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Listening Room: Was (Not Was), P.O.D. and more...
Was (Not Was), “Boo!” (Rykodisc) ***
During the 18 years since its last album (“Are You Okay”), the Detroit-formed collective Was (Not Was) has broken up and principles Don Was (ne Fagenson) and David Was (Weiss) have sculpted out the kind of careers that can easily sustain them without re-forming a band. The good news about that, though, is that it’s genuine desire that brought the band back to active duty, and “Boo!” grooves as much authoritative force as, and maybe even more cohesion than, any of its four predecessors. Fronted by the triumvirate of singers Sweet Pea Atkinson, Sir Harry Bowens and Donald Ray Mitchell and featuring longterm members Randy Jacobs on guitar, David McMurray on saxophone and Luis Resto on keyboards, Was (Not Was) comes out swinging on “Boo!” with “Semi-Interesting Week,” all deep grooves and stabbing horn-and-guitar lines supporting Atkinson’s whiskey-throated growl. “Forget Everything,” “Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and “Your Luck Won’t Last” mine a similar vein, the latter with the slight tech touch normally associated with Minneapolis funk, while “It’s a Miracle” and “Crazy Water” dip into more vintage soul flavors that hew closer to classic Motown. And for “From the Head to the Heart,” Weiss — whose irreverent wit gets a workout throughout “Boo!” — draws lyrics from a true-life crime story in Pontiac. Unlike other Was (Not Was) outings, meanwhile, “Boo!” is not littered with guests; the only one here is Kris Kristofferson, who gives a spoken-word exposition on the album-closing “Green Pills in the Dresser.” And when he intones that “God, I hate leaving this place,” truer words have seldom been uttered.
P.O.D., “When Angels & Serpents Dance” (INO/Columbia) **1/2
P.O.D. has been in an odd kind of holding pattern since original guitarist Marcos Curiel left in 2003, sounding a little off the mark it set with early decade hits such as “Boom!” and “Alive.” After a two-album absence Curiel returns to the fold and helps the San Diego headbangers deliver their most mature and ambitious outing to date, feeding the mosh pit on tracks such as “Addicted,” “End of the World,” “Condescending” and “God Forbid,” the latter with Helmet’s Paige Hamilton. But P.O.D. charts an even broader course with the roots reggae-flavored “I’ll Be Ready” (with the Marley Sisters), the slinky funk of “Kaliforn-Eye-A” (with Suicidal Tendencies’ Mike Muir), the Spanish guitardriven instrumental “Roman Empire,” the bluesier touch of “Rain Everyday” and mellower fare such as “This Ain’t No Ordinary Love Song” and “Tell Me Why.” It’s a fresh start to P.O.D. rather than merely returning to the good old days.
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