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Music Reviews

Featured this issue:

Peggy Lee

Luscious Jackson

Ursula 1000

The 10th Victim


Peggy Lee
Blues Cross Country
Capitol Jazz 7243 5 20088 2 7 Vocals

Any time a complete Peggy Lee recording is released on compact disc, there's cause to bring out the cocktail shaker and celebrate. Poor Peg has so many "greatest hits" CDs out, all recycling the same songs, it's impossible to keep track. Relatively recently, many of Peggy Lee's albums have been released in their entirety, thanks to EMI in the U.K. and Capitol Jazz.

Blues Cross Country wouldn't have been on our list of urgent CDs to release but we're not complaining very loudly. Peg is at her peak vocally and the snappy arrangements are by her beau, Quincy Jones. The sound is gorgeous and as long as you're hearing a song where Peggy Lee didn't lend a hand in the writing, this album is grand.

Peggy Lee is a "lyricist" in the same way a suburban housewife with a decoupage kit is an artist. There are exceptions throughout her career, however few, but none of them are featured on Blues Cross Country. Her tributes to the various towns around the country reveal little more than a travel-brochure understanding of the different places she's singing about. On the song Fishermans' Wharf, she sings about all the stock carried by the local fishmonger. The problem is that most of the fish she sings about are not available in the San Francisco Bay or anywhere else nearby. San Francisco Blues fares better with the clever imagery of Peggy's fella working on the Golden Gate Bridge as a painter. But it still has non-sensical lyrics and really banal lists of things to do in San Francisco. Los Angeles Blues has banal lists of things to do and see in LA. Boston Beans has a banal list of, well, you get the idea.

Still, the fast forward button on our player works really well and Blues Cross Country has more than enough good music to recommend.

Luscious Jackson
Electric Honey
Capitol CDP 724349608429 Pop / Rock

Once in a while, we like to dip our toes into the waters of contemporary popular music. Every few years we find a group or disc that we really like. This is refreshing, as it means our arteries haven't completely hardened.

We've been curious about Luscious Jackson for awhile. This trio of groovy today-look chicks seem to be the real version of Girl Power, as opposed to the pre-fab corporate version endorsed by the mighty Spice Girls a few lifetimes ago.

We've listened to this album all the way through. In the words of an exciting new generation: Whatever!

We can't speak for Lucious Jackson's entire musical catalogue but Electric Honey is not going to encourage us to take the pop music plunge. In fact, we're already drying off the toe we dipped.

The biggest problem is the girls have no idea how to write a song. They manage some nice hooks and then they just run out of steam. The chorus' are mostly chants and repetitive and boring.

Nice concepts like "nervous breakthrough" are pleasant and it should have been a really good line in a more clever song instead of being an endless chant. OK, girls, we got it. Not "nervous breakdown" but "nervous breakthrough."

We suspect these women might have some talent. When it surfaces, we'll be happy to check them out again. Maybe.

Ursula 1000
The Now Sound of Ursula 1000
EFA (ESL022) Pop

Sometimes we think CDs are just too damn long. There are very few artists who can sustain a really interesting 70 minutes of music. In the days of vinyl, the 10-inch record was just not quite long enough. The LP was ideal. The double-record set was overkill in most cases. The fact that a compact disc can hold 72 minutes of music is no reason that it necessarily should.

The Now Sound of Ursula 1000 is about an hour in length and that's about 45 minutes too long. There are about four really fun musical ideas here. DJ Mike Rippe has taken some fun bits from various Lounge recordings, noodled with them a bit and added contemporary drum machines. It sounds awful but on the first few tracks it's infectious junk food. The Go-Go and Latin numbers are fine but Rippe feels obligated to touch all the current Lounge bases and it stretches beyond his talents. By the end of the disc (if you make it that far), you'll start reaching for something more substantial.

Original Soundtrack Recording
Piero Piccioni (featuring Mina)
La Decima Vittima (The 10th Victim)
Easy Tempo (Italy) ET923CD Soundtracks

We found the LP soundtrack to the film The 10th Victim at the Salvation Army for a mere 10 cents in the early 1980s. At the time, there was no organized lounge movement and most of the country thought new wave music was cool. We knew otherwise and have protected this valuable score of futuristic 1960s jazz and pop for years. As the Lounge movement developed and platters like The 10th Victim became collector's items, we merrily dreamed of putting a down payment on a Winnebago with the proceeds from the sale of this find.

This obscure record has somehow made its way onto compact disc. We're sorry that the value of our LP has plummeted but we're happy to have such good clean sound, lots of fresh photos and a bonus track.

The music is trippy, somewhat avant-garde and yet it's 100 % musical. The main theme, The Spiral Waltz (featuring vocals by our favorite Italian singer Mina), is repeated in various arrangements and indeed, you will tire of it before long, but it's a fine song with great lyrics.

After all these years, we keep hearing new things and it sounds as fresh as the first time we heard it. It would make a perfect soundtrack to your next cocktail party. And coming from us, that's high praise indeed!

 
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