Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Love - Forever Changes (1967)

Because it's the only Love album I have, I can't speak on how this album fits into the group's catalog, but Forever Changes feels like a special album. It embraces a full, lush production sound (comparable to something like The Zombies' Odessey and Oracle). Strings and horns are abundant - I love the little mariachi break in "Alone Again Or". And the sad irony of the lyrics that follow: "I think that people are the greatest fun, and I will be alone again tonight my dear". Forever Changes feels like a peak inside Arthur Lee's head, full of introspective thoughts as well as commentary on mid-60's society.


1. Alone Again Or
2. A House Is Not A Motel
3. Andmoreagain
4. The Daily Planet
5. Old Man
6. The Red Telephone
7. Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale
8. Live And Let Live
9. The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
10. Bummer In The Summer
11. You Set The Scene


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Erik Satie - Compositeur De Musique (1998)

It's almost Christmas and somehow I still have studying to do. I've found that accordion music gives the perfect balance of moderate festivity and melancholy ambience necessary to dissect Plato despite my Christmas tree being up. These recordings of avant-garde accordionist Teodoro Anzellotti playing the music of self-labelled "phonometrician" Erik Satie is an almost unsettling mix of nostalgic sleepiness and wintry tension. Particularly so is the 6 part "Gnossiennes". Its interesting to compare the fairly gentle touch of Anzellotti with more intense players, for instance the passionate tango of Piazzolla. Enjoy and be merry!


1. Sports et Diverissements
2. Rêverie Du Pauvre
3. Les 3 Valses Distinguées Du Précieux Dégoûte
4. Petite Ouverture A Danser
5. Le Piège De Méduse
6. Avant-Dernières Pensées
7. Première Pensée Et Sonneries De La Rose † Croix - Première Pensée
8. Gnossiennes - 1. Lent
9. Gnossiennes - 2. Avec Étonnement
10. Gnossiennes - 3. Lent
11. Gnossiennes - 4. Lent
12. Gnossiennes - 5. Modéré
13. Gnossiennes - 6. Avec Conviction Et Avec Une Tristesse Rigoureuse
14. Peccadilles Importunes
15. Les Pantins Dansent
16. 3 Gymnopédies - 1. Lent Et Douloureux


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Dipset Xmas - Jim Jones (2007) (192 VBR)

Sometimes I get a little wispy-eyed when I think about that couple of years there, say,'04 '05ish, when it seemed like Dipset were really on top. Before Cam'ron started to "Get It In Ohio" and when Juelz Santana still couldn't legally buy cigarettes. Coming at the end of that era, with the unexpected visibility provided by the smash "We Fly High", Jim Jones released this gem, which I thought would only be appropriate for the season. The Kufi Smacker says on the liner notes that he "wanted to make a Christmas album for kids in the hood and shit like that". Unfortunately I only have it in 192 VBR, but after a few egg nogs and rye you won't even notice.

Jam-packed with clever double entendres involving, among other things, snow, tree, and pie, the album is perfect soundtrack for wholesome family activities such as gingerbread house construction and the stringing of Christmas lights.

Seriously, though, Christmas music mostly sucks, and this is one of the few Christmas records that can hold company with other successful holiday records by the likes of Willie Nelson, Mariah Carey, and Herb Alpert (who am I missing?).


1. Dipset X-Mas Time
2. Have a Happy Christmas
3. Wish List
4. Ballin' On Xmas
5. If Everyday Was Xmas
6. We Get Money
7. Too High
8. City Boys
9. We Fly High (Remix) (Feat. T.I., Diddy, Baby & Young Dro)
10. Letter to the Game
11. Hood Side of Things
12. Tough Talk (feat. Mel Matrix & Stack Bundles)
13. Industry Problems


It should be noted that this was by no means the last Dipset Christmas effort. One highlight of the next round includes Juelz Santana's minimal rendition of "Jingle Bellz":

And lest ye forget the original Christmas raps:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nancy Sinatra - How Does That Grab You? (1966)

Nancy's follow-up to Boots. This includes her famous version of "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)". Lee Hazlewood has producer's credit and wrote many of the songs. He appears on "Sand", a track that would appear on their duet album two years later (highly recommended). This version's got the bonus tracks that include her duet with daddy on "Feelin' Kinda Sunday".

1. Not The Lovin' Kind
2. The Shadow Of Your Smile
3. Sorry 'Bout That
4. Time
5. Sand
6. Crying Time
7. My Baby Cried All Night Long
8. Let It Be Me
9. Call Me
10. How Does That Grab You, Darlin' ?
11. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
12. The Last Of The Secret Agents
13. Until It's Time For You To Go
14. Lightning's Girl
15. Feelin' Kinda Sunday


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Juvenile - 400 Degreez (1998)

Classic Cash Money release by Juve the Great. 400 Degreez embodies the late-90's New Orleans rap sound. Beats done by Cash Money's in-house producer, Mannie Fresh, who was vital in the development of the N.O.'s earlier Bounce music sound. You also get to hear pre-syrup, "wobbledy-wobbledy"-era Wayne (does anyone else remember watching "Back That Thang Up" and "Get Your Roll On" on The Box?) There are 3 versions of Juve's "Ha" single: the Hot Boys remix and another that surprisingly features Jay-Z. Hov's appearance speaks to Cash Money's popularity and the attention the south was gaining at the time. Anyway, just look at the awesome Pen N' Pixel artwork, featuring Juvenile & hoes burning money, a watch, and an entire library. Word.

1. Intro (Feat. Big Tymers)
2. Ha
3. Gone Ride With Me
4. Flossin Season (Feat. Big Tymers & B.G.)
5. Ghetto Children
6. Follow Me Now
7. Cash Money Concert
8. Welcome 2 Tha Nolia (Feat. Turk)
9. U.P.T. (Feat. Hot Boys & Big Tymers)
10. Run For It (Feat. Lil Wayne)
11. HA (Hot Boyz Remix) (Feat. Hot Boyz)
12. Rich Niggaz (Feat. Turk, Lil Wayne & Paparue)
13. Back That Azz Up (Feat. Mannie Fresh & Lil Wayne)
14. Off The Top (Feat. Big Tymers)
15. After Cash Money Concert
16. 400 Degreez
17. Juvenile On Fire
18. HA (Jay-Z Remix) (Feat. Jay-Z)


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pharoah Sanders - Black Unity (1971)

Dang, I was checking out the Pharoah Sanders label on here and realized I forgot to attach a link for the Black Unity post! Whoops! Here's the recycled post, with download link:

I've been on a real Pharoah Sanders binge recently, so I decided to post 1972's Black Unity. Like other Pharoah releases, this recording is very spiritual and features some amazing players. It's one track running 37:22, with lots of great atonal freakouts. This album is very percussive, with two drummers as well as a percussionist. The two bass players, Cecil McBee and future Return to Forever member Stanley Clarke, are just as vital to the rhythmic feel. You can hear African and Asian influences in the music, sounds Pharoah experimented with for his entire career.


1. Black Unity


Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophone, balaphone
Hannibal Marvin Peterson, trumpet
Carlos Garnett, tenor saxophone
Joe Bonner, piano
Cecil McBee, bass
Stanley Clarke, bass
Norman Connors, drums
Billy Hart, drums
Lawrence Killian, congas, talking drums, balaphone

Original sessions produced by Lee Young
Reissue produced by Michael Cuscuna
Recording engineer: Tony May
Recorded at A & R Recording Studios, New York City, on November 24, 1971



John Coltrane - The Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording (1967)

This posthumous release, recorded at the Olatunji Center for African Culture in Harlem, emphasizes the direction Coltrane was heading at the end of his career. The ensemble had expanded in numbers, adding another horn with Pharoah Sanders. McCoy had left the group and was replaced by Coltrane's wife Alice on piano, and Rashied Ali sat in place of Elvin Jones. Only Jimmy Garrison remained as the veteran from the A Love Supreme days. Trane was known to use two bass players as well, usually enlisting Art Davis, but Jimmy holds it down here solo. I think the two pieces selected are great contrast - "Ogunde", one of Coltrane's last compositions, and "My Favorite Things", his biggest commercial hit and probably most played tune. Of course Coltrane's style had changed immensely since his 1961 version of the tune. By the end of his career, a show would consist only of two or three selections, each running for about half an hour, maybe playing the head once or twice. He was finished with exploring scales and harmonic structure and was now probing the depths of the instrument (multiphonics). The sounds, tone and power of his playing are indescribable, it feels almost useless to try and write anything. Please listen, and comment if you dig this.

1. Introduction by Billy Taylor
2. Ogunde
3. My Favorite Things


John Coltrane, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophone
Alice Coltrane, piano
Jimmy Garrison, bass
Rashied Ali, drums
Algie DeWitt, Batá drum
(possibly) Jumma Santos, percussion

Recorded April 1967 in New York City

Impulse! 314 589 120-2


Friday, November 5, 2010

Dr. Dre - The Chronic (1992)

This should be played at high volume. Preferably, in a residential area.

Along with Snoop's Doggystyle, The Chronic is the magnus opus of G-Funk. The album is a celebration of all things Death Row, co-starring Snoop Dogg and featuring Warren G, Nate Dogg, Kurupt & Daz (of Tha Dogg Pound), RBX, The Lady of Rage, and others. It also serves as an attack on...so many other rappers: Eazy-E and his alliance with Jerry Heller, Luke from 2 Live Crew, Tim Dog (known for his "Fuck Compton" West Coast diss) - all of whom, apparently, can eat a big fat dick.

The production embodies the era; high-pitched whiny synths meet slithering, diminished bass lines. Then there's the obvious Parliament-Funkadelic influence. I think George Clinton deserves a production credit here - not just for the samples but the amazing interpolation of "P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)" on The Chronic's outro. If you don't have it yet, grab it here in 320.

1. The Chronic (Intro)
2. Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')
3. Let Me Ride
4. The Day The Niggaz Took Over
5. Nuthin' But A G Thang
6. Deez Nuuuts
7. Lil' Ghetto Boy
8. A Nigga Witta Gun
9. Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat
10. The $20 Sack Pyramid
11. Lyrical Gangbang
12. High Powered
13. The Doctor's Office
14. Stranded On Death Row
15. The Roach (The Chronic Outro)
16. Bitches Ain't Shit


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Black Flag - Nervous Breakdown (1978)

Black Flag's first EP as well as the first release on SST Records. One of the very few BF releases with Keith Morris on vocals. Yep.

1. Nervous Breakdown
2. Fix Me
3. I've Had It
4. Wasted


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carl Stalling - The Carl Stalling Project: Music From Warner Bros. Cartoons 1936-1958

After seeing the Looney Tunes short "Water, Water Every Hare" recently, I decided it was time to post some Carl Stalling. Watching the short and seeing how integral Stalling's music is to the image was something I overlooked as a kid. I don't think I would have ever really looked into Stalling's work alone without reading his praises from John Zorn. The maniac changes in tempo and style are definitely vital to both composers' work. Enjoy this collection and the nostalgia that accompanies it. If there's interest in more Carl Stalling, I'll post the second volume.


1. Putty Tat Trouble Pt. 6
2. Hillbilly Hare
3. Early WB Scores: The Depression Era (1936-1941)
4. The Good Egg
5. Various Cues From Bugs Bunny Films (1943-1956)
6. There They Go Go Go
7. Stalling Self-Parody: Music From Porky's Preview
8. Anxiety Montage
9. The War Years
10. Medley - Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals
11. In Session (1951-1956)
12. Speedy Gonzalez Meets Two Crows From Tacos
13. Powerhouse And Other Cuts From The Early 50's
14. Porky In Wackyland / Dough For The Do Do
15. To Itch His Own


Thursday, October 28, 2010

J.S. Bach - Glenn Gould plays The Goldberg Variations (1955) and The Art of Fugue [Excerpts] (1967)

The great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould stunned the world and rose to instant fame when he released his debut recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations in 1955 (he would do this agian years later upon renouncing live performance). When Columbia asked the newly signed 22-year-old prodigy what he wanted to first record, they were somewhat unsettled to hear the answer "Goldberg." At that time far out of the standard repertoire for any pianist, much less a young one, the the variations became Gould's signature piece for the beginning of his career. In the introduction to the published screenplay of the fantastic documentary Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Denyr Arcand remembers a concert in 1958 and thinks, "Listening to [the Goldberg Variations] played live by Glenn Gould is a bit like losing your virginity with Marilyn Monroe: You never quite recuperate from it." Indeed, Glenn's extreme pace and lightness of finger is nothing but stunning.

I've included also a recording of Gould playing excerpts of Bach's incomplete masterpiece The Art of Fugue. The selection is certainly relevant to Gould, who, like Bach, spent his entire life seeking a contrapuntal polyphonic ideal. The films by Girard and McKellar are also composed in a sort of narrative counterpoint, meant to illustrate the fugal mode in which Gould lived his life and composed his music. One can almost physically feel the intersecting and horizontal movement in Bach's compositions, and Gould seems to inhabit the very intent of the O.G. master of counterpoint. In addition to the piano selections, this recording has nine tracks on organ, which Gould recorded only having ever practiced them on a piano.


The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

1 - 32. Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
33. Fugue in F-sharp minor, BWV 883
34. Fugue in E major, BWV 878


The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080
1-9. Contrapunctus I-IX (Organ)
10-12. Contrapunctus I, II & IV (Piano)
13-15. Contrapunctus IV, XI & XIII
16. Contrapunctus XIV (unfinished)
17. Prelude and Fugue, BWV 898


Monday, October 18, 2010

Charles Mingus - Oh Yeah (1962)

A few things worth mentioning: first, Mingus does not play bass on this recording, but handles piano and vocal duties instead (one of the rare albums in which he does so). Oh Yeah also features two really amazing sax players - (Rahsaan) Roland Kirk & Booker Ervin. I think the album is really carried by their playing as well as Mingus' composition skills. Mingus' singing is great but his intermittent screams really make the perfect embellishments - throughout the album, you're going to hear a lot of "Oh Yeah!"s and other such remarks of encouragement (strange for Mingus, known for his violent temper...) "Hog Callin' Blues" introduces the theme that would reappear on "II B.S." from Mingus 5x. Apologies for the brief CD skips on this track. By the way, is Paul Simon paying homage or biting?


1. Hog Callin' Blues
2. Devil Woman
3. Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am
4. Ecclusiastics
5. Oh Lord Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me
6. Eat That Chicken
7. Passions Of A Man
8. "Old" Blues For Walt's Torin
9. Peggy's Blue Skylight
10. Invisible Lady


Charles Mingus, piano & vocals
Roland Kirk, flute, siren, tenor sax, manzello & stritch
Booker Ervin, tenor sax
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Doug Watkins, bass
Dannie Richmond, drums

Recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York City, November 6, 1961

Oh Yeah!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Five Tango Sensations With Astor Piazzolla (1989)

is a Spanish term meaning "spirit" or "gut". Duende is the heart of the tango, a style which itself is the very pulse of Argentina's music and dance. Sensuous, romantic, playful but with some sense of danger, Astor Piazzolla's expansions and variations on the tango tradition are deeply steeped in a sense of duende. These gorgeous, deliberate renditions by the always fantastic Kronos Quartet fully honor the Piazzolla ambience, with the man himself playing the bandoneón. Enjoy!


1. Asleep
2. Loving
3. Anxiety
4. Despertar
5. Fear

Kronos Quartet
David Harrington, violin
John Sherba, violin
Hank Dutt, viola
Joan Jeanrenaud, cello

Astor Piazzolla, bandoneón


Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Stanley Brothers - The Complete Rich-R-Tone 78s (1947-1952)

The more I listen to/learn about John Fahey, the more I realize how much of the fucking man he was, and how he really knew what was up. Not only did he found the fantastic Takoma Records, but also created Revenant Records later on. Revenant's discography is comprised of reissues and compilations of some really choice artists - any label that puts out music by Derek Bailey, Charley Patton, Sir Richard Bishop and Albert Ayler deserves praise. This is a compilation of material from Carter and Ralph - The Stanley Brothers. I didn't know anything about 'em besides what I'd heard from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, but this comp sounds nothing like that. This record is full of banjo-pluckin', fiddle-playin' foot stompers. I love the vocal harmonies in bluegrass, and they are so tight here. I feel like I need to find a really old-timey radio to hear this properly. Really wonderful music, give it a listen.


1. Molly And Tenbrook
2. The Rambler's Blues
3. Mother No Longer Awaits Me At Home
4. The Girl Behind The Bar
5. Little Maggie
6. The Little Glass Of Wine
7. Our Darling's Gone
8. The Jealous Lover
9. I Can Tell You The Time
10. Little Birdie
11. Little Glass Of Wine
12. Death Is Only A Dream
13. Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake
14. Are You Waiting Just For Me?


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul Of Black Peru (1970s & 80s)

I don't normally post compilations, but this short record of Afro-Peruvian folk and pop is just awesome and worth posting. I'm pretty much completely ignorant of Peruvian music in general besides Rossy War, so I don't know if I can say anything particularly enlightening about the artists or culture at work, but the bright, lighthearted rhythms and sing-alongs certainly get my gears going in the best of ways. There's also a super-silly "Lando" cover by David Byrne, of all people. Enjoy!

1. Maria Lando - Susana Baca (1982)
2.¿Yo No Soy Jaqui? - Manuel Donayre (1984)
3. Canterurias - Cecilia Barraza (1992)
4. Samba Malato - Lucila Campos (1974)
5. Enciendete Candela - Roberto Rivas & El Conjunto Gente Morena (1971)
6. Azuca de Caña - Eva Ayllón (1985)
7.Prendeme la Vela - Abelardo Vasquez & Cumanana (1973)
8. Landó - Chabuca Granda (1978)
9. Toro Mata - Lucila Campos (1973)
10. Son de los diablos - Peru Negro (1973)
11. No Me Cumben - Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1973)
12. Una Larga Noche - Chabuca Granda (1978)
13. Lando - Peru Negro (1974)
14. Maria Lando - David Byrne (1981)
15. Zapateo en menor (Instrumental) - Vincente Vasquez D. (1971)


A-Alikes - Live or Die (2004)

I was pleasantly surprised by this record, which I bought in a thrift shop for 50 cents. I recognized the dead prez I-Ching symbol on the record cover, and since dp are one of the only "socially conscious" groups I really ever like to bump, I figured it couldn't hurt to find something like-minded. Though slightly poppier, the record is at times serious, at times fun, but always tight with production done mostly by Baby J.

Maybe I deserve a late pass, but I can't believe that the A-Alikes haven't entered the late 90s/early 00s canon which is so broadly well received by today's hip hop listeners, gangsta and backpacker alike. Enjoy!

1. Nigga Love
2. 2 Sides
3. We Got Room (feat. dead prez)
4. It's Like That
5. Get Out of Jail
6. So Good
7. Gunpoint
8. Drought Time (feat. N.I.M.R.O.D.)
9. Wintertime
10. Trust (feat. dead prez)
11. Stand Up
12. F.T.P.
13. Stop the Madness
14. Guerilla Nation (feat. I.G.)
15. Bonus Track


Monday, October 4, 2010

Roberta Flack - First Take

"It's a good thing that I'd found a seat before she took her place at the piano and sang her first note, because my knees would never have made it standing. Her voice touched, tapped, trapped and kicked over every emotion I've ever known. I laughed, cried and screamed for more. And more came - and more- and more - and more!"

Pianist Les McCann recounts seeing Roberta in the summer of 1968. A year later, she would release her first album on Atlantic. On First Take, Roberta really runs the gamut of emotions. The pessimistic "Compared To What", penned by Eugene McDaniels, is packed with punchy horn hits. I find it very much in McDaniels style, sounding very similar to songs like "Lovin' Man", from his 1971 release, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse. She does a beautiful Leonard Cohen cover with "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye", but does anyone else think the drums are mixed strangely in this song? My favorite track on First Take is her own arrangement of "I Told Jesus" - the piece builds slowly before climaxing in a powerful vocal performance that is just raw spirituality. Roberta's voice is one of the best and her piano playing is lovely as well. The backing band includes jazz veteran Ron Carter on bass and John Pizzarelli on guitar (I'm assuming it's the senior Pizzarelli, now known as Bucky, unless the younger was that much of the man at 9 years old).


1. Compared To What
2. Angelitos Negros
3. Our Ages Or Our Hearts
4. I Told Jesus
5. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
6. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
7. Tryin' Times
8. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men


Nina Simone - Pastel Blues (1965)

Nina needs no introduction, and if you're like me, you can never really get enough of her loose, emotional tenor. This record from the High Priestess of Soul is bluesy (as the title would imply), but is sparse, minimalist and contemplative. The highlights of the record for me have to be the opening and closing tracks, "Be My Husband" and "Sinnerman", the first a field spiritual sounding song by her husband Andrew Stroud, and the last a theatrical ten-minute poem of redemption.


1. Be My Husband
2. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
3. End Of The Line
4. Trouble in Mind
5. Tell Me More And More And Then Some
6. Chilly Winds Don't Blow
7. Ain't No Use
8. Strange Fruit
9. Sinnerman


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Anita O'Day - Cool Heat (1959), Once Upon a Summertime (1963) and Anita O'Day Sings The Winners (1990)

Hitting the ground running on this, my return from summer hiatus. Anita O'Day is one of my favorite jazz vocalists ever. With her supple, shining copper tone and her short, sexy delivery, O'Day is maybe the only white jazz singers to hold her own among her inspirations, heavyweights like Billie and Ella. Beyond her musical talent, Anita was also a strong, sassy, shit-talkin' lady and a survivor of long-term addiction and abuse.

The tunes she sings on these recordings generally stay within the realm of fast playful bebop and swing driven by Anita's fierce coolness and seemingly endless melodic flexibility (you try singing "Take The A Train" a capella sometime!). There is a bit of overlap between the albums and the compilation. The recording is a bit scratchy for Once Upon A Summertime, but they almost heighten the cool ambience of Anita's incomparable "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" or inventive "Girl From Ipanema". Thanks to Adam for this copy of Cool Heat, on which O'Day sings Jimmy Giuffre arrangements. Also, Buns O'Plenty recently put up an awesome collaboration between Anita and vibes player Cal Tjader, which I highly encourage you to check out.


Cool Heat

1. Mack The Knife
2. Easy Come, Easy Go
3. Orphan Annie
4. You're A Clown
5. Gone With The Wind
6. Hooray For Hollywood
7. It Had To Be You
8. Come Rain Or Come Shine
9. Hershey Bar
10. A Lover Is Blue
11. My Heart Belongs to Daddy
12. The Way You Look Tonight


Once Upon A Summertime

1. Sweet Georgia Brown
2. Love For Sale
4. They Can't Take That Away From Me
5. Boogie Blues
6. Tea For Two
7. Once Upon A Summertime
8. The Girl From Ipanema
9. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?
10. Night And Day
11. Anita's Blues
12. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square


Anita O'Day Sings the Winners

1. Take The "A" Train
2. Tenderly
3. Interlude (A Night In Tunisia)
4. Four
5. Early Autumn
6. Four Brothers
7. Sing, Sing, Sing
8. My Funny Valentine
9. Frenesi
10. Body and Soul
11. What's Your Story Morning Glory
12. Peanut Vendor (El Manisero)
13. Whisper Not
14. Blue Champagne
15. Stompin' At The Savoy
16. Hershey bar
17. Don't Be Tht Way
18. Peel Me a Grape
19. Star Eyes


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 1 in D Major (1884-1888)

Arpad Joó conducts the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in this performance of Mahler's first symphony. What can I say about this that Wikipedia can't? The third movement stands out for the dirge-like version of Frère Jacques.

1. Langsam, Schleppend - Im Anfang Sehr Gemachlich
2. Kraftig Bewegt, Doch Nicht Zu Schnell
3. Feierlich Und Gemessen, Ohne Zu Schleppen
4. Sturmisch Bewegt


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bathory - Blood Fire Death (1988)

Sacred shrine of life and death
Apharamons gold key
The raping of holy interior
And all concealed
Now masturbated upon is throne of gold

The lyrics come from "The Golden Walls Of Heaven", and if you read the first letter of each line, it spells SATAN (I learned this thanks to Encyclopaedia Metallum). Is this taking it a step further than spinning the record backwards? Bathory is the project of one man, Quorthon, and is considered a part of the first wave of black metal. Listening to this album you can hear the profound influence Bathory had on the coming second wave of black metal in Norway. Some of the songs are short and thrashy, with fast, noisy, and rad guitar solos/spasms. But a few tracks, for example "A Fine Day To Die", are so fucking brooding and epic. "A Fine Day To Die" is a segue from the synthy album opener, starting with sounds of a storm and whinnying horses. A dreamlike whisper over acoustic guitars for a few minutes, and then Quorthon smacks you in the face with such a fantastic shriek and guitar playing. It almost sounds like Ride the Lightning-era Metallica, but heavier and way cooler.

1. Odens Ride Over Nordland
2. A Fine Day To Die
3. The Golden Walls Of Heaven
4. Pace 'Till Death
5. Holocaust
6. For All Those Who Died
7. Dies Irae
8. Blood Fire Death
9. Outro


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cecil Taylor - Unit Structures (1966)

Apologies for the diminishing amount of posts in the past few months. Summer was distracting, to say the least, but now 'Caine and I will be more on top of things. I'm going to stop writing (320) at the top of every post, I think it's getting a little redundant. Everything is in 320 unless marked otherwise.

I'd like to end the hiatus with a Cecil Taylor Blue Note release. I had the pleasure of seeing the free jazz legend at Seattle's Earshot in 2008. He came out in long rainbow socks, holding a large bundle of loose leaf paper. I had heard that Cecil would open up performances with his poetry, but it looked like he had enough paper to last the whole night. I swear one of his poems was him just screaming vowels and different volumes. Art, man. His solo piano playing was wild, atonal, and all over the place. But through his violent smashing chords was a master's control of the instrument and a very real sense of musicality. Check out this section from All The Notes below to maybe...better understand the man and his theories. "Sound has color. I have 6 different colors...which most human beings cannot perceive. But animals can perceive..." Real talk. Only Cecil tells it like it is. (By the way, bassist Henry Grimes has been featured on Shhh before on a few Albert Ayler releases.)


1. Steps
2. Enter, Evening (Soft Line Structure)
3. Enter, Evening (Alt. Take)
4. Unit Structure/As Of A Now/Section
5. Tales (8 Whisps)


Eddie Gale Stevens, Jr., trumpet
Jimmy Lyons, alto sax
Ken McIntyre, alto sax, oboe, and bass clarinet
Cecil Taylor, piano and bells
Henry Grimes, bass
Alan Silva, bass
Andrew Cyrille, drums

Produced by Alfred Lion
All compositions written by Cecil Taylor
Produced for release by Michael Cuscuna
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 19, 1966
Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Digital Transfers by: Ron McMaster

Blue Note Records
CDP 7 84237 2


Monday, August 9, 2010

Bill Frisell - East/West (2005) (320)

Two great live sets from the Seattle jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. The trio opens with a fantastic cover of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", establishing the trend of the this record: showcasing Frisell's great musical vocabulary with his love of effects. The noise breaks and loops are frequent and add personality to the tunes. I love the loops Frisell runs on "Shenandoah", a slow piece that gradually becomes more intense. The last 2 minutes of that song have a great utilization of delay. One of my favorites is Frisell's composition "Boubacar", from 2003'sThe Intercontinentals; its slow tempo, tremolo effect and the scales Frisell employs sound like a nod to Ry Cooder. His cover of Johnny Cash's "Tennessee Flat Top Box" would probably have The Man In Black rolling over in his grave, but if you're looking for country music, check out Frisell's own "Nashville" instead.

First Set:

Bill Frisell: guitar, loops
Viktor Krauss: bass
Kenny Wollesen: drums

Recorded Live at Yoshi's (Oakland, CA), May 8-11, 2004

1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine
2. Blues for Los Angeles
3. Shenandoah
4. Boubacar
5. Pipe Down
6. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

Second Set:

Bill Frisell: electric and acoustic guitars, loops
Tony Scherr: bass, acoustic guitar
Kenny Wollesen: drums, percussion

Recorded Live at the Village Vanguard (New York, NY), December 9-12, 2003

1. My Man's Gone Now
2. The Days Of Wine And Roses
3. You Can Run
4. Ron Carter
5. Interlude
6. Goodnight Irene
7. The Vanguard
8. People
9. Crazy
10. Tennessee Flat Top Box


Monday, July 19, 2010

Ras G - Brotha From Anotha Planet (2009) (320)

I can't say that I can keep up with all of the beats these days. Seems like everyone and their mom has a Roland MS-1 and a crate full of wacky samples to go with it. But as I recently came into a number of collections of beats, and with the increasing presence of a number of DJs/beatmakers in my current location, I felt a big ups to LA's Ras G was necessary. Not the first or the the last to make afrofuturistic soundscapes and pulses, Ras G nonetheless has a fantastic grip on the genre both musically and in terms of his image: just look at the album cover. The dude is rad.

And so are the beats. Totally atmospheric, confused, drowning in noise and broken, delayed rhythms which take the shattered sounds of original dub into the 21st century, scattered and crashing and swirling around complex concepts about humanity, race, technology, duplication, art, and probably a whole host of other stuff. Unlike many ambient and dubstep musicians, Ras himself is always present behind the plates and samples he uses. You can sometimes hear his fingers slipping or a miscount, but from that imperfection comes a supreme self-awareness. Dysfunction, like dissonance, are part of the contemporary playbook for music like this, where fracture and memory reign in two intersecting arcs which create the heady sphere that Ras produces in. Do yourself a favor and light up a Phillie, put on your nicest pair of headphones, and dim the lights. Go Ras!


1. Dishwater
2. Earthly Matters
3. Penny's Confession
4. Shinelight
5. Eunice in White
6. Sun Behing The Clouds
7. Astrohood
8. Nothing But hange
9. In Coming
10. Come Down (2 Earth)
11. Desert Fairy
12. Return Form The Great Unknown
13. Alkebulan


Tiê - Sweet Jardim (2009) (320)

Firstly, I ought to apologize for the absence. In the summer heat, I excuse myself too easily of my obligations and frequently give in to the itchings in my feet. But, back on the horse! This record by Paulista songwriter Tiê is a short record of heartwrenching poetry in the melancholy tradition of MPB and Bossa singers like Elis Regina and more contemporary artists like Adriana Calcanhotto, but with clear influences from classic songwriters like Syd Barrett and contemporary indie downers like Elliott Smith and Cat Power. The acoustic arrangements (just guitar, piano, and cello) are gorgeous in their simplicity, and Tiê's haunting voice constantly threatens to shatter the quiet, lo-fi atmosphere of the record. Maybe I'm a sap, but some of the lyrics really knock me over-- simple and often evasive compositions of heartbreak, frustration, affirmation and compromise. From the opening track, "Assinado Eu" or "Signed, Me", she reflects delicately on her inability to properly reciprocate romance:" Atordoada de amor, faltou ar"... "Suffocated by love, I needed air". All of her words have this slight but endearing cheesiness to them. In the sleepy and sad "Quinto Andar", or "Fifth Floor", she resigns herself, "Amor, por que eu te chamo assim? Sei com certeza vôce não lembra de mim", or "Love, why do I call you that? I know, surely, that you don't even remember me". Yet although filled with pain, the album is a hopeful one, its composition clearly a redemptive, therapeutic one. With the exception of the English language "Stranger But Mine" (why is this necessary?), each song is a gem. Even those suspicious of singer-songwriter types would do well to give this a spin.


1. Assinado Eu
2. Dois
3. Quinto Andar
4. Passarinho
5. Aula de Francês
6. Chá Verde
7. Te Valorizo
8. Stranger But Mine
9. A Bailarina E O Astronauta
10. Sweet Jardim


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Eric B. & Rakim - Follow The Leader (1988) (320)

The seminal work from hip hop's most important DJ/MC combination shows growth from their previous album, 1987's Paid in Full. Both are classics but Follow the Leader sees a a more developed and refined approach to lyrical delivery and production. The 18th letter, Rakim Allah, is untouchable. The standout track is "Microphone Fiend", pure hip hop passion. Rakim comparing his need for hip hop to heroin and nicotine addiction and explaining how William Michael Griffin, Jr. became the R. It's funny to picture a young Rakim denied a microphone and then throwing a tantrum:

"I was a fiend, before I became a teen
I melted microphones 'stead of cones of ice cream,
Music-orientated so when hip hop was originated
fitted like pieces of puzzle - complicated,
'Cause I grabbed the mic and tried to say "Yes Y'all"
they tried to take it and say that I'm too small,
Cool, 'cause I don't get upset
I kick a hole in the speaker, pull the plug then I jet."

It has to be one of the best hip hop songs, period. This album speaks for itself, and so many Rakim stans can sing his praise better than I can. Rakim took MC'ing in a new direction that became the mold for every rapper after. You've probably heard this before, but if you don't know, now ya know.


1. Follow The Leader
2. Microphone Fiend
3. Lyrics Of Fury
4. Eric B. Never Scared
5. Just A Beat
6. Put Your Hands Together
7. To The Listeners
8. No Competition
9. The R
10. Musical Massacre
11. Beats For The Listeners
12. The R (Remix)
13. Microphone Fiend (Extended Remix)
14. Put Your Hands Together (Fon Force Mix)


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Otis Redding - The Dock Of The Bay (1968) (320)

Is there a more perfect time to listen to "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" than summer? Otis tenderly sings about "watching the tide roll away". He did make the long trip from Georgia to San Francisco, after all, so a little relaxation is due to him. The stunning single was recorded just days before Otis' death in a plane crash, which also took the lives of The Bar-Kays, his backing band. Much of the album's sound comes thanks to guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper, member of the Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s. Cropper himself put the tracklist together, and the flow of his selection is ideal. His tasty guitar licks are matched with catchy horn punches. Also, Carla Thomas clowning on Otis on "Tramp" is fuggin' hilarious.


1. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
2. I Love You More Than Words Can Say
3. Let Me Come On Home
4. Open The Door
5. Don't Mess With Cupid
6. The Glory Of Love
7. I'm Coming Home To See About You
8. Tramp (With Carla Thomas)
9. The Hucklebuck
10. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
11. Ole Man Trouble


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Antônio Carlos Jobim & Edu Lobo - Edu & Tom, Tom & Edu (1981) (320)

This breathtaking, soft, quintessential Bossa Nova record was recorded 13 years before Tom Jobim's death with the almost-as-legendary Edu Lobo. Simple three part arrangements dominate this record. It's a bit nostalgic sounding, capturing some of the melancholy that diffused as MPB grew more diverse in the late 70s. "Ai Quem Me Dera" entered the standards book quick, but the reinterpretation of some of Jobim's older tunes, like "Chovendo na Roseira", are equally poetic. Enjoy!


1. Ai quem me dera
2. Pra dizer adeus
3. Chovendo na roseira
4. Moto-Contínuo
5. Angela
6. Luiza
7. Cancão do amanhecer
8. Vento braco
9. É preciso dizer adeus
10. Canto Triste

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit/ He Miss Road (1975) (320)

Fela Kuti was the pioneer of afrobeat music and the driving force behind anti-imperialist and anti-statist resistance in Nigeria in the 1970s. If there's ever an example for the power of music to make positive social change, this is it. This is one of my favorite of his albums (although they are numerous). The title is a reference to the infamous incident in a Nigerian airport where the authorities planted a joint on Fela's person in order to imprison him for good. Legend has it that he managed to eat the joint before it was discovered, so he was detained until they could search for it in his shit. So that's where all that covert American aid money was going... Expensive shit! Anyway, this is one of Fela's more melodic/accessible efforts without compromising the funk or the fuck-shit-up. Enjoy!


1. Expensive Shit
2. Water No Get Enemy
3. He Miss Road
4. Monday Morning in Lagos
5. It's No Possible


Monday, May 17, 2010

Baden Powell - Love Me With Guitars (1964) (320)

This well-respected Baden Powell record is perfect for the gorgeous May days that we're seeing around where I live. The opening track "Deve Ser Amor" makes me want to strap a ghetto blaster to my bike and hand out popsicles to all the fine young people. Powell's seemingly lazy guitar mastery sails flawlessly from Rio to Pernambuco to Bahia to Buenos Aires to Andalusia to Italy and back to the beach in time for sunset. His music is certainly within the Bossa Nova and Samba traditions but also draws on the slightly less known and slightly more somber, if still upbeat, Brazilian guitar style of "Choro", which literally means "I cry" in Portuguese. This digitization from the outstanding blog Toque Musical diminishes the weird channel conflicts of the LP, which result in a strange din on the Brazilian vinyl version released in 1976-- the record was released first in France and re-released many times after. I was so happy with this record that I figured I'd bring it here for you fine individuals to enjoy!


1. Deve ser amor
2. Choro para metronome
3. Adagio
4. Berimbau
5. Preludio
6. Chanson d'Hiver
7. Samba Triste
8. Bercause a Jussara
9. Prelude
10. Euridice
11. Bachiana
12. Garota de Ipanema


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eric Dolphy - Last Date (1964) (320)

"When you hear music, after it's over, it's gone, in the air. You can never capture it again."

This is Eric Dolphy's last recorded performance before his death of a diabetic coma in Berlin. Along with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dolphy was one of the most talented jazz multi-instrumentalists. Last Date is a good display of his range, performing on alto saxophone, bass clarinet, and flute. Dolphy opens the set with a brief, wild bass clarinet introduction to Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy", before easing into a more straight ahead approach. Dolphy's second solo on the Monk tune is a sublime example of his virtuosity, really following the changes while experimenting with the tone and jumping all over his range. Jazz flute is commonly misconceived as inevitably corny (it often is), but listen to Dolphy play on the ballad "You Don't Know What Love Is" - truly sentimental, soulful playing. The all-Dutch rhythm section features renowned drummer Han Bennink, the closest living personification of the Muppet's Animal. For someone who later worked with Peter Brötzmann and Derek Bailey, Bennink really sits back on this one. I'm attaching the head of "South Street Exit" so you can play along. Enjoy!


1. Epistrophy
2. South Street Exit
3. Madrig Speaks, the Panther Walks
4. Hypochristmutreefuzz
5. You Don't Know What Love Is
6. Miss Ann


Eric Dolphy, flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone
Misja Mengelberg, piano
Jacques Schols, bass
Han Bennink, drums
Recorded: June 2, 1964, Hilversum, Holland

Fontana 822 226-2


Monday, May 10, 2010

Redman - Whut? Thee Album (1992) (320)

Redman is one of those rappers who, despite widespread critical acclaim and an undisputed right to some place in the hip hop history books, still seems like he never quite made it into the mainstream consciousness beyond How High. Indeed, his collaborations with Method Man have enough people thinking he's simply the 10th member of Wu-Tang (he's not). Yet Dr. Trevis' style has always been a little funkier and a lot less serious than that of the Wu as a whole. Repping Newark, New Jersey, the wit and punchiness of Redman's flow has changed little since his debut, Whut? Thee Album. It's interesting to compare Red's colorful use of samples from P-Funk, Zapp, Sly and other funk artists to the G-Funk stuff that was happening on the West Coast around the same time. The tunes are equally celebratory, but with a faster pace and a distinctly East Coast mentality. From the hype single "Time 4 Sum Aksion" to the smooth "Tonight's Da Night", Red's production (mostly a collaboration with EPMD teammate Erick Sermon, who gave Red his break) is pretty close to flawless and shockingly complex for 1992. The obvious highlight of the album is "How To Roll A Blunt", containing my favorite mantra "Not the city of Philly, silly punk/ I'm talkin' about the cigar, the Phillie blunt", but the album is a classic start to finish. Regardless, I feel that warning is in order for those who have a distaste for skits: there are a fuckin' lot of them on this and all of Red's records. Enjoy!


1. Psycho Ward (Skit)
2. Time 4 Sum Aksion
3. Da Funk
4. New Break (Skit)
5. So Ruff (feat. DJ Scratch)
6. Rated "R"
7. Watch Yo Nuggets (feat. Erick Sermon & Charlie Marotta)
8. Psycho Dub (Skit)
9. Jam 4 U
10. Blow Your Mind
11. Hardcore
12. Funky Unlces (Skit)
13. Redman Meets Reggie Noble
14. Tonight's Da Night
15. Blow Your Mind (Remix)
16. I'm A Bad
17. Sessed One Night (Skit)
18. How To Roll A Blunt
19. Sooper Luver Interview (Skit)
20. A Day of Sooperman Lover
21. Encore

Def Jam, 1992


Saturday, April 17, 2010

"The Harder They Come" Soundtrack (1972) (320)

This stands as the greatest reggae compilation ever put together. The music was selected by director Perry Henzell for his film, which stars Jimmy Cliff as the aspiring musician turned outlaw Ivan. Most of Cliff's tracks reflect the struggle of his character ("Many Rivers to Cross", "The Harder They Come"), but at the same time maintain a feeling of positivity - Cliff sings on "Sitting In Limbo", "They're putting up resistance, but I know my faith will lead me on." This line imitates Ivan's naive attitude in the beginning of the film, before he gets a gun and starts selling weed in Kingston. Toots' "Sweet And Dandy" is an entertaining family drama, and makes me want to try cola wine. The mixing is kind of odd to me in a few places - you can hear some of Cliff's vocals edited out of the verse on "You Can Get It If You Really Want". Just look at Jimmy doing his thing in the studio and wearing this awesome star shirt:


1. Jimmy Cliff - You Can Get It If You Really Want
2. Scotty - Draw Your Brakes
3. The Melodians - Rivers Of Babylon
4. Jimmy Cliff - Many Rivers To Cross
5. Toots & The Maytals - Sweet And Dandy
6. Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come
7. The Slickers - Johnny Too Bad
8. Desmond Dekker - 007 (Shanty Town)
9. Toots & The Maytals - Pressure Drop
10. Jimmy Cliff - Sitting In Limbo
11. Jimmy Cliff - You Can Get It If You Really Want
12. Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come


Thursday, April 15, 2010

João Gilberto - João Gilberto (1961) (320)

This is an early and fantastic self-titled release from Bossa Nova legend João Gilberto. With expert accompaniment and arrangements from the other Father of Bossa, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Walter Wanderley e Seu Conjunto. The opening rendition is of one of my favorite Brazilian standards ever, "O Samba da Minha Terra". Gilberto employs his signature percussive singing (I would say its scat-like if I didn't know that would scare you all off) and expert syncopation to rethink the song. The rest of the album follows in these footsteps, with Gilberto's casual expertise lacing intricate technique with the expert ad deceptively difficult arrangements of Jobim. Most of these songs, if they hadn't already, quickly entered the Bossa canon after this album's release. "O Amor Em Paz" feels almost like a Bossa manifesto - sad, beautiful, complex, short, and relaxed. Equally appropriate to play at the moment of your next heartbreak or your next picnic in the park, this record is yet another confirmation of Jobim and Gilberto's total mastery and influence over the genre.

1. O Samba da Minha Terra
2. O Barquinho
3. Bolinha de Papel
4. Saudade da Bahia
5. A Primeira Vez
6. O Amore em Paz
7. Você e Eu
8. Trem de Ferro (Trenzinho)
9. Coisa Mais Linda
10. Presente De Natal
11. Insensatez
10. Este Seu Olhar

Odeon Brasil, 1961

Tracks 1, 3, 4, and 8 With Walter Waverley e Seu Conjunto.
Tracks 2, 5-7, 9-12 with Antônio Carlos Jobim (arrangements and piano).


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Édith Piaf - Edith Piaf: 30th Anniversaire (320)

A comprehensive best-of from the Little Sparrow, one of France's most important voices. This collection covers a good part of her body of work.


Disc 1 -

1. La Vie En Rose
2. J'M'En Fous Pas Mal
3. Les Trois Cloches
4. Les Amants De Paris
5. Bal Dans Ma Rue
6. Plus Bleu Que Tes Yeux
7. Hymne A L'Amour
8. Jezebel
9. Padam Padam
10. Hymn To Love (Hymne À L'Amour)
11. Bravo Pour Le Clown
12. Johnny, Tu N'Es Pas Un Ange
13. La Goualante Du Pauvre Jean
14. Le 'Ca Ira'
15. L'Accordeoniste
16. La Vie En Rose (En Anglais)
17. C'Est A Hambourg
18. L'Homme A La Moto
19. Les Amants D'Un Jour
20. Autumn Leaves (Les Feuilles Mortes)
21. Dans Les Prisons De Nantes
22. Pour Moi Toute Seule
23. Il Y Avait

Disc 2 -

1. La Foule
2. Mon Manege A Moi (Tu Me Fais Tourner La Tete)
3. Fais Comme Si
4. Je Sais Comment
5. Milord
6. Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
7. Les Flonflons Du Bal
8. Le Vieux Piano
9. Mon Vieux Lucien
10. Mon Dieu (En Anglais)
11. Sous Le Ciel De Paris
12. Les Amants
13. A Quoi Ca Sert L'amour
14. Une Valse
15. Emporte-Moi
16. L'homme De Berlin
17. Legende (Inedit)
18. Un Dimanche A Londres (Inedit)
19. A L'enseigne De La Fille Sans Coeur
20. La Valse De L'amour
21. Les Mots De L'amour

Disc 1
Disc 2

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Albert Ayler - Spirits (1964) (320)

"'Trane was the Father...Pharoah was the son...I am the Holy Ghost."

Part 3 of 3. Now we finally hear from the Holy Ghost, and how appropriate with this "Spirits" recording. I don't have too much information on this one, and to be honest this one doesn't grip me as much as the other two have. I prefer the second half of Spirits: contrast the burning drums and demented horn playing on "Holy, Holy" with the last piece, "Saints", which to me is just plain spooky.


1. Spirits
2. Witches And Devils
3. Holy, Holy
4. Saints


Albert Ayler, tenor saxophone
Norman Howard, trumpet
Henry Grimes (1,2,4) & Earle Henderson (1,3), basses
Sonny Murray, drums

All selections composed by Albert Ayler and recorded in New York City, Feb. 24, 1964

Notes by: Ole Vestergaard Jensen
Producers: Jürgen Frigaard & Robert Altshuler
Recording: Phil Iehle, Atlantic Recording Corp.
Cover design: Nina Aae

Breathless 52006


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Parliament - Mothership Connection (1975) (320)

Pretty much the quintessential P-Funk record in terms of electrobootylicious space funk, Mothership Connection was the breakthrough of George Clinton's mothership and his extraterrestrial freakshow. This record is chock full of classics, like the hit "Tear The Roof Off The Sucker", "Handcuffs" and "Mothership Connection (Star Child)". A necessary staple in any funk (or related) collection. Enjoy.

1. P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)
2. Mothership Connection (Star Child)
3. Unfunky UFO
4. Supergroovalisticprosifunstication (The Bumps Bump)
5. Handcuffs
6. Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)
7. Night of the Thumpasorous Peoples


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ultramagnetic MCs - Critical Beatdown (1988) (320)

We had some Large Professor big-ups earlier, so I figured props were due to his mentor, Paul C. This guy was one of the first to take sampling into the way we think of it today, innovating the "chop" and the "pan" and perfecting drum isolation in the late 80s. These days, folks make a lot of Dilla/Paul C comparisons, and I can't say I don't hear it. If your into the technology side of sampling, I suggest checking out David Tompkins' extensive history of Paul C and the exact techniques and gear that he hooked up, as well as about his work with Organized Konfusion, Large Professor, and, most famously, Ultramagnetic MCs.

Ultramagnetic MCs are fronted by crazy-ass Kool Keith, who was reported institutionalized shortly after the release of the group's debut, Critical Beatdown. I think that was just a rumor, but the whole group just rap beautifully about some random shit. More important is the production by Paul C and group member Ced Gee. Paul C's funky James Brown sample feature, "Give The Drummer Some", is seen as a turning point for mixing many samples smoothly and simultaneously. It is hard to believe it was only 1988 when this was released. The last six songs are bonus tracks that came out on the 2004 CD re-release. Enjoy!


1. Watch Me Now
2. Ease Back
3. Ego Trippin' (MC's Ultra Remix)
4. Moe Luv's Theme
5. Kool Keith Housing Things
6. Travelling At The Speed of Thought (Remix)
7. Feelin' it
8. One Minute Less
9. Ain't It Good To You
10. Funky (Remix)
11. Give The Drummer Some
12. Break North
13. Critical Beatdown
14. When I Burn
15. Ced-Gee (Delta Force One)
17. Bait
18. A Chorus Line
19. Travelling At The Speed of Thought
20. Ego Trippin'
21. Mentally Mad

Next Plateau Records, 1988
Produced by Paul C, Ced Gee and TR Love


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers (1978) (320)

Rest In Peace Alex Chilton
December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010

A great songwriter and musician has died. Nobody brought jingly jangly power pop to the level Alex Chilton did, the innovator and Big Star frontman who passed in New Orleans yesterday of what seems to have been a heart attack. Unfortunately the group never achieved the commercial success one would have hoped for, especially considering the universally appealing, deceptively simple rock ballads and pop tunes which characterized the band throughout the 1970s. Third/Sisters takes the Big Star sound perfected (and I mean they're actually perfect records) on #1 Record and Radio City and makes it a little spacier, with more instrumentation and back-up vocals. That doesn't mean the group abandons its pop sensibilities on this record, but rather they expand it to include synths, strings, backup vocals and slightly more melancholy lyrical content. For balance's sake, there are a few heart-wrenching acoustic joints as well ("Blue Moon" will make you cry or wish you could). I'd say its probably the best record to listen to as we mourn Mr. Chilton and celebrate his legacy, though you should really get the whole holy trilogy, for the sake of your own mental health. Enjoy.


1. Kizza Me
2. Thank You Friends
3. Big Black Car
4. Jesus Christ
5. Femme Fatale
6. O, Dana
7. Holocaust
8. Kangaroo
9. Stroke It Noel
10. For You
11. You Can't Have Me
12. Nighttime
13. Blue Moon
14. Take Care

Rykodisc, 1978


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pharoah Sanders - Karma (1969) (320)

"'Trane was the Father...Pharoah was the son...I am the Holy Ghost."

Part 2 of 3. On Karma, the Son rides over a meditative, two-chord modal groove. Pharoah uses a smooth tone early on but doesn't shy away from abrasive squeaks and pitch-bending. I feel that he really bares his soul each time he plays the head of "The Creator Has A Master Plan". He's got the kind of powerful tone that really grabs you by the balls. It's such commanding playing. Just when you think you've reached some kind of zen about fifteen minutes in, shit starts to get crazy. A few minutes later Pharoah's primal wails are matching Leon Thomas' abstract yodeling. Heavy percussion and noise freak out. Just awesome. You might recognize some of the names on this recording from Coltrane's Africa/Brass sessions.


1. The Creator Has A Master Plan
2. Colors

Personnel on track #1:

Pharoah Sanders, tenor sax
Leon Thomas, vocal & percussion
James Spaulding, flute
Julius Watkins, French horn
Lonnie Liston Smith, Jr., piano
Richard Davis, bass
Reggie Workman, bass
William Hart, drums
Nathaniel Bettis, percussion

Personnel on track #2:

Pharoah Sanders, tenor sax
Leon Thomas, vocal & percussion
Julius Watkins, French horn
Lonnie Liston Smith, Jr., piano
Reggie Workman, bass
Ron Carter, bass
Freddie Waits, drums

Original Sessions Produced by Bob Thiele
Reissue produced by Michael Cuscuna
Engineer: Bob Simpson
Recorded at RCA Studios, NYC, February 14 & 19, 1969
Digitally Remastered by Erick Labson at MCA Music Media Studios, using 20-Bit Super Mapping

Impulse!, IMPD-153


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

John Coltrane - The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions (1961) (320)

"'Trane was the Father...Pharoah was the son...I am the Holy Ghost."

Thus spoke Albert Ayler. The more I think about this quote the truer it rings, which is why I'm making it the theme for my next few posts. This is Trane's first Impulse! album, and the first that I've posted featuring his soprano sax playing. Trane and pianist McCoy Tyner did the arrangements, turning the traditional English song "Greensleeves" into a showcase for soprano sax virtuosity and punchy horn lines. Eric Dolphy is featured here, another player who I believe influenced Trane's musical directions as Ayler did. Pat Patrick's here as well, best known for his tenure with Sun Ra. I've omitted the names of the French Horn players from the tags due to character limit. I need to get around to posting more of my Coltrane collection, but look for some Pharoah Sanders and Albert Ayler in coming days.


1. Greensleeves
2. Song Of The Underground Railroad
3. Greensleeves (Alternate Take)
4. The Damned Don't Cry
5. Africa (First Version)
6. Blues Minor
7. Africa (Alternate Take)
8. Africa

Booker Little, trumpet
Britt Woodman, trombone
Carl Bowman, euphonium
Julius Watkins, Donald Corrado, Bob Northern, Robert Swisshelm, French horns
Bill Barber, tuba
Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Pat Patrick, baritone saxophone
John Coltrane, tenor saxophone
McCoy Tyner, piano
Reggie Workman, bass
Art Davis, bass on Africa only
Elvin Jones, drums

Original sessions produced by Creed Taylor
Reissue produced by Michael Cuscuna
Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ on June 4, 1961.

Photography: Ted Russell, Don Parent, Chuck Stewart
Art Direction: Hollis King
Graphic design: Jackie Thaw


Download Disc 1 (Tracks 1-5)
Download Disc 2 (Tracks 6-8)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Magnetic Fields - Holiday (1999) (320)

Although in recent years my tastes have been veering steadily away from the indie tinge which initially got me interested in collecting music, the magnificent hazy pop of The Magnetic Fields has remained one of few true constants of my last decade or so of listenership. It's hard to explain why I love them so much to people with otherwise compatible tastes to mine. It might be the darkly clever lyrics from Stephin Merritt, the bouncing synths and folky arrangements and everything in between, the queer sensibility, or their explicit love affair with concept albums and misery. Maybe it's just that they've been there for me, forever. Whatever it is, they rule.

Holiday is an album which I came around to track by track until I started playing it in my car for long rides to New Jersey and found that it really is a perfect road album. Songs to hook the first time listener might be "Torn Green Velvet Eyes" or "Strange Powers", with opening lines typical of Merritt's wacky analogy style: "On a ferris wheel, looking out on Coney Island/ Under more stars than there are prostitutes in Thailand". Pete and Pete fans will recognize the blurry synth loop of "The Flowers She Sent And The Flowers She Said She Sent", and I know more than a handful of people who might cry when "Take Ecstasy With Me" comes on at the right moment. The whole album is golden if eclectic, and it bears repeated listening. Maybe the Fields aren't for everyone, I don't know, but I'd like to press this record into the hands of everyone that they might get a taste for the greatest indie pop (ugh, the phrase even hurts to type) songs of our time.


1. BBC Radiophonic Workshop
2. Desert Island
3. Deep Sea Diving Suit
4. Strange Powers
5. Torn Green Velvet Eyes
6. The Flowers She Sent And The Flowers She Said She Sent
7. Swinging London
8. In My Secret Place
9. Sad Little Moon
10. The trouble I've Been Looking For
11. Sugar World
12. All You Ever Do Is Walk Away
13. In My Car
14. Take Ecstasy With Me


Luiz Eça & La Sagrada Familia - Onda Nova do Brasil (1970)(320)

This record is a real treat. Luiz Eça is an underrated pianist, once part of the Tamba Trio, who takes a number of Brazilian standards on a pop trip on Onda Nova do Brasil, or "Brasil's New Wave". A unique take on Jorge Ben's "Pais Tropical" is an early standout, as is the rendition of "Yemele". The pianist frequently takes a backseat to a number of talented vocalists and featured guests like Naná Vasconcelos. The record seems never to have been properly released in Brazil-- all of the available records were published in Mexico in the late 70s years after it was recorded. For this reason the band name and album name are widely recognized in Spanish as well. Regardless, Onda Nova is a gem which has gotten a little more circulation in the last few years and I was glad to rediscover it as Spring sneaks its way in. Enjoy!


1. Homem da Sucursal - Barravento
2. Pais Tropical
3. Juliana
4. Atras das Portas da Tarde
5. La Vamos Nós
6. Sequestro
7. Se Você Pensa
8. Sa Marina
9. Yemele
10. Please Garçon


Monday, February 22, 2010

Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures (1976) (320)

It's impossible to briefly describe Frank Zappa's sound. His biggest influences were Johnny "Guitar" Watson and composer Edgard Varèse, and his catalogue echoes his eclectic musical tastes. Although Frank was most proud of his composition skills, he was one hell of a guitarist and used the instrument to execute his intricate and challenging pieces. I think my favorite aspect of Frank's music is that although his pieces are musically complex, he doesn't take anything too seriously and throws in high-pitched voices and silly concepts in his songs. Just a complete badass in general. Did anyone stand up as boldly as Frank during the PMRC's crusade against freedom of speech? This is a guitar-driven album, and Frank's shining moment is on his "Black Napkins" solo. There's also the repetitive riffing on "The Torture Never Stops". Frank was just as well known for his satirical songs, critiquing just about every aspect of society that he found bullshit in. Some of the best examples are his duet with his daughter Moon Unit on "Valley Girl" and Sheik Yerbouti's "Jewish Princess". Here we have "Disco Boy", an attack on the dancing fad that Frank would revisit again on Sheik Yerbouti with "Dancing Fool". Zoot Allures is a balance of great guitar work and silly high voices. Frank put it best:

"You can't always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say, so sometimes you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream."


1. Wind Up Workin' In A Gas Station
2. Black Napkins [Live]
3. The Torture Never Stops
4. Ms. Pinky
5. Find Her Finer
6. Friendly Little Finger
7. Wonderful Wino
8. Zoot Allures
9. Disco Boy


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Too $hort - Cocktails (1995) (320)

After Noz over at Cocaine Blunts put up a couple of Too $hort's "Freaky Tales", I found myself unable to resist putting on some of the old school West Coast stylings that have hardly changed over the years. I was thus a happy little boy when I found a Cocktails CD in a West Philly record shop for $5. For a long time I thought Too $hort was a little too stupid for my tastes-- and he is a little stupid. However, this is to his credit, as he's one of the funniest rappers ever. I've never deserved a late pass as big and blue as this one. "Cocktales" is Too $hort's recitation of his various conquests and generally misogynistic lifestyle and is pure gold from beginning to end. The whole album is full of that Cali funk and once you accustom yourself to Too $hort's crudity and slow flow, you'll never go back. I wish I had more to say than "listen to this now", but seriously, before you go to bed tonight, give "Ain't Nothing Like Pimpin'" and "Coming up $hort" a spin. Make sure your mama's not in the room.


1. Ain't Nothing Like Pimpin'
2. Cocktales
3. Can I Get A Bitch (feat. Ant Banks)
4. Coming Up $hort
5. Thangs Change (feat. Malik & Jamal from Illegal & Baby DC)
6. Paystyle
7. Giving Up The Funk (feat. Ant Banks, Goldy & Pee Wee)
8. Top Down
9. We Do This (feat. MC Breed & 2Pac)
10. Game (feat. Old School Freddie B)
11. Sample The Funk
12. Don't Fuck For Free

Jive, 1995


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Ramones - Rocket To Russia (1977) (320)

Seeing Dee Dee's handwritten lyrics at the Ramones Museum in Berlin recently solidified my love for this band - he wrote in fat black sharpie, and every other word is comically misspelled. What's not to love about these guys? They bang out three chord rock n' roll, each song averaging a little over two minutes in length. The Ramones might be the best at replacing lyrics with simple, repetitive chants, mainly the names of the songs (only Project Pat could compete in this category). Rocket To Russia boasts some great surf band covers with the Beach Boys' "Do You Wanna Dance?" and The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird" (in my opinion, one of the greatest obnoxious songs of all time), not to mention Dee Dee's own "Rockaway Beach". Every song on Rocket To Russia has the potential to be stuck in your head for indefinite amounts of time.


1. Cretin Hop
2. Rockaway Beach
3. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
4. Locket Love
5. I Don't Care
6. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
7. We're A Happy Family
8. Teenage Lobotomy
9. Do You Wanna Dance?
10. I Wanna Be Well
11. I Can't Give You Anything
12. Ramona
13. Surfin' Bird
14. Why Is It Always This Way?
15. Needles & Pins [Early Version]
16. Slug [Demo]
17. It's A Long Way Back To Germany [UK B-Side]
18. I Don't Care [Single Version]
19. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker [Single Version]