It's All Just The Same

Tina & The B-Sides

Sire Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Imagine Cher singing country-tinged alternative rock. Maybe it's a little hard to picture - or maybe it's just something you don't want to picture.

Tina Schlieske has a singing style just like this, but she puts enough of her own attitude and style into it to make it an interesting voyage. It's All Just The Same, the latest release from Tina & The B-Sides, is a challenging album to listen to, and is one that you're not going to grasp on just one listen. But if you have the time and the patience to put into such an album, the effort will prove to be worth it.

Schlieske's vocal swagger comes forward early on in the album; the cut "In My Own Time" builds from a complicated acoustic guitar rhythm lick to the vocals, eventually folding the rest of the band into the mix. The one negative I heard was in the moment the band kicked in with the electric side of things; the sound seems, well, dirty... no, muddy is more like it. Whatever the case, it's a sound you quickly find yourself hoping isn't on the rest of the album. (Fortunately, it isn't.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

When Schlieske and her assembled crew of musicians (including her sister Laura on background vocals and a few varied instruments) turn the faucet to "rock", things roll pretty smoothly. Tracks like "Grey," "She's Undone" and "No Way Of Knowing" all stand out on It's All Just The Same. And while the country-fried moments are by no means terrible, there is a noticeable dip in the energy level of the music. It's easy to get excited about the rock numbers, but it's a little harder to build up momentum for the country-tinged songs while you're listening to them. (This is by no means saying that Schlieske should abandon the country side of her music.)

Some cuts like "No Holdin' Back" and "Fall From Grace" all show signs of promise, but also bear marks of hope left unfulfilled. Likewise, "Take Me Down (Tonite pt. II)" could have been a great song, but this particular track falls prey to a common enemy of music: repetition. Something as simple as a little more development in the song - even just in the lyrics of the chorus and outros - could have helped significantly.

But there are moments where the country influences show the power of Tina & The B-Sides. The one track that sticks out in my mind is "I Am Forsaken (Kentucky Song)", which could well be the best track on the album.

I thought I was ready to write a review of It's All Just The Same after a cursory listen, but after I relented and threw it back into the CD player, I discovered many more things to like about the disc that I hadn't heard before. Listeners will quickly discover that this is an album that you can't just slap on as background noise; you have to spend some time listening closely to what's unfolding in front of your ears - a discovery process that could take a few listens. I question if the average listener has that kind of time to invest, never mind whether or not they're willing to put that kind of an effort into a CD.

Don't get me wrong, there is a lot on It's All Just The Same that is worthy of your attention, and the more you listen to the album, the more you'll find to like about it. But if you're someone who goes on first impressions alone - as I almost did - then you might not be willing to give Tina & The B-Sides a fighting chance.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.