Thursday, November 9, 2006
THE CLASH | The Singles | Legacy
Re-packaged over and over so many times, you’d think that Legacy and this legendary group would throw in the towel, but here’s another go-round. Like their equally over-marketed punk brethren the Ramones or the Sex Pistols, you do wonder how many more collections exist past a boxed set or three—but this music is enduring, so then, who really minds another shuffling of the deck?
Nicely put together, there is over and underkill afoot here. There was no need to have virtually every mix extant of “The Magnificent Seven” nor more than one take on “Radio Clash” and in reality, the only remix/remake here that’s really revelatory is the dub version of “Bankrobber” retitled “Rockers Galore” with a toasting Mikey Dread atop a fractured version of that single.
Absent is “Safe European Home,” the actual debut single off their second disc and there are no hyperactive extensions of their greatest radio moment “Train in Vain.” So, it’s not entirely accurate. The tunes and their alternate renditions are unbreakable; however, the originals and covers stand indistinguishable from each other and the mixes bring back the birth of the extended take like it was yesterday. Assuming you’re not already knee deep in their “greatest hits” packs already, why not get this one? —Johnny Angel
JENNIFER O’CONNOR | Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars | Matador
Jennifer O’Connor has all the signs of singer/songwriter stardom: lyrics that manage to be both cathartic and catchy, world-weary vocals that only hint at an underbelly of melancholy and, best of all, the enviable hum of critical acclaim. Now all the Emory grad needs is for more fans to catch on.
Over the Mountain takes a break from the affectations of her strong sophomore effort, with a more straightforward philosophy toward indie folk that evokes Aimee Mann and Liz Phair. And having guest artists such as Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Yo La Tengo’s James McNew can’t hurt. The final track, “I’ll Bring You Home,” deserves to become a singalong classic best belted late at night in crowded bars—beer buzz recommended but not required. —Tray Butler
DON BYRON | Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker | Blue Note
With their growling saxes, yelled vocals, and low-mic’d production, Jr. Walker and the All Stars were probably the roughest act in Motown’s otherwise glossy ’60s roster. But they weren’t rough enough for jazz clarinetist Don Byron, who dunks Walker’s grooves even deeper into the gutbucket, rendering them as vulgar, belly-rubbin’ rhythm-and-blues. Mostly he does this by gnarling up the originals’ texture—Byron’s arrangements are similar to Walker’s, but George Colligan’s Hammond organ provides an overflow of grease, as do David Gilmore and Chris Thomas King’s almost cartoonishly bluesy guitars. Suddenly, even Walker’s best-known anthem, “Shotgun,” goes from jump-and-holler workout to sleazy, cocksure swagger.
For most of the record, Byron puts aside his clarinet, replacing it with tenor sax, the better to capture this music’s earthy punch. But when he takes out his usual ax on “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love),” it’s a masterstroke. The guitars, the organ, and King’s vocal step back, the drums affect a tight funk vamp, and Byron lets his clarinet, both ponderous and suggestive, do the emoting.
Although Byron’s quest for the salacious energizes Do the Boomerang, it does get to be a bit monotonous—even when Walker was rewriting his own hits, he managed to disguise them enough to capture the attention, but Byron tends to their similarities. When he does shake things up, though, the results are distinctive. —Michael J. West