Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Rhythm and Views

By Ron Bally

AUGUST 21, 2000: 

THE WHO The Blues To The Bush Live 1999 (Musicmaker.com)

UPON A CONSIDERATION of the term "classic"... Once upon a time there was a little old band from Shepherds Bush, England, and for close to two decades it defined, for all intents and purposes, the classic powerhouse rock 'n' roll band aesthetic. As the '70s became the '80s and the concept of Classic Rock reared, the band by default joined that unfortunately-named wave--but the songs remained, diminished by neither time nor fashion. Tellingly, The Who was among a handful of dinosaur bands the punks could stomach.

This 2-CD live collection finds Pete, John and Roger joined by Ringo's kid Zak Starkey (filling in for the late Keith Moon) and Rabbit Bundrick (keyboards), and it ranks as a four-star "classic" because, while there's no new material, the classic stuff breathes anew, with wit and vigor. Particularly during the heaping helping of their A-1 stone classic album Who's Next. And get this: Not only are you treated to stellar readings of "Behind Blue Eyes," "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again," a magnificent version of "Pure And Easy" turns up as well; fans will recall its thematic linkage with the others via the aborted Lifehouse project, which spawned Who's Next. (Townshend recently issued a six-CD Lifehouse box via his website.)

Nonbelievers may point their browsers at www.musicmaker.com for details of this internet-only disc. Consumer note: unlike Musicmaker.com's recent Jimmy Page/Black Crowes live album, The Who's set is pressed on professionally-designed CD-Rs. -- Fred Mills

GREEN VELVET Green Velvet (F-111/Warner Bros.)

THE FUTURE OF techno is here. It rests squarely in the capable hands of mix master weirdo Green Velvet. The Chicago-born DJ and England-based production dynamo has released one of the most amazing and intriguing dance music albums in recent memory on his eponymous self-titled debut. It's an insane smorgasbord of sexually charged mind-altering tracks where conformity and madness both bleed together humanely and flawlessly.

Green Velvet covers a variety of topics that are unlike anything heard before. From alien abduction ("Abduction") and reincarnation in the form of H20 ("Water Molecule") to one of the most outrageously hypnotic phone messages ever recorded ("Answering Machine"), this eccentric electronic engineer never lets up on the rapid-fire funky dance grooves.

His musical influences run the whole gamut from Sly Stone, Grace Jones and George Clinton to Kraftwerk, Bowie and Ministry. On "Flash," his guided tour of Club Bad, Green Velvet informs trusting parents of their underage offspring inhaling nitrous-filled balloons, gulping down Ecstasy and sucking on joints before commanding his captive and horrified audience to take a snapshot of the depraved spectacle. On "Land Of The Lost," this mutant techno android re-channels the spirit of New Wave electro-punk cult heroes Liasions Dangereuses with more naked and humorous commentary on the mind-expanding habits of the aforementioned raver brats.

In his deep, monotone drawl, he humorously reflects on life's many petty miseries over bombastic drum machine beats and a spare yet abrasive bank of synthesizers. This is a flamboyant amalgamation that bridges the gap between Chicago house, Teutonic German techno and '80s British synth mavericks that is solely about escapism, and making sense out of the senseless. -- Ron Bally

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