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  Listen Up! 1/21/02 Listen Up!

Monday, Jan. 21

Ike Quebeck, "Soul Samba," Blue Note Records. This music is so smooth, so supple, you can feel it pouring out of the speakers and sliding all over your body. It's from the bossa nova craze of the early 60s, but this record is more interesting than that sounds at first. Quebec chose an interesting mix of material, some from Brazil, some terrific originals (including the luscious title track, one of the richest pieces to come out of the era and style), a Dvorak arrangement, and a piece from guitarist Kenny Burrell that' s really nice. This kind of music always makes me think of bachelors seducing chicks in penthouse apartments (thanks to movies I saw as an impressionable child), but this record seduces the whole person.

Willie Nelson, "The Great Divide," Lost Highway Records. Look, he's Willie Nelson, and he really can sing just about anything and make it sound good. And some of these pop/rock songs are pretty cool, especially "Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me)," written by Rob Thomas, the singer of some rock band I can't remember whose made a career of guest-starring with famous folks like Santana. But, this isn't really a Willie Nelson album. Occasionally, there are songs that do sound like what he specializes in - "The Great Divide" and "Recollection Phoenix" are particularly stunning ballads. I know the idea is to market him to different audiences, but I'm not sure if we gain much in the process. Oh, well, I'll listen to this a few times before I finish making up my mind.

New KRS-1, I didn't find out details. KRS-1 is doing Gospel rap now. He's every bit as pompous, and every bit as obsessed with the death of his one-time partner Scott LaRock, as he has ever been. He still has one of the finest voices in hip-hop, and his trademark mastery of rhythm in wordplay. He no longer has even remotely interesting musical backing. It's amazing I remembered an hour later I heard this at all.

X-Ecutioners, "It's Goin' Down," Loud Records. I guess these guys are the turntablists. This time they've teamed with a couple guys from Linkin Park to make a bad hard rock record. This is the single; I presume the rest of the album has less rock, more virtuosity, and nothing more or less interesting than this easily ignored song.

--Steve Pick



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