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June 25, 1997

Bad Hogs Lack Discipline

   

Collective SoulCollective Soul, Disciplined Breakdown (Atlantic 1997) - Collective Soul has enjoyed remarkable success in the 90s. Their first album, Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid went double platinum behind the single, "Shine," and their 1995 self-titled follow-up topped that by going triple platinum.

The quintet returns with their third release, Disciplined Breakdown. Built around the singing and songwriting of leader Ed Roland, Disciplined Breakdown again dips into the catalogue of classic 70s rock, while updating it with 90s pop and alternative.

Which means that Collective Soul has developed its own sound. After 20 months on the road, Disciplined Breakdown was an opportunity for Ed Roland to unwind. But unlike Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, Roland isn't disoriented by his success. Rather, Disciplined Breakdown reflects Roland's continuing maturity, both as a songwriter and a person.

Disciplined Breakdown is a sonically-excellent album, with richly-textured recordings. My favorite track is "Link," a smooth rocker that deserves an award for its richly-filled sound. Likewise, "In Between" is another great rocker, fueled by Ross Childress' soaring guitar solo.

And speaking of awards, someone at Atlantic deserves one for his or her willingness to help the label's bands build careers. In an era in which albums are frequently spaced three years apart (Metallica actually waited 5-1/2 years), Atlantic is avoiding the graveyard of one-hit, over-hyped wonders by allowing their acts (including Hootie and Jill Sobule) return to the studio regularly, so as to build a catalogue and solid recording career.

Disciplined Breakdown is a rich and rewarding release, and deserves substantial success.

Liar LiarSoundtrack to Liar Liar (MCA 1997) - Liar Liar is the new film from the funny man, Jim Carrey, who stars as Fletcher Reid, a fast-talking attorney and habitual liar. While the film delivers, the sound track doesn't.

The film is vintage Carrey, who mugs it up after his son wishes on his birthday that Fletcher would stop lying for 24 hours. When the wish miraculously comes true, Fletcher discovers that his biggest asset - his mouth - has suddenly become his greatest liability.

My four-year-old son and I greatly enjoyed the movie. In particular, I liked the subtle gag in the ending credits when one of the opposing attorneys stands up in court and says "Objection. Overacting." Jim Carrey breaks up, because he knows it's right.

Unfortunately, the sound track doesn't hold up. Composed by veteran John Debney (who also scored such films as Houseguest and the Geena Davis bomb, Cutthroat Island), the 29-minute sound track is an instrumental that does not evoke the film.

The great soundtracks - for instance - American Graffiti or The Sting - set a mood and bring back memories of the big screen. Liar Liar fails in this crucial respect. Even my son (a big Jim Carrey fan) didn't like it. Only hard core fans need apply.

SantanaSantana, Live at the Fillmore '68 (Columbia/Legacy 1997) - Live at the Fillmore captures Carlos Santana at an early stage in his career, in his adopted hometown of San Francisco. Recorded on four consecutive nights (December 19-22, 1968) at the Fillmore West, this double disk offers an aural glimpse of a great band on the eve of international fame.

The time frame for the Santana band was crucial. Just six months before these gigs, the band had made its Fillmore debut. Eight months later, they were on stage at Woodstock, supporting their highly-influential debut release.

SantanaRemembers Santana, "All of a sudden we were opening for Credence Clearwater, The Who, Paul Butterfield, Janis Joplin, The Chicago Transit Authority...And every place we played, we were captivating the headliners' audience. They were joining our train."

Live at the Fillmore contains more than 100 minutes of music, including prototypical versions of such Santana classics as "Soul Sacrifice" and "Jingo." Also featured are five tracks that have never previously appeared on any Santana album, including "Conquistador Rides Again" and a 30-minute rendition of "Freeway."

And that 30-minute track says a lot about Live at the Fillmore. In those heady days of the 60s, extended improvisational blues jams were common. And Santana could play with the best of them. With terrific sound quality, Live at the Fillmore is more than just an historical piece - it's a great live jam. Get ready for a trip in the time machine.

Bad LivesBad Livers, Hogs on the Highway (Sugar Hill Records 1997) - Mining an alternative acoustic country vein are the Bad Livers from Austin, Texas. A quartet that includes fiddle, mandolin, tuba, and banjos in their performances, the Bad Livers have been described as "Speed Grass."

Hogs on the Highway picks up where the Livers' earlier releases (including Delusions of Banjer, which was produced by the Butthole Surfers' Paul Leary) left off. In addition to high-octane instrumentals, Hogs of the Highway includes such sublime numbers as "Falling Down the Stairs" and "Corn Liquor Made a Fool Out of Me." If you want bluegrass with a weird spin, take a ride with Hogs on the Highway.

-- Randy Krbechek
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