The first thing that strikes you about this new album by Poison...er, uh, this new album by Cinderella...is how utterly original it is. Now on this record, Warrant really carves out its own niche in the highly competitive world of Metal Lite. Oh, did I say Warrant'? I meant Cinderella.
The acoustic guitar rave-up on tunes like "The More Things Change' and ""Shelter Me" is as catchy as anything Bon Jovi has ever done. Uh, as catchy as anything Cinderella has ever done, that is. "The More Things Change" is also a bouncy little rocker that follows Heartbreak Station's bluesier, acoustic style. "Sick for the Cure" is the really bouncy little rocker.
And when Slaughter decides to get down and...make that when Cinderella decides to get down and dirty with a number like "One for Rock and Roll." you'll swear it's like nothing you've ever heard that particular day. It's about time Cinderella reunited like this. When the group was churning out all those hard-hitting rock songs in the '70s...oh, wait! That was Styx. Never mind.
The truth is, this isn't a bad record. Just irrelevant and awfully routine in a day when every heavy band around seems intent on establishing its credibility. Anyway, Aero-smith has always been known for its hard-rock interpretations of old-fashioned blues, and "Dead Man's Road" is no exception. The screeching vocals and moody guitar are...I'm sorry. This is Cinderella. So as I was saying, you can't go wrong if you buy this new Mötley Crüe record. Ask for it by name. (Mercury)
A little closer to the country hard core than Alexander's 1989 debut, this album still displays a lot of mainstream pop flourishes that her big, better's voice seems to find hard to resist.
So while there are three duets with no-doubt-about-it Nashvillian Butch Baker, one a rousing celebration of working couples, "Two Days a Week," Alexander also turns out a declamatory rendition of her own "I Dream in Color," which might have come out of a Broadway musical.
Whether this genre-switching is vacillation or versatility may depend on your point of view, but Alexander sounds robust and in control either way, from Bob Montgomery's countrified ballad, "Misty Blue," to the livelier "I Know What I Do Know." And she's fun to listen to in any case. After all, you can enjoy tomatoes without knowing if they are fruits or vegetables (to use "tomato" only in its most horticultural, nonsexist sense, of course). (Mercury)
Stodgy grown-ups, beware! Only the young or the young at heart will understand the sophomoric fun of Ween's debut album. Dean and Gene Ween, known in their native New Hope, Pa., as Mickey Melchiondo, 20, and Aaron Freeman, 20, give a sharp-knuckled noogie to the current rock scene. Their song parodies push a diverse range of styles to ridiculous extremes. In 26 short tunes, the prolific duo sends up the pretensions of folk, the earnestness of Springsteen, the hypersexuality of Prince, the macho threats of heavy metal, the brattiness of the Beastie Boys, the blunt obscenity of punk, the stoned-out shtick of the Grateful Dead, the painful feedback of psychedelia...
Yikes! These guys sure stay busy, and the best songs have zippy melodies that entertain even when the satiric target isn't clear.
A lot of Ween's appeal comes from its delivery. Like experienced wise guys, both singers exaggerate normal inflection to make simple phrases hilarious. On "Never Squeal," a list of rules for a safe life set to a jazzy beat, Freeman slurs his lyrics like a laid-back hipster. "Don't Laugh (I Love You)" turns the Weens into a chirpy, bubble gum-pop band until the senseless lyrics degenerate into complete gibberish. To embellish these and other songs, Ween sings a cappella harmonies, creates sound effects by crunching rice cakes and revving a chain saw, praises the imagined prophet Boognish and plays sharp, hot rock and roll.
Then sometimes the Weens go to unnecessary extremes of foul language and ear-splitting guitars, a trait that will scare away sensitive oldsters.
Hear that, kids? Adults will hate this album. Need we say more? (Twin/Tone)
Teddy Riley must feel a lot like Dr. Frankenstein these days. He was a prime creative force behind new jack swing, designed to change the world for the better. However, once he let his creation loose upon that world, it was taken advantage of by others. He had created an unstoppable monster.
Riley, the producing wiz behind the first, big, new jack swing hit, Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative," used this driving musical form to perfection on the 1988 debut of his own band,Guy. Since then, it seems every home-boy and his mother has basically rerecorded "My Prerogative"—and gotten a hit out of it. With The Future, though, Riley and Guy reclaim the title as kings of the swing.
This is what '90s R&B should sound like, a skillful blend of fast and slow. Foremost, there's the dance music, with such tunes as the dynamic duo of "Her' " and "Wanna Get with U." The songs percolate with slap-happy percussion as a synthesizer riff whips through the mix. "D-O-G Me Out" is the best George Clinton impression of the year.
Guy gives rap, today's other musical monster, a nod on the suitably angry "Total Control"; the song works better than most rap because it has real music behind it. Then there are "Let's Chill" and "Yearning for Your Love," ballads so smooth they sound the way silk pajamas feel.
Clocking in at 75 minutes or so, The Future also gives you twice as much music as most R&B records do these days. Let's hope that, like Frankenstein's monster, Riley's producing-writing touch will be around for lots of sequels. (Uptown/MCA)
In Allen's music, love is a tricky, evanescent bill of goods. Here today, gone tomorrow—sometimes gone tonight, in fact.
Making Every Moment Count is classic Peter Allen for all the good and bad that statement suggests. There is sincerity, there is endless energy, there is no particular melodic freshness.
Even the best numbers—notably, "Why Not?" "Tonight You Made My Day" and the charming "When I Get My Name in Lights," a jaunty duet with Harry Connick Jr.—bear traces of other Allen songs.
"Tonight" echoes "You'll Always Get Your Way." "Lights," with its '20s sound and its lyrics such as "We'll be known for our charm/ Yeah, sparkling wit/ Even Clara Bow/ Will admit/ We've got it" recalls "Everything Old Is New Again."(Not such a bad thing, come to think of it.)
The rest of the songs, including an undistinguished duet with Melissa Manchester, are at best forgettable, saddled as they are with this kind of lyric: "No one has come between myself, me and I/ Lately I think I should give it a try" or "I couldn't have done it without you/ And I want you to know/ My whole world/ Is about you." (RCA)
The aptly named Dream Academy broke out of obscurity in 1984 with a sad, billowy, delicate, yet intricate pop style encapsulated in the unlikely hit "Life in a Northern Town."
They are still working in the same vein on their third album, but the collection's one undeniable pleasure is an anomaly for the group. It's a surprisingly moving version of John Lennon's "Love," which maintains some of Lennon's emotional honesty while dandling it on a beat that's pure acid house—the British style that's an uneasy blend of psychedelia, disco and hip hop.
If you've heard "Love" on the radio and are tempted to run out and buy A Different Kind of Weather, be forewarned: That single is the last carefree moment you'll enjoy. The rest of the album finds songwriters Nick Laird-Clowes and Gilbert Gabriel (they are the group's singer and keyboardist) mourning over matters personal (the wasted rich-girl junkie of "Lucy September") and global (the rain-forest depredations in "Forest Fire").
Both in the layered arrangements and in Laird-Clowes's mawkish and foolhardy voice, it's obvious that Dream Academy belongs in the evolutionary line of British pop that started with new romantics like ABC and Spandau Ballet and continued through Tears for Fears. With all these bands, unless the song-writing is excessively catchy—and it rarely is—the music sounds almost oppressively sorrowful.
On this album, Dream Academy gets into that woebegone mood in an unusually potent fashion with songs like "Waterloo." Yet, despite the album title, this is the same forecast as ever.
Misery loves a sound track. If you're wandering under slate-gray skies with a heavy heart, this is an ideal tape to trudge along to. Otherwise, avoid it as you would a thunderstorm. (Reprise)
Part of the posse of bands that have emerged from Manchester, England, in the last couple of years, Happy Mondays initially got overshadowed by the raves bestowed on the Stone Roses, whose debut album was on the charts for six months last year. More recently they've emerged as the Roses' chief rival in the depravity-celebrating English dance-rock sweepstakes, but here's another opinion: The Mondays may deserve the second billing.
For starters, their songs often leave you with a nagging where-have-I-heard-that-before feeling, which is too bad because occasionally they come up with a semioriginal, danceable hook. While the free-flowing funk of "Dennis and Lois" is interesting enough, they follow it with the creepy "Bob's Yer Uncle." On that track, lead singer Shaun Ryder provides the licentious vocals and describes lots of naughty acts, but how entertaining can a song be when it's about somebody's deviant relative?
No, there doesn't seem to be any deeper meaning to the avuncular misbehavior.
Ryder generally writes indecipherable lyrics that, in the rare moments when you can even understand what he's crowing about, still leave you scratching your head. "Yippee, yippee, yi, yi, yea, yea/ I had to crucify somebody today" goes the typically oblique refrain on "Kinky Afro."
Perhaps the Mondays have, as the sports pundits like to say, the tools for stardom. But first they have to dig themselves out from under the muddled songwriting. (Elektra)
Vincent Herring paid his dues as a jazz saxophonist the hard way. When he arrived in New York City in 1983 at age 19, he took to the streets, hat in hand. For three years Herring blew his horn on-street corners six hours a day, collecting enough nickels and dimes to cover his rent. Word of mouth about him gradually spread among musicians and led to long-term gigs with vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and pianist Horace Silver.
These days Herring fronts his own band and works regularly as a sideman with the hard-bopping cornetist Nat Adderley.
Like Nat's late brother, Julian "Cannon-ball" Adderley, Herring also has a gutsy, crowd-pleasing style. While Herring clearly owes a debt to Cannonball, his sound is distinctly his own. With these first two albums, released within weeks of each other by separate labels, Herring offers proof that he is one of the most vibrant, original sax players to come along in years.
On American Experience (MusicMasters), Herring brings a searing attack and billowing tone to a set of incendiary bop tunes, backed primarily by a supporting cast that includes trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist James Genus and drummer Mark Johnson. Herring's sure-fingered rhythmic sense and exuberance are especially apparent on an aptly titled original composition, "Elation." One complaint: The album ends on a downer with a tepid vocal version of Horace Silver's "Peace" by Monte Croft.
Evidence (Landmark) is a more consistent, if less exhilarating album. Joined by trumpeter Wallace Roney, pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Carl Allen, Herring burns through the changes on the up-tempo original "Mr. Wizard." And he reveals his growing capacity for tenderness on "Stars Fell on Alabama," one of Cannonball's signature tunes.
At his best, Herring brings to his playing a feeling of joyful abandon that is rare among the young virtuosos on the jazz scene today. Like musicians of old, who honed their technical skills in after-hours jam sessions instead of in the classroom, Herring treats jazz as more than a venerable tradition. For him, it is the music of life.
According to the liner notes of this dazzling trumpet album, in the '50s Lou Colombo was a minor-league baseball player with a .300 batting average. Not bad, but he bats 1,000 here.
If his propulsive renditions of "It All Depends on You" and "Three Little Words" fail to wrest listeners from their seats, their next stop ought to be the doctor; something is seriously amiss with their vital signs. There is a joyfully soaring rendition of "My Romance," which at more than seven minutes still seems too short, and the Johnny Mandel-Johnny Mercer classic "Emily" continues to haunt long after the last spray of sound. The lesser-known songs, including "(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over," "Octopus Rag" and the title cut (for Bobby Hackett), stand comfortably alongside such standards as "Avalon," "I Let a Song Go out of My Heart" and the throbbing "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance."
Pianist Dave McKenna lends his always excellent support with Phil Flanigan on bass, Gray Sargent on guitar and Keith Cope-land on drums. It's Lou you'll remember, though, and maybe you'll even agree with Dizzy Gillespie, who once called Colombo "the greatest trumpet player in America." (Concord)
- Craig Tomashoff,
- Ralph Novak,
- Michael Small,
- Joanne Kaufman,
- David Hiltbrand,
- Andrew Abrahams,
- David Grogan.