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Erratic Talent (9/21/2001) Write to CD Shakedown
Legally BlondeSoundtrack to Legally Blonde (A&M Records 2001) - Legally Blonde is the new comedy starring the very blonde Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods. When sorority president Elle gets dumped by her boyfriend, who has been admitted to Harvard Law School, Elle is determined not to give him up, and also earns admission to HLS.

Samantha MumbaLegally Blonde is a fun movie, with an optimistic outlook. And the soundtrack matches the film. The soundtrack (and the film) begin with Hoku's long-awaited single, the bouncy "Perfect Day." Girl power continues with songs by Lisa Loeb ("We Could Still Belong Together"), Mya ("Sex Machine"), and hit-maker Samantha Mumba ("Don't You Need to Tell Me I'm Pretty").

Also appearing are Black-Eyed Peas (with "Magic," sampling from The Police), Superchic[k] on "One Girl Revolution" and Joanna Pacitti on "Watch Me Shine."

All told, Legally Blonde is a feminine soundtrack that matches the feminine mindset of the film. Have fun with Legally Blonde.

Heather EatmanHeather Eatman, Real (Eminent 2001) - Heather Eatman is a New York City-based singer with an arch songwriting style and a bit of rock n' roll larceny in her heart.

Real is Eatman's third album, following Mascara Falls (released in 1995 on John Prine's Oh Boy Records) and Candy & Dirt (self-released in 1999). Eatman wrote all of the songs, except for a cover of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful."

Heather Eatman
Eatman has been described as "a guitar-slinging spikey-haired New York City transplant from Jacksonville, Texas with a wispy, smokey voice and a serious talent for writing compelling songs." That seems to hit the nail on the head: Eatman reminds me of Brenda Kahn and Laurie Anderson, both skilled songwriters with alternative sensibilities.

Heather Eatman
Eatman provides vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, optigon, and vibes, and is joined by an ace trio from Nashville: James Haggerty on bass, Marc Pisapia on drums, and Joe Pisapia on electric guitar. Also appearing are producer Roger Moutenot on organ, shaker, and e-bow, Dave Henry on cello, Lee Feldman on piano, Pat Sansome on wurlitzer, and songwriting companion Bruce Brody (ex-Lone Justice) on keyboards.

Heather Eatman
Real is an organic collection. Listen for the pop guitar treat of "Train" (explains Eatman, "This is one of a couple of bluesy things on the disk. It's got this funky Keith Richards rhythm guitar part that's the backbone to it, and I'm the one who gets to play Keith - how fun is that?") and the serious groove of "Phone Call" (explains Eatman, "Sly and the Family Stone got nothing on this baby! . . . I had a few drinks before I sang the final vocal, and that helped quite a bit").

Eatman also has a day gig at the New York Daily News as a graphic artist. If Booker T. and the MG's were still making music, they'd sound like the band on Real. That's a cooking tribute, and one that's deserved.

Graham Parker
Graham Parker, Ultimate Collection (Hip-O 2001) - Graham Parker, a talented rocker whose career has been either derailed or enhanced (depending on your view) by his temperament, is treated to a 20-song overview on Ultimate Collection. Gathering tracks recorded for Stiff Records, Mercury, Arista, RCA, and Razor & Tie, Ultimate Collection shows Parker to be more than an angry young man.

Which is the reputation that
Parker developed in the mid-70's as he, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson turned away from the softer mod influences of British pop and headed toward 3-1/2 minute rockers. Recalls Parker, the songs "had an unthematic apocalyptic feel that was tough and hard and somehow developed an extremely aggressive stance which was a reaction against the progressive music scene. It was rebellious youth, how society was controlling us, and the other hippie themes - but rocking hard while doing it."

Graham Parker
Parker was born in 1950, and absorbed influences by Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. Says Parker, "I picked upon Dylan in the early 70's, and discovered Van Morrison, who was a great influence because I realized the great stuff he got from soul music - and that he did original things." When Parker met with Nick Lowe and Dave Robinson, soon to be the founder of the legendary English new wave label, Stiff Records, he was on his way.

Graham Parker and Bob DylanParker teamed with producer Nick Lowe for his first album,
Howlin' Wind, which provides four of the tracks on Ultimate Collection, including "Don't Ask Me Questions." For his next effort, Heat Treatment, Parker worked with producer Robert John Lange (later producer to AC/DC and Shania Twain), yielding the burning "Fools' Gold."

Also included is another Lange effort, "Hold Back the Night," from
The Pink Panther, which yields to the angry "Mercury Poisoning," written to express Parker's bad feelings about his then-label. Says Parker, "To me, it is not one of my great songs - but unfortunately, I'm best known in America for it. It's angry and jokey at the same time, with no emotional depth to it. But it's stuck on my career resumé forever."

Graham ParkerNewly-signed to Arista Records,
Parker cut Squeezing Out Sparks in 11 days. Says Parker, "Suddenly I realized it was the greatest record I'll ever make. And even though I've made records I enjoy more - fast forward to 12 Haunted Episodes - I think it's my greatest recorded work." Four tracks are featured from Squeezing Out Sparks, including "Passion is No Ordinary Word" (produced by Jack Nitzsche).

As the 80's ended,
Parker worked back to a more organic groove, as exemplified by his 1988 RCA release, The Mona Lisa's Sister, represented by the stripped-down, "Get Started, Start a Fire." Ultimate Collection concludes with the ironic "Disney's America," from 12 Haunted Episodes. Explains Parker, "It's one of the greatest songs I have ever written. It is based on an actual event where they wanted to build a Disney America on an ancient Civil War battlefield. But it is a long song to a woman, too, as well as the State of Virginia."

Ultimate Collection is a first-rate set from Parker. Enjoy this erratic talent.

- Randy Krbechek © 2001

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