Hey, sailor! Far be it from me to bore you with personal details, but there’s a special little something you ought to know. A deadline is a deadline–which means that it is my sworn duty to write this column and send it in to the BAM masters, even though I’m quite ill and feel nauseated at this very minute! Wonder if the fact that I’ve barely been out of bed in two days will affect the startling critical insights I regularly display here? We’ll just have to wait and see!
THE HIGH LLAMAS Gideon Gaye (Delmore) In the short while I’ve been “writing” this column, I’ve yet to bestow the full five-crucifix WOWEE rating upon any album. That is, until this very minute. Written and produced by Sean O’Hagen, who along with Fatima Mansions‘ singer Cathal Coughlan once led the obscure-but-fab group Microdisney, Gideon Gaye is groovy beyond all belief. And you can quote me! Combining the musical textures of the Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and the unique choral textures of the Pretty Things circa Freeway Madness (just reissued; buy it!), this album is the freshest thing since that slang term “phat”! I’d say more, but why? 5/5
THE BLACK CROWES Amorica (American) What an incredible coincidence! Here I sit, in all my nausea, listening to yet another album by the Black Crowes–and, strangely, it sounds rather good. And just as I’m getting ready to write this very paragraph, I get a phone call from journalist Rob O’Connor–who tells me he’s not only already reviewing this album for BAM, but he hates it! What irony. Perhaps I should just point out that if you take the cover of Amorica, then hold it upside-down and squint, you will behold a sight that eerily recalls the face of “Miami” Steve Van Zandt! 3/5
SILVER JEWS Starlite Walker (Drag City) Are the Silver Jews good? Is the Pope Catholic? Consisting of one David C. Berman and Pavement-types whose names you may not know, the Silver Jews have made a dandy record here very much worth seeking out. Fortunately, because it’s on the ultracool-but-financially-limited Drag City label, there’s no danger of it reaching No. 1 on the album charts–and thus provoking still more hateful comments about precisely who controls the entertainment industry. This baby rocks! 4/5
AEROSMITH Big Ones (Geffen) Answering the oft-posed question “What size splotches would the various members of Aerosmith leave on the ground if dropped from a speeding airliner,â Big Ones tells it like it is from start to finish! Even though these lovable codgers made four albums for Geffen, only three are thoughtfully excerpted on this vastly-needed new “greatest” hits set. And though Permanent Vacation was admittedly a stiff, any song from it would be preferable to the opening new track “Walk On Water”–written by a horrifying crew including Aerosmith’s Tyler & Perry with Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw, of Night Ranger and Styx, respectively … and about as good as you could ever possibly imagine. Frankly, you’ve got to hand it to Aerosmith. Just be sure you’re wearing rubber gloves when you do! 2/5
MAD RIVER Paradise Bar And Grill (Capitol) Lord knows who at Capitol Records went sufficiently gazoo to actually reissue this late-â60s San Francisco gem (and I would’ve went with this band’s debut), but praise the Lord and pass the joint. Featuring a Quicksilverish lead guitarist and a cameo appearance by Richard “Trout Fishing in America” Brautigan, this album would sell by the boatload were it packaged identically and issued as new product by Matador Records in 1994. Say–there’s an idea! 4/5
EDWYN COLLINS Gorgeous George (Setanta U. K.) The third solo set by the former leader of Orange Juice is, as expected, utterly masterful and better than nearly everything you’ll ever hear. “Some mother’s talking about Guns N’ Roses,” sings Collins cheerily, “As if I give a fuck/At best I think they suck.” Cheap shots are, often, so maddening. 4.5/5