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A new way to be

Where were you when I laid The foundations of the earth? . . . Who laid its cornerstone in place, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted aloud?–Job 38 : 4-7 The music was new black polished chrome, and it came across the summer like liquid night.–Jim Morrison I […]

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Replacements: rock for the wary generation

I got this bizarre queasy feeling last week while driving down Highway 61 in Minnesota. The Replacements’ sixth album, Pleased to Meet Me, was blasting through my sister’s boom box, and like most of their recent sold-out show at the Riviera, it sounded just great–more than inspirational, a little over the edge, and neither larger […]

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Big Black–Headache; Various artists–The Wailing Ultimate; The Angry Samoans–Yesterday Started Tomorrow; The Jesus and Mary Chain–April Skies

HEADACHE Big Black Touch and Go 20 THE WAILING ULTIMATE Various artists Homestead HMS 079 YESTERDAY STARTED TOMORROW The Angry Samoans PVC 6915 APRIL SKIES The Jesus and Mary Chain Reprise 9 20714-0 Ever since the parochial denizens of Sauk Centre and Zenith, respectively, gave Carol Kennicott and George Babbitt such a hard time, America’s […]

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Great noises of rock ‘n’ roll

I knew that the Replacements’ Pleased to Meet Me was a great record when I heard Paul Westerberg go “Ooooo!” It happens in the song “Alex Chilton.” It’s a very good ooooo!–classically placed, coming right after a short vocal bridge that comes after a spectacular chorus that comes after the verse, each of which has […]

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John Hiatt–Bring the Family

BRING THE FAMILY John Hiatt A&M Records A&M SP 5158 It isn’t surprising that the title of John Hiatt’s latest album takes the form of an invitation. Bring the Family is certainly Hiatt’s most inviting work ever. But the title cuts a bit deeper than mere coziness. Most of the songs on this immensely moving […]

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Meat Puppets–Mirage

MIRAGE Meat Puppets SST Records SST 100 “The best rock ‘n’ roll,” Curt Kirkwood told Spin magazine, “reminds me of teenagers on angel dust fucking.” While Kirkwood’s vision is hardly straight out of hippie canon, it does represent an authentically 80s version of the counterculture’s dream of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll as […]

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Duke Ellington: The Blanton-Webster Band; Duke Ellington Orchestra/Count Basie Orchestra–First Time! The Count Meets the Duke; Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach–Money Jungle

DUKE ELLINGTON: THE BLANTON-WEBSTER BAND RCA Bluebird 5659-1-RB FIRST TIME! THE COUNT MEETS THE DUKE Duke Ellington Orchestra/Count Basie Orchestra Columbia Jazz Masterpieces CJ 40586 MONEY JUNGLE Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach Blue Note BT 85129 Few American popular musicians were quite as honored and lionized in their lifetime as Duke Ellington. The great […]

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Prince–Sign ‘o’ the Times

SIGN ‘O’ THE TIMES Prince Paisley Park/Warner Brothers 925577-1 The Prince perplex can be easily stated: how can someone who’s so in control be so out of control? How can the auteur of an entire scene and sound — he’s not merely made stars of his high school pals and sent most of the women […]

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Ted Hawkins–Happy Hour

HAPPY HOUR Ted Hawkins Rounder Records 2033 I can still remember feeling shocked during my first play of Ted Hawkins’s debut album, Watch Your Step, in 1982. It was the dawning of the electro-pop era, and Hawkins stood out like some hairy, primordial beast stranded at noon in midtown Manhattan. I don’t mean that Hawkins […]

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Los Lobos–By the Light of the Moon

BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON Los Lobos Slash/Warner Bros. 25523-1 It is late at night, let’s say. The house is as quiet as a moonlit field, but the mind is full of commotion; it’s an ornery, unsatisfied old cuss, and it’s used to its freedom, including the freedom to move about, which has nothing […]