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Beyond Limits Group

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Timofey Shooters
Timofey Shooters


MONDELLO: After that, I have to say I expected something special from curtain calls. I don't anymore. They're just bows now - rarely as much fun as I remember from my youth - possibly because, back then, standing ovations were not routine, so shows had to work for them. Sammy Davis Jr. doing part of his nightclub act after the cast went home to keep a lackluster musical running wouldn't happen today. The thing is, audiences love to go crazy. It means the tickets were worth it. In the 1960s, an experimental troupe got audiences to strip and join them for naked curtain calls. In the 1940s, crowds howled at the end of "Arsenic And Old Lace," when 12 guys who hadn't been in the show came out bowing. They were supposed to be the corpses buried in the cellar. And I remember one time it was a costume change that triggered pandemonium - "The Act" with Liza Minnelli. Terrible show in which she'd been all in Halston - silver, white, scarlet. Then, at her bow, you realized there was one color you hadn't seen all night as the spotlights hit her in a gown so emerald-encrusted she'd about dazzled her mom in Emerald City.


Though I don't listen to jazz knowledgably or systematically enoughto review it much, this month's Pick Hit hit me square in the sensibility.In Honorable Mention I've listed a few related items, ranked witheven fewer pretensions to absolute authority than usual.DENNIS ALCAPONE:Forever Version(Heartbeat)In the dawn of toasting,well before dancehall or rap, Alcapone played Hammer to U-Roy's PE,stealing pop hooks for the fun of it rather than constructing remixesas deep as his ideological posture. And he's a lot wittier thanHammer. Expostulating, cheerleading, butting in, fabricating duetswith local heroes who have worse to worry about, he acts like thebest parts of his favorite hits belong to him. And even if that'sonly because entertainment law hasn't hit Kingston, it's a truthfor the ages.A MINUSCHRIS BELL:I Am the Cosmos(Rykodisc)Protopomo chameleon AlexChilton had so much Anglophile in him he didn't need this full-fledgedBeatle obsessive to create Big Star's world-historic Radio City andsuicidal Third. And where Chilton evolved toward bent cabaret-rock,Bell's secret vice was folkiedom. But it's clear from Bell's veryposthumous solo album--recorded mostly in 1975, three years beforehe slammed his TR-6 into a telephone pole--that Big Star was his idea.Stuck inside of Memphis with the Liverpool blues again, so pop-against-themhe never fully grasped the function of the rhythm section, he wasevery bedroom bohemian who ever drove 300 miles to see the Kinks.Yet at the same time his spiritual yearnings are hippie on "I Amthe Cosmos" (adolescent self-absorption at its most sex-starved),Southern on "Better Save Yourself" (in Jesus's name, amen), andboth on "There Was a Light" (God meets gurl as if Bell's truly secretvice was Al Green).A MINUSBODY COUNT(Sire/Warner Bros.)Exploiting and burlesquing the style'swhiteskin privilege from "Smoked Pork" to "Cop Killer," Ice-T's metalalbum takes rap's art-ain't-life defense over the top. Not only doeshe off pigs, he murders his mom--because she taught him to hate whitepeople. Then he cuts her up, sticks her well-catalogued body partsin Hefty bags, deposits same all over this great land of ours, andsuggests that listeners with parents on the racist tip follow hisexample. For Satanism he tangles with a voodoo queen and entersthe "Bowels of the Devil," a/k/a the state pen. He wilds with Tipper's12-year-old nieces, fucks his "KKK Bitch" in the ass when a rallygets his dick hard, and fakes an orgasm for good measure. And likeany long-haired frontman worth his chart position, he sings a tenderballad--in which a coke fiend steals enough money to buy the bestshit, then goes cardiac when he smokes it.A MINUSALEX CHILTON:19 Years: A Collection of Alex Chilton(Rhino) Evenif Chilton approved the selections himself, his retrospective isn'twhat it ought to be--we get half of Third (with "Thank You Friends,""Jesus Christ," and other goodies left to the spiffy new Rykodiscreissue), the Lust/Unlust seven-inch (no Ork seven-inch), bits ofthe eminently excerptable Like Flies on Sherbert(no Bach's Bottom),dollops of mid-'80s spurt (no "Under Class" or "Dalai Lama"). Soyou were expecting maybe Exile on Main Street? If Chilton had everfigured out his calling, he would have made a living at it; he'sthe EP king because coherence and endurance mean less to him thanquantum physics (which he no doubt studied on his own when thatdishwashing job dried up). You can't excerpt such an eccentric toanybody's satisfaction but your own, and even then you couldn'tbuild an hour's momentum. But listen to any three cuts in any orderand I guarantee you'll get off on two-and-a-half. A money-saving introductionto his self-abusing pop and Southern-hipster r&b.A MINUSTHE DISPOSABLE HEROES OF HIPHOPRISY:Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury(4th & B'way)As critics kvell, skeptics eye their p.c. quotient:a black rapper with white adoptive parents and Asian American DJwho subsumes his racial analysis in an explicitly antihomophobic,antixenophobic leftism and allies himself with the Piss Christ andthe Dead Kennedys. And for sure a few of the ideas are pat or simplisticand a few of the metaphors flat or anticlimactic ("politics is merelythe decoy of perception"? wha?). But if Michael Franti is no LintonKwesi Johnson, neither was LKJ at 25. His wordslinging isn't quiteChuck D., subject of the ballsy imitation/tribute/parody/critique"Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury," but his intellectual grasp thrustshim immediately into pop's front rank--I'd put money on his thoughtquicker than Michael Stipe's or Michelle Shocked's, not to mentionRichard Thompson's or Black Francis's. And then there's the DJ thatisn't--with crucial help from Consolidated's Mark Pistel, industrialpercussionist Rono Tse is a one-man hip hop band. He creates moremusic than he samples, stretching Bomb Squad parameters to carrythe tracks whenever Franti falters. I'd like to think the two couldpenetrate right to hip hop's fragmented core. But if they neverachieve full cultural resonance, their art will have to suffice.And it will.A MINUSFUNKYTOWN PROS:Reachin a Level of Assassination(Peace Posse)All clenched throat and quick internal rhymes, Boiwundah disdains "whitegreen," and he knows how to brag: "I'm the debate master, you'rejust a masturbator." His hybrid hard is as self-invented as KoolMoe Dee's or Def Jef's, without the sexual or cultural baggage.Even stronger "coffee with no cream" comes from his DJ cousin Devastatin',who states his business with a "Big Payback" loop and never retreats.At their most bodacious--check the twisted horn intro/refrain on"Here Me Now, Believe Me Later," which could have been ripped bleedingfrom late Miles or choice Art Ensemble--his beats are as out as JB'sspaciest and jazziest. In short, this unaffiliated L.A. crew deservesbetter than to go down in the juice wars.B PLUS[Later]GEORGE JONES & TAMMY WYNETTE:Greatest Hits Vol. 2(Epic)In artif not life, this was a rich, amazing marriage, goofy and tragicat the same time. Anybody who thinks Tammy got nothing but troublefrom the same old him should compare this "My Elusive Dreams" tothe David Houston classic. Anybody who thinks serial monogamy equalsmental health should try and giggle at the Louvin Brothers' "WhenI Stop Dreaming." Anybody who thinks novelty songs say nothing newshould check the postconjugal intimacy of Bobby Braddock's "DidYou Ever." A fitting companion to volume one--just press stop beforethe inspirational finale.A MINUSKRONOS QUARTET:Pieces of Africa(Elektra Nonesuch)Since even thetitle acknowledges the expropriations that must ensue when you inviteAfrican composers to submit to your sincerely panhumanist but ultimatelyEurocentric string quartet, I feel a little p.i. enjoying this.And since my ignorance of string quartets matches my ignorance ofMoroccan, Sudanese, Gambian, Ghanaian, Ugandan, Zimbabwean, andpost-Afrikaner pan-Africanism, I also feel like a fish out of water.But despite the third-stream stiffness of the groove, the most accessibletracks give off the same calm melodic charge as the sweetest mbiraand kora music. And I'm never one to refuse the cheap thrill ofan exotic timbre--I love my bottleneck, but oh you pizzicato!A MINUS[Later: ]BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS:Talkin' Blues(Tuff Gong)With Joe Higgsstanding in for Babylon-shy Bunny Livingston, the seven songs theyrecorded before an audience of half a dozen at the KSAN studiosone morning in 1973--maddeningly interspersed with separately trackedbits of a 1975 interview that make a CD you can program a must--isn'tjust the best live Wailers I've ever heard, but the best WailersI've ever heard. The ensemble--which by the time of 1976's Live!will substitute the dutifully beautiful I-Threes for his male matesand adjust the instrumentals to arena scale--is at a supple, subliminalpeak of interactive intimacy and intensity. The previously unreleased"Am-A-Do" plus three later outtakes are a letdown only by comparison.A MINUSDAVID MURRAY:Shakill's Warrior(DIW/Columbia)Murray is the mostfluent saxophonist this side of Sonny Rollins, a far more expansiveleader than King Wynton. His new big-band album serves up plentyof thrills and chills; hell, when he composes a string quartet I'llgive it a shot. But I reserve the right to believe that his leastpretentious record is his best. Backed by swinging beatmaster AndrewCyrille on drums and tasty high school bandmate Stanley Franks onguitar, Murray enlists Don Pullen on organ in a knowing encomiumto lounge r&b. Though too often the Hammond B-3 is a one-way ticketto Cornytown, Pullen the pianist is capable of clusters as abstract(not to say unlistenable) as Cecil Taylor's, and the tension worksperfectly: his harmonic cool keeps the music honest and a littlestrange without ever stinting on emotion. As for Murray, you knowhe can blow--hot and hard, warm and soulful, sly and sleazy. He evenrollicks through a Rollins-style calypso. The title tune owes SammyDavis Jr.'s "The Candy Man." And the moody avant-garde move "BlackFebruary" swings anyway. A PLUSSOCIAL DISTORTION:Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell(Epic)Like their sceneboys Bad Religion, these hardcoreholdouts get over on a saving touch of trad: where Greg Graffinand Brett Gurewitz break into anthem, Mike Ness gives new meaningto hard honky tonk. And where Graffin and Gurewitz ponder the fateof humanity, Ness universalizes his personal problems like millionsof unhappy male chauvinists before him. Me, I'd rather the otherguys had made a career album. But as all four of us know, life isunfair.B PLUSKELLY WILLIS:Bang Bang(MCA)Up till the Joe Ely conceit she goesout on, this 22-year-old doesn't get a single lyric worthy of herlusty-voiced appetite for decent love. She claims she'll wrap herpipes around any original her drummer husband hands her, but sincethe five on the debut are down to a sane two here, there's reasonto hope that next time her Nashville handlers will put her in touchwith an actual female songwriter. Would Lucinda Williams be askingtoo much?B PLUSAdditional Consumer NewsHonorable Mention:Bob Marley and the Wailers, One Love(Heartbeat): 1963-66 Studio One ska/rocksteady--gems you'll play againamid curiosities you'll be glad you heard once ("Who Feels It KnowsIt," "Bend Down Low," "Hooligan," "Let Him Go")Johnny Griffin, The Cat (Antilles): tenorsanity ("The Cat")Astor Piazzolla, Love Tanguedia (TropicalStorm): less subtle than the American Clave versions (I count fiverepeats), but not so as newcomers could tell ("Return to Love (Regresoal Amor")Big Star, Live (Rykodisc): Radio City,loose and in person ("O My Soul")John Anderson, Seminole Wind (RCA): new labeleffect--it's no secret you feel better when you try ("Straight TequilaNight," "Who Got Our Love") [Later: ***]World Saxophone Quartet and African Drums,Metamorphosis (Elektra Nonesuch): most prefer theirAfrica less hectic, their jazz more straight-ahead ("The Holy Man,""Metamorphosis")Marshall Chapman, Inside Job (Tall Girl):just the gal to cool Kelly down ("Real Smart Man," "Come Up and SeeMe")Culture, Three Sides to My Story (Shanachie):ital keybs, natural percussion ("Armageddon")Machines of Loving Grace (Mammoth): humanistindustrial ("Cicciolina")Bad Religion, Generator (Epitaph): in lieu ofthe future, they'll accept nice neighbors and the occasional stroll("Too Much To Ask," "Generator")Joe Higgs With the Wailers, Blackman KnowYourself (Shanachie): they are family ("Blackman KnowYourself")George Jones, And Along Came Jones (MCA): newlabel effect II ("I Don't Go Back Anymore," "You Couldn't Get thePicture")Choice Cuts:Tracy Chapman, "Bang Bang Bang" (Matters of theHeart, Elektra)Paleface, "Burn and Rob" (Paleface, Polydor)Tammy Wynette, "Unwed Fathers" (Best LovedHits, Epic)Tracy Lawrence, "Sticks and Stones" (Sticks andStones, Atlantic)Gail Davies, "Unwed Fathers" (The Best of GailDavies, Capitol)Duds:David Byrne, Uh-Oh (Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.)Def Leppard, Adrenalize (Mercury)Lorrie Morgan, Something in Red (RCA)Astor Piazzolla, Maria de Buenos Aires (Milan)U2, Achtung Baby (Island)Village Voice, Apr. 21, 1992 041b061a72


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