- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2000


LIMP BIZKITChocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water(Flip/Interscope)
It's not clear why, but with very few exceptions, the longer the title, the worse the CD or song is.
Limp Bizkit's new CD easily is one of the worst CDs of the year, a mess of epic (more than 70 minutes) proportions that sounds as genuinely menacing as a 9-year-old pitching a fit because he can't stay up late.
There's nothing wrong with rap/metal — just with rap/metal this obvious and cliched. Fred Durst and his pals have a basic formula — rap on the verses, yell really loud on the choruses and have big grinding guitars and lots of attitude — that wears thin extremely quickly.
Haven't we heard all this before? Hasn't he moaned and shrieked about how horrible life is and how unhappy he is for half of forever already? Isn't all that pretty much a joke because he's a multimillionaire who can hire a guy to feel his pain for him?
Yes, yes and yes. Mr. Durst speaks to the vast hordes of (mainly very young) people who are dissatisfied, who don't feel life is stacking up the way they want it to — whiners, 99 percent of them. How bad can it be when you can hang out in the mall all day and spend nearly $20 on a CD that's basically a carbon copy of the Bizkit's last CD?
Mr. Durst sounds despairing — about life in general, about an unnamed girlfriend who is messing him around, whatever — but never gets specific enough.
Mainly, he sounds as if he's about 10 years old and just learned how to say a bunch of dirty words. This is packaged, cliched pseudo-rebellion at its most obvious.— Fort Worth Star-Telegram
THE LETTERMENGreatest Movie Hits(Gold Label)
This album includes a baker's dozen — plus a "bonus" track — of songs from movies. They include "My Heart Will Go On" (love theme from "Titanic"), "Take My Breath Away" ("Top Gun"), "The Glory of Love" ("Karate Kid II"), "In My Life" ("For the Boys"), "Against All Odds" from the movie of the same name and "The Time of My Life" ("Dirty Dancing").
Others are "Windmills of Your Mind" ("The Thomas Crown Affair"), "Up Where We Belong" ("An Officer and a Gentleman"), "Days of Wine and Roses" from movie of the same name, "Music of Goodbye" ("Out of Africa"), "Unchained Melody" ("Ghost"), "Go the Distance" ("Hercules"), "I Will Always Love You" ("The Bodyguard") and "Valentine" (the bonus).
Tony Butala, a founding member, commenting on the group's name, says: "In the late '50s, there were groups called the Four Freshmen, the Four Preps — so we called ourselves the Lettermen and wore letter sweaters. By the time it was cornball, we were a success, and our record company didn't want to market a new name. But we did pack away the sweaters. Fortunately, our fans have gotten past our name."
As a music lover who has been put off through the years by groups trying to come up with outrageous, off-the-wall names, I see no need for him to apologize for a "corny" name.
The Lettermen first appeared in 1958 in Las Vegas with Mr. Butala, Mike Barnett and Talmadge Russell. It's a testament to the Lettermen's singing style that the group still survives 42 years later, although Mr. Butala is the sole original member. Donovan Tea and Darren Dowler round out the trio. Through the years, at least 13 other men have sung with Mr. Butala under the Lettermen name.
One of the best things about the Lettermen is that they rely more heavily on the quality of their voices than accompanying instruments.
Mr. Butala's love of vocal music also influenced him to open the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pa., in 1998. Members include the Supremes and the Four Seasons and — of course — the Lettermen.— Merle F. Jacobsen
ANOUSHKA SHANKARAnouras (Angel Records)
Common knowledge holds that jazz is an exclusively American invention, but anyone familiar with the music of the so-called Third World understands that improvisation is nothing unique to the United States.
Anoushka Shankar is a lovely young woman who has followed her father, Ravi Shankar, as a virtuoso of the sitar. When it comes to improvisation, this bright apple has not fallen far from the tree, as she ably demonstrates in her latest CD.
Using the raga form, Miss Shankar produces six wonderful explorations of musical possibility, strange yet beguiling to the Western ear. Mr. Shankar joins her on the sixth track, which sounds as if one mind is driving two pairs of hands. The CD is a musical meal with accompaniments of tabla and tanpura for seasoning and spice.— Judith Kreiner
FASTBALLThe Harsh Light of Day (Hollywood Records)
Fastball serves up another hard one down the middle. Since its 1996 debut with "Make Your Mama Proud," Fastball has been pitching tight, clever power pop that even radio-station program directors could love. And they do.
"You're an Ocean" from the recently released "The Harsh Light of Day" is flooding the airwaves just as "The Way" did from 1998's "All the Pain Money Can Buy."
Like any good pop band, the Austin, Texas-based trio finds a hook and hangs its loving-and-losing lyrics on it. The group doesn't overreach musically. Miles Zuniga sings with a bemused insolence, and band mates Tony Scalzo and Joey Shuffield crisply back him. The sound has been consistent across all three albums and even though you know what's coming, the music is infectious.— Associated Press

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