THE CIVIL WAR
Original Soundtrack Recording
(Elektra Nonesuch 79256)
Just as Ken Burns' exhaustive documentary "The Civil War" brought a new reality to events most Americans thought they already knew, so too will the music on "The Civil War: The Original Soundtrack Recording" change the average listener's perception of songs like "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Although none of the performances here quite count as historical recordings, care hasbeen taken to approximate the sounds of the 1860s, from sonorous brass bands to plaintive fiddle tunes. It works, too; whether through the stately cadences of the Old Bethpage Brass Band's "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" or the jig-like bounce of Matt Glaser's fiddle-led "Marching Through Georgia," the music here conveys a stunning sense of its time.
There was a time when Julio Iglesias, aware that America was the only major market in which he was not a major star, tried desperately to seem hip. But the fact is, Iglesias is a hopeless square, an unrepentant crooner who likes nothing better than to wallow in a sentimental melody. Which may be why his latest effort,the breathily romantic "Starry Night," finds him sounding more at home than ever. Though the songs -- "Mona Lisa," "Cryin' Time," "When I Need You" -- tend toward the maudlin, Iglesias' renditions are artful, appropriate and disarmingly sincere. After all, hipness isn't everything. Nobody will ever accuse "Explicit Rap" of deceptive packaging. Not only does this 10-tune compilation deliver precisely what the title promises, it does so with an awesome sense of completeness. We get sex raps (Awesome Dre's "Sex Fiend"), sexist raps (2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny"), male chauvinism (NWA's "A Bitch Iz a Bitch"), female chauvinism (Choice's "Payback"), comedy (Bobby Jimmy's "Wienie Whistlers"), violence (Ice Cube's "The Product") and politics (the Geto Boys' "No Sell Out"). At its best, it makes an excellent lesson in what freedom of speech demands; at its worst, it's just further proof that it takes more than cuss words to make a scary rap record.
Will to Power
If you really want to know what killed disco, you need only look back at the sort of cheesy exploitation acts that used a dance beat to peddle the worst schlock imaginable. So far, house music has avoided the worst of such excesses, but with acts like Will to Power around, it's only a matter of time. Listen to the group's "Journey Home," and be amazed at its ability to trash respectable oldies like 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" or Heatwave's "Boogie Nights." Add in the "live free or I'll kill you" rant of "Koyaanisqatsi," and "Journey Home" is definitely a trip to avoid.