Jam, Live on Two Legs (Epic 1998) - What happened
to Pearl Jam? Why are they losing credibility? Is the "Seattle rock scene" no longer trendy?
Because Pearl Jam remains the real deal.
Live on Two Legs was recorded during the band's 1988 North American tour, and features 15 tracks
from the band's five studio albums. And there's not a trace of fat on this album: This is a compelling live performance.
Pearl Jam consists of Eddie Vedder (vocals and guitars), Mike McCready
("guitar left"), Stone Gossard ("guitar right"), Matt Cameron
(drums), and Jeff Ament (bass). Simply put, these guys are as good as anybody in the business
to Live on Two Legs. "Here," "Cordouroy," "Given to Fly," "Nothingman."
Rock out with "Daughter" and "MFC." Strong rockers all, with no-holds-barred arrangements.
Pearl Jam is not passé. Kurt
Cobain records two albums, blows his brains out, and is hailed as an anti-hero. Eddie Vedder works his
butt off, makes great records, and can't get a buzz. Go figure.
Thomas King, Red Mud (Blacktop Records 1998) - Versatile musician Chris Thomas King delivers his sixth
album in Red Mud. Featuring an acoustic blues sound drawn from his New Orleans roots, King shows
himself a strong player.
Now age 28, King released his first CD, The
Beginning in 1987. Chris' last release, the self-titled "Chris Thomas King," featured solid
rock/pop songs, and deserved more notice.
Red Mud finds Chris operating in a blues mode. Says King, "I wanted to make the blues temporary,
if not futuristic. Once I started to do that, everything seemed to come together and it just kept growing."
the new album, King provides all guitars, harmonica, percussion, and string samples, with help from drummer Darryl
White on four tracks. In addition, Chris' father, Tabby Thomas (who enjoyed local chart
success in the 1960's, and who owns a Baton Rouge Blues Club, "Tabby's Blues Box"), provides vocals and
guitar work on two songs, "Bus Station Blues," and "Woo Doo Party."
Most of Red Mud is steeped in traditional blues, with covers of two Robert Johnson songs,
"Come on In My Kitchen" and "Rambling on My Mind." I like Chris better when he works with a
pop feel, on songs like the concluding, "Raining Angels." Chris Thomas is a talented and self-assured
musician and studio hand. Take a chance with Red Mud.
Blender (MCA Records 1998) - Returning with their
sophomore effort are the Murmurs. Featuring clean pop
arrangements (with production by k.d. lang), Blender is an accessible release.
The Murmurs are Heather Grody
and Leisha Hailey. The pair have been friends for a decade, and provide all the vocals. Other
musicians on Blender include Gregg Arreguin and Ben Mink on
guitar, Matthew Wilder on keyboards, Michael Elizondo and Sheri Ozeki
on bass, and Sherri Solinger and Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums.
Despite the presence of three producers (k.d. lang on six songs, Larry Klein
on two tracks, and Matthew Wilder on four tracks), the new album retains a coherent pop feel.
radio-friendly songs as "La Di Da" and "Smash" (co-written with Charlotte Caffey
and Jane Weidlin, from the Go Gos), the disk has a smooth, up tempo sound. Adds
Heather, "We wanted to sound bigger, but not overproduced. Big enough to be big, but still be able
to play it on stage."
With their polished sound, the Murmurs
should enjoy radio success. Listen for Blender.
- Randy Krbechek © 1999
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