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  Listen Up! 7/18/03 Listen Up!

Friday, July 18

Candy Dulfer, “Right In My Soul,” Eagle Records. I have to admit, I was entranced by the package. The CD is contained in one of those flip packages that always look cool (as opposed to the more familiar jewel cases, which do look better on shelves), and the cover has this raised embossed lettering that’s really faint over a nice sultry shot of Ms. Dulfer holding her sax. The whole thing feels really good in my hand, and I want to run my fingers over those letters on a regular basis. I could easily be flippant, and say the music isn’t anywhere near as interesting as the cover, because it really isn’t. But, Dulfer presents a problem, because I recognize her talent, and there are infrequent intimations of what could have been on this album. Her last album, a series of duets with her father (whose name, I think, is Hans, but I haven’t heard it in a long time, so I can’t remember), was a blast, with saxophone frenzies being stirred by crazy-ass electronic dance beats. This one is more of the traditional bedroom jazz she’s done earlier in her career. Dulfer has stood toe to toe with Maceo Parker, and has provided counterpoint to Van Morrison. She doesn’t need to do these clichéd lite jazz tunes, though even I can recognize she does them a damn sight more intense than any of those well-dressed guys on Warner Brothers labels who don’t look they want to even get mussed up when they climb into bed. Music for sex background is a highly idiosyncratic and personal choice, I realize, but my number one rule in bed is to avoid going through the motions, and too much of this sort of thing comes awfully close to that. At least Dulfer recognizes that touch is important.

Digital Underground, “Playwutchalike: The Best of Digital Underground,” Tommy Boy/Rhino Records. I saw Digital Underground play live back in the early 90s, and the only musical party atmosphere I can remember that was any more overwhelmingly fun was seeing Parliament/Funkadelic in 1976. Which makes a lot of sense, considering that Digital Underground were clearly intending to be the hip-hop version of P-Funk from the git-go. To my ears, the genius of D.U. came from the fact that the rappers – primarily Shock-G (aka Humpty Hump), Chopmaster J, Kenny K, and Earl “Schmoov” Cook, and the fact I had to dig deep in the liner notes to pull out the names reveals just how entrenched in the collective these individuals were – were interacting with the music in ways all too rare in hip-hop. Not that brilliance hasn’t been achieved over and over again by the non-alignment pact of MC and DJ which results in raps being matched to beats almost at random, but that the other road, of musicians listening to and reacting to each others parts, though less traveled, has a lot of room on which to dance. These guys were hilarious, too, though when they took their minds off sex – and even then they always made sure to stress avoiding STDs – they made plenty of serious social comments. This album collects all the best material off their debut “Sex Packets,” with some cuts stretched out into the better remix versions, and the more interesting songs from their later, lesser albums. (Why did that party run out of gas so quickly? I really don’t know.) There’s not much reason to listen to the song “Sex Packets” more than once a decade, but everything else is essential.

--Steve Pick

For more columns by Steve Pick click here



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