Left Field

January/February 2002

Listen with an open mind.

The main focus of Ballbuster Magazine is hard rock music and all the styles that are closely related to it. It’s all here, call it what you want…rock, hardcore, progressive, death, extreme, punk, thrash, blues, heavy metal…you get the picture.

But, as we all know, there’s a lot more to music than what we’ve presented here. So, in an effort to expose other styles of music to our loyal readers, we give you “Left Field: The Other Side Of Rock,” A Column featuring Reviews, Interviews & News that’s dedicated to the styles of music that you normally wouldn’t find in a hard rock magazine. The artists featured in this Left Field will recieve the same treatment as everyone else who submits material for review. We’ll tell it like it is…if you’re good, you’re good and if you’re not, we’re gonna say so.


To be featured/reviewed in Left Field, ALL CDs and demos must be sent direct to our home office @ SinBad Prods Inc, Box 58368 Louisville Kentucky 40268-0368 USA

Please send 2 copies of each release.

If you are in contact with one of our writers and wish to send them a copy of your product, you may do so, but remember, to appear here at Left Field a copy must arrive at our home office.

Questions / more info e-mail: SinBad Prods @


CASH MONEY’S UNDISPUTED SOUNDTRACK Video filmed at Nashville State Prison (New York, NY) Cash Money/Universal Records will be handling the soundtrack for Undisputed, a Miramax release starring Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes as two boxers behind bars who find themselves thrust into an underground prison boxing match. The soundtrack for Undisputed, the second in the Cash Money catalogue, brings together a stellar line-up of some of the brightest starts in urban music, including R&B/soul vocal legend Carl Thomas, who has worked with everyone from Puff Daddy to Heavy D; smash-rapper Fabolous; hip-hop all-stars the Ruff Ryders featuring Swizz Beatz, Petey Pablo; and of course, the world famous Cash Money Millionaires. Cash Money co-CEO, Ronald “Slim” Williams says: “I’m proud of the talented line-up that we have on this soundtrack. Cash Money is eager to branch out and work with the top artists, outside of the label, that are hot in the biz today.” The first single, which takes its name from the movie’s title, will be supported by a video lensed on the grounds of the Nashville State Penitentiary, whose Gothic Revivalist structure has made it the location for such motion pictures as The Green Mile and the recently released Robert Redford prison drama The Last Castle. The video for “Undisputed” will be filmed by Terry Heller, who’s directed videos for K-CI & JoJo, Profyle and Gerald LeVert. Undisputed will be released on March 8th. —————————– IK Multimedia announces 15 new sound modules for SampleTank® December 2001, Modena, Italy – Following the success of the SampleTank® software sound module and in cooperation with some of the world’s finest soundware houses, IK Multimedia is pleased to announce 15 new sound modules for SampleTank®. SampleTank ( is the first professional software sound module to combine a powerful synth/sampler engine and high quality multi-sampled sounds into a plug-in software instrument. The new series of 15 sound modules has been jointly developed by IK and highly respected names in sound development such as:
– UK producer AMG

– German producer Masterbits

– US producer SonicReality/eSoundZ

And cover a full range of sounds needs: from multi-sampled instruments to drum, dance and percussive loops.

All the titles are available in native SampleTank format and all include SampleTank LE software (full version of SampleTank with 4 MIDI channels and 1 output) turning these sounds into MAS/VST instruments for immediate playability. They can both be used as stand-alone sound module or expansion of sounds for previous SampleTank users. Here the list of newly announced sound modules:

1) AMG BRIT HORNS MULTISAMPLES Chromatically sampled Horn Sections and solo instruments from the legendary Thoms, Barnacle & Brooks brass section! $119

2) AMG LOOP SOUP! DANCE LOOPS Norman Cook, Coldcut, Pascal Gabriel & Megabass deliver the ultimate dance loop library! Chopped up with MIDI files for the ultimate creativity! $119

3) AMG TERMINALHEAD DANCE SAMPLES&LOOPS The most creative and inspiring dance collections available! “Raunchy, raw, and rude… Terminalhead does not disappoint.” – Keyboard. ReCycled too! $119

4) AMG TONY MASON DRUM LOOPS Top R&B drummer Tony Mason lays down the phattest beats – all ReCycled with their own MIDI Files! $119

5) IK TRANCE GRID DANCE LOOPS Separate loops elements (BDs, snares and hi-hats), to produce a zillion numbers of trance grooves with the most complex rhythmic joints. $99

6) IK EARTH BEAT PERCUSSION LOOPS Percussive loops from around the world. African, asian and latin percussions tempo-matched and fully recombinable. $99

7) IK AXE’ PERCUSSION LOOPS A special library of all the “batucada” instruments, mixable in millions of complex, pure carioca rhythmic texture. $99

8) MASTERBITS MELLO ZONE ST MULTISAMPLES The ultimate collection of MELLOTRON sounds. 25 large sound sets incl. up to 35 halftone steps multi-samples / each, 484 MB. $99

9) MASTERBITS VINTAGE VOLTAGE ST MULTISAMPLES A great collection of analogue synth sounds. 180 ready to play ST sound sets incl. Leads, Basses, Pads, SFX etc. taken from famous vintage Synthesizers. $99

10) SR/eSoundZ GUITAR COLLECTION MULTISAMPLES Nylon and Steel String Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Basses and more. $79

11) SR/eSoundZ TECHNO GROOVES MULTISAMPLES&LOOPS Electronic rhythm loops organized by BPM with tempos of 98, 102, 108, 120, 128, , 139, 145 and 150. $79

12) SR/eSoundZ SYMPHONY STRINGS MULTISAMPLES Lush string ensembles of violins, violas, celli and basses played in many performance styles. $79

13) SR/eSoundZ PIANO COLLECTION MULTISAMPLES New Steinway® Grand, Yamaha® Grand, Baby Grand, Upright, Electric Pianos and more! $79

14) SR/eSoundZ OMNI SYNTH MULTISAMPLES All 128 sounds from the General Midi list with incredible realism. A diverse set of for a great price. $129

15) SR/eSoundZ SONIC SYNTH MULTISAMPLES Multi-disc set with over 2 Gigabytes of sounds from Sonic Reality. Pianos, Pads, Strings,

Voices, Bells, Guitars, Drums…a FULL synth workstation! $249 Products Now available for shipping. More informations and demo of each titles can be found here :


(Albertine Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

2They’re called “2.” The album’s called “2.” And there are two guys forefront showcasing their knack for hitting that romantic keystroke in a sweet and pasty sort of way. Not much like the so-called “boy bands;” They’re more Adult Contemporary than that, and I’d dare suggest a little beyond their years. They’re management team goes by the name of Jolly Roger. huh? Okay and so is everything as it appears? I’d say the duo of Joe Condiracci and David Leatherwood, guitarists/vocalists at the core of a well intended instrumental backing band, have the makings for a run at success if the early going is any indication. Quite an impressive six song debut that’ll tug at the heartstrings of your girlfriend, mother, or daughter for that matter, they play no favorites and their playful Pop harmonies and bright sky, walk through the park, romantic and rosy character shines through this simple formulaic six song foray. They recently opened for Jane’s Addiction which might lead to a false perception of quirkiness or edginess of character which I can safely say is nowhere to be found-tuneful melodies abound with titles like “Like A Train,” the softly spun “Angel,” and radio ready “Touch.” Clean cut and honest, 2, with their forthright ambitions Pop crooner sincerity lend a personable charm to their song that tugs hard as would an N’Sync without the dance angle or bubble gum excess.

Daft Punk
“Alive 1997”
(Virgin Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

Daft Punk Alive 1997Daft Punk features two French guys who have no inclination towards Punk music whatsoever. And so much for names. Now what they are doing is some solid mixing put to methodical mechanized beats; Finely skilled in the art of robotics, theirs is a heated brand of Electronic Dance music heavy on the beat, less drawn from the usually Euro-styled Tech-friendly formation and aurally-inclined ambient setting. In fact unsettling might be a good place to start when thinking of character-coding, still there’s no denying their hand in innovation inasmuch as creating this live UK performance pulled from four years earlier, something seemingly few others had the inclination or ability to attempt. What you’ve got is a free-flowing eclectic mix of high-powered dramatic dance floor dynamics, marked with static undercurrents and unfiltered noise from the hands of two forward-looking DJ’s seeking to soar above the norm, which they’ve done quite impressively on this five track 45 minute mix of interstellar groove to follow up their previously well received “Discovery” LP.

Chris Botti
“Night Sessions”
(Columbia Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

CHRIS1There are certainly likenesses stemming from this kind of music, to one Kenny G., “Night Sessions,” a soothing instrumental-led movement that employs dignity with grace and finesse for a record that was seemingly completed in the perfect atmosphere where the many illuminative moments occurred in the hills, after dark, at peace and at home. Now I never knew that Sting’s son was a Jazz-playing soloist. and in fact he’s not but the likeness here is uncanny. In fact Botti is the featured soloist in Sting’s band, “Night Sessions” developing in a break in the “Brand New Day” tour and responsible for those many earthy and sensuous overtones that lay at the roots of Sting sound. Botti, fluid and multi-dimensional, is not only satisfied to stay safely within the calming quiet of soft Jazz or light Rock, in fact employing a few Funky elements to accentuate a song like “Streets Ahead,” obviously without Bronson St. in mind, or so I would assume. Featuring a multitude of guest musicians and occasional vocal accompaniment as with Shawn Colvin’s unmistakable entry on the Sting-penned piece “All Would Envy,” enhanced by smooth backing harmonies and guitar interludes and on “You Move Me,” slightly more dynamic at the onset, Kipper’s keyboard effects giving a slightly electric and lucid quality to another of the soft sensual variety led by the beautiful female vocals of Camilla. It’s hard to imagine such a work, insightful, emotionally stirring, and uplifting, could have progressed in such a short time span as was this, and yet that’s the case barely three months into the process and “Night Sessions” was born. The results are nothing short of dazzling. Displaying music both organic and yet spiritually believable, Botti, veteran for many a big name performer on stage and in the studio, shines brightly on his own for the fourth time with “Night Sessions.”

Copper Dalton
“Copper Dalton”
(QSP Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

CooperFrom the streets of Sparkill, NY comes Copper Dalton, a palatable Pop flavored Rock machine consuming friendly storylines and first person perspective with clever, catchy mid-range rhythms and ballads. Self-produced, self-released, and self-contained subject matter steadfast in their delivery, subtle at times and showy in others, the band produces an emotional combination befitting of many top selling acts twenty years their senior-“Ariana,” the gripping opening track entices with a lurid chorus, striking in its simplicity, edgy and upbeat; “Half Your World,” makes good practice of similar positive aspects that in spite of its three year shelf-life could open some eyes on the Adult-Oriented Rock format; “Stranded” and “Silver Chain” take on a contemplative and bluesy feel slowed down and sincere, conveying a heartland appeal in an appeal aimed at another chance. Labeled as “Modern Rock,” Copper Dalton, on their eleven song debut, doesn’t in fact conjure up images of modernity in the technological sense-they are a new band that keeps to an organic style, slow of rhythm and smooth riding within their close to home tempos. Lead singer/guitarist Joe Tristano’s forefront vocals reminisce of Peter Gabriel’s prime, beckoning, urging, longing, all in good time with a supportive acoustical free-flow that creates a harmonious blend of subtlety and substance to the songs.

Iggy & The Stooges
“Wild Love: The Detroit Rehearsals & More”
(Bomp Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

IGGY1In the last few years we’ve been seeing more and more of the Iggy & The Stooges influence on countless newcomers to the Rock scene so it’s only fitting that the band, under appreciated, even underachievers in their time, would be prominent enough some twenty plus years later to scrape off the last remaining resin and throw it on disc. So here, a band becoming known today as much for sound recording deficiencies nearly as much as for their groundbreaking on and off stage exploits thirty years before, “The Detroit Rehearsals & More” reveals an as yet unheard of version of this infamous band. And backpedaling for a moment, I use the suggestion of “recording deficiencies” in only the most endearing of terms. What made Iggy and his band so great all those years ago that they should come up time and again today when modern day Garage Rockers and Punks basically channel them at will when they lay forth their own rusty riffs and screams? Lotsa things actually but none more prevalent than the attitude which this band possessed-and having a front man willing to risk life and limb for every live and presumably in-studio performance holds a bit of relevance as well. First of all kudos go out to Greg Shaw who displayed an unprecedented fortitude in compiling the collection and liner notes, nearly as painful to read as some of these songs are to. listen to. Okay so there’s beauty in imperfection and let’s face it anyone expecting flawless production with no seams and complete end-to-end action, well, no, David Bowie’s three albums down to your left. Similiar to other recent Stooges revivals, “Wild Love” is an amalgamated mess of outtakes, rehearsals, demos and just about anything else that could’ve been thrown on tape and labeled “music.” There is an endearing quality to be sure that a song like “Wild Love,” or “I Come >From Nowhere,” unmistakably Stooges, yet akin to shaving with a dulled blade. it can be painful, to say nothing of the poor soul who drowned himself in hours worth of tape spools, yet we’ll come up on an I’m So Glad” cover or the “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” seven minute jam and we’re suddenly caught in an unexpected groove-and thanking God for the editing process. But I’ll tell ya I kinda like their “I was born in a trailer” line that goes with the latter and that rambling guitar riff beneath Iggy’s psychotic scream gives you that up a little too close and personal vibe! The tunes, thirteen in all, an hour plus of pure Stooges, raw and unrefined and never before released, their promise not mine, is aimed specifically to those hard-core fans that can’t get enough from the old Columbia days-those, an absolute must for a first listen for the modern day Punk rocker archivist. And then may we slowly embark on this musty journey through the catacombs and come across much of what might’ve been had the band not self-destructed. “Wild Love” does, in a way, give us a cool behind the scenes listen to the making of a Stooges record-one that initially never was, from a band that’ll never die.

Mick Jagger
“Goddess In The Doorway”
(Virgin Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

JAGGER1It’s been nearly ten years since the last solo outing from one of Rock’s biggest icons and for all intents and purposes it could’ve been fifty years and yet since then the Stones have regrouped and toured and recorded and toured and so forth and for me personally I can’t recall Mick’s performance on his preceding solo work. I’m not suggesting it wasn’t a memorable effort but in the past, not being a big Jagger “solo” fan to begin with, after the big hit or two, much of the rest left me flat. Not the case here. In fact I heard the first album single “God Gave Me Everything” buzzing during Monday Night Football’s intermission where a taped interview with Mick promoting his new record was aired and I have to admit being a bit awed. Here was this wholly contemporary Hard Rock tune blaring about and little did I know then of the Kravitz influence, and it took only seconds before I was grooving and impressed to the point where I reached for the album and threw it on. Very impressive and the song, a great pick for reintroducing the world to one Mr. Jagger. In fact there are several good choices for follow up concerns: “Goddess In The Doorway,” “Lucky Day,” “Everybody Getting High.” Yes, it has been a while indeed, for both he and his band, which its worth pointing out up front are still very much an active commodity. But Jagger’s “Goddess In The Doorway” as an album impresses on a number of levels. Firstly, it’s not a lackluster album of old man river Folk songs and ballads built on a veteran preaching presence and lack of inspiration-sure a name like Jagger could put out a mediocre record, call it introspective, throw on a ballad and go on about the joys of fatherhood and it’d still sell millions. but then where’d it be a couple years from now? That’s what I think “Goddess In The Doorway” presents to the listener where many other of his contemporaries fall short. I liked Bowie’s last record but after a while you’re buried in all this personal depth and left feeling trapped in Clapton’s acoustic guitar before it’s half over. Jagger’s is personally introspective without question but he hasn’t lost his lust for life or eagerness for stylistic blend-no this is not another Stones’ record with his name on it, another revealing point-I’m still trying to figure how Journey’s Steve Perry actually has an album of “Greatest Hits” when all we ever heard was maybe two or three-but distinguish it from Journey and there’s no way. In fact Jagger’s lends itself to the recruitment of an all star cast that include such names as Townsend, Thomas, Kravitz, Wyclef, and Bono to aid in the recording and add an individual character to many of the songs that come across as spirited and charming, comfortably contemporary, earthy and transcendent. Furthering this notion, if we looked closer into tracks like “Joy,” embodying a Gospel character with an urgent cascading vocal style of Bono nearing its rousing conclusion, and the modern dance-flavor of the title track, both approaching from completely opposing angles, they ultimately arrive at the same place. Upon this premise then, “Goddess In The Doorway,” which as a title according to Jagger reveals no particular significance, is a twelve spoke wheel where each song, a spoke that stretches from the core, learns, develops and transmits before reattaching itself-that full circle we’re at here. I expected little from this album and came away very surprised and impressed. Mick, solo performer, front man for one of Rock music’s all-time greats, has managed to reinvent himself with a multi-faceted work geared for immediate impact and sustained longevity that should meet with widespread appeal.

Sex Pistols
“There Is No Future”
(Trojan Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

Sex PistolsNostalgic right down to the faded insert printed inside, “There Is No Future” is the Sex Pistols naturally at their worst which in itself should be music to the ears of the Hard-Core purists who’ve never forgotten where they were the first time they heard “Anarchy In The UK,” or “God Save The Queen.” even if the contents herein isn’t. music that is. Hey The Pistols’ would never go down in history as the most instrumentally inclined, that’s what endeared ’em to a whole new generation of Punk followers and so much so that from only that one recording, the genre-breaking, ground-breaking, ball-breaking, Hell put anything in front of the damned thing and odds are it have broken it, “Never Mind The Bollocks.” that first put ’em on the map back in ’77, they’ve amongst the standard bearers if not the standard bearer for the many UK Punkers to follow, of which there’ve been many. The cool thing about this one is. well it’s still the Sex Pistols, in raw, rare and expectedly dodgy form-and I mean we’re going way back here before Vicious Sid made his way into the band and just prior to hit bout with Rock & Roll infamy-the many favorites from the beginning appearing here for the first time-ragged early demos, live clips, two versions of “Anarchy In The UK.” okay, so where was something like this when Lydon and the boys were out there on the comeback trail-maybe the timing’s off but then their timing’s been off since day one and amazingly enough “No Future,” prophetic for sure, but they’ve made a Hell of a career out of their short-lived twenty-four month past! The tunes are mercifully remastered and contain anything and everything one would wanna concern themselves with-“Pretty Vacant,” twice actually, first and thirteenth, the “Anarchy” twins, one old, one new, we’ll call it the “Pour me a double. cheers mate,” version even if they don’t, you’ll understand. “Problems,” and a sloppy as shit live in-studio(?) version of The Who’s “Substitute” to close out-I mean there’s no way they can pull off a bootleg that clean. Got a few quick historical notes to go with this U.S. virgin release and sixteen cuts that like they say in the write up “Will burn a hole in your CD machine.” and apparently it does cuz the fucking thing just crapped out at the start of track four!

Smashing Pumpkins
“Greatest Hits”
(Virgin Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

SMASHIN1We should also get “Rotten Apples” in there somewhere regarding the title but since “Greatest Hits/Rotten Apples” doesn’t quite paint a clear picture, we’ll leave it as is. Hey I don’t care what they call it I find it refreshing to review any “Greatest Hits” package that’s not called Alice In Chains! And few are more deserving for a “Best Of” set than The Smashing Pumpkins, one of the most vital Rock bands of the nineties. This two-disc set runs the gamut of their profound creativity spanning their decade long six-album run that really came to a sudden end for a band still on the A-list. “Machina / The Machines of God” was their introduction into Y2K and would ultimately be their final studio work, yet definitely not reflective of a band on the decline-though certainly there’s something to be said for going out on top and few could argue they did just that. Their career spanning hits are the feature for disc one, everything one would expect from the early nineties infancy of “Gish,” to the massive “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, to the aggressively mechanized rapport of “Machina,” the Pumpkins were ahead of their time and a definitive presence to the growth and maturation of Alternative music success. Disc one features two previously unreleased tracks called “Real Love,” and “Untitled,” either of which could’ve placed well on their last couple of records and such as they are, make for nice compliments to those already previously established hits. Disc two features a collection of B-Sides and rarities again spanning their career from the early days with a concentration on the present-call it “Judas O.” Additionally fans get seventeen more tracks built on the similar presence of subtlety, grace, and infinite intensity of emotion. Yes during their successful decade long run there were few like them and now that they’re gone, there’ll be even less. Smashing Pumpkins had a knack for turning up the heat and turning out the lights and pushing the cerebral capacity past understood limits. I listen to an album like “Machina” today and while I can groove to “Stand Inside Your Love,” there are none that move me more than a song like “The Crying Tree of Mercury.” Roughly half of the rare tracks on disc two are previously unreleased, including a “smashing” version of “Rock On,” which features their take on a couple of classic Van Halen elements, while unusual versions of B-sides like “Airplane Flies High,” “Believe,” and “Blissed and Gone” give listeners another look at an already multi-lateral band. To call them “unusual” as a band is nothing new, and though there’s not a single word of praise or personal thoughts written into the accompanying literature there are plenty of interesting documentary photos and two page song and publishing listing at the close not to mention cautionary content advisories imprinted right on the cover. And then again for a band that’s always had so much to say through their music, maybe no additional words need be said.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre
“Bravery Repetition and Noise”
(Bomp Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

JONESTO1What can you say about the Brian Jonestown Massacre that hasn’t already been said before? I don’t know, this is the first I’ve heard of them. How about they’re a pretty good “roots” Rock band for starters? And let’s face it, for most, that’s pretty high praise and more than enough to go on. With a name and a look that tells me they could’ve come from the late sixties as well as today, gone with a name like The Grasshoppers, sported mop-top do’s and dark glasses, and travel end to end in a kaleidoscopic bus. and who’s to say they don’t anyway. The BJM delivers an against the grain open chord Rock & Roll style, Folk flavored and well spun with little in the way of an approaching “massacre” or suggestive “noise.” In fact think of your favorite acoustic-flowered Pop/Rock groups of the late sixties and early seventies and odds are you’ll hear them somewhere in here-and waste little time trying. Led by Anton Alfred Newcombe, a multi-talented everything musician at the helm of mic, strings, moog and a various assortment of snappy snippets, he’s assembled some ten various contributors for twelve songs that are at once yesterday, today, and carry plenty o’ visitation rights into the bowels of psychedelia and sideburns. mood swings at a minimum, the music’s airy, lazy, fluffy, and generally of a “Mr. Tambourine Man” variety, which is very earthy and organic, smooth and catchy though often predictable and could use a “Rust Never Sleeps” infusion from time to time. All in all a safe listen housing a cavalcade of subtle instrumentation that needs time to grow on you.

The Psychedelic Furs
“Beautiful Chaos: Greatest Hits Live”
(Legacy Recordings)
By Vinnie Apicella

FURS1As quietly as they walked off ten years before, here they are back again, one of the 1980s most essential Pop/Rock bands reformed and ready for another go. They began twenty years ago, burned out ten years later, the Psychedelic Furs like much of the so-called “throwaway” music of the ’80s yielded to nineties’ misery and they were no longer relevant. The Butler brothers did some work together for Love Spit Love, a more accessibly modern Rock band that many perhaps viewed as second rate to what the ‘Furs were in spite of their lagging success at the dawn of their break up. In this merry-go-round of music where one style departs, another arrives, generations collide and past meets future, the Furs’ as many of their ’80s counterparts are again a welcome commodity. Reformed now with the core trio intact, featuring the Butler brothers and guitarist John Ashton, they’ve recruited new guitarist Richard Fortus, a former Love Spit Love alumnus and The The skinsman Earl Harvin. Together, they were captured live earlier this year at LA’s House Of Blues. Considered a top tier live act, this is in effect a showcase of a revived band, testing the waters before embarking on an overdue studio visit. And much like when they first began, the sound is quite a bit rawer and unrefined as they’ve kept the profile to a minimum both instrumentally and acoustically, opting for the smaller intimate setting sans the big scale Pop effects and flashy lights. It makes for a gutsier performance all around still easily definable but well out of expectancy from whence we beat and bopped to “Mirror Moves” or “Forever Now.” This, their very first live recording, features eleven upstanding favorites from their past plus two versions of a new song, “Alive” in both live and studio format at the conclusion. In fact there’s said to be an abundance of material which was to be geared for another Love Spit Love record only to be deemed more befitting of a Furs’ reunion and thus considering the close proximity of the two bands, a new studio effort could be close at hand. This one’s a keeper though-with their traditional “India” opening track reaching back to their very first self-titled debut; “The Ghost In You,” an old favorite from “Mirror Moves” that some may remember being covered by Counting Crows a few years back; “Love My Way,” of course, their 1982 breakthrough hit and MTV fave; “Heartbreak Beat,” their biggest single from their massive “Midnight To Midnight” ’87 release; and several more on down the line, their “Beautiful Chaos” lasting long into the evening and capping off with their “Pretty In Pink” hit and classic “Dumb Waiters,” both going back to their “Talk Talk Talk” sophomore release in ’81. Overall their first foray into the live recording comes away as an organic and emotive night’s work even if surprisingly choppy at times, forgetting their otherwise clean-cut straight-collared past personas, and Butler’s usually subdued vocals intermittently escalating to violent extremes. Quality pick hit: “Into You Like A Train.”

(Virgin Records)
By Vinnie Apicella

TRANSMA1On their self-titled debut, the midwestern foursome comes through with a heartfelt sincerity merged with a Modern Rock edge in a dramatic swirl of conscientious Pop-fed Rock and Roll minus the excessive technical baggage. We’re not dealing with the second coming of a John Mellencamp though the roots are there, the mood is less involved than would be the chronic crooner’s voice of the nation, Transmatic traditionally upbeat and impressive for one just getting their feet wet in the Rock & Roll mainstream. Admittedly accessible, Transmatic attempts to channel their music to an unnamed mass, often succeeding at widespread appeal while beholding the spirit of good intentions in spite of an unwitting aura of Classic Rock missteps. Such lends to the charm of the band, one that laps up the excess and favors the collar-loosening, sleeve rolling ethics that’s down to business and down to earth. Their cover insert, recyclable print for added effect, features colorful primers and modern bled images, chafes of wheat, plus emotive lyrical tendencies which do at times run the oft-traveled he said-she said path. But nothing but love songs we are not-personal introspection rather, and relationships of one or another kind. While quickly absorbing the first few cuts, “Gravitate,” “Come,” “Blind Spot,” any one out of the ten total could fiercely compete for radio attention, their core of strong Rock roots and sharp hook appeal draws you in, nothing fancy, no unexpected turn offs, their feelers reaching out in directions of predecessor successes namely Wallflowers, Collective Soul, and Moist. “Go My Way,” begins a few moments of sputter toward mid-point, it’s verse sounding way too similar to something I’d expect from a Natalie Imbruglia, but such is the Pop essence that they at times strive for. Toward the end is where I’m picked up again on crash-down numbers as “Need To Know,” “The Problem,” and the scratchiness of “Welcome To The Life.” The songs don’t come out dodgy or predetermined for the most part, nor do they fall completely in line with one another after the expected one or two single tracks, thus making for a more complete picture than most. Led by the notably coarser vocals of Joey Fingers, ironically enough, Transmatic doesn’t re-write the book and Lord knows there’ve been plenty before ’em and plenty after ’em but taken for what it’s worth, it’s a feel good listen by a tight, talented unit.

John Washburn
“Stumbling Still Warm”
(Wayward Records)
By: Paul Autry

WashburnThe opening line in John Washburn’s bio states that he describes his music as “twangy rock ‘n’ roll.” I usually associate the word “twangy” with country music and, since I already had that in my head, I was almost afraid to put this album into my CD player because, for anyone who knows me, well, you know that country music isn’t at the top of my “favorite” list. Well, I put it off for as long as I could and then, finally, I sat down to give this album a review. Well, I do hear some slight country elements…such as the bit ‘o’ twang in songs such as “She’s A Lullaby,” but, it’s not like the “yee-haw” kind of music that I was expecting. But, you know, on certain songs…and I don’t know if I’m hearing this right or not…I’m tempted to mention the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis. I might be way off base here, but, I can see a good reason to compare Mr. Washburn to Elvis. The “King,” while not being a favorite of mine, had a knack for doing a little bit of everything and on “Stumbling Still Warm,” John Washburn goes through a little variety from song to song. “Sleep” reminds me of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” for some reason. “It’s Alright” is an upbeat, rockin’ little number with a lap steel guitar and a harmonica, which brings up memories of Rob McNurlin. “Satellite,” in my opinion, has a bluesy western feel to it…I could see this movie in a modern western movie for some reason…right after a gunfight when the good guys are walkin’ off into the sunset. It’s kind of weird, but, as I go through each track, I get a different impression…one that would probably sound way off base if I decided to write it down. But, I’m not like everyone else, I view/hear things a different way and when I come across an album that gets my imagination flowing, when I start thinking of stuff I don’t normally think of…like westerns and Elvis…then I know we’ve got a winner and I know the artist in question is doing something different, something that I haven’t heard all that often. That’s the feeling I get when I listen to “Stumbling Still Warm.” So, it shouldn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out the rest. An interesting album worth checking out. 

Lord Litter
“Just Blame Eddie”
(Orange Entropy Records)
By: Paul Autry

Lord LitterLord Litter’s rock ‘n’ roll stuff could be compared to The Rolling Stones and his solo stuff, well, there’s a bit of a Johnny Cash influence to be heard. While Mr. Litter does have a nationally known influence or two…and this might not make any sense to you if you’re one without a clue…but, his main influence is rooted in independent music. It’s about feeling, following your heart and not the current popular trends. It’s about making music without the rock star attitude or the national mentality. Some of you, be you a fan or a musician, know what I’m talking about here. If I need to explain it to you, well, I’m not gonna. But, I will say this, you really need to pay more attention to your local music scene. If it’s in a club or on a flyer that you got through the mail…pay close attention to it and you should understand the concept of what it’s all about. Anyway, on Lord Litter’s twelve song, 40 minute release, “Just Blame Eddie,” a casual listen will have you saying, “Okay, it’s an acoustic styled release” and, to a certain degree, you could get away with saying that. But, the music on this release goes way beyond simple acoustic music. Lord Litter gives each one of his songs a personality, which is more entertaining than listening to some guy with an acoustic guitar strumming a few strings. See, this style of music is raw, the bare bones if you will. You give a guy an electric guitar and he can blow your mind and become an Eddie Van Halen, Ace Frehley, Yngwie Malmsteen or, well, you get the point. A talented guy…or girl…could bring that instrument to life. Same with a drummer or a bass player. But, when you take away the “electric” and all you have is the instrument…life is a lot harder to come by. Lord Litter spends most of his time with independent music…of ALL styles I might add…both his own and the music of other people and, I believe, he’s managed to capture the honest feeling of what that style of music (independent stuff…pay attention) is all about and that’s why he can bring his songs to life with just the basic instruments. “Just Blame Eddie” is just another fine example of what one person can do when they put their mind, heart and soul into the music they create. A real winner here, four thumbs up!

“Gory Days”
(Psycho Logical Records)
By: Paul Autry

Well, this was one of the most annoying CD’s that I have ever heard. You know, being in this business, you tend to get a lot of promotional CD’s to review. You get to hear an album before it comes out and, usually, there’s “For Promotional Use Only” written somewhere on the disc. I understand what that’s all about, there’s no question about that. But, this seven song promotional release constantly reminds you that, yes, this is a promotional release and it’s not to be sold or copied. “Advanced Promo CD For The Press” is written on the disc and, as I sat here listening to this album, in each song, there’s a reminder that it’s a promotional copy and it’s not to be sold or copied. I mean, come on, is that attitude or what? Is this music so popular that people would actually wanna spread this around by illegal means before the album comes out? I was turned off the moment I heard this because all I saw was attitude. Maybe I’m reading into it the wrong way, but, it’s that first impression that counts and that was my first impression. When I wasn’t being reminded that this is a promotional CD that’s not to be sold or copied or that was I was listening to was a track off the upcoming album “Gory Days,” what I heard was a white guy doing hardcore gore rap. As I said before, I can get into rap music and this is the kind of stuff that I’m into. I might have enjoyed this more if it didn’t turn me off right away. I’m not doubting Necro’s talent, he has it, it’s there. I just thought this was an exceptionally annoying way to promote yourself and my light switch was turned to off rather quickly by it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go see if I can sell this disc to a friend of mine. 

Ashley Jay
“Only When”
(Mad Dog Records)
By: Paul Autry

AshleyI wasn’t much of a country music fan when I recieved Ashley Jay’s “Living My Own Dream” album and, to be honest, it’s still a style of music that I’m not toally comfortable with. But, Ashley Jay was an artist that caught my attention because, even though she’s playing country music, she does it rather well and I can’t help but enjoy what I’m hearing. On her latest release, the thirteen song “Only When,” Ashley has showed a tremendous amount of growth as an artist. Her vocal style sounds more confident and each song is performed with every ounce of her heart and soul. You can tell just by listening to this album that Ashley loves what she’s doing. The album starts off with a song from her debut, “Make It Hurt,” and, to be honest, I like this version a lot more. It’s got more, shall we say, bounce to it than the first time I heard it. This is the song you wanna hit radio with…it’s got number one written all over it. From the bounce of that song as well as “I Am So (Over You)” to the more laid back tunes like “Could Be” and “Only When,” Ashley gives us a solid, well written and well balanced album. She made a fan out of me and, if you give her the chance, I’m sure she’ll do the same for you. 

The Texas Governor
“Self Titled”
(The Archenemy Record Company)
By: Paul Autry

Okay…here’s an album that will make you say, “HUH?” I’m not sure what you would call this and I can’t honestly say that it’s something I myself would listen to on a regular basis. So, I’ve gotta struggle for a description here. I’d be quick to come up with a term…I’d call it mood music. For the most part, these songs are rather mellow and they put you in a certain state of mind. It’s an interesting release, I’ll give it that much. It’s original and that’s always a plus…it’s good to hear somebody doing something different…and that’s the key word here…different. The more time I spend running through these tracks, the more tempted I become to compare this to some of the mellow stuff that The Beatles were known for. Maybe that’ll give you some idea of what to expect. I don’t know…I’ll just say this…if you’re looking for an album that’s a bit off the beaten path, you might wanna look into The Texas Governor. Twelve songs in a little over half an hour and, oh yeah, there’s a cover of the Hank Williams tune “So Lonesome I Could Cry.” 

Barby Holder
“Haunt Me Forever”
By: Paul Autry

A lot of people are suprised when I tell them I’m a fan of the music of Barby Holder for the simple fact that her musical style could be described as traditional folk. But, when I first heard her music, I was impressed with the quality of it and I became a fan almost instantly. On this, her latest release, Barby Holder continues down the road of consistancy with what I believe is her strongest recording to date. Her production is absolutely flawless and her performance is the same way. While most of these songs aren’t ones I’m familiar with, there’s a song or two that I’ve heard before. My favorite cut is “My Grandfather’s Clock.” Barby Holder is one of the most well known names in the Pennsylvania music scene and there’s a reason for it. Open your mind and give her music a listen and you’ll quickly realize what the reason is. I can give you a hint…it’s all in the music. Her previous releases include “Nor’Westers,” “The Moon’s Fool” and her instrumental album, “Magic Window.” Each release is produced and performed to absolute perfection.

Past Left Field

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