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Carolyn Greyshock

Herbie Hancock
The New Standard
Verve

Herbie Hancock has been retooling jazz to fit pop--or the other way around--since the early '60s. The New Standard finds Hancock trying on other musicians' tunes for size. He certainly knows how to pick 'em: pop classics scripted by Stevie Wonder, Lennon/McCartney, Prince and others all take on another hybridized identity in Hancock's inventive hands. Accompanied by Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland, Hancock turns Prince's "Thieves in the Temple" into a dazzling romp with the jabbering keyboards and insistent bass. On Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair," Hancock starts off as if his instrument were made of eggshells, but by the song's conclusion, he's bashing away with abandon. The most surprising entry here is Nirvana's "All Apologies," done as a duet with John Scofield (on sitar!). Hancock's attempt to remake Nirvana in his own image is a valiant one, but it is doubtful that grungers will toss the original for this one. Still, The New Standard is a bold reassessment of what jazz is. (Nicky Baxter)


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Sunfur
Tardon Sessions
K-Line Productions

Sunfur hasn't been around very long, but judging by this four-song cassette, the band won't be disappearing from view any time soon. Sunfur dubs its music "sunfurian": lo-fi strummy guitars, big boomy rhythm section and a singer who sounds like a cross between Eddie Vedder and any number of Cali-bred folkies. "Time to Spare" skips along, nicely kicked into gear by bongos and some simple but effective drumming; probably the most "hooky" song, its stop/start country-pop feel is reminiscent of the golden era of the San Francisco sound. "Intimate Gift" is more expansive, with a slightly dissident guitar and doubled vocals, lending the tune a ghostly feel. "Naked" is very Vedder; singer Luna summons up enough existential angst to cleanse all of humanity of its sins; "Inner Fortunes" is an urgent rocker, apparently ad-libbed in the studio and tagged on at the last minute. Could have fooled me. (Call 415/433-1112 for information.) (NB)


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Grandmaster Mele Mel and Scorpio
Right Now
Str8 Game

Grandmaster Mele Mel and Scorpio run a year-round flagship program for sucka emcees. Right Now is a cuss-heavy ass-whuppin' filled with raps about street woes and overcoming them. The original members of the Furious Five aren't about to apply for social security. They may well be the Truck Turner and Black Belt Jones of rap music--toting heavy artillery in their waistbands, giving out kidney punches to nonbelievers. "On the Down Low" uses Kool & the Gang's "Hollywood Swinging" to spin lessons about playa-hating. "If....," "Smackin' Rappers" and "Stupid Mutha Fuckas" lay down notable quotables about bicoastal beefs. Too bad the old schoolers let slip a reference to a "chinky-eyed" female on "China White." (Todd S. Inoue)


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The Orange Peels
The Orange Peels
Self-Released

Whatever planet the Orange Peels just beamed in from, I hope they stay around and never change. The mood is unfailingly positive--a rare commodity these days--with dreamy vocal harmonies and retro guitar strum. From the first notes of "All the World Could Pass Me By," the Orange Peels are out to match everybody in the nrrrd-pop spectrum--hook for hook, jangle for jangle. "Something Strange Happens" and "Get It Right" sound like the Monkees led by Peter Tork instead of Davy Jones. I would hold the Orange Peels up to anything released by the Trash Can Sinatras or the La's, except that the Orange Peels are better! They're not bitterly romantic or Lush. They just play foot-tapping, pleasant-sounding, hopelessly devoted jangle pop with American roots. (TSI)

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From the April 17-23, 1997 issue of Metro

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