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SOUND CHECK : POP.

The Wallflowers/``Bringing Down the House''

It's been four years since the Wallflowers' acclaimed roots-rock debut. And after the hoopla about ``the band fronted by Dylan's son'' died down, the quintet underwent personnel changes and switched record labels. Along the way, it also had a major growth spurt: ``Bringing Down the House'' (Interscope) is a collection of poised, patient songs that are fully mature and beautifully realized.

Much of the creative jump-start comes from principal songwriter Jakob Dylan, who seems less eager to impress with words, and seeks instead to explore the frayed edges of his narratives, where his characters confront their private, bitter truths. Though he still borrows occasionally from familiar structures (his ballad ``Invisible City'' sometimes resembles an old-school hymn), Dylan obviously is comfortable churning out more assertive, ``original'' originals - with the ambling ``Sixth Avenue Heartache'' and the exuberant ``Laughing Out Loud,'' which features Sam Phillips on backing vocals, among the standouts.

SOURCE: - Tom Moon

Porno for Pyros/``Good God's Urge''

It's been three years since ex-Jane's Addiction leader and Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell produced Porno for Pyros' self-titled debut. And it hasn't been worth the wait. ``Good God's Urge'' (Warner), in fact, only confirms the impression that Farrell is a more formidable businessman and provocateur than creative musician. With the help of super-bassists Flea and Mike Watt (now a full-time Porno member), PFP's sophomore effort does have its share of beguiling passages and dreamy, trippy choruses. But Farrell's high-pitched squeal is backed by surprisingly soft, strummy textures that rarely get funky and never gather Jane's Addiction-like force. The only thing shocking about this unfocused ``Urge'' is its utter lack of immediacy. Two Stars

SOURCE: - Dan DeLuca

Jimmy Buffet/``Banana Wind''

A banana wind is an island term referring to a wind strong enough to blow the bananas off the trees but not as dangerous as a hurricane. This ``Banana Wind'' (Margaritaville Records-MCA) is Jimmy Buffett's latest album, and sadly, it's a tepid breeze.

The witty troubadour rarely has sounded this uninspired and tired. Aside from the jaunty ``Only Time Will Tell'' or ``Overkill,'' his melodies don't register; most drift by at balmy midtempo pace with tropical steel drums wafting by as if coming from a weary hotel act. Worse, his clever lyrics don't fit the dull tempos. Two Stars

SOURCE: - Howard Cohen

JAZZ Michael Orta/``Freedom Tower''

Wherever reed man Pacquito D'Rivera ends up is a good place to be. The Cuban-born saxophonist and clarinetist makes three guest appearances on the CD of young pianist Michael Orta, who, like D'Rivera, rides the Latin-jazz continuum with aplomb. Orta, son of a Cuban father and Greek mother, is a handsome melodist whose recording is suffused with talent and beauty. Orta's playing - by turns picturesque and fiery - merges Cuban and Keith Jarrett viewpoints. His vibe is positive, without being sappy. Orta (who has a University of Miami master's degree) is urged on by a talented group of Miami musicians, including tenor saxophonist Gary Campbell. This CD (Contemporary) sprawls exuberantly, but doesn't lack for discipline. Three Stars

SOURCE: - Karl Stark

Ron Affif/``52nd Street''

Guitarist Ron Affif points to his dad's career as a successful middleweight boxer to explain his flaming approach. Rarely has a guitar trio achieved such a high burn. On ``52nd Street'' (Pablo), the Pittsburgh-born Affif mixes George Benson's poised clarity and Pat Martino's enlightened, harmonic derring-do. Drummer Jeff ``Tain'' Watts and bassist Essiet Essiet help make Affif sound as sweet and mean as he does on these mostly standards. Four Stars

SOURCE: - Karl Stark

COUNTRY Junior Brown/``Semi Crazy''

On the cover of ``Semi Crazy,'' (Curb) Junior Brown sure does look goofy leaning against an 18-wheeler, holding that twin-necked whatchamacallit. But when it comes to wielding his ``guit-steel,'' he's no joke. Here the Austin, Texas, throwback broadens his palette with Hoagy Carmichael's ``Hong Kong Blues'' and catches a big kahuna with an instrumental medley of ``Pipeline,'' ``Walk Don't Run'' and ``Secret Agent Man.'' Junior mainly keeps it country, though: he mixes unerring novelty numbers (``Joe the Singing Janitor,'' ``Venom Wearing Denim'') with dead-on heart-tuggers; elegant, weeping steel lines alternate with witty, dizzying six-string runs. Buyer beware: subtract the seven-minute ``Surf Medley'' and ``Semi Crazy'' feels like half an album, clocking in under half an hour. Three Stars

SOURCE: - Dan DeLuca

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

Photo: (1) ``Bringing Down the House'' by the Wallflower s - Mario Calire, left, Rami Jaffe, Greg Richling, Jakob Dylan and Michael Ward - is a collection of poised, patient songs.

(2) ``Good God's Urge'' by Porno for Pyros - Stephen Perkins, left, Perry Farrell and Peter DiStefano - hasn't been worth the three-year wait.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Jun 7, 1996
Words:768
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