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  Listen Up! 12/27/02 Listen Up!

Friday, Dec. 27

Soft Boys, “Nextdoorland,” Matador Records. It’s interesting to note that for years after the Soft Boys originally broke up, three of the four members continued to work together as Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. It’s Kimberley Rew who makes all the difference. The man’s guitar playing is amazing, and I think his talents push Hitchcock to write and play and even sing better himself. I find myself enjoying these songs more than most of Hitchcock’s solo records, and probably more than at least half the original Soft Boys releases. A band of veteran musicians with a lot of history, and something to prove.

Fred Neil, “Bleecker & Macougal,” Elektra Records. For years, I’ve read of the legendary Fred Neil, supposedly the greatest singer/songwriter of the 60s Greenwich Village folk scene. Now, I’m hearing him. He doesn’t even come close to living up to the legend. This is some unpalatable crap. He sings so portentiously, even on songs which sound pretty jaunty. And the musicianship is minimal. Maybe the songs are better in other people’s hands, but this is no big deal.

The Datsuns, “The Datsuns,” V2Music. Talk about cleansing the palate! This is rock’n’roll, nasty, mostly stolen guitar and organ riffs from the 70s, with a propulsive and swinging hard rock rhythm section. The vocalist is the weakest link, and I don’t even mind him much as he tries to conjure a punk spirit to these 70s revivalists. Start your day off right with this record.

The Greenhornes, “Dual Mono,” Telstar Records. Context is everything, you know. After the Datsuns, this pretty good 60s rockin’ garage combo sounds tame. Of course, it could be that their songs are less hookish, or that their rhythm section is calmer and more straight-forward. Still, these guys accurately recreate the sound and style of music that could conceivably have been made when their parents were born (or at least were very young).

Houston Person, “Sentimental Journey,” HighNote Records. Talk about a franchise you can count on. Person has been laying down the mainstream jazz for a lot of years. His chops aren’t as great as those of a lot of other saxophonists, but his heart is big, his enthusiasm infectious, and his records consistently good.

--Steve Pick



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