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  Listen Up! 7/26/02 Listen Up!

Friday, July 26

Elmo Hope Sextet and Trio, “Homecoming!,” Riverside Records (OJC). It’s 1961, and Elmo Hope has augmented his brilliant trio (with Percy Heath on bass and the always loveable Philly Joe Jones on drums) with a masterful horn section (Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Jimmy Heath and Frank Foster on tenor saxes). The four cuts by this conglomeration are delightful, punchy, tightly arranged, with exploratory solos that never lose their way from the melodic direction of the songs. The five cuts with just the trio merely give us more opportunity to hear Hope. That means everything here is terrific.

AC/DC, “Back in Black,” Atlantic Records. All AC/DC records are equal, some are more equal than others. This one, along with “Highway to Hell,” is the most equal of them all. Slashing guitar riffs, piledriving drum beats, and screeching hookish vocals, with every last song being absolutely perfect. The band could come out and do this whole album live still, and nobody would be disappointed.

Stevie RayVaughan and Double Trouble, “Texas Flood,” Epic Records. I don’t know how to put my finger on my dislike for Stevie Ray Vaughan. He did have a great guitar tone, even if it was strongly derived from Hendrix. He had really good songs, both originals and covers. But, he just had a piss-poor rhythmic sense, which always makes his music sound sloppy to me. His beats waver, sliding back and forth from the foundation of his metronomic (albeit unimaginative) rhythm section. This album, which is as familiar to me as anything to have been released in the last 20 years thanks to times I spent hearing it working in record stores, is probably his best work. It still leaves me cold, wondering how he ever built such a rabid following when his brother has always been ten times more imaginative and vital.

The Breeders, “Title TK,” Elektra Records. You remember how the Breeders used to be just kind of boring? Now they’re painfully awful. They sound like they wrote all these songs on heroin, then tried to play them with as much memory as possible of how they felt at the moment of conception. Really, this is dreadful, incompetent, tuneless shit. Did I mention I didn’t like this?

--Steve Pick



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