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  Listen Up! 6/4/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, June 4

Parliament, “The Best of Parliament: Give Up the Funk,” Casablanca Records. “There’s a whole lot of rhythm goin’ round,” they say in “give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker).” And, yep, there is. Everything is keyed to the groove, to building through repetition little symphonies of gyrating bodies. Parliament made so many great records in the 70s, and fourteen of their absolutely greatest cuts are thrown together right here. The party has to start with an album like this.

David Bowie, “Heathen,” Columbia Records. Bowie comes back with a nice crooning record that sounds like a keeper. He covers the Pixies and Neil Young (both recognized by folks in the office, not me; I even know I’ve heard the Neil Young song before, but couldn’t quite place it), and ropes in Pete Townshend to play some cool lead guitar on one song. Mostly, though, it’s good, solid late period Bowie melodies, presented with respect for his solid vocal gymnastics, and with nicely driving rhythmic backing, mostly provided by Bowie on a variety of instruments. There’s no Reeves Gabriels guitar craziness this time around, which is also a good thing. This album will be worth hearing a few times.

The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Vs. The Pink Robots,” Warner Bros. Records. I actually kinda liked the last Flaming Lips album, which tried to be some sort of indie rock version of “Smile,” only with horrendous vocals. This time around, they fix the vocals in the studio so they’re relatively close to the right pitch most of the time, but the songs aren’t as interesting. Oh, I can live with the fact that none of their lyrics ever make sense; songs aren’t about lyrics, as far as I’m concerned. But, the constant experimentation (though never with any real goal of musical advancement) wears thin without strong melodic grounding, or harmonic development, or some sense of purpose.

--Steve Pick



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