Kicking My Legs

The other day, I found myself in a disconsolate mood.

This is not usual. I am temperamentally optimistic, which I used to think was my Midwestern heritage but now realize is primarily a function of my white male privilege (why shouldn’t I be expecting the day to go well for me when I wake up every morning?) and secondarily the by-product of my obsession with art and learning (I can be reasonably assured that every conscious day I live will bring me at least one moment of aesthetic or gnostic thrill, and I can live on one for hours).

But on this day I was down. For one–though I can usually keep the relentless ugliness of these times at bay by reminding myself that they are nothing new, it’s just that the mask is all the way down (so why should I start moping now?)–the sordid litany of the Cohen hearings had so penetrated my defenses I had come to feel like Washizu Taketoki at the end of Throne of Blood. For another, I had just had a miserable experience with my Stephens class, and having a miserable experiences when I am teaching–it is an action I love, no matter how difficult it may be–is foreign to me. I happen to be teaching a second-semester composition class that is mostly made up of freshmen who failed composition first semester–several of them who failed my class. This in itself is no problem; with three decades of high school experience with struggling learners, I am probably the best person on campus for this job. Things is, with this particular group, simple attendance and work completion is a struggle (remember: we’re talking college here), and it’s an 8 a.m. class, so enthusiasm for the education process is occasionally wispy in nature. In this case, I had prepared a lesson that I felt was very high-interest, exceptionally stimulating, and inarguably relevant to my class’ concern–and, out of 16 students registered at that point, five showed up. Five. I know what you teachers out there are thinking: Perfect! Small group–a more intimate, direct, and collaborative experience!  Yeah, well, cool and all, but I prepared the lesson for sixteen, and there’s the matter of the role it was not going to play in the success of 69% of my students’ upcoming papers. Not to mention that I like larger classes; I thrive off the gathered energy, and the possibilities of accidental inspiration and enlightenment are far greater. Thus, I scrapped the lesson and held writing conferences for the hardy humans who showed up. Useful, yes, but nothing fresh, fun, challenging, and interactive. (I know you’re wanting the deets, but they are too painful to recall; suffice it to say that it involved Dusty Springfield.)

I’d dismissed the class and was pouting at the computer (recording attendance, as it happened). I was literally shaking my head and contemplating harikari, and decided, of course, to take one last look at Facebook (when the bombs start falling on the first day of World War III, we will all be recording our statuses). I’d almost forgotten that, as one of the two songs I share every morning and have shared every morning for close to a decade for no discernible reason, with the hearings immediately swirling in my head upon having awakened, I’d posted the above video clip from the Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back. “Even the President of the Yew-Nited States / One day must have to stand naked!”: really? That’s too easy, Phil.  Be that as it may, I absently clicked on the link, dimly aware that I still had the data projector on, its volume turned about halfway up.

As Uncle Bob’s screed rolled out–it’s damn near long as the Gettysburg Address!–I twisted out a grimace at the phrase “There is no sense in trying!” and reminded myself of my old-time idol’s cynicism. I am not really a cynic, but that line actually sounded pretty good to me and made me feel even worse. However, the song (I hope you do not need me to tell you this) is not only an astoundingly detailed catalogue of American failings imaginatively and skillfully written (though “propaganda all is phony” is a wince-inducing glitch), it’s not even completely cynical. “…[H]e not busy being born / is busy dying!”? “…[I]t is not he or she or them or it / That you belong to!”? “Although the masters make the rules / For the wise men and the fools / I got nothing, Ma, to live up to!”? And does he stick the landing!

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only!

Yep, those lines are anything but cynical. They’re motivating, liberating, life-affirming, and definitively sans bullshit. As I listened to them for the umpteenth time, my short hairs rose to attention, my heart leapt, my blood warmed, my grimace warped into a defiant smile. I was still shaking my head, but in amazement. And it was cool to hear it in the open air of the classroom…

Another teacher was holding court in my room after my class, and, in my hypnotic state, I hadn’t noticed that some of her students had rolled in, seated themselves, and were apparently remaining silent out of respect for my meditation. The vibration of those final words–“it’s life and life only”–deteriorated into our space, followed by about 15 seconds of silence, and one of the students said, “Did you like that?”

I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant; these days, you can’t be. But I blurted out instantly in response, “Oh yes. For me, that is the rock. If I’m barely treading water, that’s what I’m reaching for, and what I’m gonna stand on. It’s worked for me for years, since I was 17–still does 40 years later. So…did you like it?”

I inhaled sharply, awaiting potential injury.

She answered, “Yeah. That was amazing.”

“Truth,” I smiled–and bolted out of there, knowing that, if I lingered, the resulting conversation would overlap into my department head’s allotted time. But I’d crashed the cuffs off, and skipped out of the building full ready to be shown more.

 

Quiet Dog

I’m still struggling with what to do with this blog. I flit from idea to idea; I get discouraged because I feel I’m just doing it as an exercise (what’s wrong with that?), and get frustrated because I not only get bored with formats too easily, but also frequently feel my spigot twist violently shut and hear voices telling me I’ve got nothing to say: “You’re just a kind of aggregator!” (What’s wrong with that?)

Anyhow, well, here’s some things I can report from recently.

I had a headphone experience with the New York Dolls’ debut. I’ve listened to that disc a million times, but it really popped out the chicken skin this time ’round. I’m usually the first to roll my eyes when I hear someone (usually around my age) says there isn’t good music anymore, but it’s this shit that makes me wonder (for a few minutes). If anyone or any band is saying this much right now, it’s not being said with so much thrilling musical hell breaking loose all around it. If anyone or any band is loosing this thick a slab of musical hell right now, they ain’t saying near as much. “I’m talkin’ ’bout your overview,” indeed–David’s words must resonate with any conscious adult walking around in this world, and the noise Johnny wrenches from his axe testifies to his resulting dislocation.

I bitched about the mildness of 2019’s best records and got my comeuppance. It’s all coincidence, but March’s music came in like a lioness, and delivered quite a litter. I was really craving a undeniable, catchy, beatwise classic, and I got at least one of those, though its classic status will depend on how many other people feel the same way. To wit:

Little Simz: Grey Area (“Lady Don’t Tek No” division–this is my “undeniable, catchy, beatwise classic, although it tails off a bit on the back end)

Royal Trux: White Stuff (“Rock and Roll Never Gives Up” division)

James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto (“Call & Response” division)

2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League (“Ball is Life” division)

Rosie Flores: A Simple Case of the Blues (“Doing the Work” division)

Dave: PSYCHODRAMA (“Rap Opera” division)

Robert Forster: Inferno (“Old Friends” division)

…and I haven’t even absorbed the new Solange yet.

My life was enriched by a couple Toms. Specifically, Tom Moon, the admirable and indefatigable author of 1000 Records to Hear Before You Die (published in 2008), and Tom Hull, a fellow Midwesterner who quietly, reliably, intelligently and astonishingly keeps record nerds country-wide abreast of a truckload of new records each month that they might want to familiarize themselves with. They are men after my own heart because they strive to listen to the most promising example of damn near everything, the music lovers’ equivalent to diners who’d never order the same thing from the same menu twice if they could help it. Aren’t you suspicious of anyone who just likes one thing? For some reason looking for more reading to add to my already mountainous pile, I realized I hadn’t really looked carefully at the last half of Moon’s book. Many hours later, I had a bulging-at-the-seams Apple Music playlist of mostly international releases like this gem from the Andes:

Mr. Hull was so kind to reference this blog in his monthly Streamnotes report–to my delight (mainly because I was able to pay him back for his many hot and accurate tips) I’d encouraged him to listen to a few items he liked. Here’s a neat thing he pushed me towards:

I suggest that my readers make themselves familiar with both these Tom cats and you’ll seldom lack for anything substantial to feed your ears. And here is a Spotify playlist derived from Moon’s book to back me up.

My wife and I had a Hank Williams jam on a Saturday night. On the way to and back from a dinner at one of our favorite restaurants–one hour round-trip–Nicole and I indulged in a Hillbilly Shakespeare yell-along. Hank’s the country version of Sam Phillips’ comment about Howlin’ Wolf: his music is where the soul of man never dies. Nicole: “Somehow I know the lyrics to all of these songs.” Indeed. It is near mystical. The next day, she beckoned her Facebook friends to share their favorite Hank songs, and we were surprised to find that he is not as well-known and thoroughly absorbed by our population as we thought, another sign of the apocalypse. One of my very favorites (Hiram liked to talk to his heart):

I found out 504 Records is still releasing music. 504 Records is an itsy-bitsy New Orleans label that, in my experience, has never released an uninteresting record. Its focus is local–and why not? New Orleans music is inexhaustible. Whenever I’m in the Crescent City, I head to the French Market, where there is one-count ’em-one music kiosk that always offers 504 stock. The “new” release contains very rare and fascinating recordings by local hero Cousin Joe, James Booker (“The Bayou Maharajah”), and jack-of-all-pickin’ guitar ace Snooks Eaglin. It is nicely titled Rhapsody in Bronze, if you can’t access the French Market you can order it pretty much JUST from Louisiana Music Factory, and…here’s a sample:

Annnnnnnd–guess who’s back? That’s right! The Meat Puppets (on record)…

…and Ian Hunter (on the page–his 1972 tour diary’s seen a new edition published).

Ian

 

 

 

 

Best Rekkids of ’19 – End of Febru-weary Edition

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Behold–a rather tentative list of 30 pretty damn decent releases from the 2019th year of our lord (is that right? asks the history-challenged heathen). I would not say that, so far, our musical high priests have laid a cornucopial spread before our weary, hungry, hopeful selves; I would say, however, that plenty of interesting stuff is at your fingertips. The following are in rough order of how much enjoyment I’ve gained from and willing repetition I’ve applied to each long-player. Certain of my regular prejudices are in play: Joe McPhee is a genius and a saint to me, musically and personally, and in his 79th year (50 or so of them as a devoted free-playing jazz multi-instrumentalist and happy noise-maker) he shows no signs of slowing down or having passed his sell-by date–I love all three of his new records, including all six discs of his “Nation Time!”-keyed live collaboration with DKV (that’s Hamid Drake, Ken Kessler, and Ken Vandermark); I come alive at the sound of a Tuareg guitar, no matter how familiar or how augmented by Western intrusion; I am certain Yugen Blakrok needs more recognition and I will bend over backwards to see that, at least within my very circumscribed social range, she gets it; I have a very soft spot for the hoarier artist. But I’d almost argue that those strong prejudices, built from high expectations, might just make me more likely than most to recognize why records therein don’t really cut it. Almost.

Also, I am being very strict about releases being from 2019. If I am not, I will get my wrists slapped.

If anything really obvious is missing (Sharon Van Etten, Future, Gary Clark, Jr.) it might well be assumed that I am immune to its spells.

Finally, I am including new releases of material recorded in bygone days (rather than listing those separately) because pickings are just that slim. So far. [Ex Hex, Mekons, Jamila Woods, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Royal Trux (Royal Trux?), Quelle Chris, hell, ol’ dead Marvin Gaye each have one in tha chamba for future firing.]

After the list is a YouTube playlist where you can test-drive some of the stuff if it’s unfamiliar to you.

  1. Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty
  2. DKV and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time
  3. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
  4. Heroes are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions
  5. Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks
  6. Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dure–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent
  7. Que Vola: Que Vola
  8. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere
  9. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken
  10. Sir Shina Peters and His Internation Stars: Sewele
  11. Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet
  12. Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist
  13. Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee
  14. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri
  15. People Under the Stairs: Sincerely, The P
  16. Powder: Powder in Space (DJ Mix)
  17. Hama: Houmeissa
  18. Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock
  19. Ill Considered: 5
  20. M’dou Moctar: Blue Stage Session
  21. CZARFACE & Ghostface Killah: Czarface Meets Ghostface
  22. Greg Ward and Rogue Parade: Stomping Off from Greenwood
  23. Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature
  24. Angel Bat Dawid: The Oracle
  25. Better Oblivion Community Center: Better Oblivion Community Center
  26. Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez: Duologue
  27. Bad Bunny: X 100PRE
  28. The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet (featuring Joe McPhee): Sweet Oranges
  29. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters
  30. The Specials: Encore

A note on the playlist: two-three full albums are included (one of them a three-disker) because single tracks were not available, so you may want to be prepared to click past them after an initial taste. Or you may not…

 

 

Thoughts on GREEN BOOK, Yugen Blakrok, and The Stanley Brothers

Nicole and I took a tiny road trip to Fulton (a frequent getaway for us), mainly to eat some exquisite gumbo and po’ boys at Fontenot’s, but also to take a chance on the Oscar-nominated Green Book. I’m just being honest–we don’t go to many mainstream movies these days, and not because we’re high-toned snobs. We’re both tired of simple explanations in these complicated times, and so many of the films that hit the multiplexes have precisely that to offer. Perhaps not explanations, exactly; more accurately, they’re hawking simple, comforting reflections of who we are. Our lives are too short for those. HOWEVER, I’d only heard of Don Shirley in passing (Nicole not at all), we both love pretty much everything we have seen Mahershala Ali do, and good ol’ Viggo is pretty reliable, so we thought, “How bad can it be?” Our answer was not that bad.

We’d purposely not done much research into either Shirley or the movie. Stuff does slip in over one’s transom: I was aware of some critical disagreement over the handling of racial issues, but often that’s a sign of something good, and I knew Shirley’s family wasn’t happy about the facts–but, um, it’s a movie. Well, that’s what I said to myself, but I ended up being a little bothered myself. Thoughts:

The lead performances were pretty great (though I did not get the impression Ali was a supporting actor–that designation tells me much). The aloofness and self-possession Ali brings to the role of Shirley ensures we do not see him as a monolithic black man, and Mortenson infuses Tony Lip with a childlike spontaneity–it’s only after witnessing him win a hot dog-eating contest with about 10 seconds of preparation that we can buy him taking a job driving Shirley after having just put two Negro-besmirched drinking glasses in the trash. I did feel, however, that at about the 3/4ths mark, both actors let their grip slip on their control over their respective characters and turn them into something broader–a sign of a fledgling dramatic director at the helm, perhaps.

I was also was a shade disappointed by how quickly the film scurried past the revelation that Shirley was possibly gay or bisexual. Really, no conversations about that? No mixed feelings? Maybe Shirley’s only too happy to put that back in its container, and Tony’s only too happy to not have to talk about it (think about his early letters home to his wife). But I do like how we are provided enough insight into Shirley’s intense loneliness by that point to understand why he would risk same-sex-intimacy-while-black in the Deep South. Fortunately, he has white muscle to rescue him (over and over again).

Finally, I was a bit curious about the depiction of the Macon, Georgia, police department as being racially integrated in 1961, and about Shirley being able to magically play Little Richard-styled piano with feeling at a moment’s notice. Did the Celtics ever barnstorm as far south as Birmingham? I just read two books by and about people who’d know and would have recalled it in their writing, but I don’t remember them doing so. But, hello, these films don’t have to be completely factual!!! Still….

However, taking it for what it was–a mainstream film about an inspirational professional relationship between a black man and a white man, portrayed by two excellent actors–we ultimately felt it was not a waste of time. It’s good stuff for right now, assuming the people who need to see it actually do see it (and do they ever?). For both Nicole and me, it piqued our interest enough to listen to Shirley’s Orpheus in the Underworld–humorously referenced in the film–on the way home (the YouTube copy’s been ripped from forest-fire vinyl, but it’s not impossible to track down on CD–I know, I did) and enjoy it thoroughly.

 

In other news, my favorite rap album of 2019 was released Friday: South African MC Yugen Blakrok’s Anima Mysterium. Her debut release, Return of the Astro-Goth, and her appearance on the Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther companion were both very promising, and this modestly makes good on that promise. Blakrok parses African history, mythology and iconography (of Africa and elsewhere), and the cosmos to offer a critique of our present and a forecast of our future. Needless to say from that claim (if it isn’t just gobbledy-gook), she’d be categorized as an abstract rapper, and, until she finds catchier and thunkier beats and varies her cadence more regularly, that’s going to be a fair assessment. But her adeptness with meter, figurative language, and rhyme is special; you can’t hear it by staring at these words from Mysterium‘s “Carbon Form,” but check back to the video track after you’ve let these sink in:

Cosmic breath, I’m air element, find strength in the mental
The thought behind the rhyme’s consequential
The flow’s decked in space boots, leaping over lunar tombs
Write lyrics in runes and play the Muse
Inspire Fate to paint predestination’s landscapes
For the awakened, imaginations are stargates
Whistle, I’m listening – Pilgrim of the House of the Wind, I’m the emissary
Hearing voices in the breeze observing airy commentary
Asleep in howling deserts with thorn trees in bloom
Until the spell breaks, I’m wolf to the full moon
And wild as the monsoon, glassy eyes like crushed minerals
The pattern’s troublesome – planet’s crying rivers of literals
Wooden tears flaking into fragments and splintering
Buried in the earth where dark secrets lie whispering
That the end has not yet come to the place where dreams rest at
I look at self, facing the mirror, nothing’s reflected
Black stone carbon, I’m stardust
Bizarre, trust – quiet, part-mime invade the mind like archons
My jargon’s a headache to decipher, never idle
The heavy burden’s only light work to bright disciples
And I’m sky bound, messenger like Malachi
Cardinal offspring of Capricorn and Gemini
Born from a sandstorm, whirlwinds in my burning eyes
Slayed a beast with seven tongues, electrifying
So I vibrate in coded synergy, linguistics my Achilles heel
Wade in stellar waters deep, a mystic whistling in the reeds
That cosmic breath, that air element that finds strength in the mental
Make all doubts of the mind inconsequential

As much as she does limit herself with a favorite cadence, there is a cool, defiant, but almost deadpan quality to her delivery that I find spookily addictive. For those in search of a new and unique voice in hip hop, I strongly suggest that, should the above samplings agree with you, you indulge in and support her art.

 

Of late, I have been deeply enjoying David Blight’s massive biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. One extremely powerful achievement of Blight’s is intensifying our understanding of the degree with which Biblical stories informed Douglass’ abolitionist and natural rights philosophies. In a development pretty typical of the way I zing and zoing from lit to music, I found myself drawn unavoidably to The Stanley Brothers’ King and Starday recordings, where the bluegrass legends tap, better than in any other period of their recording career, the Bible and Christianity in general as sources for extremely moving, often frighteningly intense performances. I am not a Christian at all, nor will I ever be, but the political and personal power of gospel anecdotes warms my blood and stimulates my brain on a regular basis. It’s a testament to the consistent excellence of these recordings (roughly ’58-’61) that they broke Brazilian pop’s seven-day grip on my attention.

For an excellent look into the story behind “Rank Strangers,” check out what Mr. Gary Combs has to share on his spiritual blog.

 

 

Three Lists (which The Blogger Sheepishly Submits)

Posting every other day has been the hardest of the five-six resolutions I cornily made for myself (I’m doing great on the others). Life has happened, and you can’t push that river. Perhaps I should post just when I want to and I have something urgent to communicate? Yes, and that would be today.

TEN OF MY “FAVORITE ALBUMS OF ALL-TIME”

Recently I asked my Facebook friends the impossible: name your favorite album of all-time. I led with my choice (Professor Longhair’s Crawfish Fiesta, which I’ve definitely played more than any other over the past 15 years) and instantly regretted it, not because it isn’t sublime, but someone else listed something more important. So, here aren’t my 10 favorite albums of all-time, in order; here are 10 records I’d list as my very favorite record, based on number of lifetime plays, significance to my development as a human, sparked joy, and facility in connecting me with other humans. I steadfastly avoided trying to have a politically correct representative list; these are the ones my heart reaches for, instantly.

The Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime

Professor Longhair, Crawfish Fiesta

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

Howlin’ Wolf

The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin

Lucinda Williams

Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys: Basin Street Blues–The Tiffany Transcriptions, Volume 3

The Best of Doug Sahm & The Sir Douglas Quintet 1968-1975

The Clash: London Calling

Having a Good Time with Huey “Piano” Smith and The Clowns

 

MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2019

I don’t know about you, but the offerings thus far have been slim compared to last January. I will stretch to 10, nonetheless, though I may have to lean on reissues of older stuff. There is no serious priority order–it’s too early, and some of these may not end up making my Top 100 in the end. Also: a deep bow of amazement to the ageless Joe McPhee, who’s the star of no less than three of these; an acknowledgement that I have only sampled the glam comp below via YouTube searches; a thank you to my young friend Lucas Fagen, who convinced me that I was not too old and trap-rattle-addled to return to, and enjoy, Bad Bunny; and my apologies if some of these are kinda-’18. I remain needing serious convincing regarding Sharon Van Etten (Remind Me Tomorrow is an “up” album for her???).

Heroes are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions

Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dure–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent

Greg Ward and Rogue Parade: Stomping Off from Greenwood

Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist

Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee

DVK and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time

The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet: Sweet Oranges

Sir Shina Peter and His Internation Stars: Sewele

Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks

Bad Bunny: X 100PRE

 

TEN GREAT BRAZILIAN ALBUMS THAT PAAL NILSSEN LOVE AND CATALYTIC SOUND HAVE LED ME TO (SO FAR)

I ordered and received a CD recently from the fascinating experimental music label Catalytic Sound (Sweet Oranges, above), and within was a neat little ‘zine-styled “quarterly” with poetry and other neat stuff–especially master free drummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s list of his 100 favorite Brazilian records. Nilssen-Love’s made many sojourns to Brazil in the recent past, and he’s clearly a sharp, indefatigable crate-digger (that describes his drumming, too). What blew my mind is, though I really love Brazilian music, I’d only heard of 10 or so of them, and didn’t own many. Thus–and this is a reason I haven’t posted recently–I’ve been on a grail quest of my own, using his list as a road map. I’ve heard at least 20 of the records he’s listed since Friday; these are my favorites, and I only have 60-70 to go!

Pedro Santos: Krishnanda

Alessandra Leao: Dois Cordoes

Underground Samba Lapa

Ile Aiye: Canto Negro

O Som Sagrado de Wilson Das Neves

Clara Nunes: Esperanca

Tim Maia: Racional, Volumes 1 and 2

Moacir Santos: Coisas

Grupo Fundo De Quintal: Samba E No Fundo Do Quintal

Elis Regina: Samba, Eu Canto Assim

 

 

Love Them Live

I diverged from my usual MLK Day routine of playing every Impressions song in my collection augmented by some raucous ’50s gospel and decided to rock the hell out. I’m reading David Blight’s Frederick Douglass bio, and ol’ Fred liked to shake one’s lapels, and I imagine if Dr. King were here and saw this mess he might go aggro. Plus, I sensed my bride was up for some volume and clatter–she gets a mean eye-glint when her blood’s up.

Pre-glint, I had already loaded up some Butane James, but it’s not like that was so halcyon.

James Brown: Love Power Peace Live at The Olympia, Paris, 1971

The only official live document of Brown backed by Catfish and Bootsy Collins, with the former unspooling concertina wire solos at key junctures. Even the ballads will melt you–and not your heart. Your skin.

Nirvana: From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

Just as their studio albums could almost be cut by three different great bands, their live albums have very distinct identities. This ‘uns rougher textured and more furious than the Reading record, at least to my ear. They really were a fantastic band, and I will never tire of them.

Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns: Danceteria Deluxe

Not really deluxe; in fact, it’s just a bit longer than an EP. But with the band’s self-titled Hannibal album OOP, this is the best place to experience these exuberant Tex-Mex garage-rock nuts in their prime. One of my very favorite party bands, and they’re plenty tuff. Three of the nine cuts are a bit rare, too. By the by, Joe’s website offers several hard-to-find items, but even he’s had to rip some of it from vinyl.

Hüsker Dü: The Living End

This was the end, my friends–selected live cuts from their final years. Their rant ‘n’ rave isn’t quite as potent in looser live versions, except the later songs, which are elevated from pretty good to pretty great by the ramshackle roil. We listened to this right after the above Nirvana record, and it was more apparent than ever to us that they were the essential bridge between hardcore and grunge.

Dead Moon: What a Way to See the Old Girl Go

Closing down Portland’s X-Ray Café in ’94, rock and roll’s greatest and most durable husband-and-wife team got a terrific show down on wax. Not a bad place to start for the benighted: with a decade of music under their belts and two ahead of them, they’re in their prime, and you get smoking versions of “Poor Born,” “Walking on My Grave,” “It’s OK,” and “54/40 or Fight” all in one place. Fred Cole, you’re missed on this turf.

Motörhead: Nö Sleep At All

Yeah, yeah–I know about recontextualization and all that shite, but if Lemmy hadn’t finally been killed by death, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have to hear their kinda-pale “Sympathy for The Devil” backing a fucking commercial. I turned this up all the way to clean that ooze out of my ears. Live’r than the Stones ever were, this is a mid period best-of that definitely wasn’t sucking in the Eighties. I’m tempted to say if you need one, maybe this? But I have Orgasmatron breathing down my neck…