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Music Reviews

Randy's Buttons

November 17, 1993

No Glitter

Belinda CarlisleBelinda Carlisle, Real (Virgin 1993) -- On the fifth solo album from this former member of the groundbreaking Go-Go's, Ms. Carlisle shows that her musical sensibilities have only matured with age. Teaming up with former bandmate Charlotte Caffey and producer Ralph Schuckett (who produced the debut release from neo-torcher Sophie B. Hawkins), Real is a gritty performance draped in a nighttime, synthesized dance sound.

The album has several excellent and catchy cuts, including "Where Love Hides," and "Too Much Water," which portrays what Belinda describes as "the dark side of relationships. Love is not perfect." Unlike the recent collection from ex-Go-Go Jane Wiedlin (whose greatest hit collection, From Cool Places to Worlds on Fire, is highly forgettable), Belinda has a lively, organic sound that blends elements of punk, pop, and (egad!) disco.

Belinda may not be the deepest songwriter in the world, but she delivers her tunes with conviction, and puts real meaning into her songs of love, life, and heartache. In fact, Realis one of the best albums addressing a woman's perspective on relationships since Aimee Mann of 'Til Tuesday released the stellar Everything's Different Now. Don't write Real off as standard pop fodder -- Ms. Carlisle's style is both silky and gutsy, and her new disc deserves attention.

Common ThreadVarious Artists, Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles (Giant 1993) -- Common Thread is a collection of songs originally penned by The Eagles and performed anew by several of today's hottest country acts, including Travis Tritt, Suzy Bogguss, and Brooks & Dunn.

Recorded in Nashville with the assistance of Don Henley, the 13 tracks include remakes of "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Heartache Tonight," and "Lyin' Eyes." Don't be misled into thinking this album is the second coming of the Eagles, as Common Thread is mainly a country sampler: if you want the Eagles, get the fine Glenn Frey Live album (released earlier this year on MCA).

A portion of the royalties from this album will benefit the Walden Woods Project, which was founded by Don Henley in 1990 to preserve the forestland located near Henry David Thoreau's famed retreat at Walden Pond. Some consider this area as the birthplace of the modern conservation movement, and it is visited each year by more than half a million people from around the globe.

Although the Walden Woods cause is worthy, there are reports of long faces in Nashville, where certain executives were induced to lend the talents of their artists to this album by inaccurate statements that 100% of the profits would be donated to this conservation group.

The two highlights on the disc are Vince Gill's falsetto version of "I Can't Tell You Why," which plumbs the sublime depths of the original version, and Trisha Yearwood's terrific reading of "New Kid in Town." Trisha has one of the strongest female voices in Nashville today (if not the strongest), and her recording contains what some other tracks lack -- heart and soul, rather than a standard club cover version.

The performances on Common Thread are consistent, but only underscore the loss American pop music suffered when Glenn Frey and Don Henley (whose new T.V. show South of Sunset was cancelled by heartless CBS after only one episode) broke up the band. Instead of cover versions, we wish the authors would reunite (as has been long rumored) and get the show started again.

Best Rock Quote of the Week - "Black Sabbath punishing the Box Tops is the way people have been describing us recently. Or maybe Starland Vocal Band getting the shit kicked out of them by the Ramones." Lead singer Gerald Collier, describing the sound on Been There (MCA 1993), the new album from Best Kissers in the World.

Chris IsaakSecond Best Rock Quote of the Week - "It's like Fresno, but without the glitter." Retro-rocker and neophyte actor Chris Isaak (now plugging his new album, San Francisco Days), describing his boyhood home of Stockton.

-- Randy Krbechek


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