Methods of Mayhem' is bad, just like Tommy Lee

CD REVIEWS

January 13, 2000|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Methods of Mayhem

Methods of Mayhem (MCA 088 112 020)

Before he married actress Pamela Anderson, drummer Tommy Lee was a celebrity only to those who devoted their lives following the personal peccadilloes of hard-rock musicians.

As the drummer for Motley Crue, he helped pave the way for a hard-rock renaissance that lifted the likes of Guns N' Roses and Poison to the top of the charts. But after the Crue's mainstream popularity peaked in 1989, with the album "Dr. Feelgood," Lee's star began to wane, until, by the end of the decade, who he was married to was seen as far more interesting than any music he happened to be doing.

After a sexually explicit video made by the couple made its way onto the Internet -- and once Anderson filed charges against her husband for abuse -- Lee's status as a rock and roll bad boy was assured. He confessed to having a substance abuse problem, served jail time and attended court-mandated anger management classes. That he wound up reconciling with his aggrieved spouse seemed almost secondary to the fact that he had abused her in the first place.

It wasn't until Lee opted out of an announced Motley Crue reunion tour that his life veered away from the predictable trajectory of a VH1 "Behind the Music" special. Instead of revisiting his past, Lee opted to move forward and develop a rock/rap fusion project called Methods of Mayhem.

With the help of rapper TiLo, producer Scott Humphrey and such celebrity pals as Kid Rock, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Li'l Kim, George Clinton and Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, Lee has recorded an album that's just as bad as he is.

Literally.

"Methods of Mayhem" comes on strong from the start, wearing its outlaw status almost as a badge of honor. Its "parental advisory" is richly deserved, for not only are the songs riddled with profanity, but even the CD itself is adorned with four-letter words.

Much of the album's rage stems from Lee's personal history, as the drummer rages against the mass-media ("Hypocritical"), the legal system ("Anger Management") and authority in general ("Proposition F. . ."). Then there's his naughty side, which is examined at length in "Get Naked," a sex rap every bit as imaginative as its title suggests.

Yet for all their posturing, the songs on "Methods of Mayhem" have a hard time living up to the hype. Although the post-production, by mix-masters Crystal Method, puts a slick techno sheen on several tracks, no amount of rhythmic manipulation can resuscitate Lee's flaccid melodies. At best, all the album has to offer are a few pumped up riffs posing as dance tracks, like "Crash" or "Narcotic."

But then, nobody listens to bad-boy rock for the music. This music lives and dies on the strength of its rebellious attitude, and on that level, "Methods of Mayhem" succeeds at least to the extent that it's guaranteed to appall parents everywhere. *

Jazz

Various Artists

Organ-ized: An All-Star Tribute to the Hammond B3 Organ (High Street 72902-10359)

Is there a cooler sound anywhere than the sweet, jazzy purr of a Hammond B3 organ? Popularized by the great Jimmy Smith, the instrument has been a staple of jazz-soul albums for over three decades, and more than gets its due with "Organ-ized: An All-Star Tribute to the Hammond B3 Organ." With a guest list that runs the gamut from old-timers Smith and Jack McDuff to modernists like John Medeski and Larry Goldings, the album gives a fairly full picture of what the organ trio sounds like these days. But regardless of the way each musician approaches his instrument, there's always an undercurrent of blues-based groove to the music they make, from Art Neville's New Orleans-flavored "Micky Flick" to Mick Weaver's churchy take on "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy."

***

Pop/rock

Takako Minekawa

Fun9 (Emperor Norton 7022)

If you don't know any Japanese, it's hard to appreciate the title of Takako Minekawa's latest album, "Fun9." Because the word for "nine" in Japanese is "kyuu," the title should actually be pronounced like the word "funk." But if Minekawa's wordplay doesn't easily translate, her musical ideas certainly do. Minekawa is a miniaturist whose dreamy, hypnotic music relies on looped guitars, analog synthesizers and a wistful, engaging sense of melody. Hers isn't the typical approach to funk; "Shh Song," for instance, fleshes out its electro-pop pulse with whistles and chirps better suited to a cuckoo clock. Idiosyncratic as her sound may be, however, it's hard to resist the gentle percolation of "Plash" or the lean, swirling electronics of "Fancy Work Funk."

***

Soundtrack

Any Given Sunday

Music from the Motion Picture (Atlantic 83272)

Considering the age of its target audience, it should come as no surprise that the soundtrack to Oliver Stone's football flick "Any Given Sunday" would consist of hardcore rap larded with edgy alt-rock. What's less expected is the high quality of the selections. From Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's portentous "Who You Gonna Call" (perhaps the first rap to sample Mozart's "Requiem") to LL Cool J's blistering "Shut 'Em Down," the rap tracks show the strengths of the current hip-hop scene, relying more on muscular beats and wicked wordplay than on gangsta bluster. Granted, the rock tracks aren't quite as interesting or inventive, but when the two genres intersect, as on Kid Rock's gleefully profane contribution, the result is just about irresistible.

***1/2

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