A Pair of Elizas (5/04/2001)
Book of Love, I Touch Roses: Best of (Reprise 2001) - I Touch Roses is a retrospective from the 80's techno/dance hall group, Book of Love. With 16 tracks, including three new songs ("Getting Faster," "Try," and the bonus single, "It's in Your Eyes"), I Touch Roses shows the sound that captured Seymour Stein, head of Sire Records.
Book of Love consisted of Susan Ottaviano on lead vocals, and Ted Ottaviano, Laren Roselli and Jade Lee on keyboards and vocals. The group recorded from 1984 to 1993, and launched four studio albums: Book of Love, Lullaby, Candy Carol and Lovebubble.
Like other Sire acts from the period (including Talking Heads, Yaz, and The Call), Book of Love had an uptempo sound, with dance beats and techno female vocals. The 2001 remix of "Sunny Day" finds the band miles from the two-year opening slot for downbeat Depeche Mode.
The album also includes a cover of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" and the cinematic "Modigliani (Lost in Your Eyes)." For a refreshing look at 80's techno/pop, try I Touch Roses.
Radio Disney, Jams Volume III (Disney Records 2001) - Give the folks at Disney credit. They've witnessed the success of the Now! series, and have jumped in. While Jams Volume III is an enjoyable collection, it also stands as further proof that we have returned to an era of singles.
Radio Disney is similar in style to Top 40 music radio, but targets kids and includes teams of young adult and kid DJs as well as character personalities. Children can listen to their favorite songs from a variety of music styles, based on the slogan, "We're All Ears." Locally, Radio Disney is heard on AM 1680.
Also included are the novelty hits, "The Hamster Dance Song" by Hampton the Hamster, and "How Do I Feel (The Burrito Song)" by Hoku.
And the album continues with the sweet soul of Debelah Morgan on "Dance With Me," as well as the kids' party jam, "We Like to Party" by Venga Boys.
You might not know this music, but your kids do. And, if you spent any time at the roller skating rink on a Saturday morning, you've heard this music. Jams Volume III is a clean-cut collection for the whole family.
Eliza Gilkyson, Hard Times in Babylon (Red House Records 2000) - Flaxen-haired folk-singer turns 50, takes a look around. That's a fair assessment of Hard Times in Babylon in which Eliza Gilkyson, whose career has ranged from new age to folk to Austin honkytonk, finds herself in a reflective mode.
On Hard Times in Babylon, Gilkyson draws from her strengths - a sweet voice and a strong storytelling style. Gilkyson comes from a musical family: her brother, Tony Gilkyson, played in the seminal Los Angeles rock band X, and her father, Terry Gilkyson (who died in 1998), penned such hits as "Greenfields" and the Academy Award-winning "Bare Necessities" from Disney's The Jungle Book.
Recalls Gilkyson, "My father never forced us into music. He was, however, sort of a Nazi on how he taught us. He was very critical when we would bring him our finished stuff. He thought it was his role to critique our stuff when all we wanted was his unconditional praise." Eliza lavishes such praise on her 28-year-old son, Cisco, who plays drums in her band.
Gilkyson has established a core following in the southwest, having lived from 1968 to 1994 in Santa Fe, and now residing in Austin, Texas. Appearing on the album on bass is Mark Andes, her beau and a former member of the rock groups Spirit and Heart.
The core band on Hard Times in Babylon consists of Glenn Fukanaga on bass and Rafael Gayol on drums. Eliza contributes vocals and acoustic guitar. Rounding out the recording are Mark Andes on slide guitar and David Webb and Mike Hardwick on electric guitar. Also appearing on "Coast" is Mark Hallman on accordion.
When Eliza goes slow, on songs like "Persephone," the album drags. Yet the opening "Beauty Way" and the angst-ridden "Twisted" show Eliza at her folk-strumming, fired-up best.
Eliza's a moving target for me: I saw her a few years back in Dallas, where she drew a lesbian contingent. Yet her songs don't belie any particular sexual leanings. Old folkie makes good - that should be Eliza's mantra.
Eliza Carthy, Angels & Cigarettes (Warner Bros. 2000) - English pop folk often makes an uneasy transition to the United States. Witness the late Kirsty MacColl and the honey-voiced Eleanor McEvoy. Twenty-five-year-old Eliza Carthy, from England, hopes to achieve stateside success with Angels & Cigarettes.
Eliza has solid credentials: she is the daughter of British guitarist/vocalist Martin Carthy and vocalist Norma Waterson, and has appeared on such albums as Heat, Light & Sound (1996) and the critically-acclaimed Red Rice (1998).
Says Eliza, "I grew up with the old ballads - the mysterious songs about lovers coming back from the dead, storms crashing, people dying. It's always very apocalyptic and very descriptive. I like to use a lot of imagery to evoke things in my songs because that's the kind of world I grew up in."
The core band on Angels & Cigarettes includes Eliza Carthy on violin, viola, guitar, keyboards and vocals, Barnaby Stradling on bass, Ben Ivitsky on guitars, violin and vocals, Sammy T. on drums and vibes, Heather McCloud and Lucy Adams on backing vocals and Martin Green on accordion, moog, and keyboards. Also appearing is a 25-piece string section on "The Company of Men."
Carthy's strongest moment is the gentle, "Perfect," a sweetly lilting number. Also listen for a cover of Paul Weller's "Wildwood," and the jaunty opening, "Whispers of Summer."
Except for all the metal in her face, I dig Eliza Carthy. Angels & Cigarettes deserves to be heard, as it mixes equal bits of sunshine, British gloom, and entrancing vocal melodies.
Orange Beauty's, Relax With (Washroom Recordings 2000) - Washroom Recordings is an artist-owned label located in New York. Relax With is a low fi rock and roll treat.
Orange Beauty's (formally known as Grumwald) consists of Arthur Schupbach on locals, guitar, and keyboards, Todd Gardella on guitar, Mike Kelly on bass, and Greg Savage on drums. The songs range from a downtempo "I Need a Happy Pill" to the full blown garage rock attack of "Medicated" and the jangly "Horsey," which will please fans of Sonic Youth.
Independent music lives. Relax With is fresh rock, without restraints or conceits.
For more information, contact:
Post Office 483
Oceanside, NY 11572
- Randy Krbechek © 2001
Check CD Shakedown for Weekly
Reviews of Music CDs and New Albums