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RICKY FANTÉ Rewind ****


Just when you think that R& and soul music have gone to the posing, primping, pimping doggz, along comes Ricky Fanté, a D.C. native who is the non-hyperbolic reincarnation of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. You may have heard the single, “It Ain’t Easy,” and thought it was just alright, but when you hear Fanté work out his gravelly, expressive pipes on the tender “I Let You Go” or the Stax-y “He Don’t Love You,” you’ll think he’s the next best thing since barbecue sauce. (Virgin)


NRBQ Dummy ****


The goofball kings of American music have sublime melodies, rockin’ rhythms and flawless lyrics oozing from every orifice, and their umpteenth album is positively slathered in all three. “Dummy” merges Peter Gunn-ish theme music with ’50s rock ’n’ soul; “Hey Punkin Head” does ’60s rock à la ’80s new-wave; “What You Mean to Me” is another of the Q’s peerless love songs—simply stated, tenderly rendered. If you don’t yet know NRBQ, whatcha waitin’ for, dummy? (NRBQ.com)


THE DWARVES The Dwarves Must Die ****


The world’s most dangerously perverse band tops itself again with this slab of vulgar, punker-than-punk (although somewhat industrial and metallic in nature) tunes that again assert their superiority to all bands who would challenge them. Brownie points for the Zappa-meets-Ramones tune “Salt Lake City” in which singer Blag Dahlia blurts, “I’m not pure and I’m not pretty and I’m not going to Salt Lake City.” (Sympathy for the Record Industry)


DAN BERN My Country II ***


Never one to mince words or take shit, singer-songwriter Dan Bern skewers the Bush Administration in eight songs ranging from protests (“Bush Must Be Defeated”) to mobilization anthems for the undecided/apathetic (the reggae-tinged title track, on which he sings “It’s my country, too, sometimes I gotta remind myself”). He’s an old dog up to old tricks, but he still does them with gusto. (Messenger Records)


JOHN BUTLER TRIO What You Want **.5


Australian grassroots champ John Butler is a be-dreaded multi-instrumentalist with terrifying talent—at least as far as playing goes. When working out on slide guitar or banjo, Butler is a dervish leaving jaws agape and ears twitching like a horny mutt. But the songs are weak, overproduced—they aim for Ben Harper but hit O.A.R. But if chops are what you want, you’ll be happy (see Live, p. 57). (Lava)

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