June 29, 1994
Pink Floyd, The Division Bell (Columbia 1994) -- On The Division Bell, the remaining members of Pink Floyd (David Gilmour on guitar and vocals, Nick Mason on drums, and Rick Wright on keyboards and vocals) have produced another of their timeless efforts. Though the band has lost some of its edgy tension since the acrimonious departure of Roger Waters, The Division Bell shows that Pink Floyd hasn't yet faded away.
The history of Pink Floyd is remarkable. Formed over 25 years ago, the band was first fronted by the hypnotically talented Syd Barrett. When Barrett took too many trips and became a drugged-out recluse, the group recruited Roger Waters and re-invented itself. Despite their relatively modest output in quantity of albums, their discs have included some of the most influential albums in rock history, including Dark Side of the Moon (still a brisk seller after 20 years), Wish You Were Here, and the seminal The Wall (quite possibly the finest moment in rock opera).
The group's last studio effort, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) was a real treat, as it showed that the classic, spacey Pink Floyd sound and authority-challenging attitude remained vital and intact. Unfortunately, The Division Bell is a bit of a step sideways. While the group retains its exotic, trance-inducing harmonies and soaring guitar work, there's a sense that the band was sleepwalking on this album, as many of the songs feature extended instrumental parts that don't add much to the whole.
Make no mistake -- only a handful of bands could cut an album of this caliber. However, we've come to expect more from Pink Floyd. At 66 minutes, the disc clocks in on the long side; had the album been trimmed to 45 minutes, The Division Bell may have been another classic. Instead, it's a pleasant (if not challenging) product from this unflinching trio.
Milla, The Divine Comedy (SBK Records 1994) -- Milla (pronounced Me-la), a Soviet-born model, has elected to move from the runway and seek the spotlight of pop stardom. Only age 18, The Divine Comedy shows that her complex musical and poetic visions that have yet to reach their full potential.
By way of background, Milla moved to Sacramento with her family at age 5, where she says she developed an interest in nature and myth. Later, she and her family relocated to Los Angeles, where she began working as a model and child actor (including an appearance in the film Chaplin). Mature beyond her years (as are many models), Milla has now begun a career in music.
It's hard to declare The Divine Comedy a work complete. The rousing title to the album conjures references to Dante, but the album does not complete the dark journey it begins. However, the shining moments on The Divine Comedy are splendid. The two lead-off cuts, "The Alien Song" and "Gentleman Who Fell," are distinctive and unique, as they match the full voice of Milla against strings, European folk, and synth-pop to produce a heady mixture.
The provocative cover of the album perhaps epitomizes the conflict within Milla -- though she's got a model's delicate figure, she's chosen to feature a voluptuous, full-figured siren on the album. Like the lady on the cover, Milla is reaching toward something bigger -- she's got beauty and grace, and just needs to finish developing her talents. Here's hoping SBK gives her an opportunity to reach her potential.
Music from Rhino -- Rhino Records, purveyors of fine re-issues, continue to shine with Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Classic Western Swing (1994). This ten-cut, specially-priced CD, is an excellent introduction to the timeless sound of Bob Wills. The description of this music as "Western Swing" is interesting; the tunes reflect their period (the 30s and 40s), and are a cross between popular, film, and western music of the time (showing that the blurred lines between country and pop go way back). Featuring classic cuts such as "San Antonio Rose," "Stay a Little Longer," and the playful "Roly-Poly," it's easy to see why Bob Wills made such an impact. Thanks for this terrific sampler (even if it is only 26 minutes long).
Also new from Kid Rhino is Broadway Micky, a collection of kids songs performed by former Monkee, Micky Dolenz. Broadway Micky is a likeable collection of sing-along numbers, and includes such children's favorites as "Put on a Happy Face" and "Talk to the Animals." Also mid-level priced, Broadway Micky sounds fresh because the arrangements aren't dumbed-down for kids, and because Dolenz has chosen material that hasn't been worn-out over the years. If you're looking for a fun album for your kids (and one that you'll like too), take a look at Broadway Micky.
Great Rock Quotes (collected in Rock Talk (1994) by Joe and John Kahut) -- "I don't have a drug problem. I have a police problem." Keith Richards (of the Rolling Stones) circa 1978.
"You know the Perry Como shows back in the '60s? Where he'd come out on the stool with his cool sweater? That's where rock 'n roll is today. There are a few exceptions. But generally we've got this crap produced by dicknoses, I mean people putting out what they know will sell and people saying 'play that' to 150 radio stations who can't make up their own minds and are paying these idiots to tell them what to do. It's a wild situation." Neil Young.
-- Randy Krbechek
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