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Music Reviews

Randy's Buttons

February 25, 1998

Many Thanks, Marc and Cheryl

Meet the CoversMeet the Covers: A Tribute to the Beatles (Hip-O 1997) - Meet the Covers includes 14 interpretations of the Fab Four's most popular songs, recorded by a wide variety of soul, funk, pop, and modern rock stars. Wait a moment: I'll get to the highlight.

The album starts slowly with Earth, Wind & Fire's excruciating version of "Got to Get You Into My Life." Fortunately, other cuts are stronger, including "Let It Be" by Aretha Franklin, "Anytime at All" by Nils Lofgren, and "Come Together" by Ike & Tina Turner.

But the highlight of the disk (and the reason for this review) is Richie Haven's amazing 1971 live version of "Here Comes the Sun." Haven's folk-tinged version (which made it into the top 20) taps right into George Harrison's spirit, and deserves to be heard by a new audience.

Meet the Covers is not earthshattering, but has enjoyable moments.

Class of Country Various Artists, Class of Country: 1975-79 (Hip-O 1997) - Another reissue from Hip-O is Class of Country: 1975-79. What's surprising is much how these so-called "country" songs have a pop feel.

Thus, songs like "Here You Come Again" by Dolly Parton, "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell, and "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed" by Barbara Mandrell sound much more like top 40 numbers than country songs. And why is "Convey" by C. W. McCall considered a country track?

My favorite is "Tulsa Time" by Don Williams (also covered a few years later by Eric Clapton). Class of Country: 1975-79 is a likeable collection, and highlights the inherent difficulty in trying to pigeonhole songs into a particular genre.

PixiesPixies, Death to the Pixies (Elektra 1997) - After a long hiatus, Elektra has begun to tap into its vaults for reissues. Among the first projects is Death to the Pixies, a double-disk collection drawing from the five albums recorded by the Pixies between 1987 and 1991. As reflected on this double-disk set, the Pixies mixed guitar noise with some great songs to help recharge college music.

The first disk features 17 songs spanning the Pixie's recording career, and draws equally from the band's studio albums: Come on Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, Bossanova, and Tromp le Monde. Included are such great rock songs as "Gigantic" and "Wave of Mutilation."

Disk two is a live recording of the Pixies taped at a 1990 Dutch concert, and features the foursome (bassist Kim Deal, drummer David Lovering, guitarist Joey Santiago, and singer/guitarist Black Francis (who now records under the name "Frank Black") in fine form.

Missing from the live album, however, is singer Black's eccentric sense of humor: I've heard other live recordings by in which frontman Black was a real cutup (as well as a fine rocker). In addition, the liner notes by producer Gary Smith of Ft. Apache Studios are of historic interest, but not very helpful. For example, the liner notes give zero information about the live show.

But these quibbles do not detract from the music, which remains essential.

Another new release from Elektra's vaults is Beyond and Back, another double disk set featuring Los Angeles' X (fronted by singer Exene Cervenkova and guitarist/songwriter John Doe). X charged out of the L.A. punk scene in the late 70s, and was energized by such fine guitarists as Tony Gilkyson and Dave Alvin (who later went on to form the Blasters.) Another point of interest - several of X's albums were produced by Ray Manzarek of the Doors.

Elektra has some of the deepest vaults in rock music, and we should expect years of great compilations like these.

ColonyColony, Siren (MCA 1997) - Siren is the debut release from Colony, an earnest quartet hailing from the central plains of Columbia, Missouri. Featuring production help from Ben Mink (best known for his work with k.d. lang), the 12 cuts on Siren have a solid feel.

With images of flight and fancy, the new album is feel-good rock for the late 90's. The band consists of John Stuller on bass guitar, Jon Armstrong on lead guitar and vocals, Matt Hickenbotham on drums and backing vocals, and Ted Bruner on lead vocals and guitar.

Siren is ably-made rock, featuring such radio-friendly cuts as "Breathe." For a friendly blast from the heartlands, go for Colony.

-- Randy Krbechek

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