Music News


Local songs from the end of the century.
Jonny Mogambo's Colorado Golden, on Hapi Skratch Records, is slick but mostly enjoyable blues rock. Mogambo is a skilled guitarist whose occasional hippie-isms don't put the brakes on the propulsive ditties "Victoria," "Sorry State of Affairs" and "Melanoma Superstar," and if the time he reportedly spent playing for tourists in Europe and the Virgin Islands means that he often skates by on glibness, at least he knows how to hold an audience's attention. Hapi Skratch's usual clean, crisp production doesn't hurt matters, either (available in area music stores). Don't accuse Chris Daniels & the Kings of trend-hopping: Since they've been playing jump-blues-based music for ages, they hardly need to apologize for attempting to cash in on the swing movement. Louie Louie, their beautifully packaged entry into the field, is loaded with archival material that goes for cheekiness over Big Bad Voodoo Daddy-style propulsion. "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You" is plenty saucy, but it's also truer to the era from which it sprang than most neo-swing these days. That may limit its appeal to teen swingers, but folks who were into this stuff before it started turning up in Gap ads should approve (available in area music stores).

Sci-Fi Uterus is a fine name for a band, and the act's CD, Into the Bloodbath Into the Dream, is every bit as odd as its moniker. The music is infused with sensibilities culled from the new-wave era: The spacy vocals are pure B-52s, and the keyboards on hand were likely made by Casio. The lyrics, meanwhile, are frequently scatological dada: Witness "Smokin' (A Vagina in China)," which features the lines "Blowin' a hole that's fina/Than a lofty wench, than a bullet rip/Than a little peep at a virgin kick!" and a hook that goes "Fuckee-suckee G.I." But the tongue-in-cheek artsiness of numbers such as "On Colfax" ("A head beaten on a sidewalk is no longer a head") helps overcome the bargain-basement production. Different can be good--and Sci-Fi Uterus is different ( En Tu Oblivion's self-titled disc is a long way from the cutting edge--I'm betting that no musicians were harmed during its making. Lead singer Marla Downer has a voice midway between a folkie's and a metal maiden's, and she applies it to middling rockers such as "Telling Secrets to the Night" and "Radical Moment of Clarity," the fake Fleetwood Mac of "Family" and the shiver-inspiring "What If," a power ballad distinctly lacking in the former. I'm gonna go lie down for a while (available in area music stores).

You Keep Me Dreamin' is a collection of wannabe show tunes and cabaret ditties from the pen of area songwriter Victor Harrison. A team of vocalists that includes Dwayne Carrington, Chris Keener and Walker Williams do their best with the Leon Redbone-esque title cut, "Getting Drunk," the smoochy "Fine Day" and "Who Are Our Heroes," a well-intentioned effort that had me grimacing before the end of the first couplet. The disc as a whole is so chipper and eager to please that sometimes it actually does--but not often enough (Glasstone Music, glasstone Isn't It Romantic?--Songs by Porter & Rodgers, guitarist Al Ferguson sticks to the style he established on the editions that preceded it. He and a quartet featuring violinist Daniel Flick, guitarist Mark Kalgstad and bassist David Crowe swing gently through the vernacular of American pop-music masters--in this case, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. Ferguson insists upon singing a tune every now and then, and on "This Can't Be Love," he's not bad--just ordinary, like a lot of us who know better than to venture in front of a microphone unless we're plastered. Elsewhere, the arrangements of "Easy to Love" and "People Will Say We're in Love" are spritely but subtle; this is dinner music that tries not to call too much attention to itself. Try the brie--it's delicious (Top Hat Productions, 1743 Marion Street, Denver, CO 80210).

No Goin Back, by the Woodies, is rock done the old-school way--with roiling keyboard rhythms, ringing guitars and singing by Rick Bradeen and Mike Engel that isn't exactly sonorous; most of the notes they try to hit receive no more than glancing blows. They seem like nice fellas, and every once in a while they come up with a decent (if less than wholly original) tune; an example is "Uravan," which owes a debt and a half to the Band. But unless you're a member of the players' immediate families, you probably won't be able to get too revved up about it (The Woodies, P.O. Box 370584, Denver, CO 80237). The folks behind Hank & the Hankstirs included some nice items in the package that accompanied their new CD, Hank & the Hankstirs, Vol. 2: It Doesn't Matter: a desk clock, a daytimer and three personalized pens, to be precise. But at the risk of seeming ungrateful, I must confess that the disc didn't do much for me. The tunes are relentlessly mid-tempo and all but indistinguishable from one another: Only "H.B. Reprise," an extended coda to "Hankstir Blues," works up much instrumental passion--and it's less than a minute long. Otherwise, the album is filled with gentle strumming, scratchy vocals and a truckload of sincerity that's all dressed up with nowhere to go. Nice pens, though (Hank & the Hankstirs, 810 Hoyt, Lakewood, CO 80215).

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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

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