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Wednesday, October 31,2001

Snoop Dogg


Recently charged with possession of 200 grams of herb while crossing Ohio on his "Puff, Puff, Pass 2001" tour, Mr. Dogg continues to live up to his hedonistic Long Beach gangsta rep. His major motion picture debut as 'hood guardian Jimmy Bones in the thriller Bones will only further his svelte, pimp-daddy prestige.

Tapping the flows of Snoop cousins RBX and Nate Dogg, as well as West Coast's hip-hop underground-Kokane, Kurupt, Tha Eastsidaz, Butch Cassidy and others-the Bones soundtrack mixes '70s R&B and funk with hardcore, druggy gangsta rhymes, and cameos by D12, Cypress Hill, Outkast, and Soul Brother Number One. "Gangsta With It," "If You Came Here To Party," and Cypress's "Memories" come off as superfluous movie-score fodder, and the Dogg's howlin' on Outkast's "Fresh and Clean (Remix)" is a great example of Southern-fried g-funk and so-Cal style blending like moonshine and Cristal. But Bones got marrow. MC Ren, from NWA fame, provides the ominous vibe for Snoop's fiendish "Legend of Jimmy Bones" narrative, replete with beats straight outta Dilated People's The Platform. "Jimmy's Revenge" turns James Brown's "Payback" into a funky street-thug manifesto. And "These Drugs" finds the dirty half-dozen (D12) at their thoroughly dark-humored, abominable best. "The last time I sniffed blow/I ended up in Denver, Colorado/At an Iggy Pop show," they rhyme. Nancy Reagan? Not quite. Bizarre? Yeah.


Anita Lane
Anita Lane
Sex O'Clock / Mute

Bad girl and Bad Seed Anita Lane is best known for her collaboration with Nick Cave, but multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey, and a string of others, provide the musical backdrop for her dark, sometimes funny, and unceasingly seductive solo release, Sex O'Clock.

"Call me up on the erogenous zone/On the kundalini telephone," Lane wantonly moans on "Do That Thing," where she delves into extra-kinky double entendres, tasty bits of French, and a thoroughly erotic groove mixed with arousing giggles, a sprinkle of strings-arranged by Bertrand Burgalat-and distorted guitar textures, courtesy of Harvey (also from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). But unlike mini-skirted divas who lip sync to major-label lyrics crafted by latter-day Neil Diamonds, Lane embodies the desolate ambiance and poetic ambiguity of her songs. "The Petrol Wife" and "The Next Man That I See" cover domestic inadequacies with candor, and "Do The Kamasutra" elevates unbridled lust to a spiritual level. But her covers "I Hate Myself," and Gill Scott-Heron's "Home is Where the Hatred Is," expand the emotional landscape in more self-destructive, introspective directions.

A mysteriously sensuous state of mind, Sex O'Clock is one of those rare albums good for both contemplating existential emptiness, and gettin' it on.


Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Supernova / Blue Note

Best described as "Powerhouse jazz great-meets-choreographic poet," Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba's latest release, Supernova (Blue Note), is a breathing testament that musical prowess and intellectual stimulation are the crossroads of genius. From the opening bebop phrases of "Supernova 1" to the final track "Oren," the entire work is a cauldron simmering with world influence.

Born into a family of musicians in 1963 Havana, Gonzalo was surrounded by rhythm from day one. His father, Guillermo, also a pianist, is a renowned Cuban Danzón great of 1950s fame. Coming of age as a musician during the 1980s Cuban jazz rebirth, Gonzalo's innovative genius comes from his melding of styles in the vein of turn-of-the-century European classical composers. For instance, his treatment of "El Manicero" (The Peanut Vendor). Written by Cuban composer Moises Simon in 1928, "El Manicero" was the initial pre-mambo hit that spawned America's passionate love affair with Cuban music. Popularized in the U.S. by Louis Armstrong in 1931, the number put Cuba on the map. However, if Armstrong's rendition was the marriage of Cuban and American jazz, Rubalcaba's 2001 version is the belated consummation. Rubalcaba takes this love song from it's acoustic harmonious beginnings, through the rough political waters of the past few decades, finally ending the song with an prophetic electronic future of an inescapable and renewed harmony. It's an absolutely brilliant arrangement that hits multiple levels.

Like Cuban jazz innovators Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D'Rivera, Rubalcaba left Cuba to live in the United States in the mid-'90s for more creative freedom. However, unlike his seniors, Gonzalo subtly molds his music into a bridge between the two cultures where the politics have failed. In his version of "El Cadete Constitucional," (a famous Cuban march composed by Rubalcaba's grandfather, renowned trombonist Jacobo Rubalcaba), Gonzalo bleeds in John Phillip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," an almost blasphemous arrangement both with the Miami exile right and the Castro regime. However it reflects both Rubalcaba's personal journey as a Cuban in America, while expressing a desire to see some reconciliation between these two cultures frozen in time. If his last disc for Blue Note, Inner Voyage, was the personal purgatory of the master pianist coming to terms with the world, Supernova is the expression of wisdom borne from that journey. Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a one-way elevator through the evolution of an ageless Cuba, spoken in today's terms.


Butthole Surfers
Butthole Surfers
Weird Revolution / Hollywood

Remember when punk was punk, country was country, and pop was pop? Each style had its own predefined headlining acts, venues, fans and section in the record store. Then along came fusion and no one has been able to categorize a band with fewer than three hyphenations since. "They're a goth-mambo-acid jazz outfit with heavy Grateful Dead influences," for example. But the fusion of styles not only makes music harder to describe, it often makes it harder to listen to. Witness the Butthole Surfers' latest, Weird Revolution.

The Butthole Surfers of Weird Revolution, their first album since 1996's Electriclarryland, are not the Butthole Surfers of old who assaulted us with grinding guitars and virtually indecipherable vocal rants courtesy of front man Gibby Haynes. Nor are they the band that concocted the mainstream hit "Pepper" that gobbled up radio time in 1996. 2001's Butthole Surfers are instead a band of poppy technophiles seemingly bent on aimlessly blending as many divergent, non-complementary musical genres as possible.

The album opens with Haynes delivering a Malcolm X-esque rant over beats bitten from the score to The Matrix. Then, the pop dominated "Shame of Life" (co-written by Kid Rock) and "Dracula from Houston" make their plays to be the next breakout radio hits. So sweet and unchallenging are these tunes that I experienced Chumbawumba flashbacks. While some later tracks offer more meat and gristle and the ballad, "Jet Fighter," resonates a bit hauntingly in light of recent events, the album as a whole left me flat.


Simple Minds
Simple Minds
Neon Lights / Eagle

In 1978, both the Rolling Stones ("Miss You") and the Grateful Dead ("Shakedown Street") ventured into the musical abyss known as disco, paving the path for a musical myriad of melancholy-techno. It was also the same year Simple Minds was formed.

Seven years later, they reached the top of the American charts with "Don't You (Forget About Me)." 15 years later, techno has become pop, allowing thinly-veiled disco to resurface, be dubbed, re-dubbed, and polished so today's youth and music novices believe that studio magic can replace studio musicians.

Neon Lights is a masterful example of polish and pretense. The opening cut, Van Morrison's "Gloria" will no doubt become a rave chart climber, and "Hello, I Love You" is reminiscent of a Ringwald/Estevez soundtrack. Highlights include Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World," and Lou Reed's "All Tomorrow's Parties." Jim Kerr has undoubtedly rehashed a career of covers to release what promises to be one of their most commercially viable releases. This album is a must buy for any Simple Mind who will be pleased to see its four-star rating in any RS t(h)ype magazine.


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