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Pumpin' for Jill (05/12/2000) Write to CD Shakedown
Allman BrothersBest of the Allman Brothers Band (MCA 2000) - The Allman Brothers released their self-titled debut more than 30 years ago, fronted by brothers Gregg Allman (vocals and keyboards) and red-hot guitar player Duane Allman. Coming fresh from Jacksonville, Florida, the band delivered a Southern rock sound that became a mainstay of FM radio.

Best of the Allman Brothers gathers 11 remastered tracks, with an appropriate focus on the highlights: Hard-driving "Whipping Post" and the jazz-influenced "Dreams" (from their 1969 debut), Tom Dowd-produced classics "Revival" and "Midnight Rider" (from 1970's Idlewild South), and Southern rock ballad, "Melissa," from 1972's Eat a Peach.

Allman BrothersAnd what Best of the Allman Brothers shows is the group working as a group: Half a dozen strong players, all performing as a combo. The band also included Dickey Betts on guitars and vocals, Berry Oakley on bass, and the dual percussion of Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johanny Johanson.

The Allman Brothers never let ego get in the way, blending twin lead guitarists to produce an effortless rock jam. The band also had help from talented friends, including Bonnie Bramlett (backing vocals on "Crazy Love") and piano player Chuck Leavell (keyboards on "Ramblin' Man" and "Jessica").

In concertYet the Allman Brothers' success was always tempered by tragedy, as both Duane Allman and Berry Oakley died in motor vehicle accidents in the early 70s. The band regrouped for Brothers and Sisters (1973) which yielded another classic, "Jessica," before breaking up for five years, followed by Enlightened Rogues (1978), which yielded the top ten single, "Crazy Love."

The extended Southern rock jams of the Allman Brothers are incredibly far removed from the sound of contemporary music, yet were staples of rock radio in their time. Gone, but not forgotten, the Allman Brothers could rock with the best of them.

Iggy PopIggy Pop: The Heritage Collection (Arista 2000) - Arista Records continues its Heritage Series reissues with mid-price collections from Iggy Pop, Germaine Jackson, The Outlaws, and Ray Parker, Jr. on digitally remastered, mid-priced 11 song collections.

Iggy Pop Collection is drawn from the three now out-of-print albums he recorded for Arista: New Values (1979), Soldier (1980) and Party (1981).

Iggy and Debbie Harry
Iggy Pop was continuing his bombastic ways in a solo career that found the punker moving away from his hard core elements into a more accessible sound that bears echos of the end of a disco era.

On stageOn songs like "Pumpin' for Jill" and "I'm Bored,"
Mr. Pop (born James Osterberg) showed all of the anti-social attitude that has marked his career. Also included is "Play it Safe" (recorded with David Bowie), the in-your-face "Five Foot One," and the concluding ballad, "Sea of Love."

The Heritage Collection will fill a gap in your Iggy Pop collection, as it covers his out-of-print albums for Arista. While there's no track here like "Now I Wanna be Your Dog," the material holds up.

Million Dollar HotelSoundtrack to
The Million Dollar Hotel (Interscope 2000) - "The Million Dollar Hotel" is the forthcoming film from Wim Wenders, based on a story written by U2 frontman Bono and Nicholas Klein. To my knowledge, the film is not yet in U.S. distribution, though it won the "Silver Bear" prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

The soundtrack features 16 tracks from the film, including two new
U2 songs and performances by Bono and various members of The Million Dollars Hotel band (see below). The Million Dollar Hotel will tide over U2 fans, while they wait for the band's 10th studio album (due later this year).

The castThe
new film stars Jeremy Davies as a lovesick innocent named Tom, Milla Jovovich as tarnished street angel Eloise, and Mel Gibson as the FBI hardliner, detective Skip. Filmed in Los Angeles, the movie is said to focus on a fleabag hotel and the stories of the outcasts and misfits who live there: while investigating the grizzly death of a junkie, detective Skinner's investigation blurs the lines between murder and suicide, sane and deranged.

The Million Dollar Hotel was recorded in Dublin and was produced by Hal Willner. The opening track, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," is a new U2 song, with lyrics by Salman Rushdie from his novel of the same name.

Milla JovovichDirector
Wim Wenders is known for his dazzling photographic work in such films as "The End of Violence" and "Wings of Desire," so we can expect that "Million Dollar Hotel" will be a treat for the eyes, with a lean toward the noirish. As Wenders weaves a web of relationships between the hotel's corridors and rooms and their inhabitants, he is less interested in the progress of a plot and more in the places and characters.

The Million Dollar Hotel band is a lofty assemblage, with Bono on vocals, guitar and piano, ace producer
Daniel Lanois on guitars, vocals and pedal steel, Brian Eno on synthesizers, Jon Hassell on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass, Brian Blade on drums, Phil Frisell on guitar, and Adam Dorn on beats, synth, and programming.

BonoAnd the MDH band gets plenty of chance to spread its wings on tracks like "Funny Face" and "Tom Tom's Dream." If you dig an elegant, dark and yet uplifting rock sound, then the MDH band will knock your socks off.

Yet I have a hard time finding that the band has gelled. My favorite cuts include the new "Stateless" by
U2, and the disorienting rock of "Anarchy in the U.S.A." (which has solid radio potential, as it brings back memories of prime Clash).

Bono and Milla JovovichAnd I simply cannot get into
Milla Jovovich's cover of "Satellite of Love," the old Lou Reed song. In the hands of darkmeister Reed, with his impeccable three-piece band, "Satellite of Love" is a classic. Jovovich's misty spoken-word vocals miss the mark, and leave the track without definition.

The artists on
Million Dollar Hotel include some of my favorite acts, including U2 and Daniel Lanois. But the soundtrack lurches unevenly: Jovovich bites hard on her Yoko Ono impersonation, while "Anarchy in the U.S.A." chugs with effortless intensity. Fans of U2 will enjoy this morsel, but will be looking for a fuller serving.

- Randy Krbechek
© 2000

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