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for March 19, 2003

Lipservice to the Ventriloquist
by Your Diva, Robin Pastorio-Newman

Your Darling, Your Diva, Your One True Love received an email from a well-meaning person. It ended with a new .sig file: "Ban the Dixie Chicks - pinko scum!" Miss Manners, whose weekly column delights Your Blue Sapphire, disapproves of attempts to make others play nice and share the sandbox. Hmm. Hmm. would be incorrect to propose the writer arrange his anatomy in a manner contortionists discourage and the Kama Sutra fails to describe? Yes, yes it would. Would it be inappropriate to recommend the writer actually read the Constitution, just for fun? Possibly. In any case, Your Sparkly Garnet knows it is better to be "pinko scum" than a jackbooted brownshirt, at least from the perspective of Nordstrom's spring collection.
Tensions are high. After the shock of realizing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted a few artists when they should have been inducted (though glaring omissions continue), the shocked went CD shopping. Your Green Topaz is no reviewer, refusing as she does responsibility of deciding for you what you will love and hate. It is possible to convey impressions, however. This is our PlayDoh. Let's play.
In paper cases:
Cat Power - You Are Free, Matador, 2003
Fourteen songs but one composition, evoking images of rainswept jetties, impenetrable fog and impossible visibility. All quiet mood and deep breath and uncomfortable closeness, You Are Free is carried by the sound of a level voice telling corrosive stories where words aren't important but listening is crucial. Altrok's Lorraine Doran said, "You will love her." In theory, yes we must. Like a friend who won't stop telling excruciating truths and make a joke, Cat Power is riveting because we can't avert our eyes and smile.
The Supersuckers - How the Supersuckers Became the Greatest Rock And Roll Band In the World, Sub Pop, 1999
Loud, fast, trashy, funny, blunt about drugs and bodacious babes, the Supersuckers divide this compilation into two sections: The Greats, and The Gravy. Every song in The Greats is a reason to live. You might not expect verbal economy in songs like How To Maximize Your Kill Count, and Ron's Got the Cocaine, but you get it. Not a word out of place, and each contributes to spit-your-beer hilarity. Every title in The Gravy must be an outtake: for any other band, great, but we expect louder, faster, trashier, funnier and blunter from the Supersuckers. Over all, more fun than we usually get on one CD.
Marianne Faithfull, The Seven Deadly Sins
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, 1998

The singular voice, the Kurt Weill opera about a schizophrenic vaudeville dancehall girl, despair and rebuke, sweat and sex. So brilliant a collaboration you may hate it from a safe distance, but, you free thinker you, try hating it at close range.
In plastic:
Elvis Costello - When I Was Cruel, Island, 2002
Say what you will about his forays into high art and low comedy but Elvis Costello is a master of the penetrating lyric, the catchy hook, the cinematic pop song. When I Was Cruel is fifteen songs of splashing color, regret, cool appraisal, and possibly the same girls in party dresses we first met in 1977. His surgical wit has lost none of its slice which, in light of Sting's joining the Dark Side, feels like the constancy of an old, wicked friend.

©2003 Robin Pastorio-Newman

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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