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  Listen Up! 1/17/03 Listen Up!

Friday, Jan. 17

Sport Murphy, “Uncle,” Kill Rock Stars. Self-indulgent concept album about childhood trauma or something like that. Subject matter as important as the time a bird flew in the house. Music that’s intentionally goofy and uninterested in making anybody want to hear it.

Tina Brooks, “The Waiting Game,” Blue Note Records. This is a great band on a great day, back in March, 1961. Johnny Coles’ trumpet strikes me especially today, with its clarity, and the smoothness of his melodic approach contrasting with the archness of his punchy introductions. Brooks on tenor is strong and confident, Kenny Drew on piano is all giddy energy and ideas, and the rhythm section of Wilbur Ware and Philly Joe Jones swings hard and kicks butt.

Sly and the Family Stone, “Greatest Hits,” Epic Records. Song for song, there aren’t many better guarantees of feeling good than this album.

Gza, “Legend of the Liquid Sword,” MCA Records. I just read a review in the RFT that tells me this guy writes great lyrics. The evidence of my ears in a noisy office merely tells me the music is great, and his raps sound really good. I’d love to pay attention to this one someday, because I was very happy just kind of half-hearing it.

Erasure, “Other People’s Songs,” Mute Records. Apparently, some people in the office think it’s kind of cheesy to do Buddy Holly, the Righteous Brothers, and Peter Gabriel with synth-pop arrangements straight out of 1981 and vocals modeled on late 70s disco. Not me. I say, bring it on. This is as straight-up beautiful a collection of great songs as I’ve heard in a long time, pure devotion to the emotional power they all packed the first time, and to the style that Vince Clarke has mined for 22 years without changing a single thing.

--Steve Pick



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