Randy Krbechek's Metronews
January 15, 1997
Dead and Alive
Dead, Dozin' At The Knick and The Arista
1996) - Though founding member Jerry
Garcia is gone, the Dead live on through their prolific
concert recordings. Dozin' At The Knick is a three-disc
set that was recorded at a 1990 show at Knickerbocker Arena
in Albany, New York.
Dozin' At the Knick features such Dead favorites
as "Jack-a-Roe," "Uncle John's Band," and "Goin' Down The Road Feeling
Bad," as well as an extended jam called "Space" and a cover of "All
Along The Watchtower." I'd have trimmed the set for release on CD (the
extended jams don't excite me), but fans will relish it.
Also newly issued is The Arista Years, a double-disc
set that draws from the eight albums that the Dead released on Arista
between 1977 and 1990. The album includes the title track from Terrapin
Station (1977), "Fire On The Mountain" from Shakedown
Street (1978), "Alabama Getaway" from 1980's Go To
Heaven, and the band's biggest single, "Touch of Grey," from
In The Dark (1987). Also included are a few tracks
from the three live albums on Arista -- Reckoning, Dead Set,
and Without A Net.
The Arista Years is a fine collection of the Dead's
work after their departure from Warner Bros., and includes interesting
and evocative liner notes by Richard Gehr and Blaire
Jackson, both knowledgeable Deadheads. Explore the Dead on
The Arista Years.
No Talking, Just Head
1996) - The Talking Heads are back in No
Talking, Just Head, sans the main talker
. The resulting album has a solid Heads
feeling, but lacks Byrne's edgy quirkiness.
The Talking Heads
were one of the most popular bands to emerge from New York's
famed CBGB Club, and scored many chart hits. Since their defacto termination in the late 80s,
the band members have gone their own ways; Jerry Harrison scored big success producing
Crash Test Dummies, while Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz worked with Ziggy Marley and
their pet project, The Tom Tom Club. Yet, as Harrison notes, "No matter how great producing
is, you still miss playing."
The three remaining Heads (Chris Frantz on drums, Jerry Harrison on guitars and
keyboards, and Tina Weymouth on bass) began playing together again in 1995: these were their
first sessions since the 1990 Escape From New York tour with the Ramones. (I saw that
show, and liked it. But my biggest recollection is how bad Debbie Harry looked. Debbie's been
damaged by the years of partying; "Die Young, Stay Pretty" no longer applies to her.)
On No Talking, Just Head, the three friends recorded the instrumental tracks (which
have the dense, multi-textured sound for which the Talking Heads were famous), then recruited
a dozen different rock and alternative vocalists to lay down the vocal tracks.
In addition, the singers wrote their own lyrics. Thus, Maria McKee contributes "No Big
Bang," Michael Hutchence from
provides "The King is Gone," and Ed Kowalczyk
provides a funky, "Indie Hair." But the song sung by Tina Weymouth, "Punklalita," sounds the
most like the band as a whole. Maybe that's because she's part of the regular group.
After completing No Talking, Just Head, the trio recruited Johnette Napolitano (from
the now-defunct Concrete Blonde as its new full-time vocalist. (Johnette also provides the
album's first number, "Damage I Have Done"). We'll have to see where that new group goes.
As instrumental tracks, No
Talking, Just Head has great coherency. But the diversity
of lyrics and vocal performers detract from the whole. Close, but no cigar.
Hooked on Brown
1996) - Since his series of Southern-based troubles a few years ago, James Brown is trying to restore stability to his life and career.
Hooked on Brown, a three-part medley of Brown's crowd-pleasers, should help show the way.
A rock icon in the 50's and 60's, Brown slid into a series of troubles that culminated with
his drug-related arrest and imprisonment a few years back. Since his release, Brown has
maintained a lower profile: his formerly flamboyant escapades and lifestyle haven't made the
The 22 cuts on Hooked on Brown are divided into three sets - "Platinum," "Party," and
"Powerhouse." With such great numbers as "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag," "Please, Please,
Please," and "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," James Brown certainly knows how
to liven up a party. While not the perfect introduction to James Brown, Hooked on Brown
features three fun medleys that will energize your party.
Various Artists, His Name is Alive:
Stars on ESP
1996) - I don't know
anything about His Name is Alive, except that I like it.
Stars on E.S.P. features 15 different
dreamhall/rave acts (i.e., dreamy enough to be beyond pop, like the
, but not tied
to a 120 beats per minute tempo).
Thus, the album includes "Universal Frequencies" by the
, with a loving
reference to the classic, "Good Vibrations," and "Answer to Rainbow at Midnight," a solid
ambient/dream pop number by
. Also included is the gospel-oriented "Last One" by
. Not for everyone, His Name is Alive
will appeal to fans of the post-disco, trans/ambient
-- Randy Krbechek
(c) Randy Krbechek
David Anand Prasad and Idea Co.