Happy You Near

Forget centuries and millennia—it's the tail end of the decade, and as I commence my poll labors, I don't see where the usual late discoveries are going to come from. With a third CG book staring me down, I've been keeping up. Still, it's nice to know that next time there'll be a '99 or two I've never heard of.

Baby Gramps
Same Ol' Timeously

This long-overdue CD from a post-Luddite codger who prefers 78s features a unique guitar style only other folkies can hear and not a one of his endless supply of Dylan covers. Instead we get blatant blues and welcome Wobbly songs, cartoon heroes, throat-singing techniques learned from Popeye or a pet frog, and loving versions of "Teddy Bears' Picnic," "Let's All Be Fairies," and "I'm Gonna Eat Some Worms." Also eight minutes of palindromes (damned if I can make the "Margy" in his sobriquet do such tricks) and a recitation utilizing but a single vowel (not counting—can't fool me, Bearded Wonder—"Don Juans" and "ironical"). Inspirational uncontrovertible (sic) facts: "Rooks do not roost on spoons nor woodcocks snort/No dog on snowdrop rolls/Nor common frogs concoct long protocols." A MINUS

The Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sound of Science
(Grand Royal/Capitol)

Simultaneously overconfident and generous as usual, this asynchronously omnivorous package has all the hits, only there aren't that many, so 16 of 42 tracks are "rarities." In their opinion, that doesn't include the revelating early single "She's Got It" or the fine late B side "Skills To Pay the Bills." It does include Fatboy Slim's "Body Movin' " remix, which is as much fun as "Fight for Your Right," which they apologize for, although they're proud to debut "Boomin' Granny," which puts moves on a "sassy, sophisticated, sexy" 80-year-old in the checkout line (hey, that's my mama—and the song's nice in an offensive sort of way, their calling card). Of course, their rarities can be as flat as anybody else's, as can their showcases, like the Latin-funk "Sabrosa" on its third go-round. Rappers and rockers, wise guys seeking wisdom, they'll try anything twice and convince half their many fans to like it, usually to the benefit of said fans if not musical history. This is their claim on said history. They've earned it. A MINUS

Sheryl Crow and Friends
Live From Central Park

Boy did this look like some rock-star bullshit when it happened—Clapton, McLachlan, Richards, Hynde, Nicks, Chicks, oy. All that was missing was Carlos Santana. Only it turned into rock-star bullshit in the best sense—the songcraft and tasty licks to which the '60s-turned-'70s have long been reduced suffused with their full complement of reassuring meaningfulness and congenial noblesse oblige. Crow's unairbrushed enthusiasm bridges the generations, and when she gets too bland anyway a fellow professional steps in to reaffirm our shared fallibility. As always, the man called Richards is especially disarming in this role. They mean us well, why not? It ain't love, but it ain't bad. A MINUS

Destiny's Child
The Writing's on the Wall

I like teenpop fine, but please, one song at a time. And since teenpop likes this glamorous femme quartet, individual songs are all a reasonable grownup would expect. Uh-uh. Lyrics are the usual problem—if there's a quotable quote here, I haven't noticed it. But that may just be because the multivalent harmonies, suavely irregular beats, and, not incidentally, deep-seated self-respect have been keeping me busy ever since I heard through the visuals. B PLUS

Dr. Doom
First Come, First Served
(Funky Ass)

Having offed porn junkie Dr. Octagon and bought some incense to hide the smell, Kool Keith's serial killer gets as funky as your bedmate's breath in the morning. Old tropes remain—ass cracks, organ damage, race-baiting, second-level sports stars, claims of biz savvy. But though the beats remain electro, the slasher-movie shtick moves his buddies the Diesel Truckers to find out how low his production can go, including a hook that has Peter Lorre wheedling "I'm very hungry" again just when you thought it was safe to get back in the elevator. No rapper has ever imagined such disgusting apartments—lurid locales with fluorescent cereal on the floor. More than all the "body parts in shopping carts," it's the decor that puts the "fake gangsta hardcore stories" Dooom despises to shame. A MINUS

Drive-By Truckers
Pizza Deliverance
(Soul Wax)

Rockers playing sorta-country with rough enthusiasm and nothing like a sound, they make their mark detailing the semivoluntary poverty DIY musicians share with the highly subsuburban constituency they imagine. These are people who'd love to have more money, shit yes, but don't know the first thing about kissing ass, people who think six-packs are necessities of life and Dixie Chicks CDs aren't. So they fuck up as a life principle and then write or listen to songs about it—songs about getting loaded and screwing your sister-in-law, about shooting that lady at the laundromat who stole your sock. About fucking up just like your daddy. About G.G. Allin changing your life, never mind exactly how. A MINUS

Next Page »
New York Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • May
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu