Friday, February 27, 2009

brother, don't leave your homework undone

Curtis Mayfield - Roots (lala) I knew the hits but I never really understood how badass Curtis Mayfield is until I started digging into the albums.
James Brown - There it Is (lala) The WNYC SoundCheck blog is calling for greed songs for their ongoing deadly sins series, and nothing spells that out better than "I'm a Greedy Man"
possessing one of his finest grooves, sounding like the conveyor belt that keeps the rotting mess of the world churned up to that life continue to flourish. The magic of James Brown lies in its implausibility; if it didn't already exist, and you tried to sell someone on the idea - OK, the song is just one riff over and over for like 8 minutes and the singer is going to scream and bark orders to a band that keeps doing the same thing and occasionally says something semi-sensible - who would think that was a reasonable way to do things, much less a highly successful one?
Also, if you've never heard his cautionary tale "King Heroin," get on it, be you Italian, Jewish, Black or Mex.

The Bar-Kays - Gotta Groove and Black Rock (lala) Gotta Groove is the spot-on soulsonic boom one would expect from a well-oiled one-time Stax Records session machine - OK, maybe not the "It's a Small World"-esque trip through "Hey Jude," but otherwise, generally tight. Their follow-up record Black Rock, on the other hand, is a glorious mess. "Baby I Love you" is stretched until its ragged threads are exposed. Instead of the tight weave Aretha Franklin made of the song, it is a roughshod net trolling the waters of 1971, letting big horns and jazz flute and acid guitar all commingle and flop around like a bunch of surprised fish when the bounty is hauled to the surface. Then, when the net finally tears, the fisherman is left howling in the empty echo of infinitude. Massive stuff for a song with such an innocuous title.

As the record proceeds, it's more MC5 than MG's, doctoring the otherwise pure sentiments of "Dance to the Music" needlessly with protest and "bad acid" kitsch, but then psychedelia is never about the path of least resistance. That doesn't explain WTF happened with "Montego Bay" at the end. Is this what happens when you drink a daiquiri that has been left out for too long?
J. Blackfoot - City Slickers (lala) lala kept insisting on this so here it is. A signiciantly lower-dose of lysergic soul, it opens with the Twilight Zone vamp

Do not adjust the sounds of your stereo
There is nothing wrong with your set
For the next 34 minutes, I will control what you hear and feel
You're about to be taken on a musical safari
To the most ferocious jungle known to man
The jungle where the hunter's often captured by the game
This is a city, and you are there

This is the kind of stuff that sounds brilliant at a place like Teddy's but feels ridiculous listening to it in headphones at my desk.

1 comment:

  1. This is the kind of stuff that sounds brilliant at a place like Teddy's but feels ridiculous listening to it in headphones at my desk.