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  Listen Up! 5/14/03 Listen Up!

Wednesday, May 14

Culture, “Live in Africa,” RAS Records. The amazing vocals of Joseph Hill are always welcome. This CD has many classic songs, too. I quibble about the band, which isn’t as solid as some I’ve heard before, but I’m having some fun with this album.

Turbonegro, “Apocalypse Dudes,” Blitzcore Records. How many times can you really spin the Stooges first three albums – “The Stooges,” “Fun House,” “Raw Power” – before you move on to something else? And I’m not talking about the Dead Boys. I’m talking about any music that doesn’t simply pound away at the basics of the Stooges sound, especially the raucous guitars and the incantatory vocals. You know, the Stooges themselves had no role models that sounded anything like them. They listened to jazz and rock’n’roll and blues and soul and they couldn’t express themselves any other way. Turbonegro listens to nothing but the Stooges, and maybe the Dead Boys. Turbonegro is exceedingly dull, no matter how hard they rock. There’s no life to this music, no personality, just an empty homage to something that was great, but was never meant to be the last word in musical style.

Rolling Stones, “Flowers,” Abkco Records. As far as I’m concerned, the reissues of Stones records last year all sound great. “Flowers” is an album that finds the band trying to decide just how baroque they should get. At a time when experimentation was the norm in rock-based pop, the Stones dropped most of (but not all of) their blues roots, and rode off in a variety of prettier directions, with harpsichord flourishes and “la-la-la’s” here and there. Of course, they couldn’t help being raunchy. This is the album with “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” after all, a cause celebre back in 1966. And, even when singing a fluffy little number like “Take It or Leave It,” Mick Jagger sounds like he’s thinking about sex.

--Steve Pick

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