Posted inNews & Politics

Hospital Visit

The kid heard about it late morning on Thursday. First thing, he got in the car and drove from Des Plaines out to Carpentersville, near Elgin. He saw his brother-in-law, got the tape, and roared into Chicago. By quarter of three, he was in position, in the hematology and oncology ward of Children’s Memorial Hospital. […]

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Traveling Wilburys–Volume One

TRAVELING WILBURYS VOLUME ONE Traveling Wilburys Wilbury Records 25796-1 There was a time when the rock ‘n’ roll super session seemed almost meaningful. Clapton and Winwood–together! Beck and Stewart and Truth! Crosby and Stills and Nash and Young! It was thought that opposites–John and Paul-style–could somehow attract, calm each other’s excesses, and produce good music. […]

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Balancing Act

The Balancing Act’s calm, cool, and collected appearance belies an almost hysterical amalgam of textures and influences rioting beneath the acoustic surface. Steely Dan rhythms appear in one song, Flying Burrito Brothers harmonies in the next. Similarly, as soon as you have one lyrical fixation pegged–floors, roofs, and furniture figure prominently on the group’s new […]

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Colors: sprucing up the CTA

“Make sure you mention the sheet-metal workers–the backbone of the CTA!” hollers a man in the stairwell. The man, by no coincidence, is in fact a sheet-metal worker, and the stairwell he occupies provides access to the southbound platform of the Belmont station of the Howard el. In the small area beneath the platform, between […]

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Let’s Active

On his third full-length record, Every Dog Has Its Day, prodigy producer and ultrapop songster Mitch Easter continues his search for the perfect hook. There’s a drama to his efforts and a poiignancy as well: it’s a noble task but a hopeless one too, and sooner or later one realizes that that’s not really what […]

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More Songs About Politics and Sex

Halfway through his show at the Riviera, Billy Bragg, as is his wont, digressed into a short monologue before his new song “Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards.” This song is the standout track on Bragg’s new record, Workers Playtime; it’s a luminous, transcontinental fantasy that begins in Cuba, rockets out to a nuclear test […]

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Fire and Water

The rain, indecisive all morning, asserted itself just as we got to Maxwell Street. My first visit was a soggy mess; droplets muddied the road and fell, not very faintly, over the living and the dead and the hubcaps and the bootleg Head & Shoulders and the platanos and the sneakers. Sheets of plastic paper […]

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Midnight Oil

In the process of single-handedly atoning for Australia’s past contributions to popular music–the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, Men at Work–Midnight Oil may come to rank with U2 as the Commonwealth’s hard-rock leaders. Like U2, the Oil has a clean muscular sound; with four musicians, however, Oil’s sound is more ornate and the arrangements more diverse. […]

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Jimmy Page

People like Jimmy Page were influential with rock’s proletariat in a way that intellectuals like Dylan or Joe Strummer could never hope to be. Part of this was an ability to cloak himself in an effete ethereality (in contrast to Robert Plant’s cartoon sexuality) that typified him as the great bodacious rock star of the […]

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Camper Van Beethoven/Walter Salas-Humara

Camper Van Beethoven you know about: the absurdist cowboy funksters from Santa Cruz, California, whose new record (and major-label debut) Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, fulfills the promises and more of every indie band of all time. Live, the Campers provide something akin to a heavy-metal hoedown–but you knew that. The act to see Friday night […]