“It’s Growing: Most Euphonious Fruit of First Quarter, 2021”

Music Spring has apparently sprung–although I’m not yet hearing anything that will knock most people’s socks off; for that matter, the only two records I’ve been addicted to are (no surprise) #1 and (ranked “low” because I have a strong Ornette Coleman bias) #5. Also, 14 out of 50 (*) are jazz recordings, none of them that straight-ahead; however, lest you suspect me musically anhedoniacal, I would classify seven of them FUN (!). I’m catching on! Maybe I’m catching back on. In other news?

POETRY is in the house (#s 22 and 25–the former a must for all you trad Brit Lit majors, the latter pretty fucking FUN itself, but just remember what the lit-heads in your life consider fun)…

I just dove into the Doomed & Stoned series (honoring a silent pledge to my metalhead friend Vance, for whose sake I will try 4-5 metal albums a year, though this collection might be more accurately described as “stoner rock”), fished its Scottish entry out of the loch, and found it consistently satisfied my riff requirements and seldom repelled me with overly ugly singing…

I think I got a bit overexcited about the Julien Baker album simply because she was coming forth with more energy, but she remains an attractively sullen writer, to me at least, because that’s been my usual attitude du jour lately…

I am fucking hooked on Roisin Murphy. Anything you wanna serve up, even if it’s “just” a remix.

OK, kids, keep in mind that this coming Friday (May 7) is the (reputedly) last Bandcamp Friday. Many of the links below go straight to these records’ Bandcamp page. Put your money where you ears are, ’cause we know you’re streaming your ass off.

(Items which are new to the list are bolded; also, the order–always a touch whimsically arrived at–has shifted significantly from March. Items followed by an # are either reissues, fresh compilations of older material, or archival finds).

  1. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street*#
  2. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony*#
  3. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon*
  4. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket !#
  5. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman*
  6. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son !
  7. Ashnikko: Demidevil !
  8. Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley !
  9. Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction)
  10. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja*
  11. Penelope Scott: Public Void !
  12. Paris: Safe Space Invader
  13. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy*#
  14. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales
  15. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame*#
  16. Dawn Richard: Second Line !
  17. Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork#
  18. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs
  19. Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album*#
  20. Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland
  21. Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth
  22. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty
  23. Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You
  24. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW
  25. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
  26. Various Artists: Indaba Is
  27. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom
  28. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom
  29. Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears*
  30. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay !
  31. Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP)
  32. Madlib: Sound Ancestors
  33. Joe Strummer: Assembly#
  34. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
  35. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go*
  36. Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine !
  37. Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing*#
  38. Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine
  39. Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy*
  40. Alder Ego: III*
  41. Shem Tube, Justo Osala, Enos Okola: Guitar Music of Western Kenya
  42. Steve Earle: JT
  43. Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos
  44. The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (Hey–buy this album played live as cheap as you wanna!)
  45. Omar Sosa: East African Journey
  46. Alton Gün: Yol
  47. Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1 !#
  48. Hearth: Melt*
  49. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises*
  50. serpentwithfeet: DEACON

“I Know It’s Hard, But It’s Fair” (January 5, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

There was a time when you couldn’t just stream, steal, or buy any piece of music ever recorded–in fact, a few works are rather elusive even now. I remember at the advent of the CD so many items I’d only read about but never seen in a store appearing before my eyes: The Velvet Underground and Nico, Funhouse, Out to Lunch. But even then, much very legendary music was either trapped in legal limbo or poorly distributed. I miss such exciting moments now, but in the latter half of the 1980s, if I saw an outlet mall along the highway, I never passed it by, because (this is just one example) you could always find King label r&b and country reissues (actual releases, not compilations) in the cut-out bin for anywhere from $5 to $8. The voracious but not particularly scholarly or careful folks at Gusto Records had snapped up all of King’s stuff (apparently, STILL has the rights to it!), and just slopped it out with no annotation or attention to sonic enhancement. I didn’t care about that then at all: I just relished the opportunity to actually hear George Jones’ raw Starday hits, the classic Stanley Brothers’ albums, and–especially–the Five Royales’ and Midnighters’ tracks that some argued might be the real beginning of what we used to call rock and roll.

Yesterday, I loaded the CD player carousel with Rhino’s ace compilations (now, like those Gusto cheapos, also out of print) of those latter two bands, Monkey Hips and Rice and Sexy Ways (respectively). They still sound HOT! The Five Royales, in particular, sound more amazing every year, thanks to Lowman Pauling’s nasty six-string knife-throwing and astonishingly varied and adult songwriting. The classics? “Right Around the Corner,” “Slummer the Slum,” “Tell the Truth,” “Think,” the original “Dedicated to the One I Love,” “When I Get Like This” are just a few. As a Missourian, sometimes I think subversive thoughts when I listen to this stuff and think about Pauling in comparison to the much better-known and officially lauded Chuck Berry. The gospel-fired group and solo vocals of the Royales (mostly courtesy of Johnny and Eugene Tanner) are nothing to sneeze at, either.

Hank Ballard’s Midnighters, in most ways, aren’t really in the same league (they even had to change their name from the Royals to avoid a confusion that probably would have benefited them). But Ballard’s unbridled, lusty hollering across the great “Annie” (and “Henry”!) series still sounds exciting and dangerous. And, though you might expect that the sequels would be sound-alikes, “Annie’s Aunt Fannie,” “Annie’s Aunt Fannie,” and “Henry’s Got Flat Feet” are distinct compositions that stand on their own, especially due to Ballard’s inventive lyrical twists and fiery contributions by Cal Green on guitar and the great Arnett Cobb on tenor. The expertly selected tracks include Ballard’s original version of “The Twist,” his JB-beloved ballad “Teardrops on Your Letter,” and the late dance masterpiece “Finger-Poppin’ Time.” Not that Hank forgot his meat and taters, as “Open Up the Back Door,” “Look at Little Sister,” and another sequel, “Let’s Go Again (Where We Went Last Night).”

I am happy that, via streaming, any listener can likely experience anything by these groups seconds after they learn about their existence (if they ever do, in the rushing tide of new). But I miss the thrill (and duration) (and surprises) of the hunt. It’s hard, but it’s fair–I hope as much to the artists’ estates as the listeners’ learning, but I have my doubts.

Short-shrift division:

I was in an experimental jazz groove otherwise.

Jason Moran’s fizzy and appropriately loose-limbed Fats Waller tribute, All Rise.

The budding East Coast free-jazz-with-resistance-poetry of Irreversible Entanglements‘ eponymous debut.

Good to My Earhole, January 30-February 4: Life’s Too Short



A message from #ProfessorLonghair–watch those fingers when they hit the keys!

Now–on to the featured selections:

Rahsaan Roland Kirk/THE INFLATED TEAR – 8.8 – The album title refers to his tragic childhood sight-loss. The tunes might be today’s soundtrack–the man could always speak clearly and directly, without words.

Jason Moran/BLACK STARS – 10 – Perfect ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬ entry: best jazz album issued this millennium on a major label (did I stutter?), what with Byardesque young turk Moran spreading modes of joy via sprightly keyboard runs and then-78-year-old-now-passed-on Sam Rivers running hot and lyrical by his side on tenor, soprano, and flute (and even piano). Sam, you are missed on this turf. Jason…you’re due.

Odean Pope/ODEAN’S LIST – 9 – Many years have passed since I last heard Philly’s answer to Chicago’s Von Freeman (in the “eccentric soul” tenor sax sweepstakes). Careless on my part. 71 at the time, he surrounded himself on this session with some relatively young studs (Stafford, Watts, Blanding–and a guy named ‪#‎JamesCarter‬ on three rowdy tracks) and knocked out robust takes on nine originals and a standard. Each record like this makes me feel more guilty about my laziness in keeping up with the old guard–jazz is a different elder’s game, and records like this are great motivation for waking up tomorrow with a mission.

Benny Spellman/FORTUNE TELLER – 8.3 – Bought it knowing who’d be on the sessions, and guessing more joy awaited beyond “Fortune Teller” and “Lipstick Traces.” For the benighted, Spellman’s the deep voice who intones the title line of Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-In-Law.” There’s some filler, but there’s also “Life is Too Short” (Oaktown, can you hear him?), “The Word Game” (doesn’t QUITE beat “The Name Game”), and “10-4 Calling All Cars” (a weird song to sing from the heart of ‪#‎NOLA‬).

Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys/LET’S PLAY, BOYS – 9 – Junior Barnard and Tommy Duncan missing, dumb title, haven’t we heard enough ’40s swing transcriptions? NO. The band’s sprightlier than on the Tiffanys (I had difficulty typing that), and with three Wills brothers in tow and a Shamblin/Moore/Remington attack on electrified strings, it’s just marginally different enough for the Western swing fan to HAVE TO order it from the Oklahoma Historical Society. Plus, the eternally underrated “LX” Breshears on swinging trumpet.


DUD ALERT (5.0 at best): Robbie Fulks & The Mekons’ JURA and The I Don’t Cares’ (Paul Westerberg w/Juliana Hatfield in very intermittent geisha mode) WILD (make that MILD) STAB (exactly what it is).