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Spot Check

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NECKBONES 10/22, EMPTY BOTTLE I have no doubt that when it first started happening, survivors of the New York Dolls and the Dead Boys were shocked to learn that people had actually memorized their licks 'n' tricks and were ready to fill the void with tribute-band accuracy. By now, though, everyone's pretty used to it. The Doll-perfect Neckbones, who are from Oxford, Mississippi, are one of several rock-identified acts watering down the roster of that town's Fat Possum label, also home to old Delta bluesmen like T-Model Ford and R.L. Burnside. Jack Oblivian plays organ, sax, and piano on their second album, The Lights Are Getting Dimmer, and Freakwater and Wilco vet Bob Egan adds nice but mostly insignificant touches of steel guitar. STEREO TOTAL 10/22, LOUNGE AX and reckless on milwaukee Postmodern Europop doesn't get much more enchanting--or annoying--than Stereo Total. On My Melody, its second album for the Aurora-based Bobsled label, the trio raids the songbooks of Serge Gainsbourg, the Beatles, Phil Spector, and others and gives the booty a unifying, intoxicating squeakiness. Giddy as this laughing-gas electropop is, my reaction to it was anything but simple--I'm not even sure anymore whether I like it or "like" it. TO LIVE AND SHAVE IN L.A. 10/22, 6ODUM This noisy, long-lived performance-art amalgamation (file under "free glam") is less a band than a giant Hoover that sweeps through the underground sucking in anyone who can keep up. The roster for this tour includes Rat Bastard on bass, Nandor Nevai on (loosely defined) percussion, Tom Smith on guitar, Misty Martinez on harmonium, and Chicago's own perpetual misanthropy machine Weasel Walter on drums, guitar, and sax. Within the confines of tiny 6Odum, this bill promises to be a sweaty logistical nightmare--six other acts were also scheduled as of press time, among them Marlon Magas, post-everything songstress Leslie Q., and English noise artist Neil Campbell. As always here, assess your own risk tolerance and BYOB. ZZ TOP 10/22, united center "Fearless Boogie" and maybe "36-22-36" will do respectably, but I don't predict any megahits from ZZ Top's new XXX (RCA) on the scale of mid-80s chart busters and keychain sellers like "Legs" and "Sleeping Bag." On their best album since Tejas, the bearded ones have found a way to add contemporary touches to their southern blues boogie without sacrificing the grit that makes early classics like Tres Hombres so tasty. The dreadfully named "Dreadmonboogaloo" makes surprisingly good use of what sounds like a beatbox, and "Made Into a Movie" is out-and-out weird, with a high-reaching vocal that sounds like Peter Gabriel with bronchitis fronting Soundgarden. And if the four live tracks at the end of the record, especially "Sinpusher" and "Hey Mr. Millionaire," are any indication, their notorious stage show's still worth squinting at from the nosebleed seats at the United Center. Lynyrd Skynyrd opens. BLACKMORE'S NIGHT 10/23, the VIC Some guitar heroes go to Valhalla a little early: whatcha got here is the Renaissance Faire stylings of former Deep Purple and Rainbow linchpin Ritchie Blackmore and his young blond betrothed, singer and pennywhistlist Candice Night. In the booklet for their second album, Under a Violet Moon (Platinum Entertainment), they've dressed the part, in lush "garb," as the Faire folk call it, and the musical backing includes horns, bagpipes, keyboards, hurdy gurdy, harpsichord, and the Minstrel Hall Consort on period instruments. Should have seen this coming: the duo even revisits "Self Portrait," from the first Rainbow album (that is, from the period when the band was fronted by Ronnie James Dio, who's been doing this sort of thing, but louder, for decades already), and it doesn't sound the least bit out of place. Neither does Blackmore's signature electric solo on the gleefully gothic "Gone With the Wind." FRONTIER 10/23, DOUBLE DOOR Of late this local noise-trance band has been scaling back on the blinding lights and dry ice and putting more thought into its grooves. Frontier's latest release, Suture (Perishable), is a collaboration with mixers John David Hiler, Tim Hurley, Brian Deck, and Casey Rice, who were given samples from sessions with Deck at his Clava studio to work from. The results do give off a whiff of you-had-to-be-there, but the record's still appropriate for any occasion that involves low lighting and possibly hookahs. ZAP MAMA 10/23, martyrs' On their third album, 1997's Seven (Luaka Bop), singer and composer Marie Daulne (who was born in the Belgian Congo to a Bantu mother, who fled with her to Belgium three weeks later, after her Belgian father was killed during Mobutu Sese Seko's coup) introduced instrumentalists, DJs, rappers, and programmers into her all-female a cappella group Zap Mama to create a heady stew of up-to-the-minute "Afropean" pop. The brand-new A Ma Zone (Luaka Bop) refines this direction, with help from the Roots, Speech from Arrested Development, and Cameroonian sax player Manu Dibango. On Seven the voices of Daulne and her multicultural chorus skitter and soar over ever-changing beats, carrying echoes of African girl-group pop, American soul, Europop, and women's vocal traditions from various remote corners of the world, where Daulne seeks them out; here she focuses more sharply on hip-hop, funk, and West African sounds, embracing the young urban edge of the diaspora. Here the group will perform with dancers and a four-piece backing band. SEATTLE WOMEN 10/25, FAMOUS DAVE'S This cleverly named package bill features three female vocalists from Seattle's electric blues scene. Kathi McDonald, Kate Hart, and Holly Figueroa are all full-throated passionate belters; McDonald, the veteran among them, has sung with Ike and Tina, Willie Dixon, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Sly Stone, and the Rolling Stones, and briefly replaced Janis Joplin in Big Brother & the Holding Company. Too bad the boys in the band that backs them on the 1995 Seattle Women sampler sound like they're punching the clock. STEVE LACY & IRENE AEBI 10/28, FASSBENDER GALLERY Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and his wife and longtime collaborator, singer Irene Aebi, are probably contemporary music's best arrangers of modern poetry. They've already done gorgeous work with pieces by Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetayeva, Brion Gysin, and others; for the second of two programs tonight, "Six Beats," they'll perform pieces by Robert Creeley, William Burroughs, Bob Kaufman, and Jack Spicer (not all of whom are actually Beats, but as Lacy says, they all "have a beat"), most of which have never been set to music before. The first program, "Ten of Dukes," features Lacy's solo interpretations of Duke Ellington tunes. MICK TURNER 10/28, EMPTY BOTTLE Australian guitarist Mick Turner has made his reputation backing emotional exhibitionists like violinist Warren Ellis (in the Dirty Three) and Cat Power's Chan Marshall (he and D3 drummer Jim White have backed the shrinking violet on record and onstage). His second solo album, Marlan Rosa (Drag City), is a collection of moody, overwhelmingly modest instrumentals with some of the Dirty Three's sense of emotional narrative. Turner weaves a nice intricate web of overdubs, but I wish he'd show a little less humility, step out a little further from the crowd--at times, just one track of that yearning guitar would be more than enough. He'll be accompanied here by guitarist Scott Tuma, formerly of Souled American.

--Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Warmowski/BBQ.

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