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  Listen Up! 11/21/02 Listen Up!

Thursday, Nov. 21

Boyz II Men, “Cooleyhighharmony,” Motown Records. Much of this record has dated itself into intolerance. But, you can’t deny the thrills of “Motownphilly,” which propels itself on a hyper-active drum machine, and some thrilling vocal pyrotechnics in harmony. I always preferred the next album, though.

Third Dimension, “Protect Us From What We Want,” Telegram Records. Another band influenced by psychedelic garage rock from the 60s. Sounds pretty good, maybe very good if I get to pay more attention to it.

Talib Kweli, “Quality,” Rawkus Records. This may sound exaggerated, but if Prince was an MC, I bet he’d have made hip hop that sounded something like this. It’s expansive, it’s song-oriented, it’s funky as hell, and it’s not like anybody else’s music. Magnificent.

Paul McCartney, “Back in the U.S. Live 2002,” Capitol Records. There are live albums that transcend, or at the very least complement, the original studio recordings. And there are live albums that have no reason to exist except as a souvenir. This is one of the latter. Nothing is added, nothing subtracted, nothing proved, nothing risked. I do wish I would have popped the big bucks to see McCartney when he was here, because this demonstrates he played a lot of great songs, and he played them well. But that’s all it demonstrates. Strangely enough, it’s a live recording that offers no sense of presence.

--Steve Pick



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