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Busta Rhymes
When Disaster Strikes
Elektra

Like poisonous gas billowing through a subway train, rapper Busta Rhymes' flow invades an area and leaves bodies prostrate. When Disaster Strikes is his second title defense. The 18-track CD is filled with over-the-top rhyme styling, instantly recognizable by the scratchy, charcoal vocals and the incessant croaks of "yoyoyo" dropped in the mix. And unlike other rappers who are nailed down to the same lyrical rut year after year, Busta is in a constant state of flux. "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" bangs just as "Woo-Hah!!" did in 1996 yet sounds completely different. "Dangerous," "Rhymes Galore" and the summer hit of the winter, "Put Your Hands...," stagger with syncopated rhymes and robotic funk. (Todd S. Inoue)


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The Holmes Brothers
Promised Land
Rounder

Promised Land connects the dots from gospel to soul with more conviction than on any of the Holmes Brothers' previous efforts. The title track is straight out of St. Luke's church. The tune's melody borrows liberally from "Wade in the Water," and Sherman Holmes' lead vocal is rough and rugged. Even if you're not religiously inclined, this tune is genuinely uplifting. Brother Wendell Holmes wields a sharp-edged guitar, with licks dipped in holy water. But if the Christchurch, Va., duo is most at home praising Jesus, the Holmes Brothers are equally comfortable living in the material world. "You Got to Go," for instance, is a zippy C&W number featuring spring-coiled piano and raw vocals. The Holmeses aren't the first baptized blues brothers, but their music is a timely reminder that the tradition is alive and kicking. (Nicky Baxter)


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Copperbox
Copperbox
Topsy Turvy

What worked for the Pretenders is working for Copperbox. Amy La Boube's Chrissie Hynde-styled vocals and the heavy guitars make for some wonderfully heady songs. La Boube's voice turns from melodically sweet to decadently harsh and back again within a breath. She cuts through lyrics like "In the madness, I reach for something to quell the cry / In the madness, I separate what's living from what's died" with calculated precision. A strange mix of bands comes to mind listening to Copperbox: Concrete Blonde, the Cure, Blue Öyster Cult--indeed, "Love Lies Bleeding" sounds too much like BÖC's "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" to be a coincidence. Maybe Copperbox figured that with a little something for everyone, it couldn't miss. (Sarah Quelland)


Ruth Brown
R+B = Ruth Brown
Bullseye

Ruth Brown is the woman who built Atlantic Records, although the label, according to Brown, didn't exactly reciprocate. R+B = Ruth Brown is ample proof, however, that the only grudge she holds is against no-good men. Though Brown has been singing her unique brand of rhythm laced with blues since the early 1950s, she has lost little in the way of power and drive. Most of the material was put together in New Orleans, and the album boasts an all-star cast of players, including guitarist Duke Robillard, vocalist Johnny Adams and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. The musicianship is flawless from top to bottom. Incorporating elements of jazz ("Break It to Me Gently") and teasing R&B, these studio veterans help make R+B = Ruth Brown well worth taking for a spin. (NB)

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From the Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 1997 issue of Metro.

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