Posted inMusic

Spot Check

FROGS 12/18, EMPTY BOTTLE “There’s a fine line between clever and stupid,” spake one of the wise gentlemen of Spinal Tap, and no one illustrates this better than Jimmy and Dennis Flemion, who have been staggering drunkenly back and forth over that line for 18 years. Their Frogs are still a cult band despite Smashing […]

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Celia Cruz & the Johnny Pacheco Orcestra

CELIA CRUZ & THE JOHNNY PACHECO ORCHESTRA Celia Cruz still deserves to be called the “Queen of Salsa.” Even at 74 she reigns supreme, carrying herself with rare dignity and maintaining remarkable control despite mounting technical limitations. As heard on her latest album, Mi vida es cantar (RMM), her voice has deepened and darkened over […]

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Tony Toni Tone

TONY TONI TONE In the past I’ve dismissed Tony Toni Tone as just another generic R & B combo, but after last year’s Hits (Mercury) and a subsequent reassessment of their 1996 album, House of Music, I’m ready to eat some crow. The trio’s main trick–its seamless application of hip-hop production to old-school soul–isn’t an […]

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Beauty in the Strangest Places

Chicago Symphony Orchestraat Orchestra Hall, November 27, December 3, and December 10 Pierre Boulez is the best orchestra conductor alive. He’s also the most cold-blooded. His rep hasn’t changed for decades: he’s the ultraintellectual modernist, the disdainer of imprecision and emotional sloppiness, the unyielding advocate of all music harsh, obscure, and avant-garde. It’s true that […]

Posted inArts & Culture

True Books

Who Killed Diana?, by Peter Hounam and Derek McAdam (Vision, $12.95). Synopsis: Authors examine every rumor and speculation that “secret, sinister forces” with many reasons to want Diana dead may have conspired to kill her. Representative quote: “The Russians are said to have devised a piece of portable equipment to project a deadly beam at […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Like the Broadway touring production that played the Rosemont a year ago, this is no simple cloning of the beloved 1939 film. In addition to the familiar dialogue, the script employs excerpts from L. Frank Baum’s original 1900 fantasy, a hilarious anachronism from The Lion King, and […]

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Beautiful Thing

This weekend is the last chance to catch Famous Door Theatre Company’s production of English playwright Jonathan Harvey’s romantic comedy-drama about two working-class teenage boys–schoolmates and next-door neighbors–who fall in love. This American premiere, which opened last May for a two-month run and ended up being extended into the winter, is moving to New York’s […]

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Stolen Thunder

Bentley Rhythm Ace The Future Sound of the United Kingdom Three (Ministry of Sound) Chemical Brothers Brothers Gonna Work It Out (Astralwerks) and Live at the Social, Volume 1 (Heavenly) Fatboy Slim On the Floor at the Boutique (Skint) Freestylers The Future Sound of the United Kingdom Two (Ministry of Sound) As big beat becomes […]

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Jay-Z/ Big Punisher/ Noreaga/ Crucial Conflict

JAY-Z/BIG PUNISHER/NOREAGA/CRUCIAL CONFLICT For better or worse the three headliners on this bill represent the cream of New York’s mainstream hip-hop crop. What Jay-Z, Big Punisher, and Noreaga have to offer doesn’t have much on gangsta rap–they, too, mostly boast about their street-tempered toughness–but at least the tired west-coast musical tropes have been replaced by […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Caught in the Net

Captured at A private citizens’ group, “The Friends of Conrad Black,” has been formed to enable views of [the chairman and CEO of Canadian-based Hollinger International, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times] the widest possible circulation. Finally! A website for all of us who are profoundly envious of the Blacks–Conrad and Barbara Amiel-Black. And who […]