Monday, November 22, 2004

Mercy, Mister Percy!

It's been a long time. At least I left you with some dope beats to step to.

Here's a few more. Not much more in common with one another than all being beautiful; here's hoping that's enough.

glisten: potpourri

Percy Sledge - "Love Me Tender"

Sledge's cover of the Presley standard adds a level of nuance and teardrop I never heard in the King's version.

Where Elvis plays the cowboy troubadour, Percy is dateless for the prom, BEGGIN' in that old fashioned James Brown way for just a little sugar. I have no doubt that Elvis roped his little dogie; Percy might have an empty bed ahead.

Every note Sledge sings on this track is butterfly fragile; no matter how many times I listen to this cut, I expect it to be lost as soon as it's over. It's a heartbreaking little ice sculpture, a velvet poco-a-poco lullaby to soothe your Monday hangover and softly break your heart.

Repeat as necessary.

Buy "It Tears Me Up", a twenty-three song overview of the stars in the Sledge constellation, direct from Rhino Records.

Those of you whose understanding of Percy begins and ends with "When a Man Loves a Woman" owe it to yourselves to sniff out a copy and immerse yourself in "It's All Wrong But It's Alright", "Take Time To Know Her", "That's How Strong My Love Is", along with the compilation's soul-wracking title track.
Visit Percy's official site or visit this French fansite to learn more about "When has man coil has woman".

No, seriously; they've got some pretty album cover pics.
Listen to Sledge speak with Tony Kox in this late '04 NPR interview; he discusses the links between country and soul music back in the day as well as his love for the Brothers Gibb.

"Percy... ya like ol' Steel!"
Trust me... I know what I'm doing.

The Cats and the Fiddle - "Drink Muddy Water"

These Cats live up to their sobriquet; vicious, prissy and cutting. Even the jaunty string cadence evokes a "oh-no-she-DI'INT" neck waggle and a talk-to-the-hand stop sign.

"Muddy Water" is a solid "bitch begone" cut in the style of Gloria Gaynor, R. Kelly and Frank Sinatra; how many other songs can you think of that boast that roster of influence?

The harmonies and lead vox are, in a word, spectacular. Other words you could reasonably use: precise, gorgeous and yes, corny.

But I Love corny! I want more barbershop pop, more forties-style boy bands!

I don't think you're ready for this belly.

Buy "The Cats and the Fiddle: Killin Jive, 1939-1940", volume one of the band's complete recordings, from Amazon.
Fans of the Mills Brothers, the Four Vagabonds, the Five Red Caps, the Inkspots or any other early jazz vocal bands are likely to love these fellows.
Read this extensive history of the band.
Listen to the "Muddy Water" B-side, "I'll Always Love You Just The Same".
A lot more generic but still swinging.
Hey diddle diddle.

Bill Carlisle - "Feet Don't Fail Me"

What can you say about a bluegrass track that's as gangsta as Ghostface's 'Run'?

Check the lyrics:

"Sittin' on the corner just-a rollin' some dice / I took the money once and I took it twice / Saw the police comin', just a burnin' the ground / I started pickin' up my feet and a' layin' 'em down / I said Feet don't you fail me this time; Lawd, Lawd / Said, Feet don't you fail me this time / Lawd no, don't fail me."

Or this verse:

"I was huggin' (or maybe even "hookin'"?) my gal the other night / In come her maw, lookin' for a fight / A rolling pin hit me on my dome / I said: Feet don't you fail me, please carry me home! / I said, Feet don't you fail me this time; Lawd, Lawd / Said, Feet don't you fail me this time / Boy, and I started pickin' 'em up and layin' em down!"

Geto Boys? UGK? Naw, just a Kentucky country boy circa 1937.

Carlisle was notorious for abruptly leaping onto a chair while he performed, earning him the AKA Jumpin' Bill Carlisle.

To my mind, Jumpin' Bill is as reasonable an MC handle as Bubba Sparxxx.

But let's forget the lyrics and the able rap skills for the moment; just LISTEN to that guitar! Downright superhuman pickin' speed with the accuracy of a sniper.

Jumpin' Bill died in March of '03 at the ripe old age of ninety-four. Pour out a little likka.

Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame's page for Carter.
Read this Carlisle bio.
Explore the history of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, one of Carlisle's haunts for almost fifty years.

I sat on the stage as a kid; it's a big party for everyone involved.
I ain't gellin'.

spiffy: down with the dirt dog

The positive response to the ODB obit has been much appreciated. Literally DOZENS of other musicblogs have posted music and respect for Russell; I think we gave him a helluva send off.

I heard from someone who attended the funeral that the picture on the cover of the program was taken from the welfare card photo on "Return to the 36 Chambers"... complete with that album's street date emblazoned over it.

For a man whose personal and artistic life collided and coalesced into such an utter trainwreck, one wonders whether this is grotesque or simply appropriate.

Most likely it's both.

Watch the infamous Grammy speech.
Listen to this ODB press conference, as heard on Howard Stern.
Davey D eulogizes the Dog.
Heck, while we're at it; let's toss in another bonus rarity.

Ol' Dirty Bastard - "Sussudio"

What I like most about this track (you can hardly call it a cover) is how straight ODB plays it. When you most expect a burlesque pisstake, that's when the Dog steps up with a vocoder, a bitchin' backup singer and a hot rap to boot. Surprisingly meaty and Roger Troutman-esque production along with a rare clean-mouthed lyric sheet give this the heft of the radio-friendly single that ODB never tasted after "Got Your Money". More's the pity this never found heavy rotation airplay; smells like a pop (s)hit to me.

This cut hails from the obscure import only R+B Phil Collins tribute album, "Urban Renewal". That disc also boasts Brandy on "Another Day in Paradise", Kelis doing "I Don't Care Anymore" and Lil' Kim teaming up with Collins himself to remake "In the Air Tonight".

You can't make this shit up.

Meeting the Neighbors

Mystical Beast

Mystizzy Bizzeast has always been a real kindred spirit: we both got into this game when we were unavoidably jobless and homebound; we both sought out rarities and obscurities and we both spend way too damn much time researching and writing about our picks. Where my tastes lean to obscurities and hip hop, Dana is more taken with new wave and classic rock but we both love music so much that we're drawn to a million different styles and tastes on any given day.

Recent offerings at the Beast include music from boyskout, yo, ELO and Alison Breitman.

(On a side note, I'd like to put in a vote in favor of Ms. Breitman myself. The album is sweet, poppy, enjoyable and gentle. Recommended to anybody with a taste for Suzanne Vega, Paula Cole or Norah Jones. I'd love to see her blow up like a helium balloon; gal got some skills.)

Here's our Beastman.


I'm 35 (36 in two weeks) and live in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn with my wife and our cats. My fun fact: I was housemates with Soul Coughing's M. Doughty when I first moved to NYC, though he hadn't formed the band at that point. I've lived in Brooklyn since '91 and bought a house here a few years ago. I've dabbled in music in the past, but never very seriously. I come from a musical family (dad has a string quartet, sis teaches it) so I didn't have much choice. My first post was on October 23, 2003.
Where did the name of your blog originate from?
I named it after a children's book called "The Mystical Beast" by Alison Farthing. It's a strange little book about witches and children (pre Harry Potter) that wasn't rare, but for some reason, there's almost no info about its author on the internet. When I started the blog I wanted to focus on music that wasn't rare, but had somehow slipped through the cracks: the kind of groups who put out decent albums on real labels, but don't have a website, don't have a good allmusic entry, etc. Unfortunately, everyone seems to interpret the blog's title as if I want to be called "The Mystical Beast." Next time I'm just going to use a lyric by The Fall.
What are the criteria you judge a song by to decide if it's post-worthy?
I have to really, really like it. I guess that's the main one. I try to steer away from current popular releases. If it's got some relation to No Wave, so much the better.
Do you have a favorite music critic?
I love Gail O'Hara of chickfactor for her excellent musical taste, despite her nepotistic tendencies and despite the fact that most of her reviews read like "I'm jumping up and down drinking champagne to this swellegant new disc by this fantastic chick with whom I'm best pals...." Actually, Gail doesn't really write reviews anymore, so I guess the answer is that I don't have a favorite music critic.
Five desert island discs?

1. Magic Dirt - "Friends In Danger"
2. Swans - "Feel Good Now"
3. The Nightblooms - "24 Days At Catastrofe Cafe"
4. The Dustdevils - "Struggling Electric And Chemical"
5. The Moles - "Untune The Sky"
What was the last track you heard that really changed your life?
The only thing that springs to mind is the experience of first hearing Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, which jolted teenage me out of a prog-rock lifestyle and pointed me in the direction of the Velvet Underground, etc. We're talking a long, long time ago.
How much does it cost you to maintain your site?
Not so much these days, as I spent a ton of money on albums over the past 10-15 years and I'm still working off of that material. At some point I'll run out though. Scary! Time is the real problem. I'm really uptight about fact checking (though I still sometimes screw up) so it's often 2 hours to put up a simple post. When you stop trusting Allmusic, life gets difficult.
Describe the space you do your writing in.
Very basic, in my bedroom, beneath a colored-tin-foil enhanced painting of Mao that I found in the trash outside of a Chinese restaurant. I often have to run into the other room where I keep my CDs to check release dates and stuff like that. I have trouble with typing, so I dictate most of my posts with Dragon Naturally Speaking.
That old chestnut dinner party is at your house and you can invite three musicians living or dead. Who are you inviting?
I don't like to hang out with musicians. I don't really enjoy talking about music in real life.
Which critical darling do you find most OVERLOOKED?
The duo of Michael Duane and Jaqi Dulany, who played in The Dustdevils back in the late 80's and early 90's.
ed. note: this was originally falsely noted as most OVERRATED by your dumbass editor; Dana loves the Dustdevils, honest!
Recommend three other musicblog sites?

The first places I check each morning are:

1. Spoilt Victorian Child who seems to be drawn to the same sort of stuff that I like. He does noisy, he does pop, and he seems to zero in on interesting examples.

2. An Idiot's Guide To Dreaming who gets the weirder and druggier stuff without going off the deep end.

3. Largehearted Boy is a little more indie-rock than I personally like, but he does an amazing job of spotting headlines and news items day after day.
Are you a proud member of the iPod Nation?
I still have an old 10 Gig model. Life changing device! Everyone should own one.
What's the best live show you've ever seen?
Ok, don't go buying their CDs, but The Upper Crust was the most fun band I've seen. They dressed up as French nobility and sang AC/DC style songs about how hard it is to tolerate the poor. You really did have to be there, but they were utterly hilarious and rocked the house. Actually, the best live show I ever saw was when Luna played at my wedding, but I'm not sure if it's fair to count that.
Do you have a message for anyone who'd like to start their own musicblog?
I wish more old people would start musicblogs!
ed. note: SECONDED!
The head of Sony/BMG is sitting across the table from you, asking how to improve the music industry for both the consumer and the company. What do you say?
Put more women in charge. Seriously.
Who's your favorite producer?
I'm going to go with Tony Visconti. Those T. Rex albums are just amazing. They ought to be taught in school as an example of how to turn basic building blocks into a lethally catchy weapon.
Often, a mondegreen can be more satisfying than a song's intended meaning. Do you have a particular personal misinterpretation of a tune that you prefer to the god's honest lyrics?
A friend of mine has a very worked-out and fairly plausible theory that David Bowie's Width Of A Circle is all about anal sex, and that certainly does add something to the song.
Drop on by betterPropaganda and pick out a track to hype.

Clear Horizon - "For Days"

Better Propaganda doesn't mention it in the blurb, but Clear Horizon is, for all intents and purposes, Flying Saucer Attack (it's the guy from FSA collaborating with a FSA devotee named Jessica Bailiff). Their album came out last year on the Kranky label and my sense is that almost nobody realizes that it is 1. fantastic and 2. of a piece with the rest of the Flying Saucer Attack discography. For those who don't know, FSA was a group that figured out how to fuse extremely rudimentary recording technology with an interesting take on My Bloody Valentine, folk and Krautrock to produce some gemlike recordings that work on a number of levels (ambient, experimental, psychedelic) at the same time. People really flipped over them back in the 90's.

even MORE spiffy

Reason #8,765,493 to love the internet: now, at the touch of a button you can bet told how liked you are.
It's been said before, but the Japanese sure do have some weird commercials.
As long as we're on the advertising tip: I generally shy away from viral shit, but I have SUCH a weakness for Transformer cars breakdancing.
As such, I recommend that you go here and click the "watch ad" button.
See also here, here, here, here and here for more of the same.
Thanks to an anonymous reader who tipped me off to this Matt Groening interview:

"I once did a comic strip about Akbar and Jeff's Tofu Hut, and it was printed in 40 papers. In two of those papers, Santa Barbara and Hermosa Beach, the papers received a call, 'I saw your ad for Tofu Hut and I've been looking for it, where is it?'"
More videos like this, please.

DUE WARNING: This may hurt your brain.
I have been convinced by this site that I _MUST_ buy an Eyetoy in the near future.
I'm a sucker for this level of interactivity.
I'm also seriously considering getting Donkey Konga.
Throwing down the gauntlet.
Dana offers some creative anarchy of the Yippie variety.
Less than forty shopping days left, but this is all I want for Giftmas.

some more self-important blather

The tradeoff for taking more time off in between posts is pretty obvious: I can spend more time increasing the quality and expanse of writing in each 'issue' and have more fun while I'm doing so. On the other hand, I like to be able to keep the content in pretty constant rotation. So I'm torn.

In any case, commentary and curiosity is always more than welcome as it's the only real reward I reap from the site.

Which brings up an interesting point.

I'm considering putting a tip jar on the page.

Money collected from donations would go toward buying me more time to write and post.

Am I fooling myself, ethically, with this solution or am I fooling myself by thinking anyone would wanna drop cash on my fool head for this stuff in the first place?

Let a blogga know.
Chris over at Uncritical caught me hysterically blathering on the ILM Soulseek board about a week ago while I was searching for Three Six Mafia bootlegs and outtakes from the Katamari Damacy soundtrack and ranting with all the wit and obscenity and foolishness that my sleep deprived mind can produce.

Little did I know that the big fella was logging my hysteria. He's just posted a mash-up of some of my patter in my (soon-to-be-patented) "Meeting the Neighbors" format.

While it should be known that I distinctly DO NOT remember answering any of those questions, all the quotes are tongue in cheek, but genuine.

My name is Forksclovetofu and I approve this message.