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Loreena McKennitt/``The Book of Secrets''

Great albums fully engage both the heart and mind, and that's just what ``The Book of Secrets'' does. McKennitt traveled worldwide for two years, researching the Celtic diaspora, before hunkering down at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios to write and produce her seventh album and best work yet. Its music isn't a significant change - multilayered gushes of sound still swirl around McKennitt's haunting voice. What sets it apart is how thoroughly she changes mood and direction with each song, the multicultural instruments and polyrhythms included to evoke a sense of place, and the scholarship behind the songs (explained in copious liner notes). Much more than Celtic wallpaper, the CD is a cohesive, evocative gem. Four Stars

?13- Faith Quintavell

Philadelphia Inquirer

Patti Smith/``Peace and Noise''

Musically, ``Peace and Noise'' recalls the aggressive rocker Smith was in the '70s. The 10-minute ``Memento Mori,'' for instance, seems linked to the punky ``Horses'' as she spouts her brand of poetry over thickets of electric guitars, but the effect isn't as startling as it once was. The lyrics - and even the cover's colorless artwork (similar to ``Gone Again'') - still find Smith in a state of mourning as she applies quotations from poet Allen Ginsberg to her spoken chantlike ``Spell'' (everything is ``holy'' here, she says, but there's no sense of uplift). She samples a prayer meeting from the Smithsonian's ``Negro Folk Music of Alabama Volume II'' on the two-chord opener ``Waiting Underground,'' and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe guest moans on the downbeat closer ``Last Call.'' Everything's pretty good, but nothing's terrific. Missing are Smith's facile melodies. Aside from the incantatory, midtempo ``Blue Poles,'' with its lonesome harmonica wail, and the melodic rocker ``1959,'' nothing sticks as firmly in memory as, say, ``Dancing Barefoot,'' ``Frederic'' or last year's ``Summer Cannibals.'' Three Stars

?13- Howard Cohen

Miami Herald

Green Day/``Nimrod''

Billie Joe Armstrong, leader of Gen-X's fast-aging punk torch-bearers Green Day, is growing up in a professional and predictable manner. Where his influences found maturity in new styles, Armstrong attempts to push forward by stumbling through the past on ``Nimrod,'' Green Day's third major-label release. The derivations of each track say everything, much of the problem being that Armstrong and company haven't gone back far enough to find something worth exploiting. Instead of a clever fusion like, say, the Jam mauling Motown for leftist purposes on ``Town Called Malice,'' Green Day mauls the Jam's introspective ``Away From the Numbers'' for the generic pop-lite of ``Redundant.'' Elsewhere, it steals liberally from the Stray Cats (``Hitchin' a Ride''), the Knack (the faux Beatles-isms of ``The Grouch''), the Smithereens (the melancholy of ``Worry Rock''), the Animals (the ``It's My Life'' motif of ``All the Time'') and even America, the hook of ``Scattered'' having been lifted from ``Sister Golden Hair.'' Two Stars

?13- Ben Wener

Orange County Register

Pat Metheny Group/``Imaginary Day''

Don't fret, guitar nuts, but Pat Metheny has put down his trusty custom-made Ibanez on ``Imaginary Day,'' his first album for Warner Bros. after 12 years with Geffen. He and his composing pal and keyboardist Lyle Mays concoct more sweeping, grandiose epics than ever. These songs don't sound like traditional PMG, but the song furthest from the norm, ``The Roots of Coincidence,'' is one of the pair's best. One reason for all this newness is Metheny's unusual instrument choices. The 42-string pikasso guitar he plays on ``Into the Dream'' has a ringing, dreamy quality, and you'd swear there were at least three people playing. But no, it's a solo piece. ``The Roots of Coincidence'' is what you'll be listening to over and over, though. The Metheny-Mays consortium mashes together layers of snarling guitars and club-thumping techno beats, blissed-out ambient doodlings and new-age spirit7ualism. It'll beat you over the head and then carry you home. Three Stars

?13- Marc Lee

Dallas Morning News

Jacky Terrasson & Cassandra Wilson/``Rendezvous''

Yuck. Diva-of-the-moment Cassandra Wilson applies her overcooked phrasing to Jacky Terrasson's often-mannered arrangements of standards. You won't hear a more pretentious album this year. Wilson consistently undercuts the appeal of lovely songs such as ``Old Devil Moon'' and ``It Might as Well Be Spring'' by relying on jagged melodic embellishments, odd note choices and skittering rhythms. Yes, she is reinventing these songs, and yes, she is a true improviser in the Betty Carter mold. But for my taste, there is too little Carter-like charm or joy in Wilson's inventions. Two Stars

?13- Mark Stryker

Detroit Free Press

Soundtrack/``Seven Years in Tibet''

Next to holding hands in the theater, sometimes the best thing about the moviegoing experience is the music. This may well be true about ``Seven Years in Tibet,'' in which the music reaches emotional, physical and spiritual peaks at least as great as the Himalayas. John Williams, perhaps the finest cinema composer today, is known for the grandness of his scores. With cellist Yo-Yo Ma at his most reverent and excerpts from the Gyuto Monks, this film score is as good as an answered prayer. Three Stars

?13- Chris Ledbetter

Detroit Free Press

Patty Loveless/``Long Stretch of Lonesome''

Patty Loveless balances commercial concerns with a classic country sensibility as well as anybody in Nashville. And the coal miner's daughter from Pikeville, Ky., has a knack for putting a song over with her throaty burr of a voice, and it grows more confident with each album. On her ninth, Loveless pulls songs from Kim Richey (``That's Exactly What I Mean''), Steven Bruton (``Too Many Memories''), and, best of all, Jim Lauderdale, whose haunting ``You Don't Seem to Miss Me'' features George Jones. From the buoyant ``The Party Ain't Over Yet'' to the heartfelt title track, there are quali7ty potential singles aplenty, so there may be something worth hearing on country radio in the coming months after all. Three and One Half Stars

?13- Dan DeLuca

Philadelphia Inquirer


2 Photos

Photo: (1) Green Day's new album, ``Nimrod,'' lifts musical styles from the Jam, the Smithereens and '60s band the Animals, to name a few.

(2) Pat Metheny does amazing things with a 42-string pikasso guitar and other instruments on ``Imaginary Day.''
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Oct 17, 1997

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