Black Sabbath Reunion Epic
RIFF MONGERS' special. They're the band that launched a thousand death-metal bands. In the early 1970s, Black Sabbath melded brain and brawn, becoming a premier heavy-metal outfit that earned a showy reputation as blood-crazed Nazi satanists. The band's December 1997 reunion at a Birmingham, England, arena was captured for posterity on this two-CD set as vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Terry "Geezer" Butler, and drummer Bill Ward dished up such Sab favorites as "War Pigs," "Iron Man," and "Paranoid" to the delight of shrieking fans spurred on by Ozzy's cries of "Louder! C'mon, you know you can yell fookin' louder than that!" It's a safe bet nobody could hear much of anything as they filed out of the show, but ain't that what great arena rock is all about? Sab rules. Buy it. Annoy the neighbors. SAL HEPATICA
Herbie Hancock Gershwin's World Verve
AFTER A 40-YEAR CAREER in which keyboardist Herbie Hancock helped pioneer jazz-rock fusion (as a member of the Miles Davis Quintet and with his own soul-laden Headhunters) and in 1983 racked up a hip-hop hit ("Rockit"), pianist Herbie Hancock settles into a very comfortable groove with this Gershwin tribute. There's some stunning straight-ahead jazz (check out Joni Mitchell's haunting vocal on the Billie Holiday chestnut "The Man I Love") and a refreshingly progressive spin to "Here Come Da Honeyman" (laced with African drum extrapolations and featuring trumpeter Eddie Henderson and saxophonists James Carter and Kenney Garrett). Other high-profile friends lending their talents to this project include opera diva Kathleen Battle, soul legend Stevie Wonder, jazz great Wayne Shorter, pianist Chick Corea, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The result is a fittingly stylish yet adventurous homage to one of America's all-time great composers from one of America's all-time great innovators. GREG CAHILL
Booker T. & the MGs Time Is Tight Stax
FORGET EVERYTHING you know about Gen-X soul-jazz progenitors (Medeski, Martin, and Wood, et al.) and dip your toes into the funky well of their inspiration. This three-CD box set spans the career of soul giant keyboardist Booker T. Jones, who along with his uptight, outta-sight rhythm section (bassist Duck Dunn and guitarist Steve Cropper later became famous as the backup band for the Blues Brothers), recorded a spate of soulful instrumental singles on the famed Stax label, starting with 1962's "Green Onions." Tasteful licks and hip-shakin' riffs abound. Let this sly soul tonic sooth ya and groove ya. G.C.
From the October 22-28, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
© Metro Publishing Inc.