Motley Crue
‘Red, White & Crue’

This is what bands do when they get back together for a reunion tour: Rush out a greatest hits compilation with a handful of new tracks sprinkled in to make you pay for it all over again (although few have the chutzpah to make it a two-disc set).

But once you get past that, “Red, White & Crue” – the double disc marking the second coming of the Bad Boys of Rock ‘n’ Roll – contains some of the absolute best heavy metal produced in the 1980s and early ’90s. The original Crue (vocalist Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee) are back with more of the good-time bump-and-boogie metal they used to such great effect back when Reagan was president.

Three new songs on this 37-track collection augur well for Motley’s future: the radio-friendly “If I Die Tomorrow,” with more of the same catchy hooks and melodic choruses; “Sick Love Song,” which retains the “Dr. Feelgood” vibe; and a nicely metaled-up, wah-wah-intensive cover of the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.” Some of the band’s best moments have come while covering other bands’ material, and most of it is here, including versions of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy In The U.K.,” The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” and Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ In The Boys Room.”

But the best part remains the tracks from the band’s first two albums, “Too Fast For Love” and “Shout At The Devil,” a 1-2 punch rarely equaled in the annals of hard rock, including the powerful “Live Wire,” “Piece Of Your Action,” and their breakthrough hit “Looks That Kill,” which almost single-handedly ushered in the 1983 metal renaissance.

– Wayne Parry, AP Writer

Ani DiFranco
‘Knuckle Down’

Ani DiFranco has leapt from the minimalist “Educated Guess” to some lusher sounds on “Knuckle Down.” For the first time she invited in a fellow musician – songwriter Joe Henry – to co-produce, and had a string of musician friends join her on several tracks. The result is an intimate, more atmospheric and somewhat dark album that is still pure DiFranco.

The album opens with “Knuckle Down:” “I think I’m done gunnin’ to get closer/To some imagined bliss/I gotta knuckle down/And just be OK with this.” It’s followed by a number of songs simmering with pent-up frustration, and enough about the negative side of love to make one wonder if marriage is still treating DiFranco well. On “Modulation,” a song about the end of a relationship, the tension is as tight as her guitar strings; the lyrics are alternately sung and spit.

The happy beginnings of a romance are described in “Seeing Eye Dog”: “First we touched fingers and then we/Touched toes/Then my army surrendered/My government overthrown.” But one wonders if this relationship is too shallow to succeed. Then there’s a beautifully unsettling spoken-word piece about a crime in progress and the intimate “Recoil,” which plaintively states “I’m just sitting here in this sty/Strewn with half-written songs/Taking one breath at a time.”

Everything OK Ani?

Fortunately, DiFranco’s vocal stylings and her frenetic guitar strumming, rife with tightly plucked melodies and overtones, make even songs of heartache pulse with passion and energy; even though the content is a downer, the experience of listening to them is not.

– Aimee M. Sims, AP Writer


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