Thursday, May 22, 2008

When the Guesswork Begins

The Ponderosa Stomp works where other oldies shows don't because Dr. Ike gets bands that love the original records and original sounds enough to recreate the classic grooves, no matter how dated they might seem. At this year's Jazz Fest, the Dixie Cups demonstrated what more commonly happens. The band seemed to want to demonstrate that they're still relevant and contemporary - or maybe there was an entirely different motivation - but they were only as up to date as 1983 in terms of sound, song selection and groove. It wasn't satisfying as anything, and the nod toward modern times only made them seem older.

It's like they're guessing at "what's happening now," but missing badly. Tony Joe White's new Deep Cuts and Little Freddie King's Messin' Around tha House suffer for similar reasons. Both employ loops and remixes, but to no good purpose except to emulate "the now sound." The looped percussion doesn't improve on the grooves White and Swamp Man Loose hit, and King's remixed tracks aren't sufficiently extreme or propulsive. Ironically, both artists sound contemporary speaking in their own musical voices, which have an idiosyncrasy that doesn't date. It's never pretty when the guesswork begins.

No comments: