Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Music in Brief

Thanks to The Lemonheads' all-time-classic album It's A Shame About Ray, Evan Dando remains—for some, at least—the great pop hope. Maybe now that his brushes with fame and public self-destruction are behind him, he'll find a way to write those sweet, catchy, sad songs again. But the solo album Baby I'm Bored wasn't quite it, and The Lemonheads (Vagrant), which revives his old band name while bringing in two Descendents to fill out the lineup, isn't quite it either. The sound's a harder-edged variation on Ray, but only a few songs stick. Maybe next album… B-

Long overdue for a box-set treatment, the late, Waylon Jennings finally gets his due with the aptly named four-disc Nashville Rebel (RCA). It follows his career from his early attempts to work within a Nashville establishment to his later years, when that same establishment had made virtual exiles of its old guard. But the middle section spotlighting Jennings' time as an "outlaw" star showcases him best. Whether interpreting an uptempo weeper like "The Taker," or closing the book on his own image with "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out Of Hand?", Jennings takes total possession of the song. Even his version of "MacArthur Park" works. Mostly… A-


The early line on Elton John's The Captain & The Kid had it as a glorious return to his '70s pop, when he and lyricist Bernie Taupin took the world by storm with tales of lowlife and heartache thinly veiled in playful imagery and the kind of hooks that dare listeners not to sing along. It isn't that. There are way too many ballads and not nearly enough bounce, although it's nice to hear him really trying again… C+

George Harrison's 1970 album All Things Must Pass sounded like the first entry in a revelatory solo career, but things didn't work out that way. Tied up with charitable work and a lawsuit due to "My Sweet Lord"'s resemblance to "He's So Fine," Harrison waited three years before following Pass with Living In The Material World. It isn't a classic like its predecessor, but it has its moments, from the hit single "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" to "Try Some, Buy Some," a song later revived by David Bowie. This reissue puts it in a box with bonus tracks and a DVD that includes footage from his 1991 tour of Japan… B

Panic In Babylon (Narnack), Lee "Scratch" Perry's latest, doesn't offer many surprises, but Perry hasn't been dealing in surprises for a while. Dub fans who don't mind hearing Perry's classic sound cleaned up a bit too much by modern technology should find it worth a listen, however… B-

The self-titled release from Darkel is the solo debut of Jean-Benoît Dunckel, half of Air. It sounds like Air divided by two, but it's all too easy to hear what's missing. C