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Tucson Weekly Rhythm & Views

APRIL 6, 1998: 

BOBBY FULLER FOUR

Never To Be Forgotten: The Mustang Years
Del-Fi

BOBBY FULLER WAS one of the unsung heroes of rock and roll, who died tragically and mysteriously in 1966. This amazing three-CD box set showcases Fuller's diverse singing, songwriting and instrumental prowess. From his haunting dead-on Buddy Holly impression on "Think It Over" to flat-out rocking anthems like "I Fought The Law" and the Dick Dale-inspired surf guitar heroics of "Thunder Reef," Fuller was an underrated performer of incredible scope and depth. Fuller, along with Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent (both of whom preceded him by several years, and also died prematurely in their primes), were all multi-talented artists light years ahead of the burgeoning rock 'n' roll scene. All true innovators, never to be forgotten. Fuller possessed unbridled energy and boyish charm similar to his protégé and mentor, Buddy Holly. He also hailed from the Lone Star State, and exemplified his multiple talents by encompassing pop, garage, surf, rockabilly and R&B. Despite his own skyrocketing songwriting talent, he lovingly embraced songs by Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Larry Williams, among others. Never To Be Forgotten spans Fuller's prolific years of 1964-1966, and includes a smoldering, take-no-prisoners live set recorded at PJ's on Sunset Strip. Among the three discs' stupendous 43 cuts are 16 tracks released for the first time here. Sadly, Fuller was poised on the verge of super-stardom when he died at the tender age of 23.

--Ron Bally


ROBYN MILLER

Riven: The Soundtrack
Cyan/Virgin Records

MARKETED AS A cross-over into the realm of electronica, Riven is actually the soundtrack to a video game of the same name, one of the next generation in the endless spawn of new, high-profile, hyper-real interactive D&D-style fantasies. The music is probably far less dimensional than its video counterpart--nothing more here than a monochromatic backdrop. There are 20 vignettes, or abbreviated songs, most of which are titled one "theme" or another (and even a bonus track!). Each is barely distinguishable from the previous/next one. Which is fine, really--after all, we are talking about a soundtrack to a video game. It's not as though Riven was produced to supplement a major motion picture, where droning repetition can be deemed artistic vision. The idea of merging cutting-edge electronic music and visuals is a superb one, and as the interactive media become increasingly sophisticated, we're sure to see a boon of these recordings released. It could become quite the fad. However, in the attempt to cross-over into the now major market for electronic music, Riven is slain by the boredom beast, stone dead as evidenced by its audio flatline. And there are no spare lives to fall back on. Not myself an avid fan of video games, I'm not familiar with the average video audio, so perhaps in that regard Riven breaks some new ground. Maybe. Regardless, I hope there's more action in the game than there is on this soundtrack.

--Lisa Weeks


DJ SHADOW

Pre-Emptive Strike
Mo-Wax

DJ SHADOW IS an odd sort of purist: He refuses to put any original material on his discs. "If you can't find it on a record, keep on looking," he says to the current crop of acid-jazz mixers who layer live music on top of their break beats. On this record, as on his previous release Endtroducing, Shadow blends traditional hip-hop beats with cool jazz, movie soundtrack dialogue, political speeches, scratching and sax solos to create an incredibly mellow but slow-danceable urban sound. Six years ago Shadow's "In/Flux" single prompted a music critic to coin the term "trip hop," but Shadow follows an acid-dreamy path that's much more eclectic than Portishead or Tricky, pulling in spoken-word pieces from the aether of mid-century black culture and using hard edged drum sounds where other trip-hoppers have placed the emphasis on echo. Still, Shadow remains true to his roots, and his bass-heavy and funk-grooved beats are invariably ear-catching, sucking all listeners into shoulder-bobbing and involuntary pseudo-dancing, whether they want to or not. As a result of his broad spectrum of sources, which range from Pentangle-style folk vocals to hardcore bass and drum, Shadow is hard to classify, though he's clearly in the vanguard of contemporary hip-hop and needs no introduction to the current club crowd. Pre-Emptive Strike, his latest, is essentially more of the same, which in Shadow's case is a good thing. If you liked Endtroducing--especially its more mixed-up and melody-tinged tracks--this will appeal to you. Featuring four remixes of "What does your soul look like," as well as a 12-minute version of "In/Flux" that's one of the most complex and listenable things to come out of the new club scene, Pre-Emptive Strike provides solid, beat-based entertainment. The best part of the package may be the "bonus" disc, a 24-minute megamix of Shadow tidbits by DJ Q-Bert. Perfect for house action, it's a let-it-spin winner of steady beats and slippery layers. Together, the two CDs provide a full source of hip-hop nutrition with no filler.

--James DiGiovanna


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