The Very Best Music and Music-Related Stuff I Enjoyed in 2014

I know D’Angelo’s new record is coming out Tuesday, but–I’ve waited for him long enough already.

easycov

(Above: The sleeper of the bunch….)

Top 10 Rekkids

  1. Wussy: Attica! (Shake It!)
  2. Allen Lowe: Mulatto Radio–Field Recordings 1-4 (allenlowe.com)
  3. D’Angelo and The Vanguard: Black Messiah (RCA)
  4. Chris Butler: Easy Life (Future Fossil)
  5. Run The Jewels: 2 (Mass Appeal)
  6. Ty Segall: Manipulator (Drag City)
  7. Noura Mint Seymali: Tzenna (Glitterbeat)
  8. Homeboy Sandman: Hallways (Stones Throw)
  9. Ross Johnson and Monsieur Jeffrey Evans: Vanity Sessions (Spacecase)
  10. Jemeel Moondoc: The Zookeeper’s House (Relative Pitch)

Top 10 Songs

  1. Wussy: “Teenage Wasteland”
  2. Wussy: “To the Lightning”
  3. Natural Child: “Don’t the Time Pass Quickly (When You’re Making Love)”
  4. Bo Dollis Jr. and the Wild Magnolias: “We Come to Rumble”
  5. Angaleena Presley: “Pain Pills”
  6. Young Thug and Bloody Jay: “No F—s”
  7. Chris Butler: “Easy Life”
  8. D’Angelo and The Vanguard: “The Door”
  9. Ross Johnson and Monsieur Jeffrey Evans: “Three-Beer Queer”
  10. Withered Hand: “Horseshoe”

Top 10 Reissues/New Issues of Older Music

Ra

  1. Sun Ra: Marshall Allen Presents Sun Ra & His Arkestra (Strut)
  2. Various Artists: Haiti Direct! (Strut)
  3. John Coltrane: Offering—Live at Temple University (Resonance)
  4. Jerry Lee Lewis: The Knox Phillips Sessions (Saguaro Road)
  5. Bob Dylan & The Band: The Complete Basement Tapes (Columbia/Sony)
  6. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground—45th Anniversary Edition (Universal/Polydor)
  7. Sid Selvidge: The Cold of the Morning (Omnivore)
  8. Various Artists: Dylan’s Gospel—Brothers & Sisters (Light in the Attic)
  9. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys: Riding Your Way–The Lost Transcriptions for Tiffany Music 1946-7 (Real Gone Music)
  10. TIE: Charlie Burton: Rock and Roll Behavior (Sound Asleep)/Horace Tapscott: The Giant Awakens (Flying Dutchman)

Top 10 Old Records I Bought for the First Time

  1. Rats: Intermittent Signals (Whizz Eagle)
  2. Jessie Mae Hemphill: Feelin’ Good (Shout Factory)
  3. Lazy Lester: I’m a Lover Not a Fighter (Ace/Excello)
  4. Khaira Arby: Timbuktu Tarab (Clermont)
  5. Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band (Capitol)
  6. New Jazz Poets (Folkways)
  7. Allen Lowe: Blues & The Empirical Truth (Music & Arts Programs)
  8. Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform)
  9. Quintron and Miss Pussycat/Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys: “Haterz”/”Chatterbox” (Rhinestone Records 45)
  10. Melvin Peebles: X-Rated by an All-White Jury (A&M)

Top 5 New Books with Pop Music Connections

  1. Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings (Penguin)
  2. Todd Snider: I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like—Mostly True Tall Tales (Da Capo)
  3. Carl Wilson: Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste (Bloomsbury Academic)
  4. Greil Marcus: The History of Rock and Roll in Ten Songs (Yale University Press)
  5. John Waters: : John Waters Hitchhikes Across America (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) 

Top 5 New (or newly available) (or not available—so DO something!) Music Documentaries

Werner Herzog testifies to the genius of Les Blank

  1. Always for Pleasure: The Films of Les Blank (Criterion)
  2. AKA Doc Pomus (dir. William Hechter and Peter Miller) (Clear Lake Historical Productions)
  3. Rahsaan Roland Kirk—The Case of the Three-Sided Dream (dir. Adam Kahan) (http://www.rahsaanfilm.com/)
  4. Bayou Maharajah (dir. Lily Kleber) (http://www.bayoumaharajah.com/) CLEARANCE ISSUES!
  5. This Ain’t No Mouse Music! The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records (dir. Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon)

Top 5 Favorite Concerts of 2014

  1. Billy Joe Shaver
  2. Natural Child/Pujols/Planchette/Heavy Lids
  3. Chucho Valdez/Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side (w/Joe Lovano)
  4. Barrence Whitfield and the Savages
  5. Pine Leaf Boys

Listening Journal, Southern Journey, March 23, 2014

Struck out from Como and drove south on 55 to deep accompaniment of Alan Lomax’s late-Fifties/early-Sixties field recordings from the same area (McDowell, the Hemphills, Parchman Farm worksongs, a couple of Tyro church chants). SOUTHERN JOURNEY: 61 HIGHWAY, it’s called. You need to listen to it some day, though it should be called 51 HIGHWAY. As we drove down the pine-lined four-lane, the music threw us back into a crueler time–a wild goat perched under a bridge over the highway reinforced that feeling.

Then we visited that place where, as Sam Phillips once said, “the soul of man never dies”: the world of Chester Arthur Burnett, The Howlin’ Wolf, aided and abetted by Hubert Sumlin on wild guitar, Otis Spann on rolling 88s, and Willie Dixon, on bass and pen & paper. I sang along silently and mimed playing the solos the whole way. Top 10 record: the rockin’ chair cover/MOANIN’ AT MIDNIGHT twofer. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Wolf overload a mic or Sumlin cut the air with a note.

After we crossed over into Louisiana, it was time for ZYDECO STOMP DOWN (various live tracks, including Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas’ truth-telling “Everything on the Hog”) and ALLIGATOR STOMP, highlighted by Rockin’ Sidney’s paean to his daughter (not his lover) “My Toot-Toot,” Cleveland Crochet’s “Sugar Bee,” and a Cajun cover of Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land.” This was designed to get us primed for the wind-up of Thibodaux, Louisiana’s Swamp Stomp, which we thoroughly enjoyed over beer, jambalaya, fried pickles, and a shrimp po-boy. Saw Cameron DuPuy’s band, which was OK, but the Pine Leaf Boys, mixing some Jerry Lee and George Jones into their Cajun stylings, took the prize. A tall black man in a cowboy hat and shirt with cut-off sleeves danced his Cajun/r&b fusion style with at least 10 different women, including an energetic 70+-year-old white woman. I thought to myself, “Would she have been out there with him in ’64?” Maybe so, but it IS a new world.

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Zoomed on to New Orleans, listening to ‘OZ along the way (we pledged $10 a month), inched up Rampart Street, which was flooded with deliriously happy people leaving the high school brass band competition at Armstrong Park, parked on Treme (just around the corner from St. Augustine church, from SHAKE THE DEVIL OFF!), and walked against a chilly breeze up to Congo Square to watch The Hot Eight Brass Band, who were smokin’, and augmented by a Mardi Gras Indian.

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Both of us are a little ailing: Nicole’s got a sore throat, my back’s whacked. We are applying a dose of Sidney Bechet as we fade out in the hotel room….