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Published: Sunday, 12/11/2005

CD reviews: Green Day is a punk band in its prime

BULLET IN A BIBLE

Green Day (Reprise)

There can be no argument:

Green Day is the most successful punk band ever.

The measures are commercial viability, longevity, and the ability to take its music to the masses without compromising punk s unbridled aggression. It has got all the bases covered, and this live release, which comes with a DVD, proves it.

Together for 16 years, Green Day has outlived the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and any other band that plays whiplash three-chord rockers. The Ramones never had the commercial success Green Day realized with 2004 s American Idiot, which is still spinning off radio hits.

And Bullet In A Bible proves that, for gppd and ill, the California rockers still play full-on punk. At its best, the music is brutally forceful, especially as the band tears through most of Idiot.

But it is punk with a large dollop of arena rock thrown in, which means at some point when the adrenaline rush of a full-force bashing wears off the effect is tedious with each song serving as an aural pummeling that grows old in large doses.

What saves the day for Green Day is the fact these guys really do have something important to say about their country, and front man Billie Joe Armstrong writes rock operas like an American Pete Townshend. Bible In A Bullet is the sound of a band in its prime and proof that punk can grow old before it dies.

ROD LOCKWOOD

JOHNNY CASH: THE COMPLETE SUN RECORDINGS 1955-1958

Johnny Cash (Time Life)

This three-disc set is beautifully illustrated and annotated in great detail, and the 60 songs cover at least one version of everything the soon-to-be legend recorded during his years with Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis. These outstanding, early country/rock numbers show the development of the Man in Black while he was in his formative stage and refining his own, distinctive sound while his well-known stable mates, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins, were doing the same.

KEN ROSENBAUM

TO LOVE AGAIN

Chris Botti (Columbia)

On this album, the gifted, silky smooth trumpeter with the incredibly crisp tone and wonderful command of the soft jazz genre leans a little more toward pop, getting paired up on a number of light standards with Sting, Paula Cole, Michael Buble, Gladys Knight, and others. The duets all work. But Botti shines more when he s all by himself, exploring his own musical boundaries and providing an uplifting sound that s rich in texture.

TOM HENRY

CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR

Madonna (Warner Bros.)

Confessions hit No. 1 driven by disco-tinged beats, though weighed down by an over-the-top production and too many mediocre songs that succumb to the blandness of euro-trance, drown in a wall of sound, or are just boring. There is evidence of a much better disc trying to shine through. Get Together rides on a disco-house rhythm with less-mannered vocals, and Let It Will Be has a more open sound, the focus on the beats. But despite its commercial success the disc sounds rather passe and lacks distinction.

RICHARD PATON

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

Various Artists (Warner Bros.)

It has rolling timpani; a big, bold sense of adventure; dark, gripping sounds, and a little playful meadering. It is, for the most part, another solid Harry Potter soundtrack. The fourth in the series is adequately scored by Patrick Doyle, but its major drawback is that the 24-song disc tries too hard, ending with an unfortunate twist in the form of an oddly placed and erratic trio of rock songs.

TOM HENRY

BRIEFLY NOTED

ULTRA TRANCE: 5, Various Artists (Ultra) Many of the big names in the trance style of dance music are featured on this latest in the successful compilation series. With plenty of vocal tracks, the 2-CD set is an accessible, rather mainstream collection encompassing the bad (DJ Sammy s Why ) and totally excellent (Blank & Jones Perfect Silence ). R.P.

LAKE~AFFECT, Mike Mad Dog Adams The singer/songwriter winds up his 26th year of performing at Put-In-Bay with his third album of tongue-in-cheek tunes that celebrate the Lake Erie island life. He launches a flotilla of 12 clever numbers that include ballads and rockers. The titles give you a good idea of what to expect, such as If The Fishing Ain t Good, The Drinkin s Gonna Be Better and Who Needs Margaritaville, We Got Put-In-Bay. It s not only fun, it s pretty good music. K.R.

THE WAY THINGS WORK, Unknown Instructors (Smog Veil) Toledo native Dan McGuire has a hand as poet, vocalist, and orchestrator in this wholly unorthodox project that incorporates free-form rambling disguised as beat poetry and an occasional riff on a guitar that could arguably pass for background music with hints of punk, jazz, or rock. The main Glass City reference points out how our downtown streets are named after dead presidents and Great Lakes. T.H.



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