After six-year wait, Stone Roses' second album is disappointing

January 20, 1995|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic


The Stone Roses (Geffen 24503)

Considering how eagerly awaited their sophomore album has been, it's no wonder the Stone Roses cheekily dubbed the disc "Second Coming." After spending time with the album, though, it's hard not to think that a more appropriate title would have been "Anticlimax." Some of that has to do with the fact that the band's trippy, R&B-inflected rock no longer sounds as radical or inventive as it did six years ago, when the band made its initial impact. Far more damaging, though, is the Roses' decision to emphasize groove over melody, because the band's rhythm section is neither strong nor interesting enough to carry an entire album. Although numbers such as "Ten Storey Love Song" do convey some of the band's early glory, the others are too rambling and self-indulgent to make anyone worry about how long it will be before the Stone Roses' third coming.


Baaba Maal (Mango 162 539 944)

One of the great things about Senegalese pop is its ability to absorb foreign styles without losing its essential flavor. Scan PTC through Baaba Maal's new album, "Firin' in Fouta," and you'll hear all sorts of unexpected influences, from the salsa-style horn arrangements in "African Woman" to the Celtic bouzouki phrases skirling around the kora pattern in "Ba." Some songs are nearly worlds unto themselves, like the loping, hypnotic "Sama Duniya," which mixes West African percussion, an East Indian drone, dancehall bass and funk clavinet into a near irresistible rhythmic stew. Atop it all is Maal's keening, expressive tenor, which he handles with such grace and power that not even the language barrier prevents the listener from appreciating the poetry of his singing.


Lords of Acid (American 45574)

A lot of dance music acts acknowledge the relationship between club life and sex, but few make the connection as explicitly as Lords of Acid do on "Voodoo-U." This Belgian techno crew stresses sex at every opportunity, from the kinky cartoon devils on the cover to the hormone-crazed lyrics of the songs "Young Boys" and "Mister Machoman." Yet as much as the Lords play up the sex stuff, the album's appeal lies more with the thumping overdrive of the synths than any of the heavy-breathing come-ons. That's not to slight Ruth McArdle's performance; after all, there aren't too many singers who could pull off a lyric like "The Crab Louse." But without the brutal insistence of the beats, "Voodoo-U" would have a hard time casting its spell.


John Coltrane (Impulse GRD-2-146)

To the uninitiated, listening to an album like John Coltrane's "Live in Seattle" probably seems like torture. Not only is the playing abstract in the extreme, with Coltrane spitting notes in seemingly random order, but the mood is unremittingly intense, with saxophones shrieking, percussion clattering and piano chords tumbling like marbles down a staircase. For all its apparent chaos, though, there's a real beauty to this music, one that comes across not in the logic of its harmonic relationships but through the almost spiritual quality of the interplay between Coltrane, fellow saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, bass clarinetist Donald Rafael Garrett, and the rhythm section of McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Granted, the music is not for the timid, and the 20-minute-plus duration of most tunes in this double-CD will tax the concentration of even the most attentive listeners. Once you tune in on the music's wavelength, however, the playing seems nothing short of heavenly.

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