As Time Goes By
If you really think about it, artists are journalists -- the good ones anyway. It is their job to experience an event or sensation -- filtered through the ego -- and report it back to us. Sometimes it's abstract, like a vague feeling or scent, other times it's direct. When Lou Reed penned "Waiting for My Man," he was writing a first-person account of his addiction to heroin.
Consider this latest journalistic effort by Bryan Ferry as a period piece. As Time Goes By is a cover album of the 1930s' blue jazz and mood soul classics. As with his earlier period material (These Foolish Things, Another Time Another Place) he retains the integrity, the simplicity, and the swelter of the songs of that era, while adding those graceful moments of Ferry-choly.
But "period piece" does not mean passive musical enjoyment. Listening to As Time Goes By is every bit as interactive as running around your apartment in your underwear screaming, "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!" while blasting Rage Against the Machine. It's just a different type of interaction; it's like flying a biplane over the 1930s.
Ferry is especially effective delivering songs like the 1937 gem, "Where or When" by Hart and Rogers. "Where or When" is about the magic and timelessness of love, and so it is perfectly placed on an album that is about the magic and timelessness of music.
Bryan Ferry could have easily doggie-paddled through his post-Roxy Music era and made a fabulous living off lazily written love songs carried by his crooner's voice (see Barry White). But he doesn't, because Bryan Ferry knows that if you're going to call yourself an artist, you have to keep striving, and thrashing, and pestering the status quo. In this way he delivers his view of the world right into your living room, and does so without sounding corny like so very many other balladeers. ED DECKER
Appetite for Reconstruction: A Tribute to Guns N' Roses
The one thing about Guns N' Roses that redeemed all their abusive, decadent, and stupid macho behavior was that they were great rock songwriters. Sure, they had cheesy power ballads, but even in all of their idiocy, G N' R were an angry, passionate hard rock band not afraid to have a genuine "sensitive side." Their honesty is what made their rock star attitude forgivable. For better or worse, G N' R were a great '80s rock band. Not historical, but great.
Guns N' Roses' debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was bursting with attitude, anger, and love -- all the clichés of rock. But they pulled it off with the great musicianship that bands today ignore because it's not cool anymore to be good at your instruments. That said, this tribute lacks all of the aforementioned elements of G N' R that made them good, yet manages to include all the things which eventually led to their artistic ruin. It seems that the tribute musicians drew forth all that was stupid, clichéd, or offensive in G N' R and forgot to include any of their redeeming qualities. The album is a bunch of washed up metal musicians with popular DJs creating embarrassing metal-techno fusions of G N' R songs. Ironically, Axl Rose is supposedly attempting to "modernize" Guns N' Roses (he owns the name, giving him the freedom to make terrible solo music as G N' R) through drum programmers and DJs and other techno-related experimentation. So maybe Axl would really dig this "tribute." Hell, maybe it was his idea.
But after listening to Tracii Guns play guitar while members of Quiet Riot and Faster Pussycat take turns doing vocals on Appetite for Reconstruction, I had to dig out the original. I shouldn't hate rock stars for becoming embarrassing to themselves with age; I'd just prefer to be reminded of times when I hated them a little bit less. LARS SWENSON
IN STORES 10/19
98 Degrees, This Christmas (Universal). Sometimes I wish I were Jewish.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, This Beautiful Life (Coolsville/Interscope). According to the band's official website: "This record is bigger, badder, and better than anything else we have done! And the artwork is wilder than ever!" Oh, goody.
Charlatans UK, Us and Only Us (MCA). Highly anticipated new material from Brit indie rock royalty.
The Clash, From Here to Eternity: The Clash Live (Epic). The World's Greatest Rock Band (1977-1981) live in concert, with tracks hand-picked by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones.
Collapsis, Dirty Wake (Cherry Entertainment/Universal). Major label debut from prolific North Carolina prodigy Mike Garrigan.
Natalie Cole, The Magic of Christmas (Elektra). If you're just dying for a Christmas album, Natalie's one of the few people I'd trust not to cover it with cheese.
Eurythmics, Peace (Arista). The savviest of the '80s synth-and-video artists (sorry Flock of Seagulls!) release their first new material in almost 10 years.
Bryan Ferry, As Time Goes By (Virgin). See review above.
Julio Iglesias Jr., Under My Eyes (Epic). Yet another Iglesias boy attempts to capitalize on the Latin explosion that isn't and to top big daddy's mega-hit "Feliz Navidad."
Mollys Yes, Wonderworld (Universal/Republic). The sophomore release from Tulsa, Oklahoma's best (only?) rockers.
Primus, Anti-Pop (Interscope). Primus no longer trust themselves. This guest-heavy album features Tom Waits, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica, and South Park co-creator Matt Stone.
Stan Ridgway, Anatomy (New West). More solo work from the man who brought us the '80s classic "Mexican Radio."
Save Ferris, Modified (Epic). More ska-punk from this female-fronted Cali band, no doubt.
Smithereens, God Save the Smithereens (Koch). First release in ages from the workhorses of early indie rock.
Ringo Starr, I Wanna Be Santa Claus (Mercury). Ringo sings the classics and has written six new holiday songs. Aerosmith's Joe Perry guests on guitar. The truth is so much stranger than fiction.
Super TransAtlantic, Super TransAtlantic (Universal). This full-length is a springboard from their single "Super Down," on the American Pie soundtrack.
Various Artists, Soundtrack: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TVT Soundtrax). There are a few good tracks here, most notably the theme from Buffy, but nothing does justice to the chicks-kicking-ass ethos of the show. It's dishonest to trot out CK model/Garbage singer Shirley Manson as a representative of a strong woman in music. Madonna would've been more appropriate, and you could dance to it.
Various Artists, Woodstock '99 (Epic). This double disc set allows you to enjoy the raping and rioting of the catastrophe that was Woodstock '99 in the privacy of your own home. Relive the magical misogyny of Limp Bizkit, and in case you don't hate women enough after that, suffer the songs of the whiny troika: Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Alanis Morissette.