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  Listen Up! 3/7/02 Listen Up!

Thursday, Mar. 7

Various Artists, "Great R'n'B Instrumentals," Ace Records. You know what they say. If you only buy one . . . . This is the definitive compilation of classic r'n'b instrumental sides from "The Huckle-Buck" by Paul Williams to "Night Train" by Jimmy Forrest to "Red Beans and Rice" by Booker T & the MG' s. I love this stuff, the honking sax, the slamming snare drums, the throbbing bass lines, the chiming guitars.

Gumbohead, "Live and Cookin," no label. You gotta love the fact there's a St. Louis band mixing up its own gumbo version of assorted New Orleans and Bayou influences. There's some zydeco mixed with polyphonic trad jazz with funk. They're not half bad, either, though not as good as most of their influences. I'd like to hear a stronger personality in the vocals, but that' s the only suggestion I could make. I bet these guys are a blast live.

Descendents, "Somery," SST Records. It's the greatest hits of the Descendents. Boy, does this take me back. I can't get the image of drummer Bill Stevenson, standing in the basement of New Values where the band had just finished a gig, wearing nothing but a pair of tighty-whiteys and a lot of sweat, chatting up a cute fifteen-year-old girl that he undoubtedly succeeded in wooing. That was the punk rock scene in my day, kids. Anyway, these songs are catchier and more melodic than anything Green Day has ever dreamed possible. Not earth-shattering, mind you, but romantic, sweet, funny, and pure fun.

--Steve Pick



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