“Dear Mr. DiMartino,” the letter began. “It’s our unfortunate duty to inform you that it is against the policy of the United States Patent Office to grant individuals full legal ownership of words or expressions that are not expressly used for purposes of business or legal transaction.
“Thus, we must hereby inform you that your request for full personal ownership of the terms `Back in the day’ and `player-hater’ is denied.”
Stunned, I let the letter flutter downward, raised my fist skyward, and uttered my longtime personal oath–“How you gonna act?”–as the new album by Tha Dogg Pound pumped lasciviously in the background. Then I walked over to the refrigerator.
VARIOUS ARTISTS Tapestry Revisited/A Tribute To Carole King (Lava/Atlantic) There’s no denying the urgency of the need to remake one of the most popular albums in pop history–particularly when the artists involved include such stellar talents as Richard Marx, Celine Dion, and my personal fave, Curtis Stigers. No–wait. There is denying it! Right here! Luckily the set is salvaged by the cleverly-hidden bonus track “Tribute To Atlantic Records,” sung by no less a crew than the reformed Led Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen, King herself, and relevant alumni of USA For Africa. Find it today! 1/5
JULIAN COPE 20 Mothers (American) How unfortunate that of the 20 mothers gathered on the cover of Cope’s latest album, not a single one would sagely point a loving finger at the singer and wisely note: “You bleedin’ nutcase! The Teardrop Explodes were great–but your moronic fixation with acid casualties and `musical spontaneity’ often makes all your records sound like unlistenable, unfinished crap! You need an editor! And take off that ridiculous hat! Tea’s on, luv!” 3/5
GOLDIE Timeless (FFFR) If there’s one thing I can really appreciate, it’s a critical bandwagon–so let me jump on board and duly note that all this so-called “trip-hop” stuff sounds just great to me! Sure, I dig Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky and Goldie–and next year I’ll probably be digging Grumpy and Dopey, too! My needs are simple, the world is hungry, and time waits for no one! Where’s my comb? 4/5
FRANCIS DUNNERY Tall Blonde (Helicopter/Atlantic) 4/5 JOSHUA KADISON Delilah Blue (EMI) 2/5 Boasting a much-needed picture of the artist holding a dog on its cover, the second solo album by Francis Dunnery–former member of the fabulously-named It Bites–is a surprisingly clever, tuneful affair that’s better than you think! And if thereâ€™s any doubt that Dunnery isn’t sufficiently biz-wise, dig it: Highlights include a helpful directive to next year’s NARAS Grammy Screening Committee (“I Don’t Want To Be Alternative”) and a new, close-cropped haircut! Speaking of former long-haired artists with new “hip” short haircuts that don’t look anything like Billy Joel’s or Elton John’s–despite other often unpleasant similarities: Joshua Kadison!
IRON BUTTERFLY In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Rhino/Atlantic) Cleverly packaged as a “Deluxe reissue,” the latest from alternative pranksters the Flaming Lips may be too self-consciously retro for its own good: No ’60s band in its right mind would pen lyrics like, “Flowers and beads are one thing/But having a girl/That’s something.” Still, there is something innately psychedelic about such tracks as “Are You Happy?”–particularly when the title phrase is bellowed sans musical accompaniment near the song’s end. And what the heck’s that title track about? 4/5