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Published: Saturday, 10/26/2002

CD reviews: Petty takes on music industry in mix of rockers, pop, ballads

Tom Petty isn't satisfied to just bite the hand that feeds on his latest disc, a scathing indictment of the record industry. He chomps the entire hand off and spits it out in disgust.

Petty's attack on the record companies and radio conglomerates that promote mediocrity over creativity is a righteous cause. And the music is great, a typical Petty collection of snarling rockers, cockeyed pop, and balladry.

The disc starts with the title track, an acoustic-based song that introduces Petty's protagonist, a disc jockey who refuses to conform to the powers that be. The DJ is a typical Petty character, a loner who remains an outsider even as he comments on what's going on around him.

The second cut, “Money Becomes King,” is a dark fairy tale in which a rocker named Johnny sells his street credibility to the music machine and is reduced to making beer commercials and lip-synching his songs in front of indifferent rich folks. And on “Joe,” a sneering rocker, Petty adopts the persona of a CEO who promotes pop stars.

But the entire album isn't a bare-fisted assault, and in typical Petty form, there's also a nice mix of songs that celebrate love and the road, all backed by the tight Heartbreakers.

The production is impeccable, and by the time the disc ends with the defiant “Can't Stop the Sun,” it's clear that Petty is still at the top of his talents, with something important to say.

- ROD LOCKWOOD

With the reissue of 1982's “Live at the Concord Jazz Festival” and “World Class” from 1984 as a two-CD set, the excitement and tight arrangements of a true big band can be savored. Although Herman was not considered a virtuoso on clarinet or saxophone, there is no mistaking that he could blow jazz as he swung into his last years. This excellent set includes appearances by Al Cohn and Stan Getz. The sounds of their saxophones hearken to an era before bebop when melodies were smooth and sinuous.

- LARRY ROBERTS

Thirteen original songs by a granddad of the folk scene, this is Paxton's first solo recording (for adults) in eight years. At 65, his voice is gentle and his lyrics poetic.

He serves up melodies infused with dribs and drabs of country, bluegrass, and old-time, and his backup instrumentalists (mandolin, dobro, piano, harmonica, drums) and vocalists (Anne Hills and Nanci Griffith) are a perfect complement.

- TAHREE LANE

The French band's sixth disc revels in an array of musical influences, bringing together power chords and stadium rock, world beat, and electronica with flair and musical skill. The tracks range from rowdy to gentle and chilled for a blend that occasionally provides awkward juxtapositions, but means the CD is endlessly fascinating. The band brings together the power chords and stadium rock, world beat, and electronica with flair and musical skill. Giving up samples for a live sound adds to the vitality of “Music Detected.”

- RICHARD PATON

  • TRAIL OF MEMORIES: THE RANDY TRAVIS ANTHOLOGY, Randy Travis (Rhino) Two extremely generous discs offer 44 Travis goodies, including the country chart hits and some that were not heard often. His deep, resonant vocals are easy on the ears in a worthwhile collection of his very best work. KEN ROSENBAUM

  • NAKED, Amber (Tommy Boy) Amber shows herself to be a strong singer with, at times, an appealing emotional edge on a disc that mixes pop and dance influences. The beat-heavy club cuts will have you moving, but it's the ballads that impress. R.P.

  • PARADISE, Kenny G (Arista) Somewhere in here, smooth jazz radio stations will find a hit among the Latin-tinged beat and Kenny G's rich tones. The CD starts off well, but then everything begins to sound the same. L.R.



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