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  Listen Up! 2/8/02 Listen Up!

Friday, Feb. 8

Kevin Rowland & Dexy's Midnight Runners, "Too-Rye-Ay," Mercury Records. Finally remastered (with five bonus cuts added), one of my favorite albums of the 80s sounds absolutely gorgeous. I'll be the first to admit that Rowland's voice is an acquired taste, but it's one I acquired so long ago it 's hard to imagine not loving it. The music is steeped in Celtic folk and American soul influences, with Motown-styled drumming, Stax-styled horns, and fiddles and squeezebox filling out the sound. It's an ambitious album, from back in the day when songs could be structured with much more complexity than they usually are these days. It's also one of the most exuberantly hopeful, deliriously joyful records I know.

Various Artists, "This Is Where I Belong: The Songs of Ray Davies & the Kinks," Rykodisc. Ah, tribute albums. I love them in theory, I get frustrated by them in execution. There's no reason why you couldn't put together an absolutely stunning collection of people doing Kinks songs. The songs are inherently great, and they've inspired terrific covers over the years. This is way better than the horrific tribute of indie-rock incompetents that came out last year (I think it was on Sub-Pop, but I really don't remember). Some of these versions are great. I really dig Steve Forbert's inspired take on "Starstruck," and Bill Lloyd & Tommy Womack's rippling "Picture Book." Some of these are accurate (and pleasant) recreations of the original records, such as "Who'll Be the Next in Line" by the supremely reigned in Queens of the Stone Age, and "Victoria" by Cracker. But, as is so often the case, I can't unequivocally recommend this record unless you're a big fan/completist of any of these acts.

ABC, "The Lexicon of Love," Mercury Records. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this record, but I haven't played it in years. It's nice to get it on CD. These songs resonate after all this time. Catchy melodies, complicated arrangements, solid post-disco beats, stirring emotional vocals. It's all a lot of fun.

--Steve Pick
   

 

 

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