Posts Tagged ‘Bill Withers’

Stuck In My Head: Hurt So Good

2 August 2010

Thirteen seconds into Susan Cadogan’s ‘Hurt So Good’, an irresistible Lee Perry backbeat kicks in, and Cadogan lets go with her growling purr of a voice, unspooling a swampy, sultry piece of enabling. Her man runs her name through the street and treats her like trash, but ooweeee can he do the nasty. Some ills, it would seem, can be cured by the squeak of bedsprings. Bill Withers said ‘Use Me’. Al Green said ‘Let’s Stay Together’. Susan Cadogan says ‘I don’t want you to ever quit. It ain’t no good, ’til it hurts a little bit.” Mercy…

Listen: Hurt So Good

Weekend Playlist

22 February 2010

“Where else but in America could a person own a Rolls Royce, an Eldorado, Mark IV, Mercedes limousine, an estate in Long Island, an apartment in Hollywood and still be considered a failure? Well, you’re looking at and listening to him.” ~ Jerry Williams Jr. aka Swamp Dogg

Buzzcocks | A Different Kind Of Tension

Lou Reed, John Cale & Nico | Le Bataclan ’72

Herbie Hancock | Future Shock

Esther Phillips | Burnin’: Live At Freddie Jett’s Pied Piper, L.A.

Mickey Newbury | ‘Frisco Mabel Joy

The Flying Burrito Brothers | Burrito Deluxe

Tim Buckley | Lorca

Swamp Dogg | Have You Heard This Story??

The Doors | Other Voices

Ray Barretto | Acid

M. Ward | Hold Time

Blue Mitchell | Blue’s Moods

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers | Like Someone In Love

Faces | Long Player

Neutral Milk Hotel | In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Motörhead | Bomber

Dr. Feelgood | Stupidity

Bill Withers | Still Bill

Skull Snaps | Skull Snaps

Black Heat | Black Heat

Super Bowl Winners & Losers

8 February 2010

Once again, the Super Bowl was an exciting game that provided us with heroes (Drew Brees, Tracy Porter, Sean Payton) and goats (Peyton Manning, Pierre Garçon, Hank Baskett). And just like the action on the field, the commercials (and pre-game and halftime entertainment) gave us some obvious winners and losers. Here’s how I scored it at home:


Jay-Z – I’ve never been a big fan of the Jigga Man, but pairing him with Rihanna, a full orchestra, and action clips from the Saints’ and Colts’ season-long drive to the Super Bowl (favorite quote: a Colts defensive player screaming in the huddle “ALLS I WANT IS EVERYTHING YOU GOT!!!”) was an appropriately adrenaline-pumping way to kick things off.

Queen Latifah – I’ve heard and read speculation that she was singing with a backing track (more on this phenomenon in a bit), but regardless, her stirring version of ‘God Bless America’ was right on the money.

Jack White – He got paid to let some advertiser use the tune to ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’. The fact that just 24 hours later I can’t remember the company behind that ad bodes as a win-win for Mr. White.

Stevie Wonder – He didn’t sing, but Stevie Wonder once again revealed his good sense of humor with a cameo in VW’s ‘Punch Buggy‘ spot.

Arcade Fire – The NFL’s promotional use of their song ‘Wake Up’ – paired with shots of ecstatic fans – was sublime…



The Who – Let’s count the ways: they looked and sounded stiff and old, Roger Daltrey blatantly flubbed his lip-sync with a backing track during ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ (oh, the irony), they were totally upstaged by their stage (possibly a first in rock history), and the corpse of Keith Moon would have been more interesting on drums than Zak Starkey. Better than the infamous Elvis Presto Super Bowl halftime show, but nearly as pathetic…

KISS – OK, I get it, Gene Simmons is a whore who would sell his grandmother’s soul for a nickel. But seeing my once-favorite band hawking Dr. Pepper and sharing the stage with a group of midget Kiss impersonators made me want to lose my chicken wings.

Carrie Underwood – I went into her rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ wanting to be won over. “What am I missing here?” was my thought. The answer, after a fairly flat performance: “Not much.”

Bill Withers – Sure, he got paid for it, but his lovely ballad ‘Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone)’ was totally miscast in a commercial for a blood and guts video game. A sadly inappropriate use of a great song.

The Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew – Note to Boost Mobile: The 1984/85 Chicago Bears were one of the greatest teams in football history. If you’re going to rip off their legendarily kitsch performance of ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’, at least have the decency to do something interesting (and preferably tasteful) with it. And double shame on you Mike Ditka, for pimping out an idea you weren’t even part of in the first place.

Doubleshot Tuesday: Exile On Main St/Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers)

5 January 2010

[Today: Music to clean house by…]

Like most funny people I know, my former co-worker Tony didn’t say much, and then every so often would come out with a zinger. One day we were sitting around avoiding work when he mentioned that his mom used to clean the house to Bill Withers’ Greatest Hits album – according to Tony, this was her “cleaning music”. That revelation lead to a lively Q&A session with other co-workers about what constitutes cleaning music. Personally, I can see Bill Withers doing the job – it’s mellow and soulful, good music for a Sunday afternoon cleaning binge.

But I go in the opposite direction when I’m looking for music to clean by. I need greezy, aggressive, adrenaline-charged songs that inspire me to get off the couch, pick up the scrub brush, and attack those dust bunnies. And while hard rock albums like Back In Black and Appetite For Destruction would probably fit the bill, I’m also looking for throbbing bass that will knock the grime out of my grout. The two albums that sit atop my own personal greezy rankings are The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St and Wu Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers).

The P has asked me about the meaning of the word “greezy” and here’s my best explanation: it’s greasy with a whole bunch of attitude thrown in. Those who are greasy by design and proud of it are “greezy”. When GZA raps “I’m the dirtiest thing in sight/Matter of fact bring out the girls and let’s have a mud fight,” he’s going greezy. When Mick Jagger sings “Yes I got the desert in my toenail/And I hid the speed inside my shoe,” he’s most definitely flying the greeze flag. These seedy little songs are not “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go,” but they make me want to pick up the cleaning rag. Take it from an expert, nothing helps you fight grime like a little greeze…

Listen: Rip This Joint [Rolling Stones]

Listen: Method Man [Wu Tang Clan]

Listen: Ventilator Blues [Rolling Stones]

Listen: Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’ [Wu Tang Clan]

Buried Treasure: Home Is Where The Hatred Is

3 December 2009

[Today: Esther Phillips stands tall…]

She always had the pipes. Even as a fourteen year-old kid, Esther Mae Jones had a voice that could knock the tread off your steel-belted radials. That’s how old she was when bluesman and raconteur Johnny Otis discovered her in 1949, during an amateur talent show. Dubbing her “Little Esther Phillips” (the last name was swiped from a petrol sign), Otis brought her into his band of traveling musicians and entertainers, and for most of the rest of her life, Esther Phillips (she eventually outgrew the “Little…”) made some of the most intense, gritty soul music this side of Otis Redding.

Home Is Where The Hatred Is collects the best of Phillips’ work for the Kudu label, covers the better part of the 70’s, and stakes her claim as one of the most authentic unsung voices of that decade. Part soul, part jazz, part funk, and all spirited attitude, the 18 tracks that comprise this album find a woman who is constantly fighting to keep her man in line, and striving for some semblance of a normal life. Because I live in Oakland, CA, I often see women who look like the subjects of Ether Phillps’ songs. These middle-aged black women wear deep worry lines on their faces that speak to daily struggles, but carry themselves with a dignity and bearing that brings to mind the title African Queen.

On ‘Disposable Society’ Phillips sings out like an agitated Mother Earth against a landfill culture that has taken the best of her. ‘Black-Eyed Blues’ is her declaration of independence from caring what other people think of her, since they don’t have to wake up in the morning and look at a swollen black eye staring back in the mirror. Her cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Use Me’ is pure gold – a jazzier, more authentic version of this song about blindness in the face of love gone wrong. In spite of the (sometimes literal) haymakers thrown at her, Phillips stands tall, sings out, and always fights back…

Listen: That’s Alright With Me

Listen: Use Me

Listen: From A Whisper To A Scream

Listen: Home Is Where The Hatred Is

A Day At The Flea IV

1 June 2008

The P and I hit our local monthly flea market today, and I came away with a great haul. The day started with P spotting a guy with a pile of records in the very back of the market (we start at the back and work our way forward). As I approached his booth, I got the sense that there were excellent records to be had. For one thing, he had them in stacks on the ground, not in boxes, and all the records I could see were worthwhile – Bob Marley, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis – and not your average dollar bin junk.

Sure enough, homey had a treasure trove of 70’s funk/soul/R&B. When I asked him how much for the records (always a breathless moment) he said “it depends on the album”. Now, normally I would just get up and walk away – I like to have some idea of what I’m going to be paying before I start wading through piles of dusty albums. But I had to hang in there on this. Finally he said “One dollar to five dollars each.” OK, that’s better, and a lot of what I was seeing was worth that. So me and another guy are plowing through all these records, and at first I’m racing through because I’m paranoid that he’s siphoning off all the good stuff. But then I start talking to him, and I realize he’s only buying ONE album, so I start trying to convince him on some of the stuff – Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Fats Waller. But he buys his one album (a fine Sam Cooke) and walks away.

The second booth I bought from was run by a woman who appeared to be selling her personal collection of 50 or so records from the 60’s. All in excellent shape, but a bit steep at $5 apiece, so I picked a few winners – Yardbirds, Young Rascals, Moby Grape, and Kinks and went on my merry way.

The last booth I bought from was my regular guy, Mickey, who’s always there. He sells albums 4 for $10, and he’s always got an interesting selection. He recently purchased a huge collection of country albums, so in the last few flea markets, I’ve managed to fill in a few holes in my country vinyl: Ernest Tubb, Louvin Brothers, Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and many others. And because P wrote yesterday about T. Texas Tyler’s influence on the late U. Utah Phillips, I had to pick up the TTT album I saw today. Because we couldn’t find this particular album listed anywhere on the Internet, I want to note that the album is called T. Texas Tyler Sings ‘Deck Of Cards’ and it’s on the Sound Record Co. label, date unlisted.

Without further comment, here are some highlights from today’s haul:


And the rest…

The Staples Singers * Be Altitude: Respect Yourself
Joe Williams * A Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry
Arrested Development * 3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days In The Life Of…
Johnny Cash * I Walk The Line
The Young Rascals * Groovin’
The Yardbirds * Over Under Sideways Down
The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys * The Columbia Sessions, 1949-1950
Hank Williams * 40 Greatest Hits
Hank Williams * 24 Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
Hawkshaw Hawkins * The Great Hawkshaw Hawkins
Stanley Brothers * Good Old Camp Meeting Songs
Soundtrack * That Darn Cat
Moby Grape * Moby Grape^
Miles Davis * Bitches Brew
Curtis Mayfield * Curtis/Live!
Sly & The Family Stone * There’s A Riot Goin’ On^
Frank Sinatra * Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
Johnny Cash * Now There Was A Song!

^ = bought as replacement for scratched copy in our collection
† = bought as potential gifts/giveaways for those who butter me up