Rhythm & Views
JULY 28, 1997:
DOESN'T MAKE MUCH difference that some of these cuts resurfaced for a second time on previous live and best-of albums by the group--NRBQ is a band you'd see every weekend if they lived in your town, whether they ever changed their set list or not. Exceptional recent recordings like "Little Floater" and "If I Don't Have You" have worked their way into their repertoire alongside favorites like "RC Cola And A Moon Pie" and "Rain At The Drive-In," all backed by Terry Adam's quirky keyboard accompaniment. While the band plays everything from polkas to Sun Ra tunes (their forte is being able to play any request, or die trying), this set is filled with more accessible tunes from their past albums. Johnny Spampinato, brother of bassist Joey, does a fine job taking the place of defector Al Anderson. If our country had a bar-band laureate, none would better fill the role than NRBQ .
Group Dance Epidemic
GROUP DANCE EPIDEMIC is Brave Combo's response to the duel plagues afflicting organized dance these days: On one side, there's the undisciplined gyrations and moshing of youth dance, and on the other, the remedial stepping of the Electric Slide and Macarena. Brave Combo is out to remind us how fun formal dance steps can be when they're named things like "The Hokey Pokey," "Hand Jive," and of course, "The Hustle." To help us relearn the moves, Group Dance Epidemic's CD booklet includes photos and instructions for each dance, in place of the lyrics. (Who listens to words when they're dancing, anyway?) Of course, this is Brave Combo--Denton, Texas' best (and only) new-wave, polka/wacky world music sextet--a group that recorded "Stairway To Heaven" as a swing tune, "Hava Nagila" as a twist, and "Satisfaction" as a cha cha. It's not surprising, then, that Brave Combo's take on popular group dance is dizzyingly dynamic and eclectic. In the group's capable hands, "The Hokey Pokey" gets both a rock (with Led Zep drums and twang guitar) and a cowbell-funk go-go reading; Jeopardy's theme song becomes a schottische; "The Hustle" interweaves bits of "Walk on the Wild Side"; and "The Bunny Hop" quotes Duke Ellington's "Cottontail." Other (relatively) straight-forward numbers globe-trot from a Greek sailor's dance and Mexican hat dance to a Yemenite Israeli folk dance and Cuban conga line.
THE INGREDIENTS ARE all here: the lyrical imagery of low-budget horror flicks ("Abominable Dr. Phibes," "Day of the Dead"), the patented "whoa-oh" choruses, and the absurd, zombie-inspired facial cosmetics. The only missing link in the resurrection of Jersey-based punk ghouls the Misfits is co-founder, songwriter and vocalist, Glenn Danzig. To be perfectly honest, the turgid gothic-cum-metal crapola the muscle-bound dwarf (a.k.a. Danzig) churns out today doesn't have a chance in hell of keeping pace with the revamped Misfits' American Psycho. Original remaining members'--bassist Jerry Only, and guitarist-brother Doyle's--crude and simple three-chord barrage of 15 years ago has been refined and streamlined into a metal-tinged hardcore bloodbath. These two raccoon-eyed psychos have lost none of their no-holds-barred energy or their penchant for writing catchy melodies. The Misfits were always about Halloween spectacle and memorable hooks, and those resuscitated corpses walk among us again in 1997: mostly costume, smoke and mirrors.
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