- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 23, 2002

BON JOVI
Bounce
(Island Def Jam)
The boys are back. Not that they ever really left. "Bounce," Bon Jovi's new album and eighth overall, will mean different things to each listener.
Some of the songs on this CD "Everyday," "Undivided," and "Bounce" were inspired partly by the tragedy of September 11. According to the band's Web site, the song "Hook Me Up" plunges into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some may think this material is a bit heavy for a rock album, but Bon Jovi does it well.
Led by frontman Jon Bon Jovi, "Bounce" also offers the listener many songs about love and relationships. The track "Love Me Back to Life" features hard guitar riffs, while the catchy "You Had Me at Hello" is a beautiful ballad with soft guitar accompaniment and tender lyrics. The track "Misunderstood" is a great song about making mistakes in a relationship.
This 12-track CD has a harder edge to it than many previous Bon Jovi albums, with most of that coming from Richie Sambora, one of the best and most underrated guitar players. Another fascinating quality about this album is that it has full string orchestration on many of the tracks.
Much of "Bounce" feels as if Bon Jovi is returning to its roots, which makes this a must-have CD for any of the group's fans.
Amy Baskerville

RICHARD WAGNER
"Der Fliegende Hollaender," opera in three acts with soprano Jane Eaglen, baritone Falk Struckmann and Daniel Barenboim conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin.
(Teldec Classics)
Does the world really need another recording of Wagner's first mature work, "Der Fliegende Hollaender," a retelling of the legend of the Dutchman who must sail the seas for eternity unless he finds a woman faithful unto death?
The answer in this case may depend on your devotion to Daniel Barenboim, who has issued his second complete Wagner recording in less than a year with two of the same singers in leading roles.
Jane Eaglen, the English soprano renowned for her Bruennhilde and Isolde, is heard here as Senta, the Norwegian maiden obsessed with the Dutchman's story. She acquits herself admirably though Mr. Barenboim's decision to restore Senta's ballad to its original key of A minor exposes her tendency to thin out on very high notes. Though it's nice to hear her as Senta and as Elisabeth on Mr. Barenboim's recent "Tannhaeuser," a record of her two signature roles would be more to the point.
Tenor Peter Seiffert, who took the title role in the "Tannhaeuser" album, returns here in the smaller part of Erik, Senta's jilted suitor, and sounds uncomfortable.
Baritone Falk Struckmann is an impressive Dutchman, dark-toned and solid, while bass Robert Holl is warm and hearty as Senta's father, Daland. In the small role of the Steersman, tenor Rolando Villazon reveals a rich voice of uncommon delicacy.
Mr. Barenboim's interpretation is fast-paced and muscular, in keeping with the full-speed-ahead nature of Wagner's score. Still, he doesn't slight the introspective passages, such as the Dutchman's soliloquy or his Act 2 duet with Senta.
Associated Press

KEELY SMITH
Keely Swings Basie Style
(Concord Records)
Some artists seem to get better with time, and Keely Smith is one of them. It is hard to believe that at age 74, her voice seems to be better then ever.
Miss Smith's latest entry into the music scene is "Keely Swings Basie Style." This CD is the latest in a series paying tribute to the composers and singers who have influenced her career. In this case, the tribute is to William "Count" Basie, for whom Miss Smith first worked in 1963. Backed by an 18-piece orchestra and a 22-piece string section, the songstress breathes new life into Count Basie's timeless tracks.
The listener will be awed by "Mood Indigo," "The House I Live in/Star Spangled Banner" and "Love for Sale." Other highlights include the sultry "You Go to My Head" and the delightfully smooth "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)." Miss Smith also honors her Indian heritage with the fast-paced "Cherokee (Indian Love Song).
The orchestra and string sections help make this CD special. The listener easily can visualize them behind Miss Smith, having a good time while playing the music of the "Count." With such a combination of talented musicians and Miss Smith's amazing voice, Count Basie's music comes alive as never before.
A.B.
Matchbox Twenty

More Than You Think You Are
(Atlantic)
How do you top two multiplatinum albums and numerous top-10 hits? If you're Matchbox Twenty, you throw away the formula and try something new.
The result: "More Than You Think You Are," which offers a refreshing sound that's both harsher and more soulful than previous efforts.
The first single, "Disease," about leaving an addictive relationship, offers the best rocking vocal effort by lead singer Rob Thomas since the early hit "Push." It's punctuated by a '70s-inspired, hard-driven melody that offers a danceable beat.
Although "Disease" will likely be the biggest success, the rest of the material shows wonderful breadth and depth in a band often overlooked for more flashy acts.
"More Than You Think You Are" moves easily between songs such as "Cold," with its rock-driven beat, and "Feel," a gospel-tinged track, and back again.
Although Mr. Thomas' writing holds the album together, there also are well-rounded songs written by other band members. Drummer Paul Doucette's "Could I Be With You" and Kyle Cook's "Feel" are solid songs that are part of the whole rather than afterthoughts.
It's an awesome effort; the real question is whether fans will grow with the band on this album.
AP


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