Photo: Dead Space Creatures--Twelve years after blasting onto the scene, the same five members of Rocket From the Crypt are sticking with their schtick: loud and fast barroom rock.
Thursday, October 3, 2002
The Essential Santana/Sony Special Products
Not exactly a truth-in-advertising moment here--any essential disc from this proto-fusion ensemble named for its only long-standing member and leader would include their/his 1999 breakthrough Supernatural, but that is on another label, so caveat emptor.
What comprises Carlos n'' Co''s career on this Sony-only set is their incredibly rapid ascent circa 1969 and 1970, their peculiar decline after their fourth disc Caravanserai (peculiar in that the band''s level of musicianship via attrition and personnel was much higher) and their floundering stabs at FM hard-rock, fusion-jazz, dance musics, oldies redone as Latino-lite which were successful about a quarter of the time.
Noteworthy here is the evolution of Mr. Santana himself, one of rock''s most instantly recognizable players, if not one of the more technically accomplished or varied. On the early hits like "Jingo" or "Samba Pa Ti," he shoots off violently unconnected phrases as if he is desperately trying to cram his book of licks in, but by "Mirage," his fluid, limber picking was graceful and sweet.
All of the FM near-misses one craves are here, from the remakes of the Classics Four, Buddy Holly via Blind Faith, Fleetwood Mac and the rest. A ripping version of Miles'' "In a Silent Way" features the finest guitar freakout on the discs as well; however, that moment is provided by Neal Schon. Like I said, truth-in-advertising.
Frederic Galliano & The African Divas/F Communications Records
French producer Frederic Galliano, well known for his passion for African tradition and culture, is a forward-thinking leader in a movement pushing new sounds and technologies through the ceiling of the music industry. After developing collections of modern African music titled Frikiwaya, released on Six Degrees Records, Galliano continues to tune people into the rhythms of Africa by introducing the music in a different context.
Combining technology with live percussion and traditional vocals, his newest release, Frederic Galliano & The African Divas, is a collaboration between Gallia-no''s Electronic Sextet and 50 African vocalists and musicians he encountered on his travels in the last three years.
Various original recordings from the Western African lands of Mali, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Guina were carefully gathered by Galliano in his arduous quest for new musical propositions. Four years in the making, this most ambitious release blends organic, African roots with futuristic programming resulting in an album defying all genres, overflowing with artistic vision.
Rocket From the Crypt
Live From Camp X-Ray/Vagrant
The pride of San Diego, the greatest punk bar-band in America today, horny horns plus psyched-out lunatic vocals, RFTC was at one time the great hope of the indie/majors crossover. Now they''ve crossed back to Indieville and they bellow out sentiments like "I''m Not Invisible" without a trace of sarcasm or irony--they''re true believers and proud of it.
With their horns doubling up the wall of guitar roar and their endlessly shapely riffs coursing through every song, recalling proto-metal and ''60s garage concurrently, and John Reis'' anguished cry atop this smorgasbord of sound, Rocket remains the same stubborn enigma they were back at the turn of the ''90s (12 years ago, not 2). Having never lightened up or wimped out and having made nothing but rock nightclub rave-up soundtracks since they were born, this disc is yet another installment in their ongoing saga. No missteps, no wasted cuts, no fluff, just raw power served up they way they always have and always will. Seek it out.