookless-ness
of Tide's eleven songs and, like so many emo
bands, SDRE is in desperate need of a sense of
If, in fact, SDRE were put on trial by the
Indie Rockers, Enigk's lyrics would be Exhibit
A for the Prosecution: "Killed By an Angel," to
wit, kicks off the disc with the lines "Welcome
to the lonesome world of Abel / Where every

genuine fun and want to transfer that vibe over to
their audience. That's one of the basic tenants of hip-
hop that's missing in many of today's acts. In addi-
tion, SV's album highlights Detroit's overlooked hip-
hop scene.
Grade: B

brother's knife is set to slay you."
Ultimately, The Rising Tide posits a dark
fantasyland that might be nice to visit but
would be a whole lot better if we were allowed
to smirk once in a while.
Grade: C

Mk I


Mystery White Boy, Jeff Buckley;
Christian Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
While he was alive, singer-guitarist
Jeff Buckley exuded the same combi-
nation of mysteriousness, tenderness
and mythic cool that made James
Dean a star. Since his death in 1997,
Buckley has doubtless been doomed
to enigma-hood each time someone
has put "Grace" - the only LP
Buckley finished - on the stereo.
Buckley was also a man who clear-
ly loved performing, and the upside to
his occasional indulgence was that his
shows had a fabulous looseness about
them, a looseness which insured that
his performances were never carbon
copies of one another. On the appro-
priately-named Mystery White Boy,
the live album put together by his
mother and former band mates, only
"The Man That Got Away" clocks in
at less than five minutes. The open-

The Ecleftic: 2 Sides H a Book,
Wyclef Jean; Columbia Records
By Gautam Baksi
Daily Arts Writer
As producer, writer and member of
The Fugees, Wyclef Jean established
himself as the mastermind of a new
class of emerging hip-hop stars from
the Caribbean. After a successful solo
album, Gone Till November, Wyclef's
much anticipated sophomore effort,
The Ecleftic, falls far short of his best
The album begins with "Where
Fugees At?," a feeble attempt to deter
critics from inquiring about a possible
reunion with his former band. His
rhymes are somewhat sly, but not
nearly as precise as those on Gone Till
November, which utilized superior
samples behind clever, endearing
The album definitely lives up to its
eclectic expectations as Wyclef calls
in a motley group of friends for vari-

ended approach works particularly
well on the plaintive "Hallelujah"
(which incorporates a snippet of the
Smiths' "I Know It's Over") and a
cover of Big Star's "Kanga Roo,"
heard here with a raucous, high-speed
jam tacked on.
Mystery - like his all-too-brief
career - nonetheless reminds us that
there's plenty of room left in rock
music for passion.
Grade: A-

ous tracks including Mary J. Blige,
WWF's The Rock and even former
country superstar Kenny Rogers.
These featured performers create a
disjointed CD that lacks coherency
from track to track.
In a poor attempt to display his
guitar-rock skills and pay homage to
Pink Floyd, Wyclef nearly buries the
immortal "Wish You Were Here"
with the addition of a hip-hop beat
and rhymes.
Grade: D+

Farmhouse, Phish; Elektra
By Chris Kula
Daily Arts Editor
Farmhouse, Phish's first studio
release since the fall of 1998, kicked
off the summer record season back
in May, and even with a full four
months to absorb the new album,
I'm still a little mixed on it.
The disc starts beautifully with
the reworked title track (the subtle
vocal reprise at the end is one of
the album's hidden gems), and the
four/five/six block of the country-
fried boogie "Get Back on the
Train," the poppy "Heavy Things"
and the horn-inflected "Gotta
Jiboo" is excellent.
The guest spot by banjoist Bela
Fleck and dobro guru Jerry
Douglas on "The Inlaw Josie
Wales" is also notable.
But after the first six tracks,
instead of continuing on with a
coherent vision ala 1996's majestic

Billy Breathes, Farmhouse sort of
tails off into a rough-hewn patch-
work of unrelated songs. And that's
not to say that tracks like the light
ballad "Dirt" and the trance-dance
"First Tube" aren't good tunes:
they're well-played and well-pro-
duced, they're just not well-placed
on the album.
Groove hard through those first
six tracks, and then throw in the live
tapefrom 12-6-97 at the Palace.
Grade: B-

- I '

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