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Reviews of CDs by Wayne Hancock, Skunk Anansie and a Marvin Gaye tribute album.

CD Reviews

Wayne Hancock, "Wild, Free and Reckless"Various Artists, "Marvin is 60: A Tribute Album"Skunk Anansie, "Post Orgasmic Chill"(Click on a CD title or cover to order that CD from These Songs"Blue Indian""Surprise Valley""The Waker"

Real Audio Required -->Wayne Hancock, "Wild, Free and Reckless" (Ark 21) — The 15 knocked-out tunes on Hancock's new CD roll down the same musical highway traveled on his two previous releases, and like those efforts, each song is a slice of unabashed honky-tonk country. Whether moaning the blues or rockin' steady on Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes," Hancock's nasal twang evokes a time long past, when talent was king in the music game and jump jivin' boogie was more substance than style.

Recorded in 16 hours, "Reckless" comes close to capturing Hancock's energetic and freewheeling live show. He's not afraid to take a chance or two on a couple of songs and, as in the past, his success at this is open to interpretation. But regardless, Hancock is nothing but direct, and he's deeply hep to an honest hillbilly soul. Hancock cuts it so close to the spirit of Hank Williams it would be scary if it weren't so much fun.

— Ames Arnold

Play These Songs"Summertime""My Funny Valentine""All Soul"

Real Audio Required -->Various Artists, "Marvin is 60: A Tribute Album" (Motown) -The friend who called this Marvin Gaye tribute to my attention said it was "great." I wish I shared his enthusiasm.

It's not so bad; indeed, there are some inspired moments. The muy simpatico teaming of Erykah Badu and D'Angelo on "Your Precious Love," a classic from the 1967 "United" album by Gaye and Tammi Terrell, is first-rate. Soul crooner Brain McKnight's silky rendition of "Distant Lover" sounds uncannily like the original, but very good. And so too does Will Downing's emoting on "You Sure Love to Ball," another track from Gaye's "Let's Get it On" LP.

But it's so-so from there, and I'm not quite sure why. Except maybe — and this will sound strange — the artists either failed to put their interpretive spin on the tunes, or are guilty of almost slavish adherence to the original.

Those in the latter category (Jon B. doing "Mercy Mercy Me") were almost bound to fail, considering the complexity of Gaye's arrangements and his ability to sound angelic and sexy at the same time.

— Marvin Lake, The Virginian-Pilot

Play These Songs"Grapefruit Diet""Pretty Fly For A Rabbi""The Saga Begins"

Real Audio Required -->Skunk Anansie, "Post Orgasmic Chill" (Virgin) — Too often, hard-rocking bands in the '90s have released one disappointing CD after another. Not so with Skunk Anansie.

The London-based quartet brings it all together on its third release, stretching the boundaries of hard-edged music with everything from strings to electronica bass and drums. The added influences strengthen the music rather than diluting it for the sake of sounding more worldly. Excellent songwriting doesn't hurt, either.

There's a little bit of Grace Jones in singer Skin. Her angst-fueled powerhouse voice is compelling enough to interrupt any argument. Her melodies fit each song perfectly.

"Post Orgasmic Chill" is a program director's dream. From the techno-cosmic rocking "Charlie Big Potato" to the grinding "We Think You Are," every track is single material.

— Jeff Maisey, The Virginian-Pilot

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