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  Listen Up! 7/12/02 Listen Up!

Friday, July 12

Various Artists, “Celebrate the World!,” Putumayo Records. This is a promo-only sampler from seven of the international music albums Putumayo has released in the last year. It’s one of the best kept secrets that in the last couple years, this label has really started to put out some lovely albums. I’m very high on Oliver Mtudkudzi, and Habib Koite makes some stunning music, as well. They do prefer music that’s somewhat gentle, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any bite to it at all. This is a nice way to start the day.

Joshua Redman, “Timeless Tales (For Changing Times),” Warner Bros. Records. I wish I could have heard this better, but half the album was playing during a meeting, and the other half was playing while the whole office was talking. I did like Redman’s intriguing soprano sax modal take on “Eleanor Rigby” followed by his sweet r’n’b alto version of Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore.” Redman is a major talent, and I’m sure this record is at least as interesting as all his others.

The Kinks, “BBC Sessions 1964- 1977,” BBC Music. This came out a few years ago. It’s as fabulous as you think it is. All live in studio recordings from one of the finest bands ever in their prime, doing their best songs as well as some obscurities, flying without the cover of studio musician guest stars or multi-tracking. The Kinks achieved a glory, whether in the unsubtle pounding of their earliest hits, or in the spectacular melodic development of everything that came after the very beginning, that shines beautifully on this two-CD set.

I think it’s Various Artists, “Ropeladder 12,” Mush Records. I’m puzzled trying to put together the song titles (and possibly artists) on the back cover with what’s going on on the disc. For instance, I swear I heard a hip-hop version of a Sun Ra song, but I can’t find the listing for it. And then there was this Last Poets style rant that sounded extra tired for the line about how white women are having their mid-life crises by chasing black men. This is underground avant-garde hip-hop, and it’s as much a mess as anything you could imagine that would fit such a category. But, it has its moments of interest, even if I can’t figure out what’s what.

Sly & the Family Stone, “Greatest Hits,” Epic Records. There are arists with “Greatest Hits” collections that don’t make for all that enjoyable a listening experience, and there are those that simply stun you song after song, no matter how many times over your whole damn life you’ve been hearing them. This album actually came out before Sly got darker (while still great: “There’s A Riot Going On” was in his future). That means it’s not only brilliant music, it’s infectiously, stunningly joyous music. If you can’t feel glad to be alive listening to these songs, you probably can’t find anything that will ever make you happy.

--Steve Pick



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