Following are reviews, by Deseret News staff writers, of new anthology, soundtrack and rock recordings:
VARIOUS ARTISTS; "Between Father Sky and Mother Earth: A Native American Collection" (Narada). * * * 1/2
Maybe the congenial setting had something to do with it. I waited until I was driving early one morning though rural southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado - homelands of the Utes, Navajos and, long ago, the vanished Anasazi - before giving this hourlong anthology a spin. And when the 17th track had ended I immediately played it again.
"Between Father Sky and Mother Earth" is an intelligently programmed collection featuring many different artists, most of Indian heritage, performing works in a variety of complementary styles. The overall effect is calming. It is not inappropriate that three of the tracks, with soothing vocals by Johnny Mike, Robert Attson and Verdell Primeaux, are titled "Healing Song" Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
Most of the selections are simply performed, on flute and percussion, with vocals sung or chanted and decorated with occasional bird and animal sound effects. Utah flutist Douglas Spotted Eagle contributes two fine numbers, the opener, "The Holy People," and "Snow Geese." A few evidence a certain European influence, though still are recognizably Native American. Bill Miller's folky "Wind Spirit," with flute and guitar, is one of these, while Perry Silverbird's "Happy Shepherd" has a discernable Celtic tinge (bringing to mind those odd two-century-old rumors of "Welsh" Indians . . .).
While most of the songs are short, one, "500 Nations" (by Charles Jefferson, Cynthia Jefferson and Mel Adams), is a relative epic at more than eight minutes, and earns that description by brilliantly interweaving chants, choruses, drums and even a lightly free-form trumpet. Wrapping it all up is flutist R. Carlos Nakai's unadorned "Amazing Grace," presented as a beautiful, pan-cultural prayer.
- Ray Boren
ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD; "The Warner Bros. Years" (Turner/Rhino). * * * 1/2
Film buffs have yet another reason to cheer the collaboration between Turner Movie Classics and Rhino Movie Music with this overdue double-disc collection of original soundtrack themes by Erich Wolf-gang Korngold.
The composer's lush, stirring compositions, often rich with flourish, complemented a number of Warner Bros. classics in the '30s and '40s, ranging from Errol Flynn swashbucklers like "Captain Blood" and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" to more ethereal films like "The Green Pastures" and "Between Two Worlds."
Korngold is most often associated with "costumers," period melodramas and action pictures such as "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex," "Juarez," "The Prince and the Pauper," "The Sea Hawk," etc. But I found myself returning to his gentler, more heartfelt pieces for "The Constant Nymph," "Deception" (both films about composers), and especially "Kings Row," which includes perhaps his most famous single title tune, but which also boasts several lovely supplementary themes that stand alone quite well.
- Chris Hicks
HOLY BARBARIANS; "Cream" (Reprise). * * 1/2
This new Ian Astbury-fronted band sounds like its predecessor, the Cult. But face it, anything his polished-tonsil tenor touches is going to sound like the Cult.
Still, the Holy Barbarian's "Cream" can't really be considered a true Cult offspring - the album's by a whole new band really.
And though tunes such as "Dolly Bird" and the David Bowieish "Space Junkey" could have found their way onto the Cult's 1989 rock-out album "Sonic Temple," other selections such as the Latin back-step of "Opium," the techno-tourque of "She" and the industrial twang of "Bodhisattva" have no other place but on "Cream."
The album is a work on which Astbury indulges his experimental yearnings. It's OK but does seem to have sort of an identity crisis. While Astbury is attempting to create a sound different from that of the Cult (he left the band late last year), his voice is so distinctive it will always give him away.
- Scott Iwasaki
RATINGS: four stars (* * * * ), excellent; three stars (* * * ), good; two stars (* * ), fair; one star (* ), poor, with 1/2 representing a higher, intermediate grade.