|Saturday, August 18, 2001||
Given that, for
reasons most murky, Scorpions has yet again become radical rock’s
current staying post, it’s little wonder that German rock groups
themselves are without any unifying factor, save a certain weirdness.
What is different here is that a band that typifies the rock sound of
the 1980’s, has put its electric guitars aside and has opted to
produce an acoustic album. Yes, Scorpions goes unplugged! The album is
a collection of hits and ballads that documents three nights from
their tour in February this year in Lisbon. Acoustica also
introduces us to various collaborations with prominent musicians, such
as Mario Argandona (percussion), Arian Arcu (cello) and Christian
Kolovits (keyboards), who also co-produced and arranged the songs.
Despite being acoustic, this is one of their most promising works,
where high-voltage vocals preside over a varied bag of funky guitar
tunes, quirky rhythmic degressions and over powering speaker gunk. The
crowd is simply ecstatic and can be heard singing along. The band
drives through old classics like Holiday, from their 1979 album
Lovedrive, The Zoo, from the 1980 album Animal Magnetism and
reworked version of 1984 rock anthem Hurricane from the album
Love At First Sting. There are also moments from the 1990’s Send
Me An Angel and the mega-hit Winds Of Change. There is a
speeded-up version of the Kansas classic Dust In The Wind and a
tribute track to the late Freddy Mercury with Queen’s classic ballad
Love Of My Life. The outstanding track is the cover of the
super-hit Drive by the Cars. If the band could capture such
energy and emotions through strict acoustic arrangements, we wonder
what could they have done full-out electric.
Bob Marley — the most important figure in the music world — undoubtedly remains the biggest reggae artist till date. Before he died of cancer on May 11, 1981, Bob moved the entire world with his deeply spiritual songs of faith and revolution. One Love, a remastered retrospective of the musical icon (his major label-work completed before his death) may well replace 1984’s Legend as the best-selling reggae album of all time. One Love presents a feedback-scarred live version and sweet organ-driven No Woman, No Cry, as well as album versions of classics like I Shot The Sheriff, Jamming and Get Up, Stand Up. With a band as classy as The Wailers providing instrumental support (among whose members in the early days were childhood friends Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer), a groove- driven track like Could You Be Loved changed the complete reggae scene, which was then normally slow paced. Single versions of Exodus and Buffalo Soldier sidle up to the band-cut of Redemption Song and the soulful show stealer One Love/ People Get Ready (Marley/ Curtis Mayfield melody). A fine number dating back to the 1972’s Catch A Fire onward, One Love is aimed at the casual Bob fans, rather that the hardcore listeners, though its concluding track I Know A Place is quite a rare feature on Bob’s Best of… compilations. Also included are Bob Marley’s take on the persecution he faced as a spokesman for his generation- Iron Lion Zion and the Wailers’ funkiest track ever Lively Up Yourself. Sure, Bob is a musical legend and a natural mystic but as these songs remind us, he was also a warrior and a prophet.
Lou Bega - Ladies
& Gentlemen (BMG Crescendo)
The global pop charts witnessed much-needed style and humour in the summer of 1999 with Lou Bega’s reworked version of Perez Prado’s 1949 hit Mambo No.5. He adopted a distinctive visual image, a combination of both Kid Creole and Cab Calloway, with a white suit, polka dot handkerchief, spats and Barsalino hat topped off by a snazzy pencil moustache. A Little Bit Of Mambo was an instant hit, propelling Bega from a local celebrity to a global winner. The wider commercial audience won by that release won’t be disappointed by this relatively swift, superb follow-up. Combining Caribbean and Latin grooves with thumping disco beats, squealing synthesisers and easy lyrics, Ladies & Gentlemen serves up a stylistically adventurous musical ride. Louis Prima’s cover Just A Gigolo gives quite an idea what to expect. The headliners include You Are My Sunshine, God Is A Woman, People Lovin’ Me and My Answering Machine. The pulsating electro of Club Elitaire is pure Caribbean, while the hit Angelina is an irrepressibly summer slice of the 21st century. But its Lou himself, who demands attention, his playful, romantic and peculiar vocals always come up sounding freshly laundered. Music-rich enough to satisfy without the fiery seasoning.
Revival - Mardi Gras (Virgin Music)
After producing out-of-the-world music in just three years, Creedence Clearwater Revival released their final album Mardi Gras in 1971. Interpersonal tensions became so pronounced within the band that the split was inevitable. This album is an ideal re-introduction to a band that just didn’t reap a lot of rewards for their works in ‘60’s/ ‘70’s, but set such high standards for others to follow. Consequently, it speaks volumes for the strength of the band’s originals, and some astute recruiting, that mostly works quite well as enjoyable timeless rock n’ roll rather than hopeless nostalgia. Certainly such tracks as Tearin’ Up The Country, the smash hit Sweet Hitch-Hiker and What Are You Gonna Do continue in the same stylistic vein as earlier albums, mining an idiosyncratic mood of American roots, but something is very gripping about its presentation. Need Someone To Hold and Someday Never Comes has layers of guitar licking, Door To Door launches into its unstoppable rhythm beat with John Fogerty dishing out his talent, Lookin’ For A Reason is a cool dude rambler, while Take It Like A Friend manages to maintain a constant speed, piling brilliant guitar-works. Aimed at the Stetson crowd and awash with cover versions, Mardi Gras sounds reclined and breezy. Fogerty’s varied, gravelly vocals and the band’s truckling guitar interplay, shown in fully inspired form, make a swift line for Mardi Gras.
Album Of the month
Moulin Rouge - Motion Picture Soundtrack – Various Artists (Universal)
Undoubtedly this is the most sensual, audacious and gripping movie musical since Bob Fosse’s Cabaret. For the soundtrack of his latest blockbuster, a story of star-crossed lovers who happen to meet at the famed Paris nightclub, Romeo & Juliet, director Baz Luhrmann has crossed all musical boundaries. The soundtrack showcases a variety of genres and talent, hoping to build anticipation for the film. And it attempts to accomplish this by appealing to the electic edge of pop culture. And, for the most part, it succeeds. David Bowie opens and closes the album with two drastically reworked versions of Nature Boy- the opening track is accented by a dramatic orchestral arrangement, while the concluding version is a trip-hop collaboration with Massive Attack. The album’s most talked about single, a remake of La Belle’s Lady Marmalade by pop superstars Lil Kim, Christina Anguilera, Mya and Pink, has taken care of the MTV generation. The film’s protagonists Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, too, showcase their strong vocal abilities. Most notable tracks being McGregor’s version of Elton John’s Your Song, Kidman’s Sparkling Diamonds (a brilliant cocktail of Marilyn Monroe’s Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend and Madonna’s Material Girl) and the comical Elephant Love Melody, a medley of love songs from such varied artists as the Beatles (All You Need Is Love), U2 (In The Name Of Love) and Thelma Houston (Don’t Leave Me This Way). Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer make a thumping majestic anthem out of T-Rex’s Children Of The Revolution. The most surprising track here comes in the form of Hindi Sad Diamonds, featuring our very own Alka Yagnik with the Bollywood hit number Chamma Chamma. The soundtrack shows that besides being a visionary filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann has got a flair of things musical as well.