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  Listen Up! 8/6/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Aug. 6

Prince, “Controversy,” Warner Bros. Records. Some 20 years after this first came out, some of it sounds a little silly – “Ronnie Talk to Russia” especially can’t be anything more than sophomoric politics – but all of it still sounds funky. Prince was one record away from his masterpiece, “1999,” but all the ingredients were there; a fascination with beats, groovy New Wave keyboard sounds, gospel overtones, an immersion in sexual playfulness. Still a damn good record.

Amerie, “All I Have,” Columbia Records. Lushly pretty female vocals layered all over the place against staccato r’n’b beats and just a little bit of interesting harmonic development from keyboards, this is mostly pretty damn forgettable stuff. I mean, all the stuff I just mentioned is good, but the songs just sit there. There are no tunes, no hooks, nothing to make this record matter.

Joshua Redman, “Elastic,” Warner Bros. Records. There are records by Joshua Redman that have really moved me, and there are records by Joshua Redman that mostly just sit there. This one falls in between, with moments of delicious flights of saxophone fancy underpinned by supportive keyboards and propulsive drums alternating with periods of engines idling on all instrumental fronts. I think he’s capable of doing much more than this, and I think he suffers from the belief that he has to deliver a 70-minute album every time out. Give him a producer who can stand up and tell him what he needs to cut, what he needs to re-do, and what he needs to recognize as a gem.

--Steve Pick



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