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Equal opportunity irritant
David Brinn
What do Roger Waters and Ricky Martin have in common? They're both vocal supporters of the Palestinian people. But, thankfully, Martin hasn't yet made an opera.
ROGER WATERS Ca Ira (NMC) While local music fans should rightfully be excited over the announcement of Roger Waters' upcoming June concert here, we can only hope that he's not going to use his two hours onstage to perform his new opus Ca Ira. A bona fide opera in three acts, Ca Ira has plenty to annoy both rock fans and opera buffs - call it an equal opportunity annoyer. Already a prime culprit for his part in the flourishing of progressive rock concept albums with Pink Floyd, Waters hearkens back to the ponderous 70s when rock stars routinely delved into "serious" music by creating heavy handed classical-rock fusions about the wives of Henry VIII, or ravaging the works of composers like Mussourgsky. However, those examples of self indulgent excess sound like the concise two-minute pop songs of The Ramones compared to Ca Ira. Embracing the operatic framework in full, Waters dives off the deep end with a 38-passage mess subtitled "There is Hope". Perhaps, but not if you're required to listen to the whole damn thing. Sounding like what the National Lampoon might have done with a rock star gone opera, or maybe Spinal Tap's comeback opera tour, Ca Ira drowns in its own grandiosity. Not even borrowing elements from his own The Wall of a children's choir for the "Honest Bird, Simple Bird" passage fails to ignite any sparks. Professional singers Bryn Terfel and Ying Huang gamely attempt to inject passion to their parts, with little help from Waters' fractured composition. Color me uncultured, but aside from proving that he possesses a scope of talent far beyond that of a conventional pop song, Waters' insistence on making Ca Ira is totally pointless, and an ordeal for any but the most devoted fan. Ca Ira should come with a warning sticker just like they did with Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music a few decades ago - do not buy if you're expecting a Roger Waters album. RICKY MARTIN Life (NMC) What do Roger Waters and Ricky Martin have in common? They're both vocal supporters of the Palestinian people. But, thankfully, Martin hasn't yet made an opera. He did, however, have a lot riding on Life, his first English language album since 2000's Sound Loaded. The time gap resulted from the relative flop of the disc, after the huge success of his 1999 eponymous pop breakthrough that included the megahit "Livin' la Vida Loca," and turned Martin into a sex symbol. After licking his wounds, and releasing a Spanish album in 2003, Martin once again tests the pop waters with Life. No longer a teen idol, Martin looks and sounds more mature, with the hypnotic opening track "Til I Get to You" pointing to major artistic growth. The rest of the album, however, is an uneven mix of power ballads, dance sampling, and Latin tinges here and there. Too many cooks tend to spoil the broth, and Martin appears a little lost amid the heavy production, the mood swings, and multitudes of guest appearances. But there's enough meaty material to provide hope that Martin will once again be living la vida loca some day.
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