A Sept. 21 Style review of George Clinton's new album, "How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?" referred incompletely to the contributions of the late guitarist Eddie Hazel, whose work appears on the album through the use of previously recorded samples. (Published 9/23/2005)
HOW LATE DO U HAVE 2BB4UR ABSENT?
Is a new George Clinton double disc really necessary? Like the Beach Boys, with their sunny innocence and orchestral vocal harmonies, Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic crew have minted a sonic signature -- delectably vulgar funk dished with cartoonish hedonism -- so thoroughly that fans neither want nor expect anything else. And unlike the Beach Boys, Clinton's P-Funk All Stars are still best capable of delivering those goods in concert.
But if "How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?," Clinton's first studio release in nine years, isn't vital, it's valuable, and not just because it's two CDs for the price of one. The added length enables Clinton to spend 15 minutes on something he can't do live -- let Raquel Brussolo expound on the tragicomic existence of an exotic dancer on "I Can Dance," which gradually turns the refrain "Girl's got her future behind her" from a joke into a grim observation.
Another bonus is that Clinton's status as a funk demigod has lured an intriguing assortment of guest stars, chief among them Prince, whose lean, angular guitar riffs mesh well with Clinton's punny vocals on "Paradigm" (as in "brother, can you paradigm?").
Aside from Clinton, the featured star of the P-Funk ensemble is vocalist Belita Woods, who shines on a soul ballad, "More Than Words Can Say," reminiscent of the heyday of Otis Redding on the Stax label. Die-hard fans will pine for more "Maggot Brain"-style guitar rave-ups from Eddie Hazel. But there are a fistful of classic-sounding, funk-whomping anthems, including the opening ("Bounce 2 This") and closing ("Booty") tracks. Clinton may not be breaking any new ground here, but he's vigorously shaking it.
-- Britt Robson
THE MINSTREL SHOW
The buzz on this Durham, N.C., rap trio is that they're hip-hop's latest saviors, so proclaimed by "true school" aficionados who abhor the bullets and bling of today's rap lyrics and hunger for the complex collages of sound that were long ago replaced by a color-by-numbers production style.
"The Minstrel Show" is Little Brother's first album for big brother, the trio's major label debut. It's an odd coupling given that the album is packaged as a parody of the black music on which the major labels thrive: "The Biggest Colored Show on Earth," a revue complete with commercials, theme songs and TV Guide-style liner notes.
Little Brother doesn't quite deliver biting satire, nor does it render a breakthrough unto its new corporate massa. But "The Minstrel Show" has genius, from the one-two punch of "Beautiful Morning" and "The Becoming" to the spiritual core of the album, the gorgeous "All for You." Made from chopped-up Michael Franks and the drippy keys of James Poyser, it's a hip-hop hymn of reconciliation -- not so much "be a father to your child" as "be a child to your father."
Little Brother certainly has the talent to pull the trigger. Rapper Phonte is a star, and producer 9th Wonder recently honed a wicked commercial formula on Destiny's Child's "Girl." But Little Brother can't truly be the heir to the early '90s acts it admires -- A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock -- unless it mimics those groups' songwriting chops as well as their vibe.
-- Dan Charnas
Little Brother is scheduled to appear Sunday at the Black Cat.
In naming her new album "Jasper County," Trisha Yearwood may as well have entitled it "Safe." It's been four years since Yearwood's last release, and the country queen and her original producer, Garth Fundis, had actually charged into the studio to start work on "Jasper County" some time back. But Yearwood wasn't feelin' it, so she decided to scrap the material at hand and start fresh.
The result, named for the Georgia county Yearwood was born and raised in, may not break any new ground, but it'll guarantee the singer's return to the country charts. Yearwood doesn't write her own material, nor is she terribly faithful to any one set of songwriters. So although nothing on "Jasper County" is very surprising, refreshingly, none of these 11 tracks really sounds like the others, either. Naturally, weepy ballads are well represented, including the album's first single, "Georgia Rain," a soaring reflection on revisiting an old love. (Fiance Garth Brooks provides harmony.) More delicate and likable, however, are slow-dances: "Trying to Love You" is a testament of sticking with a relationship through good and bad. "Try Me" nudges the heartbroken to consider a new romance. (Ronnie Dunn lends additional vocals.)
"Jasper County" is more memorable, however, when Yearwood lets loose. The catchy, rocking "Pistol" is a celebration of the irresistibility of bad boys, while album-closer "It's Alright" is a breezy two minutes of honky-tonk piano, electric guitar, and Yearwood playfully singing that she's "more than okay / hey baby, what can I say, it's alright, it's alright, it's alright." Even fans hungry for new Yearwood will likely end up saying the same.
-- Tricia Olszewski