6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smoldering
2 - Room Temp.
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A: Multiple Listening
B: Deserves Another Spin
C: Once Should Suffice

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ANIKA PARIS - On Gardner Street
Anika Paris's projects a positive survivor attitude, yet does not lack trepidation or a reflection on the realities and hardships of life. Anika’s new country, pop/acoustic rock style, lends itself to much criticism, mainly because of it lacking that little extra spark of individuality to set it apart from the flood of other artists. Sure, she is vocally competent and can drift from up-tempo tracks to slower, almost touching ballads, but that’s just not enough. It’s a little too middle of the road (not denying that millions of people like it like that). With unflattering cover photography and no real kick, Anika Paris doesn’t exactly stand out in any way, as I’m sure, she could.
- PB
3 / C

With the optimism of the opening track, I Believe In Love, the listener is set up for quite a positive experience. It's orchestrated backing and chourus lends it a near epic atmosphere. The new country feel of the title track is as much a cry for unity as it is for acceptance of one another as she mentions everyone from
Marilyn Manson and Saddam Hussein to O.J. and Clinton. La Tonya is a cold, innocence-lost lament that could depress those who actually listen to the lyrics. But there is redemption in the strong will reflected and belief in God. The subjects seem to be heavy on this album. Pearl is also a personal, emotional confrontation of fear within a relationship of significance. It's all stuff we live every day, but don't always want to confront. The issue-ridden, conscientiousness of the themes actually didn't repulse me as I thought it might. It does however veer past basic angst. The lust for freedom from painful emotions, unjust situations and striving for more is a universal phenomenon all can identify with. Paula's constant reference to God hardly makes it a conventional gospel album and if you didn't consider that possibility, you would never have thought.
- PB
4 / B

PEGAZUS (Nuclear Blast)
With so many retro-metal acts sprouting all over the place, I think they should slow down a bit before flooding it into oblivion. This Aussie effort has all the
Manowar & Maiden elements, doing it exactly as they would have. Those classics of a decade past still exist and I'd rather listen to the originals in stead of getting an immitation. The production quality is better in some respects to many of the older greats and the songs are very listenable, I just feel that it shouldn't become a trend that will destroy itself and sink an already ostracised genre. It deserves better.
- PB
3 / B

In the wake of the whole
Britney / Chrisitna wave, one would expect many a young hopeful to be given the big label treatment if there’s anything remotely pretty about her. Sure, she needs a voice, but mainly she has to appeal to the largest statistical cut of the record buying public - namely men with fat libidos and just a big enough bulge in their wallet to fork out for a CD like this. The formula is well in tact, and anyone could’ve laid their voices over the generic music. Billie even does those little Britney grunts & moans that certainly rouses irritation in my blood, more so than anything else. The cover version of Blondie’s The Tide Is High is as unnecessary as most of these attempts usually are. On opening the CD sleeve, you’re faced with a wall of vacant lyrics that you wouldn’t want to face even on a good day. Billie is very positive, jolly & excitable and I won’t knock that aspect, it’s just the way that a new, fresh or interesting route is never even a consideration. The Lolita factor is also quite disturbing as it is with most of these lasses, but it seems to be globally accepted. What is this world coming to? And your mother warned you about Kiss, for goodness sakes! But, hey, if this moves you in more places than a real woman who writes real songs (like Tori Amos), then it’s your prerogative.
- PB
1 / C

PLACEBO - Black Market Music
Since many
Placebo fans thought they blew Garbage away on their SA stop-over, their next effort had been quite an anticipated affair. Well, it’s here, but with some changes. For one, the overpowering, gritty super-angst ridden feel seems toned down - even less aggressive. The production is slicker and less abrasive, which doesn’t convey their subversive nature as well as before. Their subject matter still teeters on the edge (or smack bang in the middle) of excess, be it sex, drugs or travelling to the psychological brink. Brian Molko’s unmistakable voice hasn’t changed much and their 80’s “alternative”-tinged riffs still work well with his effeminate sound, melodies & provocative word constructions. The track Spite & Malice has an interesting rap-thing going with the cool chorus of “dope, guns, fucking in the streets - revolution…” bound to freak out a few parents. But in the same breath their well publicized attitude of advocating a life of excess to a certain extent does take a bit of a turn - whether it’s because of perhaps losing friends (Commercial For Levi), coming close to self-destruction (Haemoglobin) or growing up a little through life experience (Black-Eyed). Quite honestly, the only flaws the album really has is the fact that it sounds too cleaned up, both in production and their rock & roll lifestyle.
- PB
4 / B

THE PRETENDERS - Greatest Hits
The legendary Chrissie Hynde and her band is as unforgettable as most of their legendary tracks. The fragile arrogance and damaged passion of the
Pretenders has had a staying power all its own. That said, they still never tried to be anything more or less than pop, albeit with a bit of a 50’s rock flavour and screw-you attitude. From Brass In Pocket and Stop Your Sobbing, all the way through to (the UB40 collaborated cover of) I Got You Babe and I’ll Stand By You, The Pretenders have made their mark in pop history. Now if only the marketing people can earn their inflated salaries and come up with more innovative titles like “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits”…
- PB
4 / A

PRIMAL FEAR (Nuclear Blast)
As it is now apparent, traditional metal is rising up and here you'll find it in its purest sense. The old school is on the comeback trail with a vengeance.
Primal Fear's Judas Priest resemblance isn't just damn uncanny, it's downright identical ! Which is cool. They don't deny it either. Ralf Hanson, former Gamma Ray vocalist applied for the coveted Judas Priest vocal position after Rob Halford parted ways with these Metal Gods to pursue his ill-fated Fight. Managing to make the top 3 candidates, Ralf wasn't the lucky one. In stead he started a Priest cover band called Just Priest. Primal Fear is barely a year old, but the experience of these Metal veterans (2 of them from Sinner), made writing a breeze, producing 12 tracks of 100% pure Metal-Rock with a superb driving beat, great vocals (though, like Priest the lyrics are sometimes cheesy), chopping guitars with melodic leadbreaks. The song titles kind of speak for themselves like Chainbreaker, Tears of Rage, Speedking etc. Formula One is a speed track through and through, in every sense of the word. Slow, chugging numbers like Dollars are just as effective as as the throbbing near-ballad style of Tears of Rage. Those of you who love Judas Priest and don't like their new vocalist or merely miss ol' Rob should pick this one up - satisfaction is guarenteed. I don't know if this has ever been done, but a friend of ours, Leon Muller, died on his motorcycle Sunday 15 February 1998. I know he would've loved this CD, so I dedicate this review to him and everyone who misses him.
- PB
3 / A

THE PRODIGY - The Prodigy Experience (Gresham Records)
This classic
Prodigy release is now available locally and it still kicks big time. The Prodigy almost singlehandedly created a whole new genre for the dance generation. And I don't mean that in the silly disco sense. They've lifted it to a plain where everyone can appreciate it, not just Ravey Daveys. Hard edged dance tracks which is also extremely listenable fill this CD from start to finish. Most of the Prodigy elements we've grown to know and love so much are woven into these energetic tunes. This is before Keith's reversed multi coloured mohawk, piecings and tattoos, and precedes his Firestarter & Breathe vocal bits; his job description restricted to that of dancer. Kingpin Liam mentioning that besides his one-man song writing and creation, the other guys are essential for the live performances. Sure they've become more hardcore, but even these early songs have those traces with similar beats and samples, because of their (electronic) punk outlook. You can't help but be influenced by the wall to wall infectious tunes on this disc. This is a modernday classic you can't afford not to have in your collection.
- PB
5 / A

There are many celebrations. There are, however, few as colourful and vibey as the Pride marches, be it in Pretoria or San Francisco. This 20 track, locally compiled CD celebrates Pride in all its glory, be you gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, a-sexual, whatever. And it doesn't mean you can't join in if you're straight, as in the end it's a celebration of humanity, a humanity with so many different colours, flavours and preferences and not enough tollerance. This CD celebrated this year's Pride month of September in all its glory, hooking up with everything from Exit magazine to club Therapy. The songs also have a wide appeal without being labelled strictly queer. You have
Sister Sledge, Village People, Annie Lennox & Aretha Franklin, Naked, Johannes Kerkorrel, Erasure, Judy Garland, Meredith Brooks, Jimmy Sommerville, Gloria Gaynor, Noa Tylo, Abbacadabra, k.d. lang, R.P.O. and Right Said Fred amoungst others. The disc also features a Pride '99 song especially written by Kaolin of Naked, featuring the talents of the rest of her band, Wendy Oldfield, Lionel Bastos, Chris Chameleon, Levannah and more. The song also gets the Chromagene remix treatment. You don't need to be queer to enjoy good music, and hating what's different to you doesn't make you normal. It all boils down to love, people, and fuck knows, we need far more of it than is currently going around in our day and age.
- PB
4 / B

PRINCE - The Vault
Who would’ve thought at the release of
Prince’s “1999” we would actually live to see the day? And who would’ve thought that its vertically challenged creator (who makes up for what he lacks in height, with sheer ego, kingsize confidence and overt sexual obsession) would grow in stature (meaning fame & fortune) and entertain past his prophetic party tune? Be it solo, with The Revolution or The New Power Generation, this chap has left one hell of a fingerprint in rock history. Not only musically, but also visually with his glammy pop/rock amalgamation, his re-invention of his image (and name) as well as music videos and film (which include such cinematic musical classics like Purple Rain and feature embarrassments like Under A Cherry Moon). With The Vault, the guy who used to be called Prince (but is now referred to as “unisex-symbol-with-squigley-thingie”), has reverted back to his original title. Reason being, these songs were written between early ’85 and mid ’94, when he was still predominantly known as Prince. These were never released or intended for release, as they were personal songs, most of which were given to close friends and loved ones as gifts. The songs are more basic than his usual style of rock-pop fare with a jazzy/funky touch, utilising brass and piano in many parts. The songs are not over produced and projects a more organic feeling. It’s all about places he’d been, people he’d met and things he’d done and will appeal to hardcore fans more than others. Prince, King, Queen, who cares, in the end it’s all music.
- PB
4 / C

PUNK-O-RAMA 4 - Straight Outta The Pit (Sony)
Are you a punk? Have you ever met one? Have you ever heard punk music? Well, sonny, then here is where you can get started.
Epitaph has risen to becoming one of the biggest punk labels on the planet. This compilation of some of their best bands shred through the likes of Millencolin, Rancid, NOFX, Pennywise, New Bomb Turks, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Gas Huffer, H2O, (take a breath), Zeke, Refused, Union 13, All, Ten Foot Pole, The Bouncing Souls, Straight Faced, Agnostic Front and a shitload more. 25 in all to be exact. Not too damn shabby. Be it fast, conscientious, anarchic, ska-tinged or just plain raucous, punk is represented here in full swing. (But, now, we can have the debate on what exactly “real” punk is supposed to be - just remember, punk from the UK and USA differ quite radically and then you still get more new/old school, mellow & mild or more hardcore streams within these two areas - this, however is very American, not that there’s anything wrong with it, no siree). That some tracks could hint at sniffing the dogs commercial bollocks, it’s by no means enough to make anyone lick. The sore finger on this disc (not because it sucks, but because it’s so damn unconventional), is that of veteran cool guy, Tom Waits - yes, no missprint. One great added bonus is the downloadable data that’ll light up your PC with band biogs & pics, all while the songs play as you peruse. An essential punkin’ extravaganza.
- PB
5 / A

PYOGENESIS - Unpop (Nuclear Blast)
Pyogenesis is a cult act in their own right and have been around for ages and with each release seems to be an exploration of the times and what's happening around them. When I saw them in London they had a Grungy feel to them. The predominant focus on this release is the influence and shortcomings of rave culture and the late 90's. Unpop is a great description of what this CD is all about. It's not too serious although the tone at times seem to reach towards the contrary like the simple, effectice structure of Blue Smiley's Plan with melancholy organ parts. In stead of lyrics in the sleeve you'll find descriptions of what the songs are about and where they came from. Some of the inspiration came from a friend who went into a coma after a bad E experience; their bassist who was born with one hand (how the hell does he play?); egotistical assholes; girls who get dressed up for parties or gigs etc. It's their environment that is most apparent to them and they reflect that. Get Up sounds like a hard version of those nu-pop rock tracks you find during the credits for those disfunctional American teenager drama serials. It's rough edge sets it apart from those at least half a light year. The female chourus is also an inviting surprize. Their punk roots still show inbetween the deliberate pop-tinged songs which sticks in your head like a nail. The great incorporation of modern electronic sounds on Love Nation Sugarhead illustrates their outlook. The mellow pace picks up just in time on Funkie on a Cloud for those who expected just that. Their love for music is illustarted in the German sung Ton-Recycling. Another German track is a cover version originally by Purple Shulz called Sehnsucht - it's a damn passionate closing track and if you wait for the hidden track you'll no doubt be left startled. With most of the tracks about 2 and a half minutes long it doesn't just fly by. The incorporation of flute piano and strings are subliminal enough in order not to be a pretentious addition merely for the sake of it. Lower All Your High Standars kicks hard. The Pyogenesis sound seems at first listen to be hard to get into, but after a single listen some of the songs will stick in your head and draw you back again and again.
- PB
4 / A