by Al Slavicsky
Sponsored In Part By
The Badlees - Up There Down Here
Ark 21 Records
This is the band's debut release for the Ark 21 label after being dropped
by their previous label in the Seagram-Universal Music merger. The material
is a mixture of alternative rock and folk... sort of like John Mellencamp
fusing with Bob Dylan and The Cowboy Junkies. The Badlees have created
a release that their fans would enjoy. Most of these tunes are familiar
to long time fans, for the band has played some of the tunes over the past
two years at the gigs. This CD was originally going to be released in 1998.
Songs that stand above the rest include "A Little Faith," "Love All," "Which
One of You," and "Cellarbird and Zither." If you like the band's previous
work, then check out this release, and you will not be disappointed.
Boom Boom Satellites - Out Loud
Ambient techno music from Japan, Boom Boom Satellites reinforce how trip-hop
and techno music can be redefined into a heavenly bliss. Upon closer listen,
the band is very impressive and strives to create unusual sounds in the
mix and mold it into something special. The CD opens with "Missing Note,"
which contains a sample of James Brown's "With Your Bad Self" before fusing
it with scratches and breakbeat. 12 stereophonic fusion tunes that move
into all kinds of different directions make the Boom Boom Satellites one
of the better bands of their style of music. Check out the weird dublike
characteristics on "Dub Me Crazy Ver.02," and you can see how the band
works as remixers and artists. One senses that this band would work well
remixing music of industrial, noise, and popular artists which one would
like to see. Out Loud is worthwhile listening, but if you don't
like something different... please stay away.
NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included
in the print edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter.
These reviews are only available here in the online edition.
311 - Soundsystem
Finally, the wait is over, and the new 311 release is out, and this release
may be the best 311 release ever. The band has combined elements of the
dub with punk and delivers what has to be one of the greatest reggae-influenced
punk albums in recent years. Nick Hexum's vocals are still eerie, yet he
captures harmonious earth tones over the intense hyper bass riffs of P-Nut,
powerful drums of Charles Sexton, the distorted down tunes of Tim Mahoney,
and the awesome turntable cutting of S.A. Soundsystem contains 13
tracks that will move your feet and groove, and one much like "Life's Not
A Race" with its Latino influenced drums combined with reggae dubs. "Come
Original," which is the first single, actually may be the weakest tune
on the CD due to it ultra-poppy feeling. "Eons," with its heavy guitars,
flows into a vibe that cannot be described in mere words, and their cover
of Bad Brains' "Leaving Babylon" proves that the band knows what was one
of the most influential underground punk-reggae bands, and it is great
to see them do it; maybe in the future we can see HR actually do a song
with 311. Overall, this release has never left my five-disc player since
I got it, for it is that good. Simply know the 411 -- that 311 is number
Blood For Blood - Livin' in Exile EP
Blood For Blood is intended for mature street-like people whom believe
that the world is screwed up and not a bed of roses by bringing a reality
check to the listener. Blood For Blood delivers some of the best hardcore
heard since The Cro-Mags or Cause For Alarm in the 1980s. Contains 7 listed
tracks -- "No Tomorrow," "Cheap Wine," Eulogy For A Dream," "Anywhere But
Here (Maybe Someday)," "Nothing For You" (which contains a great a capella
intro with harmonies and not harsh vocals), "Livin' In Exile," and "Still
F*cked Up," plus includes a bonus unlisted tune which first appeared on
the Built For Speed - A Tribute To Motorhead compilation CD, their
cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spade," which transforms the original into
a new hardcore gem. Blood For Blood created the most hateful record that
was ever recorded and makes you want to smash your hand against the wall
and make your knuckles bleed.
Buried Alive - The Death Of Your Perfect World
Buffalo, NY's king of straight edge hardcore, Buried Alive continues to
prove that you don't have to drink or eat meat to have a good time. Violent
sound guitars mixed with metallic vocals in the style of Pantera or Biohazard.
Lyrically, Buried Alive makes you think that life can be bleak due to the
repression around you due to all the people misusing their power for wasteful
purposes. Buried Alive. Most people would dislike this release due to the
force-fed way that the band delivers its message; then again, maybe that
is what this band is trying to do. Overall, Buried Alive deals with the
power of music and creates some great straight edge hardcore.
The Candy Snatchers - Human Zoo
Go Kart Records
This CD has not left my player for some time, and it is struck in the drive.
The Candy Snatchers play punk similar to All or The Descendents, and on
Human Zoo they deliver the goods. Even if the release is under 20
minutes in length, the band violently molds their sound on such tunes as
"Real Thick Head," "Drunken Bruir," and "Stone For Good." If you do enjoy
what these young lads are doing, then you probably missed the wave with
The Ramones, Television, Black Flag, or Dead Kennedys, too. Hats off to
The Candy Snatchers for putting the "P" back in punk.
Canned Heat - Boogie 2000
Ruf Records, P.O. Box 258, Oxford, WI 53952
Hard to believe that Canned Heat is still a major force in today's country-blues
market. Having been around for over 30 years, Canned Heat continues to
refurbish blues into the next century. These musicians are top rate and
deserve more respect than they are getting. Boogie 2000 is an album
which new and long time fans of the Heat will love due to its traditional
Heat style. Growing up in the era during which the band played the first
Woodstock, they have never lost their style and were lost in the shuffle
of great performers at that event. Check out the tunes "2000 Reasons (Y2K
Blues)," which is a great to the bones blues jam. "World of Make Believe"
sounds like Santana due to its Latino flair, and "I'm So Tired" reminds
one of the late Sonny Boy Williamson due to it harmonica player. If you
like ZZ Top, Santana, The Other Ones, or authentic blues music, this release
is for you to enjoy.
Ani DiFranco - To the Teeth
Righteous Babe Records
Over the past 10 years, Ani DiFranco has redefined folk music and the way
the music world records in general. To The Teeth is this woman's
sixteenth release on her own Righteous Babe Records, and she moves folk
music into a completely new direction which can be seen through the guests
who appear with her on this release -- the legendary saxophone player Maceo
Parker on the folk hip-hop cross blending on "Swing" which is motivating
yet moving... one wonders if they may be a remix of this song and the song
"Back Back Back." Maceo's saxophone highlights the intense moods of Ani,
and the lyrics are very emotional and make one think how our nation really
is. Trumpet player Irvin Mayfield appears on "Going Once," which actually
is very new age jazz oriented with Ani sounding like Billie Holliday with
a bright folk style tone. But the best track on this release has to be
the eerie "Providence," where the mystery man of the hour, The Artist Formerly
Known as Prince, adds his unmistakable vocals to Ani's sensuous ones to
create one of the most memorable recorded songs in recent music history.
After listening to To The Teeth, one believes that Ani DiFranco
is today's best kept music secret, for she is one of the most gifted performers
and artists of our time. Just remember that Ani is 32 flavors, and every
flavor she uses is different to the taste buds.
Ani DiFranco & Utah Phillips - Fellow Workers
Righteous Babe Records
Combining elements of modern day folk and traditional sounding folk music,
these two legends have created another CD together. Ani brings her modern
day sound and adds the sparkle of her sweet voice to the harsh talkings
Phillips. This release would make you go and do some research on some
of the people they talk about. Utah Phillips' hobo type of rantings makes
you appreciate the lost hobo way of living. Of the 18 tracks these modern
day geniuses created, the tracks with Utah Phillips ranting stand out,
including "The Most Dangerous Woman," "Stupid's Pledge," "Direct Action,"
and "Dump The Bosses." Radical ideas to some, but enjoyable to true fans
of folk music from this rare combination of minds.
Electric Frankenstein - How to Make a Monster
Haunting punk rock combining the mystery of the legendary monster Frankenstein
with a vintage old school punk sound, Electric Frankenstein have made a
release that one either likes or hates. But Electric Frankenstein proves
that the band is strong musically while having extreme lyrics. One must
be impressed by the samples which the band uses on the release, especially
heard on the first track "I Was A Modern Prometheus" which is basically
a whole sample-influenced tune. Also, the intro to "Phatty Boom Batty"
is humorous. Plus, the street anthem "Up From The Streets" makes you envision
the Ramones in their twilight, yet Electric Frankenstein used their own
unique sound. 13 tunes plus a super cool CD-ROM part with videos, biography,
and discography make this a classic release.
Filibuster - Deadly Hi-Fi
Skunk Records/Cornerstone RAS
Most of this CD was recorded by the legendary producer Steve Albini, who
is best known for his work with Nirvana on In Utero. Steve brings
Filibuster to the next level by adding a more noisy mix to the ska band
who were one of the top 12 unsigned California bands in 1996, as determined
by Discmakers. The band has come a long way and now are a trademark 3rd
wave ska band, and on Deadly Hi-Fi prove that they can rock and
fuse ska together. 13 tracks that smoke with grungy noisy guitars, reggae
bass riffs, smooth saxophones, harmonious vocals, and a splash of a turntable
here and there. Songs that stand out include the only track not recorded
by Steve Albini but by Justin Dehart, "Sutter's Fort," which focuses on
Sacramento's founding, "Batty Rider" which has an anti-police message toward
the way that they pull people over in low riders, and "Dawning of the Dead"
with its noisy sound effects and lyrics about going insane about death.
So fill your CD player with a dose of Filibuster, and be proud that you
are in an elite group who has heard of this great band.
The Fixtures - One Crisis Short of Chaos
Encino, CA's The Fixtures present a punk record which Jello Biafra would
be proud of, for the first part of this release sounds likes the famous
Dead Kennedys on the Sidecrisis1 - the first 9 tracks of the release. Sidechaos2
is more metallic oriented than punk, for the band experiments with a new
sound which hardcore fans of the band may be surprised by. The Fixtures
use old school punk techniques to create modern new school punk complete
with political lyrics, snotty vocals, distorted guitars, three chord tunes,
and fast, raw drums. Some of the tunes that will be fixtures of the future
include "If," "No Sale," "Warning," and "Red and Clear." In fact, all 18
tunes are good -- a worthy release to check out.
Long Beach Dub All-Stars - Right Back
The first nationally distributed full-length for the remaining members
of Sublime -- Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh, Miquel, and Field Marshall Goodman
along with friends Opie Ortiz (whom did the artwork for most of the Sublime
release), plus some great musicians of the punk scene -- Ras1, Jack Maness,
and Tim Wu formed the Long Beach Dub All-Stars to continue preserving the
reggae sound. Right Back contains some great surprises including
reggae legend Barrington Levy on "Righteous Dub" and a re-working of "Saw
Red (She's Mine)," which Sublime fans may remember as the duet with Brad
and Gwen of No Doubt, but this version sounds more island-like. The song
"Fugazi" has an unlisted Kurt Loder-of-MTV new sample where he is talking
about the LBDAS and HR then segues into the song "New Sun," where HR appears.
But the song that stands out the most is "Trailer Ras" for it has a very
close Sublime-like feeling to it. The LBDAS will please both reggae/dancehall
fans and Sublime fans and prove that the LBDAS know what the dub is.
Arto Lindsay - Pride
Righteous Babe Records
This is the first non-Ani DiFranco release that this label has released,
and what a release this is. Arto Lindsay has created a brilliant album
which should be a cult hit in no time. Musically, Arto Lindsay is a cross
between Steve Strange (one of the Spanish new wave artists of the 1980s),
Brain Eno's Latin influenced albums, Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, and
avant-garde musician Phillip Glass. But what makes Arto Lindsay different
is the way he composes the selections into a sonic transformation that
helps the listener get trapped into his sound progression. Contains 12
tracks with lyrics, plus translations for Arto's Spanish tracks with the
multi-layer "Prefeelings" with its hip-hop funk fused with Latin percussion
and white noise sound and the haunting ballad "E Ai Esquesco," which translates
to "And Then I Forget," standing out. Overall Arto Lindsay redefines modern
music with this unforgettable masterpiece.
Little Milton - Welcome to Little Milton
Bluesmaster Little Milton decided to have his friends over in the studio
for some recordings, and he invited some of the best musicians in the world
today including Government Mule ("When The Blues Come Knockin'" and "I
Can't Quit You Baby"), G. Love & Special Sauce ("Me And My Woman"),
Peter Wolf ("Two Loves"), Delbert McClinton ("Some Kind of Wonderful"),
Keb' Mo' ("Lump On Your Stump"), and Lucinda Williams ("Love Hurts") to
name a few of his many guests. Little Milton made a release which will
please both blues fans and rock fans alike. With all the musical genre
crossing, Little Milton has proved that new fans to the blues will give
this release a listen due to the musicians on the release.
Maceo Parker - Funk Overload
What Are Records?
The saxophone legend Maceo Parker, who is best known for his works with
James Brown, comes back with a funky jazz release that is destined to move
his sound to new fans. Maceo does 11 tracks that transform the fine line
between funk and jazz and hip-hop. "Uptown Up" is great due to the rap
heard at the end of the tune, while the tracks "Maceo's Groove" and "Let's
Get It On" (a Marvin Gaye cover) prove that Maceo can be on the soulful
side every now and then. Maceo may not be everyone's taste of music, but
he still proves that he can handle the test of time and do a respectable
Scarred For Life - Born Work Die
A major force in the Long Beach music scene for years, Scarred For Life
delivers a release that could have been made in the late 1980s. Scarred
For Life does 12 tunes which fuse elements of metal, punk, and hardcore
-- sort of like Sucidial Tendencies, but more aggression is presented.
The cover art reminds one of the Japanese noisecore bands due to raw look.
Political lyrics on such songs as "Controlled Confusion," "Feeding A War,"
"Suicide By Cop," and "Break The Mold" makes one want to experience the
political system and attack it. Scarred For Life will make you scarred
for life due to its reality.
Synergy - Computer Experiments Volume One
Recorded back in the days when computer technology was still being molded,
Synergy recorded some of the best ambient electronic music of its day.
Included on this disc are three long compositions where one can see the
mastermind of Larry Fast at work. As haunting as this release may have
been when originally issued in 1981, it is still eerie today. "Artificial
Intelligence (Monday 25, 1980)" has a space-like effect, while "Artificial
Intelligence (Friday, January 25, 1980)" could have easily been used in
either a horror movie or sci-fi movie. "The World After April (Tuesday
January 22, 1980)" is more mellow and focuses on the way the computer structures
notes and flows into many cross sections. In retrospect, Synergy was ahead
of its time and was able to make waves from people like Philip Glass.
Joe Louis Walker - Silvertone Blues
Blue Thumb Records
Pop this disc into your CD player, and get a bowl of grits plus a side
order of fresh side and flush down your blues. Joe Louis Walker delivers
the vintage blues style similar to Robert Nighthawk or Howlin' Wolf on
Silvertones Blues, which has 12 hot licking tracks to drown your
sorrows away. Classic tunes on the release include "Bad Luck Blues," "Silvertones
Blues," and "Do The Walkin'." Joe Louis Walker moves contemporary blues
into a great direction, for Silvertone Blues is the home fries at your
Weston/Doc Hoper - The Stepchildren of Rock (split CD)
Go Kart Records
This split CD put out by Go Kart Records features two modern day punk bands,
Weston and Doc Hopper, recorded live. Weston plays an emocore sounding
punk with an emotional-based outlook to it. Recorded live at the Pipeline
in New Jersey on April 9, 1999, their side of the split represents 16 tunes
which the band performed that night, including "Heather Lewis," "My Favourite
Mistake," and "Varsity Speaker." The recording is great, but due to the
all the fades after the songs one does not get a true feeling of the band.
Doc Hopper's part of the split disc was recorded May 28, 1997 at NYU in
NYC. Their material is mostly hi-energized punk that makes you wanna pogo
and move around. Slightly better than Weston's material but geared to the
same listening audience. Includes tunes such as "She's a Coke Head," "Sunny
Girlfriend," and "Spiccoli." With close to 74 mins of music... this release
may be worth checking out.
Keller Williams with The String Cheese Incident - Breathe
Sci Fidelity Records
World beat music in the vein of Rusted Root, Missing Man Formation, or
Dave Matthews, Keller Williams along with his friends created an audio
masterpiece with elements of jazz, progressive rock, and funk. There are
13 listed tunes on the release including the movers and shakers "Stupid
Questions," "Best Feelings," and "Blatant Ripoff." But the track that stands
out the most is the tune heard at 4:20 of track 13 after the reggae-calypso
inspired "Callahoo and Red Snapper." This untitled tune has a jazzy feeling
to it, for its groove flows with an almost hip-hop like flair. Keller Williams
should please Dead Heads and world-beat fans, for it has vibes for both.
A classic and a keeper.
CD, Cassette, and Vinyl Single Reviews:
A Tribe Called Quest - Find a Way
Rarely does a single deliver a power beat, but this one does, for it has
a great groove and backbeat while delivering a mastermix of raw hip-hop
trio vocals. Contains a clean radio version which is very similar to the
album version, which is not included on this single but still is very radio
friendly. Also included is an instrumental version of the song in which
one can actually hear all the cool background vocals and the overdubbing
samples of Towna Tei's "Dubnova (Parts 1 & 2)" ...this version is also
good for all wanna-be rappers in the world today. A classic tune for the
Baby DC (featuring Imajin) - Bounce, Rock, Skate Roll
Short Records/Jive Records
Baby DC has actually made an old school hip-hop sounding tune that reminds
one of the old days of hip-hop in the disco era. "Bounce, Rock, Skate,
Roll" make you want to get out your inline skates and move in the streets
with a boom box. Presented in two versions here, the album version, which
is the vocal mix of the song with a Kris Kross style of voices due to Imajin,
and the dope instrumental version for all you remixers and wanna-be rappers.
Great underground classic.
Dope - Sick
Flip Records/Epic Records
New York City's industrial rockers Dope give a sample of what is the world
is going to hear on the debut album. The songs here are all presented
in the remastered forms which are slated to be remastered for the album.
"Sick" has a strong northeastern industrial flair that flows into a metallic
wall of sound that rocks, while Dope's cover of the controversial N.W.A.
classic "Fuck Tha Police" brings that classic to a new standard and may
even tune some of the new listeners in to this classic group. The key to
this cassette single is the version of "Spine For You," which is a demo
version and will not appear this way on the album. Dope will be a leader
of the new industrial revolution of the 2000s, so watch out for this band
in the not-too-near future.
Citizen King - Malcolm's More Leather Than Ever
Warner Brothers Records
Honestly don't know if this an official release, for it was thrown out
by the band at a concert to their fans. What this is is a remix tape by
Citizen King's D.J. Malcolm. Contains four tunes fused together as one
and includes "Basement Show," "Jalopy Style" (mixed with a sample of War's
"Low Rider"), "Under The Influence," and "Skeleton Key"... and all of these
tunes are very different than the versions that appear on Mobile Estates.
Actually, the versions here are what you would hear at a club and that
makes this tape would searching for.
Chris Gaines - Lost in You
Rarely does a record by a new artist create controversy in both the country
music industry and pop music industry, and Chris Gaines has done it. Before
the real artist's name is revealed, let's look at the songs which is artist
has pulled out on this Don Was produced single. "Lost In You" has a Maxwell
or R. Kelly type feeling to it. The song is a soulful modern R&B uptempo
tune that makes you want to be with your lover with a bottle of wine and
candlelight in front of the fireplace, while other song, "It Don't Matter
To The Sun," has a country ballad flair similar to The Eagles. This is
a great tune to hear when you are in the bar and just want to get the blues
away. Now for the truth -- Chris Gaines is really the alter-ego of country
superstar Garth Brooks. Some country radio stations won't play it because
it is too pop, and pop radio stations won't play it because it is Garth.
Too bad because this song has the potential to be single of the year, and
Garth Brooks proves that he has the guts to release a classic release.
Electric Frankenstein 2000/Le Shok split 7"
Know Records, PO Box 90579, Long Beach, CA 90809
Rumors in the underground said that this split 7" might never happen due
to Electric Frankenstein being on Victory Records now, but it's now available.
"Monster Boots" by EF sounds as if it could have been issued in the era
that punk music was controlled by Black Flag, The Ramones, and the Dead
Kennedys. '80 sounding punk done my modern musicians.
Lower East Side Stitches/Murphy's Law split 7"
A controversial 7" due to the cover art featuring a skull Statue of Liberty
and a police office spray mace and the commentary in the record jacket
attacking Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City for closing the strip
zone of that city and even banning public dance at hard-core/punk shows.
The Lower East Side Stitches do a violent old school punk style number
that fights this attack called "New York City Is Dead," while the legendary
Murphy's Law does "Quality of Life," which is a new sound for the band
best known for "Panty Raid." Limited to only 3000 copies with 1000 of those
on red vinyl, making this a true collector's item of political protest
Moke - Down/Another Weekend
Ultimatum Music, 8800 Venice Blvd., Suite 222, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Combining elements of English blues rock and groove rock, Moke have became
an underground sensation due to their strong musicianship. "Down" is a
great rocker that makes you want to get up and dance -- sounds sort of
like a blues-based funk number and is impressive and works to prove that
the band is more than some wannabe B-rated musicians. However, "Another
Weekend" is the tune which really stands out, for it has elements similar
to Gov't Mule, G Love & Special Sauce, The Black Crowes, and 311. If
this song does not become a hit either now or sometime in the future, then
something is wrong, for this song should have never been a B-side -- it
is that good. So turn the tape around and listen to this side first.
R. Kelly - Did You Ever Think
An uptempo tune with a sample of Curtis Mayfield's "Right On For The Darkness,"
R&B performer R. Kelly has created a modern day gem. "Did You Ever
Think" is presented here in three versions -- the original version and
the edited versions, which are basically the same tracks, only the edited
version has a slight pause where another word use for butt is heard plus
an instrumental break where one can hear the background of the tune and
see where he uses the sample. R. Kelly continues to prove that he is a
force to reckon with in the R&B world.
Britney Spears - Sometimes
Most of the people in today's world know this modern day teen popster.
Though this single is not as powerful as her first single, "Hit Me Baby
One More Time," it still manages to create a good vibe. "Sometimes," which
is presented here in a radio edit version, has a mid-tempo beat combined
with southern gospel like background vocals. Though radio has overplayed
this song to death, will "Sometimes" stand the test of time and became
of classic or get lost like Tiffany or Debbie Gibson? One suggests that
the later may be true for this singer because her 15 minutes of fame is
Slipknot - 2 Song Sampler
This sampler contains two unreleased songs from Slipknot -- a demo version
of "Spit It Out," which combines elements of grindcore, metal, hip-hop,
and death into a big melting pot sort of like an extreme version of Zebrahead
Public Enemy and A.C. at a Slayer show. If the version on the album
is anything like this, it will be awesome. Also enclosed is a rough mix
of "Surfacing," which is the better of the two tunes, and it really rocks,
complete with the vulgar chorus. So if you haven't heard of Slipknot, check
them out, and if you have a chance to see the band live... go for it, for
the band has a great stage show complete with all kinds of theatrical props.
One of the best new bands of the late 1990s.
Steps - One For Sorrow
Destined to be one of the next in the wave of young popsters to hit the
North American shores from the UK, Steps do a hybrid techno fused pop --
sort of like Abba meeting Ace of Base but in a new fashion of high tech,
late 1990s style. There are two mixes of the song. "Radio Mix #1" is a
high energy mix of the song which is made for dance oriented radio, while
"Radio Mix #2" is an adult contemporary mix of the song. Steps prove that
they can create a sound which may make you want to wipe the dust off your
old Abba release and compare the Steps to this legendary band.
Johnnie Taylor - Big Head Hundreds
This is the first single from Johnnie Taylors full-length album Gotta
Get The Groove Back. It is an uptempo R&B song about a man whose
woman wants some Benjamins to have some fun with him, and the gentleman
gets the blues over all the problems with money. Johnnie Taylor proves
that he is a rhythm & blues master, for this tune has a strong pop
feeling yet does not move into the traditional blues vein. Overall, Johnnie
Taylor moves R&B into the future of good-time groovin' music.
Vitamin C - Smile
An instant dancehall classic combining elements of reggae, hip-hop, and
R&B, Vitamin C delivers two versions of the hit "Smile." The album
version is strictly down to the beat of the reggae nation with the hard
hitting raps of Lady Saw, while the maserati mix (remixed Tony Maserati)
is sort of a dub mix with part of the mix flowing in a capella flows in
a street-like fashion. Also, this single is an enhanced single, which makes
one want to put in the CD-ROM so you can see the video.
Artie White - Can We Get Together
This is a single from the album of the same name is a uptempo blues based
R&B tune. Blues legend Artie White knows how to create a song with
feeling to it. Reminds one of the days when Stax Records was putting out
classic R&B by the likes of Otis Redding and others. If you ever need
to experience true R&B music, give Artie White a good listen, for he