Ring The Alarm (June 26 – July 1)

Out in the real world, in real time, it was a terrible, terrible week. Maybe these years are like a bad boil that’s eventually gonna be lanced; maybe they’ll leave a nasty scar that’s never going away. As I told a friend, I’m a hair away from despair, but music, love, and liquor has seen me to this Sunday. As is my custom, here’s a Spotify playlist that contains the best tunes of the week, should you care to partake. I’m hoping that one day I’ll want to (be able to?) look back and see how I stayed sane.

Aaaaaand…this week’s awards!

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Blackfire, One Nation Under.

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): Soft Machine: Third.

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Nidia, Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Spa 700 (with Moor Mother), 700 Bliss; Wynton Marsalis & Friends, United We Swing.

Sunday’s Children: The Mekons 77, John Coltrane.

Unsteady as She Goes (June 18-24)

Well–I missed a day. I guess I should be excused, as we went on a day trip to Kansas City to attend a Buddhist service with local Tibetan monk and former member of the Dalai Lama’s circle, and rode to and from the city with one of our fondest friends who is also a driver of the Jordan Baker variety. When we returned home, we were drained from sheer fear and relief, and I barely had time to get in my required reading (50 pages plus of Attica Locke’s terrific and East-Texas-musical crime novel, Bluebird, Bluebird) and Marvel’s Luke Cage (Season Two) viewing. So I apologize, but suspect you may not have not have noticed.

Sunday’s customary Spotify Playlist wrap-up of my last week’s aural adventures (quite a bit different from June 23rd’s Apple Music playlist):

Aaaaaand…this week’s awards!

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Ricky Nelson’s Legendary Masters Series aka The Glory of James Burton–ripped from vinyl for me by my pal in New Orleans, Cliff.

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): This dude called the Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Sarayah’s Feel the Vibe.

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Wilko Johnson’s Blow Your Mind.

Sunday’s Children (this day’s listening that shall be addressed later): BLACKFIRE!

Oh, and a final, critical comment, buried (intentionally?) all the way down here, re: The Carters’ Everything is Love: The titular sentiment may well be true, and more power to them, but a) I’m just not in the mood to attend royalty of any kind, and b) the couple’s attempts to fit into the production zeitgeist of Atlanta sound forced and a little embarrassing to me. For what it’s worth. I kinda like the lead video for its in-your-faceness, but that initial objection still applies.

“The Rhythm, The Rebel!” (June 17th, 2018, Monett, MO)

Since I’m on va-cay and out of pocket, I’m departing from my newly-established Sunday ritual of Spotifying the week’s listening and sharing another project I’m working on that might benefit and enlighten you and me.

I’m two chapters into Chris Weingarten’s so-far stellar 33 1/3 offering on Public Enemy’s Nation of Millions. I’ve read a passel of ’em; this is vying for my favorite, though it’s perhaps a shade too glib and overwritten. One neat thing Weingarten does is focus on the construction process behind a highly constructed album that, due to the profusion of samples the Bomb Squad layered in, couldn’t conceivably be made today, even by a moneybags like Jay Z.

What I decided to do was, chapter by chapter, include all the sample sources, influential tracks, and highlights in a YouTube playlist as a reading supplement. Needless to say, it’s under construction, but it’s already 29 tracks deep and is enjoyable independent of the book.

For our edification, enjoyment, or both:

Aaaaaand…this week’s awards!

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Everything But The Girl’s Amplified Heart.

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): Bettye LaVette’s relatively new Things Have Changed.

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Big Youth’s Screaming Target.

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Busdriver’s Electricity is On Our Side.

Mighty Long Time (June 3-10)

A full morning, so much so that I need to add a bit of detail that I normally avoid on a Sunday post. At 7:45, I participated in KOPN’s Guinness Book of World Records-scaling attempt to interview the most humans (with completely unique questions) in a 24-hour period. I gabbed, unsurprisingly, about Tracey Thorn, Bettye LaVette, Gary Lucas/Nona Hendryx, Lamont Hawkins, and did I mention Tracey Thorn? Five questions in five minutes and Bob’s yer uncle. Also, Nicole and I invited our next-door neighbor over for brunch: cheesy scrambled eggs, thick-cut local bacon, mini-waffles with bourbon-barrel maple syrup, and Bloody Marys–several of the most latter. Because I had scoped her CD collection while tending to her cat while she was out of town, I treated Shireen to a bit of kinda-country brunch, as follows:

(Note: we’d warmed up with two hours of Lefty Frizzell.)

ANYWAY, here’s the usual week-ending Spotify playlist, summing up my listenings as far as the platform makes it possible (apologies The Thing’s Again, especially–an album-of-the-year candidate):

And here are this week’s awards:

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Marine Girls’ Lazy Ways / Beach Party

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): The Mamas and The Papa’s two-disc, perfectly titled Gold.

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Lefty Frizzell’s Country Favorites

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Rodrigo Amado’s A History of Nothing (featuring Joe McPhee).

 

 

 

 

Quiet As It’s Kept (May 27-June 2)

We spent much of this week on vacation–our prime time for listening together, which is a whole different thing that I very much love. As such, much of this playlist is music that is also played at home on a very frequent basis. Dominant: meditative Ethiopian pianistics and roots reggae from the golden age.

 

This week’s Living to Listen Awards:

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Jewels and Binoculars’ unthinkably great Dylan-goes-modern jazz trilogy, Floater, Ships with Tattooed Sails, and The Music of Bob Dylan. Now, I need to find time to listen to the two I don’t know that well up close.

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): Phineas Newborn’s Fabulous Phineas, with Brother Calvin on point. Modern jazz, Memphis-style.

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): The aptly-titled The Power of The Trinity–Great Moments in Reggae Harmony.  I played it three times–I bet you can’t play it just once.

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Neil Young’s Time Fades Away.

Sunday’s Children / Today’s Sounds: Believe it or not, I haven’t listened to anything but the last of half of Serengeti’s Dennehy. I promise I’ll get it in gear.

Charge It To The Game: May 20-26

‘Twas a week of even less structure than last, as my wife Nicole, also a teacher, was loosed upon the summer months. I continued to find it difficult to get focused on writing (I clearly need my back to the wall once a day), but plenty of music flowed within the walls of our home. To wit:

The weekly “Living to Listen Awards” for high-impact records!

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Jewels and Binoculars, Floater (multi-reed master Michael Moore’s project designed specifically to interpret Dylan on a jazz tip–and does it work!). This ain’t that album, but if you’re skeptical?

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): see immediately below–a double-winner this week.

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Grant Green’s The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark. Lots of rockers don’t dig jazz guitar, but Green’s bluesy intensity might cut through that prejudice. Plus: ya got Clark on the 88s.

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Pusha T’s Daytona. No MC alive is better. As they say, he could recite the phone book. An unfortunate man is allied with him on this project–I will continue to debate with myself as I hope you will whether it’s acceptable to encourage such a project. Also, Grupo Mono Blanco’s ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos from Veracruz, from Smithsonian Folkways but don’t let that stop you from swaying to it.

Sunday’s Children / Today’s Sounds: The Del McCoury Band’s Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass.

Still Diggin’: May 13-19

I am still reeling from the realization that my drive to own and hold every great record every made has smashed up against my mortality linking arms with streaming technology. That said, here’s a Spotify playlist of the highlights of my last week of listening:

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Dennis Gonzalez, So Soft Yet. Get hip and give the man props while he’s livin’…

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): Digable Planets, Blowout Comb–I now like it better than the debut. More of an EDGE, shall we say?

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Dennis Gonzalez NYC Quartet, NY Midnight Suite

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Dennis Alcapone, Forever Version; Birdcloud, Singles Only

Sunday’s Children / Today’s Sounds:

Shabaka and the Ancestors: Wisdom of the Elders

African Scream Contest 2