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  Listen Up! 11/25/03 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Various Artists, “Ho Ho Ho Spice,” Folunteer Records. This collection of 80s indie legends performing pretty much all original Christmas songs is a benefit put together for the Saint Barnabas Hospice and Palliative Care Center in Milburn, NJ. Actually, there’s not all exactly legends (nor are every single one of them from the 80s), but the likes of Chris Stamey & the dB’s, NRBQ, Graham Parker, Flat Due Jets, Better Than Ezra, Brave Combo, and 5 Chinese Brothers contribute to the project. All the best songs are ones I’ve heard before, but then again, it’s entirely possible you don’t own Stamey’s “Christmas Time,” one of the finest holiday songs of the last two decades. (Wait, I spoke too soon. I’m very much amused by the Buttles “Joy to the World” which delivers the song in the style of the early Beatles, complete with harmonica.) Find out more by writing VolRecords@aol.com. We don’t have this in stock, but they’ll point you in the right direction. The cause is good, and the music is festive.

Pink, “Try This,” Arista Records. Third album in a row that shows major artistic growth. I’m not normally expecting such a thing, but I can’t argue with a trend that shows the number of great songs increasing every time. The first single, “Trouble” is at least as good an anthem as “HeyYa” by Outkast, an appropriate comparison considering the rock/hip hop/dance music nexus both are straddling. But, Pink stays right there for the balance of the album, with snarling guitars riding pumping beats and leaving room for huge melodic hooks in the vocals. My one complaint, as a radio programmer with no access to a clean version of the album, is the frequent use of words they won’t let me play on the air. Because these songs are so energetic and fun that I want to share them with people.

--Steve Pick

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