Rugrats - Go WildThe soundtrack to the Rugrats Go Wild movie, from Hollywood Records, isn't just for kids. While there are some fun songs sung by the cartoon characters, the disc also includes radio hits such as Train's "She's on Fire," George Clinton's classic "Atomic Dog" and The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go." There's a new track from Aerosmith, "Lizard Love," and American Hi-Fi's crunchy cover of the Police's "Message in a Bottle." Bruce Willis gets into character to sing with Chrissie Hynde of Pretenders about a "Big Bad Cat." Willis also turns up covering the Iggy Pop trademark anthem, "Lust for Life." It's fun for kids of all ages!

Dead or AliveEarly in their career in the '80s, Dead or Alive put together a mohawked, lipstick and makeup-wearing singer with punk and disco yearnings with England's fledgling hit factory producers Stock, Aitken, Waterman. The result was two smash Top 20 singles in "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" and "Brand New Lover" from the band's second and third albums. Dead or Alive placed a handful of other songs on the dance and pop charts during their career, and continued to produce albums in the '90s (their most recent studio release was in 2000). Now Epic's Legacy label has collected their hit singles and other electro-lash dance tracks from their six albums on Evolution: The Hits.

For those looking for more classic fare, the Legacy label offers Rosemary Clooney's Jazz Singer collection, featuring 18 tracks from a half dozen '50s albums, including her versions of "It Don't Mean a Thing (if It Ain't Got That Swing)," "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Come Rain or Come Shine." The label has also issued a collection of The Incomparable Mildred Bailey, that features a sampling of the influential jazz singer's big band output from the '30s, including "Rockin' Chair," "It's Love I'm After" and more.

 

Live - Birds of Pray Live
Birds of Pray
(Radioactive)


Ed Kowalczyk and Live have been creating inspirational rock for more than a decade now, first charting in the mid-'90s with "Selling the Drama," "I Alone" and "Lightning Crashes." Their last disc didn't make waves at radio, but Birds of Pray, their sixth and latest release, has been getting plenty of play, thanks to Kowalczyk's nicely turned treatise on faith in the opening song, "Heaven." In it, he suggests, "get back your faith again/you have the power to believe" and then offers: "I don't need no one to tell me about heaven/I look at my daughter and I believe/I don't need no proof when it comes to God and Truth/I can see the sunset, and I perceive."

Whether you "believe" or not, the emotion and power of the song carries the listener to rock heaven this is one of Live's best moments. Clearly fatherhood has had an effect on Kowalczyk the album opens and closes with mentions of his daughter. Birds of Pray ends with one of the most pointed anti-war songs recorded in "What Are We Fighting For?"

In it, he talks of a "battleflag in the bassinet" and asks, "What are we fighting for?/What will I tell my daughter?/What will you tell your son?" and later notes that "the crucifix ain't no baseball bat/tell me what kind of God is that?/ain't nothin' more godless than a war/so what are we fighting for?"

Live isn't always rocking about God, though even their "love" songs have a spiritual bent to them. In "Lighthouse," Kowalczyk sings, "Even if you drink from the chalice of cheap escape and fade away/I'll never ever let you go."

Love certainly has its spiritual side, and in "She," he writes to a lover that she is filled with "unguarded mystery" and that "you set my soul free." Later, as the band pounds hard behind him, he extols the "Sanctity of Dreams" and worships a lover in "Sweet Release," singing:

"her skin, it begs my worship
like a mad temple crowd
I crush her, she goes down
we melt up from the ground
up to better times, sweet release."

Live continues to prove rock can be anthemic while also smart. On Birds of Pray, the band offers 13 songs that rock the heart, soul and mind. A rare and powerful prize.