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  Listen Up! 12/11/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Dec. 11

Missy Elliott, “Under Constructiion,” Elektra Records (among other labels in the small print). You’ve heard the single if you’ve listened to hit radio at all. It’s magnificent, a playful little number about the joys of sex. The album is steeped in old school hip-hop and a modern sense of fun. Elliott’s rhythm tracks (provided by her and Timbaland, I believe) are magnificent, stuttering beats that slide all over the place. These are matched by her nice singing voice and her tremendous rapping voice, not to mention the occasional guest appearance by the likes of Method Man, Ludacris, Jay-Z, and Beyonce Knowles.

Cyndi Lauper, “Shine,” Oglio Records. Five songs culled from an album as yet unreleased, this is a reminder that Lauper is a major talent with not enough chances to show it. It also reveals some of her faults, such as making lyrics as well-intentioned as those of “Madonna Whore” into a lecture that fails to convince half as well as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” did that women are more than ideas. Oh, well, give me the punkish “It’s Hard to Be Me” and the delicate “Water’s Edge,” and I’m happy as a clam.

Various Artists, “Electric Jazz Volume.01,”Globe Records. Well, I’m a sucker for a good groove, and this stuff definitely has that. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, mostly Latin-based jazz swung onto loops that mutate slowly over time. I do wish there was something else to hold onto. No melody, no hooks, just beats and atmosphere. It’s pleasant, but insubstantial, and I can’t imagine playing all 25 cuts of both CDs in a row. There’s no sense of personality in this music; it’s functional, but not idiosyncratic at all.

--Steve Pick



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