I FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE
Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw (RCA Nashville)
This duo sounds so much like an updated version of George Jones and Tammy Wynette that it's eerie. It's ironic, too, that it was while Morgan was the opening act for Jones that she and Kershaw met.
The duo is the rare pairing that just seems to be a perfect fit. Both voices are unmistakably country, yet there's no sense of twang overkill as often happens when two country vocalists join forces. With this eclectic package, they blend their talents on six tracks, then each one steps out solo on three more.
They cover a wide range, including what each has typically done best. Morgan sizzles on the torchy ballads, and Kershaw croons traditional fare as mellow as ever. He even dabbles in the blues, and there are hints of rock throughout.
- KEN ROSENBAUM
DISNEY'S GREATEST, VOLUMES 1 & 2
Various Artists (Walt Disney)
Even without marquee names such as Elton John and Phil Collins, it's hard to find fault with this repackaged and updated set of Disney's greatest hits. Previously available over five volumes, it has been edited down to two discs and goes back as far as 1937's Snow White. The editing is so tight there are no more than two songs from any soundtrack and no two songs from the same soundtrack appear on the same disc. Consequently, the listener hops from theme to theme. But greatest hits, almost by definition, lack the continuity of the albums from which they came.
- TOM HENRY
ESSENTIAL SPRING BREAK -- SUMMER 2001
Mixed by DJ Skribble (London-Sire)
CLUB NATION AMERICA
Mixed by Johnny Vicious and Tall Paul (Ultra)
The big brand names in dance music continue their push to bring the sound out of the clubs and into the mainstream with these two discs which share several tracks in common. On both, familiar tracks, some chart successes overseas, are mixed with deeper - read, dull - progressive cuts. Skribble begins with mainstream favorites, later moves into the more progressive style with tracks that emphasize rhythm over melody or instrumental interest, but pulls back with the monster chart and club hit “Sandstorm” by Darude with its euphoric keyboards, and Delerium's “Silence” featuring Sarah McLachlan.
That same track kicks off “Club Nation,” with Vicious mixing the first disc and Tall Paul the second in a two-CD set. Vicious keeps the track selection upbeat and appealing with plenty of vocals and mainstream selections. But he, too, veers off in the latter part of the disc into the rumbling tedium of cuts that simply don't work outside a club environment. Tall Paul's set is all over the place musically, but he concludes in more melodic mode with the awesome twosome of the Thrillseekers and the final cut, Push's “Strange World.”
- RICHARD PATON
G. Love And Special Sauce (Epic/Okeh)
G. Love and Special Sauce's fifth disc is a genre-bending delight that covers enough stylistic ground to satisfy even the most finicky musical palate. “Electrical Mile” kicks off with an insistent ska beat on “Unify;” veers into gospel and funk on the next cut, “Praise Up;” slams forward with the angry rap/hip-hop of “Parasite,” and then wanders into a jazzy blues on “Hopeless Case.” The style sampling continues throughout the excellent disc, held together by the Philadelphia band's rootsy sound that keeps the effort grounded and swinging.
- ROD LOCKWOOD
PASSAGE OF TIME
Josh Redman Quartet (Warner Bros.)
Redman has left behind the covers, the chord changes, and the solo improvisations on other people's compositions to pen a musical narration of human conversation and sounds. In his hands, the sax, bass, piano, and drums are people telling their life stories and at times arguing among themselves. As a player, Redman coaxes the tenor saxophone into one of the most human voices possible. With this release, he and his crew answer the charges that acoustic jazz is becoming stagnant.
- LARRY ROBERTS
BLOOD SWEAT AND YEARS
JT Money (Priority)
Best known for booty-shakin' tracks such as “Shake What Ya Mama Gave Ya,” JT Money continues in this vein on his latest release, though with a little less vigor. Tracks such as the hit single “Hi-Lo,” have layered, up-tempo rhythms, overlaid by Money's distinctive rap/chanting style. But the project goes further than just dance tracks: On “Father to Son,” JT Money shows sensitivity and love for his son, and there are others that have a decidedly Latin influence. Overall, JT Money does enough of what is expected to keep his fans happy, yet displays sufficient versatility to broaden his appeal.
- STEWART WALKER