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Martin Johnson

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Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott Da Real World (EastWest) Most hip-hop recording artists initially struggle to gain listeners' attention, but not Missy Elliott. Both on her debut recording, 1997's Supa Dupa Fly, and even on her heralded cameo on Gina Thompson's "The…
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TLC Fan Mail (LaFace) Contemporary R&B, which began to emerge with Mary J. Blige's rise in the early '90s, separates itself from classic R&B by its embrace of hip-hop rhythms. It's a solid combination of sonics and attitude, but also…
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Jimmy McGriff Straight Up (Milestone) Jazz organ began almost accidentally: Pianists like the ebullient Fats Waller tinkered with the instrument in movie theaters. Intrigued by its various sound possibilities, Waller developed a lifelong love for the organ, which he passed…
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Cecil Taylor Quartet Qu'a: Live at the Iridium Vol. 1 (Cadence Jazz) Veteran pianist Cecil Taylor has a reputation for playing with the kind of relentless power and energy that can at times be overwhelming. As a result, for more…
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Pras Ghetto Supastar (Columbia) A solo recording from a member of the best-selling rap group of the '90s should be a piece of cake, but, things got complicated for Prakazrel "Pras" Michel en route to the dessert table. Pras, one-third…
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A Tribe Called Quest The Love Movement (Jive) This summer A Tribe Called Quest -- who had brought a unique flair and unpretentious intelligence to hip hop for almost 10 years -- announced that they would release one more record…
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Amy Rigby Middlescence (Koch International) On 1996's Diary of a Mod Housewife, Amy Rigby was pushing 40 and running for her life. Singing sweetly, with a stunning batch of country-inflected hooks at her command, she was desperate to confront love,…
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Lambchop What Another Man Spills (Merge) Despite a Nashville home and album cover pleas to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame there, Kurt Wagner's band Lambchop is more art collective than country group. As enamored with Memphis soul and…
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Jarboe Anhedoniac (Self-Released) In the short time since the cathartic obliteration of Swans at the beginning of this year, each of the band's two principals has issued a solo album that illustrates the visceral tug of war within the group's…
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Jermaine Dupri Life in 1472 (So So Def) Life in 1472, the debut recording as a frontman of hit producer Jermaine Dupri, is one of the most pointless releases of the year, and it sounds like many of the participants…
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The Monorchid Who Put Out the Fire? (Touch and Go) The existential angst of ineffectual white males is well past new or interesting. The flood of emotional navel-gazing drenching the world of indie rock is a scourge of banal personal…
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Robert Pollard Waved Out (Matador) After a few dozen albums, EPs, singles, and lineup changes, this much has become clear about Guided by Voices: Bee Thousand, the band's breakthrough 1994 album, was a fluke, a brave and guileless collision of…
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Jeff Buckley Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk) (Columbia) It was only a little over a year ago that Jeff Buckley became a cliche: the promising young rocker dead before his time. He went for a late swim in Tennessee's…
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Smashing Pumpkins Adore (Virgin) Like Don Quixote and his windmill, the leading lights of alternative rock defined themselves by what they were fighting. To varying degrees and with distinct stylistic differences, Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Trent Reznor, and Smashing Pumpkins'…
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Africa: The Ba-Benzele Pygmies (Rounder) You won't see the artists interviewed on MTV or Charlie Rose. You won't read about them in glossy magazines or find their faces plastered on major metropolitan billboards. Often they're anonymous or their names known…
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Dar Williams, Ron Sexsmith Palace of Fine Arts Saturday, April 18 In a recent online poll of folk music fans' favorite record of all time, Joni Mitchell's Blue came in second. It was tied with Dar Williams' sophomore album, 1996's…
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Ali Crucial (Island Black Music) As the American art-soul movement continues to gain momentum with acts like the Fugees' Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, the British R&B groups that used to make this genre worth listening to are still trying…
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Reverend Horton Heat Space Heater (Interscope) What you need to know about Reverend Horton Heat is that in the early '90s he had enough indie cred to make loans to wannabe rockabillys. Now, he's the one who needs to borrow.…
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... And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (Trance Syndicate) ... as well as the trail leading back to their Sonic Youth record collections. These four emo-drenched pretty boys with the funny name from Austin, Texas, jostle…
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John Lee Hooker The Complete '50s Chess Recordings (MCA/Chess) The blues is food for worms. Dead. Axe-murdered by Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and their ilk, who captured the form in the late '60s and sold the world…
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