On the record

On the record

Femi Kuti
The Definitive Collection


Grade: A

Femi Kuti, son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, presents this two disc overview of his long and storied career of fighting the good fight and creating the good music with everyone from Chic’s Nile Rodgers to Mos Def. Don’t let the presence of Macy Gray put you off — this is a nearly note-perfect collection of modern Nigerian Afrobeat music, with its echoes of cosmic ’70s funk by way of the Workers’ Advocate and the instrumental jams that were highlights of his father’s work. The booklet is full of stories and lyrics and there’s an overwhelming sense of it being an album: that is, a book of souvenirs and memories of a well-traveled life in music. Besides, one can never have too many Nigerian CDs in one’s record collection.

Download: “Blackman Know Yourself,” “Water No Get Enemy”

On the record

On the record

Dinosaur Jr.

Live at the Middle East (DVD)

Grade: B

Despite openly despising each other for 15 years and slipping into middle age with good careers under their bel–t, Dinosaur Jr. decided to reunite in 2005. They toured, made a new record and have now released a DVD of some of those late 2005 shows. Almost every song here is off their first three albums, and with its DIY production values, the DVD seems like it is meant as a treat for old fans. Aside from the buried vocals, the performances are tight. Lou Barlow faithfully attacks his bass, Murph is a very underrated drummer, and J. Mascis shreds, like Tony Iommi playing with Crazy Horse. It is essential only for serious fans and anyone who wants to see Mascis chew up the screen with his crazed lead guitar.

Jonathan Wilson

Frankie Ray

Koch Records

Grade: B

Jonathan Wilson is stuck in a time warp — as if nothing past 1985 ever happened. On Frankie Ray, he mixes ethereal, Southern gothic-style folk with some shadings of Cali country rock a la Jackson Browne and the Eagles. “Waltz with Me” and “Carousel” tend to the former, while “White Turquoise” comes off like Paul Westerberg hanging out in Malibu. Many songs either meander languidly or show off the influences a bit too much. One misstep is the Rod Stewart-style rock of “Dreaming,” which bites off a little too much of “Mandolin Wind” for its own good. Turn it on, kick back and watch the sunset, but don’t go too far beyond track 10.

Download: “Waltz with Me,” “Carousel,” “White Turquoise”


Orchestra of Wolves</br>

Grade: A-

Gallows is the latest band the fickle English press is drooling over. Mixing the raw anger and hostility of old Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat with the musical sophistication of a pissed-off Helmet, these crazed limeys may be on to something. Singer Frank Carter channels everyone from Johnny Rotten to Jello Biafra as he spits vitriol on numbers like “In The Belly of a Shark” and “Stay Cold,” while the band keeps you guessing with myriad time and tempo changes. There is a literacy and a musical talent here they don’t do a good job of hiding.

Download: “In the Belly of a Shark,” “Stay Cold,” “Kill the Rhythm”






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