Music News

And the Winners Are ...

Page 2 of 8

Various Artists
Hyper Civilizado: Arto Lindsay Remixes

Lindsay's album Mundo Civilizado has been turned upside down by a spectacular cast of turntable jockeys led by the estimable DJ Spooky, whose "Mundo Civilizado Inversion Mix" is a wonder of imaginative studio tinkering. It's the rare remix album that surpasses the original.


Corey Harris
Fish Ain't Bitin'

The Denver-bred Harris avoids the sophomore jinx by expanding his repertoire (he's penned more originals) and adding instrumentation to a few tracks (two trombones and a tuba give "High Fever Blues" and others a touch of New Orleans). But his bread and butter is still acoustic blues, and he plays it with a devotion that few can match.

Jelly Roll Kings
Off Yonder Wall
(Fat Possum/Capricorn)

The late scribe and blues aficionado Robert Palmer produced this rough-hewn roadhouse raveup. Guitarist/vocalist Big Jack Johnson, drummer Sam Carr and keyboardist/harpist/ vocalist Frank Frost, whose fondness for whiskey provides the theme for "Frank Frost Blues," don't prettify their blues; they crank them out as pungently as possible.

Candye Kane
Diva La Grande

There's a lot of good-time blues albums out there, but few provide as good a time as this one. Kane is an oversized personality--the first song, "You Need a Great Big Woman," wasn't chosen at random--who projects tremendous self-confidence and humor, and co-producer Dave Alvin comes up with music that fits her personality.

Eddie Shaw & the Wolf Gang
Can't Stop Now

Shaw gets a greasy sound out of his saxophone that is truer to the blues than a thousand virtuosic but empty licks. And while his vocals initially seem crude, he gets plenty of mileage out of them, particularly on "Greedy Man," an in-your-face anthem that incorporates everything that's important about the Chicago blues.

13, Featuring Lester Butler

This quintet is reminiscent of the J. Geils Band in the very early days--a band dominated by blues-steeped Caucasians crazy 'bout that rockin' boogie. Butler's harp honks mightily, Alex Shultz's guitar shrieks at the appropriate moments, and the rhythm section plows ahead like a tractor running on jet fuel. For 13, too much is just enough.


Ray Charles
Genius & Soul: The 50th Anniversary Collection

Not everything Charles has made during his long career has been significant; his catalogue from the late Sixties to today is spotty. (Witness the two Beatles covers that kick off the fourth of these five discs.) But his Fifties/early-Sixties work was so extraordinary that it makes this an essential Collection.

Al Green
(The Right Stuff/Hi)

The sound quality on these four CDs is not up to the standards of the packaging, and the programming leaves something to be desired. But despite such shortcomings, Anthology succeeds for the simplest of reasons: Green's artistry. The recordings by the Seventies' number-one soul man haven't dated yet, and odds are good they never will.

Charles Mingus
Passions of a Man: The Complete Atlantic Recordings 1956-1961

Mingus is one of the towering personalities in twentieth-century American music, and Passions does him justice. The endeavor encompasses five discs of craggy, complex, endlessly fascinating jazz from Mingus and an incredible cast of contributors (most notably Eric Dolphy), an interview disc and a separate book that's actually worth reading.

Steve Reich
Works: 1965-1995

Purists may object to Reich's decision to rerecord many of his classic pieces for this ten-CD retrospective rather than stick with the original versions. But his compositional approach, which set the stage for the minimalists who came after him, ensures that the integrity of the music is protected. And what beautiful music it is.

Sonny Rollins
The Complete Sonny Rollins RCA Victor Recordings
(BMG Classics)

Critics have tended to overlook Rollins's early-Sixties efforts for RCA in favor of his undeniably brilliant Fifties sides because they knock over fewer barriers. But Complete is far from disposable. Its six discs paint a picture of an established master consolidating his position even as he delves further into his art.

Peter Tosh
Honorary Citizen

Tosh lived in the shadow of Bob Marley, and he's far from alone in this regard. But these three CDs show that Tosh was a formidable musician in his own right. On hand are vital Jamaican singles, a potent live opus and a well-considered roundup of album cuts that leave you wondering what heights he would have scaled had his life not been cut short.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts