Britney Spears, "Greatest Hits: My Prerogative" (Jive)
Recognizing the fact that much attention -- media and otherwise -- is often squandered on subjects not worthy of it, we'll keep this review short.
Let's give credit where credit is due. Spears, employing gobs of programmers, engineers and photographers, is undoubtedly good for the economy.
The music on the CD falls into two camps. The preferable tunes -- most written by producer Max Martin -- are the older, more melodic numbers from her teenypbopper era. They're songs she actually seems to sing. Oddly enough, the disc's most believable song -- even more than her unnecessary remake of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" -- is the cagey "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman."
The newer dance-oriented material from her more current sex-bomb phase, including "Me Against the World," her duet with Madonna, and the R. Kelly tune, "Outrageous," couldn't sound more manufactured.
Keno, World War Peace (Poetry Rock)
In what might be considered the polar opposite of Britney Spears, Oakland resident Keno Elanz Mapp has assembled a cast of fine musicians to assist him in this self-released recording (visit www.kenosworld.de that, in spirit, resembles the serious, gutsy rock sounds made by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison decades ago.
Among the guests on the album -- which apparently is getting play on Live 105 -- are Pink Floyd's Durga McBroom on background vocals, Fishbone's Angelo Moore as guest poet, Journey's Atma Anur on drums and Vicious Rumors' Ira Black on guitar.
Cina Wakasa plays the shakuhachi, a Japanese "healing flute," to nice effect on the particularly soothing "How Do You Teach Your Child About War?" The song is co-written by guitarist Juan Richardson, who contributes several tunes to the collection.
Not anyone can write decent poetry. But Keno's lyrics preaching peace and love combine convincingly with the classic rock elements on most of the tunes, the notable exception being Moore's lengthy spoken-word piece, "The Doves of Peace and Love," which has decidedly jazz overtones.
Keno, whose day job is at a bank, is a member of the Punany Poets. Mostly, he cares about doing "something positive for the planet," and that's what he's doing here.