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Raisins in the Sun Link:

Raisins in the Sun

Raisins In The Sun
Raisins In The Sun

2001, Rounder

A diverse collection of musicians gathered together in Tucson, AZ "to see what would happen," as member Jules Shear put it. Along with veteran soul and rock producer Jim Dickinson, underground rock hero Chuck Prophet and a few assorted others, these wrinkled old-timers came up with a fairly healthy musical snack on this one-off release.

"I Taught Her Everything" plays like a lo-fi '70s soul vocal group tune, and if The Spinners had gone for plaid shirts and Levis, instead of slick leisure suits, they might have sounded a little like this track. "Old Times Again" is a country-ish ballad duet from Jules Shear and Chuck Prophet, which plays like a much more serious song than you might have expected from such an informal session.

When inventive musicians get a chance like this to throw out all the rules, it can be a liberating experience. Odds would have it you wouldn't find a song like "Post-Apocalyptic Observations," on any of their "real" albums. But if Pat Benatar could sing about how love is a battlefield, then why can't Raisins In The Sun sing about how romance is like the after affects of a nuclear nightmare? Here is a sampling of the lyric to this twisted tune. "The next few minutes while we/Still have a past/I feel contentment/So what if it won't last." Talk about your black humor!

The words on this album are not always quite this nuked, however, as the '60s garage rock of "String Bean" plays on the thin-is-in theme of the old soul standard, "Skinny Legs And All." "Chicken Fried," on the other hand, is about a man whose goose has been thoroughly cooked. "You spread my business/Out on the street/Chicken fried/Chicken Fried." One wonders if Jim Dickinson's Southern roots might have sprouted within the muse of Northern Californian Chuck Prophet for some of his more Dixie-esque contributions to this disc.

By the sound of it, these Raisins may have refreshed themselves more than a little bit with the fermented variety of grapes to give this music its appealingly aged looseness. But it's resulted in nearly spontaneous art, straight from the vine.—Dan MacIntosh

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