Tonic for Americans

Afropoppers, geezers, Qur'an readers, and Christians invite your participatory discretion

A corporate pilot who went showbiz during the first Bush's recession, Tippin broke with the undeniable "You've Got to Stand for Something," a defense of the first Bush's Iraq war that can apply to any principled behavior—"You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything," right, and just who stood and who fell this time? Ditched by RCA during a preemptive 1999 downsizing, he opened a convenience store-gun shop while awaiting the chance to unleash his grandiose, jingoistic "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly," eventually a big hit for George W. Bush and Hollywood Records. But this decline need not concern us here. The latest and best of four competing BMG collections shows off Tippin's serrated high edge, impolite drawl, and unchurched ways. The songs earn titles like "Working Man's Ph.D.," "Honky-Tonk Superman," "She Feels Like a Brand New Man Tonight," and "There Ain't Nothing Wrong With the Radio" (about a car, not the radio). "My Blue Angel" and Billy Swan's "I Can Help" argue his romantic side, and so does "A Door," I guess. But when Tippin sings "A door ain't nothing but a way to get through a wall," I sure wonder why the two of us can't build one. A MINUS


Dud of the Month

COLIN BLUNSTONE ROD ARGENT: THE ZOMBIES
As Far as I Can See . . .
(Rhino)

"In you I found my Odyssey and Oracle," Rod's lyric sheet has Colin emoting, cashing in their long unjustly obscure, now unjustly classic post-breakup album while correcting for the youthful foolishness that makes it sing—in 1968 they ignorantly or pretentiously spelled it "Odessey." Where that one was suffused in preemptive nostalgia, this one is soggy with denial. It's full of better ways and flights into the sun, fresh starts on the south side and lives changed by the magic of Memphis (Egypt). Mortality casts its shadow—the April death of bassist Paul Atkinson is all over their longing for renewal. But the dull language deflects death's sting, and the music is craven crap that would have appalled them at 14 or 24—schlock orchestrations, socko choruses, showtime overstatements bound for the casino circuit. It's fine, maybe even essential, to assert your vitality as an old man. But imitating the old men you remember from boyhood is an ass-backwards way of doing it. C MINUS


Additional Consumer

Honorable Mention

JAOJOBY
Aza Arianao
(Indigo import)

His 2000 incarnation, gentler and more choral ("Somaiko Somainao," "Alima").

ISSA BAGAYOGO
Tassoumakan
(Six Degrees)

The finest Afro-European rhythmic structures Mali can provide ("Diama Don," "Dya").

GINNY OWENS
Beautiful
(Rocketown)

Blind pop sexpot for Jesus ("I Love the Way," "I Know Who You Are").

ASHA BHOSLE
The Rough Guide to Bollywood Legends: Asha Bhosle
(World Music Network import)

Filmi heroine commercializes Indian classicism and, braver still, usurps Euro-American clichés ("Ina Mina Dika," "Jawani Jan-E-Man").

MUSCULAR CHRISTIANS
Let's Get a Tan
(Muscular Christians)

Embarrassing truths beneath America's mild surface ("Terrorist Song," "European Vacation").

MASTA ACE
A Long Hot Summer
(M3)

Old-schooler as working stiff—craftsmanlike rhymer and plotter, much heart ("Da Grind," "Bklyn Masala").

R.E.M.
Around the Sun
(Warner Bros.)

At last the pop album nostalgics are always bitching about, and it's an improvement ("Around the Sun," "Leaving New York").

MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD
Anything
(Palm)

Buppie sex Brit-boho style ("Anything," "Too Tough to Die").

DIZZEE RASCAL
Showtime
(XL)

His sound is his story, and it better get more explicit ("Showtime," "Girls").

SILKWORM
It'll Be Cool
(Touch and Go)

One meta-masterpiece, six pieces of lovingly belabored art-grunge ("Don't Look Back," "The Operative/His Mark Replies").

LAURA CANTRELL
The Hello Recordings
(Diesel Only)

She does try to sound pristine, and in 1996 it must have come easier ("Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine," "Roll Truck Roll").

SWITCHFOOT
The Beautiful Letdown
(Columbia)

They want more life, as should we all ("Ammunition," "Gone").

CAFE MUNDO
(Sunnyside)

Techno-colored travelogue for the chiropractice of dreams (Bajofondo Tango Club, "Mi Corazon"; Hamid Baroudi, "Trance Dance [DJ Krush Mix]").

INFINITE LIVEZ
Bush Meat
(Big Dada)

None dare call him garage, or macho either, and demented is a good thing, right? ("The Adventures of the Lactating Man," "Worcestershire Sauce").

REIGNING SOUND
Too Much Guitar
(In the Red)

The best in retro roil, and when I picked my faves I alighted as if by magic on two of the four they didn't write ("You Got Me Hummin'," "Uptight Tonight").


Choice Cuts

RANDY TRAVIS
"Raise Him Up"
(Rise and Shine, Curb/Warner Bros.)

DUSTY DRAKE
"One Last Time"

HANK WILLIAMS JR.
"America Will Survive"
(Patriotic Country, BMG/Music for a Cause)

BRUCE COCKBURN
"Trickle Down"
(You've Never Seen Everything, Rounder/True North)

WILEY
"Special Girl"
(Treddin' on Thin Ice, XL)


Duds

CHEVELLE
This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In)
(Epic)

JOHN FOGERTY
Deja Vu All Over Again
(Geffen)

MORCHEEBA
Parts of the Process
(Sire/Reprise)

PARIS CITY COFFEE
(Sunnyside)

PILLAR
Fireproof
(
MCA)

JONATHAN RICHMAN
Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love
(Sanctuary/Vapor)

MINDY SMITH
One Moment More
(Vanguard)

SALLY TIMMS
In the World of Him
(Touch and Go)

Honorable Mentions and Choice Cuts in order of preference.


Addresses:

All Natural, allnaturalhiphop.com; Barsuk, PO Box 22546, Seattle, WA 98132, barsuk.com; Big Dada, c/o Ninja Tune, 1751 Richardson, Suite 4501, Montreal PQ, Canada H3K 1G6, bigdada.com, ninjatune.net; Diesel Only, PO Box 720508, Jackson Heights, NY 11372, dieselonly.com; HighTone, 220 4th Street #101, Oakland, CA 94607, hightone.com; Indigo, c/o Harmonia Mundi, 2037 Granville Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025, harmoniamundi.com; In the Red, 1118 West Magnolia Boulevard, PO Box 208, Burbank, CA 91506, intheredrecords.com; K, PO Box 7154, Olympia, WA 98507, krecs.com; M3, c/o Studio Distribution, 150 West 23rd Street, 12th Floor, NYC 10011, studiodistribution.com; Palm, 601 West 26th Street, 11th floor, NYC 10001, palmpictures.com; Piranha, c/o Stern's, 71 Warren Street, NYC 10007, sternsmusic.com; Rocketown, Provident Label Group, 741 Cool Springs Boulevard, Franklin, TN 37067, rocketownrecords.com; Six Degrees, 602 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, info@sixdegreesrecords.com; Touch and Go, PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625, tgrec.com; World Music Network, 6 Abbeville Mews, 88 Clapham Park Road, London SW4 7BX, England, post@worldmusic.net; World Village, c/o Harmonia Mundi, 2037 Granville Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025, harmoniamundi.com; XL, 580 Broadway Suite 1004, NYC 10012, beggars@beggars.com

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