Disc Reviews

Atlantica's debut In the Morning skirts effectively between alternative, mainstream and hard rock.

atlantic disk 88 224 (photo credit: )
atlantic disk 88 224
(photo credit: )
ATLANTICA In the Morning (Self-release) Local band Atlantica's debut In the Morning skirts effectively between alternative, mainstream and hard rock. The radio-friendly "From the Mountain" typifies the band's sound: modern rock guitars fronting classic British rock arrangements with vocals by Rami Davidoff, sounding slightly like a cross between Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne. The band's performances are at times stronger than the material, with pedestrian, unimaginative melodies like "Geta Fix" preventing real sparks from flying. But standouts like the title cut "Don't You Know"and "Sweet Dreams" would make their British rock antecedents glow with pride. One of the pitfalls of Israelis singing in English is pronunciation; Davidoff's accent sometimes slips through ("S-e-e-ting in Jerusalem" instead of "sitting"), and the efforts at producing coherent lyrics sometimes result in self-conscious prog-rock fluff, like "The Forest Man" and "Leaves are Falling," that inadvertently crosses into Spinal Tap territory. But with the resurgence of Led Zeppelin, In the Morning is still an auspicious debut for a band that strikes a prescient chord. U2 The Joshua Tree (Helicon) The 20th anniversary gala reissue of a remastered, expanded version of U2's 1987 landmark The Joshua Tree is indeed cause for celebration. But it's not so much for its best-known songs like "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" or "With or Without You." Those iconic monuments have lost much of their varnish due to oversaturation by the classic rock machinery, which has reduced them to just other playlist items next to "Stairway to Heaven" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." Instead, it's the more obscure tracks which stand out, and prove once again how much depth the album and the band possessed. "Red Hill Mining Town," "In God's Country" and "One Tree Hill" are on the other side of the spectrum of the radio-friendly hits, but positively transcendent in their execution. "Bullet the Blue Sky" may have been the initial attraction, but the "filler" is the real reason why The Joshua Tree can stand shoulder to shoulder on anyone's 10 best rock album lists. A bonus second CD conveniently collects all of the B-sides released with the album's singles, as well as a handful of outtakes from the period, including the bluesy "Silver and Gold" from the Sun City album, and an interesting alternate version of "Where the Streets Have No Names." Whether you weren't around the first time it was released or you've forgotten the "silent" half of the album, now's the time to experience the deep treasures of The Joshua Tree. JAMES TAYLOR One Man Band (Helicon) Venerable James Taylor offers a pleasing CD and DVD live set of old favorites on One Man Band. Recorded at the Colonial Theater in Massachusetts's Berkshire Mountains, the album shines when Taylor focuses on workhorses like "Something in the Way She Moves" and "Carolina in My Mind." Taylor keeps the proceedings moving with his aw-shucks charm and good-natured, between-song banter, as well as his seemingly genuine optimism at playing these tunes for the umpteenth time. However, when he switches to more contemporary material (anything written after 1980), like "Mean Old Man" and "School Song," there's a noticeable dip in the songwriting level and audience enthusiasm. Truth in advertising be told, the album title is slightly off as Taylor is given perfectly placed help throughout by Larry Goldings on keyboards, but that's small quibbling on this satisfying, feel-good collection. Taylor remains the consummate performer on One Man Band.