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  Listen Up! 1/31/03 Listen Up!

Friday, Jan. 31

Groove Armada, “Lovebox,” Zomba Records. Dance music with a sense of pop history, a love of hooks, and a determination to keep things diverse. You gotta love it, especially the love of hooks part. Some of these songs could really stick under the skin, especially the rambunctious “Madder.” I’m also fond of “Remember,” which features a sample of the late great Sandy Denny providing the melody. Then there’s Richie Havens excellent vocal on “Hands of Time,” a soulful gem that harkens back to Hi Records sound without slavishly imitating it. This is pop music that deserves radio and dance floor attention, not to mention living room.

Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban, “Mambo Sinuendo,” Nonesuch Records. Cooder goes back to Cuba and teams up with a spectacular guitar player (wasn’t he the guy in Los Zafiros or whatever the name of that 60s doo-wop-influenced group from Cuba was?) on a bunch of beautiful songs (some of them standards familiar to all of us, even if we don’t know the names) twisted into a reverb-drenched stew that’s not completely removed from the smoke-filled haze of dub. Gorgeous, exotic, and constantly calling for attention, this is another triumph for Cooder.

--Steve Pick

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