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Music Reviews

Randy's Buttons

August 20, 1997

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

CamusCamus, Sins of the Father (Atlantic 1997) - Sins of the Father is the debut release from Camus, a New Orleans-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. Taking a cue from Daniel Ash (of Love & Rockets fame), Camus sports a moody, carnival-like vision with traces of Goth and psychodelia.

Camus writes to get things off his chest. As he says (partly tongue-in-cheek), "I wrote it all down in songs so I wouldn't have to do my phone interviews from jail."

Which is not to say that Sins of the Father is all dark. Just that it has its challenging moments. In recording Sins of the Father, Camus drew on the roots music he encountered while playing in Austin, Texas, as well as the rock influences he gained while playing guitar for various New Orleans bands.

Continues Camus, "This album became my revenge against everything that had been frustrating me. There was a total defiance to what I was doing...I loved working within the limits of the guitar and some simple drum loops. In a fully rigged studio, you can get overly involved with technical nonsense...I wanted to keep Sins of the Father on a more visceral level."

With Sins of the Father, Camus takes some of the Doors' edginess and mixes in a post-industrial sense of alienation. Thus, tracks like "City of Love" and "Runaway" are as much cries of anguish as testaments to survival. But it all holds together, with Camus' solid hand at the mixing board.

Sins of the Father is a sonic delight; though smooth going down, the jagged edges may give you a little heartburn. And that's the whole point.

SpeedSoundtrack to Speed II: Cruise Control (Virgin 1997) - One of this summer's blockbusters is Speed II, starring Jason Patric, Sandra Bullock, and Willem DeFoe. Happily, the soundtrack captures the movie's Carribbean feel.

If you thought the original "Speed" was "Die Hard on a Bus," then you'll be convinced that Cruise Control is "Die Hard on a Boat." The plot is simple - lovely Sandra Bullock and her boyfriend, LA cop Jason Patric, are on a cruise in the Carribbean. Then nasty Willem DeFoe, who is mad at his former employer, kills the captain and takes the ship hostage. The rest is all action.

A soundtrack should bring back memories of the film, and Cruise Control passes this crucial test. The album includes "Tell Me It Is True," the first new song in two years from pop/reggae superstars UB40, "Make Tonight Beautiful" by Tamia (a protege of Quincy Jones), and Leah Andreone's "I Feel the Earth Move" (a cover of the Carole King hit).

Also included is Maxi Priest's reggae-tinged cover of "The Tide is High," and the "Speed TK Re-Mix," which is starting to get airplay and which made front page news in Japan.

All told, Cruise Control has an island flavor that will make you want to reach for the sun tan lotion and beach towels. Just make sure Mr. DeFoe isn't on your manifest.

Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland (MCA 1968/1997) - A legend in his own time, Jimi Hendrix' flame burned brighter than most. With this re-issue of his monumental double LP, Electric Ladyland, his star shines on.

Despite his brief recording career (only 4 years), Hendrix was hugely prolific. Says John McDermott, a respected Hendrix' historian who worked on this project, "We literally found 200 tapes. I found them in different studios; some of them I had to buy back from collectors. Some were in the oddest places. The master tapes (for Band of Gypsies) were misfiled; they were in a box that said, `do not use'".

Electric Ladyland stands as a classic of guitar rock and psychodelia. Even more, the tremendous guitar pyrotechnics were almost pure Jimi; according to engineer Eddie Kramer, "We didn't have a lot of effects back then. We had pye compression, EQ reverb and tape delay. And that was it. But we made the most of what we had."

This set marks the third Hendrix issue on CD; though there is some debate among insiders, the sound quality is superior, as you can even hear "Jimi turning the page on the lyric sheet," according to engineer Kramer.

Adds Kramer, "You can bet your bottom dollar that there's going to be some very interesting stuff coming out, stuff that's never seen the light of day, not even on bootlegs. Quite Frankly, if it's good, it'll see the light of day; if it's crap, it won't."

In addition to spiffed-up recordings of such classics as "Crosstown Traffic," "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" and "All Along the Watchtower" (the Dylan tune), the new issue also includes Jimi's handwritten directions for the preparation of the album cover, written on hotel stationery from Denver and Salt Lake City. These notes are so detailed that they even include Jimi's return address for the photos used in the original album.

If nothing else, the 75 minutes of Electric Ladyland shows just how bloated most modern recordings have become; back in the 60's, a recording of this length was released only if it had special merit. Now they have become commonplace (much to the detriment of the industry). For the real stuff, get Electric Ladyland.

-- Randy Krbechek

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