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  Listen Up! 1/14/03 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Jan. 14

Various Artists, “Red Hot & Riot,” Red Hot Records. A tribute to Fela Kuti featuring dozens of artists from all over the musical spectrum, almost all of them subsuming their normal musical personalities to that of Fela himself. The rhythms are as lively as anything Fela ever did. Heck, half the time, Tony Allen himself is playing the drums. The raps are cool, the other singers ape Fela’s incantatory style. The whole record is terrific, but may I send out some extra special shouts to Roy Hargrove, whose trumpet on “Zombie (Part Two)” burns with the fire of Fela’s life-affirming determination.

Alejandro Escovedo, “Thirteen Years,” Texas Music Group. The problem today is I’m thinking too much, and not really hearing the music clearly. This is a beautiful album, though not necessarily my favorite work by Escovedo. Gorgeous arrangements, with cello and violin and harpsichord and drums and acoustic guitar and who knows what else backing up Alejandro’s expressive vocals. The man just can’t help but sing elegantly and eloquently. He really has written better melodies, but this record sounds awfully good.

--Steve Pick



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