Think you know a lot about music? Could have been top of the class if your SATs and ACTs had featured questions about Elvis Costello and Michael Jackson's backup singers?
Well, now you have your chance to prove it. Rhino Records' annual Rhino Musical Aptitude Test (RMAT) takes place across the country next Thursday night. The top scorers will take home a JVC Home Theatre System with a DVD Audio/Video player, 32" TV and a copy of every CD Rhino releases for the rest of your life (or Rhino's, whichever ends first). The RMAT can be taken live on the Internet, or at Chicago's Tower Records (2301 North Clark St.). Check out the web site for more info at http://www.rhi-no.com/rmat/ You can also practice for the test by taking a 10-question sample on the Web site between now and May 14. A drawing for five box sets will be held among those who get all 10 questions correct.
Fans of cable's "The Sopranos" show can now get a a second collection of music from the HBO series from Columbia Records, a two-CD set titled Peppers and Eggs. The new collection doesn't include the popular A3 theme song "Woke Up This Morning," which appeared on the previous "Sopranos" compilation. But it does have a remix of The Police's "Every Breath You Take," with Henry Mancini's "Theme from Peter Gunn," Kasey Chambers' "The Captain," Otis Redding's "My Lover's Prayer," Frank Sinatra's "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," Elvis Costello's "High Fidelity," The Kinks' "Living on a Thin Line," Van Morrison's "Gloria" and more.
All For You
It's been four years since Janet Jackson's image-altering descent into musical S&M with The Velvet Rope. Since then, she's left behind a marriage, and in many ways All For You details the reaffirmation of self that follows a reinstatement of independence. In the quietly crooned "Truth," she lines it all out for her ex and herself, essentially saying he's not entitled to taking a good chunk of her wealth with him when he goes, saying "Listen … I had a career before ..."
While there's an inherent bitterness to "Truth," and a pounding put-down in "You Ain't Right," the album's rhythm heavy opener, most of All For You, focuses on a positive look at returning to single life, from the unrestrained lust of "All For You," the first single ("look at that body shakin' that thang"), to the sensually drenched "baby-making" songs like "Love Scene (Ooh Baby)" and the Prince-like whispers of "Would You Mind."
Janet's long-time production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are back on board, and the 20-track disc is full of their trademark dense production; vocal interludes, thick rhythm beds and a wall of Janet harmonies populate the disc. Jackson's growing sexual explicitness should keep this disc out of the hands of minors (in fact, the album has already been banned in Singapore, like its predecessor, The Velvet Rope). But lest you fear the sweet-smiling female Jackson has gone completely over the slutty edge, compared to Prince, Jackson still has a way to go.
Her best work remains her dancefloor-ready rhythm workouts, and the biggest shortcoming of All For You is that there are too few of these.
Jackson seems intent, lately, on reinventing the songs of '70s female icons; on The Velvet Rope she scored a far more memorable reinvention of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi." This one, however, should have remained on the cutting room floor. "Son of a Gun" leads into one of the album's best slow efforts, "Truth," and then to a more successful '70s re-invention in "Someone To Call My Lover."
The album closes out with a couple more forgettable, slower songs and her irresistibly sing-along single from Nutty Professor 2, "Doesn't Really Matter."
The final tally? I'd boil down All For You to about six or seven strong songs and ditch the other 13 tracks. Buy this one for "You Ain't Right," "All for You," "Come on Get Up," "Trust a Try," "Truth," "Someone To Call My Lover" and "Doesn't Really Matter."