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  Listen Up! 5/13/02 Listen Up!

Monday, May 13

Issa Bagayogo, "Sya," Six Degrees Records. Here's Malian music with some grit to it, deep hypnotic trance grooves with drums made of gourds and a high-pitched stringed instrument and an acoustic guitar, and something lovely that sounds like a steel guitar but certainly isn't credited as such. Very nice stuff.

Los Zafiros, "Bossa Cubana," Nonesuch Records. This is amazing Cuban doo-wop from the mid-sixties, with great singers, great songs, great arrangements. If you've never heard this, you've never heard anything quite like it. Highly recommended.

Wilco, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," Nonesuch Records. Surprisingly, without going out of my way to try, I'm starting to appreciate some of this a little more. I love the jauntiness of "Heavy Metal Drummer," (partially for the way it reminds me of Jeff Tweedy sitting on the street outside of Mississippi Nights, laughing and smoking and talking of the Rain Parade or the Long Ryders, which means my memories are before his days of checking out metal bands on the Landing, but they're mine, and at least we're in the same location). I kinda dig the sparseness of "I'm the Man Who Loves You." Still don't see any redeeming melodic virtue in "Pot Kettle Black," though. We'll see if more of this record will infiltrate my consciousness in the future, or not.

George Michael, "Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael," Epic Records. I always kinda thought George Michael was okay. I mean, who couldn' t dig the faux-Prince-ness of "I Want Your Sex," or the ersatz-Motown of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"? But, I'm here to warn you, if you value your sanity, stay far away from the disc on here which collects all his ballad hits (and misses) in one torpid place. Unless you're trying to appreciate Billy Joel as the honest professional he is, you'll see no value in music this insipid, this devoid of even Hallmark card-level emotions.

--Steve Pick



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