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  Listen Up! 3/21/03 Listen Up!

Friday, Mar. 21

N.E.R.D., “In Search of . . .,” Virgin Records. Think about this. The Neptunes are the producers of half the songs that get played in strip clubs around the country. Almost every time someone takes off clothes for money, these guys get a cut. I don’t know how many songs from this record are big enough hits to contribute to this swag, but they all sound like they could be. Rhythm and hooks, that’s what N.E.R.D. is all about. (Note to those of you who might not know: N.E.R.D. consists of the Neptunes, ace producers, and nobody else.)

Ben Webster, “Soulville,” Verve Records. What we have here is simply an excellent, gently swinging late 50s session from the smooth tenor saxophone genius. With Oscar Peterson on piano, Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Stan Levey on drums behind him, Webster glides through standards, opening up giant spaces in the melodies and delivering his breathy trademarked tone.

The White Stripes, “Elephant,” V2 Records. This one is even worse than the last one. I wish I could explain why, but they simply annoy me.

--Steve Pick

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