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Music Reviews

Randy's Buttons


November 12, 1997

Jerk Girl


Save FerrisSave 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 style.

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.

U TurnVarious 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.

WilsonsThe 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.

Kim StockwoodKim 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.

Adam SandlerAdam 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 than Sandler's usual attempts to titillate 10-year-olds). Save your money - avoid this misguided collection.

-- Randy Krbechek

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