Radio On (10/91)

Seventeen singles reviewed by Greil Marcus in the October 1991 issue of Radio On, a chart pop fanzine edited by Phil Dellio (which also featured Chuck Eddy, Rob Sheffield, Frank Kogan, Renee Crist, Michael Freedberg, et al.).

“Crazy,” Seal – Too much hype in the name. Change it to “Sealed With A Kiss” and we’ll see.

“Emotions,” Mariah Carey – One more step toward the day when she can sing “They Call The Wind Mariah”–a small step.

“Enter Sandman,” Metallica – Metallica is better at Rush-style pomposity than Guns N’ Roses–there’s an austerity behind their strum and drang that rings, chimes, sticks the stuff in your heart. But this is no “One,” even if it does draw a wonderful loop around the whole of rock ‘n’ roll: that is, from the Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman” (1954, #1) to itself.

“Everybody Plays The Fool,” Aaron Neville – Formal; that is, formal proof he could make the Miller Lite jingle, with its secret shut-up-don’t-ask-questions-do-as-you’re-­told message (“It’s it/That’s that!”) sound soulful. Best cut on his latest album, too.

“Every Heartbeat,” Amy Grant – She still looks like Pat Robertson’s kid to me.

“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” Bryan Adams — Despite the arhythmic inclusion of the word “It” in the title, which really throws the whole thing off on one level, the same anomaly seems to open up the melody, making this the most (or only) seductive recording BA has made. Really, not too bad. Haven’t seen the movie, though.

“Gett Off,” Prince & the N.P.G. – Solid, better as a video, but the sex-utopia of Dirty Mind and far beyond seems here to have turned into an ordinary fuck club–the music doesn’t exist outside itself, doesn’t enter the world, the imagination and glee of the past seems to have settled into completely ordinary, and completely effective, craftsmanship. But you can get the feeling he really doesn’t care all that much by looking at the title, which looks less like an attempt to play with the language than proof he never learned to spell.

“Good Vibrations,” Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch/Loleatta Holloway – A few years ago, when MTV was still trying to keep Michael Jackson off the air, it seemed every other video had a black chorus of some kind attesting to the funkiness of Massa White Lead Singer. Haven’t seen much of that lately, but Marky Mark has resurrected the tradition, even to the point of hiring a black woman to fuck him. On the other hand, he and his brother have done more for racial honesty in Boston than most other people in that town you might name–oh, excuse me, I mean racial decency–according to Axl Rose, on “One In A Million” in Musician, it’s he who’s into “racial honesty.” I have nothing against Marky Mark–why do you?

“Hole Hearted,” Extreme – Bad name.

“I Adore Mi Amor,” Color Me Badd – Worse name.

“Learning To Fly,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Dull. All his slow stuff, his thoughtful stuff, is dull, and almost all of his fast stuff is good, and “Out In The Cold” is the most exciting record on the radio in months, the closest he’s ever come to “American Girl.”

“The Motown Song,” Rod Stewart – First he does a fine version of “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You),” then he turns that true and direct Motown tribute that didn’t have to say its name into this piece of vomit. Really, he can’t be trusted. Too bad he’s not worthless.

“My Name Is Not Susan,” Whitney Houston – Whoever thought up the title for this deserves an award, or lots of money, or something. Probably not an answer record to the very existence of the Band of Susans. Probably not the worst record she ever made. But definitely the funniest.

“Pop Goes The Weasel,” 3rd Bass – These guys are creeps, making a whole career out of being holier than thou. I’ll take Vanilla Ice any day (he has a much better name, no one can argue with that). Seeing some joker sneer doesn’t make my day, and that’s all they’re selling.

“Shiny Happy People,” R.E.M. – Return to form after the irresistibly catchy “Losing My Religion,” which for moments teased even this R.E.M. hater. This is slime masquerading as parody of junk, as social critique–sort of late-period Devo without the flower pot hats, though Stipe’s backwards baseball cap looks just as stupid, even though it’s supposed to look cool.

“Superman’s Song,” Crash Test Dummies – This outfit’s stuff sounds vaguely interesting at first, then very, very pretentious. I’ll take Marc Cohn.

“You Could Be Mine,” Guns N’ Roses – Not bad. But the way Axl holds that note at the end is as self-celebrating, obnoxious, and mindless as he’s always accused of being–proof that, finally, this may not be even a good rock ‘n’ roll band, or any kind of rock ‘n’ roll at all, because that note contradicts the momentum of rock ‘n’ roll as surely as anything by Mantovani. Also, rock ‘n’ roll performers in shorts… well, I have no words. - Radio On

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