Posts Tagged ‘Built To Spill’

Young Folk – The Cover Art

22 October 2009

Here’s the cover art for my latest mix, a compendium of artists influenced by the great Neil Young…

[here's the front cover...]
Young Folk | Front

[here's the front inside...]
Young Folk | Front Inside

[here's the back inside...]
Young Folk | Back Inside

[here's the back...]
Young Folk | Back

[and here's the playlist...]

Magnolia Electric Co. | The Dark Don’t Hide It
My Morning Jacket | Golden
Willard Grant | The Beautiful Song
Fleet Foxes | Blue Ridge Mountains
America | A Horse With No Name
Okkervil River | Black Sheep Boy
Will Oldham | A Minor Place
Meat Puppets | Plateau
Hayden | Bad As They Seem
Devendra Banhart | Heard Somebody Say
Beck | Lost Cause
Cowboy Junkies | Tired Eyes
Wilco | She’s A Jar
Pearl Jam | Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
M. Ward | Carolina
Lucinda Williams | Essence
Band Of Horses | Is There A Ghost
Flaming Lips | Fight Test
Bon Iver | Skinny Love
Built To Spill | Carry The Zero

*****

Here’s the cover of Neil’s debut…
Neil Young | Neil Young

The 25 Greatest Albums Of The 90′s

21 June 2009

The 90′s were a tough decade for music, but by the time the odometer finally clicked over to Y2K, it was possible to look back on a whole bunch of fine albums released over the preceding ten years. Here are 25 of my favorites…

Kruder Dorfmeister | The K&D Sessions™
25) Kruder & Dorfmeister | The K&D Sessions (1998) – This big, beautiful sprawling album blurred the line between electronica, dub, and remixing, and proved that Chill Out music could be artistically satisfying.

Listen: Bug Powder Dust

Built To Spill | Keep It Like A Secret
24) Built To Spill | Keep It Like A Secret (1998) – BTS lead singer and guitarist Doug Martsch was an axe hero for the 90′s, and his stinging, squalling solos bring to mind Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the height of their feedback-fueled jams.

Listen: Carry The Zero

Primal Scream | Screamadelica
23) Primal Scream | Screamadelica (1991) – Primal Scream was a mixed-up band, in the best possible way. With a name that sounds like a punk outfit, this Glasgow group was the farthest thing from that, incorporating elements of gospel, electronica, and good old Rolling Stones-styled rock & roll. Screamadelica is an uplifting joy ride…

Listen: Movin’ On Up

PJ Harvey | Dry
22) PJ Harvey | Dry (1992) – Hell hath no fury like PJ Harvey’s debut album. Dry took on feminine issues, but served them up on a platter of snarling punk and squinching feedback, along with a healthy side of biting lyrics. Bruisingly good.

Listen: Dress

Wu Tang Clan | Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers)
21) Wu Tang Clan | Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) (1993) – With talents like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, and GZA, the nine-headed Wu Tang Clan had superior parts that formed an even greater whole. Their debut drips with grease and grime in a way that only Exile On Main St. can match, and the album made stars out of the whole clan. Solo records were made, ODB OD’d, and The Wu never again reached this great height as a group. But Enter The Wu Tang remains one of the strongest – and greezyest – albums of all-time.

Listen: Method Man

Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
20) Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One (1997) – A low-fi, low key ode to love, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One functioned as Yo La Tengo’s dissertation on the state of indie rock in the late-90′s. It’s full of buzzing guitars and swirling feedback, but this is a beautiful batch of songs that reflect the quiet anxiety that comes with any good love. Their sampling of crickets throughout ‘Green Arrow’ is but one of the typically clever and fantastically effective musical devices used here.

Listen: Green Arrow

Beastie Boys | Ill Communication
19) Beastie Boys | Ill Communication (1994) – This is the lynchpin between the smug, malevolent Beasties of the 80′s and the mature, world conscious group that they’ve become. ‘Sure Shot’ is one of the group’s best songs, but the Adam Yauch-penned ‘Bodhisattva Vow’ is a clear-eyed look at one man’s place in the world, and a tune that simply wouldn’t have fit in on earlier Beasties albums. From the punk fire of ‘Heart Attack Man’ and ‘Sabotage’ to the multiple dusty instrumental funk jams to the smooth raps ‘Root Down’ and ‘Get It Together’, Ill Communication has a little bit of everything that makes the Beasties great.

Listen: Sabotage

A3 | Exile On Coldharbour Lane
18) Alabama 3 | Exile On Coldharbour Lane (1997) – The Sopranos used ‘Woke Up This Morning’ as its opening theme song, but Exile On Coldharbour Lane represents a rollicking trip through electronica, country, and gospel, helmed by a sleazy/hilarious figure named Reverend D. Wayne Love. It looks like a disaster on paper, but this is a rolling musical carnival-slash-revival that has its tongue firmly in cheek and grooves firmly in pocket. Absolutely one of the great lost albums of the 90′s…

Listen: Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness

Massive Attack | Mezzanine
17) Massive Attack | Mezzanine (1998) – Many prefer their first two albums (both great), but this band really hit their dark stride with Mezzanine. Less trip-hop than shadowy, claustrophobic atmosphere for urban decay, this album sets a mood within its first few seconds, and carries it to the bitter, lovely end. ‘Man Next Door’ casts a weary eye at constantly fighting neighbors, ‘Inertia Creeps’ is a slithering, intoxicating ode to doing nothing at all, and the whole of the record rides a slipstream of urban discord. But the darkness here is elegant enough that this became the soundtrack for every boutique, salon, and restaurant during the summer of ’98.

Listen: Man Next Door

The Stairs | Mexican R 'n' B
16) The Stairs | Mexican R-n-B (1992) – The Stairs suffered from nothing so much as an acute sense of bad timing. The lo-fi, psychedelic garage band ditties they were penning in the early 90′s had nowhere to go, but ten years later there would be a host of bands (White Stripes, Black Lips, et al) successfully mining the same vein. Mexican R-n-B meanwhile, is the lost album of the decade – a perfectly ripped garage album, rough around the edges and utterly timeless. It didn’t stand a chance in ’92.

Listen: Flying Machine

Smashing Pumpkins | Siamese Dream
15) Smashing Pumpkins | Siamese Dream (1993) – Smashing Pumpkins were considered part of the grunge movement, but mainly because they had a key track on the genre-defining Singles soundtrack, and Billy Corgan’s vocals are dripping with angst. The lyrics here reflect some of his personal issues at the time, and most of the songs center around phrases (“The killer in me is the killer in you” or “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known”) that sound like fortune cookies for profoundly anxious people. Corgan and company perfectly combined the technical flatulence of Prog with the fire and brimstone of Metal and the confessional self-probing of a Singer/Songwriter, and the result was one of the best albums of the 90′s.

Listen: Today

Nas | Illmatic
14) Nas | Illmatic (1994) – Nasir Jones’ debut traces his rise as a rap prodigy in the Queensbridge section of Queens, NY and lends credence to the idea that rap is a document of the streets. The album builds up to its final song, ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’, when Nas releases the pressure over an extended Michael Jackson sample, and basks in the glow of his own verbal skills. Illmatic is the Martin Scorcese film of hip-hop albums – it appraises the mean streets with an honest eye, but captures the hard beauty that hangs in the rough and tumble alleyways of NYC.

Listen: It Ain’t Hard To Tell

Sublime | Sublime
13) Sublime | Sublime (1996) – Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell could rap with the best MCs, scream hardcore, sing in a soul-tinged rasp, and lay down some serious reggae. His freakish talent is all over Sublime, an album that bobs and weaves from punk to ska to rap and back, traces the branches of Nowell’s messed up life, and sounds joyously obnoxious the whole way. Nowell died from a heroin overdose in May of 1996, at age 26 – just before this star-making turn was released.

Listen: What I Got

Beck | Mutations
12) Beck | Mutations (1998) – Odelay would be the pick for many, and it’s a fine album, but this is the one that I keep coming back to. Mutations created a mood that Beck hasn’t reached since – boredom, sadness, and wonder, blended over a bed of psychedelic sounds, electronic whizzes and whirs, and simple acoustic guitar. From ‘Cold Brains’ to ‘Lazy Flies’ to ‘Dead Melodies’ the song titles themselves speak to the ennui within, but this music sounds better with each passing year.

Listen: Nobody’s Fault But My Own

Los Lobos | Kiko
11) Los Lobos | Kiko (1992) – Labeling this a ‘roots-rock album’ is like calling Diego Rivera’s art a mural – it’s true enough, but only hints at the depth of the artistic palette that’s involved. From South African Mbaqanga to New Orleans marches to angelic harp and beyond, the varying sounds and styles included here make this a veritable concept album about rural music. But Kiko plays like a latino version of Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life – its reach is ambitious but its ruminations on life fit together into a satisfying, cohesive whole. The music here has aged extremely well, and its melancholy air is mixed with enough loose joy to make it an album worth discovering over and over again.

Listen: Kiko And The Lavender Moon

DJ Shadow | Endtroducing...
10) DJ Shadow | Endtroducing… (1996) – Created from samples culled from hundreds of forgotten albums that Shadow found in the basement of a Davis, CA record store, Endtroducing… is like no other album made before or since. The original release of this album had a sticker on the shrink rap that compared Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow) to Jimmy Page, and my first reaction that was a big fat BULLSHIT. I spun this album a time or two, and then put it away to gather dust. But a funny thing happened on the way to the vinyl slaughterhouse: I watched the documentary Scratch, and gained a new appreciation for where this was coming from, and each subsequent spin revealed a little more of its brilliance, until it’s become an album I can’t imagine living without. Like Star Trek and Star Wars, Entroducing… charts the waters of a cooler parallel universe, one where beats reign supreme, and no album stays forgotten.

Listen: Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt

Pearl Jam | Ten
9) Pearl Jam | Ten (1991) – During the course of researching this list, I was astounded to find plenty of Best Of The 90′s lists that dismissed Pearl Jam’s Ten out of hand, claiming it unworthy of discussion. I understand some of the reservations with this album – Eddie Vedder’s over-emotive vocal style here tends to grate after a few songs, and many of the tracks, including ‘Jeremy’ and ‘Black’ feel almost comically serious. But this album also has plenty of great moments, including the anthemic ‘Alive’ and hard grooving ‘Even Flow’. Like Little Richard, Sgt Pepper, and Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam so perfectly captured the essence of an era on their debut album, that even at its corniest, it’s still undeniably worthwhile.

Listen: Alive

Jeff Buckley | Grace
8) Jeff Buckley | Grace (1994) – On Grace, Jeff Buckley sings like a fallen angel, drawing notes out to excruciatingly fantastic lengths and ranging between highs and lows in the blink of an eye. Each track cuts to the quick about love lost (including the definitive reading of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’) and the entire album is nothing less than the sound of a human heart falling to pieces, one fragile, intricate piece at a time. “This is our last embrace. Must I dream and always see your face?” he sings, like a man who knows bloody goodbyes.

Buckley drowned in the Mississippi River the day before he was due to begin recording his second album. His untimely death at age 30 left us with only Grace, and ensured that his legacy would forever be tied to this one majestic, breathtaking, and tear-stained album.

Listen: Hallelujah

The Black Crowes | The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion
7) The Black Crowes | The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion (1992) – The cover of The Black Crowes’ second album features the band in an auto junkyard, among twisted heaps of metal, and that’s a pretty astute metaphor for the state of Southern Rock at the outset of the 90’s. Unless .38 Special was your cup of tea, you had to go back nearly 20 years to Lynyrd Skynyrd to find a true Southern Rock band at the time the Crowes blasted onto the scene. Their debut went multi-platinum, but The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion is their masterpiece, featuring ragged rockers, smokey blues rock, world weary ballads, and a sweet Bob Marley cover. It’s the sound of a band exhausted from both the pursuit of stardom and single-handedly resuscitating a long dead genre.

Listen: Remedy

Bob Dylan | Time Out Of Mind
6) Bob Dylan | Time Out Of Mind (1997) – This one felt like Moses coming down from the mountain. Dylan is and will always be artistically relevant to anyone who’s serious about music, but until Time Out Of Mind, he hadn’t released an album of new material for his second generation of fans. Dylan sounds every bit the dusty prophet here, riding in from the desert on songs like the indifferent ‘Love Sick’ (later used in a Victoria’s Secret ad) and the forlorn ‘Standing In The Doorway’ – songs that were as good as anything he’d done in his previous artistic lives, and sounded better than any Dylan fan could possibly have expected in 1997. This album might lack the wit and fire of Highway 61 Revisited or the pure autobiographical power of Blood On The Tracks, but it was a staggering artistic statement from a musician who continues to evolve and confound his critics and fans alike.

Listen: Love Sick

Soundgarden | Superunknown
5) Soundgarden | Superunknown (1994) – One of the great albums of the 90′s, Superunknown is a sonic masterpiece that transcended the toe-tag ‘grunge’ and heralded the arrival of Soundgarden as a serious musical force. Here they married the sludge of Black Sabbath to the craftsmanship of The Beatles, creating an album that topped the charts, sold more than 3 million copies, and earned the group a pair of Grammys. Few could have guessed that they would release only one more album (1996′s Down On The Upside) and then pack it in, just as they were achieving greatness.

Many bands have used the inner combustion of competing artistic ideas to create beautiful music, and the Lennon/McCartney roles were played here by lead singer Chris Cornell and guitarist Kim Thayil. Cornell is an avowed Beatles and Jeff Buckley fan, while Thayil prefers the heavier sounds of Sabbath and their metal offspring. Much of Soundgarden’s earlier music is so dominated by the pulverizing, heavy riffs from Thayil’s guitar that ‘Slaves And Bulldozers’ could have been the name of almost every one of their songs. A tune like ‘Black Hole Sun’ – drenched as it is in psychedelic signifiers – simply wouldn’t have had a place on any of their first three albums. But with Superunknown, the group figured out how to balance their differing musical visions, before the friction finally tore them apart.

Listen: Black Hole Sun

Nirvana | Nevermind
4) Nirvana | Nevermind (1991) – For better or worse, Nevermind made alternative rock a viable commercial commodity. But the reason this album rates so high is down to the music. Forget ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – although it remains a wickedly effective anthem for Gen X – the rest of the songs here shine like intricately cut jewels. ‘Come As You Are’, ‘In Bloom’ and ‘Something In The Way’ were dark and deeply indebted to punk, but these were well-written, finely-honed tunes that betrayed Kurt Cobain’s love of The Beatles in general and John Lennon in particular. Cobain’s songwriting chops have been buried beneath an avalanche of hype and myth, but his songs connected to a generation of fans not because of the concomitant headlines, but because they were honest – and sometimes painful and loud – examinations of a soul at odds with itself. Like its namesake, the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks, the true brilliance of Nirvana’s second album remains obscured behind a barrage of adjectives.

Listen: Come As You Are

U2 | Achtung Baby
3) U2 | Achtung Baby (1991) – With the release of the 1987 blockbuster The Joshua Tree, U2 became international superstars of the first order. That album found its groove in the highways and bi-ways of America, but with their 1991 follow up (forget Rattle & Hum, it was essentially Joshua Tree 2.0) Achtung Baby, the group left America far behind and made an album that was rooted in Middle Eastern mysticism and filled with mediations on love gone wrong. The Edge’s guitar still rings out, but here it’s joined with electronic beats and sludgy effects.

But the key difference is lead singer Bono, who had matured from a two-tone, new wave belter on Boy and War to a supple, nuanced singer who caressed his vocals like a long lost lover. He has referred to this album as “”four men chopping down the Joshua Tree” but by reinventing their sound U2 only enhanced their standing in the world of music. Achtung Baby spent just one week at the top of the Billboard charts, but it contained five hit singles and went on to sell more than 18,000,000 copies. It was also the last time U2 reached the top of the mountain artistically.

Listen: Mysterious Ways

Johnny Cash | American Recordings
2) Johnny Cash | American Recordings (1994) – Before this album, Johnny Cash was a has-been, a man from another era who hadn’t had a record contract in years. But producer Rick Rubin had a plan for Cash, and the stark simplicity of Rubin’s production – just Cash, a guitar, and a mic – was brilliant, and miraculously restored Cash to his rightful place as one of the most powerful singers in music. American Recordings contains a variety of material. Cash re-imagines two songs he’d recorded in the 60’s, including a haunting ‘Delia’s Gone’ that blows the doors off his original. It had a few well-chosen covers, including Nick Lowe’s ‘The Beast In Me’ and Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird On A Wire’. And he nailed a couple of songs written specifically for him – Glenn Danzig’s ‘Thirteen’ and Tom Waits’ ‘Down There By The Train’. Cash was alternately a killer, a cowboy, a drunk, a preacher, a wife-beater, a comedian. Throughout the album he used his granite voice to make each song his own – a spellbinding performance that earned him a new generation of fans.

Listen: Delia’s Gone

Radiohead | OK Computer
1) Radiohead | OK Computer (1997) – In the mid-90′s, aliens touched down near Oxford, England, and – displeased with the ascendence of grunge music – brainwashed the band Radiohead so that within a few years the group would recreate the symphonies of the universe, as channeled through the motion and humdrum of life on earth.

How else to explain OK Computer? This 1997 album was so out of its time and ahead of the curve that it was often referred to as the Dark Side Of The Moon for the 90′s, and in its haunting exploration of the human condition, that’s exactly what it was. But comparing Radiohead to anyone – even Pink Floyd – is a disservice to a band that embraced the possibilities of electronic, computer-enhanced sounds at a time when every other band on the planet was trying to sound like Black Sabbath Jr.

Symphonic and elegant yet paranoid and claustrophobic, the tunes on OK Computer interlock to form a picture of a world at odds with itself and the technology driving it. Radiohead understood what Aldous Huxley was getting at when he wrote that civilization is sterilization, and the music here sees the cold edge of reason triumph over emotion time and again. ‘The Tourist’ sonically recreates the feeling of seconds-lasting-minutes that occurs just before an automobile crash, and serves as the 21st century answer to The Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’. ‘Karma Police’ burrows deep inside the beauty of a world gone mad at itself. ‘Paranoid Android’ updates a British nursery rhyme, and sounds like the alienation that comes with too much technology and not enough time.

Thom Yorke sings throughout like a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown, his falsetto stretching a reedy, membrane-thin wall between sanity and madness. His vocals are generally buried beneath the murk and burble of electronic tape-loop noise and Jonny Greenwood’s itchy guitars. The compositions come off as a mad grafting of Kraftwerk and The Beatles, as the brilliance of the arrangements vie against the detached mood of the lyrics and music.

In the same way that Nirvana’s Nevermind changed music in the first half of the 1990′s, OK Computer had an instant and noticeable influence on the way albums were constructed – an influence that continues to the present. And somewhere far, far away, the aliens are extremely pleased…

Listen: Karma Police

*****

25 (or so) more that merit a spin…

A Tribe Called Quest | The Low End Theory
Rage Against The Machine | Evil Empire
Ice Cube | The Predator
Steve Earle | El Corazon
Primus | Sailing The Seas Of Cheese
Queens Of The Stone Age | Queens Of The Stone Age
Beta Band | The 3 EPs
Red Hot Chili Peppers | Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Tool | Undertow
Temple Of The Dog | Temple Of The Dog
Snoop Doggy Dogg | Doggystyle
Alice In Chains | Dirt
Various Artists | Singles Soundtrack
Public Enemy | Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black
G. Love & Special Sauce | G. Love & Special Sauce
Wilco | Summer Teeth
Liz Phair | Exile In Guyville
Neutral Milk Hotel | In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Outkast | Aquemini
Jane’s Addiction | Ritual de lo Habitulo
Dr. Dre | The Chronic
Metallica | Metallica
Slint | Tweez
Radiohead | The Bends
Beck | Odelay
Black Crowes | Amorica
Massive Attack | Blue Lines
Soundgarden | Badmotorfinger

Random Propaganda IX

5 June 2008

I haven’t done one of these in ages – and there have been way too many obituaries in this space lately – so here goes the music spinner…

Stones - album
8:38 pm… Rolling Stones * A Bigger Bang – ‘Rough Justice’ is a pretty good song, but the lyrics are just ridiculous. As a knighted, 65 year-old man, Mick Jagger probably oughtn’t be singing about his package so gleefully…

Rakim - album
8:42 pm… Rakim * Book Of Life – The MC of Eric B & Rakim inlcuded the greatest hits disc The 18th Letter (that’s ‘R’ for those of you with counting/spelling issues) with the release of his album Book Of Life. Hearing ‘I Ain’t No Joke’ – fine vintage beats and rhymes. This never, ever gets old… fine wine etc…

Lanegan - album
8:45 pm… Mark Lanegan Band * Bubblegum – I never been any kind of Screaming Trees fan, but I think Mark Lanegan’s solo stuff is uniformly excellent. It’s got a doom-laden, frayed cloth quality that I just can’t get enough of.

Radiohead - album
8:48 pm… Radiohead * In Rainbows – Yeah, ok, I didn’t pay anything for the cd copy – somebody passed it along on CDR (thanks Tony N). But I did shell out fifteen bucks for the LP version of the album, so there. I was surprised by how accessible this album is… I thought Radiohead had moved into an incomprehensible netherworld of burbles and blips, but this one was a welcome return to something approaching normal song structure.

Johnny Watson - album
8:52 pm… Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson * Ain’t That A Bitch – The title track. This album comes up every time I roll out a random propaganda. Johnny obviously has a nose for the spotlight. The cover of this LP is one of the low-taste moments in the pantheon of album art. This album is two parts sleaze, one part funk, and one part disco. Shake well and enjoy…

Ganja Reggae - box
8:57 pm… Trojan Ganja Reggae Box (Disc 2) – Some sort of stoney, dubby thing going on here… I think this album just set itself on jamaican auto-pilot. FYI, this box set is medicinally legal in the state of California, and works particularly well for glaucoma.

Dave Alvin - photo
9:01 pm… Dave Alvin * Live at Freight & Salvage, Berkeley CA, 6/28/07 – Incredible show. Here he’s covering Moby Grape’s ’8:05′, a lovely version of a lovely song. According to Alvin, “There’s a rule in the musician handbook that if you play a Moby Grape song, you have to follow it with a George Jones song…”


9:05 pm… Yello * One Second – These guys were pumping the sound of 90′s electronica smack dab in the middle of the 80′s. They’re most well known for the song ‘Oh Yeah’ (which was featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), which is too bad, because that song only hints at some of the inventive sounds that these guys were throwing off way ahead of the curve… dark, exotic rhythms peppered with strings and electronic noises, featuring singers of many flavors – sounds to me like the playbook for any number of latter day electronica acts…

Kleptones - album
9:10 pm… Kleptones * 24 Hours (Disc 1) – The mashup maestros… great track here that features T. Rex’s ‘Ripoff’ laid over an instrumental version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. It’s funky, fun, and pretty weird – in other words just like most of their other mashups. Available free online at www.kleptones.com – help yourself to plenty.

David Byrne - album
9:13 pm… David Byrne * Rei Momo – Excuse me while The P and I do the rhumba…

Don Letts - album
9:17 pm… Don Letts presents The Mighty Trojan Sound – We’re back on Jamaican auto-pilot, spinning off into dubby dubby dubstuff. Don Letts is widely credited with introducing reggae and punk camps to one another…

Ali Farka Toure - album
9:20 pm… Ali Farka Toure * The River – Potent African Blues.

George Pegram - album
9:25 pm… George Pegram * George Pegram – Raggedy Country Banjo.


9:28 pm… The BellRays * Grand Fury – The album title really sums this up. Frontwoman Lisa Kekula is a force of nature, as I mentioned here. The BellRays are definitely one of those bands that need to be seen live to be fully appreciated.


9:31 pm… Gene Clark * Flying High (Disc 1) – And now for something completely different. Clark was a founding member of The Byrds, and one of the most talented songwriters to go through that band. ‘Feel A Whole Lot Better (When You’re Gone)’ is up, which I believe is a Byrds track. This set is a two-disc career spanning best of.

Club Ska - album
9:35 pm… Various Artists * Club Ska ’67 – This uptempo ska collection from the Luv&Haight label is a crowd pleaser. Lots of jaunty horns and happy little grooves.

Doug Martsch - album
9:38 pm… Doug Martsch * Now You Know – The solo debut from the lead singer and guitar god of Built To Spill sounds an awful lot like… (wait for it)… Built To Spill. Which means, actually, that it sounds pretty good.

Zabriskie Point - album
9:41 pm… Various Artists * Zabriskie Point Soundtrack – A very strange mix of artists on this soundtrack to an obscure Italian movie. John Fahey, Pink Floyd, Youngbloods, Patti Page, Grateful Dead, Kaleidescope… oddly eclectic in its own way. Currently hearing the Fahey track, a solo guitar blues thing like what he does so well.


9:44 pm… Paul Weller * Paul Weller – Self-titled solo album from the former frontman of The Jam and The Style Council. The Jam – HUGE in the UK – never got their due in America, and may actually be more popular today in the states than they were in their heyday. Meanwhile, Paul Weller has just continued to crank out one great album after another. The guy is worshipped like a god in Britain, but most music fans here don’t have the foggiest idea who he is. Go figure.

9:50 pm… [silence]… [silence]… [silence]… oh I see… this Paul Weller album has one of those ’12 minutes of silence and then a hidden track’ gimmicks… perhaps this is why Mr. Weller hasn’t gone over so well in the good ol’ US of A… [fast-forwarding]

Joe Maphis - album
9:51 pm… Joe Maphis * Fire On The StringsMr. Maphis will provide the soundtrack for the closing credits for tonight’s program, with his distinctive brand of finger-picking, down-home, country-guitar, instrumental-delights.

From the P and I… so long and goodnight…

Top 10: October 2007

5 November 2007

October was a darn fine month. I celebrated my 38th birthday, the P and I celebrated our third anniversary, and I finally moved on to a new and better job. I also took a couple of weeks off, and during that time I added a number of fine albums to our record room. Here are a few musical highlights from a month packed with them:

Journey - album
10) Journey * Escape – Big shout out to Coops for passing her modest, but gem-laden, record collection my way last month. There’s no better feeling in the world (for me) than getting free records, and I’m honored to add her LPs to our stash. With all the Journey love that’s been piling up on this site over the last few months, this record definitely stood out among what she passed along, and gave me a good chuckle.

BTS - album
9) Built To Spill * Keep It Like A Secret – The LP version of this album had been eluding me for years, and copies have been trading on e-bay for upwards of a hundred bucks, so I was delighted to finally find a copy of it at Amoeba in Berkeley, and learn that it’s back in print on vinyl. It’s one of the best albums of the 90′s, one of the greatest guitar albums of all-time, and of course, it sounds excellent on wax.

Fela Kuti - album
8) Fela & Afrika 70 * Zombie – Yet another in a long line of outstanding records that have come to me by way of my Uncle Henry. This afro-funk burner features two album-side length songs, and is the perfect record to drop the needle on when temperatures are rising. For much of the country that would be July, but for the Bay Area, it’s October. Hot music for a hot month.

Bobby Womack - album
7) Bobby Womack * The Poet – This recco came to me from the book featured in the #1 spot below, and it was well worth my $1.99 – if only for the cover photo. Those have to be some of the most dope spectacles to ever be featured on the front of an LP. Oh, and the music is pretty fresh as well. It veers from deep soul to wah-wah funk, and definitely pays off a rather self-congratulatory album title.

Band Of Horses - album
6) Band Of Horses * Cease To Begin – On their first album – last year’s Everything All The Time – lead singer Ben Bridwell sounded like the love child of Neil Young and Wayne Coyne, which was pretty cool. But on Cease To Begin he sounds like he’s doing his best Ozzy impersonation, which for my money is even more awesome! Rock on, you crazy horses…

El Barrio - album
5) Various Artists * El Barrio: Gangsters, Latin Soul & The Birth Of Salsa 1967-1975 – I’m expecting the Fania label to put a lien on our house any day now against the massive piles of records that I’ve been acquiring from them lately. This collection of Latin funk & soul has a generous helping of each of those flavors, and features salsa pioneers such as Joe Bataan, Charlie Palmieri, Joe Cuba, Willie Colon, and Tito Puente – to name but a handful. If you’re uninitiated to the pleasure of salsa music generally (and the Fania label specifically), then do your ears a favor…

DJ Shadow - album
4) DJ Shadow * Excessive Ephemera – The second disc of the deluxe CD edition of DJ Shadow’s landmark album Endtroducing has miraculously been released as a stand-alone LP. Ephemera collects b-sides, outtakes, and remixes that didn’t make the original release, and is well worth your fifteen bucks, especially if you roll this way.

Tim Buckley - album
3) Tim Buckley * Greetings From L.A. – This 1972 release stands as one of the most sexually-charged rock albums to ever see the light of day. Every single song is about getting it on, as titles like ‘Move With Me’ ‘Get On Top’ and ‘Sweet Surrender’ so seductively suggest. It’s a thoroughly sublime record, and a great place to start dipping into the ouvre of Buckley senior.

Winehouse - album
2) Amy Winehouse * Back To Black – As uninterested as I am in Ms. Winehouse’s personal life, drug-related foibles, and tabloid headlines – that’s exactly how much I love her music. Perhaps it’s unfair, but the most appropriate artist to compare her with is Janis Joplin – both hard-living, ballsy broads who sing like their souls are on fire and created music that seems to live out of time. I just hope the updated version of this story doesn’t have the same tragic ending

1001 Albums - book
1) 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die * Edited by Robert Dimry & Michael Lydon - The ultimate music guide for the die-hard fan, this book chronologically runs down the greatest albums of all-time. Each write up runs about four paragraphs, and they’re all easily digestible, yet thoughtful and thoroughly well-written. And the sheer number of albums discussed guarantees an excellent mix of staples and surprises. I’ve already picked up a few of the albums recco’d here (Bobby Womack’s The Poet and Ananda Shankar’s self-titled tabla workout from 1970 being two winners), and I just don’t see how any fan of music could go wrong with this one. Highest recommendation.


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