Randy Krbechek's Metronews |
April 23, 1997
Laugh Out Slightly
Lavin, Shining My Flashlight on the Moon (Shanachie
1997) - Veteran folk performer Christine Lavin (and a member of the Four
Bitchin' Babes) has weighed in with her ninth album, the sweet
and gentle, Shining My Flashlight on the Moon. Mixing
folk, comedy, and acoustic, the new album shows Lavin to be an accomplished
artist. Previous Article
With her years of performing, Lavin has developed an
extensive following. But, according to her, not an extensive
knowledge of the studio. Shining My Flashlight was recorded in
Lavin's newly-created home studio, where she "made every
engineering mistake you could possibly make -- some so bizarre
that (engineer) Steven Rosenthal put them in a notebook of
But none of those "bonehead moves" appear on Shining My
Flashlight. Instead, Lavin delivers an album that is wistful,
humorous, and compassionate, by alternate turns. Thus, "The
Polka-Dancing Bus Driver" is a touching tale about a man who
returns to his 40th high school anniversary to discover why none
of the girls would dance with him as a youngster (Answer - they
didn't know how).
"The Scent of Your Cologne" was occasioned when Lavin "was
waiting for an elevator on the 73rd floor of the World Trade
Center when the doors opened and the scent of aftershave wafted
through the air - the aftershave that my Dad wore. Instantly,
I was propelled back in time and remembered him more vividly than
I had in years."
The comic "Snackin'" is a humorous ditty about fishes who
have learned how not to get caught; likewise, "If I Ruled the
World" is about all the inventions that Lavin would create to
avoid embarrassment or annoyance.
Where Lavin shines is on songs about the underdog, such as
"Planet X," a song about the planet Pluto and its proponents.
(Evidently, there's a significant dispute in the scientific world
as to whether
Pluto really is a planet.)
Like Al Stewart, Lavin takes ordinary events and uses
sophisticated (and unusual) rhymes to create lengthy but
rewarding songs. (The lyrics are so long that Lavin set up a web
page for them.) Fans of the thoughtful songwriting will enjoy
Shining My Flashlight on the Moon.
Various Artists, Christine
Lavin Presents: Laugh Tracks Volume I (Shanachie
1996) - Laugh Tracks consists of two evenings of comedy
recorded on last summer at the Bottom Line in New York
City. While songwriter and comedian Christine Lavin is billed as the brains
behind Laugh Tracks, she only appears on a few cuts.
Described as "20 Funny Folk Songs," Laugh Tracks was
intended by Lavin as "aural Prozac." Adds Levin, "we're trying
to put the any-depressant drug companies out of business."
Not surprisingly, this is the kind of music that you either
love or hate, as Vance Gilbert performs "Country Western Rap,"
and Patty Larkin "channels" Marlene Dietrich.
The highlight of the set is
"Blow 'em Away,"
a hilarious ditty about a mild-mannered but stressed office
worker who just wants to get home - even if he to use a handgun
to motivate inconsiderate drivers.
A slight gem, Laugh Tracks will tickle your funny bone.
Finnish musician Maria Kalaniemi, master of the five-row and
free-based accordion, has been a leader of her country's folk
music revival for the past decade.
Maria has an extensive background in classical, jazz, pop
and rock (in fact, while she was a student, she transcribed
solos for accordion), so it's not surprising that her
music appeals to a diverse audience.
Maria was formerly an instructor in accordion at her alma
The Sibelius Academy
, but now devotes herself full-time
to composing and recording. Last year she was the first folk
artist to receive the
"Prize of Finland" award for artistic
Maria's first solo release (issued stateside by Green
Linnet) boasted traditional Finnish and Swedish tunes, polkas,
tangos, Balkaan arrangements, and original compositions.
Meaning that Maria has few peers. On Iho, her second solo
album, she energetically takes off from the fertile breeding
ground of Finnish folk and incorporates elements of classical,
jazz, and rock into her own brand of distinctive contemporary
By taking the squeeze box to a more subdued, worldly place
than such U.S. artists as Santiago Jimenez, Maria displays a
haunting talent. Enjoy Iho.
Body Count, Violent Demise (Virgin
1997) - The new album from Body Count will probably sell in big numbers.
Which isn't deserved. Violent Demise managed to offend
even this hardened old hedonist.
When the chorus to one of the songs is "I want my d*ck
sucked," this stuff ain't art. It's everything that rap is
despised for. Virgin should know better.
Wonderland & The Imperial Monkeys, Bursting with Flavor
(Justice 1997) - Houston-based
Carolyn Wonderland has been working as a musician for a decade. Bursting
with Flavor shows that she has solid chops. The album starts
with a great Keith Richards guitar-based intro, but quickly
moves into noisy blues, which is Carolyn's forte. Twelve honest and unpretentious
-- Randy Krbechek
Copyright (c) Randy
David Anand Prasad with Idea Co.