The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on December 17, 1992 · 122
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 122

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Boston, Massachusetts
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Thursday, December 17, 1992
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122
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STEVE MORSE Neil Young, "Harvest Moon" (Reprise). An older, wiser Neil . Young? In many ways, yes. But his ageless hippie wit still shines in this poetic sequel to his "Harvest" album of 1972. Tori Amos, "Little Earthquakes" (Atlantic). These earthquakes of the soul came via piano sculptures and lyrical vignettes addressing everything from rape to religion. Quiet listening, but loud resonance. Pearl Jam, "Ten" (Epic). Seattle bands came at us right and left, but Pearl Jam ruled the roost with their cross-generational, Zeppelin-influenced hard rock. The first side of this album was a stairway to heaven. Michelle Shocked, "Arkansas Traveler" (Mercury). An Arkansas traveler named Clinton will soon travel to the White House. But Shocked traveled her own back roads to record this folk-country jewel with Doc Wat-. son, The Band, Red Clay Ramblers and others. Bruce Springsteen, "Lucky Town" (Columbia). Many people dumped on the Boss this year, but they must have cold hearts not to appreciate the gut-level candor of these songs from rock's best chronicler. Really, who's better? Neneh Cherry, "Home Brew" (Virgin). Cherry could have been just another hip-hop flash in the pan, but this album is a quantum leap forward. She's singing more and mixing hip-hop with rock, progressive R & B and Peter Gabriel-like atmospherics. Tracy Chapman, "Matters of the Heart" (Elektra). The former Harvard Square folksinger fell out of favor with the hipsters this year, but never sang more 2 poignantly about the need for peace in a violence-obsessed g world. 1 Lucky Dube, "Captured u Live" (Shanachie). Those who Q saw this South African on the g "Reggae Sunsplash" bill at Great S Woods came away believers. This live album was cut in Jo-g hannesburg and is the best live o reggae disc since Bob Marley's 2 "Babylon By Bus." H Black Crowes, "The South- era Harmony and Musical Corns' paction" (Def American). What's wrong with sounding like the S Rolling Stones and Faces? If it - cooks like this, why worry about 3 .labels? . . Concrete Blonde, "Walking, in London" (IRS). With Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders still on the sidelines, these guys filled the darkly brooding rock gap. Singer Johnette Napolitano . at her sultry peak. f TBQ0 Fernando Miziliz In no particular order: Mario Bauza and his Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, "Tanga" (Messidor). Maestro Bauza, 81, . who first dreamed Afro-Cuban ; jazz more than 40 years ago, came back from retirement in 1980 and, again, organized the best Latin big band in jazz. Anthony Davis, "X. The Life and Times of Malcolm X" (Gra-mavision). Davis' first opera (premiered in 1985, well before Malcolm X became a brand name) is a stunning achievement; rich, thoughtful, complex and, yes, even swinging. Youssou N'Dour, "Eyes Open" (40 Acres and a Mule MusicworksColumbia). Brilliant synthesis of traditional music, -pop hooks and technology and a voice that transcends language. David Murray, "Shakill's Warrior" (DIW). Broad-shouldered romanticism, soul, a hint of the sacred, a spoonful of passion, hard-swing, saxophonist David Murray puts it all together. Cuban Counterpoint, "History of the Son Montuno" (Rounder). A terrific history lesson on Cuban popular music, swinging, graceful and you can dance to it These are the roots of salsa played by the masters: Miguelito Cuni, Beny More, Felix Chapot-tin, Arsenio Rodriguez, Cachao Lopez, Septeto Nacional. Shirley Horn, "Here's to Life" (Verve). The combination . of the sober, understated delivery of Horn and the lush string settings of Johnny Mandel pull at the heartstrings just so. Stan GetzKemty Barron, "People Time" (Verve). This recording, the last by Getz, shows this pair turning hard-earned wisdom and intelligence into elegant, austere swing with casual ease. Ivo Perelman, "Children of Ibeji" (Enja). Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman echoes the language of Gato Barbieri and Albert Ayler but the mix in his music raw power, tenderness, naivete, intelligence are all his own. Gilberto Gil, "Parabolic" (Tropical Storm). Brazilian singei and songwriter Gilberto Gil takes an unsentimental look at a world of high-tech tools and ancient beliefs, global fantasies and abject local poverty. His hard-edged Afro-Brazilian pop rock beats with pain, joy and wisdom. Bahia Black, "Ritual Beating System" (Axiom). Brazilian singer and songwriter Carlinhos Brown with Wayne Shorter, Olo-dum, Henry Threadgill, Herbie Hancock and producer Bill Las-well create a head-scratching, bruising mix of roots music and urban angst. MIKE SAUNDERS In no particular order: Peter Gabriel, "Us" (Geffen). A potent, brooding record with a definite tone that only Gabriel can decipher. Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois contribute unerring production and creative support, making "Us" easily easily one of Gabriel's best Tori Amos, "Little Earthquakes" (Atlantic Records). Anyone who listened to this emotional geyser without getting chills was deaf or dead. In the year of raging rock and blustery pseudo-rebellion, Amos confirmed that intelligent singer-songwriters were not extinct En Vogue, "Funky Divas" (AtcoEastWest). The country went Boyz-crazy as in Boyz U Men's 13-week chart reign but the four talented, sultry singers of En Vogue brightened up a dull year of cookie-cutter, male R&Bhits. Arrested Development, "3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days In The Life Of..." (Chrysalis). This is what rap was meant to be. This album combined intelligence and passion the way few others did, and managed to mix funnyupliftingprovocative rhymes with funky beats. One of the best rap albums of the past 15 years. James Brown, "Live at the ApoOo, 1962" (PolyGram). This digitally enhanced soul classic is the perfect marriage of technology and material: Think of it as an old friend who gets an electronic massage and emerges better than before. Or, as the Godfather would say: "Can I get it one more time?" Stone Roses, "Turns Into Stone" (Silvertone). These guys are much more than the stereotypical, neofunk Manchester drones. This collection of singles, B sides and unreleased -' songs confirms what Stone Roses fans have said for years. Prince, " (Warner BtosJ-Paisley Park). For the first time in years, His Purple Badness lived up to his self-embellished image. "My Name Is Prince" undeniably kicks. A grudging addition to the Top 10. Varied Artists, "Stanley, Son of Theodore" (Sony Music Distribution). Great record, stupid name and not a real band. Compilation features Pearl Jam's tremendous live version of "Alive," a stellar Fishbone remix of "Fight The Youth," and other treats from the Shamen, Shabba Ranks, the Indigo Girls and others. Angelique Kidjo, "Logozo" (Mango). Thoroughly entertaining Afro-pop smoothed out on the R & B tip. Kidjo is a star in France and throughout Africa but is barely known stateside. Sun 60, "Sun 60," (Epic). Fun, folksy, beautiful songs with an edge. Too bad this debut failed to make a chart dent; it's worth looking for. (f&J PATRICIA SMITH They say there's nothing new under the sun, but I disagree. I haven't danced this much since Sylvester was pumpin' it, and I haven't been this blue, and felt this good about it, since the first time I heard B.B. growl "The Thrill Is Gone." Which brings us to this year's list: 1. B.B. King, "King of the Blues" (MCA). The king of the blues' boxed set with four sumptuous CDs, is a must-have for anyone who's ever wondered could a matchbox hold their clothes. Everything, but everything is on it 2. Arrested Development, "3 Years 5 Months & 2 Days In the Life Of . . ." (Chrysalis). All praises due to these children of the revolution and the glorious possibilities and probabilities of hip-hop. Ice Cube, take a listen to a real, joyous celebration of blackness. 3. Earth, Wind & Fire, "The Eternal Dance" (Columbia). If you grew up in the 70s, this boxed set will become your bible. Maurice White and company at their brassy best; try not to . weep when Phillip Bailey warbles "Reasons." 4. Prince, "?," (Warner Brothers). The wiggling one's glorious declaration, "My Name is Prince," was born for the boombox; and "Sexy MF" fires synapses in all the right places. Slowly. 5. Eric Clapton, "Unplugged" (Warner Brothers). A surprising, languid version of the classic "Layla"; and a heartfelt blue touch, weaving through each of these tracks, turn this live effort into gold. 6. PattJ LaBelle, "Live" (MCA). There's nothing like the LaBelle experience her boundless voice, the fingertip fluttering, the way she kicks off her shoes in mid-performance. This isn't exactly the same thing, but it will make your walls shake. 7. Annie Lennox, "Diva" (Arista). Who knew the ex-Eu-rythmic would ooze soul, making "Why" the heartache anthem of the year? 8. Various Artists, "Malcolm X" (QwestRepriseWarner Brothers). The soundtrack from Spike Lee's brilliant film is a smooth mix of gems from Louis Jordan, Ella (need I say Fitzgerald?), John Coltrane and the almighty Aretha (need I say Franklin?). Plus, there's "Revolution" as preached by Arrested Development, and Jr. Walker's bulleting "Shotgun." 9. Betty Carter, "It's Not About the Melody" (Verve). Oh, yes it is, Miss Thang, and nobody lays them down like you. Pure sugar. 10. Michael Bolton, "Timeless" (Columbia). One of the most gifted vocalists of the 20th century . . . NOT!!! Heh, heh. My real 10th pick is Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble's lethal "In the Beginning" (Epic), a blazing, all-out assault, taped live in Texas. SOaitl Ro6icieau In a year when corporate labels combed the underground, a number of diverse artists came through with spirit intact 1. R.E.M., "Automatic for the People" (Warner Brothers). Recapturing the organic feel of its mid-'80s albums, R.E.M. ruminates on nostalgia and mortality with a matured resonance.

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