By Gil Kaufman
THE FIRST SOLO offering from self-proclaimed “Hip Hop Amadeus” Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival, will hit stores on June 24. The album, which press materials refer to as a “multi-cultural, multi-genre, multi-generational tour de force . . . also a call to higher musical consciousness,” features everything from a hip-hop reappropriation of the Bee Gees disco ditty “We Trying to Stay Alive” to a hip-hop interpolation of the traditional Cuban anthem “Guantanamera” (with Latin superstar Celia Cruz).
Several of the tunes are sung in Jean’s native Haitian French/Creole tongue (“Sang Fezi,” “Jaspora,” “Yele” and “Carnival”), and a number feature the Refugee Allstars, Jean’s Fugees band mates Lauryn Hill and Prakazrel, joined by John Forte (the first signing to their label, Refugee Camp Records) and Melky Sedeck (Wyclef’s sister).
The Neville Brothers drop by on “Mona Lisa,” reggae legends the I-Threes lend their voices to “Gunpowder,” and Jean himself conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on “Gone ‘Til November.”
Jean will take the Carnival on the road during the summer for a still-unannounced series of dates.
FORMERLY BALD pope-basher Sinéad O’Connor re-emerges from three years of self-imposed exile on June 3 with a new six-track EP called Gospel Oak. Her first effort since 1994’s poorly received Universal Mother, the EP, with five new songs written by O’Connor and a live cover of the traditional Irish song “He Moved Through the Fair,” will be preceded by the single “This Is to Mother You.”
The provocative no-edit video for “This Is to Mother You” was described by a source as “starting out with a tight shot of O’Connor’s face and then pulling back to reveal her in bed with Kris Kristofferson, with whom she goes at it in a very sexy, sensual way.”
It was journeyman country-rock singer/songwriter Kristofferson (his compositions include “Me and Bobby McGee,” which was made famous by Janis Joplin) who defended O’Connor’s honor when she was booed off the stage of a Bob Dylan tribute in 1992 after her so-very-controversial pope picture-shredding incident on Saturday Night Live.
THE NEW ALBUM from the Prodigy will finally see the light of day on July 1. Entitled The Fat of the Land, the disc has been an oft-delayed affair as the band tweaked and re-tweaked tracks, no doubt feeling just a bit of pressure to live up to its “Monsters of Electronica” billing.
The album will be preceded by the single “Breathe.” In addition to their hit “Firestarter,” the album also will feature an as-yet-untitled collaboration with Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills and a track called “Diesel Power” with Dr. Octagon/Kool Keith on the mike. Also rumored to be on the album is a cover of L7’s “Fuel My Fire” with backing vocals from Republica singer Saffron.
The self-produced effort will get a live preview on May 26 in Toronto when the band plays its first string of U.S. dates (also oft-delayed) before joining Lollapalooza for a half dozen gigs in the closing slot.
Gil Kaufman is senior music writer at ‘Addicted to Noise‘.
From the May 22-28, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent
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