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Carlos Barbosa-Lima
Twilight in Rio

It might strike some as odd that classically trained guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima is in the employ of the Concord label, known primarily for its roster of jazz artists, yet this relationship speaks to the guitarist's expansive musical palette. Twilight in Rio is a handsome collection of compositions traversing a stunning range of styles. There is the swaying tropicality of the title track (co-written by Lima and John Griggs) with its highly developed melodic and harmonic sense; the peripatetic beauty of "Rio" unfolds before the ears as the guitarist develops fascinating minithemes and then abruptly moves on to another equally intriguing idea. "Mi Bossa Blue," also co-scripted by Lima/Griggs, is at once playful and gorgeously romantic. Lima's playing deftly juggles jazzy passages and Scott Joplin-inspired picking with billowing clouds of harplike fretwork. Like the man himself, Rio is infused with the boundless spirit of adventure. Lima may be fond of 19th-century Spanish composer/guitarist Tarrega, but he foregoes the former's provincialism in favor of a more universal approach. (Nicky Baxter)

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Nothing Sacred

If your response to the Monday-morning commute is "hated it," and your ears long for punk with a swig of hillbilly, Hog's Nothing Sacred is there for you. The group manifests all the frenetic, antiestablishment camaraderie a harried worker needs, plus it spins a mad sound, berserk with cymbal crashes, fast-thumping bass and even a bootful of country. Four-letter words spew out an ode to independence in "Not Perfect" and "Junk," while "You and Me," with only guitar and vocals, delivers that wholesome, grab-your-partner do-si-do twang. The best bombs are thrown at sacred American values: the thumb-bruising bass in the tales of unemployment, most notably "Get a Job"; the talk-show guest portrayals in "Aching"; and an ode to the sick side of love in "Medicine." (Sheila Dawkins)

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Buju Banton
Til Shiloh

" 'Til I'm laid to rest/always be depressed/there's no living in the West/I know the East is the best." These forceful verses begin dancehall duke Buju Banton's Til Shiloh. " 'Til I'm Laid to Rest" is a sign of the times. Not long ago, reggae's most popular form, dancehall, was the bane of conscious-minded folks with its graphic images of bullet sprays and women just begging for the hokey-pokey. Dubbed "slackness," this musical equivalent to gangsta rap displaced the social positivism epitomized by Bob Marley, Burning Spear and other Rastamen and -women. But, as Danton's 13 tracks indicate, Marley's legacy is now being revitalized. Songs like "Murderer" (originally released as a single last year), bump along to a dubwise easy flow, while talking forcefully about African fratricide on Jamaica. With its simply strummed acoustic guitar, "Untold Stories" has a nostalgic feel; its antipoverty theme is anything but. Best of all, Buju the messenger ably demonstrates throughout that he can make you dance to his politically charged tune. (Nicky Baxter)

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From the June 6-12, 1996 issue of Metro

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