Frigg Brecht

Of all the tributes to Bertolt Brecht recorded in his centennial year, I thought the excellent Brecht Songs by Germany's Brass Attack would never be bettered. Trust Frigg to prove me wrong. Guitarist Bert Wrede composed the music while co-producer Elliott Sharp contributes lap steel and synth to a potent musical stew that includes Jurgen Kupker on clarinet. Brecht's sarcastic, subversive spirit is captured brilliantly by the dramatic excesses of vocalists Phil Minton, Meira Asher and Kurt Naumann. Asher evokes the cracked spirit of Marianne Faithful in "Matrosensong" while Minton is simply extraordinary in "Sailors Song," "Anne Smith Relates The Conquest Of America," "Tahiti" and "The Shipwrecked Man's Report," four performances that lift a consistently brilliant set into realms of rare inspiration. Not even Tom Waits can match the compelling sense of decadent exhaustion that Minton conveys here with such theatrical wit. (Knitting Factory)