Rhythm and Views
OCTOBER 26, 1998:
MUSICAL SYNTHESIS IS great in concept, but in practice too often leaves something to be desired. Not so with Ozomatli, which creates a seamless blend of styles. There's a remarkable--and remarkably tight--metamorphosis of form happening here. Ozo's a group of nine Los Angeles musicians with roots that range geographically and musically, from hip-hop and funk to Indian tabla percussion; across the entire musical map of Cuba, and into the regionally undefined spectrum of turntablist scratch-king Cut Chemist. This debut full-length follows last year's Ya Llego! EP, the four songs of which are all represented here in a more produced form. "Como Ves," the first cut, imparts the feel of the band's incomparable live show. Some songs are heavier on the Americana ("O Le Le" and "Super Bowl Sundae," with it's beautiful tabla intro); or the Cubana ("Donde Se Fueron?", "Chango," "Aquí No Será"). Some defy description ("Eva"), and there's definitely a political element to it all ("Chota," "Coming War"). But this remains a positive kind of hype; definitely not la misma canción.
Get With It: Essential Recordings 1954-1969
CHARLIE FEATHERS claimed he created rockabilly. After listening to this exemplary 44 cut/double-CD set, how can you argue with the master of the hiccuping, adenoidal hillbilly whine that inspired everyone from Elvis to Lux Interior of the Cramps? Released just weeks prior to his death (Feathers died of heart failure in August 1998, after a lengthy illness) this meticulously researched, handsomely packaged collection by John Fahey's classy Revenant imprint is equally divided between commercially released tracks and unreleased demos, out-takes and live sides.
Feathers recorded for a host of semi-legendary and obscure labels from 1954 to 1969, including Sun, Meteor, Flip, Holiday Inn, WalMay, King and Kay. His haunting, plaintive, backwoods wail would've catapulted him (like his pal Hank Williams) to the top of the honky-tonk charts if he'd only abandoned the primitive hillbilly stomp of rockabilly: a hip, raucous melding of rock-n-roll and country-western.
Feathers' signature hiccup vocal is stamped all over the oft-Cramps covered "I Can't Hardly Stand It," and the ducktail swingin' "Tongue Tied Jill" (wholly embraced by Mr. Presley as his own), but his true calling was indelibly marked on such country weepers as "Defrost Your Heart" and "I've Been Deceived." Alongside the just-released, 10-CD box set of Williams, Get With It is one of the finest reissues of 1998.
Greatest Hits & Future Bits
BEFORE I COMMENCE with the insults, a quote: "In dance music," says noted critic Simon Reynolds in his excellent Generation Ecstasy book about techno and rave culture, "there is a liberating joy in surrendering to the radical anonymity of the...carnal music of total release." Creating a vehicle for Dionysian liberation is clearly the aim of Italy's DJ Dado, who physically resembles a cross between Al Pacino and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Unfortunately, his actual product is more like a monument to mediocrity: lowest common denominator dance music for people who don't really like dance music, but want to be able to say they like dance music when in the company of friends who do like dance music.
You might think mixologist BT's meticulous reconfigurations of Tori Amos' hapless shrieking represent the pinnacle of pop-dance crossover. In that case, perhaps you'll enjoy the bleary, diva exhalations and pretty piano noodling of "Give Me Love"; or the kitsch of the house-y cover of "More Than A Woman." (News flash, kids: the Bee Gees' career is in the toilet for perfectly good reasons.) Or maybe those technofied versions of trendy X-Files and Mission Impossible themes are your thing (Guaranteed: Coming to an aerobics class near you!)...or if you're in the camp that believes Pink Floyd had not already transmogrified into psychedelic New Agers long before Enigma's excruciating forays into sonic pabulum appeared in the record bins. If you're of like mind, dig DJ Dado's stompin' mix of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." It's wholly unnecessary of course, but that didn't stop him from indulging the obvious. Nor should it stop you. Good luck with those peer pressure problems.
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