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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Beyonce, Limp Bizkit and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

POP

Beyonce

“4”

Columbia

★★★

The last time out, in 2008, Beyonce Knowles declared “I Am ... Sasha Fierce” and introduced us to two disparate parts of her musical and, we assumed, emotional personality. There’s no such division on her fourth solo album, however; less flash but no less ambitious than its predecessor, “4” finds her back in genre-blending mode, working with some high-profile collaborators — Kanye West, Outkast’s Andre 3000, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Babyface, Ryan Tedder, Diane Warren and others — to stitch elements of mostly pop and R&B flavors together across a 12-song set drawn from a reported 72 potential tunes. “4” runs a bit quieter and torchier than its predecessors, especially in the early going of “1+1,” “I Care,” “I Miss You” and the dramatic swell of the Babyface-assisted “The Best Thing I Ever Had,” all of which explore love on a variety of levels, including intriguing gray areas that few singers who inhabit the same upper reaches of the pop charts tend to attempt. Warren’s “I Was Here,” meanwhile, allows Beyonce a late-album declaration that “I want to leave my footprints in the sand of time.” Those songs tend to stand out all the more because the uptempo moves of “4” pale by comparison. “Love On Top” is buoyant girl-group pop worthy of Motown or Phil Spector, but messy arrangements undermine the Boyz II Men-sampling “Countdown” and “Party” (with West and Andre 3000), and “Run the World (Girls)” is the kind of girl-power club thumper that Beyonce has done a bunch of times before. But what doesn’t fall short on “4” is Beyonce’s vocal performances, uniformly rich without being over-sung and displaying a savvy restraint that may not win on “The Voice” or “American Idol,” but fits the bill of a continually maturing artist.



ROCK

Limp Bizkit, “Gold Cobra" (Interscope) ★★ 1/2

The in-your-face ’tude of Limp Bizkit and especially frontman Fred Durst has rubbed a few folks the wrong way since the late ’90s, and those haters certainly hear about it on the group’s first new album in five years and the first by the original lineup (with guitarist Wes Borland back on board) since 2000. But since nu metal and rap-rock have been in steep decline in recent years, “Gold Cobra’s” collection of fierce riffs, massive grooves and cocky swagger actually sounds refreshing in a big, dumb fun kind of way. “Bring It Back,” “Shark Attack,” “Get a Life” and the title track take us right back to 1999’s “Significant Other,” and while Durst is still doing it partly, if not all, for the “Nookie” on “Shotgun” and “90.2.10.”



New & Noteworthy

Big Sean, “Finally Famous” (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam): The Detroit rapper’s debut album features guests such as mentor Kanye West, Chris Brown, Lupe Fiasco, John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, The-Dream and more.

Cast Recording, “Catch Me if You Can” (Ghostlight): The true-story film has hit the Broadway stage, with 17 musical numbers to help tell the tale.

David Cook, “This Loud Morning” (19/RCA): The Season 7 “American Idol” champ’s second major-label album loads up on the top-shelf songwriters, including hitmakers such as Ryan Tedder, Marti Frederiksen and the Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznik.

Curren$y, “Weekend at Burnies” (Jet Life/Warner Bros.): The New Orleans rapper teams primarily with Mobb Deep’s Havoc and Monsta Beatz on his sixth studio album.

Billy Ray Cyrus, “I’m American” (Buena Vista): Miley’s dad gets his guitar out for a patriotic-themed release that includes a new version of “Some Gave All” with Jamey Johnson, Darryl Worley and Craig Morgan.”

Marianne Faithfull, “Horses and High Heels” (Naive): The veteran singer’s 23rd album features guest appearances by Lou Reed, Dr. John and the MC5’s Wayne Kramer.

The Jeff Golub Band featuring Henry Butler, “The Three Kings” (eOne): Former Rod Stewart guitarist Golub pays tribute to the music of Albert, B.B. and Freddie King with New Orleans pianist Butler as well as guitar friends Robben Ford and Sonny Landreth and horn men Euge Groove and Rick Braun.

Selena Gomez and the Scene, “When the Sun Goes Down” (Hollywood): Disney actress Gomez and her group bring out their third album, which has already launched the single “Who Says.”

Jolie Holland, “Pint of Blood” (Anti-): The Texas singer-songwriter cut her fourth studio album mostly live on the floor in New York with co-producer and accompanist Shahzad Ismaily.

Eilen Jewell, “Queen of the Minor Key” (Signature Sounds): The singer-songwriters sixth album follows a 2010 tribute to Loretta Lynn as well as a short struggle with writer’s block.

Dolly Parton, “Better Day” (Dolly Records): The country legend’s 41st album is the first for her own label and includes a remake of “Together You and I,” which she first recorded with mentor Porter Wagoner in 1974.

Queensryche, “Dedicated to Chaos” (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud): The Seattle hard rock group’s Geoff Tate says headphones are “a must” on the follow-up to 2009’s “American Soldier.”

Dave Stewart, “The Blackbird Diaries” (Weapons of Mass Entertainment/Surfdog/Razor & Tie): The guest list on the Eurythmics co-founder’s latest solo album includes Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride and Colbie Caillat, as well as a song co-written with Bob Dylan.

Taking Back Sunday, “Taking Back Sunday” (Warner Bros.): The original recording lineup of the New York modern rock group reunites for the first time since its 2002 debut album.

Thievery Corporation, “Culture of Fear” (ESL): The DJ duo continues to splice sonics from around the world on it sixth album, welcoming new collective contributors Mr. Lif and Bitter Sweet’s Shana Halligan.

Various Artists, “Rave on Buddy Holly” (Fantasy/Concord): Kid Rock, Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, My Morning Jacket, the Detroit Cobras and more are part of this all-star celebration of the late rock ’n’ roll pioneer’s 75th birthday.

Various Artists, “Red Hot + Rio 2” (Red Hot/eOne): John Legend, Beck, David Byrne, Caetano Velso are part of this sequel to the acclaimed 1996 HIV/AIDS benefit.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, “The Wizard of Oz: 2011 London Palladium Recording” (Decca Broadway): Stage luminaries Michael Crawford and Danielle Hope head over the rainbow on both songs from the film and new pieces composed by Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice.

Gillian Welch, “The Harrow & the Harvest” (Acony): Welch’s first new album in eight years continues her collaboration with sideman Dave Rawlings on a decidedly Appalachian-leaning set of songs.

The Zombies, “Breathe Out, Breathe In” (AIS): Founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary with a 10-song set that includes new versions of three of their older tracks, including “Shine on Sunshine” and “Christmas For Free.”

From The Vaults: Alice Cooper, “Old School: 1964-1974” (Bigger Picture); Doobie Brothers, “Live at the Greek Theater 1982” (Eagle Rock); Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Junior Mance, “Buddy & the Juniors” (Chess/UMe); Insane Clown Posse, “Eye of the Storm (Limited Edition)” (Psychopathic); Alicia Keys, “Songs in A Minor — 19th Anniversary Edition” (J/Legacy); REO Speedwagon, “Hi Infidelity: 30th Anniversary Edition” (Epic/Legacy); Teena Marie, “Lady T,” “First Class Love: Rare Tee,” “Irons in the Fire” (all Motown/UMe)

New Music DVDs: Bad Company, “Live at Wembley” (Eagle Rock); Deep Purple, “Phoenix Rising” (Eagle Rock); Doobie Brothers, “Live at the Greek Theater 1982” (Eagle Rock)



Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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