Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Baby Elelphant, Turn My Teeth Up

Baby Elephant is a trio made up of a rapper? singer? named Newkirk who put out one CD in 1999 that had six tracks – five of which were different versions of the title track.  So far, it doesn’t sound baby elephantgood.  But then you see who the other two guys are and your hopes soar.  One of the two is Prince Paul the DJ/rapper/producer who produced De La Soul’s landmark CD, “3 Feet High and Rising”.  The other member of the group is Bernie Worrell the classically trained keyboard player who played a central role in George Clinton’s P-Funk ensemble and who went on to join Talking Heads.  Guest musicians include Clinton, Nona Hendryx, and David Byrne among others.  On paper it sounds like it ought to be spectacular.  Too bad you don’t listen on paper.

Much of “Turn My Teeth Up” sounds like it is intended as an homage to Worrell who was one of the leading keyboard players of his day.  On the evidence of this CD the operative word here is “was”.  At times on “Turn My Teeth Up” he lays down a dynamite riff but much too much of it comes across as aimless noodling, and either circus calliope or spacey sound effects.  The production, which I’m assuming is primarily Paul’s responsibility although the packaging credits production to the whole group, is pretty much by-the-numbers hip-hop made up of funk beats combined with Worrell’s sound effects.  The rhythms tend toward the plodding and the music doesn’t do much more than lay there, flat and dull.  There’s no excitment here.

There are skits, though.  Was there ever a time when somebody somewhere thought skits on hip-hop records was a good idea?  Does anybody listen to this stuff more than once?  I think the skits are supposed to incorporate some kind of goofy P-Funk type mythology but they’re just too dumb to listen to.

With talent like this, “Turn My Teeth Up” should have been great or at least good.  Instead it’s a major disappointment.

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11/12/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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