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  Listen Up! 4/16/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Apr. 16

L.A.'s Own Billy the Kidd Presents, "The Saloon Music LP Featuring Defari," ABB 1997 Records. The underground rap scene is full of guys like this, who can rap, for sure, with rhythmic élan, but no joi de vivre. It's all hard-sounding, never cut by pleasure, never allowing anything to interfere with the loops, the scratching, and the endless rhyming.

The Misses, "4 Play," no label. These St. Louis ladies have been playing together for only a few months, and after two, count 'em, two live gigs, they've recorded a 4 song demo that's loads of fun. Lyrics that are funny and intelligent, kind of like the Ramones, though with sexier themes are wedded to nice, sinuous hard rock grooves. The Misses are really good already, and have nothing but promise for the future.

King's X, "Faith Hope Love," Atlantic Records. Another hole in my knowledge is filled, as I've never heard this band that's been a fixture in our $4.99 bins for as long as I can remember. I always thought they were more heavy metal, but they're really something of a progressive rock band with pop twists. Not exactly my cup of tea, but songs that remind me of the James Gang followed by songs that remind me of the Beatles, with neither living up to the inspirations, at least make for pleasant listening in the background.

Asheru and Blue Black of the Unspoken Heard, "Soon Come," 7 Heads Records. Now this is more interesting in the underground hip-hop field, thanks to some deliciously languid, smooth 70s soul grooves that embrace the slippery rhythmic tones of the rappers. I'm not hearing anything that jumps out on first listen as being memorable, but this would be something worth hearing again.

The Animals, "Taken Alive!," Fuel 2000 Records. Some of this stuff used to turn up on semi-authorized bootlegs prevalent in all cut-out bins back in the late 70s. It is a spectacular live performance from the Animals recorded back in 1963, which finds Eric Burdon wailing away like he was an American soul singer, backed by one of the most potent rhythm combos ever to come out of England. This is raw, fiery stuff, and reminds me again of just how brilliant this band was.

--Steve Pick



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