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  Listen Up! 10/18/02 Listen Up!

Friday, Oct. 18

Duke Ellington, “. . .And His Mother Called Him Bill,” Bluebird Records. To call any single Duke Ellington record his best work is an insult to the hundreds of equally brilliant recordings he made. So, I’m not gonna go there, but this is certainly a cut above a lot of his normal excellence. Recorded within a few months of longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn’s death, this is a tribute packed with love, a celebration of a life well lived. Almost every cut is a Strayhorn composition, and the orchestra seems to be floating with the delight of playing these amazing tunes. And, may I say the remastering job is stunning. If the record industry decided to market something positive instead of attacking downloaders, the public just might be more aware of the fact that reissues sound better and better and better.

John Doe, “Dim Stars, Bright Sky,” I Music. Much has been made of John Doe going acoustic for this album, but it’s really not that big a departure from previous solo albums. He sings real purty, and he has some lovely tunes here. My favorite, though, is “This Far,” a duet with Aimee Mann that kinda reminds me of mid-period X, an upbeat anthemic rocker. If you’ve followed him for years, or even if you dropped out somewhere along the way, you’ll be reminded of what you like about the guy with this album.

King Britt Presents, “The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed,” Rope A Dope Records. Take fairly funky bass and drum tracks, mix some weasly synthesizer bits over them, and drop out the drums now and again, and you’ve got something that could fit under any series of establishing shots on a TV crime drama. I’m not sure why that should translate as something you’d want on your stereo system. Of course, sometimes, you get faux Bitches Brew stuff happening, which is a little more interesting. And other songs chatter on the rhythm tracks, or stutter, or bend. A mixed bag of stuff, some of which will drive you crazy in a good way, some in a bad way.

--Steve Pick
   

 

 

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