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  Listen Up! 10/23/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Oct. 23

Television, “Poor Circulation,” Punk Vault. File this under “You’ll only want to hear it once.” But you will want to hear it if you’re a fan of Television, or even someone interested in the history of punk rock. Television made a brilliant debut album, “Marquee Moon,” which came out in 1977. This CD collects rehearsal tapes and live recordings from 1974, the year they became the first rock band to play at CBGB’s. While “Marquee Moon” reveals a set of virtuoso musicians with some of the most stunning songs in rock history, this CD reveals a group of amateurs with a lot of heart and a few ideas. In other words, you can really see their connection to punk rock a lot better with this stuff. Some of it is virtually unlistenable save for the fact you know how much better they would get later. It’s like looking at Picasso’s doodles from his teenage years.

El Da Sensei, “Relax Relate Release,” 7H Records. I recognize the value of variation, the gains that are made by having somebody come along who doesn’t sound like everybody else in the rap game. I appreciate his rhythmic versatility, and can hear the creativity applied to the grooves. I just can’t make myself care about this record. It’s like he’s looking for a new vocabulary, or a personal way of expressing himself, and he’s kind of finding it, but he’s not doing anything with it. The forms change, but the point doesn’t. Maybe this is too ethereal for me. I don’t know. Maybe I just need to hear it again.

The Greenhornes, “Dual Mono,” Telstar Records. All revivalists are inherently working within restrictions that seem inordinately taxing. To be considered great, you have to find an original voice without losing the familiar elements that define your genre. Get too antsy, and you put the genre behind you. Don’t get antsy enough, and you have absolutely nothing to offer that hasn’t been done to death. The Greenhornes are a very good garage revival band, but I’m not sure they are a great one. This stuff sounds familiar, nasty Yardbirds-derived riffs, overdriven snarling vocals, and powerhouse drumming. It’s got a lot of bite to it, but I doubt I’ll remember it tomorrow. Still, the Hives are standing atop the current generation of garage revivalists.

--Steve Pick



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