Rhythm and Views
MARCH 22, 1999:
Hooray for Tuesday
EVERYONE WITH STRONG feelings for '60s British pop please raise your hands. Keep them up for the remainder of this review, as I'm typing with one hand. The Minders are the latest present from the Elephant Six Recording Company in Denver, Colorado. They're the contemporary version of Abbey Road Studios.
Martyn Leaper, an English expatriate, is the principal songwriter for the group; if he ever reads this, his hand should be in the air, too. So you say you like the Beatles, the Kinks, the Small Faces, the Zombies? Well then, you'll like the Minders--I promise.
Here's what you get for your purchase: crystalline guitar that jangles in perfect accompaniment with fuzzy reverb, a little bit of the vintage Farfisa/Moog /Continental keyboard sound, and as a bonus, vocals in harmony. Yes, harmony; it's that sound that growling angst almost knocked out, but after hanging out on the ropes for a sec, it's getting its head together. Harmony is back and it's lookin' for an ear to chew.
Nothing more needs to be said other than this: Every time I listen to this band, I'm completely happy. What else do you need?
Teletubbies: The Album
WHILE THE BLOCK-rocking beats of "Teletubbies Say 'Eh-Oh' " is familiar to all tubbieheads, the extended remix on Teletubbies: The Album has more surprises than Courtney Love's underwear drawer. Additional voices and a more bass-and-drum beat are enhanced by a good subwoofer, so be sure to play this on your finest equipment. The cut "Dirty Knees" verifies all the queer-power rumors about the 'tubbies: The lyrics are mostly a back-and-forth between the bodiless narrator and everyone's favorite 'tubbie, Laa-Laa. The song begins with the familiar slurping noises of the 'tubbies sex-machine, Noo Noo. Laa-Laa then enters the scene, the narrator noting that "Laa-Laa's knees are all dirty." Then it's just a series of "Two dirty knees...eh-oh...two dirty knees...eh-oh..." as each 'tubbie enters the scene with dirty knees. Tinky Winky, the most gay-proud of the 'tubbies, winks at us by pronouncing his name "Tinky Winkle" before displaying his dirty, dirty knees. Other hot tunes include the celebrated "Follow the Leader" dance, the "Running Away Dance," the "Twisty Dance," and of course the X-tasy inspired mellow-out rave sounds of "Dipsy's Fancy Hat." In the wake of this too-hot-for-rock-radio record, the 'tubbies are rumored to be working on a mix-master version with DJ Q-Bert, DJ Quick, DJ Cam and Senator Fred Grandy (who played Gopher on Love Boat). There's also talk of a 'tubbies/Hole/Nine Inch Nails tour, so snap this up while its drugged-out animated cover is still shimmering on local music store shelves. Big Hug!
MY GOD, WHAT in the world were they thinking? Not knowing the history of this funk/dance/bluegrass project headed up by producer-songwriter Scott Rouse, which brings together P-Funk bass maestro Bootsy Collins with a host of seasoned bluegrass veterans like Doc Watson, Bernie Leadon and members of the Del McCoury band, all I can say is that it's telling that this collection was recorded in '93 and is only now seeing release.
I mean, the concept isn't even that appealing on paper. Collins, for his part, earns his paycheck with some lively trademark funk "space" bass, and even contributes a couple of brief interludes (the bizarre "Let It Rain" sounds inspired more by hemp than bluegrass, however). But his omnipresent funk thump is ill-tailored to every song, wearing particularly thin on "Wabash Cannonball" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky." Worse, Rouse's ideas for spicing things up with quirky vocal samples--most annoyingly, Minnie Pearl's signature "How-dee!" in a song titled, um, "Howdy"--might've seemed cool six years ago, but now they just give the record the kiss-of-death "novelty" stamp.
The players acquit themselves, if rather anonymously. Yet even a traditional rave-up number like "Salty Dog Blues" comes off as misguided thanks to electronic drum programming and a Rouse-Mac Wiseman vocal duet which veers perilously close to rapper schtick. I pray that a rap- bluegrass fusion isn't slated for anytime soon.
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