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CD Reviews May-June

BONEY M: The Remastered Editions

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  • Take The Heat Off Me
  • Love For Sale
  • Nightflight To Venus
  • Oceans Of Fantasy

Sony

On Take The Heat Off Me, a total of three singles were lifted from the first Boney M album – Daddy Cool, Sunny and Baby Do You Wanna Bump. This new remastered edition contains the rare bonus tracks New York City (b-side of Sunny) and the Liz Mitchell solo song Perfect. Boney M’s second album containing the number one hits Ma Baker and Belfast. Bonus tracks Ma Baker/Somebody Scream (1999 Sash-Radio mix) as well as the 1990 radio mix of the track Stories. The third album of Germany’s most successful pop act delivers the perfectly produced hits Rasputin and Rivers Of Babylon. Bonus tracks include Mary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord and Dancing In The Streets. The fourth big album has singles I’m Born Again and wistful ballad El Lute. Bonus tracks include I See A Boat On The River released in 1980, and its b-side, a cover version of the sixties oldie My Friend Jack from The Smoke. All four albums add an interesting bent, or fluffiness, to anyone’s music collection. And finally, I can retire my original copy of Nightflight.

 

X-PRESS 2 – Makeshift Feelgood

Skint

I like club anthems with male vocals, and X-Press 2’s first album in four years, Makeshift Feelgood, taps the vocals of frontmen from Peech Boys, The Music, Lambchop and Radio4. X-Press 2 are UK DJs Rocky, Diesel and Ashley Beedle. The Skint Records trio hit the pop charts in 2002 with the single Lazy, which featured the songwriting and vocal talents of Talking Head’s David Byrne. (Lazy was taken from the album Muzikizum, which also included tracks with Yello’s Dieter Meier Want You Back plus prog house anthems Muzikum and Smoke Machine.) On Makeshift Feelgood X-Press 2 continue the vibe set by Lazy and deliver an album of feelgood house with male vocals aplenty. It includes the singles Give It with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner and Kill 100 with The Music’s Rob Harvey as well as collaborations with Tim DeLaughter, Anthony Roman from New York dance-rock outfit Radio4 and eighties synth-poppers Kissing The Pink. And let’s not forget to mention their remake of Don’t Make Me Wait circa 1982 by the Peech Boys with ex-boy member Bernard Fowler.

 

NINE INCH NAILS – Year Zero

Interscope

If you miss the elaborate conspiracy theories of The X-Files, you’ll love Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero. A sci-fi concept album whose end-of-days, paranoia-drenched story line has been disseminated via the Internet. The good news is it’s entirely possible, maybe even advisable, to enjoy Year Zero without trolling dozens of kooky websites. Mostly, this is Captain Trent doing what he’s always done, giving musical expression to torment, rage, sadness, lust, and impotence. As usual, he drives his messages home with his whisper-to-a-scream vocal melodrama and the most chaotically catchy tunes he and his arsenal of machines can generate. Amid its carefully calibrated sonic assaults, Year Zero has a number of tracks that will stop you in yours. Sometimes, it’s a matter of dropping the volume, as on the muted feedback/piano interlude Another Version of the Truth. Then there’s the element of surprise upon hearing the industrial-strength Middle Eastern melodic patterns of The Warning. Even his use of electronics has shifted to a new level: Vessel evokes nothing so much as a sentient, schizophrenic computer having a nervous breakdown. Is the truth in here? Dunno, but Reznor’s claim that ‘I got my violence in high def ultra-realism’ sounds like gospel to me.

 

NATASHA BEDINGFIELD – N.B.

Sony

Having well and truly cracked the tough U.S. market, Natasha Bedingfield is back with a new album. After the success of her first album Unwritten, this follow-up is characterised by a definite American influence, a smart move some would say. Songs such as the single I Wanna Have Your Babies betray a new accent, although her ability to write catchy tunes seems unaffected. All the usual numbers are here, R’n’B infused tracks, upbeat funk numbers and soulful ballads. Although many of the tracks are quite forgettable, Natasha’s strong voice and eccentricities elevate her above many blonde and bland popstars. Unfotunately, unlike Kate Bush or Tori Amos, Bedingfield isn’t quite quirky enough to get away with it.

 

CHEVELLE – Vena Sera

Epic

Chevelle’s fourth album, Vena Sera is a significant step in the right direction for the brothers Loeffler and new bassist-slash-brother-in-law Dean Bernardini. The album is chock full of crunching, heavy riffs, a solid rhythm section where Bernardini’s bass takes on an increasingly-assertive role, and some catchy sing-along choruses. This Chicago-based trio can pack a huge punch, thanks one thinks to Elvis Baskette’s handling of the production side of Vena Sera. While Chevelle won’t win any awards for innovation with this album, it is arguably their most accessible record yet. Guitarist/vocalist Pete Loeffler has improved dramatically, and both his deep baritone and upper registers get their workout on the album. However, despite these improvements and the production mastery of Baskette, Vena Sera is marred by a palpable lack of identity and balance. Overall, this lack of identity hampers the listening experience, and aside from standout tracks Saferwaters and Brainiac, the rest of the album is unmemorable due to temperamental execution and lack of stability.

 

BJöRK – Volta

One Little Indian

Nearly every song on Volta features some collaborator, such as Timbaland (who does the single Earth Intruders), Antony Hegarty and Brian Chippendale. Little is strictly Björk on Volta, and the strength of most tracks and the album lie in the hands of the collaborators. Declare Independence—a song dedicated to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, urging them to declare independence from Denmark, utilizing the metaphor of raising their flag higher—is one of the few Björk-only tracks. Declare Independence, aside, the purely Björk tracks are forgettable and cause the middle of the album to sag. On the whole, Volta is a strong album with memorable, remarkable tracks that have such variety that the album somewhat loses cohesion.

 

FEIST – The Reminder

Universal

Given a fair wind from the radio, Leslie Feist’s third solo album The Reminder (her collaborators on other records pretty well amount to a who’s who of the Canadian underground) could be the one that launches her to dinner-party ubiquity. Standout ballad Limit to Your Love has all the necessary ingredients to be a late night favourite, but it’s the details that make Feist more than another warbelstress. The Reminder barely stands still, flitting from genre to genre without ever departing from a core orchestration of guitar and piano, lightly shaded with strings and horns. The result is that no matter which genre she essays – country-rock, jazzy shuffles, and even a muted take on 60s-style garage R&B crop up – she always sounds like herself. There’s a sense, too, that The Reminder is more than the sum of its parts: while nothing here is wholly original, it is a pleasure for as long as it plays.

 

ONELOVE – Your Disco Will Eat You

Sony

Following on from last year’s fourth ONELOVE compilation Bring It On, which debuted at number one on the ARIA compilation charts, comes a brand new triple cd mixed by Melbourne DJ/Producer Dirty South who gives us electro house, a mix of total brilliance (when seen from the comparatives around it) from American Tommie Sunshine and a funky disco house mix (Zzzzz) from rising stars Denis The Menace & Jerry Ropero. This edition is titled Your Disco Will Eat You and features tracks and remixes by Freemasons, TV Rock vs The Dukes Of Windsor, Dirty South, Chris Lake, Booka Shade, The Sunfreakz, Axwell, Sébastien Léger, Riot in Belgium, Fatboy Slim, Switch, K.I.M, Justice, Acid Jacks, MSTRKRFT and many more. Already a clubbing institution in Melbourne for some time, Onelove recently opened its doors in Adelaide at Electric Circus and in Sydney at Tank Nightclub, now placing it among the biggest club/dance brands in Australia.

 

Billy Joel – Piano Man: The Very Best of 2006 Australian Tour Edition

Columbia

An essential album for Billy Joel lovers, the songs roll one after the other like a set from music’s top piano man. By Track 4 New York State of Mind, listeners will be ready to drop more than a few bills into the man’s tip jar. From the political rock of We Didn’t Start the Fire to the storytelling piano anthem Piano Man that started it all, this is indeed the very best of Mr. Joel.

 

Barbra Streisand – Streisand Live in Concert 2006

Columbia

Ms Streisand is here in all her theatrical glory. Her effortlessly endearing speeches are as entertaining as her songs, and she carries off both with her trademark, ‘I know you love me’ attitude. The two albums are a tour de force of Streisand’s career. Covering her hits, such as The Way We We, and some tremendous covers, such as Smile, this concert will undoubtedly take fans back to her unforgettable performances on both stage and screen.

 

Powderfinger – Dream Days at the Hotel Existence

Universal

Despite the stir caused by the political messages of Black Tears, Powderfinger’s latest album Dream Days at the Hotel Existence is a fairly safe album musically. Fans will love it, as Bernard Fanning and company stick to what they do best – pensive lyrics and tightly controlled rock ‘n’ roll. With each listen the individual songs develop more character, as the layers of vocals, rhythms and the arrangements come through.

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