April 13, 1994
Peter Blakeley, The Pale Horse (Giant 1994) -- The Pale Horse, the second release from Australian-born-and-raised Peter Blakeley, is a smooth balance of R & B and blue-eyed soul that gets better the more you listen to it. With production assistance from Prince acolyte David Z, Blakeley succeeds where Terence Trent D'Arby failed, by laying down a solid soul groove, with slick (but not overbearing) production and clear vocals.
Blakeley, who was once a semi-pro soccer player in Canberra, found his real passion in American soul music, including the early blues-influenced Elvis Presley. Blakeley says he takes his main cue from Marvin Gaye: "He's the stuff, totally original. He had a way of singing that was so deep, that sense of what's right and what's wrong. He knew for artists to go that far, they would have to take the plunge and surrender to the whole deal. Let whatever is going to happen, happen."
Blakeley's not a sensuous stylist like Gaye -- he's more of a production-oriented crooner. Thus, on songs like "I've Been Lonely," driven by a beat box and a spare guitar solo, and "Little One," featuring a synthesized string background, Blakeley's pop and soul inclinations connect in tasty, danceable morsels. The Pale Horse may not be groundbreaking, but it grows on you. Get it, and get down.
David Lee Roth, Your Filthy Little Mouth (Reprise 1994) -- Forty-something rocker David Lee Roth (actually, he's 38), the former frontman for Van Halen, considers his new disc, Your Filthy Little Mouth, a semi-autobiographical account of his life in New York. Don't believe it; it's just rock, treading over often-familiar ground.
David tried to clean up his act by cutting his hair and employing dancehall producer Nile Rodgers (who has worked with Chic, Diana Ross, and David Bowie) to achieve a 90's sound. Still, with a suggestive (sexist?) leadoff single entitled "She's My Machine" (with its line, "Each and every night/Damn straight she's wild/In overdrive"), followed by the sagging rocker "Everybody's Got the Monkey," it's clear that David's mind is still in the gutter (and won't be changed by slick production work). Interestingly, the third cut lists Preston Sturges as a co-writer; a source at the record label said this person wasn't the filmmaker, but didn't have further information.
Fortunately, the album improves as it progresses; the horn-driven "A Little Luck" and "Cheatin' Heart Cafe," a duet with Travis Tritt, are substantial improvements, as is "Sunburn," with its snaky guitar intro. Yet overblown cuts like "Nightlife" (originally penned by Willie Nelson) quickly bring the disc back to earth. One or two singles a year from Diamond Dave is fine; an album full of this stuff is too much.
Spark 950 & Timbo King, United We Slam (Street Life/Scotti Bros. 1994) -- United We Slam is an eleven-song EP from two rappers hailing from Brooklyn, New York, who call themselves Spark 950 & Timbo King. Featuring rapid-fire rhythms and slick grooves, United We Slam has a fresh street sound.
With their hip-hop beats and mile-a-minute lyrics, Spark 950 & Timbo King's rap style escapes the misogynist, drug-filled world of other rappers. As Spark says, "It's different from the usual style of rap. Everyone is using the same old samples and same old grooves. Most of our music is very different. 'Nuff Ruffness' has all of the ingredients we like -- a simple melody, a good groove, and a catchy lyric."
Don't be thinking that the brothers have gone soft, though; there's strong language on United We Slam, but it's built around accessible rhythms and meaningful lyrics. Thus, cuts like "Nigga Be Nasty" and "Hood Times" show that Spark 950 & Timbo King remember their roots, but also have a sense of humor. Moreover, the album escapes the cartoonish nature of Snoop Doggy Dogg; its edge is aimed at your gut, not your zipper. Good rap, good grooves -- slam home United We Slam.
Population Problems -- Part of the earth's population problems are attributable to advances in the healing arts. Incredibly, 20% of all people who have ever lived past the age of 65 are alive now. It's not just a matter of birth control; it's also a question of resource management (and allocation).
Ouch Department -- Drs. James F. Nolan, Thomas J. Stillwell, and John P. Sands recently published a paper entitled "Acute Management of the Zipper-Entrapped Penis" in The Journal of Emergency Medicine (Vol. 8). Dr. Nolan adds, "My colleagues and I never dreamed this simple paper would attract so much attention. I was here to save my generation from penile injury. Your recognition . . . has stimulated my interest in further pursuing research in the field of painful penile predicaments. (As reported in The Journal of Irreproducible Results, Vol. 31, No. 1).
-- Randy Krbechek
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