-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=Spiritual Music Advice 'n' Stuff by Rev. Richard Visage =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Amazing.

Here we are emerging from the depths of February, and a quick glance at the Billboard top twenty reveals that Mariah Carey's Christmas album is still right up there on the charts. If you've grown up on Nine Inch Nails, her name may not be familiar - she's the one who takes pride in her umpteen-octave range, and substitutes vocal gymnastic warbling for singing. The Curse of Christmas is that parade of nasty albums specific to the occasion, and I must say that 1994 gave us the most horrific batch of Christmas albums that I can recall. So, naturally, we just have to look for the worst. Mariah? Nope. Kenny G? Nope. Whitney Houston? Nope. Without a doubt, the worst came from: Kathy Lee Gifford. This is a totally talent-less woman, whose razor-thin vocals are backed with the most disgustingly banal arrangements imaginable -- Muzak is boundlessly more creative. While we thank the other contestants for their genuinely awful contributions, it just doesn't get worse than this. Hmm, what else can we find on the Billboard? Frank Sinatra, Duets II. I thought he was dead, maybe it was all just wishful thinking. Let's spin a CD, kids. UNPLUGGED IN NEW YORK Nirvana -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=I've just about had it with the 'unplugged' concept. Really now, how many bands have missed the opportunity to try this out and subject us to the results? Sure, it was fine the first couple of times, but by the time we had to suffer through Eric Clapton's abysmal unplugged album countless times, there was a certain urge to tell MTV just where to put the plug. The other, and rather obvious, fact that clouds this album is Kurt Cobain's suicide, and the resultant media frenzy. The internet has absolutely howled with those who choose to make fun of his death or those who have elevated him to godlike status, or suggested he spoke for an entire generation. Brush away all of this sediment, and there's just the music. As the leaders of the grunge pack, one wouldn't expect that Nirvana would work well unplugged, given their normal volume level. In away were also fact, the results are surprising and powerful. One comes from listening to this album convinced that Nirvana, and grunge, a convenient medium for Kurt Cobain to express his genius. It rather nakedly reveals Cobain's extremely disturbed nature.

Nirvana fans will find some of the group's standards on the album -- 'Dumb', 'Polly', 'On a Plan', 'Something in the Way', as well as a cover of David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold the World'. The Huddie Ledbetter tune 'Where did You Sleep Last Night' is an absolute standout, definitely the most charged version of this song that I've ever heard, and Cobain's vocal is raw and electric. This album isn't full of great musicianship, but it is one of the most engrossing CDs I've ever run across. Even if grunge hasn't appealed to you in the past, give this one a listen. LIVE THROUGH THIS Hole =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Courtney Love's band has received mountains of publicity since the death of her husband, Kurt Cobain. This album has also received a lot of favourable comments from reviewers. However, I didn't live through this -- I couldn't even manage to listen to the whole CD, even though I made two attempts. I thought, given my rather advanced age, that it just might be some kind of generational thing. Then, the rather nubile Ms. LaBamba made the comment while this album was on that she felt that the CD player must be broken. There's no sign of music on this nasty thing, save your money. CROSS ROAD Bon Jovi =-=-=-=-=The kings of shopping-mall pop are back -- this time with what is essentially a best-of collection with a couple of new tunes thrown in. You'll find virtually all of the band's big hits on it. No one admits to liking these guys, but *someone* is buying their records, and by the bag full. I've always found their music almost annoyingly catchy, and there's nothing worse than finding yourself absent-mindedly humming a Bon Jovi tune. I suspect a lot of you will buy this CD, and play it late at night on your discman while hiding in the basement. No surprises here, it's exactly what you imagine it'll be. THE LONG BLACK VEIL The Chieftains =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Geez, who *isn't* on this album? There's Mick Jagger, Sting, Ry Cooder, Marianne Faithful, Mark Knoffler, even Tom Jones and others lurking here and there in the tunes.

The Chieftains have emerged from the 'Irish Balladeer' pigeon hole and stepped into the forefront as one of the most interesting group of musical experimenters about. They give us a varied scope of style and instrumentation on this CD -- everything from the expected Irish styles to what sounds very much like rock and roll, and then you'll hear Australian aboriginal instruments in the background. The guest talent is used thoughtfully instead of gratuitously, as is typical of albums with long guest lists. This one has classic written all over it. Bonus -- it's exquisitely produced and recorded. Pick it up, quick. Religiously yours, Rev. Richard Visage rv@visage.jammys.net ***(Note to Editors: Say, guys, I don't want to complain or anything, but what happened to all those endorsement contracts you promised? I mean, I don't want to put down your business acumen, but the only company that has approached me so far was from Taiwan, and they wanted me to put my name on a combination Buttock Toner/Desk Organizer. After watching Ms. LaBamba give the buttock toner a try, I'm pretty impressed. That said, you guys said it was gonna be a sure thing, and that I could expect offers by the truckload. What gives? I was almost kind of nice to Whitney again, too. Don't tell me I have to write a nice review of Frank Sinatra's album...) # # #

Copyright 1995 Rev. Richard Visage, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. --------------------------------------------------------------------Rev. Richard Visage is the official Spiritual Advisor to Fidonet, and is listed on the masthead of the Fidonews, where his correspondence is published regularly. The Rev. operates 1:163/409 on a laptop from various hotel rooms, and is bankrolled by expense accounts from very unsuspecting publications who showed poor judgement in hiring him. Canadian Government officials list him and his semi-clad secretary, Ms. LaBamba, as officially "at large" somewhere in North America. ==============================={DREAM}=============================== {Editor's Reply: We don't need no steenking endorsements. But how would you feel about a cameo appearance in THE WORDPERFECT KID? }