Thursday, April 28, 2005
glisten: hugh mundell
It is 1983. In Kingston, Jamaica; the U.S. installed leader of the Jamaica Labor Party, Edward Seaga arranges for his election to the head of the Jamaican Parliament, establishing a single-party grip on the reigns of Jamaican political power until 1989. Kingston is (then and now) a dangerous place to be, perennially ranking amongst the highest murder per-capita cities in the world.
In America, the unemployment rate is a gaudy 9.6 percent. President Reagan addresses the nation in October to tell us that "all the ills of the world are to be blamed on the Soviets". In the midst of Cold War Fever, America's interest in Jamaican violence and poverty is muted at best.
I am eight, laid out on the floor and reading my father's old Warren Spirit comic magazines. My father listens to music; he's always listening to music. I listen with him while I read. He's been spinning one record quite a bit lately; a reggae disc called "Africa Must Be Free by 1983". It's the first reggae I've ever heard and although the sound of the music is terrifically alien and utterly beyond my experience, it still somehow speaks to me. "Africa Must Be Free" becomes an album that I forever after associate with a childhood sense of comfort, security and happiness.
Back in Jamaica, the artist behind that album, a boy not yet 21 (in fact he was only barely 21, see amendment below), sits in a car on the streets of Kingston. A figure approaches him from behind, raises a gun and fires; the boy is shot in the neck. Accounts as to the motive vary; some say that the victim had entered the neighborhood seeking revenge for an earlier burglary; there are those who claim that the boy had sold his assailant a faulty refrigerator and was shot in retaliation for the scam; some argue that it was a dispute over a woman. Whatever the cause, Hugh Mundell, a prodigy who had at the age of twenty created five albums and three children, lay dead.
Hugh Mundell was born in 1962 in East Kingston, to a solidly middle class family; his father was a well-known lawyer. We can only surmise that Alvine Mundell had ample opportunity to discuss politics, law and the sad inequalities that men faced in court with his son; we can only imagine what effect these stories might have had on young Hugh. What we know is that Alvine's job forced him to often move his entire family; one chance landing placed the Mundells next door to well-known Reggae performer and producer, Boris Gardner (note amendment below). Gardner recognized the young man's potential and schools Hugh and a few of Hugh's friends to reggae music and the nature of the Rasta faith. Eventually, Hugh and his friends access Gardner's studio space and, at the age of thirteen, Mundell records his first single, "Where Is Natty Dread?" with Joe Gibbs.
The song is never released, but the experience is noteworthy as it brings Mundell to the attention of Augustus Pablo, a well-known reggae producer who had a run of considerable successes creating riddims for such artists as Dillinger, the Heptones and Delroy Williams. Pablo takes the young man under his wing and enlists him as a DJ for his sound system, where Mundell works under the DJ AKA Jah Levi.
Augustus releases a number of singles with Mundell over the next three years; in 1978, these are collected and released, with a few new tracks, as Mundell's first album, "Africa Must Be Free By 1983." It is one of the truly great freshman releases of all time; polished and expert beyond any expectation. Mundell's smooth voice has all the command and control of a man well past his modest years; Pablo's beautifully understated production elicits a spiritual depth in Hugh's work. There is an unmistakable political aspect to this remarkable album; beyond the obvious anti-apartheid sentiment inherent in the album's title cut, tracks like "Day of Judgement" and "Run Revolution a Come" promised an end to the harsh treatment of the underprivileged Jamaican masses.
One could argue a corollary connection with Maya Arulpragasam, if it were not for the fact that MIA has a good decade on Hugh and that Mundell's preachings were rooted in a deep and almost Zen-like desire for non-violent revolution. The track that most clearly reflects this is "Why Do Black Men Fuss and Fight," an enduring anti-beef anthem if ever there was one.
Hugh Mundell - "Why Do Black Men Fuss and Fight"
Hugh Mundell - "Run Revolution a Come"
Buy "Africa Must Be Free By 1983" on CD or vinyl from Ernie B's Reggae.
Mundell would not live to see the end of black subjugation in South Africa; in the spirit of the album's title, read this brief skim of the History of Apartheid.
Listen to this in-depth NPR piece on the rise and fall of apartheid.
Read the story of Walter Rodney.
The Rodney riots in Jamaica would have undoubtedly colored Mundell's nascent political beliefs.
Read this brief bio of South African martyr Steven Biko.
Explore this Frontline page that explores the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
"Africa Must" was well-received both critically and financially and announced Mundell as a powerful new voice on the Kingston musical scene. A year later, Pablo released a dub version of the album, with new track names and vocals. The following song, labeled "Ital Slip" is the dub version of the song "Jah Will Provide" from the original "Africa Must" album; it is among Pablo's best riddims: reverent, hypnotic and gently insistent.
Augustus Pablo and Hugh Mundell - "Ital Slip"
Mundell leveraged his success by creating his own label to record on, dubbing it "Muni-Musik". Hugh worked with a few new producers between 1979 to '83, Prince Jammy and Henry "Junjo" Lawes among them, and tried his own hand at production with his first signed artist, 'Little' Junior Reid. Reid, who will go on to become a highly acclaimed artist in his own right, was sitting beside Hugh when he was shot.
In the style of Prince, Mundell proceeded to drop one new album a year for four years straight. These new albums are not nearly awe-inspiring as his first, but show considerable growth and exploration; they are the works of a young artist beginning to find his own way. The tracks spotlit here come from "Blackman's Foundation" and the posthumously released "Arise"; both of these would have been recorded near the end of his life, in 1983.
Hugh Mundell - "Great Tribulation"
Hugh Mundell - "In the Ghetto"
Buy "Black Man's Foundation" from Amazon and buy "Arise" from Roots 2 Music.
Explore this complete, and all-too-brief, Mundell discography.
Explore El Rockers, a dense Augustus Pablo tribute page.
Learn more about the Rastafari faith.
Mundell's tragic murder leaves us with an unfinished artist's career and a story cut short. He remains unjustly unknown outside of a small circle of roots reggae buffs.
July 2011 finds me older and surprised to receive the following letter in the mail today that I post here edited for anonymity of the sender and out of appreciation for his attention:
"I appreciate you writing these positive things about our friend Hugh. Your article is positive and your intentions are good but I want to give you some facts for your future writings. First of all he was in fact 21 years old when he died. He was born in June of 1962 and died in October 1983 (very ironic given the title of his first recording ). He was never at any time a neighbor of Boris Gardener. We grew up together and I am very proud of his accomplishments. I can tell you that he had a very privileged childhood and is the only son of his parents (he has three sisters). When he first started disappearing from the neighborhood and eventually growing dreads, I have to admit that I did not find it cool (being a pall bearer at his funeral was even worse). As I have gotten older I now understand his purpose and am now at peace with his activities while he was alive. I also realize that he has put me in a hell of a position even in death because I walk around as a person with authentic knowledge of what is now a very important piece of music history."
Monday, April 25, 2005
What a weekend! After two days of futzing about with my computer, during which The Evil Creature would erratically freeze up, reset or move with all the speed of a creeping ivy, I finally got the damn thing working again... not that I have any idea how or why. If there's anything quite as frustrating as trying to get an unruly computer back on its feet for six straight hours, I'd like to hear about it.
Once the system stopped being down, yo; I spent most of my bloggin' time beginning to revamp the blogroll; if you take a quick glance to your right, you'll see about a hundred or so NEW musicblogs and a freshly double-checked/weeded/address-corrected and ALPHABETIZED blogroll (in progress). This is step one in finally getting those links in better order and possibly onto their own page. Many of the newbies have appeared in detail on the page before and many more will get a more rigorous write up shortly. There's plenty of gold in those page so stay tuned and keep checking back as we progress and don't forget to look around at the new links!
(Incidentally, if you've sent me a link to your musicblog to hype and you STILL don't see it up on the page, it's likely been lost. Please re-send!)
Anyway, all that diagnostic silliness took so much time that I've not had a chance to put together a more wordy or complex post, so you guys get filler.
It's good filler, tho'! Enjoy!
Mary Lou Williams - "Baby Man"
Williams is one of the very few musicians who could legitimately claim to have been with jazz from the very beginning; she began performing at the age of eight in 1918 and continued her professional career into the nineteen-eighties. Along the way, Williams played ragtime, free jazz and pretty much everything between.
This particular chill-out track is from a standards collection, reflecting Mary Lou's mellow side; it reminds me of late fifties Ahmad Jamal.
Buy "Free Spirits", by Williams' Trio (Mary Lou on Piano, Buster Williams on bass and Mickey Roker on percussion) from Amazon.
This is late era Williams, circa '75 (Mary Lou died some six years later); her gentle mastery of the instrument is readily apparent.
Explore this comprehensive, well-designed and obsessively investigative site about Ms. Williams.
More information and music than you can shake a very large stick at.
Read several interviews with Mary Lou.
Read an interview with this piece's composer, John Stubblefield.
Stubblefield played with Williams throughout the seventies; many of his compositions are performed on the "Free Spirits" album.
Listen to this NPR retrospective on Ms. Williams.
Meet another Baby Man.
Konami Kukeiha Club - "Wicked Child"
This track hails from the first 'Castlevania' soundtrack for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Castlevania was manufactured by Konami; Konami's music composers for their games worked under the rubric of the Kukeiha Club. Konami Kukeiha Club was responsible for the music on the first two Castlevania games and that music is generally considered to be amongst the best composed for the NES.
Buy the third volume of "The Famicom 20th Anniversary Sound Track Collection" (containing the complete scores to Castlevania I, Gyruss I, Doctor Mario, Zanac and Mighty Bomb Jack) from CD Japan.
Quite a bit of filler, but the highs are VERY high.
Visit Konami of America.
Read this essay on the history of Castlevania music.
Listen to this Overclocked Remix of "Wicked Child."
Hold up yer lighters!
Read all about the extensive history of the Castlevania series.
Watch dozens of Castlevania parodies.
Video game geeks make with teh funny.
Kelis - "Get Along With You" (FakeID Remix)
FakeID has long been a favorite online DJ; his work is almost always an improvement on the original. In this case, he changes a good song into a truly great one.
Even though FakeID still has this song up and available for DL on his own site, I like it so much that I want to spotlight and host it myself.
I've been listening to this for weeks now; get a copy and catch the earworm.
Buy Kelis' "Kaleidoscope", containing the original Neptunes-produced version of this track, from Amazon.
Visit DJ FakeID's official site.
Absolutely crawling with worthwhile downloads; I recommend the Fannypack, Madonna and NERD tracks unreservedly. Mufugga's AMAZING.
He's got the internet goin' nuts!
Visit Kelis' official site.
Watch the now-infamous "Milkshake" video.
Listen to this audio interview with Kelis.
Sadly, she's not the most interesting girl in the room...
I've just started doing some writing for Stylus Magazine, reviewing the UK Top Ten Singles. If you don't get enough jibber-jabber out of me over here, feel free to traipse by there and check it out; read 'em here, here and this week's should be on the main page by the time you read this.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
glisten: FAMILY VALUES ELEVEN: SAY UNCLE
Al Hopkins and His Hillbilly Buckle Busters - "Old Uncle Ned"
Dad: This is a Stephen Foster song and not one of his better ones.
It's probably worth remembering that it was written in 1848, back when slavery was considered "politically correct." 'Uncle Ned' was recorded by several hillbilly artists back in the 1920's but I can't think of a single version by a black musician.
This version sounds a little stiff to me. There are more interesting renditions available by the Leake Country Revelers (Document, DOCD-8030), Fiddlin' John Carson (Document, DOCD-8015) and Uncle Dave Macon (Bear Family, BCD-15978 JM).
Mom: I like the banjo and fiddle arrangements, but I don't like it when subjects and music run counter too each other. You know: "the old darkie died, lalalalala!" It's offensive. I can't imagine you would want somebody to write a song about you like this after you were dead. Maybe they wrote it a long time after he died? Hee Haw.
Sis: “There was an old darkie and his name was Uncle Ed”?
I understand applying an historical perspective to music, but I think you still risk offending people when you play this song and I wouldn’t argue all too strongly against their reaction. What’s more, the refrain which says “he’s gone where the good darkies go” suggests to me that this is a distinct place from where the ‘good whiteys’ might go.
Musically, it’s nice enough, but I find it a little too... can I say dated? I certainly hope so.
Buy the third volume of "The Complete Al Hopkins and His Hillbilly Buckle Busters" from Amazon.
Here's an excerpt from the liner notes of this disc by Prof. Charles Wolfe:
"Their first big break came when they got a shot on the radio at Washington's WRC in January 1926; the station was deluged by letters, post cards, and phone calls, all with compliments and requests - so much so that Radio Digest did a feature on it. Though WRC was only a 500 watt station in those days, the signal carried both up to New York and down south to Virginia... the boys were so popular that they were asked to play at a White House function before President Coolidge... (t)he end of the Hill Billie's saga came... as a result of a grinding automobile crash in October 1932 in Winchester: [lead vocalist] Al Hopkins was killed."
Listen to more tracks by the Buckle Busters, in Real format.
Read this page dedicated to Charlie Bowman, famed Buckle Buster fiddler, listed as lead fiddle on this track.
Read this brief essay on the roots of country music.
Hopkins and his band are generally acknowledged as having popularized the term "hillbilly", for better or for worse.
The Mellotones - "Uncle Charley"
Dad: I hadn't heard this before. It's pleasant enough but I can't say that I find the hacking or coughing on this muddy recording particularly musical.
Mom: Is this a calypso song? It makes your shoulders bob, I know that much; it's awful playful. I would've liked to have known Uncle Charley; he sounds like he must have been a nice guy. Probably a beach bum.
What are those guttural sounds at the middle? Is he puking from a little too much partying? I bet this is a good dancing song; you can picture a grandmother and a granddaughter dancing to this. I just think it could have used a few more lyrics, in lieu of those strange sounds.
Sis: This is rocking! That infectious ska sound, the driving beat, the melodic keys, the bouncing guitar... and is that some sort of flute I'm hearing? It's charming and hip. I dig it!
Buy "Lee Perry's Upsetter Shop, Volume 2" from Amazon.
Perry is the producer on this cut from the Mellotones, a short-lived Orange Street crew vocal group.
Read this interview with Mellotones frontman, Winston Francis.
Read this interview with "Scratch" Perry.
If you're unfamiliar with Lee Perry, now's the time to educate y'self: Lee is one of the most innovative, original and influential producers of the twentieth century.
Snack on some of Uncle Charley's sweet Italian sausage.
I don't think anyone's ever documented the making of a film with quite this level of intensity and specificity: Kong is King has daily video updates on the production of the new Peter Jackson film.
Fuck a Jack Black; I'll still probably go.
Sugar Bush Squirrel: For the love of god, someone save this squirrel.
The tsunami pictorial is amongst the WRONGEST things I've ever seen; to say nothing of the Britney photos ("Nut Me Baby, One More Time"?!?!?!)
Ask Roots Manuva
Maybe not as complex as the subservient chicken, but with much better background music!
Podshanking is the closest we have to direct pod-2-pod transfer, but it's realtime only and is something less than high quality. You'd think a pod-2-pod device would be a natural product for someone to market.
Sadly, it's not.
"Which brings up the inevitable question. What, exactly, is on the First iPod?" (see also)
It's old by now, but still brill: Stuffed Animals Perfom the End of "Seven".
I had forgotten how bad Pitt was in this. He sounds downright peeved about Spacey killing his wife. Peeved, I say!
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
glisten: FAMILY VALUES TEN: AIN'T IT GRAND?
For more info about the FAMILY VALUES series, go here.
Richard Pryor - "Grandmother"
Dad: I never dug Pryor much. He's sure got lots of attitude, for whatever that's worth.
Mom: I think Richard is a sad, crazy, funny man. Nothing could slow him down until God spoke. His MS sure isn't too funny.
Sis: Pryor is no less than a great American genius. Although I wouldn’t call this an excerpt of his most important work, a little of Rich makes any compilation better.
Buy "Are You Serious?", an early concert from Pryor, from Amazon.
I would hold Richard Pryor's dick for him so he could take a piss, even if his ass was on fire (again), that's how much I love the man; he's the god.
I managed to cadge a cheap copy of "...And It's Deep Too!" some time ago and it's been a joyous companion since; no iPod should be without. If you ever happen upon the box with a thick wallet or a low price, jump up and bite!
Visit Rich's official website.
Read this classic Pryor anectdote and this brief bio.
Read this '04 interview with Pryor.
Q: What do you think of critics?
Pryor: I never met anybody who said when they were a kid, "I wanna grow up and be a critic."
Sergei Prokofiev - "Grandfather"
Dad: This is from "Peter and the Wolf," right?
Western classical music, as you know, isn't my bag any more than rap is. Maybe if I was born a couple hundred years ago, I would have been happy listening to Prokofiev but I was born in the middle of the twentieth century and what we had was folk and popular music. That suits me fine.
Mom: This evokes some childhood memories; my brother and I used to listen to this on the Victrola. I must have seen the cartoon as well; I have some visuals playing in my head while I listen.
Sis: Prokofiev is not somebody I know much of anything about and this isn't part of my usual listening routines. It’s pleasant.
There are about a zillion versions of "Peter and the Wolf" to choose from and they almost inevitably come backed with Camille Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals". Luckily, both are enjoyable. Might as well buy the Leonard Bernstein version, from Amazon.
Visit the Prokofiev page, "all Prokofiev, all the time."
Listen (in MIDI) and read the story of Peter and the Wolf.
TALES FROM THE RED-HEADED STRANGER
FORKSCLOVETOFU SEZ: The Red Headed Stranger is the nom de plume of the Hut's country music scholar.
John Rich - "I Pray for You"
John Rich - "Old Blue Mountain"
Five years ago, John Rich looked like the unluckiest guy in Nashville.
In 1992, the Amarillo, Texas, native had helped to found the pop-country band Lonestar, in which he played bass and shared lead-vocal duties with Richie McDonald. But by 1998, Rich had either left the band or been forced out (depending on who you listen to), and the following year he watched helplessly as Lonestar went on to massive crossover success without him. The only thing standing between Lonestar and superstardom, apparently, had been John Rich. Things started looking up in 2000, when Rich scored a record deal of his own and recorded his solo debut, Underneath the Same Moon. The core of the album was a clutch of songs written with a new collaborator, "Big Kenny" Alphin, whom he had met in 1998. Rich's first solo single, "I Pray for You," was the second song the two wrote together. Then things started looking down again. "Pray" met resistance at radio, and Rich's record company never even bothered to release his album. The label dropped him via e-mail right around the time Lonestar was selling its three millionth copy of its first Rich-less album, Lonely Grill. Undaunted, Rich kept up his writing partnership with Alphin. They and a few songwriter pals began playing regular Tuesday-night gigs at a tiny Nashville club, the Pub of Love, just for kicks. A scene gradually began to cohere, dubbed "MuzikMafia." The buzz started buzzing.
Then, a break: country diva Martina McBride cut a Rich/Alphin song, "She's a Butterfly," on her Martina album, bringing the two to the attention of Warner Bros. Nashville -- which took a big ol' leap of faith and signed them up as a duo. Big & Rich promptly recorded Horse of a Different Color, perhaps the funkiest, strangest and most consistently entertaining album to emerge from the Nashville hit factory so far this century. With the flamboyant Big Kenny egging him on, Rich showed an eccentric, freewheeling side he could never have let loose in straight-laced, soccer-mom-friendly Lonestar -- and his Fu Manchu mustache suddenly looked hip and ironic instead of just anachronistic. Amazingly, Horse outsold the latest (horrific) Lonestar album by a million copies or so. It was in turn outsold by MuzikMafia moll Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party, about half of which (including "Redneck Woman") was co-written by Rich. Who's unlucky now?
Big Kenny's own long-buried 1999 solo album, Live a Little, was recently excavated by Hollywood Records to cash in on B&R's breakthrough. Rich's Underneath the Same Moon remains locked in the vaults, but if it ever sees release, Big & Rich fans might be surprised at how slick, radio-ready and Lonestar-like it is. These two tracks, both Rich/Alphin collaborations, are fairly representative of the album. "I Pray for You" is all heart-on-sleeve sentiment and Music City gloss, while "Old Blue Mountain" (listen for the gorgeous harmony vocal from Sara Evans) is a tad more adventurous, bringing in the bagpipes for an old-fashioned ode to the value of determination. He should know.
Buy Big & Rich's Horse of a Different Color or Super Galactic Fan Pak. Oh, and don't forget to love everybody.
Check out MuzikMafia "hick-hopper" Cowboy Troy. His album Loco Motive drops May 17, presenting a fascinating test of the country audience's tolerance of A.) rap and B.) African-Americans.
Learn about that other John Rich, "the father of English pantomime."
Keep track of the phases of the moon. Y'know, just in case.
If you'd like to pray for someone, you can always join the Presidential Prayer Team. This week, the PPT is urged to "pray for the ongoing Senate confirmation hearings for President Bush's nominees for U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton and National Intelligence Director, John Negroponte, that God will guide those meetings with His wisdom and power." Yep, I'm sure God has big plans for these two.
These guys are massive dorks, but the Tetris and the Zelda piece at the end is impressive.
House Gymnastics is the extreme sport you can play with your kids.
This impressive photolog of poses should give you some ideas to start with.
Mama Said KNOCK YOU OUT
They just don't make real album covers anymore... not the way that Harvey used to.
I love obsessives: Gibby's Game Room and The Complete Guide to GI Joe
The Fifty Funkiest Albums Ever Made
Tho' some of the choices are suspect (ZZ Top is the top ten?), it makes for interesting reading.
Monday, April 18, 2005
glisten: FAMILY VALUES NINE: SISTA SISTA
Night Ranger - "Sister Christian"
Dad: Sounds like Elton John. This kind of strictly "Top Forty" radio fodder makes me want to change the channel.
Mom: One thing I can say in favor of this song, it was perfect for "motoring" down the highway. It's good traveling music and gives you a nice power boost. Plus there's a good message in the song; that there's lots to do before you go. It seemed like music I knew; like an old, comfortable shoe.
My friend Diana and I couldn't get over the lyric where they say "finding Mr. Right;" that sure is an ancient line!
Sis: This shows up on easy listening stations. Cloying and far too "eighties" for my tastes.
Buy "Night Ranger's Greatest Hits" from Amazon.
It's hard to argue that perennial punch line Night Ranger was ever more than a band in the right place at the right time. Between '83 and '85, Ranger's overblown "boy-gets-girl-on-foggy-street" videos were in HEAVY ROTATION on an MTV channel desperately hungry for grist. "Sister Christian" was the band's only US top five single (peaking at number five); the band never saw a top five album. Where Night Ranger excelled was in sales; the band has sold over eleven million albums worldwide over the course of their career. Perennial bridesmaids and tour horses, the Ranger was an opening act for groups as disparate as Santana, Judas Priest and the Doobie Brothers, before disbanding in 1988. The band reformed in the early 90's and released a new album as recently as 1997. They continue to tour and have gained eternal purchase in the hearts of drunken karaoke singers everywhere.
Visit the website of Brad Gillis, Night Ranger's original lead guitar (dig that animation on the top left corner of the site!!!) and read this extensive interview with Gillis.
In all fairness, Gillis comes off as a very nice guy.
Read this ecstatic '99 Night Ranger concert review from "Dawgeers".
THE SECRET REVEALED:
" 'Sister Christian' is about (drummer) Kelly (Keagy's) sister (Christy) growing up in a small town in Oregon, and on the weekends they'd be cruising, or motoring -- you know [he sings it]: "Mo-tor-in'." So that's what it's about.
Apparently, the song was originally called "Sister Christy".
And now you know... the rest of the story.
Rufus Wainwright - "Little Sister (Live)"
Dad: Have mercy! The piano is awful!
If this is what rock and roll has been reduced to, thank goodness for old records.
Mom: This is embarrassing. It sounds like a bad college piano recital, itchy and twitchy. His voice is so dull and droning and doesn't have any fullness to it.
Is this a joke? You think that he's just goofing? "Jusssssss" for awhile? No, sir! Breathe! Stop! Punctate! Throw a blanket on it!
Sis: John, you turned me on to Rufus Wainwright; did I ever thank you for that? He’s one of the few ‘moderns’ that grabs me. His lyrics tend to dart off in unexpected, thoughtful and bizarre directions. I haven’t listened to too much of his work but from what I have heard, he’s got a quality that suggests he really puts his heart and soul into making music and puts his heart and soul. It’s not the sort of thing I usually go for, but I find it somehow moving.
I sure would like to see him live.
A fine point that none of my family noticed is that the opening piano line on "Little Sister" is a near mirror-image of the opening to "Sister Christian".
Eerie, no? Coincidence?
This live bootleg track is unavailable commercially; the studio version shows up on Wainwright's new album "Want Two", which I've yet to buy.
I can strongly recommend that you invest in a copy of Rufus' second album "Poses".
You can buy a used copy at Amazon for less than five bucks.
Visit Wainwright's official site.
Read this recent interview with Rufus.
Rufus' attempt to paint himself as some sort of martyr for the gay rockstar lifestyle has understandably put some distance between him and his fan-base; I find his "poor me" rants a bit silly. It's not like you ever heard Mick Jagger bitching about being cast into a "hetero hell".
Well, maybe that's a poor example.
Ray Miller and His Hotel Gibson Orchestra - "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate"
Dad: "Sister Kate" was written by jazz pioneers Clarence Williams and Armand Piron. This version, recorded in Chicago in 1927, isn't bad.
Miller was a white drummer and dance band leader. I've seen his '78s but honestly never bothered to give them a listen.
Mom: Both thumbs up for this slice of pie that got my feet dancing and me humming. This type of music reminds me of that band, the Squirrel Nut Zippers? Remember them?
This even sounds like a shimmy. Shimmy, Shimmy Bop. (I ask Mom what her favorite instrument on the song is.) My feet. You're part of the song; it doesn't push you away. It's like a picnic or a bandstand or a community; it draws you in.
Sis: This represents something of a stylistic shift even in this varied compilation, but I can get to Hot Jazz too.
The track is swinging but I just got into the Olympics’ version of “Shimmy” and, to be honest, the Olympics’ rock n’ roll sound is just more to my taste.
Buy "The Ray Miller Orchestra: 1924-29", a 24 track disc that covers the Orchestra's glory years, from World's Records.
Listen to dozens of track from Ray Miller's Orchestra and read an excellent and comprehensive overview of the band and the members, courtesy of Red Hot Jazz.
Read this interview with "Carl Fenton" the nom-de-plume of the recording director for Brunswick, Miller's label throughout the twenties.
"Mom's Cancer" was nominated for an Eisner; go read it before they take it down.
Get Perpendicular!: Excellent Hitachi corporate viral/Schoolhouse-Rock rip with the additional benefit of explaining technology that will likely grant us MASSIVE portable music players in the near future.
Shynola's E-Pro video for Beck is as enjoyable and innovative as anything I've seen this year.
W. Earl Brown is my new hero; Dan Dority is one of the reasons I have cable now. I love that he used to be a bouncer; I feel like I went to high school with this guy.
Earl! C'mon over! We love you here! We'll hook you up with music!
The Biggest Summer Movie of the Year is About to Break Down the WALLS!!(WMV. file)
More info here.
So how's the fund raiser going?
For those of you that consider my begging to be a bit outside the lines and potentially inflammatory to the recording industry, may I point out that of the nine people who HAVE contributed, three are affiliated with music labels and one is a professional musician?
You can read more of my justifications over here. Again, if you can spare the change and if you feel that I'm doing good work over here, I'd be very grateful for your support.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
glisten: FAMILY VALUES EIGHT: WHAT'S UP BRO?
For more info about the FAMILY VALUES series, go here.
De La Soul - "Big Brother Beat"
Dad: Sorry; the old man just don't get it.
Mom: I don't like this kinda yattaduttayattadutta; I mean to say, I don't like rap. I can't understand the lyrics real good and it's all just bumpin', pumpin' and nailing; feels like a piston is pounding at my chest. I can see why you like it, I guess; the rhythm is both simple and complicated and I'm assuming that the lyrics are clever and complex, but I can't understand them. You gotta be real devoted to follow songs like this; it's like controlled chaos.
Say, did you listen to that new Eminem song about war? My young godchild Laura made me listen to it; I kinda liked THAT one.
Sis: I sorta thought I liked De La Soul but it’s just hard for me to get next to this stuff these days. Nice beat, but it’s like I don’t have the right ears for it.
Buy "Stakes Is High", De La's spectacular Senior effort, from Amazon.
"Stakes" is my favorite De La Soul album; "Buh-loone Mind State" is a close second.
This track is noteworthy as it marks the first major label appearance of the mighty Mos Def. Def had some previous success on his first project, Urban Thermo Dynamics, that led to his being invited into the Native Tongues, but it was "Big Brother Beat" that first brought him to center stage.
And now he's Ford Prefect. Funny how life works, eh?
Visit Spitkicker.com and Sanctuary Records respective De La pages.
Like many people, I was somewhat disappointed with the (now forever unfinished) AOI trilogy; "Grind Date" marked a definite return to form. If you slept on it, you missed one of the best albums of '04. Remedy that.
Robbie over at Steady Bootleggin' hooks us up with a Nas/De La radio interview.
Read this '03 interview with Trugoy.
Bill Cosby - "My Brother Russell"
Dad: Back around the early 1960's when Bill Cosby first started making comedy albums and before 'I Spy', he used to play the Gaslight Cafe on MacDougal Street in the Village. I never saw Cosby perform there, but I did see John Hurt, Jack Elliot and, memorably, John Hammond Jr. with Jimmy James and the Blue Flames (AKA Jimi Hendrix).
THe last time I was in New York I nosed around MacDougal Street trying to locate precisely where the Gaslight used to be. I remember there being a big picture of Cosby on the wall of the Cafe. Danged if I could find either the picture OR the club these days.
Mom: I hate the thought of this situation. My god, a bath in a toilet bowl? I take my baths seriously; this is not a topic for comedy! I'm into rubber duckies and bubbles, not Ty-D-Bowl. Poor Russell...
Buy "When I Was a Kid", Cosby's 1970 stand-up collection, from Amazon.
Bill catches a lot of shit these days, but back in the day he was straight gold. I also strongly recommend "To My Brother Russell, Whom I Slept With", "Why Is There Air?" and "Bill Cosby is A Very Funny Fellow...Right!".
You can safely skip out on anything after 1980, tho'.
Play the "Bill Cosby Fun Game."
I sold Urkel!
Watch House of Cosbys!
Read more of the Cosby wit.
"THIS WOMAN IS NOT MY GIRLFRIEND. SHE IS MARRIED TO SOMEBODY ELSE WHO IS ALSO WHITE."
Alice In Chains - "Brother"
Dad: You asked, so I'm going to tell you what I'm hearing:
The Ramones are trying to be the Mothers of Invention, Frank Black is trying to be Bob Dylan and Alice in Chains is trying to be the Beatles and/or the Rolling Stones.
But they just ain't getting there.
Mom: I only like the very beginning of the song, it almost resembles a flamenco. It's not too bad but not too creative either. This does remind me of MY brother, he's "always so far away". There's a psychedelic sixties rock flavor to it; I'm surprised to hear this is from the nineties.
I admit, it does improve a bit on multiple listenings. I'd dance to it like this: (Mom does funky "walk-like-an-egyptian" hand motions)
Sis: Did I used to like this? I can’t say it sounds very original. This seems to me like the kind of thing that has more nostalgia than musical value.
It's also a little creepy as it brings to mind the inescapable ‘Oldies Station’ Gen-X targeted formats of the future.
Buy "Sap", AIC's four-song '92 EP, from Amazon.
Perhaps I'm warped with nostalgia, but much of this short album still holds up to me, especially "Brother" and "Am I Inside?"
Visit the Layne Stayley tribute site.
Layne, the lead singer of AIC, overdosed in '02 on (if you can believe it) the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain.
Visit Columbia's official Alice in Chains site.
I spent my evening out at Webster Hall, at the AOL Live Lil' Jon concert where the guests were out in full force:
Pitbull! Bun B! Brooke Valentine! Scrappy! Trillville! Ying Yang Twins! And it was still kind of tame!
I dunno, maybe it was the fact that they had self edited themselves into a corner (can't say "nigger" or "fuck" on AOL, apparently) but I couldn't even seem to get a mosh pit started. Fun, but a bit wooden and the HEAVY assistance with taped vocals didn't help either.
Nonetheless, I had a great time bouncing around and screaming myself hoarse and repeatedly giving the AOL cameraman the finger.
High points: Seventeen year old punk girl behind me persists in screaming "BEAT MY PUSSY UP, BEAT MY PUSSY UP" when the Twins do "Whisper in My Ear" and I get to turn around and deadpan, "Sweetie, I hardly know you"; getting to meet some of my email/online buddies in the flesh; screaming "Soylent Green is PEOPLE!" while Lil' Jon distributed Crunk Juice to the audience; Pitbull's amazing performance; Brooke's amazing body (Egypt wasn't too bad either) but not her live show (she ain't there yet); the mindboggling, showstopping, audience-interaction finale that is "Lovers and Friends". I couldn't stop laughing.
The lil' white boy with the Freddie Mercury 'stache about three rows in at center stage would be me. Find Tofu Waldo!
Lil' Jon is the Stan Lee of this rap shit, tho'. Definitely amongst the stranger concerts I've ever been to. SHAWTY.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Hi there. I need a little help.
Parliament/Funkadelic All Stars -
"Help, Scottie, Help! (I'm Tweaking and I Can't Beam Up!)"
Buy "Dope Dogs" from Amazon.
I've been running The Tofu Hut for almost a year and a half now. That's about three hundred posts, maybe five-hundred songs. When I started work on this blog, I was living in Florida and taking care of a sick relative. It seemed like a good way to direct my creative energy at the time and also to share my love of music with the greatest number of people. Since then, I've moved four times and worked a dozen hand-to-mouth gigs. Through it all, th' Hut has become a constant second job, a job that brings me immense pleasure, but a job nonetheless. Between research, writing, editing, and programming your listening dial; I spend somewhere upwards of twenty to thirty hours a week on blog-related issues.
The problem is I don't have enough time. I'm less excited about simply presenting you with music and more interested in doing some genuine journalism. I hope that stalwart Hut readers know the type of post I'm talking about: pieces on Feist, the Gospel Harmonettes and J. Walter Negro, while still showing the speed at which they were written, represent a direction I'd like to take Th' Hut in. Unfortunately, I gotta eat, which means thirty-five to forty indentured hours a week that I'd rather spend re-organizing the music list, redesigning the Hut's layout, digging up artists and music and, generally, providing y'all with bigger, better content while still doing my damnedest to stick to the always elusive daily schedule. I want th' Hut to be a thick magazine, so chock-full of music and writing that you can count on it as a solid lunch-break companion. This is what I WANT; the tickin' clock and the empty wallet give me pause.
I will not accept advertising; I've even avoided the Google ads and referrer payments from Amazon. I've been approached many times by people looking to post ads on th' Hut and I've let every opportunity pass. I don't want to have my opinions manipulated. I want any of my readers to be able to trust that whatever I say, no matter how contrary and idiotic, is my honest opinion. There's also the Boing Boing argument; once we start becoming a business, a lot of the DIY soul withers and we become just another Pitchfork clone. And I feel it would be ethically improper to accept money from an advertiser as it could easily (and, I feel, accurately) be construed as accepting payment in exchange for the music. The Hut is not here to profit off of the music we post. But we gotta eat.
So what to do? You'll perhaps be unsurprised to discover that this is where you come in.
Abbey Lincoln and Stan Getz - "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"
Buy "You Gotta Pay the Band" from Amazon.
I'm asking for your help. Spurred on by the meager (but entirely satisfactory) success of Kottke, I'm looking for "micropatrons".
Here's what I bring to the table: if you make a donation of at least ten dollars to th' Hut (or the equivalent of thirteen bucks American for my out-of-the-US readers), you will find a super-duper, special, ten-song mix disc winging its way in the mail to you ASAP. On this disc, you'll find a collection of rarities, live cuts, obscurities, new wonders and whatever's catching my ear that day, along with comprehensive notes detailing more about the music, the artists and where you can find more of the same. It'll be like a CMJ disc, just Tofu-sized. Every month that you make a minimum contribution of ten bucks, you'll find a brand-new monthly mix on your doorstep and you can feel proud in knowing that you're helping keep the Tofu Hut alive.
We'll also have little special gifts to randomly disperse amongst ya: promo CDs and music swag from sympathetic labels.
Really, any amount is helpful and appreciated, from Benjamins to spare change. Don't be shy.
You'll find a new Paypal contribution button up top; use that if you must, but bear in mind that it's infinitely easier for me to take a check in the mail at the following address:
The Tofu Hut
33 Wayne St.
Jersey City, NJ. 07302
In any case, if you DO make a contribution, make sure to include your snail-mail and online address so that I can thank you and get a disc out.
Growling Tiger - "Money Is King"
Buy "The Growling Tiger of Calypso" from Amazon.
Please note that IN NO WAY am I looking to accept payment for the music offered on this site. What I'm requesting is donations to maintain the tremendous effort that maintaining and writing this site requires. Also note that a percentage of all donations will be tithed to th' Hut's erstwhile writing contributors, because we love them.
Obviously, this is all part of my grandmaster flash plan to make th' Hut the best possible musicblog it can be. If only one out of a hundred of you guys opt for the "subscription" option, that'll be enough incentive for me to treat th' Hut like the fine lady she is; manicures, cream-rinses, anal-bleaching and all. For now, I'll be satisfied if I can cop enough cash to justify the pleasant necessity of redoubling my efforts on the site and giving up the occasional shift at the day job.
I'll keep you updated as to how this project is progressing and will be sure to hassle you in the old-fashioned, PBS-Pledge-Drive fashion.
Alright, enough of that for now. We'll get back to the music tomorrow.
Labels: personal silliness
Monday, April 11, 2005
glisten: FAMILY VALUES SEVEN: BIG POPPA
For more info about the FAMILY VALUES series, go here.
Chris Rock - "My Father"
Dad: Even though this here isn't all that funny, Chris Rock can often make me laugh.
Mom: I guess it's funny. Isn't it?
Sis: Of course, we love Chris Rock.
Buy "Born Suspect", Rock's '91 comedy album debut, from Amazon.
Chris has cooled down a bit (being obscenely rich and revered tends to reduce one's edginess) but in his prime, Rock was the word of god.
This is pretty short, as clips go, so here's a bonus track for my loyal listeners:
Chris Rock - "Your Mother's Got a Big Head"
Visit Chris' official site.
Here's some warmed-up news: The infamous Chris Rock cell-phone number story.
Read the Onion interview.
Watch Rock's opening monologue from the '05 Oscars.
Tough fuckin' crowd...
Chuck Berry - "Dear Dad"
Dad: According to Joel Whitburn's "Record Research", 'Dear Dad' was Chuck Berry's last Billboard charted single, climbing up to #95 in the Spring of 1965, but I don't recall it getting any airplay in the New York area at that time.
Dad's forgotten about "My Ding-A-Ling", but probably only cause he stopped looking after 1970.
By 1965, Chuck Berry's style of rock and roll was considered dated. However, as this track attests, he was still in his prime. The guitar is stormin' and the lyrics are brilliant.
The manner in which society has disregarded Chuck Berry is very shameful. He made great, enduring American Art.
Roll over, Beethoven.
Mom: Oh yeah! Go man, go! I'm a dancin'! This is a fun song; I remember Chuck's suave manner and his smooth hair back from when I was a kid. He's an original and he's got the right attitude. He's out for fun. (mom pumps a fist)
Sis: “Dear Dad” will always be one of my favorites. Not only is it ROCKING, it’s lyrically brilliant (though, Of course, that can be said for most of Berry’s work). Chuck’s the man.
Any of us driving something older than Britney Spears can identify with this one. Autophiles will appreciate the nice little dig at Ford Motors.
Buy "Anthology", Chuck's fifty-song/two-disc greatest Greatest Hits album, from Amazon.
A music collection without Chuck Berry is like an alphabet without vowels. Regardless of where your tastes take you, you're obliged to know where you came from. If you're into pop or rock music on any level, Chuck got you there. Show some respect.
Visit Chuck's official site.
Explore the Collector's Guide to the Music of Chuck Berry.
Read this brief historical sketch of the life of Chuck.
Hangin' with the Ford Family
FORKSCLOVETOFU SEZ: Anthony Miccio is a poprocka and th' Hut's expert on all things big, radio-friendly and glistening that might otherwise escape our more rockist readers earholes.
Anthony dispenses wisdom and choice bon mots at Anthony is Right.
Sloan - "False Alarm"
"If there was any justice in this world, this song would be a hit" is a sentiment I rarely see applied with logic. It's always about a song that lacks the biggest quality that an audience expects from a pop smash - a "never-was" is always deniable. This song is one of the few "indie" album tracks I've heard in recent years that I'll go to bat for as a soundtrack stunner truly waiting for the chance to clog the radiowaves. An Interpol/Beach Boys mash-up, the excitable younger brother of "You Make Lovin' Fun," insistent, compact, catchy as hell and sweet as fuck.
While I'm not surprised the song hasn't gotten any attention in the U.S., where these gawky guys are unknown and Koch Records (their latest label) doesn't hold a lot of industry weight, I can't believe that this wasn't one of the three (THREE!) singles released off of "Action Pact" in Canada, where the guys are radio mainstays. Somebody up North doesn't like making money.
This is only the latest of Sloan's many pop-rock classics, but this post isn't about them - it's about the song. The next time John's out, I promise I'll do a more fleshed out look at the band.
One bit of nerdery for the converted: isn't it so sweet when Patrick's voice comes in at the very end? Why don't they do more stuff like that? If they did some Sleater-Kinney vocal interplay I'd just - aw, man! SLOAN!!! YEAH!!!
Buy the import version of Sloan's "Action Pact", with bonus tracks, from Amazon.
Be on the look out for Sloan' new hits comp and reissues in May!
Check out the band's official site.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
The Quarterbox is the Hut's clearinghouse for all manner of swag and shows; every connecting link should lead you to music and info...HOWEVER, as not everything here has been closely explored or listened to, we can NOT be held accountable for quality. We're just the middleman. Which is another way of saying "Caveat Emptor... but look at these email@example.com if you've a bit of hype you'd like to see included in the Quarterbox.
This week's Quarterbox is BIG and DRIPPY; dive in and explore.
Chris over at Sounds Are Active was nice enough to pitch us a web exclusive: his electronic project Xn.'s eight-minute live cover of a lovely track from Sufjan Steven's 'Michigan' album.
Chris reports: "At the beginning of the Xn. tour last summer, I knew that Sufjan would be coming through and I really wanted to bust something out in his honor. I got exactly the reaction I expected from him: humble, complimentary and warm. I remember he told me while he was listening he told himself: 'Man, that’s a great melody; I wish I wrote that. Ah, wait... I DID write that!'"
Xn. - "Vito's Ordination Song"
... and as long as Xn. is in the house, why not check out this cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" and, if you like what you've heard, maybe even buy a CD, eh?
Rock Ridge Music wants you to go to Hades.
Hades was formed by guitarist Dan Lorenzo back in 1978, playing around local rock clubs in New York and New Jersey. The band went on to open for groups such as Twisted Sister, Overkill, Anthrax, Megadeth, Testament, and more, touring in the States and Europe until their eventual break-up in 1989. Hades reunited in 1998 with new drummer Dave Lescinsky and the band signed to Metal Blade Records, releasing three CDs SaviorSelf, The Downside, and DamNation.
Listen here: Hades - "Thinktank".
Learn more here: Official Hades Website.
Indie label Glorious Noise "can only afford to release about two albums per year" but they're internet friendly enough that they offer both those albums as DLable listens.
We really want people to hear this stuff. That's why we started a record label: to share good music with people. We realize that people who really love music will support the artists they appreciate. We would rather make 8 new fans with an mp3 than make 8 quick bucks from one cd sale. Glorious Noise Records fully supports the sharing of music between music lovers.
Check out "somewhere-between-Wilco-and-Ryan-Adams" rockers Riviera and Quasar Wut Wut, who claim that listening to their music is like seeing "Edward Gorey picking up a Stratocaster and crosshatching the Pixies."
Jukeblog is a first stab at a "if-you-like-X-you'll-probably-like-Y" recommendation site for musicblogs. I'm wondering if this is thinking just a bit ahead of the curve, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
Here's what Hugues Beaumont, the creator of Jukeblog, has to say about his lil' Frankenstein:
The biggest issue with the algorithm I used to predict ratings is that a very big base of users and ratings are needed, first to compute some predictions, then to make them accurate. Since I'm not a big company but only a scholar trying to combine fun and research, the only way I can gather people around the tool is through the blogs! I'm sure a tool such as JukeBlog would be a very welcome addition to the community.
One thing that would definitely improve Jukeblog would be greater diversity of blog choice; possibly by, say, cadging a link list from a certain Tofu headed fellow? I'll have to ring their bell. The real tipping point for this utility involves a decent sized community; revolutionary-type readers might want to start circling the wagons around this fire?
Who needs a middleman?
Here's new press-kits (courtesy spinART records) for The Dears, Trashcan Sinatras and Frank Black; pretend like you're an industry type and copy the hype for your review!
"Album, a band from mexico, comprised of 4 friends, started out 2 years ago.
We believe that music is the best type of promotion we can offer, therefore you'll find all of our music for free in this site."
Venerable jazz giant Verve Records has invited a number of electronic bulls into the china shop for "Verve Remixed, Vol. 3", a collection of classic standards by legendary artists reshaped and remolded by some great DJs.
Here's a few cuts to sample in Quicktime:
Astrud Gilberto - "The Gentle Rain (RJD2 Remix)"
Sarah Vaughan "Fever (Adam Freeland Remix)"
Blossom Dearie "Just One of Those Things (Brazilian Girls Remix)"
Verve also gives Billie Holiday to the Junior Boys, Jimmy Smith to Lyrics Born and Dinah Washington to DJ Dangermouse. If this horrifies you, move on; if it piques interest, check the album.
ORTF is keeping it Easy Like Sunday Morning with a massive mix of tracks, starring Nina Simone, Madvillain and Manitoba.
Courtesy of some folks that be feeling the power of th' Hut, we got new hip hop music and videos for you to check:
Common's new single "The Corner" (WMA format audio) sounds like a return to badass form; I await the new album (due mid-May) with baited breath.
It's already made its way around the web, but (better late than never) here's Ying Yang Twins - "Wait" (Video Remix)(QT format video).
I said it was gonna be huge when I first heard it and I _still_ think it's gonna be huge.
Should start rotation on MTV in a few days.
Ray J's joint "Keep Sweatin'" (WMA format audio) features guest vocals with Fat Joe and a suhweet beat from Darkchild; this Timberlake-ish riff is nice enough that Ray could get outta Moesha's shadow this year.
K-os' "Love Song" (WMA format video) is a worthy follow-up to the obscenely catchy "Crabbuckit". I'm late to catch up to K's Digable Planets style but I'm about ready to drink the Kool-Aid. He's nice.
Here's the next single from Lil' Jon - "Get Crunk" (Radio Mix) (QT format audio).
"Crunk Juice" is pretty untouchable; if you have even a passing interest in Dirty South (or punk hip hop), you're obliged to go get it.
And as long as we're talkin' Lil' Jon:
And would you believe Lil' Jon Live in NYC? For Free!?
Here's the press release:
"AOL Music LIVE! presents an exclusive, one-night-only performance by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz plus special guests at New York's Webster Hall on Tuesday, April 12. The concert will be broadcast live on the Web at www.aolmusic.com."
You're gonna want to keep an eye on that website up there; they'll be releasing some three thousand tickets at Virgin Megastores on Monday for the 9:00 Webster Hall show... but only 1,500 seats are available, so get to the venue EARLY!
The Matt Sandy Band has a revamped website; I mostly mention this because I like the press release.
Artists? You want artists? We get mail from artists.
Check out Miami bubblegum from Yohany (the beat on "At the Bar" is pretty hawt); would-be Radio Disney pre-teen unit-shifter Victoria Acosta ("The World's Gone Crazy" contains some Prince-ish cheap shots at Ashlee Simpson and Doctor Phil?); Andrea Gillis and Blimpus; Slim Thug (those not yet acquainted with the "Still Tippin'" kid should cop some tunage from his site: "Like a Boss" strikes me as uninteresting but the Jazzy Pha joint "Incredible Feeling" is Al Green-biting FYAH); The Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra is a full-size orchestra that plays R+B stylee; Republic of Safety can't seem to decide if they're a country band or a band that's a country (hint: they're a lot closer to Toronto rock); "nu-jazz" DJ Mark DeClive's cool-out/big-beat mixes are hotncool like peppermint; The Likwit Junkies is solid West Coast hip hop from Defari and DJ Babu; many of the roster of the Euro-Visions label will be coming in June to NYC to hobnob and hype.
Friday, April 08, 2005
FORKSCLOVETOFU SEZ: Friends of th' Hut will no doubt remember the infamous run of Tuwa's Shanty, now defunct.
Tuwa will occasionally bring his funct over here for us to play with.
Make him feel at home, eh?
Gasolin' - "Lonely Avenue"
Gasolin' - "Lots of Success"
Gasolin' - "Rebel Run"
These tracks are from the self-titled 1975 U.S. LP Gasolin', a Danish band on Epic/CBS. Gasolin' had been playing in Denmark for some time prior; I imagine they hopped the pond with high hopes. They certainly all look cheerful enough on the back cover.
The photo's a hoot: the man in front (whom I'm guessing is Kim Larsen, the singer) is wearing a grey fishbone-patterned suit coat with a torn maroon velvet V-neck sweater and something that would be a tie if it weren't so long, purple and, well, shiny. The man on the far left is wearing a multi-colored leather cap with a black leather jacket and a long faux-snakeskin scarf; the man on the far right looks like he just left Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Side one started inauspiciously, with a track that sounds like Led Zeppelin crossed with Alice Cooper, complete with machismo, swagger and obligatory lemon metaphor. The second song had a slow "mystical" break that reminded me of Spinal Tap, but then songs three through five came along for a tidy turnaround.
"Lonesome Avenue" is a country/rock track about pining and loneliness. The band themselves translated some of their songs from Danish to English for this album; I don't know if this is one of those, but it's a skillful translation. What sells the song for me (aside from the lyrics, the honkytonk guitar and the laid-back drumming) is the harmonizing from Anne Linnet and Lis Sørensen. Really lovely work.
"Rebel Run" is a simple blues-rock number that puts me in mind of The Kinks. I don't dig the two gear changes and I'm puzzled about the break with the vocal back-and-forth (some of it seems to go to speakers I don't have) but the guitar riff keeps things moving along at a steady clip and, more importantly, the song is fun. Maybe my musical superego whispers that I shouldn't like it, but my id puts it on replay. I imagine the writing went something like this:
Franz: "why so glum, Kim?"
Kim: "I just have this feeling that there are butts out there in need of kicking."
Franz: "We can take care of that, right?"
Wili and Søren: "Right!"
Franz: "That's what rock bands are for, right?"
Wili and Søren: "Right!"
Kim [perking up a bit, beginning to smile]: "It just might work."
"Lots of Success" is another song about loneliness, the spiritual brother to Jackson Browne's "Rosie," but with more rock and less country. The guitar rolls along at a steady simmer; one of the things I like about this song is that it never seems to resolve to the chord it's building towards. Still, I can't help wondering what the song would be like if the vocals simmered like the guitar--complained but didn't shout--with maybe a half-step change on "ni-ight."
The back of the LP tells us that drummer Søren "Charlie" Berlev was fond of the Stones, which is an obvious influence, and that guitarist Franz Beckerlee worships both Coltrane and Hendrix. Beckerlee's playing doesn't strike me as much like Hendrix --it's too sedate-- but it certainly does tends to work in service of the songs. Comparing someone to Hendrix or Coltrane is more than a little unfair; even so, I couldn't help wondering if I'd want to mention them as an influence in the first place, except to rush on to someone less canonical.
At any rate, Gasolin' never did hit it big in the U.S. Allmusic.com doesn't know much about them; their albums aren't widely available (except in Denmark); and most sites I find about them are in Danish.
...and where are you then?
As of late, lack of money and time has put a crimp in posting. All of the above to be addressed briefly.
I've some forty or so notes that nice label people have sent me with tons of quarterbox material; expect that by Saturday.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
glisten: FAMILY VALUES SIX
For more info about the FAMILY VALUES series, go here.
Memphis Minnie - "Dirty Mother For You"
Dad: Recorded for Decca in 1935. The discography lists this as saying that the accompaniment is a piano and a guitar, but it sounds like TWO guitars and a piano to me.
Mom: These had to be gutsy women playing and singing; they were in a man's world back then. They didn't play, they played, yknow?
That's a great line: "Tore up th' neighborhood," but it's kinda sad the way she sings it.
Sis: The piano sounds great on this track. Minnie's greatest gift is her sincerity; when she sings about a man who does her wrong, you know she knows just what she’s talking about.
It’s great how she can get away with saying “Dirty Mother” in a song made for thirties jukeboxes... although I think you may have it miscategorized as a “family song”! Long live Memphis Minnie!
Buy "The Essential Memphis Minnie", two discs for fourteen bucks(!), from Amazon.
Listen to another Memphis Minnie track.
Visit the grave of Lizzie Lawlers.
Read this excerpt from "Woman with Guitar", the '92 biography of Minnie.
Buy a limited edition print portrait of Minnie.
Read a brief bio.
Frank Black - "Sugar Daddy"
Dad: Too noisy for my taste.
When I saw 'Frank Black' on the playlist, I thought it was 'Frankie Black' AKA Francis 'Scrapper' Blackwell.
This sure ain't him. I wish it was.
Mom: Yuck! Ugh! White gay rap?!?
I listened to this song a few times while going across the state and it was REALLY loud in the car. Can you imagine driving to Memphis with this on? "Buy me a dress and I'll bring more sugar than you can stand"? I don't know. It's just really histrionic.
Sis: Who is this person? He's rollicking, I’ll give him that.
This song seems a bit Highway 61-inspired, but I can’t say it grabs me. I like to hear more melodic vocals. I do like the cross-dressing references; gender-bending rock is always nice.
Buy "Wig in a Box", a Hedwig and the Angry Inch cover album, from Amazon.
Visit Frank Black's official site.
Read this critical overview of Black's solo work.
Read this '98 Onion interview.
Monday, April 04, 2005
glisten: FAMILY VALUES FIVE: MORE MAMA MUSIC
For more info about the FAMILY VALUES series, go here.
Mama's Family Theme Song
Mom: Oh dear; is it TV time again? This reminds me of a quiz show or of mindless and simple days. Well, at least it's upbeat.
Sis: You know what? This one rocks! Shake it, Thelma!
Dad: I'm glad that it's short.
Explore this obsessive "Mama's Family" fanpage.
With video clips, including the Mama on Jeopardy episode.
Explore TV Tome's Mama's Family episode guide.
If you think you can handle the truth, read five complete "Mama's Family" transcripts.
Here's a vicious rumour about the never-heard lyrics to this little ditty:
"Joe Hamilto refused to pay Vicki (Lawrence) for the lyrics of the song saying that he could write something better on the back of the toilet in five minutes..."
Mama's LEATHER Family
Ruth Brown - "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean (Nashville Version)"
Mom:I like this number; it's Rough-N-Tuff old rock style. It gets an 8 out of 10, but what makes it a "Nashville Version", exactly? This is the song where we find out Mama's not so perfect, is she? Can't even keep after her daughter too well. It sure is sassy and gutsy. I don't believe Ruth takes no shit. While listening to the chorus sing falsetto on "TREAT YO DAUGHTER MEAN", Mom yelps and hoots for awhile.
Dad: This late arrangement has a contrived feeling, unlike the 1953 Atlantic original, which is full of the life force of newborn rock and roll. Ruth Brown told Dad Wilson that her father sang with a famous gospel quartet in Tidewater during the 1920's; I believe he may have been James C. Brown, who recorded with the Excelsior Quartet of Norfolk all the way back in 1922.
Sis: I saw Ruth Brown in person some years ago and she’s the real deal. I love “Mama”, but I much prefer the original version; it’s tighter, more simple and just has more impact. I could do without the generic guitar solos on this take and the backup singers don’t add much either.
If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
Buy "Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues (1945-1970)", the '04 Grammy winning compilation of southern-fried rnb, from Amazon.
"Night Train" is a great listen, with more than a few tracks that I'm likely to sample on here in the future, but those who would like to hear more from Ms. Brown are directed to buy "The Best of Ruth Brown" from Amazon.
Explore "Ms. Rhythm's" biography and discography at this extensive fan page.
Listen to this intriguing forty-five minute NPR profile/interview of Ruth Brown.
Don't miss her responses to the callers: "They're on the computers. I love that you can find them. I'm not gettin' PAID, but... HA HA HA!"
Saturday, April 02, 2005
In which we draw up the map to where the music be. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you've got a musicblog you'd like to see included in the Revolutions.
Borrowed Tunes offers Spin/Blender newbie hipster fodder. It's a practical service for those of us curious to see what the buzz is about.
Recent Offerings: Keren Ann, Bloc Party, MIA, Bravery, Devin Davis
A Million Miles Away leans to obscurities and general catchiness, regardless of genre or time period. In much the same way that I do, 1MilMiles leans on the "hyper" in hypertext, often with great results.
Recent Offerings: Can, Lennie Tristano, Clarence 'Pro' McClam (The Professor of the Blues)
Pimps of Gore is doing some really excellent work: long, well-thought-out and equally well written theme posts, crawling with music, linkage and informed, inclusive commentary. I'm not especially drawn to his music selection, but this is PRECISELY the direction I'd like to see more music bloggers take: up the writing quality AND the quantity and you make yourself a must destination for me.
Recent Offerings: Guided By Voices (lots!), Slint, Queen, Fiona Apple
Worldly Disorientation is another in a thankfully growing sector of obscure, funky worldtrippers (a'la SUBURBS ARE KILLING US). He's been AWOL for a few months, but appears to be seriously back. If Cuban mambo, Viennese minimalist or Senegalese soul speak to you, go check that!
Recent Offerings: Ernesto Djedje, Joe Morris, Doris Monteiro
Riff Central's schtick is to set up a faux-interview with an artist that "riffs" into standup. Afterwards, you get to listen to music by the artist bein' lampooned. I GET TIRED OF THE CAPS LOCK but Riff's been good for a giggle and a download for more than a minute now. But don't take MY word for it...
YING YANG TWIN#2: I WANTED TO CHANGE THE CHORUS FROM "AY BITCH! WAIT TIL YOU SEE MY DICK!" TO "HEY, WHERE'D MY DICK GO?"
YING YANG TWIN#1: AND I WANTED TO CHANGE THE OTHER PART OF THE CHORUS FROM "IMMA BEAT DAT PUSSY UP!" TO "PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY"
RIFF CENTRAL: AS A TRIBUTE TO-
YING YANG TWIN#1: YEAH AS A TRIBUNE, LIKE A NEWSPAPER. LIKE I'M READING THE PUSSY
RIFF CENTRAL: YOU CAN'T STOP BLOGGING CAN YOU
SASHA FRERE JONES: I CAN'T HELP IT. SOMETIMES I'LL JUST BE SITTING AT WORK GOOGLING MYSELF, OR INTERVIEWING A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, OR LISTENING TO AN ALBUM THAT HASN'T EVEN BEEN RECORDED YET, AND I'LL JUST HAVE THIS INCREDIBLE URGE TO BLOG ABOUT IT
RIFF CENTRAL: IS IT TRUE THAT YOU HAVE EIGHT OR NINE DIFFERENT DESKS IN YOUR OFFICE AT THE NEW YORKER?
SASHA FRERE-JONES: WELL THAT'S A SILLY QUESTION. EVERY CRITIC AT THE NEW YORKER HAS FIVE DESKS. THE FIRST IS YOUR WORK DESK-- THAT'S WHERE YOU DO WORK. DESKS TWO THROUGH FOUR ARE FOR TAKING NAPS. TECHNICALLY YOU CAN TAKE NAPS AT YOUR WORK DESK TOO BUT IT'S FROWNED UPON. AND THE FIFTH DESK, THAT DESK IS YOUR FUN DESK. YOU CAN GUESS WHAT I USE THAT FOR
RIFF CENTRAL: PORN?
SASHA FRERE-JONES: YES
RIFF CENTRAL: I SEE THAT YOU HAVE A GIANT BAG OF DEADLY DRUGS WITH YOU
OL DIRTY BASTARD: YES I WAS PLANNING ON TAKING ALL OF THESE
RIFF CENTRAL: I SEE
OL DIRTY BASTARD: MY GOAL IS TO HAVE SO MANY BAGS OF DEADLY DRUGS IN MY BODY AT ONCE, THAT IF I SO MUCH AS SPIT ON SOMEONE, THEY WILL BECOME PARALYZED
RIFF CENTRAL: LIKE THAT DINOSAUR FROM JURASSIC PARK?
OL DIRTY BASTARD: NO LIKE THAT GUY FROM INTERPOL
Recent Offerings: Diplo, The Game, Moby, Spoon
Vociferous Slam is not so much eclectic as it is schizophrenic: obscure indie rock is cheek by jowl with country, 80's smooth funk, proto-electronic, country+western and '20's jugbands. Put on a big bib and line up for smorgasbord!
Recent Offerings: Billy Ocean, Martin Denny, Elizabeth Cotten, Okkervil River
Radio Kurtodrome is a monthly blog that programs like a college radio station, offering links to legal downloads for each of the showcased artists. It's sort of a early evolutionary draft of podcasting, only without the rambling conversation.
Recent Offerings: 13+God, Dalek, Dan the Automator, David Byrne
Last Night an MP3 Saved My Wife is a more concise MYSTICAL BEAST, mining the (generally) obscure and unknown for stand-out surprises.
Recent Offerings: People Under the Stairs, Jenny Bishop, Sebastien Tellier
SEE ALSO: Take Your Medicine (obscure/live/rare indie rock aggregator), V23 (in French and I had difficulty downloading, so your guess is good as mine), areseven (more talk than music but worth eyeing), Fifteen Minutes to Listen (Quasimoto, The Meters, Ry Cooder, Hot Hot Heat), Jump Out Your Window (also more talky than listen-y, but quite entertaining!)
Labels: meet the neighbors