- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002


Southern Hummingbird

(The Gold Mind/Elektra)

R&B artist Tweet sings of friendship, good and bad romances and the life-long search for self in this debut album.

The album or what appears to be her life story in musical format moves quickly as Tweet waits for her new love interest to arrive at "My Place" on the CD's first cut. Then you are fast-forwarded several years in the second cut after the man has broken her heart and left her "Smoking Cigarettes" on the front porch.

There is a cool duet with R&B artist Bilal, and the risque first release, "Oops (Oh My)," is doing well on MTV and local radio stations.

This album hits the mark for those who like to sit back and relax to slow-flowing rhythms. It has only a few thumping dance tunes and a lot of smooth grooves that seem to fit Tweet's voice and musical style.

But is Tweet this year's Alicia Keys or Lauryn Hill and destined to win a lot of Grammys? Probably not.

Brian DeBose


C'mon C'mon


Thank goodness for the skip button.

It'll get a workout when people listen to Sheryl Crow's latest release, "C'mon C'mon." About half of the tunes are worth hearing; the rest should have been left on the cutting-room floor.

Musically, "C'mon C'mon" has no cohesiveness. Numerous guest stars don't help the album jell.

Lyrically, Miss Crow doesn't score points for originality with lines such as "life is what happens when you're making plans" a line recorded by John Lennon more than 20 years ago.

Equally insipid is this painful couplet: "I'm just like the weather/I keep changing my mind."

The album opens promisingly enough with "Steve McQueen," a tightly knit three-minute rocker. The next song, "Soak up the Sun," is a catchy Beatlesque ditty that benefits from backing vocals courtesy of Liz Phair.

But the Don Henley duet on "It's So Easy" sounds as if were cut at a karaoke bar by pop-star wannabes.

Speaking of karaoke, why is Gwyneth Paltrow singing on "It's Only Love"? Thankfully, her vocals are so low in the mix it could be Miss Piggy singing and no one would be the wiser.

The best song on the album is its last. On "Weather Channel," Miss Crow turns down the volume and finds an easygoing vibe with the help of Emmylou Harris.

But Miss Crow's uneven effort leaves the listener in awe one minute and screaming "C'mon" in frustration the next. Associated Press


The Rough Guide to Bollywood

(World Music Network)

This is hardly a comprehensive guide to Bollywood, but it's a good starter disc for Western listeners. Bollywood refers to India's Bombay-based film industry, which churns out musicals.

DJ Ritu, who's well known in Britain for her Bollywood club nights, has put together an impressive collection of Indian love songs with helpful liner notes, describing each of the tracks and the performers. She says she would rather have done a more club-oriented disc, but contractural obligations made this impossible.

Still, even without a strong club beat on most tracks, the CD offers a large number of upbeat moments. The opening track, "Dum Maro Dum" from the 1970s film "Hare Rama Hare Krishna," which portrays the drug culture of the hippie trail to Katmandu, Nepal, forges a campy rock beat with singer Asha Bhosle's confident, soaring vocals. This track and "Piya Tu Ab to Aaja" from the film "Caravan," represent the naughtier side of 1970s Bollywood, which mirrored somewhat the liberal experimentation going on at the same time within American cinema.

These songs are arguably more interesting than the traditional love songs that follow, including "Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata" from the film "Kabhi Kabhie," a gentle ballad with alternating male and female vocals. These tracks have a beauty all of their own, though, especially the above track and the incredibly popular "Chura Liya Hai Tum Ne," from the film "Yaadon Ki Bhaaratt" which features an elegant duet between Miss Bhosle and film star Mohammed Rafi.

The jump between somber pieces like these and the pure kitsch of "Yeh Dosti Hum Nahin," from the early 1970s flick "Sholay," described in the liner notes as a "Curry Western" is a bit jarring and marks one of the few flaws of this collection. Surprisingly, the newer songs stand out as well as the classic tracks, with a bit more of a modern dance sensibility.

"Ek Pal Ka Jeena" features a distinct pan flute and a sharp acoustic guitar sound that made it one of 2000's most popular Indian club tracks. The album's closer uses a lush string arrangement to surround "Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani," which means "Still my heart is Indian," an anthem to Indian transplants abroad.

It's hard not to be sucked in by the drama and camp of Bollywood. The music, especially to Western ears, is quite refreshing with its mix of rock and old-school Broadway singalongs. Derek Simmonsen


Ali: Original Soundtrack II

(Decca Records/Universal Music)

This is an 11-track album that features a mixture of genres, including blues, classical and Afro pop. The listener should be aware that a few of these compositions run barely more than two minutes.

The soundtrack features original music from Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke. Their five contributions include "Time Flies Away," which gives the listener the illusion of wind blowing through the song while haunting vocals are heard in the background. The others are "Sleeper," "Black Attack," "Adagio" and "That's What You Always Do," which has a jazz and blues flavor.

Other artists include guitar-playing bluesman Mighty Joe Young, with "As the Years Go Passing By." Afro pop pioneer Salif Keita lends his talent with "Papa" and "Sanni Kegniba." Another track that the listener will enjoy is Martin Tillman's "Ceremony," with the sound of the string section throughout it.

Amy Baskerville

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