In 1990, the Residents took their grand examination of rock & roll on the road, touring the world with the Cube E tour. The first half found the group reciting cowboy poems to a soundtrack influenced more by Copland and Orff than country & western, then followed with a group of blues, field hollers, and warped jazz that represented the African-American experience. By intermission, the two had combined into rock music, which in the second half was disseminated by an aging Elvis impersonator tearing through Presley covers (essentially a live version of their 1989 album The King and Eye). The staging, costumes, lights, and general performance were not to be missed, and earned justifiable rave reviews.
Martin Allbritton, a melismatic and undeniably more powerful vocalist than the finesse-oriented Twist, proves an eminently worthy successor to the beloved big man on this highly enjoyable effort. Barge also pitches in with a few lead vocals as the group attacks a handful of joyous originals ("We'll Be Friends," "Street Party," "Broad Daylight") and storming R&B classics by Sam & Dave and Harold Burrage.
Electronic music seems to have been all the rage, even back in the early '90s, but the Dream (aka Citrus Slumber) has been the innovative force behind much of the John Tesh like synth patterns played on new age stations during that time. You might think the band (comprised of keyboardist-guitarist Edgar Froese, his son Jerome Froese, and keyboardist Paul Haslinger) would choose to rest on its many laurels after so many years, but Melrose rocks as hard as synth created music can, picking up where their previous, very engaging disc, Lily on the Beach, left off. Los Angeles imagery abounds here, as on the rhythmic title cut (the only one to feature sax) and the hypnotic "Rolling Down Cahuenga"…
Leni Stern had grown considerably as a soloist by the time she recorded her fourth album, Closer to the Light. The jazz/pop/rock guitarist already had a very recognizable sound – light, lyrical, and definitely Pat Metheny-influenced, yet distinctively her own. But with Light, her improvising sounded more confident and assured. Stern's sympathetic company includes David Sanborn (alto sax), Paul Socolow (bass), Dennis Chambers (drums), and fellow guitarist Wayne Krantz (with whom she has often joined forces). Stern and Krantz seem an unlikely combination – in contrast to her subtlety and softness, Krantz can be very muscular, and has made the mistake of overpowering her at times. But that's never a problem on this generally relaxed date, which offers additional proof of Stern's thoughtfulness as a composer.
On his third Denon release Berg ventures into a few jazz standards while maintaining a strong hold on his fusion roots. Jim Beard is featured on keyboards.