TERRY EVANS 12/2, FITZGERALD'S, 12/3, BUDDY GUY'S Alongside Bobby King, irrepressible session vocalist Terry Evans has added rich dollops of soul to Ry Cooder albums for years. He's also worked with John Fogerty, John Lee Hooker, and Maria Muldaur; and after making a pair of records with King, he recently released his solo debut, Blues for Thought (Pointblank), produced, as the two with King were, by Cooder. The clean, crisp sound of all Cooder-produced records dominates, as does the familiar stylistic hodgepodge; only on this record can you find the terrific blues guitarist Robert Ward and an oud player (Cooder) covering the Bo Diddley tune "Hey Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut." Evans is supported by a host of Cooder regulars--among them drummer Jim Keltner and pianist/organist Spooner Oldham--along with the lush, velvety gospel sound of the Paramount Singers, but as on other albums Cooder's made, the eclectic surroundings sound premeditated and not urgent enough. Evans's truly stunning voice is easily suited to blues, soul, gospel, or rock, but the framing provided by Cooder sounds like a clinical exercise, sapping any genuine emotion. Fortunately reports I've heard of Evans live suggest a different story; unfettered by the sterile digital sound of the albums, his voice--which can jump from silky croon to earth-rumbling howl in a heartbeat--is the center of attention. HEAVY METAL HORNS 12/3, ROSA'S Clearly modeled after session workhorses Tower of Power, Boston's Heavy Metal Horns are a competent, run-of-the-mill multiracial funk band fronted by four horns doing their darnedest to disguise the mediocrity of the occasional vocals. They'll surely play "Horns in the House," on which the invocation to get down is anything but inspiring: "The horns in the house tonight / We're gonna do the party thing / The horns in the house tonight / If you can't dance, just sing." In other words, a beer jingle--live! CHROME CRANKS, KILL CREEK, RADIAL SPANGLE 12/3, EMPTY BOTTLE Regenerative but rancid, New York's Chrome Cranks cling to roots music's grimy underbelly, pushing a hiccup-laden Cramps-like rockabilly to depraved extremes. Vocalist-guitarist Peter Aaron offers an uncanny approximation of Kim Salmon, lead singer of Australia's late, great swamp kings the Scientists. Cramming hillbilly swagger through the gates of bad-ass urban muck, the foursome's eponymous debut constricts their sonic slop to a piercing, pinched range that shoots arrows straight into the eardrums. For marginalia seekers: former Sonic Youth and Pussy Galore drummer Bob Bert recently enlisted in the Chrome Cranks ranks. Kill Creek are a quartet from Lawrence, Kansas, who spit out a familiar brand of scratchy, loud, earnest rock 'n' roll. Apparently they still believe in the minor revolution incited by the Replacements, and it's clear from their recently released debut album, St. Valentine's Garage (Mammoth), that they proudly stand by the midwestern notion that young, pretense-free whippersnappers have the right to bash out good old hard-rockin' sounds just for the heck of it. Translation: Kill Creek's music seems driven by boredom--and unfortunately also fosters it. Radial Spangle, a twisted trio from Oklahoma City, entertain loftier ambitions. Whereas their debut last year found them grappling with the functionless oddness of middle-period Flaming Lips, their new album, Syrup Macrame (Beggars Banquet), is considerably more focused. Trudging through half-formed pop songs, Radial Spangle tend to disguise the obvious--guitars waffling between riffs and noodling, vocals hesitant to delineate melodies--in the process crafting a tension that proves more frustrating than rewarding. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but this combo only travels in huge looping arcs. One hopes that experience will improve their sense of direction. BENNY GREEN TRIO 12/6-12/11, JAZZ SHOWCASE While pianist Benny Green has failed to break much stylistic ground with his yearly releases on Blue Note (as his latest installment, The Place to Be, proves once again), his tidy encapsulation of bop and postbop languages remains enjoyable enough. Green's working trios have always been tighter than hell, driving through standards and originals with crisp precision, and on this stint he debuts his latest lineup: bassist Ed Howard, who's been working with drummer Roy Haynes lately, and Chicago drummer Kenny Washington, a gorgeously subtle, intuitive timekeeper who's been a regular with Johnny Griffin.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Claxton.