Friday, June 23, 2000

Duran Duran - Pop Trash

When you have a career with peaks and valleys you'll have your detractors. Yet, overtime an epitaph has been written for Duran Duran they make a comeback. Pop Trash is their first album recorded entirely as the trio Rhodes, LeBon and Cuccurullo.

The follow-up to 1997's Medazzaland is a more cohesive work but instead of pushing towards electronica they've intermingled psychedelic, acoustic, hip-hop and dance. It must have been extremely difficult to choose their first single. "Somebody Else Not Me" is a terrific tune but took about 3 listenings to grow on me. Radio stations rarely give a song that much time to decide if it deserves repeat plays. But there are a lot of great songs to choose from here. Pop Trash's "Starting To Remember" and "The Sun Doesn't Shine Forever" are two of the most beautiful Duran Duran tracks I've ever heard. The album is far from a ballad collection. A strong psychedelic influence is evident on "Lava Lamp" (must be the sitar playing through it) which evolves with an injection of hip-hop on "Hallucinating Elvis" (note Simon rapping in the bridge). "Playing With Uranium" and the guitar-rock agression of "Last Day On Earth" stand out on the album.

My only negative here is that they could have done without the song "Pop Trash Movie" which TV Mania (Warren and Nick) initially wrote for Blondie to record. I'd actually love to hear what she'd do with it. Otherwise, Duran Duran are taking bold new steps here instead of becoming redundant possibly due to TV Mania taking over production duties. My recommendation is to give it more than a few spins before passing judgement.

Monday, June 19, 2000

Bon Jovi - Crush

I have to confess that I'm not a big Bon Jovi fan. There was a time that I thought they were the enemy in a world that was pushing dance music into obscurity to make room for metal. Which is pretty unusual because I saw them open for Ratt during my first concert experience. But that animosity faded over time as songs like "Runaway" and "I'll Be There For You" found permanent residence in my brain.

Their first album in 5 years, Crush, knocked some sense into me. The album is a mix of rockers and ballads that reminds you that they didn't have hits just because of their hair -- they just wrote great material and performed it like no one else. The catchy first single "It's My Life" is the wake-up call and songs like "Next 100 Years," "Mystery Train," "Thank You For Loving Me" and "She's A Mystery" are hook-laden masterpieces. They remind you of where the band came from but give glimpses of where they are going. "Save The World" is a great song with moments that Jon proves he can hit those high notes.

With such a strong album, I can't help but wonder why they would include the song "Captain Crash & The Beauty Queen From Mars." It's chorus ('You and me were's invincible...') sounds a little too close to the chorus of Oasis' "Stay Young ('Hey, stay young and invincible...') for me. Aside from that, this is a moment of greatness for a band that isn't ready to retire on their royalties. They have taken their sound to a new level for the next 100 years and I heavily recommend this album.