The P is off running a half-marathon, the cats just got their breakfast, and it’s shaping up to be a beautiful Sunday morning in Oakland. Sounds like the perfect time to flip on the cd changers and see what they throw at me. As always, if this doesn’t turn out well, you won’t have to know about it. Let’s get rolling:
8:58 am: Massive Attack * Remixes & B-sides – An album I picked up off the work server, I’m not even sure if this is a real release or someone’s homemade Massive Attack mix. At any rate, I’m hearing a version of ‘Karma Coma’ that sounds like it’s being sung in Russian – actually pretty cool, especially the tasty violins that are adding some nice texture. Very hard to go wrong with Massive Attack…
9:04 am: Various Artists * I Heart Serge – This is an electronica tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, and I’m currently hearing Bob Sinclair’s version of ‘Marabout’. Never much of a Gainsbourg fan – in spite of repeated prodding from several acquaintences – I actually like this compilation a lot. His music translates well to electronica, and many of the tracks on this album are handled pretty deftly by the artists in question, which include Herbert, Dzihan & Kamien, and The Orb, among others.
9:10 am: Treacherous Three featuring Kool Moe Dee * Turn It Up – This compilation collects tracks recorded by this classic hip-hop trio between 1982 and 1984 . Even though this is deep old-skool rap, and the tracks can sometimes go on a bit too long, this album is marked by heavy beats and tight rhymes – particularly Kool Moe Dee, who’s razor sharp throughout.
9:18 am: Iggy & The Stooges * Live In LA ’73 – If you’re looking for a crystal clear, soundboard quality show of The Stooges at their peak, then run screaming from this album. Captured in all its ragged glory, this September 16, 1973 show from the Whisky A Go Go is a compelling document of what made this band so freaking great. Currently up is a 13-minute version of ‘Open Up And Bleed’ – complete with excellent blues harmonica and Iggy’s trademark yowling. Not for the faint of heart, but for those so inclined, it’s not to be missed.
9:31 am: The Yardbirds * Roger The Engineer – One of the best albums by one of the very best British blues bands. That said, the track I’m hearing sounds like the Beach Boys refractred through swinging London – not so good.
9:33 am: Nirvana * With The Lights Out (disc 2) – This three disc (plus DVD) set from 2004 is a pretty amazing – if not entirely definitive – collection of Nirvana outtakes, B-sides, radio appearances, and interesting ephemera. Like much of the band’s studio recordings, this is the musical equivalent of picking at an exposed nerve ending – Kurt Cobain shreiks, the feedback wails, I smile…
9:36 am: PJ Harvey * Uh Huh Her – PJ Harvey just keeps cranking out excellent albums, and this joint from 2004 is no exception. Pitched halfway between the bitter defiance of ‘Dry’ and the homicidal anger of ‘To Bring You My Love’, this is a fine (if somewhat underrated) place to dip into Harvey’s uniquely twisted take on the dirty blues.
9:41 am: Kermit Ruffins * Hold On Tight – Big shoutout to Dave Rosen on this one – I wouldn’t have the slightest idea who Kermit Ruffins was if it weren’t for his dogged persistence in sharing all things funky. This 1996 album swings with a richness that belies Ruffins’ youth – he was but 32 when it was recorded.
9:43 am: The Saints * (I’m) Stranded – An amazing album from a tragically overlooked band. Their version of Ike & Tina’s ‘River Deep Mountain High’ (currently blasting away) is a terrific reading of a classic track, and worth the price of admission alone.
9:47 am: Thin Lizzy * Jailbreak – This band is unfairly marked by their 1976 mega-hit ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’. Their sound ranged from utterly soulful to ripping hard rock, so it’s a shame that they’ve been pigeon-holed by one song. They had a four or five album run in the mid-70’s that produced some of the best hard rock of that decade. If you’re only familiar with the big hit, do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper.
9:51 am: XTC * Upsy Daisy Assortment – This is a band I’ve warmed up to considerably over the last couple of years. Their early, punk-ier stuff is very, very good – easily some of the most tuneful punk (or post-punk, depending on how you’re scoring at home) you’re likely to hear. ‘Making Plans For Nigel’ is currently up, and it’s one of the truly great songs of its time – soaked in paranoia, with one of the catchiest riffs ever captured on tape. The changers have officially entered ‘en fuego’ territory with this selection…
9:55 am: Marvin Gaye * I Want You (Deluxe Edition, disc 2) – This was a curious choice for the Deluxe Edition treatment. Not nearly one of his best albums, it’s probably as close as he came to making an out-and-out disco album. Very enjoyable, but clearly lacking the substance of What’s Going On or even Let’s Get It On. That said, it was still my pick as the 19th best album of 1976 – what a year!
9:59 am: James Brown * Black Caesar Soundtrack – JB + blaxploitation = a smokin’ Sunday morning!
10:04 am: Gorillaz * Demon Days – Gorillaz’ sophomore effort cashed in big time on the potential of their highly-touted debut, and featured ‘Dirty Harry’ – hands down the finest single of 2005. The track now up – ‘El Manana’ – combines a celestial choir with lots of echo effects and tape loops. You never know what you’ll hear with these guys, but it’s always interesting and usually sounds great.
10:08 am: Various Artists * Until The End Of The World Soundtrack – A really terrific soundtrack that pulls together a lot of artists (like U2 and R.E.M.) who were ‘indie’ during the 80’s, and perched on the verge of superstardom entering the 90’s. Unfortunately, I’m hearing the Elvis Costello track, and he’s never been one of my favorites, so right now this one is about as much fun as standing in line at the grocery store…
10:13 am: Gomez * Live show from unnamed local venue, on unnamed date – My friend Icabod (unfortunately not his real name) enjoys taping as much of the live music in the area as he can make it out to. Fortunately, the P and I are on his mailing list, so we receive a package of live gems in the mail every few weeks or so. I think he had permission to tape this one (it’s definitely soundboard quality), but I’m not taking any chances and mentioning names, just in case it was a rogue operation. And oh by the way, Gomez is a pretty great band that never seems to get the ink they deserve. Three members of this group can legitimately sing, and they put on a heck of a live show – recommended.
10:19 am: Don Letts presents The Mighty Trojan Sound (disc 2) – Punk and Reggae impressario and DJ Don Letts picks his favorites from Trojan’s tunnel-to-China deep back catalog of reggae music. It’s hard to specifically recommend this compilation, what with all the great and affordable Trojan box sets that are on the market, but it’s a good collection and an enjoyable listen.
10:22 am: Neu! * Neu! 2 – The legend of Neu! has been previously discussed, but hearing this album leaves me wondering if Krautrock by definition must sound like it’s speeding down the Autobahn in a metallic, twitchy car from the future that can go either 12 miles an hour or 135 miles an hour, but nothing in between. This song sounds like it could go on for days, so this is probably as good a time as any for this Yank to unplug and go watch some American football…