RECORDS / The ego-friendly approach: Andy Gill reviews new releases from George Harrison, Henry Kaiser & David Lindley, Clint Black and Mariah Carey


Live In Japan

(Warner Bros/Dark Horse 7599- 26964-2)

MORE AND more often these days, big stars behave like corporations, allying and combining to maximise reputations. Eric Clapton is a case in point: sharing a bill with Elton at Wembley, sharing a stage with George Harrison in Tokyo and Osaka.

It's not just a stage he's sharing here, either; Eric's entire band has gone along for the ride, which must have saved George the trouble of putting his own band together and running them through 'Here Comes The Sun' a dozen times. After all, that must be a pretty thankless task even if you are getting the royalties. A pity, then, that Eric didn't save George the bother of turning up at all. For if not entirely old rope, it must be said that the greater part of Live In Japan consists of fairly threadbare twine. Songs are ground out, steamrollered with professionalism; dull craft prevails where a little sparkle is called for; and even George himself seems hard-pressed to summon up much enthusiasm - he comes close to impassioned just once on 'My Sweet Lord', extended here with a coda of Indian deities' names.

Leading off with a trio of Beatles oldies such as 'I Want To Tell You' and 'Taxman', the set is soon languishing in solo-land, a long haul through minor Harrisongs 'Cheer Down', 'Devil's Radio' and 'Dark Horse', before climaxing with that founding statement of the Harrison / Clapton partnership, 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', complete with typically tasty Clapton guitar break. The project feels tired and lazily self-aggrandising, and that's two CDs worth of tired, too. George might well have considered whether this is a proper use of the Earth's resources.


A World Out Of Time

(Shanachie 64041)

IF CLAPTON and Harrison represent the corporate celebrity structure, this alliance between avant-rock guitarist Henry Kaiser and Jackson Browne's slide guitarist David Lindley offers a cottage-industry perspective on matters musical, especially since it features them in collaboration with leading lights of the Malagasy music scene. Originally intending simply to record native musicians, the pair threw off their pith helmets and went native, adding their own parts to the indigenous music where they felt it would help, and teaching the locals songs such as 'I Fought The Law'; at one point, they even have a Malagasy pop group playing an Okinawan folk song.

On one level, the album is an invaluable addition to the Madagaskira compilations of a few years back, presenting the island's rich variety of music, from the poetic public-speaking form, Kabary, to the eclectic African pop of a group such as Rossy. More fascinating, however, are the results of the Malagasy / California collaborations. Kaiser and Lindley's imaginative contributions liven up what might otherwise be just another set of ethnic- music cliches. Particularly effective are the combination of Lindley's distinctive slide guitar with Tarika Sammy's valiha (a kind of tubular zither made of bamboo), and Kaiser's typically oddball solo on Rossy's 'Ambilanao Zaho', which, it is claimed, duplicates the song of the indri lemur, one of the island's native animals. Well I never.


The Hard Way

(RCA 07863660032)

THE UNPRECEDENTED - frankly, absurd - success of Garth Brooks has raised stakes enormously in country music; so instead of merely doing multi- platinum business like his last two albums, Clint Black might reasonably expect The Hard Way to go through the roof. His problem is that he's probably the most talented of the new 'hat acts', and in country, sentimentality has it over quality every time.

Not that Clint's a slouch as regards sentiment; The Hard Way is replete with regret, broken hearts, long hard roads and other staples of the genre, presented with a practised stiff upper lip and lump in the throat. Black's speciality, signified in his debut album title Killin' Time, is in songs that deal with resignation and failure, usually bittersweet bar-room ballads; here, the song 'Buying Time' applies the same principles to marital infidelity, with lines that mash together cliches: 'Maybe we were dealt a losing hand / I'll have to let the cards fall where they may'. It looks like sloppy writing, but in a genre as reliant on commonality as country music is, the closer a song sails to cliche, the better it works: a line such as 'A man has his will but a woman has her way' carries suitcases full of cultural presumptions, but totes them with a jaunty, undercutting irony.


Unplugged EP

(Columbia 471869 2)

THESE SEVEN tracks were recorded as part of an MTV* series in which well-known musicians forgo the use of electric instruments, a winnowing-out process alleviated here by Mariah's use of a seven-piece band abetted by a string quartet, five-piece horn section, and choir.

Basically, the EP serves as an excuse for Mariah to prove it really is her, rather than a studio engineer, doing those stratospheric falsetto squeaks that constitute her Unique Selling Point. It's an impressive little trick, certainly, but is it really necessary to do it quite so often? Likewise, there's no denying the sheer technical facility brought to bear on the set - which includes 'Emotions', 'Vision Of Love' and her latest single, a cover of the old Jackson 5 hit 'I'll Be There' - though its clinical nature is ultimately off-putting: this is the least emotional of supposedly 'emotional' singing and playing. Like the navel-gazing end of jazz- rock fusion, all the emphasis is on technique rather than interpretation, embellishment rather than evocation. So while one can admire her admittedly extraordinary gift, it's hard to be moved by her singing.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk