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Custer LaRue
The True Lover's Farewell
Dorian Recordings

LaRue sings with a strong but pure voice like Judy Collins or Joan Baez, to whose fans she can be highly recommended. On The True Lover's Farewell, LaRue, accompanied by members of the early-music ensemble the Baltimore Consort on bass and treble viol and lute, presents 16 premodern songs collected by Appalachian folklorists. There are different versions of the tale of the studly Gypsy Davey, hardhearted Sweet William and Berayna (a.k.a. Reynard) the Fox, the last featured in the album's highlight, a highly catchy and very rocking nonsense song. It is an outstanding recording, certainly sweet but also often fiery, and with a lot of tensile strength to it. LaRue is very tough-minded about folk music. In the witty liner notes, she writes, "Being a serious musician today is a bit like going to war to preserve the culture you love. It's a risky business, lack of success can maim your spirit ... and most people won't be thrilled by the noble choice you've made." (Richard von Busack)

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Trouble Funk
Infinite Zero

Go-go music--remembered for its marathon sets filled with outer-space keyboards, manic percussion and call-and-response vocals--never received acclaim outside D.C. Between Thriller-era Michael Jackson and Public Enemy, go-go evolved, thrived, then abruptly dissolved, and Trouble Funk was the scene's most popular and technically fierce orchestra. Live is a re-release of Trouble's classic double LP. The CD is split into four 15-minute-long jams that have been the source of many samples (3:19 into the intro for "Drop the Bomb," Beastie Boys fans will find the vicious "there it is" breakdown sampled on "The New Style"). Tony Fisher's gristly vocals and percussionist Timothy David's roto-tom rolls anchor this nonstop party sound. Henry Rollins and Rick Rubin deserve thanks for seeing that this forgotten musical style is not laid to waste. Trouble Funk still tours, and if there's any justice, Live will reaffirm the group's popularity. (Todd S. Inoue)

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Cedar Walton

Improvisational-music pianist Cedar Walton is one of those musicians whose playing is as faultless as it is forgettable to the casual ear. His sound is sophisticated, never intrusive. Because his performing style avoids the heat of battle, it's difficult to appreciate just how well he meshes with a given rhythm section. The quintessential accompanist, Walton takes the helm on Composer for a session that spotlights the pianist's little-discussed abilities as a post­Charlie Parker songwriter. Joined by a clutch of youngbloods, most notably trumpet player Roy Hargrove, bassist Christian McBride and drum phenom Victor Lewis, the "old" lion takes the unit through its paces. Though Composer tends toward a certain uniformity (the perfunctory drum solos make you want to go postal, for instance), that may be more attributable to the genre than anything Walton's doing "wrong." (Nicky Baxter)

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Dr. Octagon
Dr. Octagon
Bulk Recordings

What will hip-hop heads bob to in the next millennium? Dr. Octagon is a futuristic preview of what's to come. Tracks like "3000" and "Earth People" are street symphonies backed by beats beamed in from 1987. Octagon's East Coast flow ricochets like pinballs and reproduces like salmon farms. The verbal complexity often take three lines to complete, leaving listeners hanging on his every word. All cuts are by master mixologist Q-Bert, who takes turntablism to an entirely different level. Some cat named Nakamura hooks up cheesy movie scores and porno flicks into a pastiche of hardcore on "A Visit to the Gynecologist" and "Girl Let Me Touch You," making Dr. Octagon a strictly R-rated affair. Forget this millennium, the Doc's sights are firmly set on the year 3000; this is serious hip-hop music for mature heads only. (Todd S. Inoue)

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From the September 19-25, 1996 issue of Metro

Boulevards team.
Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing, Inc.