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  Listen Up! 2/5/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Feb. 5

Sonny Clark, "Cool Struttin'," Blue Note Records. So I played it to start the day twice in a row. Can you blame me? This is such a lightly swingin' record, such a devilishly playful example of classic hard bop. Damn! That Philly Joe Jones had a deft touch on the drums. I mean, all these guys are great on this record, but Jones is the one blowing me away today, swinging, cruising, driving, controlling the flow.

Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On?," Motown Records. Of course it's a great record. This copy wasn't the nicely remastered version I talked about last year. That one sounds way better, more direct. But the songs sounded great on transistor radios 30 years ago, so they will always triumph.

Various Artists, "Hip Hop 101," Tommy Boy Records. Coincidentally, all the items on the syllabus are from artists signed to Tommy Boy Records, specifically artists in the camp of De La Soul, and all recorded in the year 2000. The compilation is pleasant, occasionally dynamic, but frequently easily relegated to background music of mildly hypnotic rhythmic interest.

Outkast, "Big Boi and Dre Present . . . Outkast," LaFace Records. Sonically speaking, this stuff is the bomb! It just moves, blips, sqawks, jumps, pushes, squeezes, drops, and generally rethinks the very concept of groove in hip-hop. I knew these guys were great, but I don't think I've felt it quite so much until now. All these cuts culled from their old albums, many of which I never heard at all, and a fistful of new ones that sound like they might as well be old ones, and nothing lets up the energy, vivacity, and creativity.

--Steve Pick



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