Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Get on board, step inside/Soaring for a magic ride, roaring toward the other side

We done went through the matter teleporter and stepped out with his peanut butter in our chocolate. The Wonder Twin powers have been activated and I'm watchin' th' big fella wobble around in the shape of an echidna while I've taken the form of a block of ice. Yes, the gloves are off; the belt is up for grabs and we's ready to ruuuuuummmmbbbbllllle!!!!!

What's the occasion? We here at the Hut have joined forces with O-Dub over at Soul Sides to bring you a week of goodness that we're callin'

specially calibrated to vanquish unfunkiness, alleviate D.E.S. (Dull Ear Syndrome), brighten your whites, dust your broom and generally shake yer ass.

Here's how we play: O-Dub has kindly offered up five fine fresh glistening hunkahunka burning love tracks, each one a tasty and rare cover of a well known song. Mr. Dub has also seen fit to grace each cut with a bit of background and wisdom, all in the service of our loving listeners. Cuz he's like that, yo.

How much would YOU pay for this expertise and booty-rompin' goodness? But wait! THERE'S MORE!

Never one to be outdone, the proprietor of th' Hut feels the need to get in on the action. To accompany all of Ollieollieoxenfree's ripe crate-dug fruit, we'll offer ANOTHER tangentially related musical gem to accompany the main course; a sort of aural tartar sauce if you will.

Two songs enter! Who will win? Why, YOU of course! A winner is you!

On the serious tip, big ups to Soul Sides for suggesting and arranging this phat fusion. We're mighty excited.

glisten: soul hut 1
S.C.R.A. - "C.C. Rider"

O sez: This is from the Southern Contemporary Rock Assembly but we're not talking about Memphis or New Orleans: this is Australia. SCRA had two albums - this is off their first. Most of the songs are pretty low-key but their version of "C.C. Rider" is fierce. There's just a hint of Las Vegas, Tom Jones-style stage belting on there but no one's going to confuse this with a lounge act.

J sez: No doubt. So so gangsta (or as much as something with this much cowbell can get); the drums kick the door open and the guitars swagger in. The vocals seem a tetch off (I keep waiting for Jigga to jump in) and sure, the horns do seem a little more Blues Brothers 2 than 1 but they don't really blow the scene. This one's all about the percussion, f'r sure.

Gaze upon the album cover.

Leadbelly - "See See Rider"

J sez: CC Rider is a classic with a depth of history equal to "Proud Mary"; it's been famously covered by everyone from Ray Charles to Elvis to the Dead to Clapton. This version by Huddie Ledbetter from 1935 is as diametrically opposed to the S.C.R.A. cut as could be; they're hardly even recognizable as the same tune. Both takes are deadly but where the prior steps in with a tommygun, Leadbelly wields the tune like a switchblade: nakedly spare and wickedly sharp.

Buy "The Definitive Leadbelly", a three-disc/75 song set, from Amazon.
Twenty four bucks for three CD's is a good bargain; this is an overlooked collection.
Explore this Huddie page.


Not enough Soul Hut goodness for you? Can't wait for tomorrow's dosage? Rush on over to O-Dub's home and peek in on the first of five tracks I sent hisaway.

Meeting the Neighbors

The Suburbs Are Killing Us is CONSTANTLY killing it with an assortment of music as random as... well, as us! Regularly eye-opening, always different and ridiculously broad in taste and opinion; Christopher Porter's musicblog is a musicgeek's musicblog, brimming with esoteric picks and surprising connections.

Recent online offerings include music from A.R. Rahman, Lonnie Smith, The Boogie Boys and Husker Du.

Never let em see ya sweat, Chris!

What was the greatest motivation for you to create your site?
Since my back hurts, the World Cup of Hockey finals are on, and someone said it better than I could, I'll be lazy & quote Sasha Frere-Jones from his Gawker.com interview:"…someone's got to supply the mad love and raw justice, the garbage and the free food" and "The blog is a nice model for storage, too.... It's a public file cabinet."
MP3 blogs also remind me of Fanzine Nation, which I was part of in the late '80s and early '90s with Emily's Hip Pocket and Brassneck. Like fanzines, I like the sense of disembodied community that music blogs provide.
Also, after O-Dubs posted that salty "Down by the River" cover version by the Dutch Rhythm & Steel Show Band, I wanted to join the party. I got so many bags of chips to share and they were just getting stale in my basement.
What's your Dream Job?
After pole dancer? Professional travel writer or a host on Globe Trekker.
Recommend a few other music blog sites and give them a sentence or two of introduction.
I consider a music blog any site that directs me toward music, not just the ones posting freebies.

1. Sasha Frere-Jones
SFJ doesn't post MP3s, but he's like a hunting dog when it comes to pointing the paw at good music. Also, kid's got better flow than the Mississip.

2. Bliss Out
Simon Reynolds has his ear to the ground (and since the sidewalk is all grime-y & jank his cauliflowers are probably due for a good scrubbing). He makes theory seem like fun.

3. Catchdubs
Has the occasional MP3, but the main attractions, aside from that far-right design, are his linkz, which might seem to be built only for Cubans. Not the case. Nick's tastes are broader than Dom DeLuise's fanny. (When in doubt, fire off a Dommer.)

For MP3 blogs, I choose:

1. Moistworks
James is a longtime friend, so this may be cheating, but I really do admire his postings, especially considering he has just 7 fingers and but one hand.

2. Kittytext
As far as I know I've never seen this guy in person, but I bet he's very skinny. Like sapling-in-the-fall skinny. I'm talking Old Weird Harold skinny. And you can't beat Thin Lizzy Thursdays.

3. Scissorkick
Though I don't know him, Steve is likely a brother from another mother.

4. SoulSides
Oliver never loafs. Brah has the beat & then some.

5. Spoilt Victorian Child
Anyone who considered joining Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth---but ultimately didn't because of the club's call for bodily fluids---is a man after my own heart. Plus, tite tunes from all genres.
Is there a major flaw in the way that music blog sites function that you'd like to see corrected?
More japes, less paste.
Can you list a few bands that you enjoy listening to that might surprise your readers?
Since my blog is all over the place, I'm not sure anything I'd list would be a surprise---but let's give it a shot. I have a very high tolerance for pop-punk, I am a big fan of the Counting Crows (minus "Mr. Jones," which I can't stand), and I've learned to love Alanis Morrisette beyond reason. To me, the Crows & Alanis represent the pinnacle of a theory that I've been working on between shots and chasers, a genre that I call Pro-Mo---i.e., professional emo bands. In other words, bands that evoke the emo genre as personified by Dashboard Confessional---but without having punk-rock backgrounds. There are plenty of bands in this still-formulating genre that I abhor---Matchbox 20, Nickleback, etc.---but I'm still intrigued by this idea.
Are you a proud member of the iPod Nation?
I rock the iRiver HP-20. Not only is it less expensive than the iPod, it has a built-in FM tuner and a built-in microphone (as well as an external mic jack), which is perfect for my journalism work. Now, instead of having unlabeled cassette tapes with valuable interviews cluttering up my house, I have unlabeled MP3 files with valuable interviews cluttering up my hard drive.
Do you hope to someday make a living with something music or internet related?
I'm one of the lucky ones in that I already do make my living dealing with music. My day job is with JazzTimes and I've freelanced for several other publications.
How difficult is it to maintain the site?
It's not a problem for me because I don't feel the need to post every day. Some days it can take a bit of time to do the research (find links, synthesize info) and make the prose somewhat worth reading, but other days it takes 5 minutes.
Give me a good story about how one of the tracks that made it up on your blog got there.
I've been very fortunate to travel a bit this year, so I've posted several tracks from the places I've visited as an audio travel log. Also, when I was working on an article about the influence of jazz on the creation of ska, I used the blog like a notepad, posting the original jazz versions of tunes next to the usually uncredited ska versions. I even referred to my blog for info when I was writing the feature.
Pick one musician and one question. Who is it and what do you ask?
Because of my day gig I don't really have this sort of desire anymore. That's not a bad thing. I just realized that most musicians, when you strip away the auto-tuners and the Waddy Wachtel overdubs, are pretty much regular folk. The one person I really wanted to interview, in depth and with no holds barred, was Studio One mastermind Coxsone Dodd. I tried many, many times earlier this year---even had an appointment with him in Kingston; he never showed up---and then he died.
Could you see yourself still running your site in five years?
Sure, but with fewer updates---in fact, I can see that being the case next week.
What's the best live show you've ever seen?
My memory is terrible, which is why I can't nail all the dates and I can't pick one. But lemme list a few names (in no particular order) that rise out of the fog:

1. AC/DC at Joe Louis Arena (?), Detroit, 1988.
When Angus kicked open the door of the phallic rocketship and ripped out a solo while being back-lit and smoke-shrouded? Holla.

2. My Bloody Valentine at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit (1991?) and at the Metro in Chicago (1991 as well?).
I wanted to puke at the Detroit show during "You Made Me Realize," the tune where they hold that one note for 20 minutes.

3. Rainer Maria at the Metro in Washington, D.C., 1998 or '99.
Restored my faith in the power of artfully shouted harmonies.

4. Gaunt at the Metro in Washington, D.C., 1998.
At 1 a.m. on a Sunday night they played in front of me, my future wife, the opening band, the bartender, and Bruce. They played 13 songs in 25 minutes. Despite the futility of the situation they crushed every tune. The lead singer died three years later.

5. Aphex Twin in Pontiac, Michigan, early 1990s.
He played with Vapourspace and Moby, and Richard D. James almost killed me. I had no drink or drugs in my system, and yet my equilibrium was so messed up because of the volume, the strobes, the general chaos, I could barely walk from the front of the stage to the back of the club. I was like a pinball bouncing off patrons & pillars.

6. Circle Jerks, City Club (?), Detroit, 1985 or '86.
My friend stage dove, was caught by the crowd, then got thrown back toward the band. He landed on Keith Morris' leg---which snapped or severely twisted. As Morris was being hobbling off the stage, and the Circle Jerks' drummer began a Neil Peart-like drum solo, I remember a bouncer violently picking up my friend by his skinny little neck and disappearing with him like he was a rag doll. Later in the year I saw a live video of a Circle Jokes show---and Keith was in a cast. The clip was shown on Back Porch Video , a production of the Dearborn High School A/V class, which was taught by former MC5 manager Russ Gibb.

7. Dinosaur Jr., Club Heidelberg, Ann Arbor, Michigan, late 1980s.
They were just about to implode, and the tensions were so friggin' out in the open for everyone to see. They were so loud that they ended up blowing up the P.A.

8. Big Black, Ann Arbor, Michigan, late 1980s.
Albini & Co. also blew up the P.A. in this University of Michigan cafeteria, so Steve-O started telling jokes that would make Redd Foxx blush.

9. Prince, Joe Louis Arena (?), Detroit, 1988 (?).
This was the Lovesexy tour, and his star was still blazin' like a thousand suns. Perhaps it was because of that intense light and the amazing show that we couldn't find our car after the gig.

10. Nellie McKay in Montreal, Quebec, 2004.
She was playing at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and while I had read about her I didn't hear her until this evening. It was just Nellie, her piano, and her wit, and it was the most fun I've had at a live concert in years. The album's fine, but this girl shines in front of an audience. Sometimes comedy is pretty---very, very pretty.

11. Various artists, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2004.
This outdoor music festival celebrated the divas of South African music (Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, etc), and it was one of the most joyous concerts I've ever been to. This Hansa is for Thuli.

12. J. Geils Band, Pine Knob Music Theater, Pontiac, Michigan, 1981.
This was my first concert, the "Freeze Frame" tour. Since J. Geils was pretty much the house band of Detroit Rock City, I opted for them over Van Halen & Queen. Still don't regret it. In fact, a truncated version of the concert was later released as the "Showtime" LP, which has one of the oddest record edits ever. At the end of side one, Peter Wolf is doing his famous rap that intros "Love Stinks." He's cracking wise, really hamming it up in order to lead into the scream of "Love stinks!!!" But on this LP he only gets out "Love…" before the needle picks up---you have to flip it to side 2 to hear him yell "Stinks!!!" So tite.
Do you have a message for youngsters who'd like to start their own musicblog?
Japes, japes, japes.
Drop on by betterPropaganda and pick out a track to hype.

Dizzee Rascal - "Fix Up, Look Sharp."

You almost never hear vulnerability in rap and his raw voice sounds like a teenager's angst & insecurities transformed into waveforms.