|The Break Up||Detroit Swindle|
|The Make Up||Detroit Swindle|
It only took guitarist Chris Poland a full decade to follow up his 1990 solo debut, Return to Metalopolis, with the arrival of 2000's Chasing the Sun. While the album contains quite a few traces of Poland's metal past (after all, he was the guitar player in Megadeth on such classic albums as 1985's Killing Is My Business...and Business Is Good! and 1986's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?), Chasing the Sun turns out to be a mixed bag of tricks. Picture one of Joe Satriani or Steve Vai's early instrumental solo albums with a focus on jazzier sounds, and you're not far off from Chasing the Sun. Poland's fusion leanings shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as he's been vocal for years about how he was a jazzhead before joining forces with Dave Mustaine and company during the early '80s.
Right from the beginning, you know you're not in for your standard straight-ahead six-string shredfest, as the album-opening title title track takes an abrupt detour into trippy psychedelia. You'll also find funk sounds ("Hip Hop Karma"), fusion ("Robo Stomp"), King Crimson-like weirdness ("Straight Jacket"), and excursions into melodic territory ("Salvador"). Fans of early Megadeth expecting bone-crunching thrash metal may be let down, but for metalheads willing to open their minds a bit stylistically, Chasing the Sun will be a pleasant surprise -- and further proof that Chris Poland is one of hard rock's most underrated guitarists.
Coming down after the twin high-water marks of It Takes a Nation of Millions and Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy shifted strategy a bit for their fourth album, Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black. By and large, they abandon the rich, dense musicality of Planet, shifting toward a sleek, relentless, aggressive attack -- Yo! Bum Rush the Show by way of the lessons learned from Millions. This is surely a partial reaction to their status as the Great Black Hope of rock & roll; they had been embraced by a white audience almost in greater numbers than black, leading toward rap-rock crossovers epitomized by this album's leaden, pointless remake of "Bring the Noise" as a duet with thrash metallurgists Anthrax. It also signals the biggest change here -- the transition of the Bomb Squad to executive-producer status, leaving a great majority of the production to their disciples, the Imperial Grand Ministers of Funk. This isn't a great change, since the Public Enemy sound has firmly been established, giving the new producers a template to work with, but it is a notable change, one that results in a record with a similar sound but a different feel: a harder, angrier, determined sound, one that takes its cues from the furious anger surging through Chuck D's sociopolitical screeds. And this is surely PE's most political effort, surpassing Millions through the use of focused, targeted anger, a tactic evident on Planet. Yet it was buried there, due to the seductiveness of the music.
Here, everything is on the surface, with the bluntness of the music hammering home the message. Arriving after two records where the words and music were equally labyrinthine, folding back on each other in dizzying, intoxicating ways, it is a bit of a letdown to have Apocalypse be so direct, but there is no denying that the end result is still thrilling and satisfying, and remains one of the great records of the golden age of hip-hop.
Early-'70s funkster Ceasar Frazier gets the funky two-fer treatment on this 1999 release from Eastbound.