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February 13, 2001 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-02-13

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9 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 13, 2001

JG K
INDUS

Grammy Nominees 2001, Various
Artists; Capitol Records
8y Chris Kula
Dally Arts Writer
Hey, kids: At long last, now you can
bring all of the fun and excitement of
the Grammy Awards into your very
own home!
The Grammy Nominees 2001 com-
pilation album offers 17 selections
from artists nominated for Grammys
in the categories of Record of the Year,
Album of the Year, Best Female. Pop
Vocal Performance and Best Pop
'erformance by a Duo or Group with
a Vocal.
Passed over by the Grammy voting
committee because you're a hack
writer at a student rag? Don't worry -
just pop in the Nominees 2001 disc
and enjoy the responsibility of choos-
ing which musician's artistic expres-
sion is superior to that of his contem-
poraries.
Record of the Year: Award presen-
Oers won't be saying the name of
"Destiny's Child, and though Macy
'Gray will try to walk away with the
prize, she'll stumble. "Music" may
make the bourgeoisie and the rebel,
but it won't make Madonna a Grammy

winner, and the ceremony will be any-
thing but a "Beautiful Day" for U2.
The winner? The best pop song of the
past year, 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye."
See? With Nominees 2001, you, too,
can be an iconoclastic pop music crit-
ic (horrid puns and greater-than-thou
elitism sold separately).
Invite over your friends and pass
judgment on the nominees in the three
other categories represented on the
disc. Steely Dan versus Eminem,
Britney versus Aimee Mann, the
Barenaked Ladies versus the Corrs -
you make the wholly subjective call.
Rock criticism, it's fan(boy)tastic!
Grade: N/A

All Things Must Pass, George
Harrison; Capitol Records
By Luke Smith
Daily Music Editor
Nevermind that Harrison was the sec-
ond worst Beatle. Nevermind that the
only Beatle he could say he was better
than was, well, Ringo. Forget that
Harrison settled a lawsuit against the
validity of "My Sweet Lord." And no
matter what, forget that Harrison video
for "Got My Mind Set on You," where
the patron saint of dull sat in a chair and
wouldn't move, so the director had to
move everything around him, (thank you
VH 1 Pop-Up video).
Harrison is by no means a disposable
member of the Fab Four. He is not to be
confused with that Starr fellow.
Remember though, this is the album
that outsold both Lennon and
McCartney's first solo releases, but the
whole lawsuit thing kinda rained on that
parade. What a bitch.
Nonetheless, despite all these things,
Capitol Records went back, re-mastered
and repackaged this Harrison vehicle,
and made it a bit more road-worthy than
the original.
All Things Must Pass is a lucidly lay-
ered record, thick with texture and filled

with heavy rhythm tracks. Harrison's
album features Eric Clapton (unable to
receive credit for the record till now, and
Genesis post-Gabriel maestro Phil
Collins - "Invisible Touch" anyone?)
Complacent and lengthy (running
7:08) "Isn't it a Pity" is a tunefully rueful
love song winding behind a tambourine,
piano and drums. The track is propelled
by a series of lengthy guitar solos, and in
my 90's bred pop mind that translated to,
"Hey, he ripped off 'Champagne
Supernova."'
Infectiously written riff-age launches
"What is Life." Harrison combines so
much on this track like gang vocals,
"Hello-Goodbye"-esque horn sections
and a fabulous hook. Songs like this,
"Band on the Run" and "Oh Yoko" show

AUJ I LA IAU&%S

absolutely no drop-off in quality from
when the mop tops were still together.
Harrison effectively moves back and
forth between Beatles-y pop and his own
ornately fashioned songsmithery.
"Behind that Locked Door," even teeters
on the edge of being a country song, it
does have that Bryan White twang to it a
la 1996's Between Now and Forever.
These Harrison hooks and arrange-
ments do seem to find a niche some-
where in the back of my head.
Exchanging confused glances with other
Beatles' fans and then plucking the CD
off of the shelf is more than a good idea,
fora lot of you out there, it will be neces-
sity. You will read this review and go,
"Luke Smith, this dude, he knows his
shit, and since he said that Beatles' fans
should own this record and I certainly
am a Beatles fan," you will march your
ass down to the record store and you'll
shell out something like $25 bucks for
this Harrison joint. You'll marvel at the
packaging, which is a sexy black box
with both CD's stored in free fall small
cardboard slippers because he says it's
"environmentally friendly," or some-
thing.
Grade? What the hell do you mean
"Grade?" It's George Harrison.
Grade: A

Ills- I

®t

The Best ofAlice Cooper-
Mascara and Monsters, Alice Cooper;
Rhino Records
By Chris Lane
For the Daily
Even though Alice Cooper already
has like three Greatest Hits CDs,
Rhino Records;figured that a "best of"
album was necessary for the pioneer of
shock-rock. Die-hard Alice fans be
"warned, you already own this album.
New guy, thinking of joining a new
generation of admirers, this album will
get you on your feet, but, first, please
consider the consequences of seriously
"admiring an androgynous, "devil-wor-
shipping," shock-rocker whose down-
time activities include drinking Arnie
Palmers, wearing plaid knickers, and
the VH 1 celebrity golf tournament.
-All blaring contradictions aside, the
-album is a collection of Alice's best
work, everything from his early
anthems to his later, poppier metal.
There are even a few sappy power bal-
lads for the true connoisseur. But rest
assured, just a few ballads. After all,
Alice's essential appeal is certainly
somewhere else. Somewhere under the
running mascara and the 20-foot boa.
Somewhere in that perfectly appropri-
ate voice - all the gravel and grating
necessary to fuel teenage rebellion and
to pull off exaggerated stage theatrics.
When I think Alice, I think "Welcome
to My Nightmare." I think "Muscle of
Love."
But hey, the Detroit native isn't all
pomp. "I'm Eighteen" is vintage 70s
hard rock. Those twangy guitar solos
and thumping bass drums have a bit of
the same flavor of the Stones or
Creedence. You might also think back
to 1989 and recall that catchy chorus
you know you were humming "... I
wanna kiss you, but your lips are ven-
omous POISON." Yes, "Poison"
Imakes a well-deserved appearance.
That song is about STDs, right? And
ladies, Alice is not just for the guys.
With songs like, "I Never Cry," and
'Only Women Bleed," Alice exhibits a
softer, ironic side that is sure to strike a

nerve. And let's not forget the classic
high school anthem, "School'sOut?
Yeah, Alice Cooper wrote that song.
So, if you can get past: The fact that
his look was an inspiration to Marilyn
Manson, his circus of horrors or what-
ever approach to music, and his plaid
golf bag, than you've got some decent
music here. Chalked stiff with 22
semi-solid rockers for your listening
enjoyment, and one hell of a ringmas-
ter to guide you through.
But really, Alice never said that he
wasn't out to give the audience what
they wanted. He never said he wasn't
an entertainer. Let's all take comfort in
the fact that the release of The Best of
Alice Cooper - Mascara and
Monsters isn't supposed to mean any-
thing. Not to Alice, and not to the audi-
ence. It's just business as usual. Picture
it... There's Alice relaxing at the coun-
try club. Sporting a polo and a cigar.
Wearing his new rubber spikes
because the club banned the metal
ones to keep the greens extra smooth.
And then he gets a call from Rhino
records asking about that new album,
which is supposedly on the way. Alice
describes conflicts of tennis lessons
and two o'clock tee times. What to do?
Then somebody pitches the "Best of"
album, and nobody dissents. No need
to preserve the artistic integrity of his
work, so why not? Alice could use a
new corvette or something. Alice gets
to go back to golf, and we get some
entertainment. Why not? Or perhaps
more fitting. Why?
Grade: C+

BEING STEVE MALKMUS

Stephen Malkmus, Steven Malkmus; Matador
Records
By Christian Howd
Daily Arts Writer
Stephen Malkmus has always been a smartass. He's
always been a romantic, too. The yoking of those opposites
- and a few other choice contradictions as well -- were
what made his early work with Pavement so incendiary:
Both lucid and sardonic, pop and anti-pop, he had an arm-
load of hooks and an armload of real feelings and enough
rock 'n roll swagger to make all of it sing.
As Malkmus grew older, his slacker quixoticism evapo-
rated. By 1997's Brighten the
Corners, he wasn't on a coun-
terculturalist mission anymore;
he was just, you know, doing his
mildly-derisive thing. The
hooks were still there, sure, but'
the edge-of-your-seat thrills had
been replaced by tunes that
seemed to favor private roman-
ticism (love me because I'm so
sly, baby, and because the worldr
sucks, by the way) over making
cultural fragmentation romantic.
That gentle nosedive into
complacency made it easy for
Malkmus to slide gracefully
into his thirties. And since no
one's expecting him to save the
alt-rock world anymore, it's also made it easy for him to
slide into a solo career.
Lou Reed - to whom Malkmus can be compared in
several respects - scored his first hit only after he left the
Velvets, but it's doubtful the same thing will happen for
Malkmus. On his eponymous solo debut, his songs still
slant toward fuzziness, his lyrics are full of smartass-isms
or non-sequiturs and delivered in that same whispery, off-
key sing-speak.,

Which isn't to say that the tunes aren't catchy. They are;
there's even one called "The Hook:' It's about S.M. hang-
ing out with pirates. Whether or not that scenario happens
to be an extended metaphor for growing old as an alt-rock
icon (or something), you might smell schtick. I certainly
do.
At least two of these 12 tunes are merely okay and prob-
ably wouldn't have made the cut were they recorded for a
Pavement record. What's worse is that he's capitulated to
slackerdom in a way he was oft accused of (but didn't)
while with Pavement. That band offered both cheap thrills
and a sense of overarching purpose behind all of the tune-
fulness. Stephen Malkmus is a little light on the latter.
That said, it's a fine piece of work, one that proves Malk-
mus could still out-write most of
his contemporaries with his Stra-
tocaster tied behind his back.'
Malknus the smartass hasn't
quite killed off Malkmus the
romantic, and a couple of these
songs (especially lilting ballad
"Church on White" and the
resplendent "Trojan Curfew") are
shot through with genuine sensi-
tivity and some drop-dead gor-
geous melodies to boot.
His sense of humor is less
Thomas Pynchon and more
Merry Prankster than before.
Where his love of irony led him
to survey the fringes of alt-cul-
ture on Crooked Rain, pitching
vitriol at old hacks and young imitators, here he's just
happy to sing about whichever jokers he saw on PBS or
read about in last week's New Yorker (Yul Brynner, Tro-
jans, Eskimos, a hippie couple with a dog named Trey).
In short, he's having more fun than ever, and I hate him
for it. Which makes me wonder why I can't get these
songs out of my head.
Grade: A-

Standards, Tortoise; Thrill
Jockey Records
By Andrew Klein
Daily Arts Writer
Tortoise has been called post-
rock heroes and the leaders of the
new age of experimental under-
ground music. Underground musi-
cal innovators of the rock world on
the other hand, are celebrated by a
small number of fans and then
remain forever in the shadows of
popular music. Popular music con-
tinues to "evolve," for lack of a bet-
ter word, without knowledge of the
underground.
On Standards, Tortoise have cre-
ated a synthesis of the past 50 yenr
of music and constructed a cohesjv>
laboratory soundtrack. So much s
that listening to the band's new
album is a confusing task.
There is a combination of entire-
ly new sounds with familiar
melodies. Tracks that change direc-
tion without hesitation with an
album that flows from track to track
so well that you can pass from the
beginning to the end without know-
ing that the album is divided into ten
songs.
And that is one of the intriguing
things about Tortoise. Their music
works just as well as absent-minded
background music as it does as an
intense intellectual experiment into
the history and meaning of music.
The Chicago-based Tortoise are
no strangers to innovation. Theit
1994 debut, self-titled album con-
sisted of three basses, no guitars,
and no vocals, something they hae
never used.
Their second album showed their
use of the studio as a member of the
band as they completely reworked
the songs from their first album.
1998 saw the release of TNT and
then the band toured relentlessly
throughout the world. Well, they
also recorded and performed with
their other bands, worked on sound-
track projects, produced albums, an
built studios. Somehow, they fou'n
time to create Standards.
The album title is the first indica-
tion of what the album is about.
Standards is an album of a new style;
of standards. It is an album that is;
more jazz than rock, more ambient-
dance than jazz, yet more structured
than ambient.
The opening track "Seneca" opens
with almost two minutes of feedback
heavy, end-of-the-concert-chaos, and
then breaks into the most compelling
groove of the album. The fast paced,
spooked out, instrumental riff is
played over a electro-Bonham drum
part and a sampling of weird sounds.
"Monica" offers an entirely differ-
ent picture. Here the band dabbles in
motown gone hip-hop. Other songs-
sound like a collision between
Coltrane and Debussy.
Whatever Tortoise is doing on
Standards, they are one of the only
rock bands to use electronic capabil-
ities to the advantage of experimen-
tation without becoming obsessed
with repetitive looping and an elec-
tronic sound. But then I guess tht's
why they are not a rock band.
Grade: A-

The Best of Tevin Campbell, Tevin
Campbell; Qwest Records
y Heidi Wickstrom
Daily Arts Writer
Who's kickin' it old school.with the
T. Camp in the '01?
Riiiiiight ... Me neither.
Nevertheless, Tevin Campbell has
recently released the requisite Best Of
Tevin Campbell record, for all the hard
core fans that have been hanging on
since the early '90s. Which, coinciden-
-tally, is about the same time that his last
*ong was released and the last time that
he scored anything that resembles a hit.
For those of you who need a
refresher course, (which I'm guessing
is most of you), Tevin Campbell is a
former teen R&B phenom, discovered
by legendary producer Quicy Jones,
and whose talent and performance
skills have been honed through count-
less mall tours and teen 'zine inter-
riews. A more recently-applicable
example, following in Campell's foot-
steps, is pre-adolescent crooner and
backstreet brother Aaron Carter; only
Ae's whiter and lacking in the silky
smooth groove department.
And yes, folks, Tevin Campbell has
soul, which manifests itself in the

plagues us all at some time or another
- actually 'establishing contact' with
our crush. The song's not that bad. I'll
admit it, I had the single ... when I
was 13.
The Best of Tevin Campbell is a bit
unnecessary, especially since it has
been roughly seven years since he has
charted anything remotely recogniz-
able. The good news? We now have
Aaron Carter's Greatest Hits to look
forward to in about eight years.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Keep It
Rollin', Various Artists; Rounder
Records
By Chris Kula
Daily Arts Writer
It's almost Mardi Gras time in New
Orleans, so in preparation for the holy
observance of Fat Tuesday and girls gone
wild, Rounder has released a pair of
compilations that feature between them
a combined 33 tracks of Big Easy
favorites.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is pretty
self-explanatory, a collection of tradi-
tional party songs that are as indigenous
to the Crescent City as public urination
- and almost as satisfying. Bayou leg-
ends Buckwheat Zydeco and Marcia
Ball lend their vocal talents to the
cookin' "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now"
and "Big Shot," respectively, and both
the Rebirth and Dirty Dozen Brass

Bands - two of New Orleans' preemi-
nent marching horns-and-percussion
ensembles - romp across several cuts in
joyous second-line nature.
The album is a fun, diverse mix of
street-beat funk, Creole-inflected zydeco
numbers and parade route anthems, the
perfect soundtrack to a wild time of
drunken bead tossing or, as I like to call
it, February.
However, just like realizing that the
saucy Cajun woman groping you on
Bourbon Street actually stole your wal-
let, Keep it Rollin' is a bit of a letdown.
The compilation sets out to pay homage
to the spirited, pumping left-hand style
of New Orleans' piano greats, but, aside
from Davell Crawford's title cut and Tuts
Washington's "Arkansas Blues," the
album is about as lively as last week's
crawfish.
The compilation's omissions of
Professor Longhair and Fats Domino,
the Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker of

New Orleans piano, respectively, are
glaring to be sure, as most of the album's
17 tracks are no more rollicking than the
mild, lounge-blues dinner music at
Zydeco on Main Street. Keep it rollin'
- right past this one at the record store
and pick up some classic Longhair
instead.
Grades:
B+ ("Mardi Gras in New Orleans"),
D+("Keep it Rollin"')

Grade: C

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