Ferris, It Means Everything (Epic 1997) - The unexpected success
ofSquirrel Nut Zippers was certain to spawn a rash
of horn-driven ska imitators. But Save Ferris (the name comes from the
film, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off") isn't just a wanna-be. Fronted by
the gorgeous Monique Powell, Save Ferris has its own
Based in Southern California, the seven members of Save Ferris are
part of a budding "Third Wave ska underground" (whatever that means.)
The standout cut on the album is a cover of "Come On Eileen," an early
80s hit for Dexy's Midnight Runners. When I first heard
the single, I thought it was just a lame cover of the original. But
after listening to Save Ferris' version a bunch of times, I'm entranced
by Monique Powell's exciting vocals, which lend a provocative edge to
this classic come-on song.
And here's a historical sidelight. When Dexy's Midnight Runners burst
on the scene, leader Kevin Rowland was heralded as
a wunderkind for his breakthrough, horn-oriented Irish pop sound. Then
everyone wondered why there wasn't a follow-up. Years later, Rowland
started admitting the truth: "Come On Eileen" was a collaborative effort
that owed a great deal to the efforts of other band members.
A great song remains a great song. And "Come On Eileen" is a flash
pop number. A most unexpected pop comeback, It Means Everything
will turn more than a few heads.
Artists, Soundtrack to U-Turn (Epic 1997)
- U-Turn is the new film from director Oliver
Stone. Despite efforts from Sean Penn, Nick Nolte,
and Jennifer Lopez, the film is a dismal failure: Unfocused,
unpleasant and unfunny. (And I speak both as a fan of Oliver Stone and
of the noir genre in general.)
But you have to give Stone credit for his taste in music. The soundtrack
toNatural Born Killers was a fine affair, and so is
the soundtrack to U-Turn. Among the featured cuts are
Peggy Lee's western swing gem, "It's A Good Day" (the
opening track), as well as Patsy Cline's "Your Cheatin'
Heart," two tracks by Johnny Cash ("Honky Tonk Girl"and
"Ring of Fire"), and Sammi Smith's, "Help Me Make It
Through the Night."
In addition, the album includes a dozen instrumental cuts by the acclaimed
Ennio Morricone, who set high standards during his
spaghetti western days with Sergio Leoneand who has
composed music for more than 300 films and TV dramas.
While U-Turn brings back memories of the film (frankly,
you probably don't want it to), the soundtrack is a cohesive collection
of appealing songs from the film.
Wilsons, The Wilsons (Mercury 1997) - The Wilson
are sisters Carnie andWendy Wilson,
daughters of the legendary Brian Wilson (of Beach
Boys fame), and two-thirds of early 90's sensation, Wilson
Phillips. With help from their talented father (who contributes
to four tracks), the sisters hope to return to pop success.
Unfortunately, The Wilsons won't lead them there.
Which is to say, Brian Wilson's backing vocals (on such songs as "Miracle")
sound familiar yet distant, and even the album's best tracks (such as
"Not Your Average Girl") are little better than pop lite.
Being a big Beach Boys fan, it hurts to admit: The
Wilsons is an unsuccessful effort.
Stockwood, Bonavista (Curb 1996) - Sometimes success comes
in unexpected ways. And so it has been for Kim Stockwood, a 31-year
old native of Newfoundland (a "Newfie," in the lingo of the Great White
North). Bonavista didn't catch on when it was first
released two years ago. So the record company sent Stockwood back into
the studio to record the hit single, "Jerk," and re-released the album
with two new songs.
The result has been surprising success for Stockwood (sometimes called
the "Jerk Girl"), who has a crossover pop/country style. (In concert,
she even covers "Purple Rain" by the Artist).
I think the record label isn't sure what to do with Stockwood - she
no longer appears on Curb's web page (www.curb.com),
and the cover photo of Stockwood sports a waif-like, alterna-rock look.
But Stockwood seems like a fun gal, and songs like "N.A.S.H.V.I.L.L.E."
are bright, bouncy numbers. ("N.A.S.H.V.I.L.L.E." is one of the best
country songs I've heard all year.) Kim Stockwood may wind up with a
bad case of the record company blues, but Bonavista
has great moments.
Sandler, What's Your Name (Warner 1997) - With his third album,
comic Adam Sandler has decided that anybody can be a rock star - so
he recorded 14 songs, without any stand-up routines. What's
Your Name? panders to the lowest common denominator (even lower
usual attempts to titillate 10-year-olds). Save your money - avoid this
-- Randy Krbechek