Following up their excellent debut and a season of intense touring, David Lindley and his crack band (now named El Rayo-X) recorded their second Elektra album. It turns out that they actually bettered the near perfection of the first. Opening with an excellent version of Etta James classic "Something's Got a Hold on Me," this track proves how tight the band had became. Lindley's slide guitar work is impressive as always. As an added bonus, the band's vocal harmonies are extremely tight and a welcome addition.
David Byrne, like fellow New York transplant David Bowie, has reached a well-deserved apex in his career. After eight post-Talking Heads solo outings, the eccentric composer, songwriter, artist, and world music entrepreneur has transcended the inconsistencies of his previous efforts and created a genuinely moving and wickedly fun record. Like Bowie's Heathen and Reality, Grown Backwards is a mature work by an icon who has come to terms with his past, present, and future, and there's a joy in the simple act of creativity here that gives even the heaviest of subject matter an effervescent charm…
During the years from 1815 to 1822 when his career centered on Naples, Rossini composed a sequence of works for the Teatro San Carlo, which at that time boasted an outstanding orchestra and a company of resident singers that was the leading ensemble available anywhere. A string of masterpieces resulted, including Ermione - which is without doubt one of the composer's greatest operas, despite it being perhaps the least immediately successful. Ermione was received with incomprehension at its sole performance in 1819 and was never revived in Rossini's lifetime. Since its first stage revival in Pesaro in 1987, Ermione has been recognized as a lost masterpiece. Set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, the opera's novelties begin with an overture interrupted by a choral lament of Trojan prisoners. Tension and staggering originality are maintained right to the very end.
The final El Rayo-X record, while lovely, does not exactly contain the power and fury of the first two. On Very Greasy, David Lindley and his cohorts explore a myriad of lighter, more Caribbean rhythms and textures, rendering a very pleasing album. Some great covers such as "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Do You Wanna Dance" are pleasant enough, but the fact that hard rock Warrior drummer Ian Wallace – who was such a big part of the power of their second CD, Win This Record – is missing results in a weaker record. All in all, a very nice, eclectic slice, but not what this fine band was really about.