Five-Minute Record Reviews: Ministry, Belle & Sebastian, Goldfrapp, Sheryl Crow and The Clash!

Sheryl Crow - Feels Like Home

Crow takes a break from hawking One A Day vitamins to release her first "country" album, which, truth be told, doesn't sound that much different from her past work, but she is wearing a sun dress on the cover.  As for the music contained within, aside from a few thematic tweeks ("We Oughta Be Drinkin' being a dumbed down version of "All I Wanna Do"), there is very little to distinguish this album from her recent past work.  Of course, each song is co-written by a country luminary, which means nothing unless you consider Brad Paisley a songwriter.  Listen to this album and then listen to her second album, the self-titled "Sheryl Crow",to hear an album that would have worked much better in the country arena.  Wanna feel old?  Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club came out twenty years ago.


The Clash - Sound System (box set)

Mick Jones says this is the final Clash compilation, as it contains most everything of value still left in the vaults.  Of course, the first eight CD's in this lavish box are the band's five studio albums in remastered format.  There are three discs of rarities and live cuts, but the real gem in the haystack is the DVD, which features live footage from their extensive Bonds NYC run.  Of course, then there is the footage of their very first rehearsal shot by then-unknown filmmaker Julien Temple.  Obviously, the sticker price of $177 is a bit prohibitive for the fair-weather fan, who may be better served by the Hits Back 2-CD comp that comes out this week as well.


Belle & Sebastian - The Third Eye Centre

With material as stellar as "Suicide Girl" and "Heaven In The Afternoon", B&S's collection of recent B-sides and rarities works amazingly well as an album in its own right, broken only by the two dancefloor remixes contained herein.  The real highlight, though it sticks out like a sore thumb, is Richard X's remix of "I Didn't See It Coming".  "Passion Fruit", by comparison, is a movie theme in search of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.  A must for anyone needing to catch up on the band's recent work.


Ministry - From Beer To Eternity

Sophomoric title aside, the new album from Ministry is better than it has any right to be, but is remarkable for featuring tracks recorded with longtime guitarist Mike Scaccia before his untimely death.  The monotony of past efforts that fell into a "play fast, play faster" mentality is broken up by songs that deviate from the snark-metal template and make this the best Ministry record since Pslam 69 over twenty years ago.  Glad to see Scaccia go out on a high note.


Goldrapp - Tales Of Us

With each song named after its main character. Goldfrapp make a sweeping a grand musical statement that is only surpassed by the out-of-the-box lyrical splendor and expressive vocals on display throughout. While this might tread dangerously clse to "concept album" territory, don't let that scare you away, as this is one of the best albums of the year.  "Stranger" would make for one hell of a Bond theme, by the way.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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