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  Listen Up! 7/11/03 Listen Up!

Friday, July 11

The Zombies, “Begin Here,” Big Beat Records. This reissue of the very first album by the Zombies gives us a sense of their musical expansiveness. They cover all the usual suspects of the time in England – “Road Runner” by Junior Walker, “Summertime” by Gerswhin,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” by the Miracles – but they do bring their own take to the party, usually by bending the chords a little bit, adding extra tension to the familiar songs. And, of course, there’s “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” two perfect slices of pop perfection, where the chords are already padded with little dissonances. This is way better than your average British invasion LP with a couple of hits and a lot of padding. Part of it is the exquisite vocals, too.

Akrobatik, “Balance,” Coup d’Etat. Sometimes I go through periods when I’m just bored with hip-hop. Then I’ll hear something that blows my mind, and reminds me of why the genre is so exciting. Today, however, I’m still bored. There’s nothing wrong with this record, except the beats are all mid-tempo, and the raps flow without hitting any waves. It’s pleasant underground hip-hop, with no commercial aspirations. Maybe what I really get bored with is the anti-commercialism of the intellectual hip-hop purveyors. Why can’t I get giant hooks and consciousness at the same time?

--Steve Pick


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