Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Once again it's on!

After you're done here, stop on by O's house for Part Two. But first...
glisten: Soul Hut 2
Afrique - "Kissing My Love"

O sez:Instrumental version of vocal songs are always a tricky balance. Afrique, which brought together the talents of drummer Paul Humphrey (an ill stickman), organist Charles Kynard plus guitarist David T Walker, takes on Bill Withers' funky/soulful "Kissing My Love." Humphrey has the easiest task: replicate the opening drum break that helps distinguish this song; Humphrey's a great drummer, one of those unsung studio stalwarts of the 1970s (who had some solid albums of his own, like Supermellow). Kynard's interpolation of Withers' vocals into what sounds like moog is a little more uneven. It's an acquired taste, shall we say, but the song just comes off so deliciously quirky and funky, I can deal with it.

J sez: As is almost ALWAYS the case, O's taste in drummers is excellent; Humphrey's work here is downreet exemplary. The funk guitar is enjoyable and burbling. Now that moog... well, I'm not sure I CAN deal with it. Perhaps it's just my love for the original but the synthetic phrasing on Bill's lyrics (specifically the "jumpin' and a-skippin'" part) just drives me nuts.
Funny thing too; electronics normally grace soul nicely but, to my mind, Withers' earthy style somehow hamstrings the fusion of African rhythms, Space Age Pop and Feel Good RnB. Ain't nothin' like th' real thing.

Buy the reissue of "Soul Makossa" cheap on vinyl... from Vinyl!
Hand Kissing: A Guide for the Perplexed
Of the five tracks Oliver graciously sent in, this is probably the one that came closest to missing me. Still a nice curiosity but when compared to the delightful dulcet tones of the Numba One Soul Bruddah... well, you can't hope to box with the immortals, yeh?

If nothing else, Afrique's cover put me of a mind to dig up some more obscure Withers for your ears. So that leads us to:
Bill Withers - "Lonely Town, Lonely Street"

J sez: Bill Withers suffers from "Compil-itis"; everybody loves the greatest hits but relatively few take the time to really dig deep for more. Compil-itis is generally brought about by licensing issues, changing tastes and complex and unpleasant business and artistic leaps and missteps; others afflicted by this malady would include John Coltrane, James Brown, Elvis Presley and Bob Marley. Like gout; it's a great man's disease. At least Bill's in good company, right?

This overlooked pearl struts and pimpwalks with astonishing assurance; it's a hit in waiting. Waiting too long if you ask me. Give it a listen and tell me it's not a serious anthem on a par with "Grandma's Hands", "Who Is He (and What Is He to You)" and "Lovely Day".

Beats fuck outta "Lean on Me", f'sho.

Buy "Just As I Am/Still Bill", the double album reissue comp from Raven Records, from Amazon.
This is NICE and an excellent alternative to buying a best of album. You still get a good chunk of the greatest hits but you also get to be the only kid on your block with the Bobby Womack duet!
Visit the official site.
Withers continues to record; he recently performed a duet with Jimmy Buffet on the latters new album License to Chill.
So I guess that's good. Right?

Meeting the Neighbors

I dropped off this article at betterPropaganda quite some time ago and figured I might as well drop it off on you as well. Stop by here first if you have any questions or if you're having difficulty understanding the reviews.

"One of the most exciting possibilities that musicblogging offers it's afficianados is exposure to new musical genres.

Filling a genre niche in the musicblogsphere requires an extensive music collection, a boundless enthusiasm for the chosen genre and a F'r REAL knowledge of the topic at hand.

Here's two musicbloggers that meet those requirements to a T.


Swung By Seraphim

Author: Jason Pitzl- Waters, "a local radio, club DJ and music writer living in Illinois"

Primary Genre: "Gothic, Darkwave, Deathrock, Industrial, EBM, Post-Punk, Death Disco"; basically the "darker musical genres"

Type: Individual

First Post: July, 2004

Update Frequency: About once every two days but there are occasional prolific bursts.

Music Format: Downloadable MP3. Rather than hosting the track on his own, Jason hotlinks to label and artist sites that offer promotional MP3's for DL.

Design Style: Clean, professional and easy on the eyes.

Ease of Use: Nicely laid out and very easy to navigate.

Writing style: Bright but spare. Jason generally provides each track with a band bio, a handful of published reviews on the artist, a paragraph of his own personal commentary and a handful of links. Does not link to a site that sells the music per se, though almost every article has a link that does provide access to online store fronts... and often to fan- or artist sites that provide _more_ downloads.

Anything else?: The requisite blogroll with a nice collection of label links and wikis to help neophytes learn more about the "dark side" of the radio dial.

John Sez: It's difficult for me to imagine an essayist who could engage me in Deathcore, much less convince me to listen to any of the stuff. Jason makes it look easy; he suggest "sounds like" matches with more accessible and less goth bands to steer you to your likely interests. Jason also makes a real effort to explore surprising depth and diversity in a genre that I had written off as power chords and cookie monster vocals.

Past Offerings: Cabaret artist "for the broken" Nicki Jane; "Pagan Goths" Inkubus Sukkubus; "two hot girls on keyboards, a Mick Jaggeresque singer, a guitar god, a flawless punk rock bassist, and an insessant drum machine" that make up Something About Vampires and Sluts; and "Trip Hop/Goth Industrial" band Collide.

What You're likely to find: The underground in an underground movement, music that your little cousin will be astonished that you're listening to no matter WHO you are, something challenging and adrenaline wired.

Bottom Line: By shining a bright light in a dark place, "Swung by Seraphim" has created a one-of-a-kind musicblog that could very well win over some converts to the Goth army.


Something I Learned Today

Author: Eric, a thirty two year old "married father living in Syracuse, interested in old punk rock, digital photography, and anything that makes me giggle like a little school girl"

Primary Genre: "Punk, Garage and Hardcore"

Type: Individual

First Post: May 2004

Update Frequency: Almost week-daily. Four or five posts a week seems average.

Music Format: Downloadable MP3s. Links stay up for about eight days or so and then are permanently removed.

Design Style: Simple blogger template. A little overly cluttered and claustrophobic; the text hugs the left margin for dear life and the font size is often unnecessarily small and difficult to read.

Ease of Use: Downloads are clearly labeled but the overall crush of words can make it difficult to scan the page.

Writing style: Rambling, familiar and occasionally a little too insular ("I may be the only person to actually admit I'm not gaga over [Greg Cartwright's] post Oblivians bands") but mostly does a good job of skimming the artist's background, bio and style.

Anything else?: Requisite blogroll linking to other musicblogs and personal interests.

John Sez: With only a few exceptions (The White Stripes and the Buzzcocks), I had never even HEARD of these bands. Presumably often lifting from vinyl, Eric is ostensibly preaching to the choir but kids who think of Avril as punk might also do well to play digital cratedigger and get a better sense of their roots.

Past Offerings: "Forgotten step child of the early 90's noiserock world" Tar; "straight ahead old school hardcore" band Christ on a Crutch; "perhaps the greatest political hardcore band to come out of the US", the Dicks and "a mix of Country, Blues, and just plain aggro", Mule.

What You're likely to find: Little known (even amongst fans) punk tracks that you're unlikely to find anywhere else.

Bottom Line: Fans of modern punk (or what passes for it these days on Clear Channel affiliates) have a new source to learn from and many a mostly forgotten artist has been given a second life.


There's dozens of opportunities for a creative musicblogger to dig out their own niche; would you believe there's no individually run musicblogs that specialize in Jazz? Or Classical? Or movie soundtracks? Or Country and Western? Or... well, you get the idea.

The pool is open and the water's fine. Jump on in!"