Hazleton Standard-Speaker
Hazleton, PA
December 28, 1997
by L. A. Tarone

Top 10 albums list for 1997

The following is an excerpt from the December 28 review detailing music critic L.A.Tarone's pick of the top 10 albums of 1997.Somewhere, in the fine print of critics' contracts is a clause which says, "said writer will supply this publication with a Year's 10 Best list every year in which he is employed." Humph!

Frankly, the year's 10 best column is quite self-serving -- feeding the author's ego and accomplishing little else. Much of its validity, or lack thereof, depends on its author's reputation and the amount of music to which he's listened. I think I'm OK on the former, but weak on the latter this year. I haven't had time to listen to as much as I've preferred (violins, please).

Still let it never be said Tarone neglected his duties.

1. Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise --Robert Bradley (RCA)
2. New World Order--Curtis Mayfield (Warner Brothers)
3. Vulnerable--Marvin Gaye (Motown)
4. Bridges to Babylon--Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones/Virgin)
5. April Days--John Cusatis (self-labled)
6. Stardust--Natalie Cole (Elektra)
7. The Spice Girls--The Spice Girls (CBS)
8. Factory Showroom--They Might Be Giants (Elektra)
9. First Band on the Moon--The Cardigans (Mercury)
10. Jennifer Love Hewitt--Jennifer Love Hewitt (Atlantic)

Review of John Cusatis's April Days

5. April Days--John Cusatis (self-labled) Cusatis is a folkie that kicks. Actually, the term "folkie" isn't a perfect fit, as Cusatis draws from numerous disparate influences. The result is lively, slick and unique. Cusatis has few peers as a lyricist. He draws pictures of scenes with which most of us can easily identify. For example, in my favorite cut, "Stickman" -- a rather breezy-sounding kicker about trying to stay close to someone you love but can't have -- he sings, "I used to say if you can't embrace me, then why don't you just erase me, but I'd rather be a stickman, than no man at all." As for wit and sarcasm, Cusatis is an expert. How about, "I've got no more time for Hamlet, he was too much of a thinker, but I still dig Ernest cause at least he was a drinker" from "Contemplative Man." Or, Peter Tosh was my number one, I just can't get used to no Brooks and Dunn" from "Reggae Bubba." Here's a man who deserves a major label!

After reviewing all ten picks Tarone concludes the article as follows:

I probably should have stuck En Vogue's "EV3" and Johnny Rawl's Louisiana Woman in here somewhere. And again, I readily admit my pool of material was somewhat limited, as I didn't get to listen to as much as I'd have liked to this year. Things being different, this list might have changed -- though I see no way the top five would have.

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