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CD Reviews:
Listeing Room: Timbaland, Martina McBride and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2007

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Timbaland, “Timbaland Presents Shock Value” (Interscope) ***

Almost halfway into his fi rst solo album, Timbaland declares that “I’m No. 1. ... When they need a hit I’m who they gon’ and get.” And that’s no mere hip-hop hyperbole. Timbaland (real name Tim Mosley) has been pop music’s producer of choice for the better part of a decade thanks to careerestablishing gigs with Missy Elliott and the late Aaliyah, a career-reviving turn for Nelly Furtado and recent Grammy-winning triumphs with Justin Timberlake, among scores of others. But producers’ own outings can be tricky, often lacking the kind of distinctive identity they’re called upon to craft for individual artists. So Timbaland wisely follows the Dr. Dre route of taking his listeners for a ride, loading the 17 tracks on “Shock Value” with an eclectic group of guests touching on a number of styles. It’s an entertaining jukebox loosely unified by one man’s vision, with Timbaland and his posse romping through club bangers such as “Give it 2 Me” (with Furtado and Timberlake), “Release” (Timberlake) and “The Way I Are,” sinking into phat rap tracks like “Bounce” (Dr. Dre, Elliott and Timberlake) and “Come Get Me” (50 Cent, Tony Yayo). He also pulls off some surprisingly effective rock-rap mash-ups with Fall Out Boy (“One and Only”), She Wants Revenge (“Time”) and the Hives on the particularly manic “Throw it On Me.” There’s plenty of sexual braggadocio and self-aggrandizement throughout, but when Elton John shows up for a show-stealing piano performance on the album-closing “2 Man Show,” it’s a welcome reminder that there’s a genuine musical sensibility at the heart of Timbaland’s dominating studio style.


Martina McBride, “Wake Up Laughing” (RCA) ***

After taking on oldies for 2005’s “Timeless,” Martina McBride returns to the here and now with her ninth studio album — an 11-song set that straddles the ever-narrowing country/rock divide with solid results. The brazen kiss-off “If I Had Your Name” and the ringing acoustic guitars of “Cry Cry (’Til the Sun Shines)” provide a richly melodic lift-off, while “For These Times” mines a soulful vein complete with swelling organ and building into chorale harmonies at the end. McBride co-produced and co-wrote three of the album’s songs, including the well-stated first single “Anyway” (“God is great but sometimes life ain’t good”), and she wraps herself around some social issues on tracks such as “House of a Thousand Dreams” and “Beautiful Again.” She isn’t laughing all the time here, but McBride’s latest certainly gives her fans reason to smile.


The Academy Is ..., “Santi” (Fueled By Ramen/ Atlantic) — The Chicago poppunk quartet delivers its sophomore album, made with well credentialed producer Butch Walker.

Black Sabbath, “The Dio Years” (Rhino) — The Ronnie James Dio-fronted version of the metal kingpins recorded three new songs to be part of this retrospective.

Alan Jackson, George Strait and Jimmy Buffett, “Live at Texas Stadium” (MCA Nashville) — A 15-track souvenir of the trio’s 2004 concert, with liberal guest appearances on each other’s songs.

Brandi Carlile, “The Story” (Columbia) — The Seattle singer-songwriter hooked up with producer TBone Burnett, and guests the Indigo Girls, on her second album.

Chevelle, “Vena Sera” (Epic) — The hard-rocking Chicago sibling trio bumped bassist Joe Loeffler but kept things in the family, recruiting a brother-in-law in his stead.

Hilary Duff, “Dignity” (Hollywood) — The actress/ singer rebounds from her breakup with Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden with a more sophisticated pop- and danceleaning third album.

Fountains of Wayne, “Traffic and Weather”

(Virgin) — Four years after “Stacy’s Mom,” we see if this quartet’s still got it going on.

Angela Hacker, “Nashville Star Season 5: The Winner Is ...” (Warner Bros. Nashville) — An album whose title leaves no mystery about the artist’s current credentials.

Kings of Leon, “Because of the Times”

(RCA) — The Followill family’s third album, and first in three years, flaunts some of the benefits from touring with U2, Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam during the interim.

Ozomatli, “Don’t Mess With the Dragon” (Concord) — The multi-cultural Los Angeles troupe continues its eclectic, politically charged path on its fourth studio album.

REO Speedwagon, “Find Your Own Way Home” (Pluto) — The veteran rockers release their fi rst new album in 11 years, produced by Gino Vanelli’s brother Joe.

Shadows Fall, “Threads of Life” (Atlantic) — The Massachusetts headbangers move from the indie to the major-label world for their eighth album.

Static-X, “Cannibal” (Warner Bros.) — The fi fth studio set from frighteningly coiffed frontman Wayne Static and company.

Los Straitjackets, “Rock en Español, Vol. 1”

(Yep Roc) — The masked men bring in Los Lobos’ Cesar Rosas, Big Sandy and Little Willie G. to help on this collection of Spanish-sung rock classics.

Koko Taylor, “Old School” (Alligator) — Coming back from serious gastrointestinal surgery, the Queen of the Blues goes back to the gritty sounds that made her famous.

Paul Wall, “Get Money, Stay True” (Atlantic) — The Houston rapper’s second album rocks with guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, Fergie, Jermaine Dupri, Rick Ross Lil’ Keke and former blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.

Chris Whitley and Jeff Lang, “Dislocation Blues”

(Rounder) — The late Whitley’s final recordings are featured on this set of covers and originals recorded with Australian colleague Lang.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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