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[Off The Record]
Stars graphics
G. Love and Special Sauce
THE ELECTRIC MILE
(Epic)

G. Loveís mumbly, bluesy, white-boy shtick sets hipster radar spinning faster than the storm-tossed steering wheel of the SS Minnow. On one hand, heís the bantamweight peer of Will Smith or Sugar Ray, serving innocuous party platters for shirtless mooks (a white Lenny Kravitz?). On the other, heís worthy of comparisons with a genuine b-boy like Slick Rick, a blues hero like John Hammond, or a prodigy like Beck. But whereas the omnivorous, more ironic Mr. Odelay called himself a loser before anyone else could, the Philly-bred Love has always been a big, earnest target begging for easy dismissal.

Thatís a shame, even if his sleepy, good-timy flow wonít make you forget Nas any time soon. Loveís fifth disc maintains the sonic growth of 1999ís joyous Philadelphonic while adding new touches like the pogo-matic ska of " Unified " (written with Ras of the Long Beach Dub Allstars) and a chugging alterna-country ballad, " Sarahís Song, " complete with lap steel guitar. Thereís even a radio-ready hit: " Free at Last, " a vaguely familiar slab of guitar pop about painless liberation thatís perfect for the next Party of Five soundtrack. But if thereís a real pitfall for Love and his loosy-goosy rhythm section (bassist Jimmy Prescott and drummer Jeffrey Clemens) itís the blandifying influence of the HORDE jam bands they often tour with. Case in point: the lugubrious funk grunge of " Hopeless " lives down to its title.

(G. Love and Special Sauce perform on Tuesday April 24 at Avalon. Call 423-NEXT.)

BY JEFF OUSBORNE

Issue Date: March 29 - April 4, 2001





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