With 1998's "Slyfi", Dave's fourth solo release, he finally achieves complete musical success that eluded him on his three previous outings. Here, Dave sounds up to date and even joyous. Great songs like "Happy To Be Here", "Leaving This Earth", "Even The Bad Times (Were Good Times)" and "AWOL" make this release worth owning. All 10 tracks fit together very nicely with minimal filler or waste. Dave tones down "Greetings From The Gutter"'s heavy r&b influence and blends it with electronica here for nice effect. I find it interesting that one year before reuniting with Annie Lennox for "Peace" that Dave Stewart was making some really great music that was absent from "Peace", which is perhaps why "Peace" didn't sell well in America among other things. If you are a fan of Dave's music or the Eurythmics, "Slyfi" is definitely worth owning.
With Lights in the Dark, Hector Zazou set out to create accessible versions of the ominous, sacred music of Ireland. Utilizing a talented cast of vocalists, Breda Mayock, Katie McMahon, and Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola, Zazou keeps the music relatively quiet. Shimmering bells, plaintive flutes, and Mark Isham's mournful trumpet serve mostly as background noises to the passionate, female vocals. There are moments of great power, such as "Song of the Passion" and "In the Name of the Father May We Gain Victory," and other songs where there's just a few too many hallelujahs for most modern listeners. The title of the album is telling.
R.I.P. Arthur. In Memoriam. Given the urban title of alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe's debut Columbia album, it's quite a shock when he and his red-hot band of collaborators that include James Blood Ulmer on guitar, Bob Stewart on tuba, flutist James Newton, bassist Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette open with the decidedly funky Latin breaks on "Down San Diego Way." It's not a vamp and it's not a misleading intro, the first of four tracks showcases not only the deep versatility of the rhythm section, but Blythe's own gift as both a composer and as a soloist. He states the melody, handing off the harmonics to Ulmer and Newton and then flies high into the face of its chosen changes, allowing the beat to change under him several times before bringing back a theme and letting Ulmer solo.
For American audiences, the phenomenal worldwide success of Oasis was a little puzzling. That's because they only had part of the picture – unless they were hardcore fans, they didn't hear nearly three albums of material released on B-sides and non-LP singles. Critics and fans alike claimed that the best of these B-sides were as strong as the best moments on the albums, and they were right. None of the albums had a song that rocked as hard as "Fade Away" (cleverly built on a stolen melody from Wham!'s "Freedom"), "Headshrinker," or "Acquiesce." There was nothing as charming as the lite psychedelic pastiche "Underneath the Sky" or the Bacharach tribute "Going Nowhere"; there was nothing as affecting as Noel Gallagher's acoustic plea "Talk Tonight" or the minor-key, McCartney-esque "Rockin' Chair," nothing as epic as "The Masterplan." Most bands wouldn't throw songs of this caliber away on B-sides, but Noel Gallagher followed the example of his heroes the Jam and the Smiths, who released singles where the B-sides rivaled the A-sides. This meant many American fans missed these songs, so to remedy this situation, Oasis released the B-sides compilation The Masterplan.
The strange, spiritual album that is Umbra Sumus is one of the more interesting items released in 1998. Bassist and composer Jah Wobble creates strangely compelling soundscapes that draw textures from a variety of ethnic traditions without explicitly evoking any one of them. The first cut, "Il Jevedro il Oblanco," sets the pace with a duet for what sounds like a toy music box and fuzz bass, but suddenly becomes a lush electronica-pop track as vocalist Amila Sulejmanovic begins singing in Bosnian. Elsewhere, Natacha Atlas croons in Arabic over a texture not of ouds and doumbeks, but of synthesized percussion, keyboards, and Wobble's own throbbing bass, and it sounds perfectly natural.
Coming of Age is a live album by progressive rock band Camel released 1998. Two hours of live recordings at Billboard Live in Hollywoodduring their 1997 West Coast tour. 28 tracks total, including 'Lunar Sea', 'Sasquatch', 'Milk 'N Honey' and 'TheHour Candle'.