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The axman's originals show a great command of form, from the hooky chorus shout-alongs of "Who Died and Left You Boss" and "Don't Change Me, Enjoy Me," to the laid-back, crescendo-building instrumental, "Currents" (long a favorite of local audiences). Although this last kicks the same pebbles down the same backroads Dickey Betts and Duane Allman traveled, Prine and the band's playing is so fine, the composition so irresistible, you won't mind taking this trip one more time.

Perhaps the strongest original here is pianist Russ's "Keep Your Love Alive," a plaintive, midtempo shuffle, with heartfelt vocals by Prine. Prine's chops are equally effective on the Bobby Blue Bland standard "24 Hours," a phenomenally catchy tune A you'll be singing it long after the tape stops (Everybody now: "Five o'clock, in the early mornin'/Six o'clock in the early evenin'..."). Freeman displays mediocre vocals, but outstanding B-3 wizardry, on his self-penned swing "I'm on the Road Again" (not even a distant relative of Willie Nelson's theme song or the Canned Heat classic) and Bobby Troupe's "Route 66." Yeah, Troupe's signature song was on-the-way-to-tired when the Stones did it twenty-some years ago, but Freeman's keys spark that corpse for one more joyous jig.

The electricity of the live set comes through loud and clear as the band enjoys lengthy jams and the opportunity to stretch. Blues and blues-rock lovers will find plenty to keep their ears happy here, although those less-than-enamored with the boogie-bounce may become bored after a few tunes (Translation: Don't play this for your lady, fellas, unless you're prepared to ignore the "they-all-sound-alike" mantra until you break down and put on some Robert Cray). We hope that at least some of those ears belong to promoters looking to book a hot blues combo.

Kate Bush
The Red Shoes
By J. C. Herz

After fifteen years of making beautiful records for art school students, Kate Bush has produced something that her record company calls "the most accessible Kate Bush album yet." This made me immediately suspicious. But not to worry A although her falsetto is a little less nervous, Kate Bush's sharp enunciation and crystalline delivery are intact. Her lyrics are studded with religious imagery and sexual metaphor in equal measure, and she still seems to hail from a lovely planet other than our own. In short, she's not taking back a thing, artistically. This time, though, Prince and Eric Clapton sit in.

Stylistically, The Red Shoes is a variety twelve-pack, from the springy funk of "Rubberband Girl" to the Caribbean rhythms of "Eat the Music," as well as intensely personal reflections that let Kate Bush's voice ring like a glass bell. Her poetic scrapbook, "Moments of Pleasure," and wistful "You're the One" are, frankly, spine-tingling. "I just have one problem," she sings to a recent ex, "We're best friends/We've tied ourselves in knots, done cartwheels across the floor/Just forget it, all right?" It's a bittersweet musical memo: all beautiful things must end, so no matter how happy and in love you are, for God's sake make sure you put your name on this album.

Kirsty MacColl
Titanic Days
By Steve Almond

There's not much room for woman storytellers in rock. Mannish bards aplenty. Oodles of 'em. But the standard fare for chickees is sex and attitude, both in liberal supply, along with more than a pinch of tittie. Been a good long wallop of a time, come to thunk of it, since a female artist of the non-emoto/eroto stripe has cashed in big.

Let's hope blond and beguiling Kirsty MacColl doesn't charter the club. Be a pity to have her sly Brit rock made the servant of wankers like Jann Wenner and Shadoe Stevens. That's the risk, though, heading into Titanic Days.

What has the faithful especially edgy is the sure-to-be single, "Can't Stop Killing You," which has the same kind of hypnotic refrain that threw the klieg lights all over squinty little Warren Zevon when he released "Werewolves of London." In keeping with the recent pop-culture trend A i.e., KILL, THEN MARKET A the tune tells the tale of a moll's fantasies of violent retribution against a lover. Like "Walking Down Madison," MacColl's last brush with celebrity, she backs the jammy with a danceable, Celtic thump. (Likewise, she has the sense to collaborate again with riff-prodigy Johnny Marr.)

Lot of women plotting on this platter, most of them, like MacColl, smart enough to expend their anger exacting revenge rather than boo-hooing their own oppression. None of them, thank the Queen, drowning in that confessional goop that leaves sticky stains on even the most inventive melody.

MacColl's voice, coy as ever, purrs to suit the mood, from the soft, broguey styling of "Angel" to the traditional pop of "Soho Days." A less adventuresome offering than 1991's Electric Landlady, Titanic is still prickly enough to confuse the slackers, most of whom are going to listen to the catchy title track devolve, never quite catching the allusion to the Beatles's "Day in the Life."

What the hell.
Paul is dead. Long live the blondie.

Jean Paul Sartre Experience
Bleeding Star
By Rat Bastard Falestra

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