Pink Floyd's new and old sounds 'Shine On'


December 11, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic


Pink Floyd (Columbia 53180)

By their nature, boxed sets promise impressive packaging, but few have ever matched the extravagance of Pink Floyd's "Shine On." As if assembling eight of the Floyd's best-known albums in a single box weren't enough, the group rounds out the set with a disc of early singles (including the Syd Barrett classics "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play"), a set of album-art postcards, and a cloth-bound, 112-page book. But as nice as those bonuses are, the real reason to own this set is the sound, which delivers the band's spectacular soundscapes in exquisite detail, from the psychedelic splatter of "Meddle" to the headphone head-trips of "Dark Side of the Moon," to the high-concept dramatics of "The Wall."


Harry Connick Jr. (Columbia 53127)

Although his Sinatra-like arrogance has earned him more than a few enemies in the press, what really hurt Harry Connick's last couple of albums was an excess of ambition, as the pianist and singer made an ill-advised attempt to add "bandleader" and "songwriter" to his resume. Fortunately, "25" takes him back to basics, with no original songs and few accompanists, and for the most part, it works. Connick may be a bit too glib to pull off a tune as demanding as John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice," but he's utterly at home with standard fare like "Caravan" or "On the Street Where You Live," and delivers a wittily appropriate rendition of Johnny Mercer's "I'm an Old Cow Hand." All told, Connick wears his age rather well these days.


Loudon Wainwright III (Charisma 86416)

Ever since his success with "Dead Skunk," Loudon Wainwright III has had a reputation for writing sardonic folk songs, and anyone looking for more of the same on his newest album, "History," won't be disappointed. In fact, his "Talking New Bob Dylan" is a total scream, a laugh-a-minute sendup of the whole "new Dylan" phenomenon. But to tell the truth, it's the serious songs that ultimately make the album worth hearing, because when Wainwright grapples with issues like love and family -- as with "Hitting You," which examines how a single moment of anger can forever alter the shape of a father/son relationship -- his songs take on the sort of resonance that goes well beyond mere entertainment.


The Pharcyde (Delicious Vinyl 92222)

If, as Freud suggested, jokes can be a healthy way to deal with fear and anger, then the way the Pharcyde deals with street crime, social injustice and straight-up racism isn't entertaining -- it's downright therapeutic. Listen to some of the sketches sprinkled through "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde," and it becomes clear that this crew is as interested in shattering stereotypes as it is in busting rhymes; why else would it have included a number as bitterly funny as "It's Jiggaboo Time"? Listen to the raps, though, and the 'Cyde turns out to be as entertaining as it is enlightening, from the spirited slam of "Return of the B-Boy" to the slow and soulful groove of "On the DL."

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