Tuesday, October 31, 2006
You may be familiar with reggae star's Junior Byles' biggest hit "Curly Locks." This superlative collection has three versions, including the one you know. "Got the Tip," also recorded in the early '70s, references "Curly Locks" in its first line before addressing a myriad of topics, including gambling at the track. Yes, it's the spiritual predecessor to The Hold Steady's "Chips Ahoy!" Even though Lee Perry's splicing is pretty sloppy at this juncture, this stuff is the greatest.
I call out Jolie Holland here. I appreciate the mighty Motorhead here. And in the category of defying expectations, James Blunt's live show really impressed me. My confession is here.
"One Day At a Time" no more. Songwriter Marijohn Wilkin has died. So has Brazilian arranger Rogerio Duprat.
Monday, October 30, 2006
The fun is over.
I finally got around to reading Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime To Bebop, and I highly recommend it. Needless to say, Joe Turner is among the dozens of remarkable characters the book examines. The "Singing Bartender" is well past his glory days on this relaxed 1971 French date. It's delightful nonetheless. That's Milt Buckner on piano, Slam Stewart on bass and fellow Kansas Citian Jo Jones on drums.
Brace yourselves for this revelation, indie rock purists. I saw James Blunt cover this Pixies classic last week. And you know what? I liked it! "Woo-ooo!"
St. Louis' Vintage Vinyl records reported in their weekly email list that a former associate of mine, Bob Shoenfeld, died recently. Bob was the founder an owner of Nighthawk Records , a wonderful label best known for releasing excellent roots reggae and traditional folk blues titles. I didn't particularly care for Bob, but I never questioned his dedication to the music he loved.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The dance is over.
One of the most intriguing concert bills I've attended in recent years paired experimental Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti with several masters of Indian classical music. I didn't really know what to expect musically or socially. As I walked toward a downtown music hall I was stunned to see thousands of geeky suburban people (of which I'm one) lined up at the venue. "Dag," I thought, "World music has really caught on." It turned out that there was a Barenaked Ladies concert in the larger auditorium of the same building. During the lengthy show's intermissions the lobby of the old theater was a riot of Indian intellectuals and Brazilian funlovers in soccer jerseys, all of whom were complaining about the dull roar seeping through the walls from the Canadian rock band's show. This 1991 ECM release showcases Gismonti's manic guitar work in intricately arranged settings. Tellingly, "Danca No. 2" is the shortest track on the album.
Kansas City is bracing for a new sensory assault by Techn9ne. Download the new single "Bout Ta Bubble" here (warning- there's a skit and some hype at the end of the track). The hyphy-influenced song sounds for all the world like a hit.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The girl is gone.
On paper, Cordero's En Este Momento should have been my favorite release of 2005. It had so much going for it- a girl singing in Spanish, a horn section, an intriguing genre-bending fusion and a tasteful record label. Alas, it's just not as good as I'd hoped. A typical track, "Maria Elisa" is pretty good, but it could have been so much more.
It's been over five years since I set foot inside the Mutual Musicians Foundation in Kansas City. It's increasingly difficult for me to be out past two in the morning for their wee-hour jam sessions. I'm weak that way. Now with the news that the venue will have no fuel available to keep me going, there's even less incentive to attend.
I haven't been in a strip joint in a long time, either. But now I'm tempted. Lemmy Kilmister was on a local radio station this morning promoting this weekend's Motorhead gig. He told the DJ that he'd be for a couple days ahead of the show and asked for guidance on local strip joints. The idea of sitting in a den of sin next to Lemmy holds enormous appeal to me. I wonder if I should try the Shady Lady, Bazookas or Temptations first...
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Go get this gem.
I’ve seen next to no attention paid to one of 2006's most significant releases. Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Inedito (The Unknown) was recorded in 1987 and until now had never been released in North America. The Brazilian giant was sixty years old with nothing left to prove and the sessions are refreshingly relaxed. Jobim revisits a few big hits like “Wave” and “Garota de Ipanema” and offers a few new selections. Several songs swoon decidedly into lounge mode, but even in its cheesiest moments Inedito is impossibly groovy. Jobim mostly employs conventionally attractive voices, such as the wonderful Danilo Caymmi but he plays unaccompanied on this wistful track. It’s so intimate that his breathing becomes a second instrument. Many such moments are captured on Inedito's seventy minutes of sheer beauty.
After seeing The Afterparty perform Friday night, I wrote that their music sounds as if the Rolling Stones had retired to Nashville thirty years ago. Translating my own code, I'm suggesting that their decadent, druggy country-blues are well worth further investigation.
"Healing," the single from soul giant Kelly Price's new gospel album, moves me. Follow the link for genuine spiritual comfort.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Worst album cover ever? While the London vista is wonderful, the attire and expressions of June Tabor and Martin Simpson make A Cut Above a genuine contender for that dubious title. To be fair, it was 1980. "Number Two Top Seam" is a tragic ballad about a horrific disaster. Tabor may lack the vast range and pure musicality of other Celtic vocalists, but none sing with more emotional resonance. This is timeless brilliance.
My review of Saturday's night's Andre Williams concert is here.
Sandy West, drummer for the Runaways, has died.
Friday, October 20, 2006
No more stones.
I've previously confessed my devotion to the Phillips brothers. Sandwiched between their ska days and their current incarnation as contenders for the punk rock champion belt held by Green Day, they went through a Maximum R&B phase. This mighty blast from 2002 would have pleased Joe Strummer.
Speaking of honest bands with true rock'n'roll hearts, The Hold Steady made a video for "Chips Ahoy!" It's mildly amusing, and I trust that they'll do the right thing and not give faces to Holly, Charlemagne and the other characters in their epic song cycle.
New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies had an incalculable impact on me when I bought it as a new release in 1983. I'm really put off when I hear its opening track, "Age of Consent," in the trailer for the new film Marie Antoinette. It's just not right.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
It's checkout time.
Where art thou, Maxwell? And what's going on with D'Angelo? Maxwell hasn't issued new material in five years, and D'Angelo last released new material in 2000. Luther's gone, John Legend just doesn't feel right and Anthony Hamilton can't carry the load all by himself. Hurry up, already! Maxwell recalls the mature Marvin and the romantic Prince on this MTV Unplugged disc from 1997.
I check in with Oleta Adams here and I review Ani DiFranco's Monday night concert here.
I'm a big fan of the skronk featured at Destination Out. Don't miss a guy from the Bad Plus writing about my favorite Henry Threadgill album.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I listened to Varnaline's Man of Sin when it was released ten years ago. It sailed right over my head. I picked it up again last week and in hindsight it sounds like the perfect intersection of Richard Buckner's gothic Americana and Chris Whitley's white-noise blues. Varnaline mastermind Anders Parker has gone on to critical acclaim, if not commercial success. He has two new releases coming out on Halloween.
I've seen Chuck Berry perform a handful of times, but he was really good only once. That show started like the others. It was apparent that Chuck planned to phone it in. A funny thing happened after a couple songs. Chuck, startled by his phenomenal pick-up band, stared at the guys in disbelief. He realized they weren't going to let him off easily. Those upstart ringers were Lou Whitney, D. Clinton Thompson and the Morells. Today is Chuck's 80th birthday. This film clip is too much. "Good? He's great!"
Fabolous is getting the national headlines, but a more serious rap-related incident took place locally this week. The body of a member of this group was discovered outside Lawrence this week.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The dance is over.
The Blanton-Webster era of the Duke Ellington band is often cited as the greatest phase of the most accomplished musical artist in 20th century America. Hyperbole? Decide for yourself. This eerie 1941 track spotlighting Ray Nance's fiddle, is full of incredible ideas. This version may be difficult to obtain, but other compilations contain the same brilliant material.
On the other hand, I might cast my lot with some vintage soul. This Little Milton video is phenomenal.
Must. Resist. Temptation ...
Sunday, October 15, 2006
My dad worked a traveling salesman when I was a kid. He would sometimes take me along on his extended sales trips across the country. We were somewhere in southern California during the summer of ‘75 when my pop whipped his sedan across the highway median and pulled into a car dealership that was swarming with a couple thousand people. A used car dealer had hired Freddy Fender to do a show at his lot.
We couldn’t believe our good fortune in catching the man behind the recent hits "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." Fender, along with Waylon, Willie and Merle, were about the only current artists we both liked. He refused to listen to my Earth, Wind & Fire and War, and I grew so weary of his John Denver, Bocephus and Linda Ronstadt tapes.
Freddy Fender died Saturday. He was 69. Fender was the third artist I featured when I began There Stands the Glass eleven months ago. Since I have never examined the same artist twice in the 242 posts since then, I’ve selected a gorgeous Fender song from this 1996 release under the Texas Tornados banner to pay tribute to the great man.
Friday, October 13, 2006
The dream is over.
Few stories in contemporary pop music are more intriguing and inspiring than the unexpected artistic renaissance of the Flaming Lips. Bands that follow the Lips down the psychedelic path they've cut are to be commended. West Indian Girl's 2004 release strays just the right distance from Lips territory. This song also reminds me of the underated first post-Gabriel album by Genesis.
I'm a big fan of the way Houston So Real personalizes today's hip hop and rap scene in Houston. But in this post the dude shares amazing photographs of Daniel Johnston.
How many of you could list every live music event you've attended? There's no way I could recount more than three-quarters of what I've seen. So I really admire someone who can do this.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The smooth chant is over.
This wispy jam just reeks of 1969. Faux Latin groove, Herbie Mann-style flute and ridiculous stereo effects are on full display. It couldn't be any groovier. The British band went on to enjoy some commercial success in the mid-70s, most notably with the mild funk of "Couldn't Get It Right." That song is begging for the likes of Rob Thomas or Maroon 5 to bring it back to the top of the charts. In the meantime, I'll continue to groove on this pleasant diversion.
My review of last night's Soul Asylum and New Amsterdams show is here.
I'm not ashamed to say that I'll buy the final installment of Lemony Snicket's dastardly Series of Unfortunate Events books tomorrow. I may also pick up its musical companion by the Gothic Archies.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The train left the station.
People who write about music, myself included, tend to focus on important, pivotal sounds. Yet musicians can't change history with groundbreaking ideas every night. Live music in particular usually serves as functional entertainment. That's the case here. The muscular organ trio of Shirley Scott, Jimmy Forrest and Randy Marsh simply run through a set on standards on this 1978 set. And that's exactly how it should be.
I recount a forgotten episode in the history of Tower Records here.
Endless radio and video play didn't work. Constant media coverage had no impact. It took this homemade video by a few local kids to make me appreciate Coldplay.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I have nothing against Fall Out Boy and similar bands that rule the pop-punk universe. I sing along to the hits just like every other good American boy. It rankles me, though, that a band like Bracket can get lost in the mix. A concept record that lands somewhere between Queen's A Night At the Opera and Weezer's Blue Album, Bracket's Requiem should have been received as such when it was released in January. Maybe Takeover Records could repackage it as a "lost' Cheap Trick album.
There's good news for fans of grimy bars and late night debauchery in Cowtown. My pal Jason broke the story.
I don't care who owns YouTube as long as I can continue to watch things like this Bettye LaVette clip at will.
Monday, October 09, 2006
The creek dried up.
The Dillards morphed from a family bluegrass band into hippie-oriented pickers during their long time together. They found a palatable balance between these disparate worlds on this 1977 date with John Hartford. The ride between county fairs, the Andy Griffith show, an Elton John tour and Branson has a long strange trip for the Missouri boys.
I saw The Thermals open for Cursive last night. Their update on the Undertones/Buzzcocks/Ramones sound, as filtered through the K Records philosophy, is unspeakably refreshing. Download the bracing "Pillar of Salt" from their latest album here.
Buck O'Neil was prone to breaking out in song during his many public appearances. He was a fine baseball player and an even greater man. Along with the rest of Kansas City, I'll miss him terribly.
Friday, October 06, 2006
The box top has been redeemed.
What the Sam Hill is going on here? This primordial stew is so suffused with exploratory energy that one could make a case that the men in the studio of Chicago's Cobra Records 48 years ago were forging the very future of popular music. Throat singing? Feedback? Insane overdubs? Nonsense lyrics? All that and more insanity is jammed into this rock'n'roll source code.
Here's an excellent music industry sales analysis.
To combat those dismal sales figures, artists are finding new sources of revenue. I don't begrudge the concept of selling access to artists through auctions like
this. I'm saving my pennies for a chance to bid on breakfast with Beyonce.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
The cantina is closed.
If Richard Davies' Telegraph was released today, the music blog community might suffocate in an ecstatic group hug. And rightfully so. It's as if Van Dyke Parks produced the Kinks on the sands of Newport Beach. Cultists admire the Australian for his excellent work with Cardinals and Moles. But this out-of-print 1998 Flydaddy release is even better.
Juana Molina's Son is one of my favorite releases of 2006. This
EPK enhances my appreciation of Molina's music.
Fans of the original hardcore Bloodshot honky tonk sound will enjoy this concert by the Gaslights. It's available as a Patchchord podcast.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The wild dance is over.
Most pople likely remember the 1998 suspense film Wild Things for its memorable sex scene. Adding to the movie's sensuality is a great score by George S. Clinton (not the funk legend). Every musical film noir cliche is seemingly employed on these end credits- ominous bass, sultry sax, propulsive drums, string crescendos and twangy guitar- yet it's highly effective. I can't promise that listening to this music will magically conjure aroused starlets, but it will make you feel like such an encounter is imminent.
I'm captivated by the charming version of "Up the Junction" on Chris Difford's new album. The MySpace account of the former Squeeze man offers additional recent music.
The outstanding Soul Sides blog referenced Office Naps in a recent entry. This guy uncovers obscure garage rock, Bollywood, oddball jazz and other rare revelations.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Buy your own ticket.
I finally saw the documentary about Townes Van Zandt last night. Be Here To Love Me is even better than I'd hoped. I was especially pleased that it was brave enough to dig into the Tomato Records saga. Rather than feature something from Our Mother The Mountain, I'll point my anemic little spotlight on another shamefully neglected Texas songwriter. Like his old running buddy Townes, Vince Bell writes brilliant open-ended songs, although Bell is more musical and slightly less miserable. This deceptively simple ode is from 1999's Texas Plates, but I suggest starting with the terrifying Phoenix. Buy them directly from the man here.
The big news in Cowtown is that Doris Henson will play their last show Friday night.
I'd hoped to catch Cory Branan tonight, but it looks like real life is going to get in the way.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Miss Jones is not receiving visitors.
This is why I think Coleman Hawkins is jazz's greatest saxophonist. Even after turning the jazz world upside down with his revolutionary pre-war work, Hawkins never stopped looking forward. He incorporates the new vocabulary of the recently deceased Charlie Parker on this 1956 date. And Hawkins' salacious tone when he enters this sappy arrangement suggests that he's done much more than simply meet Miss Jones. His second solo at the ninety-second mark is much tougher. This 1986 compilation doesn't seem to exist anywere but in my own collection, but this disc has the same title and is on the same label, even if the cover art and track selection are slightly different.
I recommend the brief reviews Steve Wilson has posted at his store's site. Steve may be the only guy in the world who manages to be both more knowledgeable and crankier than me.
My review of The Stillborn's final concert is here.