- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 7, 2000

PAUL SIMON

You're the One (Warner Bros.)


Paul Simon, ever the perfectionist, never does anything in a rush.
The "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album took 800 studio hours to complete. So if you leave out Mr. Simon's 1997 "Songs From the Capeman," which accompanied his Broadway show and a live album in 1991, 10 long years have passed since his last batch of original material, "The Rhythm of the Saints."
Arriving this week, Mr. Simon's new project, "You're the One," is a return to the simpler days of "One Trick Pony" and "Hearts and Bones." His core fans no doubt will feel the wait was worth it.
The first track, "That's Where I Belong," opens a laid-back collection of conversational songs driven mostly by the lyrics.
From the opening verse — "Somewhere in a burst of glory, sound becomes a song/I'm bound to tell a story, that's where I belong" — Mr. Simon sets out to tell us a series of stories through his songs that are witty, optimistic and spiritual.
Mr. Simon, who turns 59 next week, looks as if he finally is content. In "Old," he points out that age is merely relative. "God is old," he writes, "we're not old."
The musical arrangements on "You're the One" are bare compared with his past experimentations with African music on "Graceland" and Brazilian drumming on "Rhythm of the Saints."
"Senorita With a Necklace of Tears," which has the clever line, "If I could play all the memories in the neck of my guitar," is Mr. Simon at his best, reminiscent of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" from the "Graceland" album.
Mr. Simon is breaking no new ground with his new songs, and there are no big tunes, but those who have followed his career since "Sounds of Silence" will not be disappointed. His lyrics are still clever, and his voice is hardly changed with age.

— John Haydon

MADONNA

Music (Maverick)


Icons usually don't need to be talented. It's all about the posing, the scandals, the sex.
Madonna, 42, has those in spades. From "Like a Virgin" on, she has set trends in fashion and blazed trails in sexuality.
But she also has talent — both a musical flair and a gift for knowing what will keep her icon status blazing. On her latest disc, she sticks with the techno trend, relying on producer Mirwais Ahmadzai to take the genre to new levels. Another of the blond bombshell's gifts is her choice of producers, a group of cutting-edge musicians who know exactly how to complement her voice.
The first single from the CD, "Music," already has zoomed to the top of the charts. It's an electronic ode to the art form that ostensibly has made Madonna famous. The grooves on this track, as on the rest, are strong. That an artist as mainstream as Madonna can lay down beats that rival any underground DJ's is hard to believe — and yet here they are, guided by Mr. Ahmadzai.
The other songs are similarly impressive, from "Nobody's Perfect," in which Madonna's voice is hiply roboticized, to "Paradise (Not for Me)," where she murmurs in French.
Her lyrics are not especially deep — like her music and look, they are more about beauty than substance.
But why argue with beauty? This disc transports the listener to Madonna-land, where the heels are always high, the hair color is always changing, and the party is always hot.— Julie Hyman

VARIOUS ARTISTS

"Almost Famous" soundtrack (DreamWorks)


In the film "Almost Famous," rock critic Lester Bangs tells the young protagonist, "Rock is dead."
Judging from the movie's soundtrack, his pronouncement was a little premature. What seems to be dead now, in contrast to the early 1970s when these songs were written, is the art of storytelling through song.
Simon and Garfunkel kick it off with "America," an achingly beautiful tale of a couple traveling across the United States by bus.
There are stories of love and loss in Todd Rundgren's "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" and Clarence Carter's "Slip Away," and a call for revolution in "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman.
The soundtrack does not rely on old favorites; there are lesser-known songs from better-known artists, such as "Feel Flows," a trippy Beach Boys tune, and "The Wind" by Cat Stevens.
Like the movie, the CD tries to drum up nostalgia. Also like the movie, it carries it off pretty well, harking back to a time when "Oops … I Did It Again" would not have passed for a hit-song lyric.— Julie Hyman

BJORK

Selmasongs (Elektra Records)


The music world is divided into two groups — those who cherish the crisp, forceful sound of Icelandic singer Bjork and those who would rather undergo painful dental surgery. With her latest album — the soundtrack to Lars von Trier's Bjork-driven film "Dancer in the Dark" — new listeners are unlikely to be won over, and old fans will only bemoan that "Selmasongs" features only seven tracks, lasting a mere half-hour.
One need not see the film — starring Bjork as a factory worker who fantasizes her way out of life through musical numbers — to enjoy the album, though it certainly would help. The film's plot runs throughout the score, from the pounding machines that give way to a timid, soft-voiced Bjork in "Cvalda" to "In the Musicals," which uses a bouncing ball and squeaking shoes as percussion in a bizarre, yet brilliant form of syncopation.
The highlight of the album is a subtle duet — "I've Seen It All" — with Radiohead front man Thom Yorke. Neither singer is known for vocal restraint, and to hear both straining to be quieter than the other turns the song into a haunting duel of words.
Besides its abrupt shortness, the album suffers too much from its magnificent orchestral accompaniment. What sounds majestic and soaring in the opening "Overture" only drowns out the vocals in the remaining tracks. "Selmasongs" should tide over Bjork's fans until her next album comes out, but the dentist's chair is waiting for her detractors.— Derek Simmonsen

YANNI

If I Could Tell You(Virgin Records)

Yanni, who has made new-age music fashionable, is back with a new album, "If I Could Tell You." The new CD is a mixture of his earlier sounds and his more experimental orchestral sounds, such as on his previous album "Tribute," which was created at concerts at the Taj Mahal in India and Beijing's Forbidden City.
The first track on the album, "On Sacred Ground," is rich in different orchestral tones that draw the listener into the music. The arrangement for "With an Orchid" is impressive because it begins simply enough and then grows with intensity as the song progresses. "In Your Eyes" is classic Yanni with its soft piano and keyboard arrangement, which is very soothing and romantic.
The title track makes the listener understand why Yanni is so popular. "Reason for Rainbows" ends the 11-track CD on a bit of a slow note, but it does grow on you the more you listen to it.
The one disappointment on the CD is track six, "Wishing Well." Yanni experiments again with incorporating vocals into his music, which is something he has not done very often. Unfortunately, that shows on this track.
Overall, this is a great CD. For Yanni's fans, it definitely is a must for their collections.— Amy Baskerville

VARIOUS ARTISTS

"Bait" soundtrack(RuffNation Records)


Although record companies are saving their hottest new releases for December, the "Bait" soundtrack delivers a fair amount of quality tracks. The cast is diverse — featuring Fat Joe, Mya, Trick Daddy and Donell Jones — which helps the album appeal to both hip-hop fans and those who love rhythm and blues.
One of the deepest verses is titled "Took the Bait" and is provided by longtime rapper Scarface. The Southern rapper spits, "It's been many nights I sat on the sideline and watched another … cry. I watched a gang of [people] die, but in the ghetto it's the same thing, a … shame but it can't change." However, the soundtrack's strongest link is sung by Majusty and is titled "Where Is the Love?" This song will be a definite hit.
The album shows its share of newcomers, including Liz Leite and Jaheim. Both artists hold their own and prove that they do, indeed, have futures in the music business.
The "Bait" soundtrack concludes with the star of "Bait" — Jamie Foxx. The actor-comedian is no stranger to R&B; and presents his serious side as he sings "Bed Springs." The song is about … well, that's self-explanatory.— Quintin J. Simmons

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide