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]