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Music: Timbaland * This Is Shock And Guffaw

Timbaland's poor second volume gives little value for money and might just be telling us that this is an artist in decline, writes Eamon carr

Some talented acts fall from grace, Icarus-like, in spectacular fashion. Usually the root cause is addiction. Having slaved away for years, the opportunity to pig out on something narcotic often proves too inviting for the feebleminded. Even in a recession, rehab remains a showbiz services growth industry.

Others, to put it indelicately, go Mickey-mad. No need to name names here. You can probably hazard a guess at any number of sultry syphilitic crooners and rabid axemen.

Apart from a sensational career crash there's also the alternative, a painful slide towards obscurity. For spectators, that's undoubtedly worse. It's torturous having to endure someone once regarded as an innovative, creative talent slither into a sump of mediocrity.

Mind you, few artists can maintain high standards year after year. It was instructive to hear Bono refer to the shock he got when it dawned on him that the Leonard Cohen songs he liked most had been written when Len was in his 50s and 60s. "That, to me, was a throwdown," said Bono.

Perhaps the man in the sexy boots should sidle up to Timbaland the next time he sees him at some awards bash and have a word in his shell-like. Because the busy producer, writer and recording artist needs guidance. Certainly, Shock Value II is about as appealing as a pit of pig slurry.

The Virginia-born Grammy-winning rap polymath, who co-wrote and produced Missy Elliott's Get Ur Freak On back in the day, is now getting his drudge on with Nickleback's Chad Kroeger with the offensively repetitive shlock Put Tomorrow In The Bottle. This random example of sloth isn't the worst track on the album. There are plenty of nominations for that.

Challenging for this dubious honour have to be Meet In The Middle (with Bran'Nu) and We Belong To The Music (with Miley Cyrus). Bran'Nu is none other than Brandy, the woman who, in the 90s, was poised for long-term stardom alongside Mary J Blige and Janet Jackson on the back of a couple of well-received albums.

Things didn't work out and Brandy wound up as a judge on America's Got Talent. A car crash in which another driver was killed sunk her career. Her re-launch as a lippy rapper sounds ill-advised.

Timbaland probably reckons he's going to dominate a whole new demographic with his collaboration with the Hannah Montana chipmunk. The puggishly tenacious Ms Cyrus sounds less than convinced delivering in her distinctive nasal whine: "I've got it all right here. No need for you to go anywhere..."

Rummaging through these 16 tracks, it's Morning After Dark with Nelly Furtado that almost saves the day. Timbaland (real name Timothy) performs his usual heroics with blippy synth polyrhythms and nervy percussion but, despite Furtado's "I don't like sleeping alone, I just want to rattle your bones...", the track suffers from Timbaland's own vaudevillian vocals.

Katy Perry maintains her profile with a guest appearance on If We Ever Meet Again. Fans will probably forgive her constipated (and shouty) performance.

Oh, alright. There are worse tracks on Shock Value II. Plenty of them. The most laughable has to be Timaland's social services message Ease Off The Liquor ("little mama you off the richter..."). Spanish guitar and Mexican-style trumpets embellish this manic salsa.

Poor Tim, he's missed out on a golden opportunity for a mega-crossover-smasheroonie. Where's the bodhrán? The banjo? The Fleadh Cheoil ambience?

Sure, he can team up with Justin Timberlake, The Fray, Australia's Jet and any amount of ne'er-do-wells. But to guarantee excellence, he needs the dulcet tones of Ding-Dong Denny O'Reilly.

A man who can relate to Timbaland's chant, "What I like is a lady who can hold her liquor." The sap. HIIII

e4expletive@gmail.com


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