Getting Bizzy

U2
All That You Can't Leave Behind (Interscope)
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I know they're with a new label if not corporation, but the transformation I imagine was simpler. They woke up one day, glanced around a marketplace where art wasn't mega anymore, and figured that since they'd been calling themselves pop for half of their two-decade run, maybe they'd better sit down and write some catchy songs. So they did. The feat's offhandedness is its most salient charm and nagging limitation. If I know anything, which with this band I never have, their best. A MINUS

HANK WILLIAMS
Alone With His Guitar (Mercury)
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Like most rock and rollers, and most country fans, I much prefer Hank the honky-tonker. But back before Pete Seeger claimed eminent domain, Williams just as often conceived himself as a folksinger. Mixing standards with obscurities and originals with covers, this 18-track selection from the countless solo demos and radio transcriptions preserved on his daunting nine-CD set will satisfy most of us. His directness is in relief, and though his natural sense of rhythm is irrepressible, his natural gravity overpowers it. If you wonder how the songwriter could get as starkly lugubrious as "A Teardrop on a Rose," listen to the singer bore into "With Tears in My Eyes" and "Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine." A MINUS


Pick Hit

PJ HARVEY
Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
(Island)
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If Nirvana and Robert Johnson are rock's essence for you, so's To Bring You My Love. But if you believe the Beatles and George Clinton had more to say in the end, this could be the first PJ album you adore as well as admire. It's a question of whether you use music to face your demons or to vault right over them. Either way the demons will be there, of course, and nobody's claiming they won't catch you by the ankle and bring you down sometime—or that facing them doesn't give you a shot at running them the fuck over. Maybe that's how Harvey got to where she could enjoy the fruits of her own genius and sexuality. Or maybe she just met the right guy. Tempos and pudendum juiced, she feels the world ending and feels immortal on the very first track. The other 11 songs she takes from there. A PLUS


Pick Hit

OUTKAST
Stankonia
(LaFace/Arista)
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Comic and expansive, P-Funk were '60s from their psychedelic universalism to their rock dreams. OutKast are straight outta the Reaganism that immiserated underclass blacks who could still laugh at Star Child back when. They still take gangsta's Reaganomic equation of crime and self-help too seriously, which imparts cred as it narrows the grand good time they have whether they're petitioning their babygranny or loving deez hoez "from the wigs to the fake eyes to the fake nails down to the toes." But on this album their realism and high spirits drive each other higher. There's more bounce-to-the-ounce and less molasses in the jams, more delight and less braggadocio in the raps. Ever the happiness salesman, Big Boi would like you to know that every song has a hook. Dre's chief interest is the ideas. Drawl this very fast: "Speeches only reaches those who already know about it/This is how we go about it."A


Dud of the Month

PAUL OAKENFOLD
Perfecto Presents Another World (Sire)
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"I think maybe the next generation of clubbers will want to move out of the hip-hop, r&b vibe—they'll want something a bit more," posits the Guinness World Record DJ (opened for U2, you know) as he predicts U.S. dominion for his post-Balearic tranceport, which turns out to be textured Eurodisco BPMs sans diva mess. It's only a mix record (twomix records, why stint in utopia?), so how bad can it be? Start with four tracks featuring Dead Can Dance and/or Lisa Gerrard. And for that mass appeal—Blade Runner! C


Additional Consumer News

HONORABLE MENTION: Mystikal, Let's Get Ready(Jive): gangsta shit finally beneath him, he bids to become pop's scariest party animal ("Shake Ya Ass," "Big Truck Boys," "Family"); Afrobeat . . . No Go Die! (Shanachie): ultimately, the man made the style (Dele Sosimi, "Gbedu 1"; Kiala, "Batumwindu"); Mohammed Reza Shajarian/Kahyan Kalhor, Night Silence Desert(Traditional Crossroads): Persian classical meets Persian folk halfway, more entrancingly than any techno meld for sure ("Rain," "Festive Occasion"); Gloria Deluxe, Hooker(Gloria Deluxe): living-room alt-country blues from Brooklyn, I guess—with Dixieland horn section? ("Cheap Two-Faced Star," "Family Tree"); Mozambique Relief(Naxos World): the Afropop miracle—out of want, exultation (Ghorwane, "Mayvavo"; José Mucavele, "Golheani"); Twilo Volume 1: Junior Vasquez(Virgin): two and a half hours of complex build toward the black female voice (Dubtribe Sound System, "Equitorial"; Kelis Feat. Terrar, "Good Stuff"); Papa Roach, Infest(DreamWorks): singing or rapping, they speak truth for their not yet dysfunctional cohort ("Infest," "Revenge"); Taquachito Nights: Conjunto Music From South Texas(Smithsonian Folkways): best of a 1998 festival, a formula for mediocrity that beats the odds for once (Gilberto Pérez y sus Compadres, "El Burro Pardo"; Joe Ramos y Ellos, "Maldito Vicio"); the Kinleys, II(Epic): big-pop don't suit 'em, surprise surprise, but happy love songs still do ("Me Too," "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"); Rah Digga, Dirty Harriet(Elektra): "Let's take their bail money/Make it hair and nail money" ("Imperial," "Do the Ladies Run This . . . "); Offwhyte,Squints(Galapagos4): ambient hip-hop, all shadowy soundscape and free-floating intelligence ("Reallocated Resources," "Galapagos Four"); Limp Bizkit, Chocolate St*rfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water(Flip/Interscope): minimal sexism, doody jokes for corporate America, and the best rapping money can borrow ("Rollin' [Urban Assault Vehicle]," "Getcha Groove On"); Automator, A Much Better Tomorrow(75 Ark): remixed 1996 DIY EP plus more Kool Keith and atmospherics ("Buck Buck," "King of NY"); the 6ths, Hyacinths and Thistles(Merge): make that 83 love songs—these 14 delicately rendered when you're in the mood, preciously undercut when you're not ("You You You You You," "Waltzing Me All the Way Home"); Deltron 3030(75 Ark): better Del should branch into science fiction than crime fiction—but better he should stick to confessional fiction than either ("Things We Can Do," "Madness").

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