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  Listen Up! 1/2/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Jan. 2

George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass," Capitol Records. This is the first time I've sat down and listened to this album since George passed away last month. It sounds even better than I remember it, and I remember it fondly. George had written and squirreled away so many great songs, and he never sang with more passion than he did on this first post-Beatles recording. Phil Spector's production is masterful, explosive when necessary, subtle (yes, I said subtle and Phil Spector in the same breath) when the songs need quiet. The rhythms are way more propulsive than I remember - try listening to the drum track alone on "My Sweet Lord." Occasionally, the chords provided by the horns and the keyboards sound fifteen years ahead of their time in pop music. We've sold dozens of this album of late, way more than anything else George ever did. I don't want to take anything away from the great music he made with the Beatles or on later solo records, but he never did anything more perfect than this record.

Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney, "Fancy Meeting You Here," Bluebird Records. They've remastered this extraordinary example of old-school bon vivant pop singing, recorded just three months before I popped out of my mother's womb back in 1958. Crosby and Clooney make for a delightful pair, both effortlessly swinging, both loving the lyrics and melodies of the conceptual round-the-world trip they take for this record. The exoticisms built into the arrangements may be a little dated, but they are never cloying or overwhelming; the focus is on delivering these great songs, and the vocal powers of these two great singers.

AC/DC, "Back in Black," Atco Records. Thud thud thud. Crackle, snap, bang! Scream, repeat those riffs, chop those guitars and basses. And, believe it or not, sprinkle in melody here and there. Rock'n'roll has rarely been more essential, more primal, more unbelievably, generously, deliriously sexy. Their best album ever, and one of the best records ever made.

Busta Rhymes, "The Best of Busta Rhymes," Rhino Records. Busta is that rare thing in hip-hop, a veteran of some dozen years making records, with little or no loss of quality along the way. So, as he switches labels (and gets way more gangsta in the process), it's cool to have this nice little retrospective of his classics. Now, I don't watch much music video on TV, so I have to take the words of everybody else in the office. Apparently, Busta is the best rap video artist around. They're all raving about each song's video, while I'm just thinking, man, this song would be great to hear in a strip club. Hey, it's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Two, two, two great uses in one.

--Steve Pick



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