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  Listen Up! 3/1/02 Listen Up!

Friday, Mar. 1

Missy Elliott, "Miss E . . . So Addictive," Gold Mind/Eleketra Records. So many guest stars! I prefer my Missy Elliott undiluted by anybody but her production partner Timbaland. Not that these guest stars are all that bad. Ludacris cracks me up every time I hear "One Minute Man." And you can't argue with Method Man, Redman, or Busta Rhymes. But, the real joys of this album are Missy's snappy delivery, and the never-ending imagination of Timbaland and Missy on the beats. Samples are drawn from all over the map - you may be familiar with the spectacular "Get Ur Freak On," which samples Indian music. The grooves are so insidiously clever, and so sinuous, you can 't resist moving your body to this stuff. Yep, I could easily get addicted to music this intelligent, funny, and sexy.

Manu Chao, "Clandestino," Ark 21 Records. Very interesting record from the former front-man of Mano Negra. It's kind of Latin pop gone New Wave, with odd juxtapositions of styles and backing sounds. It's always engaging, though, with lovely lilting melodies no matter the context. Songs are sung in Spanish, French, and English, and I suspect he's making up his own versions of each of these languages sometimes. At any rate, I've read a lot about this guy, and I want to hear a lot more.

MC5, "The Big Bang! Best of the MC5," Rhino Records. I got back from lunch to hear the last few songs on this excellent compilation spanning the short beautiful career of one of America's finest, most permeable rock'n'roll outfits of the late 60s, early 70s. The songs I'm hearing are from the third, most often ignored album, "High Time." Amazing stuff. "Over and Over" is just a pretty tune arranged to rock hard. "Skunk (Sonicly Speaking)" is some sort of heavy metal/soul/jazz hybrid. The album ends with "Thunder Express," which is actually a live recording, and it sounds like the band did on the roots album, "Back in the USA." These guys always flew on jet propulsion, no matter what style of music they were playing. Great band.

The new Neil Young album, I don't know the title, I assume it's on Reprise but who knows. "Let's Roll" sounds a little clumsy, but it's an interesting idea to write a song from the perspective of the passengers on that hijacked airplane that fought against the hijackers back on Sept. 11. The music sounds great, though, as does all the other songs here. Recorded with Booker T and the MG's backing him up at last, Neil Young makes another of his periodic brilliant records, achieving a beautiful mid-point between the intense soulfully tight rhythms and his own aching-to-burst-out-into-paroxyms-of-fury guitar playing.

--Steve Pick
   

 

 

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