Various Artists

Kiss My Ass: Classic

Kiss Regrooved

Polygram Records

A few years ago, somebody came up with the great concept of a tribute album. A number of artists were gathered, usually ones that owed a debt inspiration-wise to the artist to be heralded, and they would rework some of that artist's songs.

Out of this concept, a few great tribute compilations arose...The Bridge-A Tribute to Neil Young or I'm Your Fan - The songs of Leonard Cohen, for example. Both of these tribute albums collected a wide variety of artists (from Henry Threadgill to Psychic TV on The Bridge, for instance), and the songs were true reinterpretations.

Then something happened. One of these compilations made some money. And record companies, such as they are, decided that every artist needed a tribute album. Which brings us to this a Kiss tribute.

I guess the best way to let you, the reader, feel the stench of the latest corporate tribute album is to let it speak for itself. Garth Brooks, Lenny Kravitz, Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Lemonheads ... at least Kiss will get royalty money.

Noah Lopez

Frank Black

Teenager of the Year

Elektra

It's a shame that Frank Black's entire career will forever be compared to his work with Pixies or his former bandmate's Breeders work. Black is much more interesting than that, as he continues to show on this, his second solo album.

Frank Black's first album tried very hard to create a new voice. While the effort worked, it was duly noted that the best songs on that album were the ones that held to the Pixies patented surf-rock formula.

Now, Frank Black has realized that it's okay to sound like the Pixies, so he offers the '90s version of the Pixies, and it is great. 22 tracks in less than an hour, over-the-top surrealistic lyricism, and buzzing surf guitar intertwined with Black's androgynous vocals it's all here.

From Pixies soundalikes, "Thalassocracy," and "(I want to live on an) Abstract Plain," to high-energy, almost punk-rock, "Whatever Happened to Pong," Frank Black has created an album truly superior to the last few Pixies releases.

As for lyrics, I don't think I've heard anything as wonderful and cynical about the current state of music as Black's "Freedom Rock": "My name is Chip/And I'm different/I don't conform/I wear a different uniform." Good stuff.

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