"Slavicsky's Smorgasbord"

by Al Slavicsky
Sponsored In Part By
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The Badlees - Up There Down Here

Ark 21 Records
This is the band's debut release for the Ark 21 label after being dropped by their previous label in the Seagram-Universal Music merger. The material is a mixture of alternative rock and folk... sort of like John Mellencamp fusing with Bob Dylan and The Cowboy Junkies. The Badlees have created a release that their fans would enjoy. Most of these tunes are familiar to long time fans, for the band has played some of the tunes over the past two years at the gigs. This CD was originally going to be released in 1998. Songs that stand above the rest include "A Little Faith," "Love All," "Which One of You," and "Cellarbird and Zither." If you like the band's previous work, then check out this release, and you will not be disappointed.

Boom Boom Satellites - Out Loud

Epic Records
Ambient techno music from Japan, Boom Boom Satellites reinforce how trip-hop and techno music can be redefined into a heavenly bliss. Upon closer listen, the band is very impressive and strives to create unusual sounds in the mix and mold it into something special. The CD opens with "Missing Note," which contains a sample of James Brown's "With Your Bad Self" before fusing it with scratches and breakbeat. 12 stereophonic fusion tunes that move into all kinds of different directions make the Boom Boom Satellites one of the better bands of their style of music. Check out the weird dublike characteristics on "Dub Me Crazy Ver.02," and you can see how the band works as remixers and artists. One senses that this band would work well remixing music of industrial, noise, and popular artists which one would like to see. Out Loud is worthwhile listening, but if you don't like something different... please stay away.

NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in the print edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter.  These reviews are only available here in the online edition.

311 - Soundsystem

Capricorn Records
Finally, the wait is over, and the new 311 release is out, and this release may be the best 311 release ever. The band has combined elements of the dub with punk and delivers what has to be one of the greatest reggae-influenced punk albums in recent years. Nick Hexum's vocals are still eerie, yet he captures harmonious earth tones over the intense hyper bass riffs of P-Nut, powerful drums of Charles Sexton, the distorted down tunes of Tim Mahoney, and the awesome turntable cutting of S.A. Soundsystem contains 13 tracks that will move your feet and groove, and one much like "Life's Not A Race" with its Latino influenced drums combined with reggae dubs. "Come Original," which is the first single, actually may be the weakest tune on the CD due to it ultra-poppy feeling. "Eons," with its heavy guitars, flows into a vibe that cannot be described in mere words, and their cover of Bad Brains' "Leaving Babylon" proves that the band knows what was one of the most influential underground punk-reggae bands, and it is great to see them do it; maybe in the future we can see HR actually do a song with 311. Overall, this release has never left my five-disc player since I got it, for it is that good. Simply know the 411 -- that 311 is number 1.

Blood For Blood - Livin' in Exile EP

Victory Records
Blood For Blood is intended for mature street-like people whom believe that the world is screwed up and not a bed of roses by bringing a reality check to the listener. Blood For Blood delivers some of the best hardcore heard since The Cro-Mags or Cause For Alarm in the 1980s. Contains 7 listed tracks -- "No Tomorrow," "Cheap Wine," Eulogy For A Dream," "Anywhere But Here (Maybe Someday)," "Nothing For You" (which contains a great a capella intro with harmonies and not harsh vocals), "Livin' In Exile," and "Still F*cked Up," plus includes a bonus unlisted tune which first appeared on the Built For Speed - A Tribute To Motorhead compilation CD, their cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spade," which transforms the original into a new hardcore gem. Blood For Blood created the most hateful record that was ever recorded and makes you want to smash your hand against the wall and make your knuckles bleed.

Buried Alive - The Death Of Your Perfect World

Victory Records
Buffalo, NY's king of straight edge hardcore, Buried Alive continues to prove that you don't have to drink or eat meat to have a good time. Violent sound guitars mixed with metallic vocals in the style of Pantera or Biohazard. Lyrically, Buried Alive makes you think that life can be bleak due to the repression around you due to all the people misusing their power for wasteful purposes. Buried Alive. Most people would dislike this release due to the force-fed way that the band delivers its message; then again, maybe that is what this band is trying to do. Overall, Buried Alive deals with the power of music and creates some great straight edge hardcore.

The Candy Snatchers - Human Zoo

Go Kart Records
This CD has not left my player for some time, and it is struck in the drive. The Candy Snatchers play punk similar to All or The Descendents, and on Human Zoo they deliver the goods. Even if the release is under 20 minutes in length, the band violently molds their sound on such tunes as "Real Thick Head," "Drunken Bruir," and "Stone For Good." If you do enjoy what these young lads are doing, then you probably missed the wave with The Ramones, Television, Black Flag, or Dead Kennedys, too. Hats off to The Candy Snatchers for putting the "P" back in punk.

Canned Heat - Boogie 2000

Ruf Records, P.O. Box 258, Oxford, WI 53952
Hard to believe that Canned Heat is still a major force in today's country-blues market. Having been around for over 30 years, Canned Heat continues to refurbish blues into the next century. These musicians are top rate and deserve more respect than they are getting. Boogie 2000 is an album which new and long time fans of the Heat will love due to its traditional Heat style. Growing up in the era during which the band played the first Woodstock, they have never lost their style and were lost in the shuffle of great performers at that event. Check out the tunes "2000 Reasons (Y2K Blues)," which is a great to the bones blues jam. "World of Make Believe" sounds like Santana due to its Latino flair, and "I'm So Tired" reminds one of the late Sonny Boy Williamson due to it harmonica player. If you like ZZ Top, Santana, The Other Ones, or authentic blues music, this release is for you to enjoy.

Ani DiFranco - To the Teeth

Righteous Babe Records
Over the past 10 years, Ani DiFranco has redefined folk music and the way the music world records in general. To The Teeth is this woman's sixteenth release on her own Righteous Babe Records, and she moves folk music into a completely new direction which can be seen through the guests who appear with her on this release -- the legendary saxophone player Maceo Parker on the folk hip-hop cross blending on "Swing" which is motivating yet moving... one wonders if they may be a remix of this song and the song "Back Back Back." Maceo's saxophone highlights the intense moods of Ani, and the lyrics are very emotional and make one think how our nation really is. Trumpet player Irvin Mayfield appears on "Going Once," which actually is very new age jazz oriented with Ani sounding like Billie Holliday with a bright folk style tone. But the best track on this release has to be the eerie "Providence," where the mystery man of the hour, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, adds his unmistakable vocals to Ani's sensuous ones to create one of the most memorable recorded songs in recent music history. After listening to To The Teeth, one believes that Ani DiFranco is today's best kept music secret, for she is one of the most gifted performers and artists of our time. Just remember that Ani is 32 flavors, and every flavor she uses is different to the taste buds.

Ani DiFranco & Utah Phillips - Fellow Workers

Righteous Babe Records
Combining elements of modern day folk and traditional sounding folk music, these two legends have created another CD together. Ani brings her modern day sound and adds the sparkle of her sweet voice to the harsh talkings of Utah
Phillips. This release would make you go and do some research on some of the people they talk about. Utah Phillips' hobo type of rantings makes you appreciate the lost hobo way of living. Of the 18 tracks these modern day geniuses created, the tracks with Utah Phillips ranting stand out, including "The Most Dangerous Woman," "Stupid's Pledge," "Direct Action," and "Dump The Bosses." Radical ideas to some, but enjoyable to true fans of folk music from this rare combination of minds.

Electric Frankenstein - How to Make a Monster

Victory Records
Haunting punk rock combining the mystery of the legendary monster Frankenstein with a vintage old school punk sound, Electric Frankenstein have made a release that one either likes or hates. But Electric Frankenstein proves that the band is strong musically while having extreme lyrics. One must be impressed by the samples which the band uses on the release, especially heard on the first track "I Was A Modern Prometheus" which is basically a whole sample-influenced tune. Also, the intro to "Phatty Boom Batty" is humorous. Plus, the street anthem "Up From The Streets" makes you envision the Ramones in their twilight, yet Electric Frankenstein used their own unique sound. 13 tunes plus a super cool CD-ROM part with videos, biography, and discography make this a classic release.

Filibuster - Deadly Hi-Fi

Skunk Records/Cornerstone RAS
Most of this CD was recorded by the legendary producer Steve Albini, who is best known for his work with Nirvana on In Utero. Steve brings Filibuster to the next level by adding a more noisy mix to the ska band who were one of the top 12 unsigned California bands in 1996, as determined by Discmakers. The band has come a long way and now are a trademark 3rd wave ska band, and on Deadly Hi-Fi prove that they can rock and fuse ska together. 13 tracks that smoke with grungy noisy guitars, reggae bass riffs, smooth saxophones, harmonious vocals, and a splash of a turntable here and there. Songs that stand out include the only track not recorded by Steve Albini but by Justin Dehart, "Sutter's Fort," which focuses on Sacramento's founding, "Batty Rider" which has an anti-police message toward the way that they pull people over in low riders, and "Dawning of the Dead" with its noisy sound effects and lyrics about going insane about death. So fill your CD player with a dose of Filibuster, and be proud that you are in an elite group who has heard of this great band.

The Fixtures - One Crisis Short of Chaos

Know Records
Encino, CA's The Fixtures present a punk record which Jello Biafra would be proud of, for the first part of this release sounds likes the famous Dead Kennedys on the Sidecrisis1 - the first 9 tracks of the release. Sidechaos2 is more metallic oriented than punk, for the band experiments with a new sound which hardcore fans of the band may be surprised by. The Fixtures use old school punk techniques to create modern new school punk complete with political lyrics, snotty vocals, distorted guitars, three chord tunes, and fast, raw drums. Some of the tunes that will be fixtures of the future include "If," "No Sale," "Warning," and "Red and Clear." In fact, all 18 tunes are good -- a worthy release to check out.

Long Beach Dub All-Stars - Right Back

The first nationally distributed full-length for the remaining members of Sublime -- Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh, Miquel, and Field Marshall Goodman along with friends Opie Ortiz (whom did the artwork for most of the Sublime release), plus some great musicians of the punk scene -- Ras1, Jack Maness, and Tim Wu formed the Long Beach Dub All-Stars to continue preserving the reggae sound. Right Back contains some great surprises including reggae legend Barrington Levy on "Righteous Dub" and a re-working of "Saw Red (She's Mine)," which Sublime fans may remember as the duet with Brad and Gwen of No Doubt, but this version sounds more island-like. The song "Fugazi" has an unlisted Kurt Loder-of-MTV new sample where he is talking about the LBDAS and HR then segues into the song "New Sun," where HR appears. But the song that stands out the most is "Trailer Ras" for it has a very close Sublime-like feeling to it. The LBDAS will please both reggae/dancehall fans and Sublime fans and prove that the LBDAS know what the dub is.

Arto Lindsay - Pride

Righteous Babe Records
This is the first non-Ani DiFranco release that this label has released, and what a release this is. Arto Lindsay has created a brilliant album which should be a cult hit in no time. Musically, Arto Lindsay is a cross between Steve Strange (one of the Spanish new wave artists of the 1980s), Brain Eno's Latin influenced albums, Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, and avant-garde musician Phillip Glass. But what makes Arto Lindsay different is the way he composes the selections into a sonic transformation that helps the listener get trapped into his sound progression. Contains 12 tracks with lyrics, plus translations for Arto's Spanish tracks with the multi-layer "Prefeelings" with its hip-hop funk fused with Latin percussion and white noise sound and the haunting ballad "E Ai Esquesco," which translates to "And Then I Forget," standing out. Overall Arto Lindsay redefines modern music with this unforgettable masterpiece.

Little Milton - Welcome to Little Milton

Malaco Records
Bluesmaster Little Milton decided to have his friends over in the studio for some recordings, and he invited some of the best musicians in the world today including Government Mule ("When The Blues Come Knockin'" and "I Can't Quit You Baby"), G. Love & Special Sauce ("Me And My Woman"), Peter Wolf ("Two Loves"), Delbert McClinton ("Some Kind of Wonderful"), Keb' Mo' ("Lump On Your Stump"), and Lucinda Williams ("Love Hurts") to name a few of his many guests. Little Milton made a release which will please both blues fans and rock fans alike. With all the musical genre crossing, Little Milton has proved that new fans to the blues will give this release a listen due to the musicians on the release.

Maceo Parker - Funk Overload

What Are Records?
The saxophone legend Maceo Parker, who is best known for his works with James Brown, comes back with a funky jazz release that is destined to move his sound to new fans. Maceo does 11 tracks that transform the fine line between funk and jazz and hip-hop. "Uptown Up" is great due to the rap heard at the end of the tune, while the tracks "Maceo's Groove" and "Let's Get It On" (a Marvin Gaye cover) prove that Maceo can be on the soulful side every now and then. Maceo may not be everyone's taste of music, but he still proves that he can handle the test of time and do a respectable record.

Scarred For Life - Born Work Die

Know Records
A major force in the Long Beach music scene for years, Scarred For Life delivers a release that could have been made in the late 1980s. Scarred For Life does 12 tunes which fuse elements of metal, punk, and hardcore -- sort of like Sucidial Tendencies, but more aggression is presented. The cover art reminds one of the Japanese noisecore bands due to raw look. Political lyrics on such songs as "Controlled Confusion," "Feeding A War," "Suicide By Cop," and "Break The Mold" makes one want to experience the political system and attack it. Scarred For Life will make you scarred for life due to its reality.

Synergy - Computer Experiments Volume One

Recorded back in the days when computer technology was still being molded, Synergy recorded some of the best ambient electronic music of its day. Included on this disc are three long compositions where one can see the mastermind of Larry Fast at work. As haunting as this release may have been when originally issued in 1981, it is still eerie today. "Artificial Intelligence (Monday 25, 1980)" has a space-like effect, while "Artificial Intelligence (Friday, January 25, 1980)" could have easily been used in either a horror movie or sci-fi movie. "The World After April (Tuesday January 22, 1980)" is more mellow and focuses on the way the computer structures notes and flows into many cross sections. In retrospect, Synergy was ahead of its time and was able to make waves from people like Philip Glass.

Joe Louis Walker - Silvertone Blues

Blue Thumb Records
Pop this disc into your CD player, and get a bowl of grits plus a side order of fresh side and flush down your blues. Joe Louis Walker delivers the vintage blues style similar to Robert Nighthawk or Howlin' Wolf on Silvertones Blues, which has 12 hot licking tracks to drown your sorrows away. Classic tunes on the release include "Bad Luck Blues," "Silvertones Blues," and "Do The Walkin'." Joe Louis Walker moves contemporary blues into a great direction, for Silvertone Blues is the home fries at your meal.

Weston/Doc Hoper - The Stepchildren of Rock (split CD)

Go Kart Records
This split CD put out by Go Kart Records features two modern day punk bands, Weston and Doc Hopper, recorded live. Weston plays an emocore sounding punk with an emotional-based outlook to it. Recorded live at the Pipeline in New Jersey on April 9, 1999, their side of the split represents 16 tunes which the band performed that night, including "Heather Lewis," "My Favourite Mistake," and "Varsity Speaker." The recording is great, but due to the all the fades after the songs one does not get a true feeling of the band. Doc Hopper's part of the split disc was recorded May 28, 1997 at NYU in NYC. Their material is mostly hi-energized punk that makes you wanna pogo and move around. Slightly better than Weston's material but geared to the same listening audience. Includes tunes such as "She's a Coke Head," "Sunny Girlfriend," and "Spiccoli." With close to 74 mins of music... this release may be worth checking out.

Keller Williams with The String Cheese Incident - Breathe

Sci Fidelity Records
World beat music in the vein of Rusted Root, Missing Man Formation, or Dave Matthews, Keller Williams along with his friends created an audio masterpiece with elements of jazz, progressive rock, and funk. There are 13 listed tunes on the release including the movers and shakers "Stupid Questions," "Best Feelings," and "Blatant Ripoff." But the track that stands out the most is the tune heard at 4:20 of track 13 after the reggae-calypso inspired "Callahoo and Red Snapper." This untitled tune has a jazzy feeling to it, for its groove flows with an almost hip-hop like flair. Keller Williams should please Dead Heads and world-beat fans, for it has vibes for both. A classic and a keeper.

CD, Cassette, and Vinyl Single Reviews:

A Tribe Called Quest - Find a Way

Jive Records
Rarely does a single deliver a power beat, but this one does, for it has a great groove and backbeat while delivering a mastermix of raw hip-hop trio vocals. Contains a clean radio version which is very similar to the album version, which is not included on this single but still is very radio friendly. Also included is an instrumental version of the song in which one can actually hear all the cool background vocals and the overdubbing samples of Towna Tei's "Dubnova (Parts 1 & 2)" ...this version is also good for all wanna-be rappers in the world today. A classic tune for the 1990s.

Baby DC (featuring Imajin) - Bounce, Rock, Skate Roll

Short Records/Jive Records
Baby DC has actually made an old school hip-hop sounding tune that reminds one of the old days of hip-hop in the disco era. "Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll" make you want to get out your inline skates and move in the streets with a boom box. Presented in two versions here, the album version, which is the vocal mix of the song with a Kris Kross style of voices due to Imajin, and the dope instrumental version for all you remixers and wanna-be rappers. Great underground classic.

Dope - Sick

Flip Records/Epic Records
New York City's industrial rockers Dope give a sample of what is the world is going to hear on the debut album.  The songs here are all presented in the remastered forms which are slated to be remastered for the album. "Sick" has a strong northeastern industrial flair that flows into a metallic wall of sound that rocks, while Dope's cover of the controversial N.W.A. classic "Fuck Tha Police" brings that classic to a new standard and may even tune some of the new listeners in to this classic group. The key to this cassette single is the version of "Spine For You," which is a demo version and will not appear this way on the album. Dope will be a leader of the new industrial revolution of the 2000s, so watch out for this band in the not-too-near future. 

Citizen King - Malcolm's More Leather Than Ever

Warner Brothers Records
Honestly don't know if this an official release, for it was thrown out by the band at a concert to their fans. What this is is a remix tape by Citizen King's D.J. Malcolm. Contains four tunes fused together as one and includes "Basement Show," "Jalopy Style" (mixed with a sample of War's "Low Rider"), "Under The Influence," and "Skeleton Key"... and all of these tunes are very different than the versions that appear on Mobile Estates. Actually, the versions here are what you would hear at a club and that makes this tape would searching for. 

Chris Gaines - Lost in You

Capitol Records
Rarely does a record by a new artist create controversy in both the country music industry and pop music industry, and Chris Gaines has done it. Before the real artist's name is revealed, let's look at the songs which is artist has pulled out on this Don Was produced single. "Lost In You" has a Maxwell or R. Kelly type feeling to it. The song is a soulful modern R&B uptempo tune that makes you want to be with your lover with a bottle of wine and candlelight in front of the fireplace, while other song, "It Don't Matter To The Sun," has a country ballad flair similar to The Eagles. This is a great tune to hear when you are in the bar and just want to get the blues away. Now for the truth -- Chris Gaines is really the alter-ego of country superstar Garth Brooks. Some country radio stations won't play it because it is too pop, and pop radio stations won't play it because it is Garth. Too bad because this song has the potential to be single of the year, and Garth Brooks proves that he has the guts to release a classic release. 

Electric Frankenstein 2000/Le Shok split 7"

Know Records, PO Box 90579, Long Beach, CA 90809
Rumors in the underground said that this split 7" might never happen due to Electric Frankenstein being on Victory Records now, but it's now available. "Monster Boots" by EF sounds as if it could have been issued in the era that punk music was controlled by Black Flag, The Ramones, and the Dead Kennedys. '80 sounding punk done my modern musicians. 

Lower East Side Stitches/Murphy's Law split 7"

NG Records
A controversial 7" due to the cover art featuring a skull Statue of Liberty and a police office spray mace and the commentary in the record jacket attacking Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City for closing the strip zone of that city and even banning public dance at hard-core/punk shows. The Lower East Side Stitches do a violent old school punk style number that fights this attack called "New York City Is Dead," while the legendary Murphy's Law does "Quality of Life," which is a new sound for the band best known for "Panty Raid." Limited to only 3000 copies with 1000 of those on red vinyl, making this a true collector's item of political protest punk 

Moke - Down/Another Weekend

Ultimatum Music, 8800 Venice Blvd., Suite 222, Los Angeles, CA  90034
Combining elements of English blues rock and groove rock, Moke have became an underground sensation due to their strong musicianship. "Down" is a great rocker that makes you want to get up and dance -- sounds sort of like a blues-based funk number and is impressive and works to prove that the band is more than some wannabe B-rated musicians. However, "Another Weekend" is the tune which really stands out, for it has elements similar to Gov't Mule, G Love & Special Sauce, The Black Crowes, and 311. If this song does not become a hit either now or sometime in the future, then something is wrong, for this song should have never been a B-side -- it is that good. So turn the tape around and listen to this side first.

R. Kelly - Did You Ever Think

Jive Records
An uptempo tune with a sample of Curtis Mayfield's "Right On For The Darkness," R&B performer R. Kelly has created a modern day gem. "Did You Ever Think" is presented here in three versions -- the original version and the edited versions, which are basically the same tracks, only the edited version has a slight pause where another word use for butt is heard plus an instrumental break where one can hear the background of the tune and see where he uses the sample. R. Kelly continues to prove that he is a force to reckon with in the R&B world.

Britney Spears - Sometimes

Jive Records
Most of the people in today's world know this modern day teen popster. Though this single is not as powerful as her first single, "Hit Me Baby One More Time," it still manages to create a good vibe. "Sometimes," which is presented here in a radio edit version, has a mid-tempo beat combined with southern gospel like background vocals. Though radio has overplayed this song to death, will "Sometimes" stand the test of time and became of classic or get lost like Tiffany or Debbie Gibson? One suggests that the later may be true for this singer because her 15 minutes of fame is almost over. 

Slipknot - 2 Song Sampler

Roadrunner Records
This sampler contains two unreleased songs from Slipknot -- a demo version of "Spit It Out," which combines elements of grindcore, metal, hip-hop, and death into a big melting pot sort of like an extreme version of Zebrahead fusing with
Public Enemy and A.C. at a Slayer show. If the version on the album is anything like this, it will be awesome. Also enclosed is a rough mix of "Surfacing," which is the better of the two tunes, and it really rocks, complete with the vulgar chorus. So if you haven't heard of Slipknot, check them out, and if you have a chance to see the band live... go for it, for the band has a great stage show complete with all kinds of theatrical props. One of the best new bands of the late 1990s.

Steps - One For Sorrow

Jive Records
Destined to be one of the next in the wave of young popsters to hit the North American shores from the UK, Steps do a hybrid techno fused pop -- sort of like Abba meeting Ace of Base but in a new fashion of high tech, late 1990s style. There are two mixes of the song. "Radio Mix #1" is a high energy mix of the song which is made for dance oriented radio, while "Radio Mix #2" is an adult contemporary mix of the song. Steps prove that they can create a sound which may make you want to wipe the dust off your old Abba release and compare the Steps to this legendary band. 

Johnnie Taylor - Big Head Hundreds

Malaco Records
This is the first single from Johnnie Taylors full-length album Gotta Get The Groove Back. It is an uptempo R&B song about a man whose woman wants some Benjamins to have some fun with him, and the gentleman gets the blues over all the problems with money. Johnnie Taylor proves that he is a rhythm & blues master, for this tune has a strong pop feeling yet does not move into the traditional blues vein. Overall, Johnnie Taylor moves R&B into the future of good-time groovin' music.

Vitamin C - Smile

Elektra Records
An instant dancehall classic combining elements of reggae, hip-hop, and R&B, Vitamin C delivers two versions of the hit "Smile." The album version is strictly down to the beat of the reggae nation with the hard hitting raps of Lady Saw, while the maserati mix (remixed Tony Maserati) is sort of a dub mix with part of the mix flowing in a capella flows in a street-like fashion. Also, this single is an enhanced single, which makes one want to put in the CD-ROM so you can see the video.

Artie White - Can We Get Together

Waldoxy Records
This is a single from the album of the same name is a uptempo blues based R&B tune. Blues legend Artie White knows how to create a song with feeling to it. Reminds one of the days when Stax Records was putting out classic R&B by the likes of Otis Redding and others. If you ever need to experience true R&B music, give Artie White a good listen, for he cooks.

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