Sound of Lies (American 1997) - Sound of Lies
is the new release from the reconstituted Jayhawks, who broke up in
1995 following the departure of founding member Mark Olson
(who left to spend more time with his wife, singer/songwriter Victoria
Williams). Sound of Lies features a brooding,
Tom Petty-country rock sound, and is the best Jayhawks
Formed 12 years ago in Minneapolis, the Jayhawks migrated to Los Angeles,
before finally returning to the Twin Cities. The band consists of Gary
Louris (chief songwriter/vocalist/guitarist), bassist Marc
Perlman, drummer Tim O'Reagan and keyboardist
Karen Grotberg. Explains Perlman, the band "ended up
evolving into a different sound. Instead of the classic country harmonies
that Mark Olson and Gary used to sing, now it's one solo voice, with
backing vocals, which is more of a pop or rock approach than country."
That description hits the nail on the head. By blending violin/viola
player Jessy Green (who has played with the Geraldine
Fibbers) with the solid keyboard underpinnings of Karen Grotberg,
the Jayhawks break new ground, from the comfortable "The Man Who Loved
Life" to the caustic rocker, "Think About It," through "It's Up to You,"
which features Grotberg's rich backing vocals.
Idiosyncratic and idealistic, Sound of Lies is a
great new start for the Jayhawks (though I hate the cheesy artwork).
Fans of intelligent, carefully-constructed country rock should not miss
Parsons Project, The Definitive Collection (Arista 1997) -
The Definitive Collection is a double-disc, 34-song
anthology that covers the Alan Parsons Project oeuvre, from early recordings
like Tales of Mystery and Imagination and Pyramidthrough
such later releases as Ammonia Avenue and Stereotomy.
Remastered with 20-bit Superbit mapping, the 149 minutes of music sounds
fresh and undated.
The Alan Parsons Project was born of the collaboration of Abbey
Roads' engineer Alan Parsons and session pianist and songwriter
Eric Woolfson. With their breadth of interests and
intriguing concept albums, the Alan Parsons Project scored numerous
hit singles, including 1992's "Eye in the Sky," "The Eagle Will Rise
Again" (1978), and "Games People Play" (1980).
The band also supported an ever-changing lineup of guest vocalists
from album to album - Arthur Brown and the Hollies'
Terry Sylvester on Tales of Mystery and Imagination;
the Hollies' Allan Clarke on I Robot;
ex-Zombie's lead singer Colin Blunstone
on Pyramid ("The Eagle Will Rise Again"); and former
Elton John/Pink Floyd back up singer Lesley
Duncan on Eve ("If I Could Change Your Mind").
All of the Alan Parsons Project 17 U.S. chart singles are included,
together with 17 key album tracks. I've always felt that greatest hits
collection don't do justice to the integrity of the full album; I prefer
the original recordings, which contain the songs in their original order.
(And Alan Parsons had definite ideas about how to construct and arrange
an album.) But if you're looking for a starting place, The Definitive
Collectioncouldn't be better.
Brennan, Iodine in the Wine (Upstart Records/Rounder 1997)
- Here's a record with an identity crisis. After looking at the cover,
you'd think Iodine in the Wineis some kind of schmaltzy,
after-dinner sampler for new-age lovers. But that couldn't be more wrong.
Instead, Iodine in the Wine builds on the earnest
country/folk songwriting style ofKevin Welch, while
mixing in roots-rock elements reminiscent of Alejandro Escovedo.
And there's nothing schmaltzy about that mix.
From the hillbilly folk-influenced "Mighty Long Time" (a duet with
the sweet Jennifer Kimball) to the plaintive, horn-influenced
"River Rise Up," to the deliciously downbeat, "Pill of Love" (a duet
with Jennifer Jackson), Iodine in the Wine
finds the balance that is lacking in Alejandro Escovedo's recent albums
- brooding and melancholy, yet uplifting and celebratory at the same
time. Fans of Americana will enjoyIodine in the Wine.
Cetera, A Collection (River North Records 1997) - I must be
getting old. Because Peter Cetera, the erstwhile former vocalist and
bass player for Chicago, sounds pretty good these days.
How did I go from Jim Morrison to soft pop? Maybe
because Cetera has selected solid material. Included on Collection
are new versions of three of Peter's big hits with Chicago: "If You
Leave Me Now," "Baby What a Big Surprise," and "You're The Inspiration."
And these songs still sound good.
Also included are six duets, including "After All" with Cher,
"Next Time I Fall" with Amy Grant, and "Feels Like
Heaven" with Chaka Khan.
A mainstay of adult contemporary, Peter Cetera is a talented vocalist.
Collection plays to his strengths, to the benefit of
-- Randy Krbechek