The Liverpool duo Red Flag (brothers Chris and Mark Reynolds) released their debut album, Naïve Art, in 1989. Red Flag, like other late-'80s/early-'90s bands such as Camouflage and Cause & Effect, offer a similar mix of gloomy, synthesizer-driven dance-pop made popular by synth rock kings Depeche Mode. Derivative yet melodic, Naïve Art is a decent debut, though it eventually runs out of steam. Red Flag's obvious debt to Depeche Mode is immediately apparent in the minor club hits "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio." Though the production is a bit rough around the edges, the combination of cold synth beats and the emotionless vocal approach (similar to Depeche's Martin Gore) makes perfect dancefloor fodder for the disaffected goth pop club crowd. Like Depeche Mode's best work, what makes Naïve Art bearable is Red Flag's obvious gift of songcraft. Both "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio" are comparable to some of Depeche's best work, and although much of Naïve Art sounds the same after a while, the album flows along quite nicely. Those who criticize Depeche Mode for being pretentious and "wimpy" certainly won't find any redeeming qualities in Red Flag, but Naïve Art should satisfy fans of the genre. Recommended.
I've been too busy enjoying the music of Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPTDK) to realize how controversial they've become. If you doubt their ability to rile the jazz world, all you have to do is post one of their videos on your Facebook page and wait for the ensuing kerfuffle to begin. The core band is comprised of four virtuoso instrumentalists, free-spirits who think nothing of hopping from honest-to-god punk rock, to free improv, to hard bop, to Americana, and back; sometimes in the space of a single track. Many of their original compositions, written by bassist Moppa Elliott, have the outward appearance of overlooked post-bop and bebop gems from the mid-1950s and early 60s.
In 1963 Cannonball Adderley signed with the Capitol label, retaining the rights to some master tapes recorded earlier while he was with Riverside. This CD (a straight reissue of an earlier LP) therefore contains music much closer to the altoist's freewheeling Riverside period than to his R&Bish Capitol dates. Adderley's greatest band - his sextet with cornetist Nat Adderley, Yusef Lateef (on tenor, flute and oboe), pianist Joe Zawinul, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Louis Hayes - is featured on such exciting numbers as "Jessica's Day," Jones' "Unit 7," and "The Jive Samba." A special treat of this live date is hearing the leader's introductory words to several of the songs.