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  Listen Up! 9/10/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Sept. 10

Jurassic 5, “Power in Numbers,” Interscope Records. Leon and Jim Utz tell me this record is expected to be huge, but I’m not sure why. It’s competent, for sure. It’s pleasant, mid-tempo hip hop grooves with slick rapping. It’s also totally and completely incapable of grabbing my attention. I’ll tap my foot and every once in a while remember that I’m listening to something.

The Wallflowers, “Red Leter Days,” Interscope Records. A few years back, the Wallflowers practically owned the radio, and sold millions of records, on the basis of a handful of fiendishly memorable mid-tempo rock/pop songs. Since then, they’ve practically been forgotten, and their older hits remain well-constructed but not particularly important parts of our lives. Now, they’re back with a new album which rocks a little harder, which mines the same melodic territory yet which stretches a bit in the arrangement department, and which could be just as big as the breakthrough was, if radio supports it. I’m not sure what the public’s interest will be in this sort of thing any more, but I find it a damn sight better than Dave Matthews.

The Isley Brothers, “Greatest Hits Volume 1,” T-Neck Records. Compiled back in 1984, when the biggest hits on this collection were less than a decade away from popularity (as opposed to now being more than a quarter century in our collective past), this album still packs a punch of funk power and smooth balladry. Grooves, that’s the secret. The Isleys were masters of putting their instruments to work at generating body movement. They were always equally interested in moving the feet, the hands, the crotch, the heart, and the head. I mean, Ronnie was and is a great vocalist, no question, but he needs to be part of a collective effort to really make music that gets to the whole body like this stuff does. You can buy more comprehensive Isleys collections, and these will be worth your time, but this is a cheap and perfectly listenable album.

Fats Waller and His Rhythm, “A Handful of Keys,” Buddha Records. Live Fats Waller, no holds barred, swinging, jumping, busting out with joy and invention. I expect that’s all you need to know.

--Steve Pick
   

 

 

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