**** CHE GUEVARA
*** CHAIRMAN MAO
** JOE STALIN
* TITO


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Reich Remixed
(Nonesuch)
*

It's presumptuous of a record label to assume that just because I grew up on hiphop and rock and roll, and am now nearing 30, that I'm suddenly interested in the classical avant-garde. True, I don't want to appear ignorant at sophisticated dinner parties, but not enough to pretend to care about 20th-century composers whose music bored the crap out of me even when it was sampled by the Orb. More importantly, if I did want to know about Steve Reich, I'd buy a CD of his music, not one of his music chewed up and spit out by overexposed, pretentious trendoids like Howie B. and DJ Spooky. ADAM HEIMLICH


VARIOUS ARTISTS
The Disco Box
(Rhino)
*
***

"Disco sucks!" Yeah, right. The people that once denounced this stuff as mindless thump-thump-thumping are the very same folks that'll knock you off the dance floor with their patented Tony Romero moves upon hearing any one of these CDs. Actually, MC Queen Lucky might consider suing Rhino for cutting into her business, for she's been drawing crowds with these same tunes every Thursday at Re-bar for years. Now you can get 'em all in one set, from classics like "We Are Family" (the gay national anthem) to "Get Dancin'" by the long-forgotten Disco-Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes. Plus the usual comprehensive liner notes--are there really 50 "essential" disco albums? These songs have been spread over far too many records than a sane person should have to buy, making The Disco Box your best bet for getting more boogie for your buck. Yowsah, yowsah, yowsah! GILLIAN G. GAAR


THE MICROPHONES
Tests
(Elsinor)
*
***

Dub Narcotic is spreading a welcome influence across Washington state--as far as Anacortes. Tests collects from the first three cassettes of Dub Narcotic producer Phil Elvrum's late-night Microphones dub project--and frequently sounds quite magical. Children's voices call, car sounds drift in and out, a deep male voice softly whispers, an acoustic guitar resonates softly to itself, some scratching is tentatively added... imagine what a more inward-turned Pastels would sound like grown up in beautiful countryside, not inner-city decay. Ever hear Jane's "It's a Fine Day"? You should. Tape delays, mic distortions, careful lo-fi samples, female nursery rhymes, all add to the joyous mix--and it's wonderfully accessible. (Write to Elsinor at PO Box 5463, Bellingham WA 98227.) EVERETT TRUE


ELVIS PRESLEY
Sunrise
(RCA)
*
***

Elvis Presley didn't invent rock and roll, but he was certainly the one who kicked the doors wide open, letting all sorts of hell break loose for a few glorious years, and Sunrise is the most comprehensive collection so far of Presley's electrifying rise to fame. There's the first four songs he cut at Sun Studios as an amateur, trying to cast himself as a lovelorn balladeer. Thankfully, he soon unleashed the hillbilly cat within, finding the middle ground between C&W and R&B that no one ever thought to mix together before. The songs are still so fresh, vibrant, and gosh-darn cheerful it's hard to believe this music was once tagged as the elixir of the devil. It's Presley in his prime; pre-Army, pre-drug, and pre-Col. Tom Parker, the manager he inadvertently sold his soul to. Also included is lots of unreleased stuff to lure in the collectors. GGG


A MAN CALLED SUN
"The Traveller" EP
(Ammonite)
*

Idaho quartet who try way too hard to sound British--more specifically, like a psychedelicized Primal Scream. Which isn't anywhere near as enticing as it sounds. ET


CEDELL DAVIS
Feel Like Doin' Something Wrong/The Horror of It All
(Fat Possum)
*
***

Tho' YOU might say Cedell's "blews" pickin' sound "off," I say he jus' got a SOUND all his own. See, it IS differnt'n what WE normally hear as "correct tonal relationships," dig? He ain't so concerned 'bout creatin' formal Western, meanin' "Euro-derived," relationships...uh, but this ain't JAZZ, neither! 'Course, it could be on account o' he southpawed playin' "jus' atta point o' outta-tunedness," onna upside-down-strung-right-side-up six-string'n slidin' wif a ass end o' a knife, so tha's jus' how his "sound" come out. BUT I don't honestly know--'n don't care neither, 'cause whatever he do sho' do me RIGHT! MIKE NIPPER


JONATHA BROOKE
Jonatha Brooke Live
(Bad Dog)
*
**

Stop rolling your eyes over the female singer/songwriter thing. Jonatha Brooke is NOT your average whiny/wimpy chick plucking an acoustic guitar. Live's 10 tracks range from gentle and simple with folk sensibilities ("Annie," "Because I Told You So") to a fuller, more energetic sound backed by her basic bass-and-drums band ("Where Were You?" "West Point"). Released on Brooke's own record label, Jonatha Brooke Live gives us a taste of her various '98 club performances, where she displays the very qualities that make her the anti-Jewel: a clear, strong voice with flawless pitch, smart lyrics, and a sense of maturity that is far more impressive and appealing than big boobs or a book of self-indulgent schoolgirl poetry. MIN LIAO


THE BETA BAND
The Three EPs
(Astralwerks)
*
***

The Three EPs is just that: three EPs from '97 and '98, collected onto one formidably bloated 78-minute disc. The first EP, "Champion Versions," starts simply--just acoustic guitar--but quietly builds into a crumbling wall of sound. These rainy-day psych/folk songs have a trash-orchestral quality that Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel would have if they weren't so hung up on the '60s--kind of like a sedated Beck, or the Dust Brothers producing the Band. By the time the second EP hits "Monolith," a 16-minute "Revolution #9"-like sound collage, the Beta Band are on another plane entirely, surrounded by sampled birds, guitar effects on loan from The Wall, keyboards on loan from "Sister Ray," and helium-enhanced vocals chanting teasingly on the edge of making sense. PHILIP GUICHARD


WHALE
All Disco Dance Must End In Broken Bones
(Virgin)
*
**

Like Pizzicato 5? Then you'll surely like this. Bouncy electronic mixes and samples, wistful voices, a total swingin' fun time. Easily the most Japan-O-Rama sound to have ever come from Sweden. CLARK HUMPHREY


3-MILE PILOT
Songs From An Old Town We Once Knew
(Headhunter/Cargo)
*
*

Compilations of old 7-inches and outtake tracks aren't supposed to work this well as one piece. Actually it's two pieces; one CD full of slow songs and a second disc with some louder songs. The songs themselves are mostly post-Silkworm, guitar-distortion sludge 'n' drone (with piano); fine enough for ambient listening but not quite foreground material. CH

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