New on the Shelves
Capitalizing on the current success of Moby's
ambient techno single "Porcelain," from the album Play, Elektra has released
a new collection from the prolific electronic artist / remixer, Mobysongs 1993-1998.
The disc includes Moby's airy, electronic compositions from the '90s, including
his seminal singles "Go," "Feeling So Real," and "God Moving Over the Face of
RCA has just released a new Elvis Presley compilation, this one a 30th anniversary documentary of sorts of his 1970 documentary, That's the Way It Is. The new 66-track, three-CD set (also titled That's The Way It Is) includes the original That's the Way It Is studio album as Disc One (with additional bonus tracks), which includes "Bridge Over Troubled Water, "How the Web Was Woven," "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" and "I've Lost You." Disc Two is the recording of his Aug. 12, 1970, concert at the Las Vegas Hilton, which included the King's covers of "Sweet Caroline," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'," "Words," "Get Back" and "Polk Salad Annie," as well as laidback, off-the cuff versions of his own old hits "Hound Dog," "Blue Suede Shoes," "All Shook Up," and a powerful rendition of "Suspicious Minds." Disc Three is a 25-song disc covering the rehearsal sessions for the Las Vegas show, which includes a wide variety of songs that didn't make the concert stage or studio album: "It's Now or Never," Johnny B. Good," and "Santa Claus Is Back In Town," among others. The three-disc set includes 66 Presley performances in all, 45 of them previously unreleased. The movie documentary that was made in 1970 from these sessions (which included cameos from Sammy Davis Jr. and Cary Grant) is also in the process of being recut for release on Turner Classic Movies in January, followed by a home video and DVD release.
In celebration of the British rocker's 25th anniversary as a solo artist (he led Mott The Hoople from 1969-1974), Columbia has just issued a collection of Ian Hunter's work. Once Bitten Twice Shy: The Best of Ian Hunter collects his 38 songs from 1975-1999 on two CDs, and includes the original versions of "Cleveland Rocks (the current "Drew Carey Show" theme remade by the Presidents of the United States of America), "All of the Good Ones are Taken," and, of course, "Once Bitten Twice Shy," which Great White turned into a Top 5 hit in 1989. The set includes tracks from Hunter's seven studio albums with Mick Ronson on the Columbia, Chrysalis and Mercury labels, as well as a live version of "All the Young Dudes" recorded with Def Leppard in 1996, and a dozen previously unreleased tracks. The set also includes Hunter's mid-'80s contributions to the soundtracks from Teachers, Up the Creek and Fright Night.
Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart fans can now pick up a bit of digitally remastered history in CD reissues of the Jeff Beck Group's 1968 and 1969 albums Truth and Beck-Ola, thanks to Epic/Legacy. Beck, who has seen more chart fame in his stints as a Honeydripper and Yardbird than as a solo artist, formed the Jeff Beck Group in early 1968 with vocalist Stewart and bassist Ron Wood (who would go on to join the Faces with Stewart, and later The Rolling Stones). John Paul Jones, who would soon join Led Zeppelin, also contributed keyboards to one song. The band drew heavily on reinventing cover songs in a new light, and handled Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me" and "I Ain't Superstitious," as well as the traditional "Greensleeves," and Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock." This classic period of the Jeff Beck Group only lasted for two albums, after which Stewart and Wood left to create the Faces. Beck's guitar wizardry would show up on a number of guest appearances, as well as on albums with different lineups as the Jeff Beck Group throughout the rest of the '70s, '80s and '90s.
Duran Duran's Big Thing album (which featured "All She Wants Is" and "I Don't Want Your Love") was one of the first discs I reviewed in Pop Stops when I started this column 12 summers ago. Duran Duran is one of the few acts I reviewed in 1988 that remain a viable, creative force today, though their albums over the past decade have always seemed to excite and disappoint in equal measures. Amid lineup changes and an ever-evolving musical landscape, Duran Duran never recaptured in the '90s the success they had in the '80s. Yet, with every album, they've managed to score at least one radio hit, from the comeback smashes of "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone" from 1993's Duran Duran, (also known as The Wedding Album) to the more recent critical success of Thank You's remake of the vintage rap song "White Lines," to Medazzaland's retro-Duran sounding "Electric Barbarella."
While their past two discs haven't been nearly as successful as 1993's Duran Duran, the band has continued to churn out radio-ready singles while at the same time reinventing its music.
Pop Trash, their first disc of the new decade, (and their Hollywood Records debut after a two-decade career on Capitol) offers a mix of backwards-leaning "classic" sounding Duran songs, interspersed with a couple more modern musical explorations.
"Lady Xanax" and "The Sun Doesn't Shine Forever" include the kind of big layered vocal choruses that made Duran Duran a radio-staple in the '80s, and "Mars Meets Venus" includes background female vocals that bring to mind "Come Undone."
The lead-off track, "Someone Else Not Me" is pure Duran Duran single material that should play well on adult contemporary radio. It follows the laidback, big ballad formula of "Ordinary World," and allows Simon LeBon to show off his still impressive, distinctive pipes. The band also offers a Spanish version at the end of the CD.
Later on in the album they offer the title track, "Pop Trash Movie," written by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and nodding to Rhodes' idol Andy Warhol in its references to "15 minutes of fame." It also offers a lush soundscape of guitars and strings that allows LeBon to croon about living a life "on camera."
"Playing With Uranium" revisits the thick, drawn-out atmospheric sound that LeBon and Rhodes explored together in their one-off disc as Arcadia.
In between these songs that seem bent on recapturing fragments of the Duran Duran hit sound of old, the band also offers some fresher-sounding tracks in the funky guitar and sitar-blend of "Lava Lamp," and the trippy bassline-hopping "Hallucinating Elvis." These are probably the most successful efforts here, as much of the rest of the disc bogs down in slower tempos and unmemorable hooks. With "Starting to Remember" the band eschews some of its usual studio gimmickry and sticks with a simple strummed guitar and keyboard background to give LeBon room to croon. And on the disc's closer (not counting the Spanish "Someone Else Not Me"), the band lets Cuccurullo loose to jam in one of the heavier Duran guitar offerings in memory. Unfortunately, it's also one of the more forgettable ones, lacking any real melody.
In a lot of ways, Pop Trash is exactly what its title says. This is an album of Duran Duran revisiting old sonic touchstones, and not coming up with anything that eclipses their older material. Itís a solid, but not particularly innovative or hit-laden, Duran effort. Pop Trash makes for a good comfortable background album, but it may be time for the trio to do some more reinvention, instead of retreading.