Thursday, December 1, 2005
WILCO | Kicking Television: Live in Chicago | Nonesuch
Listening to live albums can be a painful experience. In a live setting, bands can alter their recorded works into something less than their recorded counterparts. In some instances, singers turn into kindergarten teachers trying to get a whole room full of people to repeat a few lyrics. It might be great when you are there, but it is nothing you want to hear in the confines of your own home.
That said, Chicago’s Wilco acquit themselves nicely on their first live album, the two-CD, almost two-hour-long Kicking Television: Live in Chicago. Recorded over a three-night stand at The Vic Theatre, Kicking Television dives deeply into the band’s last two albums, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born, which transformed the group from rootsy rockers into more adventurous critics’ favorites. Thankfully, the band also revisits their past with a slowed-down, country-tinged take of “Airline to Heaven” and a superb “Via Chicago” made interesting by controlled flurries of noise rock.
All in all, what makes Kicking Television an interesting document are the subtle changes that virtuoso guitarist Nels Cline brings to the songs—the jazzy soloing on “Company In My Back,” the sharp slices of guitar on “Handshake Drugs” and the mournful lap steel on “Via Chicago.” (ST)
EURYTHMICS | Be Yourself Tonight | RCA/Legacy
The epitome of upscale ‘80s pop, this duo was responsible for some of the better radio fare of that era. That ain’t saying much, given the competition, but this is exemplary, upbeat music and would be anytime, now included.
The reissue lards on the crapola (as they are wont to do) with a pair of remixed versions of the two hits from the original, “Would I Lie To You?” and “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves,” along with a handful of b-sides to boot. Forget ‘em. Ms. Lennox and Mr. Stewart had it right the first time—the hits are still punchy and urgent, the album tracks varyingly decent and the production much less digitally manipulated than one would expect. (JA)
DOUJAH RAZE | Doujah Raze | Trilogy Records
The Virginia-born Doujah Raze raps like a man born to rhyme. His self-titled debut (coming after two well-received mixtapes) is packed to the brim with solid hip-hop; it’s a smooth ride, harkening back to the days where hip-hop was simply about beats, rhymes, and life.
Doujah’s proficient DJ crew offers plenty of good beats from Shuko’s bright, boom-bap party tracks “Plastic World” and “More Than You’d Ever Know” to Double-J’s laidback, reflective jams “Clear” and “Ghosts of Mars.” All the while, Doujah flows effortlessly over it all. His style comes off as immediately familiar—whether it’s the way he seamlessly blends into a well-known chorus on “Back to You,” or gets Da Beatminerz to donate a classic tune for “Spinmata,” or the general tone of the album, it’s clear from the get-go Doujah draws inspiration from ‘90s hip-hop.
He confesses his fondness for the classics late in the album, on the interlude interview “Looking Forward,” but the point’s been previously well-proven. The first clue comes in the opener, “A Proper Introduction,” with turntablist Disko Dave throwing in cuts from everyone from Phife Dawg to Common. Later on, more winks drop with a Guru sample on “Raze,” Mobb Deep on “Virginia,” even a Mos Def snippet on “Irish Cream.” With role models like these, how can you go wrong? (BS)