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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Eminem's Bad Meets Evil, "Spider-Man" and more...

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011

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Bad Meets Evil

“Hell: The Sequel”


★★ 1/2

When Eminem and Royce da 5’9” rapped “See you in Hell for the sequel” on the song “Bad Meets Evil” from the former’s “The Slim Shady LP,” they probably didn’t think it would take 11 years to fulfill that promise. But a subsequent falling out — especially between Royce and Eminem’s group D12 — kept the two Detroit MCs apart until mutual friend Proof’s death in 2006. Now they’re making up for lost time by living up to their monikers on an EP that actually precedes Eminem signing Royce’s group, Slaughterhouse, to his Shady Records label. Eminem (Evil) is in vintage Slim Shady mode, drilling everyone from haters to the date putting on makeup in his front seat as they drive to a party in “A Kiss” and an array of fellow hitmakers including Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga (“she can quit her job at the post office/she’s a male lady”) and several all-pro NFL quarterbacks. Royce, meanwhile, plays up his hard-drinking, drug-taking Bad self — although he gets props for prescience for rapping about “the corpse of Jack Kevorkian” in “Fast Lane,” which was written well before the doctor’s actual death. With production by Eminem hype-man and D12 member Denaun Porter, Havoc, Supa Dups, Bangladesh and others, the feel of these nine tracks is underground and, of course, dark, with Eminem and Royce spitting at top speed without concern for precision or polish, although Bruno Mars’ cameo singing the chorus of “Lighters” gives the song a bit more pop flavor. The end of “Take From Me” and “Loud Noises,” meanwhile, prime the pump for Slaughterhouse’s eventual release. Those looking for a bit more sophistication, then, should pick up the deluxe edition that features a pair of leaked 2010 tracks, “Living Proof” and “Echo,” that are more musically adventurous and confessional — while still remaining, yes, bad and evil.


Original Cast Recording, “Music From Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” (Interscope) ★★★

With its false starts, technical problems, delays and personnel changes, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has had a weird little run on Broadway — and has for awhile looked like a possible rare miscue in the world of U2, whose Bono and The Edge composed the songs for the most expensive musical ever. Taken on its own, however, the music holds up; the sweeping ambience that’s so much a part of U2’s sound fits the wider scope of a stage musical, and anthemic pieces such as the “NY Debut” overture, the two versions of “Rise Above” (one of which features Bono and The Edge with “Spider-Man” star Reeve Carney), “Picture This,” “No More” and the harder-edged “Bouncing Off the Wall” could fit comfortably on one of the band’s albums. “A Freak Like Me Needs Company,” meanwhile, dips into synth-pop, while the cast-sung “Pull the Trigger” is a stomping production piece. This is just a sampling from the entire production, but it does assure us that the U2 duo, at least, did its part.

New & Noteworthy

Jon Anderson, “Survival & Other Stories” (Opio): The former Yes frontman’s latest solo album features collaborations with musicians he recruited via the Internet.

Black Country Communion, “Black Country Communion 2” (Mascot/J&R Adventures): The second album (you might have guessed that from the title, eh?) from the “supergroup” of former members from Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Dream Theater, Foreigner and Led Zeppelin.

Black Veil Brides, “Set the World on Fire” (Lava/Universal Republic): The sophomore album from the anthemic Los Angeles rock outfit. The title track appeared in “Scream 4.”

Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, “Kings & Queens” (FU:M/Dramatico): The rootsy trio welcomes a corps of guest “Queens” on its new album, including Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Pam Tillis and Patti Scialfa.

Marc Broussard, “Marc Broussard” (Atlantic): The singer-songwriter recorded his fifth album in Nashville and Louisiana with indigenous session players.

The Dear Hunter, “The Color Spectrum” (Triple Crown): The Rhode Island rock troupe combines material from nine color-titled EPs into a more conventional full-length album.

Jonathan Edwards, “My Love Will Keep” (Appleseed): The veteran singer-songwriter celebrates 40 years since his debut with covers of songs by The Beatles, Henry Gross and Jesse Winchester.

Elephant Revival, “Break in the Clouds” (Ruff Shod/Nettwerk): The Colorado-based folk quintet incorporates contemporary touches, including hip-hop rhythms, on its sophomore album.

Gorilla Zoe, “King Kong” (eOne/Block/Atlantic): The Boyz N Da Hood rapper teams up with guests Lil Jon, Gucci Mane and Yo Gotti on his third album.

Ledisi, “Pieces of Me” (Verve Forecast): The R&B singer’s fifth studio set includes a collaboration with Jaheim (“Stay Together”) and a song written especially for her by John Legend (“I Miss You Now”).

Barry Manilow, “15 MInutes” (Stiletto Entertainment): Manilow takes a guitar-driven pop approach on his first set of original material in a decade.

Ziggy Marley, “Wild and Free” (Tuff Gong Worldwide): Detroit native Don Was produced this hemp-promoting set by the oldest son of the late Bob Marley, with guest appearances by his brother Daniel, rapper Heavy D and actor Woody Harrelson.

Pat Metheny, “What’s It All About” (Nonesuch): The guitar wiz’s solo acoustic album covers songs by The Beatles, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Antonio Carlos Jobim and others.

Owl City, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (Universal Republic): Adam Young returns to his Owl City mode for the upbeat follow-up to 2009’s breakthrough “Ocean Sky.”

Madeleine Peyroux, “Standin’ on the Rooftop” (Emarcy/Decca): The singer-songwriter from Athens, Ga., returns to the major label ranks after a three-album stint with the independent Rounder.

Matt Schofield, “Anything But Time” (Nugene): British blues guitar hero Schofield teamed with New Orleans producer John Porter for an album that includes covers of Steve Winwood, Albert King and Booker T & the MG’s.

Soundtrack, “Cars 2” (Walt Disney): Though dominated by instrumental score material, the animated sequel’s soundtrack includes two songs by Brad Paisley and a version of the Cars’ “You Might Think” by Weezer.

Soundtrack, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon — The Album” (Warner Bros.): Linkin Park, Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Mastodon and more keep the Autobots and Decepticons musical company for the third Transformers movie.

The Wonder Years, “Suburbia: I`ve Given You All and Now I`m Nothing” (Hopeless): The Philadelphia modern rockers reference previous albums’ songs in the lyrics of its third release.

Neil Young & the International Harvesters, “A Treasure” (Reprise): This vault collection of 1984-84 live recordings of Young and his country band includes five previously unreleased songs.

From The Vaults: ABBA, “Super Trouper” (UMe); Fabulous Thunderbirds, “Early Birds Special: Best of...” (Benchmark); Jeff Healey Band, “Live at Grossman’s” (Eagle Rock); Freddie Hubbard, “Pinnacle Live & Unreleased: From Keystone Korner” (Resonance); Infantree, “Would Work” (Vapor); Paul McCartney — “McCartney” and “McCartney II” (both Hear Music); Molly Hatchet, “Greatest Hits II” (Steamhammer/SPV); Smokey Robinson, “Solo Albums 5” (Motown/UMe); Sebadoh, “Bakesale (Deluxe Edition)” (Sub Pop)

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