Originally created 09/05/97

Environmental themes not too heavy in `MOM II'



Various artists, MOM II: Music For Our Mother Ocean, Surfdoc/Interscope. ***

Leave it to Royal Crown Revue, the 1940s-style swing band, to sum up the message of this benefit album.

That message, intoned by lead singer Eddie Nichols in his best Brooklyn-ese, is, "Suntan oil don't go good with a three-piece suit, y'know. It makes you all oily and stupid-looking."

OK, the album has a message more serious than that. Something about protecting the ocean from environmental damage. But the album doesn't make too much of it, so it doesn't feel like you're at a Greenpeace rally. It has the good sense to let Mr. Nichols lead his imaginary, horn-backed seaside tour, in which he remarks, "What's that? That's a shell. That's what your little sister's going to come out of when I date her."

The Royal Crown Revue's Louis Prima-inspired Barflies at the Beach is one of the album's 22 tracks. Some, like the Counting Crows' Angels of the Silences or the Offspring's Dirty Magic, have appeared elsewhere, while others are new. At almost 75 minutes, the album goes a little too long. There's a heavy-handed Jimmy Buffett track, for example, that all but the Parrotheads would want to remove. But there's more than enough good stuff to boil down to a 45-minute tape.

The keepers include Ben Harper's Excuse Me Mr., from his Fight For Your Mind album. At least in this song, he manages to suggest the sort of music Bob Dylan might have made if he had been born black. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones with the Pietasters contribute the bouncy Ocean, and Porno for Pyros registers one of the all-time oddest Stephen Sondheim covers with its eerie recording of Tonight. Other contributing artists include Jewel, 311, Sublime, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Dishwalla.

Amid this young crew you might expect the Beach Boys to seem out of place, but its recording of Summer in Paradise from a 1993 concert in Wembley Stadium fits right in. Actually, with lines like, "We got to do what we know is right/So we can bring back summer in paradise," it's perfect.

- Bill Syken

Dogs Eye View Daisy ***

Men are dogs.

Daisy, Dog's Eye View's new disc, gives you a real good look at them.

"If you say you need me, I will surely run away. If you say that you don't care, I'll stay until you do. And then I'll leave. I hate to admit it, but you know it's true. Others tell you different. But they're lying to you."

Yup.

This is a great album. Relationships are messed up, and this guy's really honest about it. I like it way better than Dog Eye View's last album, Happy Nowhere. (The group sang "The devil's not in the details, it's in my pants, it's shoot first apologize later.")

I like this one better because it's still honest in an aggressive way, but it feels like these guys are not trying to be MEAN this time. Just true.

The tunes are great. They have a strong shake-your-head, swivel-your-hips guitar. The intro to Homecoming Parade sounds just like a Counting Crows song mixed with Tom Petty's Last Dance With Mary Jane.

Vocalist Peter Stuart sings of a "small town where all the mothers drink 'til they drown," and they "call you a hero as they spike the lemonade."

It's familiar ideas in a different phrase.

"Are you really living, or just giving in?"

Everything rhymes - yet the band doesn't substitute anything annoying just to make the rhyme work. It's good stuff.

- Wendy Grossman

Sound bite

To hear Royal Crown Revue, call INFOLINE at 442-4444 and press 8100. You'll hear part of the song Barflies at the Beach from the CD MOM II: Music From Our Mother Ocean.

Sound bite

To hear part of the song The Trouble With Love from Dog's Eye View, call INFOLINE at 442-4444 and press 8101.