Author

Dave DiMartino

The only solo album by an ex-Replacement that doesn’t sound like the Replacements. It could also be the Keith Richards album that never got made: where Richards shows he can actually sing. Mature, classy, and as unpretentious as you’d expect, guitarist Slim Dunlap’s first set, The Old New Me, has surprising staying power — and, on the charmingly NRBQ-ish ”Isn’t It,” an organ-playing drive-in intermission like you wouldn’t believe. B

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He’s the biggest heavy-metal cartoon figure ever. His former band, Black Sabbath, has had a horrifying influence on too many ’90s alternative acts. And now this excessively dumb, live two-CD set sums up his entire, empty career. Most transcendental moment: An impassioned Ozzy bellows to the audience, ”Let me see your f—ing cigarette lighters!”

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While his ex-partner Jimmy Page gets pummeled by some critics for cloning Led Zeppelin via Coverdale/Page, former Zep singer Plant won’t arouse anyone’s wrath with this wonderfully textured and mature solo album, his best ever. Why isn’t this a retro showcase like Page’s? Maybe because where Page and Coverdale so transparently opted to ape Led Zeppelin’s stooopid factor- blunderbuss guitars, thumping drums, and standard lemon-squeezing howls, Plant knows Zep’s real staying power came via its sonic sophistication, and he provides the same here.

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Quiz: Is Air Supply’s 14th album, The Vanishing Race, a) more of the same tedious, syrupy, and overblown schmaltz that made the group one of the most critically disdained — though commercially successful — in pop history? Or b) a surprising turning point, showcasing a newfound maturity that now elevates the band to near-legendary status? Clue: Don’t choose b. C

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Creative excuses for late records

You didn’t know it, but you were supposed to be reading a review of Eazy-E’s new album in this issue. You’re not, because something came up: the trial of the four L.A. cops accused of beating Rodney King. Eazy-E — whose rap group N.W.A made its name with the notorious ”F— Tha Police” — took time out from making his new album to watch the biggest show in town, thus delaying his second solo album.

Hey, at least he’s got an excuse.

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John Wayne Gacy: Album cover artist?

He’s nuts, he has murdered at least 33 people, and he’ll paint your next album cover. He’s John Wayne Gacy, serial killer, and his paintings are suddenly terribly trendy.

Exhibit A: Waving from the sleeve of ”Biter”/”Oil,” the limited-edition indie single issued late last year by Kansas City punksters Season To Risk, is Gacy himself, dressed as Pogo the clown, the fun-loving kiddie entertainer he would often portray for local community events.

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