Election Week CD reviews

 Uncategorized
Nov 022004
 
Authors: Nicholas LoFaro

A Perfect Circle, “eMOTIVe”

Collection of Songs About Peace, Love, War and Greed

So what do you get when strong message and strong music combine?

You get one of the most creative, not to mention important, albums

to arrive in stores this year.

Many bands in the past year have taken a political turn, and A

Perfect Circle’s new album, “eMOTIVe,” is a perfect example. The

third album from this Tool side project is completely inclined to

the present state of the war. In a way, it seems to be written more

as a message than an album. However, since A Perfect Circle is made

up of some of the best contemporary musicians that the rock ‘n’

roll world has to offer, the music is still strong.

Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of Tool, and James Iha, former

guitarist of Smashing Pumpkins, along with the other five members

of the circle, have created a masterwork by way of 10 cover songs

and two new songs. Well, they are not actually cover songs; they

are re-arrangements of classic protest songs. Every song has been

filtered and altered to meet A Perfect Circle’s dark and brooding

sound and the only unchanged elements are the lyrics. Depeche

Mode’s “People are People” is altered with computer sounds and is

the album’s strangest tune. Devo’s “Freedom of Choice” rocks harder

than the original, but the heavy guitars add new dynamic and the

message is still loud and clear: “In the land of the free/use your

freedom of choice/it’s what you’ve got.”

“Passive,” co-written with Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor, has

the album’s boldest energy, while the last song, Joni Mitchell’s

“Fiddle and the Drum,” is instrumented only by Keenan’s melodic

ghost-like voice. Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On,” is

turned from soulful to creepy, consequently making it more of a

sleepy tune rather than a sing-along.

“Imagine,” A Perfect Circle’s amazing rearrangement of John

Lennon’s best-known song, is once again revolutionary. Using

haunting minor keys with grand pianos and Keenan’s infamous dark

vocals, the Circle has taken a creepy, yet novel approach to convey

the classic Lennon message.

Overall, the album’s message bites much harder than the sound,

but the stories behind each song are as timeless as the songs

themselves. Perhaps the most interesting concept behind A Perfect

Circle’s “eMOTIVe,” is the group’s choice of using classic protest

songs to speak out about the Iraq war in present day. It is obvious

that the messages of non-contemporary artists John Lennon and

Marvin Gaye are strangely applicable to present day, so as

listeners, are we witnessing of the past repeating itself? Are we

witnessing change? Are the truths of the war truly straight

forward? As these questions carry on, so will A Perfect Circle, a

band that has chosen to create and recreate music with a message in

order to help fans open their tentative eyes and ears in

anticipation of a changing nation.

John Lennon, “Acoustic”

Cool and intimate, unplugged session with a legend’s most

personal work

There is something magical about unplugged albums.

When dealing with the late, great ex-Beatle, there is a feeling

of John Lennon’s soul coming through his music. Following the

intimate tactic of song-collecting that bands such as Alice in

Chains and Eric Clapton once used to create their acoustic albums,

John Lennon exposes listeners to his inner self. Using only his

voice, his lyrics and his six-string, John Lennon reveals all his

bare emotions that are equal parts cynical, loving, insecure,

fearful and aware. He picks his mind clean about whom he truly is

and tears apart the society of which he was a part. “Acoustic” is a

collection of demos, exclusive live tracks and quick studio

takes.

The raw takes – no matter what quality they are – are Lennon’s

most personal writings. The demos represent Lennon pulling himself

apart, highlighting a part of his career in which he was

continually extinguishing himself.

His social and historical views are captured on the songs

“Working Class Hero,” “Luck of the Irish,” “John Sinclair” and his

live version of “Imagine.” On “Working Class Hero” Lennon magnifies

society: “Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/you think

you’re so clever and classless and free/but you’re still a f**king

peasants as far as I can see.” His personal love and longing is

emphasized on the songs “Well Well Well,” “Love” and his most

personal, “Dear Yoko.” Marking Lennon’s personal addiction to

heroin on the song “Cold Turkey,” he writes about a time in his

life when his love was missing and he used other means of filling

that void, which consequently sent Lennon into a state of

desperation: “Thirty-six hours, rolling in pain/praying to someone,

free me again/I’ll be a good boy, please make me well/I promise you

anything, out of this hell.”

This essential album is a highlight not only focused on one of

the greatest songwriters of all time, but also a highlight of a man

made up of flesh and bone, stuck in a world of cold stone and

folly. It is an album of hopes and dreams. A collection of songs

that Lennon could only have dreamed would last as long as his

legacy.

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