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Music Reviews

Randy's Buttons

December 17, 1997

All Tied Up

Kate & Anna McGarrigleKate & Anna McGarrigle, Love Over and Over (Hannibal/Ryko 1982/1997) -Love Over and Over is a gem from 1982 that is enjoying its first release on CD. With the addition of two new tracks not on the original LP, Love Over and Over deserves to be heard by a new generation.

Hailing from Montreal, the McGarrigle sisters' first release (in 1976) featured the classic, "Heart Like a Wheel," which was made into a million seller by Linda Ronstadt.Love Over and Over cemented the duo's reputation as skilled songwriters and accomplished vocalists with a left-of-center style.

Kate and Anna started work on Love Over and Over in 1979 under their Warner Bros. contract, but left the studio midway through. The album was ultimately completed in England with the help of such friends as Mark Knopfler.

With a challenging mix of chansons, Steven Foster ballads, gospel, folk and French-Canadian Cajun, the album is a highly personalized affair. Highlights include the ethereal title track, "St. Valentine's Day 1978" (with dark humor reminiscent of Richard Thompson), and a charming French translation of "You'll Accompany Me" (the Bob Seger song).

Maybe you've heard about Kate and Anna before. Maybe you're ready to take a stab at idiosyncratic folk-and-pop. Maybe you just like good music, made from the heart. In any event, Love Over and Over is right for you.

Jeb Loy NicholsJeb Loy Nichols, Lovers Knot (Capitol 1997) - Lovers Knot is the major-label debut from Jeb Loy Nichols, who has lived in such disparate locales as Montana, Missouri, Texas, New York City, and London (where he now makes his home). These worldly influences have rubbed off on Jeb Loy, who has an earthy, folksy sound with plenty of horns, banjo, and minor keys.

Backed by production work from Craig Street (known for his work withCassandra Wilson and k.d. lang), Lovers Knot crosses a variety of cultures and idioms. In Jeb's words, "It's all 'real deal' music." Though Jeb Loy claims such R&B influences as Bobby Womack and Al Green, his sound most closely resembles the touched-by-an-angel English folk of John Martyn (with a smidgin of Leonard Cohen on the side).

The album starts strong with "As the Rain," and continues with other peaceful folkers as "Quickly Into Trouble" (Do I hear a little Bruce Cockburn here?). Subdued and offbeat, Lovers Knot is not for everyone. But if you like the English folk sound (which is only a half-step from Delta blues and the birth of rock and roll), Jeb Loy Nichols is for you.

Lauren ChristyLauren Christy, Breed (Mercury 1997) - Breed is the second album by the 25-year-old British beauty, Lauren Christy. Much less ponderous than her debut (Lauren admits, "My first album was serious and sad. I let loose on this one a lot more"), Breed is an album made by a woman to appeal to other women.

The album features uptempo pop/rock numbers, from the tongue-in-cheek "Magazine," which exposes the media's influences on women (Lauren claims that "every line is lifted straight out of Cosmopolitan") to the rollicking, "You Make Me Laugh" (a fun rocker). Adds Lauren, "Breed is an album about all the issues that women have to deal - be it their hormones, weight problems, insecurity problems, or being too much of a ballbuster or shy."

Mixing elements of dark humor, disarming beauty, sexual aggression and unexpected warmth, Breed is a record about being a human. For guys, it's like a mini-date - and you don't have to worry about what's going to happen at the end of the night. Get a charge out of Breed.

Batman TrilogyJoel McNeely, The Batman Trilogy (Varese Sarabande 1997) - The Batman Trilogy is orchestral versions of the music from the first three Batman films, as composed by Danny Elfman and Elliot Goldenthal. Performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (conducted by Joel McNeely), the album captures the moody essence ofBatman, Batman Returns, and Batman Forever.

A low-octane outing, the Batman Trilogy will make a great stocking stuffer for the Batman fan in your family (and won't wear on parents' nerves).

Michael PennMichael Penn, Resigned (Epic 1997) - Resigned is the third album from Michael Penn (who also scored the uneven 70s soundtrack for the recent film, Boogie Nights). With production assistance from Brendan O'Brien (who has worked with Pearl Jamand many others), Resigned sounds like Crowded House.

Which means that you will find plenty of Beatlesque pop hooks and challenging lyrics on this 11-song set. While the CD-Rom section is disappointing (I got frustrated playing the game and gave up), look for Resigned if you like well-constructed vocals.

-- Randy Krbechek

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