- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2001

KENNY ROGERSThere You Go Again(Dreamcatcher Records)

Kenny Rogers may have set some kind of record (pun intended) by recording the 12 tracks on "There You Go Again" in eight studios during four months.

All that traveling hither and yon may have contributed to the somewhat uneven results: The first four tracks and cuts seven, eight and nine are fine, while the remainder is pretty much filler.

Mr. Rogers' burly "country-politan" baritone wraps itself warmly around the love-affirming opening title track, on which country stars Suzy Bogguss and Billy Dean provide backing vocals.

They're among the many guest artists making worthy cameos on "There You Go Again," including bluegrass diva Alison Krauss on the tender "I Wish I Could Say That," which laments a one-sided falling out of love. Others are pop's Richard Marx on the not-quite-resigned-to-lost-love "Crazy Me" and the effusive, self-explanatory "I Do It for Your Love"; Diamond Rio and Colin Raye on the blue-collar tribute "He Will, She Knows"; and Steve Wariner on the stylistically incongruous but exhilarating "Blue Train," a meshing of country and blues (and even a bit of scat, no less) to which Pat Bergeson's harmonica, Larry Franklin's fiddle and Shannon Forrest's drums lend locomotive effect.

Of the five forgettable tracks, easily the biggest disappointment, ironically, is "I Won't Forget," which underutilizes 1950s and '60s guitar great Duane Eddy.

Still, seven of 12 is still batting .583, which is major league, so if you're a Kenny Rogers fan, "There You Go Again" is worth checking out. — Pete ParisiVARIOUS ARTISTSRarewerks (Astralwerks)

"Rarewerks" is a rare album indeed — a compilation of hard-to-find electronica that also serves as the perfect introduction to the Astralwerks catalog for those new to techno music. For those unfamiliar with Astralwerks: It has become one of the premier labels for popular house-style DJs and bands, mostly European, who gain mainstream acceptance.

Although hard-core DJs and techno lovers may scoff at artists such as Fatboy Slim, the Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx, they are probably the best representatives of electronic music — and some of the most accessible. "Rareworks" takes listeners on a journey from the big beat jams of Fatboy Slim's "How Can You Hear Us?" to the mellow keyboard riffs of Air's "Casanova '70" and the downright hilarious, Spanish guitar-pickin' version of Basement Jaxx's "Bingo Bango."

Rounded out by tracks from Cassius, Primal Scream, the Beta Band (which did the catchy "Dry the Rain" from the movie "High Fidelity") and the Future Sound of London, "Rarewerks" has something for old-time fans and novices alike. It's not often that a primer of 11 essential artists in electronic music is coupled with interesting remixes, obscure tracks and five songs that can't be found in any version on any album. — Derek SimmonsenEVA CASSIDYNo Boundaries(Renata Music Co.)

Eva Cassidy was barely beginning to emerge as a vocal presence in the music business when she died of cancer in 1996 at age 33. The Washington-based singer had hardly made a ripple outside the Beltway. That changed with the release of a compilation disc, "Songbird," in 1998, which featured tracks from her "Live at Blues Alley" and "Eva By Heart" recordings. Suddenly, with some radio play in England and in the United States, Miss Cassidy's powerful, emotional singing found an audience. Another compilation disc, "Time After Time," followed "Songbird."

Songwriter and session keyboard player Tony Taylor has produced another disc of Miss Cassidy's session recordings, titled "No Boundaries." In eight songs over 11 tracks (three tracks are different versions of the same songs), Miss Cassidy delivers soulful vocals that rank her in a class with Toni Braxton or Mariah Carey. Mr. Taylor and guitarist David Christopher wrote most of the songs on the disc.

The song that leads off the collection, "Emotional Step," is a radio-friendly soul ballad that showcases Miss Cassidy's voice. Another highlight on the disc is the Carole King standard "Natural Woman."

Collectors who want the complete works of Miss Cassidy probably would want this album. Although nearly one-third of the material is repeated in various forms on the disc, Miss Cassidy's voice commands enough attention to merit repeated listening.— Jay VotelSTRANGEFOLKA Great Long While(What the Folk Records)

What is a great Southern rock band like Strangefolk doing in Winooski, Vt.? "A Great Long While" is the New England-based band's third recording. Guitarist Jon Trafton puts all of his influences on display with shades of everything from Jerry Garcia to Danny Gatton.

It's probably the tight vocal harmonies and powerful guitar playing that evoke the Southern rock feel of "A Great Long While." A couple of tracks also conjure up the retro R&B; grooves of Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans — especially with the use of horns on "Mama" and "Pawn."

But this recording displays some versatility. "Strangefolk" is not just for dancing. Producer Nile Rogers integrated some Dobro and pedal steel guitar in the introspective tunes "I Tell Myself" and "Cabin John." It adds a bit of country flavoring to this well-crafted collection of songs. — Jay Votel

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