EMOL: Tina's Korner- September 1995

By Tina Alvarez

Published in "Music Voice Magazne," Phoenix, AZ., August 1995

Random Musings


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    Babette's Feast

    The music of Babette's Feast is a smorgasborg of sounds that serves up tasty morsels of underground vibes and experimental forays topped off by singer Babette Novak's clear, piercing vocals. "Naked Urgency" is the bandÍs release on Elephantus/Posi Vibes. Hailing from Chicago, the line-up includes Novak, guitarist Elmer Quiles, drummer Mike Collins and bassist Billy Anderson. (As of this writing, Anderson is no longer with the group). Words like "avant-garde," "quirky but entrancing" and "unconventional" are terms that could be used to describe their style. It brings to mind bands like the early B-52's, Talking Heads and Blondie. Clearly, they have a style of their own.

    On the tune "Aggression," Babette's Feast flavors its passion for creativity with a simple banjo intro that bursts into an evenly-paced number with great punk vocalization fueled by complimentary guitar work and a steady undercurrent of bass and drums. Babette's Feast is an entity that savors its capability to exist in a Netherworld whose terrain consists of slightly outrageous, imaginative tunes, coy, sensual, poetic vocals, and venturistic instrumentation.

    Numbers like "Head Shrink," "Take Out the Trash" and "Now Who's Laughing" show a eclectic conglomeration of capability. Currently, they have a 7" piece of vinyl out. Will keep you posted on what that one sounds like.


    Goo Goo Dolls

    "At first we tried a real high-tech approach with all sorts of bells and whistles," Goo Goo Dolls' guitarist Johnny Rzeznik said of their latest release. "But after awhile we realized that the best way to get what we were after was to get a boom-box, hit the record button, and just start banging away."

    Adding to their growing discography, their newest album is "A Boy Named Goo," on Warner Brothers Records. Assisted by longtime collaborator Armond Pietrie and producer Lou Giordano (Smithereens, Husker Du, Pere Ubu, et. al.), the band laid the groundwork for this one in their hometown of Buffalo, New York.

    "What we were getting was very natural, very true to form," attested Rzeznik. "We had done our homework. We knew exactly what we were going for and Lou locked right in." Additional sessions were carried out in Los Angeles with producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day) where the band wanted to record some B-side tracks, but the songs turned out better than expected and two are on the album- "Disconnected" by the Buffalo punk band The Enemies and "Slave Girl" by Australia's Lime Spiders. The Goo Goo Dolls, who formed in 1986, includes bassist Robby Takac and drummer George Tutuska.

    Their 1993 album "Superstar Car Wash," coupled with their distribution deal with Warner Brothers Records, helped them gain a larger fan base, and with "A Boy Named Goo," they should be further able to expand on that foundation. The album has a touch of just about everything, from their trademark infectious pop sound on "Long Way Down" to the seemingly carefully calculated tempo changes on "Name."

    The songs move at a steady pace- only two numbers are 4 1/2 minutes long, all the rest are under that. "I look at our career as having three stages- drunk, hungover and sober," Rzeznik playfully confirmed. "I wouldn't exactly say we're in our sober phase now, but we are dead serious about making the best music we can."


    Elvis Costello

    With "Kojak Variety," Elvis Costello takes his listeners on an educational excursion of 13 of his favorite artists and songs that span four decades ranging from the 30s through the 70s. Not only a private interpretation, it reveals more of a personal, musical autobiography of where Costello's successful diverse style has its origins.

    The album was recorded in Barbados in a two week period at Blue Wave Studios with producer Kevin Killin. Musicians that Costello worked with consisted of Pete Thomas (drums), Jerry Scheff (bass), Larry Knechtel (all keyboards) and Mark Ribot (all guitars).

    Among the r&b tunes and popular ballads Costello and his band cover are by Bob Dylan ("I Threw It All Away"), Willie Dixon ("Hidden Charms"), Mose Allison ("Everybody's Crying Mercyî) and Randy Newman ("I've Been Wrong Before").

    On the inside sleeve of "Kojak Variety," Costello describes the joy of meandering through record stores throughout the world and finding gems that brightened his life.

    "At different times in my life I have haunted such shops as Potter's Music in Richmond, where I also bought my first proper guitar and still get many of my favorite jazz and ballad recordings; Probe in Liverpool, where I stumbled through a teenage crisis brought on by trying to like psychedelic music; Rock On in Camden Town, where I bought the pile of Stax singles that helped shape the album "Get Happy" and, from the first time I travelled across America, the countless thrift stores and pawn shops which offered the chance of discovering an entire album by some group or singer that I had previously only known from singles or a scrappy compilation record."

    He ends his narrative on a note that perhaps speaks the best about this LP: "If you enjoy these recordings and do not already know the original versions, then I wish you a lot of pleasure in seeking them out. I look forward to recording "Volume Two" sometime in the next millennium."


    Orb

    Orb is a band that initially built its following in the late 80s with its penchant for synthesizers, technological and auditory exploration. ñA Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From the Center of the Universe" was the single that quenched the thirst of the neglected post dance crowd. Soon afterward followed their first LP, "Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld" with their next work climaxing as "UFOrb" in which they infiltrated the UK charts at #1 with the single "The Blue Room" which clocked in at 39 minutes and 58 seconds.

    They went on to issue a live album, "Orb Live '93" and "Pomme Fritz." Now that they had innundated their audience with a hard techno-pop-trance consciousness, they decided to throw their audience with a loop on their current "Orbvs Terrarvm." It is chock full of experimental strangeness, an aural odyssey of snippets of sound bites, a variety of urban sounds and unconventional musical passageways.

    "I'm taking the Orb back to Earth," proclaimed Dr. Alex Patterson. The place is industrial, noisy and definitely not ambient in the Eno/Harold Budd sense of the word." The change is one that does not resemble their previous works. "I'm tired of others following us," he emphasized. "I'm going off on a limb, changing courses." For the past two years Patterson worked on the album in his London studio in the industrial section of Battersea. "The first single, 'Oxbow Lakes' is so underground, it's underwater," described Patterson. "I'm interested in exploring the geography of what happens when a rhythm meanders, when it writes itself, when a circle becomes an oxbow." In a way, "Orbvs Terrarvm" remains true to form with its unabashed formlessness found in prior endeavors. "Some people with call this aggresive," he stated. "I never intended anything except for elements to surface as they may."


    Sarah Nagourney

    Sarah Nagourney's background is like a colorful patchwork quilt. Oxford-educated, she has done a little bit of everything. She has sung with Chet Baker, worked as a private detective where she flew down to Rio and posed as a gunrunner's moll, has performed Brecht at London's National Theatre, and appeared in a Woody Allen movie last year.

    She currently resides in an apartment in Andy WarholÍs Old Factory, where she wrote the songs that appear on her new album, "Realm of My Senses," on Glass Beat Records. She has a diverse enough background that makes excellent fodder for a lyricist. Based in New York, this singer-songwriter was joined by Tony Levin, David Lebolt, Dave Van Tieghem and Jerry Marrotta (Indigo Girls, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) in the making of this disc.

    Nagourney pulls through shiningly, her vocals glistening with emotion that suit the love-related topics she covers on "Realm of My Senses." Known for her sensitive yet determined style, she has wooed crowds at Princeton University's "WomenÍs Week" celebration, Columbia University's Postscript Coffeehouse, CB's Gallery and the Mercury Lounge.



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