God Is in the Details

While the overblown greatness of Brooker's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "A Salty Dog" is indisputable, that of Rundgren's "I Saw the Light" and his post-'70s (!) "Bang the Drum All Day" is somewhat less a given. Nevertheless, "Toddy" (as Ringo referred to him throughout) was the best imaginable guitarist for this ensemble by virtue of his ability to faithfully mimic Robin Trower, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton, not to mention his own younger self. The MVP of the All-Starrs, however, turned out to be avuncular Jack Bruce, who, in addition to elevating the overall musical quality, jammed the muscular fuck out of Cream's "I Feel Free," "Sunshine of Your Love," and "White Room" alongside wahwahing Toddy. Richard Starkey smiled benevolently down from his drum set, loving every minute of it. — Richard Gehr

Big Loss

Polymorphous creativity fueled by powerful, all-encompassing faith: Danielsonship at Knitting Factory
Andrew Goldberg
Polymorphous creativity fueled by powerful, all-encompassing faith: Danielsonship at Knitting Factory

New York's underground hip-hop community was shaken by the loss of a beloved figure last week. On the evening of February 15, Lamont Coleman, known to fans as Big L, was found murdered in his Harlem neighborhood. Police discovered his body in a West 139th Street building with fatal wounds to the head and chest. Detectives at Harlem's 32nd Precinct refused to comment on the case until their investigation is complete, but recent published reports indicate that there are no known suspects or motives at this time. The 22-year-old Coleman joins a tragic succession of New York rap artists, including Tribe Called Quest associate Kid Hood and Boogie Down Productions founder Scott LaRock, whose promising careers were cut short by violence.

Known for his witty, literary, lyrical style and for being near, but never quite at the center of commercial success, Coleman appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough in 1999. Mase and Cam'ron, two of his partners in the early '90s group Children of the Corn, went on to MTV stardom, but Coleman's 1995 Columbia debut, Lifestylez of the Poor and Dangerous, only earned limited critical attention. At the time of his death, though, Coleman's independently released single, "Ebonics," was receiving consistent airplay on the indiecentric radio mix shows hosted by WKCR's Bobbito Garcia and WNYU's DJ Eclipse. Reflecting on Big L's love for hip-hop, Garcia notes, "He didn't care whether he had a record out or not, he was the type of cat who just loved to rhyme. I don't remember him being all that talkative. He'd just come into the studio and fuckin' rip it."

With other members of the influential Diggin' In Tha Crates collective, including rappers Fat Joe and O.C., and rapper-producer Diamond D, Coleman had also begun working on a full-length album for Tommy Boy Records that was to be released in June. According to Eclipse, proceeds from two forthcoming independent singles will go toward burial costs, and a DITC concert scheduled for March 6 at Tramps will serve as a memorial for Coleman. — Kem Poston

Pretty Fly. . .?

The Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli is the type of guy who likes to pepper his conversation with the words "muthafucker" and "pussy." He's unrepentantly chauvinistic and as horny as a 14-year-old boy. And, yes, he looks like the kinda guy you'd want to sucker punch for being so revoltingly cocky. (In Austin a couple of months back, a club employee allegedly clocked him so good that he landed in hospital, causing the two-month postponement of last week's Bowery Ballroom shows). Still, the singer has hoodwinked a small but devoted harem of post-collegiate girls nursing indie-rock hangovers into believing he's, to quote from the Whigs' latest album, 1965, somethin' hot.

On Friday night, Dulli, and his mythologized libido, commandeered the Whigs' Rabelaisian revelry with the controlling grace of a lion tamer. He played the scoundrel to a T, the mock-guilt that lets starry-eyed girls forgive him lines like "I've got a dick for a brain" long gone. He even went so far as to bellow, "New York, your pussy getting wet?"

Augmenting their standard four-piece lineup with two backup singers and a keyboardist, the Whigs' show succeeds as sheer booty-shakin' bedlam. Even material from their rightfully overlooked Black Love shook and shimmied under the souped-up approach. Cuts from the amusingly oversexed 1965 boogie-woogie-oogied while songs from Gentlemen shed some of their gloominess in favor of unadulterated bump 'n' grind.

And though he wisely refrained from asking "What's the dilly yo?" Dulli wants you to know he's pretty fly for a white guy. Accordingly, the Whigs laid down the funk, deftly working in snippets of "Superstitious," "Pusherman," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," "Little Red Corvette," and "Candy Girl." Later, aping an alt-rock contemporary with similar blues leanings, Dulli shouted out, "Whigs Explosion! Whigs Explosion!"

By encore time, the singer had spiffed up his simple black outfit with black sunglasses, black hat, and most fetchingly, a black sparkly feather boa befitting a penny whore. He asked if he looked like Truman Capote. Well, the girls next to me thought he resembled Bono; a friend thought he looked like a younger Van Morrison, and I thought he looked like a Vegas pimp. Not bad for a night's work. — Laura Morgan

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