Friday, May 30, 2008


Listen to
Listen to WOLVES (SONG OF THE SHEPHERD'S DOG) by Iron & Wine.

Jason dropping in.

Content is increasingly exponential as distribution channels become more prolific. Sometimes its hard to know which is driving the other, or whether they're the mutual product of the entertainment (r)evolution. Its impossible to stay on top of it (I used to think I could). Now, you need a filter.

Let's take TV (in the UK). My ultimate filter is The Guardian (or, as I call it, "Holy Paper"). On Saturdays, they publish "The Guide" which provides all terrestrial and main cable listings. With just 3 recommendations for each of those two conduits per day, they give me enough to programme my Sky+ recorder for the week. Its turned me on to mainstream quality like Lost, Heroes and 24; lesser-mass brilliance like Deadwood, The Wire and Dexter; and the Daddy that rules them all - Battlestar Galactica (4th series not withstanding).

But when it comes to the breadth of quality movie choices, my hard-disk always runs out. So I tried to put another filter on it - IMDB, rated 7.0 or above. But even that is subject to favouritism or manipulation -given that the people that vote are the people that bother (or the "people" that are organised).

And so I turned to another filter.


Metacritic combines reviews from "respected critics" and turns them into an overall grade - a score out out of 100. "Respected" is the (perhaps selectively controversial) key. Not the popular vote, but the discerning views of people who I would want to..... not necessarily agree with.... but absorb.... if i could.

I've only just begun to bring Metacritic into my life... to save time and alert me to things I might have missed. In terms of new music, Q magazine remains my Modus Operandi, but I'm letting this new beast in.

Metacritic's all-time Top 10 albums include Brian Wilson, Led Zeppelin, Outkast, Ali Farka Toure, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits - a good start (although it also contains Loretta Lynn). Scroll through that list and you'll see that the highest-ranking album of 2008 (# 34 all-time) is "For Emma, Forever Ago" by Bon Iver.

Two weeks ago I went to see Bon Iver support Iron & Wine with my music-operating-model-nemesis-friend Tim Smith. I don't remember the last time I saw so many pay attention to a support act. Justin Vernon (aka "Bon Iver") is in the Jose Gonzlaez / Ray LaMontagne mould and his debut is up there.

"Blindsided" is the highlight of the album for me (although I also recommend "Lump Sum", "Skinny Love", and "re:stacks"). Check it out.

Strangely enough, I was more excited a few months ago by Iron & Wine's "The Shepherd's Dog" album. You might know them as part of the excellent "Garden State" soundtrack ("Such Great Heights"). And I wasn't sure which track to choose for this post ("White Tooth Man", "Carousel", "House By The Sea" and "Peace Beneath The City" are fantastic). In the end, "Wolves...." was my choice. Although, in writing this, I've changed it 4 times so far (and counting).

As for Iron & Wine live, it was such a shame. They went for lots of musicians, a lo-fi-AM-radio-stylised sound and a seemingly-Grateful-Dead-like-jam approach to the music. As my learned friend Tim said (and this guy knows his music): "that sound.....the audience is restless......all those musicians....its like when you mix lots of great colours together and get.....brown...."

I couldn't have said it better.

But I'm still putting the Iron & Wine album ahead of Bon Iver's.......even if Metacritic doesn't (a difference of 2 points).

Photo: Taken by Jason Bryant (where was that?).


Thursday, May 29, 2008


Listen to DARK BLUE WATER by No To Co.

No To Co ('So What') was a folk/blues/rock outfit that stylized themselves as highland mountain folk rockers. That seemed to do the trick, as they became extremely popular in Poland, and made several international tours, including one to the United States.

I didn't know that when I bought their third, eponymous 1970 album, which turned out to be in English, save for one French number. All I knew was the cover: 7 dudes in mountain costumes arrayed in the classic rock group pose ("Ok, you two cross your arms... you two, hands on your hips... you, hands down... you one hand on the hip, but turn to the side... and you, pick up a piece of grass or something and fiddle with it... AND NOBODY SMILE!") à la Gilded Palace of Sin. As it turned out, this one could be judged by the cover. Folk costumes = folk tunes, rock pose = rock sounds. Sure, there are some awkward moments, but overall, the sound is cohesive. There's even a 7-minute cover of the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'", which almost riffs off into oblivion, but pulls back from the edge just in time.

So enjoy "Dark Blue Water" from No To Co, a group once (liberally) described as "the most original sound in the Central Europe". Uh, and about those first 8 seconds or so... just think of them as a wink!

That's it for me! Tomorrow Jason will be here, and then Bill is back.

Until next time!

Photo: Forest edge.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Listen to WRITE A LETTER by Grupa ABC.

Even though the borders were closed in the 1960's, ears were open. And somehow, Stax snuck in and blew them off. One of the bands started around the Memphis sound was Grupa ABC (whose original, and better I think, name was Grupa O!), who plodded around with a sax, organ and bass, but no real hook. Then came Halina Frąckowiak, whose dusky voice took them to the top.

Today's "Write A Letter" is the translated version of "Napisz, Prosze", which was a 1969 summer smash, and was followed by a string of other hits, all of which ended up on one album. And one album only. Inexplicably, they broke up in 1971, with the singer and drummer trying their luck in East Germany. By 1972, the curve had peaked, and they once again called it quits.

Classic Warsaw Soul!

Photo: Into the forest.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Listen to SAN FRANCISCO by Marek i Wacek.
Listen to MASSACHUSETTS by Marek i Wacek.

Speaking of the piano, if it ain't Chopin, it'd better be good on its own. And what's good is two tracks that, for their own reason, sound great together. (The whiz-kid in me wanted to combine today's tracks into one, but the 30-something in me couldn't figure out how to do it!).

And what's better is if the two tracks are played by two dualing pianists: Marek Tomaszewski and Wacław Kisielewski. Acive and very popular from the mid-60's to the early 80's (until Wacek's untimely death in a car crash) their greatest hits disc is still a staple in many tiny fiats, and is chock-a-block full of traditional pop and classical melodies sped up and double tracked in real time. Although at points it can sound like a 3-ring circus, it can occasionally do justice to an overworked pop standard. So, with a wink to Amigo Corbett, let's start out with John Phillips' 1967 songwriting hit "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)", and then follow with a nod to Amiga Amy with a Bee Gees hit, "Massachusetts", also from 1967.

Photo: forest.


Monday, May 26, 2008


Listen to ETUDE OP 25 NUMBER 4 by Leszek Możdżer.

Hello and Happy Memorial Day! John here. Bill has graciously turned over the keys to the blog to me for the next few days, and I hope not to let either him or you down. With that in mind, I'd like to peek into a corner of my music collection that I rarely have an opportunity to share, and present some tunes from Poland. I've spent quite a bit of time on that block and, always a sucker for cover art or crazy names, I've kissed a lot of toads, but found a few princes.

As for today... In a land with no shortage of national heroes, Frédéric Chopin casts a long shadow. He has been idolized, nationalized, and standardized. Airports, vodka, trains, and other things have all latched onto the brand. Perhaps because of this heavy identification with, or rather claiming of, a romantic composer whose piano works are admired around the world, the piano is Important To The Nation. Hence, it's de rigeur for pianists who do not recite Chopin normally to make the Chopin handshake album.

Jazz composer and star Leszek Możdżer did just that with his "Chopin Impressions" album, which opens with today's track. The original Etude 25 lends itself well to cover versions: contemplative minor key, good harmony...a dual hand octave barn burner. But Możdżer tempts fate by weaving a few bars of Charlie Parker into the mix. A nice new blend of old and older, or so I think.

Photo: hay stack.


Friday, May 23, 2008


Listen to THE RIDDLER by Mel Tormé.
Listen to WONDER WOMAN by C. Fox, N. Gimbel.

Jason dropping in.

What a strange coincidence. In my last post, I referred to Scopitone - the jukebox that projects 16mm film and is forever associated with French film and the swinging 60s....

....and for this post, I wanted to share two tracks from a compilation made by the owners of the "Sounds of Seduction" nightclub that has been running in Sydney, Australia, for more than 10 years. I used to love that club when I lived there. I just couldn't remember the name of the venue that housed it. Google not only found me the name - the Landsdowne Hotel -but also told me that they now run Scopitone nights as well.


Sounds of Seduction was (is?) basically one big wig out to an Austin Powers vibe. And the two tracks I chose from this compilation are worth calling out for their interest as much as their groove.

With "The Riddler", you need to put aside the lame gags from The Riddler himself - Frank Gorshin. Focus instead on the music of Tormé - the jazz legend known as "The Velvet Fog". Surely the lyrics were the only thing stopping this from becoming a classic!

If it surprises you that Tormé had a hand in this (I have no idea about the backstory on this one), then check out the next song as we move from Batman to Wonder Woman. The theme song from the TV show with Lynda Carter. Oh Lynda....we'll always have '76....

Charles Fox composed the theme tune to that 70s television show. But its the lyricist, Norman Gimbel that provides the interest. Wikipedia describes it best:

"In 1963, Gimbel was introduced by music publisher Lou Levy to a group of young Brazilian bossa nova composers, including Antônio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá and Baden Powell, for whose works he started writing English-language lyrics. Most notably, he created the lyrics for...."The Girl from Ipanema" (turning it into a top hit for Astrud Gilberto).
Fox and Gimbel had other collaborations: they did the theme tunes to "Laverne and Shirley" and "Happy Days". But its strange to think they could go from "Wonder Woman" to "Killing me Softly" by Roberta Flack (although not Roberta Flack originally)....

This clip will give a small taste of what Sounds of Seduction was like (and the Aussies will recognise the guy with the mic - with whom I had a very bizarre "incident" over an object of his affections - but that is not for print).

Photo: Music knowledge.


Thursday, May 22, 2008


Listen to YAKUBA by The Whitefield Brothers.

The New Funk scene (or whatever we're calling it) is a lot like today's NBA--some of the best players are from Europe. It's a surprise to find out that that group backing Nicole Willis on her masterpiece from 2005, "Keep Reachin' Up" are from Finland. I defy you to listen to a song from that record and get your head around that one. (And then go get the album.) The Soul Investigators have put out a ton of great funk instrumentals, as a matter of fact.

Likewise, Yakuba by The Whitefield Brothers, despite the African & African American trappings, is by some German guys (who generally record as The Poets of Rhythm). Again, this can get pretty complicated pretty fast, so just relax and play the song. Yakuba is one that Stu is always trying to get over on his radio show, so you may have heard it there before. If so, you're a lucky kid.

...Thus concludes the first edition of our "soul-funk funk-soul " series. Tomorrow Jason will be here, and next week we welcome a new amigo to the blog, John. If he doesn't get cold feet. Assuming all goes as expected, I'll be off next week but back in the saddle the week after. Be good!

Photo: Local churches (4). This photo had been scheduled to run long before this news came out yesterday, which is very nice indeed.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Listen to BROWN WIND AND FIRE by Brownout.

Coming out of Austin, Texas is Brown Wind and Fire by Brownout. Judging from the song title (Latino 70s soul?), and knowing that it's a side project of Grupo Fantasma (which is a well-regarded 11-piece Latin Orchestra), you'd never guess that the most prominent influence in this song is... Jamaican dub.

But listen to it. Or just listen to the first three seconds--that dub-echo effect tells you everything you need to know. That could be the first three seconds of any old Scientist track.

Of course, this is great for me, and another reason why I really dig these modern funk instrumentalists, because they take some of my favorite music: dub, rare groove, hip hop, the Meters, JB, soul, funk, and dumps it all in a crackling analog melting pot. Plus, it's hard for this stuff to get too insider-y and esoteric when the grooves are this infectious.

Photo: Local churches (3).


Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Listen to RIDE OR DIE by The Budos Band.

While the El Michels Affair may do a little recording with the Wu Tang Clan, the Budos Band is actually from The Slums of Shaolin.™

The Budos Band call themselves "afro-soul" but are still part of this little scene we're talking about. Actually, they're just a couple of degrees of separation from being a big deal--Amy Winehouse was a huge sensation last year, so much so that some people are aware that she recorded with a Brooklyn group, the Dap-Kings, whose best work has been with Sharon Jones, who is label mates (Daptone Records) with the Budos Band.

So why "afro-soul"? As is apparent on today's selection, they have an obvious thing for the Ethiopiques series. But it fits this general new funk, neosoul aesthetic, with (again) plenty of breakbeats, horns, an analog aesthetic, and an obvious pride in being strong players.

Photo: Local churches (2).


Monday, May 19, 2008


Listen to HUNG UP ON MY BABY by El Michels Affair.

I've been wondering how to transition away from newish music, hip hop, and old soul music that we've been doing the last couple of weeks. Then it hit me--why not share with people new music that sounds like old soul music that's heavily influenced by hip hop? Genius!

Let's start with the specific in hopes we can work back to the general. Today's selection is Hung Up On My Baby by El Michels Affair. Hung Up is a cover of an old Isaac Hayes number, but most people (including, I'd assume, the guys who recorded this version) know it as the song sampled by the Geto Boys in My Mind Playin' Tricks On Me. One way you can tell the band is working off the hip hop version is that this version is leaner, more stripped down, more open breakbeats than the original, as if they're covering a loop more than a song.

So who are these guys? El Michels Affair is Leon Michels and friends. Michels runs a label called Truth & Soul Records, which is a kind of successor to Soul Fire Records. Both of these labels are big names in a scene that doesn't really have a name. It's the retro soul-funk scene, the nuevo funk scene, the neo-soul, the neo-funk... I've seen every variety of label. Basically it's a bunch of young (but not always young) guys (and gals) recreating (though that's not always an acceptable term) an older, rawer funk-soul sound. Simple!

Actually not, but let's not get bogged down. We'll try to talk about it more as we go, but for now, have a listen to this excellent track. And go back to some of these other posts for further reference. My only request is that as you listen to it, don't think of it as aping the "good" music from the early 70s, take it as adapting some good music, with some other good music, and making their own thing.

Photo: Local churches (1).


Friday, May 16, 2008


Listen to
FOUX DU FAFA by Flight of the Conchords.
Listen to THINK ABOUT IT by Flight of the Conchords.

Jason dropping in.

When did comedy get so fun-kay? Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand's fourth-most popular parody folk duo, hit the big-time when HBO came a-knocking. What was once a small touring act became a hit TV show, based around their existing songs.

Yes, they did a 2006 radio series with the BBC (I have it - its rubbish) and, yes, they had a 2002 live album ("Folk the World Tour" - also rubbish). But the HBO "One Night Stand" is superb; as is their HBO self-named TV series; as is, now, the "proper" album (which peaked at Number 3 on the US Billboard charts).

"Foux du Fafa" is in a class of its own but you really have to see the video from the TV series to appreciate just how brilliantly they have pimped Serge Gainsbourg via Eric Rohmer* and French Scopitone. Those that can understand French will appreciate the lyrics.

As for "Think About It", this song would stand on its own with "normal" lyrics because it is super cool. Listen out for my favourite FOTC moment at 1:02 (it had my sister and I in hysterics because we used to do that as kids all the time).

I can't finish the post without including 2 other pieces of potty perfection. One from the HBO live show...

...and another from the TV series (watch out for Jermaine's "dance moves" - he's the one with the glasses).

Binary solo!

* Cheers to Bill for introducing me to Eric Rohmer those years ago in New York. What Cinema was that? I know one of the flicks was "Pauline a la Plage." (It was January 15, 2002, at the Film Forum. -ed.)

Photo: Cryptography (with our compliments).


Thursday, May 15, 2008


Listen to SUMMER MADNESS by Kool & The Gang.
Listen to SUMMERTIME by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.

Everybody knows this one. Seriously, I've always loved Summertime (and especially the video). Funny, because DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were basically a spent force by 1991 (it had been three years since their comedy kidz classic, "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper"), and I don't think anyone I knew owned up to liking them in 1991, not with gangsta rap coming to the fore.

Still, Summertime was a masterful single, and it represents all that was good about hip hop's classic period. Two things: first, it rides a big, obvious sample (though the original song is still worth hearing in its own context), in a way that was rapidly becoming prohibitively expensive for most hip hop artists. It stops getting fun spotting samples from the mid-90s on when you're looking for a two-second loop from an out-of-print Hungarian beat combo, know what I mean?

Second, Will Smith was one of the last emcees who didn't front about being a not-very-good rapper. So many of those great hip hop singles from the mid-to-late 80s, early 90s had some atrocious rhymes on them, and nobody cared. It made them endearing, in fact. These days, you still have terrible rappers on hit records, but they've all got to pretend they're something special. Not Will Smith, though. He had no problem dropping clumsy stuff like "And this is the Fresh Prince's new definition of Summer Madness." Oof. (That line in particular has a proud pedigree: a sixth grade-style concluding sentence "And that's why George Washington was our first President" used to be a respected way of wrapping up hip hop verses (like, every Eazy-E song ever), before people got too embarrassed).

...After I wrote the above, but before it was published, Salon posted an article complaining that "Hip-hop is no longer cooler than me" by some guy from Iowa. I don't really have much to say on it, I think it's a pretty dumb piece, but it's interesting he's got almost a completely opposite take on hip hop history than me. (To be fair, he's talking about more recent developments and I don't have much of an opinion about contemporary hip hop either way anymore, except to say that some old guy going on about how the kids music these days is stupider than it used to be = wasting everybody's time.)

Photo: Mural detail (4).


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Listen to ELECTRIC FROG (PART 1) by Kool & The Gang.
Listen to MR. MUHAMMAD by A Tribe Called Quest.

Lest we get a little too obvious on the blog, here's a couple of more obscure tracks. Mr. Muhammad was only the B-side to Bonita Applebaum, so it's possible you might not even know it.

But for the five of you that have been reading the blog since the beginning should recognize at least part of the song, since a prominent sample is taken from this track here. The other main sample is from a Kool & The Gang song that...for some reason...I've always loved and have been wanting to get on the blog somehow (For real, I've been stockpiling "frog" songs just to include this one. Sad, I know). What's there to love about Electric Frog? Not much, just the odd electronic frog sounds they generate somehow or another. Plus, it's called Electric Frog! Weak tea, maybe, but that's your Wednesday. See you tomorrow.

Photo: Mural detail (3).


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Listen to GIVE IT UP by Kool & The Gang.
Listen to DON'T SWEAT THE TECHNIQUE by Eric B. & Rakim.

Give It Up is another Kool & The Gang track that got sampled to death during hip hop's golden age. Most DJ's just sampled the drums (like, say, Scenario by A Tribe Called Quest), but few sample the horn lines that stand out most on the original recording.

Why is that? I don't know, but Eric B. & Rakim owned it with Don't Sweat The Technique (don't miss that video, by the way). Seriously, how many phrases from hip hop songs enter the general lexicon? I don't know, but you can get about 24,000 google hits for this phrase that don't even mention Eric B or Rakim. This is not my favorite record or favorite album of theirs--it's a little...sophisticated in a lot of ways, but that can be a very good thing when it hits you right.

Photo: Mural detail (2).


Monday, May 12, 2008


Listen to JUNGLE BOOGIE by Kool & The Gang.

Voted the #1 All Time Greatest Hip Hop Song by The Source magazine in 1998, You Gots To Chill uses Zapp's More Bounce To The Ounce probably better than any other hip hop track out there (and there are hundreds that have sampled it), but we're highlighting Kool & The Gang's contribution to the jam, mainly because I want to do a week of Kool & The Gang samples.

Most people know Jungle Boogie from "Pulp Fiction," but for a narrow demographic (boys who were 13-16 years old in 1988), they already knew it from Yo! MTV Raps and EPMD's video for You Gots To Chill. Anyway. Two great tunes--one that has finally recovered from Tarantino over-exposure, and one of hip hop's best duo's best offerings (even if Erick Sermon didn't even come in at the right point!).

Photo: Mural detail (1).


Friday, May 9, 2008


Listen to DISCONNECT THE DOTS by of Montreal.
Listen to THIS THING ABOUT YOU by Miracle Fortress.

Jason dropping in.

I tend to check this blog in bulk. The RSS feeds bank up and then I pour myself a wine and read what my blog brothers have to say about the tunes I'm then listening to.

Something caught me on Bill's post at the end of April.

Bill quoted another blog:

"'Nilsson Sings Newman' is 30 years old, and, with the exception of the Incense-and-Peppermints-style harpsichord during the fadeout of Cowboy, it sounds like it could have been recorded last week."

Nilsson was a feature of my childhood. 1973's Nilsson Schmilsson was in my Dad's record collection (yes, that's the one with Diva de rigeur "Without You").

It could have been recorded last week, huh? I started wondering what bands today could be the equivalent of the musical geniuses of the 60s and 70s. And, if you say the words "musical genius", then the words "Brian Wilson" won't be far behind.

I posit that these 2 songs are the sort of things Mr Wilson could have made if he had emerged today.

I often forget where I get tracks from by the time I get around to listening to them on the pod. In fact, whilst writing this I suddenly gripped that the "of Montreal" track might have come from this very blog. Close, no dice.

I definitely remember where I got the tip about the Miracle Fortress track - because I left a comment about it on Swedish Friend Adam's blog. All he had written was: "Miracle Fortress from Montreal is my Monday morning soundtrack for this week".

Maybe its the Montreal connection that made my head subconsciously put these 2 together. Both songs have dreadful openings - its lucky I give tracks a minute on the pod before skipping through. "Disconnect" connects on 25 seconds while "This Thing" sounds like bad indie until 35 seconds. But then,


Airy, melodic, etheral background vocals and/or harmonies, jaunty, summery, catchy, know.....Brian Wilson!


Photo: LONDON, 2008. Photo taken by Jason Bryant.


Thursday, May 8, 2008


Listen to BEFORE THE NIGHT IS OVER by Joe Simon.
Listen to SO FRESH, SO CLEAN by OutKast.

And even better! Before The Night Is Over is unquestionably one of the best songs to sing in the shower ever recorded. If you can do that baritone, give it a try sometime.

And I happily admit that "Stankonia" is the album that led me to OutKast (it was the album cover wot did it), and So Fresh, So Clean is the one that got me hooked. And I've been hooked ever since. Also, on the basis of this song, I was of the initial opinion that Big Boi was the superstar legend rapper of the group, because his verse is soooo good and funny here (although nothing he says is as funny/outrageous as Dre's attic proposal).

Photo: Bystanders (4).

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Listen to EXPRESO DE MEDIA NOCHE by Giorgio Moroder.
Listen to RETURN OF THE "G" by OutKast.

And the tunes get better! Well, I don't know about that really, but it's generally agreed that Dre's turn in Return Of The "G" is one of his best. And Moroder's Theme From Midnight Express is a tune that I enjoy listening to independently of the fun of "hearing" the sample it represents. It wears surprisingly well for an instrumental.

Apologies for not editing down the OutKast track to cut out the chit chat at the end. Like I said, it's a lazy week!

Photo: Bystanders (3).


Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Listen to DANGER SHE'S A STRANGER by The Five Stairsteps.
Listen to TWO DOPE BOYZ (IN A CADILLAC) by OutKast.

Greetings Earthlings! Today's pairing is a good example of OutKast making a good sample better. Danger She's A Stranger is nice, it's just let down by the tempo being kinda schludgy. Two Dope Boyz, on the other hand, is thrilling. This is the first track off "ATLiens", the album that OutKast abandoned most pretenses to gangsta rap and started getting weird ("weird").

Big Boi takes care of the tempo issues by causally speed-rapping the first verse, and Dre finishes the song with one of my favorite verses of his anywhere. More importantly, and this is the first time I've told anyone this, but Two Dope Boyz is a song that was stuck in my head for at least two full years, straight. A real earworm, one that I couldn't shake for anything. I'd lie in bed at night and replay the same two bars (I won't tell you which ones, so you don't catch it yourself!) over and over, semi-consciously. Even now that I've kicked it, I get a little trepidatious listening to the song. Have a good Tuesday!

Photo: Bystanders (2). (I took about 200 photos of the Five Boro Bike Tour Sunday, most of them blurry and bad. But I really like this one.)


Monday, May 5, 2008


Listen to JOE BELL by Isaac Hayes.
Listen to CRUMBLIN' ERB by OutKast

This week we're going to do it a little different since I don't have the mindspace to dig deep for tunes this time around. So this week I bring you some of my favorite OutKast tracks, along with the songs they sample.

I realize this is more like party tricks than blogging, but it's easy, and besides, I think it might be popular! First out of the gate is Joe Bell by Isaac Hayes. This instrumental was part of the "Three Tough Guys" soundtrack, which was one of Hayes's last Stax releases (Stax went belly up not too long afterwards, in no small part because of the company's obligations to Hayes himself).

As soundtrack music, it's not really that interesting, but it makes a fantastic sample. Crumblin' Erb is one of the most characteristic of OutKast's style on the first album that Big Boi and Dre...not grew out of...but grew away from. On its own terms, it's totally harmless fun.

Photo: Bystanders (1).


Saturday, May 3, 2008


Listen to ALL YOUR LIFE by Blur.

(Off-topic, by request.)

Photo: Grey units (5).


Friday, May 2, 2008


Listen to A LETTER TO ELISE by The Cure.

Jason dropping in.

Three events conspired to create this post.

1. A photo from my past emerged on Facebook. Probably 1992 during a time that John Lennon would describe as a sort of personal "lost weekend". That year had me listening to a lot of bands like the Cure and that year saw them release my favourite song of theirs: this one.

2. Bill posted a Fred Neil piece with a link to his best known song (Harry Nilsson's Everybody's Talking) which was one of my favourite road tunes of my European travels that same year (and since). Fred Neil was also a big part of John Lennon's own lost weekend.

3. Bill sent me an email 15 minutes ago (at time of writing) saying: Blog much?

I don't know if this is a popular choice amongst the dark army of Cure fans. And its not like Robert Smith waivers from his usual themes of love, loss and introspection. But I like it.

Image: From xkcd (with thanks) - "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language"


Thursday, May 1, 2008


Listen to LITTLE BIT OF RAIN by Fred Neil.

One of those little ironies about Fred Neil is that he's best known for a song sung by someone else, when his own baritone was his most striking and enduring quality as a musician.

Little Bit Of Rain is from Neil's second album, "Bleecker & MacDougal." And like the other songs this week, it relies heavily on a great vocal performance. Little Bit Of Rain is a slight little song, and doesn't ask Neil to turn in any big gymnastics--just the opposite, really. It's the kind of performance that Neil could sit around a campfire and give twenty times in a night...but that no one else could give no matter how many attempts they had. That's how much his voice owns the song.

Photo: Grey units (4).