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  Listen Up! 7/9/03 Listen Up!

Wednesday, July 9

Thicke, “A Beautiful World,” Interscope Records. Start with “When I Get You Alone,” in which young Mr. Thicke (whose publishing company, by the way, is I Like ‘Em Thicke) writes new harmonies and follows the basic melody to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony as interpreted by Walter Murphy. It’s cheeky as hell, and a lot of fun, to boot. “A Fifth of Beethoven” seemed slovenly, just taking the original and speeding it up and adding drums and bass. But, by taking “A Fifth of Beethoven” and singing a new pop tune over it, we realize how much Beethoven and the Backstreet Boys have in common. (Not that either one doesn’t have a few qualities the other lacks.) Moving on to other songs, we note a lot of Stevie Wonder influence, though he’s not exactly the closest thing to Stevie we’re ever likely to hear, despite Rolling Stone’s rave of that nature. “Oh Shooter” is a slow burner; “Flex” is a sultry rocker. Some songs fall flat on their faces, which is just proof that most pop stars shouldn’t be required to do 14-song albums any more. I hear several singles on this fine groove-filled record, and when he breaks loose and finds his own voice, Thicke’s obvious imagination will serve him very well indeed.

The Ed Bickert Trio & special guest Dave McKenna, “Third Floor Richard,” Concord Jazz. Lew is very excited about this record, but I’m just thinking it’s pleasant background music. Bickert is a solid jazz guitarist in the 50s pedigree, the kind of guy who throws in lots of thick chords when he wants to make a point. The record swings, but doesn’t take me anywhere.

--Steve Pick

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