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  Listen Up! 11/15/02 Listen Up!

Friday, Nov. 15

Jorge Ben, “Brazilian Hits & Funky Classics,” Manteca World Music. Ben is the party master of Brazilian pop, the guy who never gets bogged down in tender, breathy sentiments (no matter how pretty they may be) or overt nods to sophistication. Everything is aimed at getting those hips moving, and if it makes you feel like throwing off your clothes, so much the better. I’ve loved this guy ever since I heard his masterpiece, “Ponta De Lanca (Umbabarauma)” the first cut on David Byrne’s “Brazil Classics Vol. 1” compilation. Nothing here is quite as perfect as that one, but it will get the party started well enough.

Kool & the Gang, “Love & Understanding,” Mercury Records. Thick, buzzing synthesizers, slabbing bass lines, funk that covers the body in sweat. I’m surprised at how many of these songs sound so familiar to me. I didn’t realize they were all on one album.

Pearl Jam, “Riot Act,” Epic Records. I heard some of this in between running in and out of meetings and up and down the stairs. The first couple of songs had great rock grooves jumping out of the speakers. Other songs got bogged down with the desire to sound important. Speaking of which, the packaging is fancy and creative, but seems guaranteed to start deteriorating pretty quickly once you put it on the shelf with your other CDs. These guys want their albums to be different, but they’ll all end up the same, scuffed and marred in ways that the other CDs, in their jewel boxes, won’t be.

--Steve Pick



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