Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1996
Nailing this 100-track box in a compact review is like engraving the Trouser Press Record Guide on the head of a pin, but that "poplopedia" could well be the perfect companion volume to this collection of musical riches. Lenny Kaye's 1972 Nuggets celebrated records made by 60s American rock bands responding to the British Invasion. "Psychedelic" in this set's subtitle means pulsing/dreamy power-pop rather than endless guitar freakouts, as this is global 2nd-generation perfection. Think Soft Boys, Lyres, Church, Chesterfield Kings, Flamin' Groovies, Bangles, Dream Syndicate, Julian Cope and dozens of others from the outskirts of (80s MTV) town. This is a compilation prepared with care by experts Alec Palao and Nigel Cross, and dedicated to the late, primordial-nuggeteer Greg Shaw, who always knew that hitting just the right portable-organ note would one day recapture that precise erotic moment in the 60s when the cosmos slipped into smashingly infinite possibility.
Track to burn: United States of Existence, "A Scandal in Bohemia"
Rating: ****--RICHARD RIEGEL
Dutch-Brazilian trio Zuco 103 has taken a much worldlier approach to its music on its latest album, with the inclusion of Afro-Cuban, Jamaican and Spanish rhythms. The tri-lingual (English, Spanish, Portuguese) lyrics and featured guests such as singer Dani Macaco and legendary singer, producer and songwriter Lee "Scratch" Perry also help the group's efforts to globalize. Yet, Zuco 103's main attraction continues to be front woman Lilian Vieira's beautifully versatile voice. She effortlessly switches from samba to jazz, reggae to bossa nova without ceasing to transmit warmth in every song. From her Billie Holiday-esque shrills in "Na Mangueira" to her deep, sensual interpretation of "Mayfly," the Brazilian native gets every note right. In the meantime, the electronic keyboard and drums of her Dutch counterparts, Stefan Kruger and Stefan Schmid, juxtapose her vocals perfectly. When the cool electronic "clings" and "clangs" merge with Vieira's fiery voice, a flawless musical climate is created.
Track to burn: "Na Mangueira"--Rating: *** 1/2 Ailen Jardines
Bimbo Presenta: Reggaeton 100x35 2005
B&E Entertainment/Urban Box Office
Reggaeton superstar Bimbo is back with Bimbo Presenta: Reggaeton 100x35, the follow-up to his smash 2004 release Mas Suelto Que Nunco. Mix one part Puerto Rican salsa, add two parts reggae, and fold in fierce hip-hop lyrics for reggaeton, the infectious musical genre that has taken over Latin America, Japan and New York City. Spanglish rhymes are layered over pulsating beats, while somba rhythms work you into a frenzy. Having partnered with Latino heavyweights Marc Anthony and Tito Nieves, Bimbo masters the art of using "guest appearances" to add depth and texture to his sounds. "Si Te Sientes Solas," featuring Jey, is the party anthem on this disc. John "La Roka" Eric guests on "Fuletéame El Tanque," and Sweet Mary adds flavor to "De Misión." With this soon-to-be smash, Bimbo is set to join the ranks of reggaeton legends Tego Calderón, Queen Ivy, Don Chezina and Daddy Yankee.
Track to burn: "Si te Sientes Solas" featuring Jey
Rating: ****--Nsenga K. Burton
Just Say Sire: The Sire Records Story
To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Sire Records teamed with Rhino on a box set that captures the pioneering label's eclecticism as well as founder Seymour Stein's devotion to new musical styles. The set -- 61 tracks on three CDs, plus a DVD collecting 20 classic videos -- is packed with the stuff that made punk groundbreaking in the 1970s and new wave hip in the 1980s. There was a time when club DJs spun virtually one Sire record after another; Sire artists changed the sound of popular music. Top finds were the Ramones, Madonna, Depeche Mode, Lou Reed, Ministry, The Pretenders, Aphex Twin, The Cure, The Smiths and countless others. The box also has a slew of forgotten charms like The Rezillos' "Top of the Pops" and Book Of Love's "Boy." It only scratches the surface of Sire's opulent catalog, which might mean future boxes.
Track to burn: Plastic Bertrand "Ça Plane Pour Moi"--Rating: *** 1/2 Zoë Gemelli