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Jim Nollman
What the Dolphin Said

Jim Nollman, the author and musician who edits the Interspecies Communication Newsletter, has earned notoriety floating on a home-made drum with gray whales off the Farallons and "reggae boogying" with Northwest orcas in his electronically fitted kayak. In his first CD, he turns his attention to humans, and the results are surprisingly fresh and professional. In a voice ranging from choir-boy falsetto to his normal high baritone, Nollman sings for the unborn generations who must live on a denuded, poisoned planet bereft of whales, porcupines, elephants and other endangered species we failed to save. His Lost Eden themes echo Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and although the plaintive tone sounds at times like unabashed derivation, the voice, lyrics and melodies are his own. Nollman, who plays his signature electric and slide guitar as well as harmonica, is well served by Paul McCandles on soprano sax, two vocal accompanists and above all his expert sound engineer, Richard Schonherz, who just may help place Nollman on the folk/pop musical charts. (Victor Perera)

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Keel VI
Back in Action
DeRock Records

Many '80s metal bands modified their sound in an attempt to survive the '90s. Not Keel. Ron Keel, Marc Ferrari and the gang best remembered for "Hold Your Head Up" haven't changed a thing. Back in Action could have been lost in a vault for 10 years if it weren't for the consistent subject matter of the songs. Titles like "Reason to Rock," "Reach Out and Rock Somebody" and the title track reveal a determined "we're still here and we're not leaving" attitude. The lyrics are an embarrassing reminder of how uninspired and repetitive metal lyrics could be, but for diehard Keel fans, this album will have to do. (Sarah Quelland)

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Various Artists
Chemical Reaction
Afrodesia Music

The Chemical Reaction compilation, which features Chemical Brothers remixes of bands like St. Etienne and Primal Scream as well as original tracks from lesser-known outfits, is largely torn between the worn-out repetitions of rave music and the more interesting experiments in deep house, funk and trip-hop. Even when it's unoriginal, though, the album is still exhilaratingly propulsive. The collection is full of the Chemical Brothers' macho, bombastic take on tech--brainless but joyfully hyperactive. Depth Charge's "Shoaling Buddha Finger" explodes with an enormous, squishy bass; a remix of St. Etienne's "Filthy" takes the original song (a decent but unexciting clone of a track) to an entirely new level of slinky, sweaty funk. (Michelle Goldberg)

Terry Callier

After a prolonged absence, singer-songwriter Terry Callier has at last returned with TimePeace, a compelling mix of blues-folk numbers, with a jazzy underpinning. Callier is a first-rate talespinner with a keen eye for detail. "Lazarus Man" is fraught with haunted images of mysterious, solitary figures "pale as a ghost." Callier's singing is unique: half-spoken and folky one moment, smoldering with soulful intensity the next. High points are plentiful: the plaintive charm of "AKA New York Al" and the percussive funk of "Traitor to the Race." The title track is, however, the perfect closer. The hypnotic swirl of acoustic and electric guitars, Callier's strong, yearning vocals and add Pharaoh Sanders' fiery but controlled sax--the total effect is absolute bliss. (Nicky Baxter)

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From the June 18-24, 1998 issue of Metro.

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