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  Listen Up! 12/3/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Dec. 3

Various Artists, “From Clarksdale to Heaven: Remembering John Lee Hooker,” Eagle Records. Well, obviously you could put together a much more interesting tribute to Hooker if you worked the six degrees rolodex a little harder, but there are some amazing cuts included among the mostly average filler. Peter Green snaps some nifty acoustic guitar fills on “Crawlin’ King Snake.” Gary Moore burns up the fretboard on “I’m In the Mood.” Most especially, Jeff Beck is triumphant on “Hobo Blues.” This is the cut that will decide whether you want the CD or not; it’s Beck delivering the soul and passion that he found in the blues when he first started playing, with all the technical mastery he’s developed over his lifetime. As a bonus, there’s a cool cut of John Lee Hooker himself teaching Booker T and Randy California to play a version of “Red House” for a Jimi Hendrix tribute that never appeared.

Scarface, “Greatest Hits,” Rap-A-Lot Records. Leon was all excited to learn that Scarface started his career imitating Ice Cube. Interestingly enough, I thought that was the best stuff on here. Not that the rest of it is unlistenable. My head nods pleasantly along to the drowsy beats, but I sure don’t seem concerned that he’s got anything to say.

The Hellacopters, “High Visibility,” Gearhead Records. Not to be confused with the brilliant Hellecasters, this three-piece rock band fuses the speed demon catchiness of Eddie and the Hot Rods with the much more standard 70s rock stylings of, I don’t know, Foghat? The record rocks along at a comfortable clip, with songs flying by so fast you barely notice how derivative they are because you’re tapping your foot to hard.

Mummydogs, “Mummydogs,” Frontier Records. Guy Kyser used to front Thin White Rope, and now he fronts this Thin White Rope tribute band. I say that because there are two vocalists, and though his gravel-throat gets the lion share of the songs, there’s also a woman, presumably his wife Johanna, who sings a lot. She sounds alright, especially as a contrast to him. Songwise, the material isn’t as immediately memorable as the classic TWR (come to think of it, neither was the stuff on the last couple albums of the group), though he does an incredible take on Johnny Thunders’ heart-rending “Ask Me No Questions.” But, the thick guitar sound is still there, and the ball-busting rhythm section that knows its role is to hold down the fort is perfect.

--Steve Pick



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