- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 24, 2001

OLD 97'SSatellite Rides(Elektra Records)

Rhett Miller of Old 97's sings love songs with the wail of a teen-ager sorting through his first heartache. That raw tone, and the band's ever-inquisitive lyrics, set it apart from its alt-country peers.

The group's latest barrage of folk-rock love letters, "Satellite Rides," powers ahead with the rough eagerness of the band's 1996 CD, "Wreck Your Life." Somewhat muted are the killer hooks that permeated the quartet's "Fight Songs" of two years ago. If that raucous release didn't earn them a wider audience, "Satellite Rides" sure won't.

That doesn't diminish the chugging guitars which fuel "King of All the World," the album's fire-starting first song. Nor does it rob "Rollerskate Skinny," the following track, of its obvious enticements — lyrics so sublimely silly they almost obscure its punchy chorus.

"Up the Devil's Pay" offers a falsetto hook that digs deep, and it takes six tracks before the first ballad, "Question," gently presses on the CD's brakes. Once more, Mr. Miller's vocals are imperfect and proud, and the band's countrified heritage is further obscured under a barrage of guitars and drum fire.

The album sputters a bit toward the finish line, but rebounds with the mercurial "Nervous Guy," a sketchy song that leaves one with a feast for thought. With "Satellite Rides," the Old 97's appear intent to gently push past their Nashville sound, offer up more crunchy rock and keep kicking love right where it hurts. — Christian TotoAARON WEIMAN TRIOI Am Here(Roschelle Records)

This impressive debut volume is as assertive personally as it is musically. Washington's own Aaron Weiman, who initiated the project at age 17, is an experienced jazz pianist and protege of musician-composer Stanley Cowell, a part-time resident of Prince George's County.

Hugh Lawson's "Prose #1" led off the "Handscapes 95" CD of Mr. Cowell's six-member Piano Choir. The second selection on Mr. Weiman's CD — after a pulsing driving "Simone" by Frank Foster — also is "Prose #1," with Mr. Weiman taking the lead and drummer Steve Williams soon moving to the fore.

The third member of what is billed as the Aaron Weiman Trio is well-known bassist Cheyney Thomas, who shows a range of beautiful colors in the elegiac "I'll Remember April." Then comes a homage to Bill Evans, with the late pianist-composer's soulful "Blue in Green," followed by the jaunty "Bemsha Swing" from another master, Thelonious Monk, almost the signature piece here.

We get two of Mr. Weiman's own melodic compositions in "We Got It Good" and "No Tomatoes," both energetic engaging tunes. Also included is a classic, "Things Ain't What They Used To Be," by Mercer Ellington, and Bud Powell's rollicking "Strictly Confidential."

The stroll down memory lane isn't complete without an original piece from Mr. Weiman's composer-chanteuse grandmother, Roschelle Paul of San Francisco, titled "Another Spring." The woman whom her grandson calls Grandma Rocky — an active performer in her 80th year — introduced him to the piano.

A reprise of "Bemsha Swing" closes the recording, followed by sounds of laughter in the background, possibly relief on the part of the musicians after finishing such a punishing program.— Ann GeracimosVARIOUS ARTISTSOutlaw: The Electro Acoustic Tribute to Bon Jovi(CMH Records)

This is a great acoustical album. Think of it as Bon Jovi unplugged, except that Bon Jovi does not appear on the album, just the band's music.

Although performed by various artists, the album was arranged, recorded, mixed and produced by Milos "Dodo" Dolezal. This 10-track tribute album includes Bon Jovi's hits "Livin' on a Prayer," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Wanted Dead or Alive," "Shot Through the Heart" and "Blaze Of Glory."

Mr. Dolezal is a Czech rock guitar player, who started playing professionally at age 18. Later, he came to the United States to study at the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles and went on to play with different musicians.

The performers on this CD stay pretty much true to form with Bon Jovi's music while also adding their own interpretations.— Amy BaskervilleMARY LYMAN JACKSONJoyful Mysteries(Mercy Productions)

This concert pianist has produced a suite of beautiful, meditative piano pieces on various aspects of the birth of Christ — interwoven with the difficult history of her own family. The five pieces, named "The Annunciation," "The Visitation," "The Nativity," "The Presentation" and "In the Temple," were composed and taped by the pianist as an effort to raise funds for an inner-city ministry she operates.

It is quite a fund-raiser. The best piece is definitely the first cut, "Annunciation," a majestic piece that sounds like the perfect movie score. It is all the more heart-rending when you learn the circumstances of how she composed it; how the music came to her one day while her late husband lay dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. The sweetness of the piece does not hint at her anguish. It is a true orchestral poem expressing the composer's wish to accept the will of God, whatever that may be.

The other pieces are all dedicated each to one of the pianist's three children and then to her parents. "The Presentation" has a mysterious, haunting sound to it, and "In the Temple" is solemn, marking the presentation of Jesus to the priests in the temple at Jerusalem. This CD is being marketed through a Web site: www.mercyproductions.com and is beautifully packaged with family photos and Scripture passages. — Julia DuinJEZZRO AND HUFFWorldbeat Brazil(Green Hill Productions)

Definitely the coolest song on this collection of Brazilian New Age music is the fourth cut, "Silent Circle," which starts with a rain shower, then fills the room with the sound of tinkling bells in an echo chamber. It sounds as if the listener is standing in a tropical jungle. The album is purely instrumental.

Unfortunately, the jacket of this CD gives little hint of which instruments were used in this widely varied offering. Other cuts are pretty, such as "El Dorado" and "Red Moon," with its sultry guitar and percussion. There's a lot in the world music genre here, but most everything has a Latin lilt to it. All songs are written by David Lyndon Huff and Jack Jezzro. — J.D.GLORIA ESTEFANGloria Estefan Greatest Hits, Volume 2(Sony/Epic Records)Remember when a greatest hits album would mean songs that reached the top of the charts. Now it just means an album full of old songs with a couple of new ones thrown in for good measure. To that end, Gloria Estefan returns with another greatest hits album. This one features songs that were released from 1993 to 2000, along with three new songs.

The 13-track album has a couple of bright spots, such as the fun remake of the Vicki Sue Robinson disco song "Turn the Beat Around," along with "Reach," which was the official theme of the 1996 Summer Olympics, and "Music of the Heart," the Oscar-nominated duet with 'N Sync. Another bright spot is the new song "You Can't Walk Away From Love," written by Miss Estefan and her husband, Emilio, for the upcoming motion picture "Original Sin."

Included on the CD is the new remix version of "Conga," the song that pushed Miss Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine into the spotlight. The song was updated and renamed "Y-Tu-Conga" as an underground house anthem by Miss Estefan's son Nayib and Little Louie Vega. The new version has lost the appeal of the original and tries too hard to be an underground dance song.

Although this album is not outstanding, die-hard fans of Miss Estefan will enjoy it. — A.B.DOG FASHION DISCOAnarchists of Good Taste(Eagle Rock Entertainment/Spitfire Records)

"Anarchists of Good Taste," the first major label offering from this local band, brings to mind some evil clowns moshing around in a tent and bopping audience members with guitars.

Why those connotations? DFD, which had its CD release party several weeks ago at the Black Cat downtown, stands out because it adds carnival-like keyboards to the mix. For instance, the keyboards on "Vertigo Motel" recall the Doors, and DFD throws a surprise jazz riff in the middle as an interlude.

DFD uses interludes often, changing tune and tempo seven or eight times in several tracks. "9 to 5 at the Morgue," one of the better songs, slips into a flute interlude midway through before rocking out again. The group, which got its breakthrough after an appearance on the USA Network's "Farmclub.com" last year, is at its best in these dynamic, often-slower songs. The static tracks, such as "Leper Friend," have more punch but less impact. — Scott SilversteinPAUL GORDONJane Eyre: The Musical(Sony Classical)Broadway newcomer Paul Gordon's score and lyrics make "Jane Eyre: The Musical" a soundtrack that is both unnerving and refreshing.

Co-director John Caird contributed additional lyrics to this album, whose powerful but melancholy tones are slightly reminiscent of the critically acclaimed and popular scores of "Les Miserables" and "The Phantom of the Opera," though without the huge chorus numbers of either of the shows.

Songs range from the haunting yet innocent "Forgiveness" and "The Graveyard," to passionate duets by the characters Jane and Rochester, such as "Sirens" and "Brave Enough for Love." Consistent themes of religion, love and redemption run through the score.

A passionate and infectious score, this is sure to be a family favorite. — Stephanie K. Taylor

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