CD reviews


Muy Caliente: Puro Eskañol delivers serious skanking sounds with a Latin flavor.

New CDs from Megadeth, Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Live at Carnegie Hall (Epic)

Patsy Cline
Live at the Cimarron Ballroom (MCA)

ON THE NIGHT of Oct. 4, 1984, Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble–bolstered by the Roomful of Blues horn section, New Orleans pianoman Dr. John, brother Jimmie Vaughan, and blues singer and former bandmate Angela Strehli–transformed the venerable New York concert hall into a stomping roadhouse. Road-hardened and hot on the heels of his platinum-selling Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Vaughan poured heart and soul into this blistering set. For a solid hour, Vaughan shreds his way through early hits, like “Love Struck Baby” and “Rude Mood,” and offers tributes to past blues greats Albert Collins, Guitar Slim, and Albert King. No less awesome, in her own way, is vocalist Patsy Cline, captured during her first concert after a near-fatal 1961 car crash (word is that the Cimarron shows were seldom recorded, but thank goodness someone hit the record button for this one). Fronting an ace western swing band for country legend and ex-Bob Wills sideman Leon McAuliff, Cline struts her stuff in fine form and with an exuberance that could come only from beating death–a tragic plane crash would claim her life two years later. She soars powerfully through such set pieces as “Walking After Midnight” and lends her touch to a handful of classic country tunes by Hank Williams, Buck Owens, and Bob Wills. Sheer magic. Together, these two unexpected live recordings offer a rare glimpse of two musical giants in their prime–like postcards from long-lost friends.
Greg Cahill

Cryptic Writings (Capitol)

The Future Sound of London
Dead Cities (Astralwerks)

DOES ELECTRONICA MATTER? Not much. Recent Billboard Top 200 charts show new discs by Aerosmith and James Taylor outselling the Chemical Brothers and the Orb. Yet, electronica’s worth isn’t in sales, but in rock’s old fist-in-the-air standard: Youngsters like Prodigy don’t really try to mean more than an oldie like Paul McCartney, but their audience hears them as if they do. While rock, electronica, and pop listeners dance this tug of war for importance, the picture is clearer on new discs by metal stalwarts Megadeth and British rave-faves the Future Sound of London. Megadeth are veterans secure with their identity and audience, so Cryptic Writings is smart thrash that doesn’t even glance at techno. The razor-guitar riffs, thumping rhythms, and familiar Megadeth themes of betrayal and social decay are signs of the band’s pop instincts, just as the blues harmonica on “Have Cool, Will Travel” is a reminder of hard rock’s strong tradition. The Future Sound of London are contenders in an amorphous genre, so Dead Cities cries to be understood. Rough blocks of “tracks” move from hyper and slamming to placid and airy like many classical symphonies. Flutes follow crashes, and singles like “We Have Explosive” are followed by choral layers; the samples aren’t meant to make you dance or trance, but to yearn and scream. While much of metal is about shoving a message in your face, Megadeth sound totally at ease; and while much of electronica is about avoiding a message, F.S.O.L. are working desperately to create one.
Karl Byrn

Various Artists
Puro Eskañol: Latin Ska Underground, Vol. 1 (Aztlan)

Various Artists
Los Punkeros: Raza Punk Y Hardcore (Aztlan)

IN THE WAKE of this year’s excellent Reconquista! The Latin Rock Invasion (Zyanya/Rhino), the world of roc en español continues to grow with these two energetic collections of Spanish-language skanking sounds and punk bombast from San Francisco­based Aztlan Records. Puro Eskañol–with bands ranging from New York to Texas to Puerto Rico, including the Voodoo Glow Skulls and Slow Gherkin–is a contagious, high-octane onslaught through territory previously worked by such British two-tone ska bands as Madness and the Specials, but with a distinct infusion of Latin percussion and verve. How you feel about Los Punkeros–which kicks off with a raw, frenzied Latin version of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” performed by Manic Hispanic–depends on your take on punk in general. But you’ve got to give Aztlan a big hand for providing theses young bands a forum.

From the August 7-13, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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