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click to enlarge Beck -  - Odelay Deluxe Edition Geffen - Sounds like: Beck at his best -  - Short take: Where it's at -  - When Beck released Odelay in 1996, the - eclectic, folk-inspired, hip-hop-educated artist was - attempting to expand his "Loser" universe. - Odelay did this and more, putting Beck squarely - atop the alt-rock kingdom. To celebrate the album, - Geffen has released a double-disc deluxe edition. While - the first disc features the original album along with two - unreleased Dust Brothers tracks ("Inferno" and "Gold - Chains"), it's the second disc, filled with B-sides, that - should appeal to even the casual Beck listener. - Portending 1998's Mutations, an acoustic blues - cover of Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman," shines, while - a Spanish version of "Jack-Ass" (titled "Burro") and the - trippy "Clock" are emblematic of the trend-setting - synergy created between Beck and the Dust Brothers. -  John Benson
  • Beck

    Odelay Deluxe Edition
    Geffen
    Sounds like: Beck at his best

    Short take: Where it's at

    When Beck released Odelay in 1996, the eclectic, folk-inspired, hip-hop-educated artist was attempting to expand his "Loser" universe. Odelay did this and more, putting Beck squarely atop the alt-rock kingdom. To celebrate the album, Geffen has released a double-disc deluxe edition. While the first disc features the original album along with two unreleased Dust Brothers tracks ("Inferno" and "Gold Chains"), it's the second disc, filled with B-sides, that should appeal to even the casual Beck listener. Portending 1998's Mutations, an acoustic blues cover of Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman," shines, while a Spanish version of "Jack-Ass" (titled "Burro") and the trippy "Clock" are emblematic of the trend-setting synergy created between Beck and the Dust Brothers. John Benson

click to enlarge The Mars Volta -  - The Bedlam in Goliath - Strummer/Universal - Sounds like: An album The Mars - Volta will love -  - Short take: Obnoxious ADD prog rock -  - The Mars Volta may be one of the most unique, complex - or talented bands out there, but it's also, plain and - simple, completely unlistenable. The musical dynamics - of competing guitar solos and reckless drum patterns - may be interesting to note on paper, but in recorded - sound, they only mean masturbation, music for and by - The Mars Volta only. The Bedlam in Goliath is - basically identical to its previous efforts, a bunch of - bloated instrumentals, hellish guitars and death-fetish - soapboxing. Massive riffs and epic themes - notwithstanding, anyone can futz around with their - guitar and shriek for 70-odd minutes, but most know - better. There are some interesting moments on - Bedlam, granted, but they're so far hidden - amongst the rubbish, why bother fast-forwarding to - them?  Matt Martin
  • The Mars Volta

    The Bedlam in Goliath
    Strummer/Universal
    Sounds like: An album The Mars Volta will love

    Short take: Obnoxious ADD prog rock

    The Mars Volta may be one of the most unique, complex or talented bands out there, but it's also, plain and simple, completely unlistenable. The musical dynamics of competing guitar solos and reckless drum patterns may be interesting to note on paper, but in recorded sound, they only mean masturbation, music for and by The Mars Volta only. The Bedlam in Goliath is basically identical to its previous efforts, a bunch of bloated instrumentals, hellish guitars and death-fetish soapboxing. Massive riffs and epic themes notwithstanding, anyone can futz around with their guitar and shriek for 70-odd minutes, but most know better. There are some interesting moments on Bedlam, granted, but they're so far hidden amongst the rubbish, why bother fast-forwarding to them? Matt Martin

click to enlarge The Blind Boys of Alabama -  - Down in New Orleans Time Life - Sounds like: Soul music for - Saturday night, Sunday morning -  - Short take: A jambalaya feast -  - The Blind Boys of Alabama are back with yet another - potent batch of hands-in-the-air songs. Under the - guidance of Big Easy musicians David Torkanowsky - (piano), Roland Guerin (bass) and Shannon Powell - (drums), Down in New Orleans contemporizes - the vocal harmonies of The Blind Boys of Alabama - including original member Jimmy Carter  while keeping - heart and soul in the old gospel world. Beginning with - the joyous "Free at Last" and ending with the brass- - fueled "I'll Fly Away," it plays with your emotions. Easily - boogie with the '50s soul-sounding "You Got to Move," - then show your reverence in the mid-tempo, organ- - fueled "A Prayer." Invariably, music fans of, say, Ray - Charles or any classic gospel-influenced artist will find - plenty of marrow on Down in New Orleans. -  John Benson
  • The Blind Boys of Alabama

    Down in New Orleans
    Time Life
    Sounds like: Soul music for Saturday night, Sunday morning

    Short take: A jambalaya feast

    The Blind Boys of Alabama are back with yet another potent batch of hands-in-the-air songs. Under the guidance of Big Easy musicians David Torkanowsky (piano), Roland Guerin (bass) and Shannon Powell (drums), Down in New Orleans contemporizes the vocal harmonies of The Blind Boys of Alabama including original member Jimmy Carter while keeping heart and soul in the old gospel world. Beginning with the joyous "Free at Last" and ending with the brass- fueled "I'll Fly Away," it plays with your emotions. Easily boogie with the '50s soul-sounding "You Got to Move," then show your reverence in the mid-tempo, organ- fueled "A Prayer." Invariably, music fans of, say, Ray Charles or any classic gospel-influenced artist will find plenty of marrow on Down in New Orleans. John Benson

  • The Mars Volta, Beck, The Blind Boys of Alabama

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