Taj Mahal says, "Shake Your Tailfeather" (3/13/98)

Let's start with a review of a new children's title from my bride, Gail:

Various Artists, Shakin' A Tailfeather (Music for Little People 1998) - Here's a unique collection of classic danceable tunes performed by the renowned blues master Taj Mahal, internationally-celebrated artist Eric Bibb and the award-winning vocalist Linda Tillery along with the inspiring Cultural Heritage Choir.

These 15 hand-clapping songs of yester-year are infused with the funky rhythms of today's sounds. The artists on this CD are passionate about bringing forth the folk music of the past decades and keep it alive and well in the 21st century. These circle songs and clapping games were favorite pastimes in many neighborhoods across the country and the spirit should not be lost.

Listen to these harmonies in "Oh Mary Mack," "Shortnin Bread," "Rocking Robin," "Loop De Loop," and "The Name Game" to relive that musical memory. These folk songs inspire others by creating a common ground that will teach, encourage, and motivate parents and kids alike.

These songs that have endured and are filled with great joy shouldn't be missed. Why not hop, skip and shake on down to your favorite music store to purchase Shakin' A Tailfeather?

Box Set, Thread (Capricorn 1998) - San Francisco has always been a fertile area for musicians, and Box Set carries on the tradition, albeit with a twist - the band has a rootsy, Southern-country sound that is reminiscent of Hootie & The Blowfish or last year's Red Clay Harvest from Cravin' Melon. Thread is their first major label release (following three indie albums), and should earn new fans.

Box Set consists of Jim Brunberg on guitar and vocals, Jeff Pehrson on vocals and acoustic guitar, Sam Johnston on keyboards and harmonica, Mark Abbott on drums, and Chad Heise on bass. Performing more than 175 live shows a year, Box Set has nurtured a healthy regional following.

With production work from Joe Chiccarelli (who has worked with Tori Amos, Shawn Colvin and American Music Club), Thread has a fully-developed studio sound. The album's 12 cuts lean toward country ballads, including "Eighteen Days of Rain," "Train," and "Amsterdam" (showing that the band has listened to Kevin Welch).

I'd have preferred some more uptempo numbers. But Box Set has a solid sound. Enjoy Thread.

80's Rock - The 80's a long past, yet the music lives on. Two new collections contain a cross-section from this era.

The first is the sound track to The Wedding Singer (Maverick 1998). Taking songs from the new Adam Sandler film (which I haven't seen), the album opens with a remake of "Video Killed the Radio Star" by Presidents of the United States of America (now disbanded, making this their last recording together).

Club hits on The Wedding Singer include "China Girl" (David Bowie), "Every Day I Write the Book" by Elvis Costello, and "Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic" by the Police. Also included is Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" by Culture Club.

A second collection is Rock She Said: Guitars Plus Attitudes (Hip-O 1998), which features 14 rockers by female artists. This collection includes "Never Say Never" by Romeo Void (with singer Deborah Iyall's defiant refrain, "I might like you better if we slept together"), Terri Nunn and Berlin with "No More Words," and a live version of "Helter Skelter" by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Also included is Bow Wow Wow (fronted by the lovely Annabella Lwin) with their cover of "I Want Candy," and the highlight of the album - Lene Lovich's great dance/pop cut, "Lucky Number" (originally released in 1978 on the lamented Stiff Records label).

Both the Wedding Singer and Rock She Said are more than a trip down memory lane; rather, they are fine samplers. If you're looking for a fix of 80's rock, try either of these sets.

- Randy Krbechek © 1998

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