It’s only natural for a rock critic who’s been writing for any length of time to arrive at, for want of a better term, a “slow period.” You know, to start pondering the actual worth of writing about someone else’s work–in this case pop music–and attempting to “judge” it.
It’s also only natural, if you’re a writer, to start repeating yourself stylistically–to start employing the same clichÃ©s, the same, cutesy one-two verbal punches that once might have seemed clever, but now seem hollow and, well, even dim-witted. How many times and in how many different ways can you say that something is good–or, more to the point, that something really and truly STINKS? A dilemma? Yes. Insurmountable? No.
The answer? Have kids!
You want proof?
Which of the following two sentences best gets my point across about this summer’s Kiss reunion?:
1) Kiss are money-hungry and talentless
2) Kiss probably like Barbie!
I vote for Sentence 2!
How do you like me now?
SPIRIT Willie Nelson (Island) An astounding parody of country music from the acid-fried geezers who brought us “I’ve Got A Line On You” and “Mr. Skin,” this welcome comeback may rival Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen for coolest album title ever! Only bummer is the turn-off cover picture of some old guy who–and I know they’ve been around for a while now–couldn’t possibly be Randy California! Yoo-hoo–paging Island Records’ marketing department! 4/5
MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO Subliminal Sandwich (Nothing/Interscope) If you’re like me, you probably think most of this stuff sounds the same–and that any artist performing under the name “Jack Dangers” probably changed his name from Francis Peiken or something! And you’d be wrong on both counts! A “stunningly diverse” double-CD “chockfull of sophisticated, artful playing” by the likes of guitarist Joe Gore, among others, this record rocks hard, babe! I like it better than nearly anything else I’ve heard in this genre! And hey–I’ve seen Nine Inch Nails live! 4/5
BEDHEAD Beheaded (Trance Syndicate) Texas dudes who manage to borrow extensively from the tone and mood of the third Velvet Underground album without sounding like slavish copycats, these guys play rock ‘n’ roll with the verve and mercurial speed of, I dunno, an MGM movie or something! Incidentally, did you know that one of the meanings of “cotillion” is “a formal ball”? Cool! 5/5
SLOBBERBONE Crow Pot Pie (Doolittle) Even more Texans–reviewed here per my agreement with that state’s former governor–Slobberbone are hampered by a dopey name but saved by some of the finest countrified-rockin’ I’ve heard since the enactment of the No More Letter “G” Rule 12 years ago! Publicist alert: New albums due from Sheryl Crow, Black Crowes, and Counting Crows; the soundtrack to The Crow: City Of Angels coming soon; inevitable retrospectives on the Cro-Mags, the Necros, Cro-Magnon, and Crow themselves waiting to be written! And now… Crow Pot Pie! Get moving! 4.5/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS The History Of Dot Records Vol. 1: Young Love (Varese Sarabande) There are few thrills greater than hearing a song you once liked again for the first time in 30 years or so. And so it is with me, this odds ‘n’ ends collection of Dot Records recordings, and Robin Ward’s hit, “Wonderful Summer,” which entered the charts the same month President Kennedy was shot! Man, was that a bummer! 3.5/5