Friday, June 23, 2017

The Things I Do For You this guy walks into a bar on Decatur Street, picks up a copy of Offbeat, reads a review of fabulous new collection of early Clifton Chenier jawns entitled "Clifton Chenier's Rockin' Acordion..." and puts it on his (requested) Father's Day wish list.

It arrives. Sound GREAT! Sounds VERY familiar. Guy pulls out this sorta wonky "box" titled n"Louisiana Stomp" which comprises a CD of Clifton Chenier and one of Clarence Garlow. And - the repertoire overlaps about 95%. In fact the liner notes in the new collection thanks the gent who wrote the liner notes in the earlier one. OY!

Finally - BOTH collections are great. It's the great bulk of everything Clifton recorded in the 50's which includes all the material he recorded for L.A.'s Specialty label which yielded his first national hits (so the Specialty release overlaps 100% with these). So great, raw, rockin' stuff! And if you have not explored zydeco, one of the nicely exotic yet oh so familiar strains of indigenous exotic (at least to mine Polish descended sensibilities), and you wanna start from square one - this is basically it.

Ergo the point is - DON'T BUY BOTH! But either one is essential!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Random Excess Mambo

This is all pretty random - really no time to do any of this justice but felt moved to put in my 1 cent...

I recently purchased Set 2 of Wire's "Legal Bootleg" series. Most people seem to favor particular periods in Wire's history: their first fiery, sculpted blasts of artpunk fury of their "Pink Flag" debut, the catchier and more experimental albums that followed "Chairs Missing" and ""154." Then came hiatus number one that lasted about 10 years, whereupon they re-emerged embracing dancey beats, extensive use of synthesizers and a closer approximation of contemporary quasi-pop (ala Cure, Human League, Simple Minds, Psychedelic Furs, etc.). And then hiatus number two that last another 10 years and suddenly they started releasing stunning artpunk EP's in the "Read And Burn" series, then the wonderfully rabble-rousing, brain teasing "Send" album. Followed by a bunch more albums that each have a good share of worthwile material.

What I like about this series is getting a peak at how the band executed the repertoire from "Ideal Copy" through "The First Letter." And while a good amount of that material suffered under trendy or arbitrary studio strategies the solid songcraft and economical, pointed playing is what is primarily in evidence on their live performances from this period.

The material from their second and third album always comes across nicely - but no big surprises. Their most recent material fares pretty well too in a live setting.

Two albums that shine most brightly in Set 2 would be: 09 August 2009, Off Festival, Myslowice; 19 July 1979, Notre Dame Hall, London. The former would appear to be their first performance either in Poland, or at least at this particular festival (based on some of their comments from the stage) and clearly they were aiming to make a good first impression - pulling together a career-spanning set that'd be any Wire fans wet dream. And played as sharp and enthusiastically as is possible. The other show basically functions as the great lost Wire album - the 4th album from their original incarnation that only got peripheral documentation via a few Rough Trade singles and the dodgey live recordings that appeared on "Document and Eyewitness." And indeed the Notre Dame Hall show was the source of some of the material on that post-break up release. But here's the whole set with the band in top form! Pretty essential for Wire fans.

Another notable live set that just arrived is the Fripp & Eno "Live In Paris" 3CD set. I've been an Eno fan from day one and listened to the first two Fripp and Eno sets obsessively for years (and still bust 'em out every couple months). This performance drew from their first two albums, Eno's "Discreet Music" and enough additional material to comprise another full studio album. The previously unreleased compositions tend to be heavier and rawer and present a rather nice shock to longtime fans of the first two records. Also Eno also interpolated pre-recorded voices into some of these performances, presaging his work with David Byrne on "My Life In The Bush of Ghosts." The last disc here are a variety of loops without live improvisation, both loops that were used and test loops. The last two traks are a loop run in reverse and "Later On" which was an edit from some of their studio recordings released as the B side of Eno's "Seven Deadly Finns" single.

LASTLY - we've got "One More Shots" from the Rolling Stones. This was the new track added to their last hits compilation and...ya know, musically it's pretty fuggin great if you like post "Get Yer Ya Ya's" out Stones. But as with all their output from "Voodoo Lounge" onwards Jagger's lyrics sound both forced and tossed off - my fantasy is always of Jagger sitting at the kitchen table, sulking over a cup of tea until the Missus says "Kids, help grandpa write some words to this song and he'll take you to the mall for a Pinkberry."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Put Some Neckbones On My Plate

I know I've been remiss in posting. Life's gotten in the way. In a good way! But all this time I have been picking up books and recordings, reading and listening, sometimes with big gaps between bouts of same and then, sorta splurging (I still remember being BROKE AS SHIZ, living in D.C. at one point so a splurge for me means - spending $24 in one sitting on Amazon purchases -- or culling the collection and dragging it up to Princeton Record Exchange or down to Positively Records and combing their bins for surprises. So I'm not going to try and make up for lost time here but address what's sitting right in front of me.

I do regularly ignore things that generate media buzz and wait for the buzz to die off before possibly indulging. In 2011 there was considerable ballyhooing of Preston Lauterbach's "The Chitlin' Circuit And the Road to Rock 'n' Roll" book...and it's been on my radar ever since -- particularly because of the reference to Little Richard's days as a female impersonator. So this Summer I finally took the plunge and, was entirely engrossed.

I do have a love of "secret histories" and this one actually investigates multiple cultural phenomena and narrative arcs that even a music freak like me (tho admittedly a generalist and not a blues or R&B specialist) hadn't the foggiest notion of: the contemporary Black blues circuit of rodeo arenas and civic centers where day-long, multi-artist bills performing, um, "saucy" numbers by the truck load sustaining artists like Marvin Sease, Bobby Rush etc.; quasi-mythic figures like "Jody," purportedly a figure out of Yoruban folk-lore of enormous sexual appetite, a love for forbidden practices (specifically oral pleasure given to women) and a complete lack of discrimination when it comes to partners (and suddenly songs like Jean Knight's "Don't Talk About Jody" or anamalous references to Jody in the midst of James Brown songs, make sense). And of course there's the basic narrative arc of the book - how the onslaught of the Depression devastated the big swing bands' business model and forced performers and promoters to favor smaller bands touring smaller towns, playing to predominantly Black audiences as opposed to what the likes of Duke Ellington experienced in his glory days - extended residencies at a venue like the Cotton Club in Harlem playing to a wealthy, white elite.

To a degree the book's title is a misnomer -- or can be readily misinterpreted. Most honkies (my hand's up) do view rock 'n' roll being the music of Elvis, Beatles and the Rolling Stones and their myriad descendents. Whereas rock 'n' roll began as an especially salacious sub-genre of R&B (a term coined by Jerry Wexler when he was at Billboard), the term referring to alternating movements occurring during a righteous bout of coitus. And this book pretty much ends up with the launching of James Brown's career and the creative and commercial ascendance of Hi Records - both of these being very logical end products of local/regional music scenes banked by money coming from somewhat questionable sources, being quasi-laundered and simultaneously producing considerable profit for the investors -- these scenes/systems having arisen in the 1930's.

As a fan of the New Orleans music scene and having some passing knowledge of clubs like the Dew Drop Inn and the performers New Orleans supplied to the Chitlin' Circuit, it's a great gift to see the context that functioned with in, and to realize that it was in many ways typical of the scenes in other Southern towns like Macon, Indianapolis, etc.

Part of this story, of course is the entrepeneurs who owned the clubs, booked and promoted artists and ran the record labels who were a notably incestuous lot with many folks wearing many hats and deriving profit from each and every one they wore, at the artists' expense. And yet, these folks did set up, invest in and maintain the whole system (with lots of hidden expenses like bribes to the [typically white] civil authorities to allow these amusements to exist). And many of the artists achieved a degree of wealth -- at least when they were actively performing -- far surpassing anything most of them would have achieved otherwise. And things like records -- were viewed mainly as a calling card that allowed the artist to play bigger venues, demand bigger advances and so on.

Don Robey was the music kingpin of Houston, TX and his connections ran through much of the Southwest being especially influential from Texas up to Memphis and down to New Orleans. And he started his own label, Peacock, then "acquired" the nascent Duke label for whom a lot of artists discussed in "The Chitlin' Circuit..." recorded. Last year's "I Pity The Fool: The Duke Records Story" compiles 60 tracks from that label's output and is a great accompaniment/illustration of said tome: early sides by Bobby "Blue" Bland, Little Junior Parker (note that "Take Me To The Water" starts with Al Green's spoken dedication to same), Otis Rush (!!) and Johnny Ace - who's accidental death (while drunkenly playing Russian roulette backstage between sets - with Russian roulette being a REGULAR part of his stage show), helped springboard his "Pledging My Love" to the top of both race charts AND Pop charts, the Black foot in the door to record buying white audiences for R&B.

I will admit that while the 60 tracks here (purchased for about $5 and postage from Amazon, new) makes for good casual listening that no one track really jumped out at me and made me want to look further into that particular artist. No duff cuts but, it's a style and a mood and if you're hungry for that -- which I often am -- this is a sound and inexpensive investment.

"Let The Good Times Roll: The Aladdin Story" (also about $5 = shipping) is a 50 track compilation of releases from this L.A. based label that functioned from the mid-40's through the 1950's. While I'm sure afficionados know thia all too well, it's been fascinating to me to note how many R&B labels were based in L.A. (also the immediate vicinity of Newark, NJ): Aladdin, Specialty, Imperial, Dial). Their big names were New Orleans' Shirley & Lee best know for the title track of this compilation and The vocal group, The Five Keys. And again, this is a great one to put on for casual listening when you're looking for a substantial fix of earthy R&B but not a lot of tracks will suddenly draw you in and grab your especial attention. Another solid investment.

BONUS review - I was just feeling blue, and recalled a review in New Orleans' Offbeat magazine of vintage Cajun/rockabilly hybridizations - "Boppin By The Bayou" and ordered it (I realize how shallow that is...sigh...but it IS cheaper than a therapist!) When it arrived I noted a lot of promising names "Al Ferrier, Nathan Abshire & The Pine Grove Boys, Jay Chevalier & The Long Shots etc., but after multiple listens I was disappointed. Not that this wasn't great, lively, gritty rockabilly but outside of one track (name escapes me right now), there was little or no noticeable Cajun influence. What there was, sounded cool as hell though and someday I'll go looking for more. So


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Livin For the Gritty City

If you've read past posts y'all know that I was/am a huge fan of the HBO series "Treme" which was truncated, basically cancelled after the second season but allowed - no doubt out of respect for and with an eye towards future working with creator David Simon. I haven't been so in love with or immersed in a TV show since, erm, "The Odd Couple." I think I loved it for the very reasons that the mass TV audience disliked or were indifferent to it.

* the show featured multiple, lengthy segments devoted to musical performance
* moved at a leisurely pace (ala classic European films) with apparently "nothing happenning"
* almost all the main characters were fairly morally/ethically/philosophically ambiguous. The worst characters inevitably showed redeeming qualities while the best of them sooner or later displayed feet of clay. And this shifted several times in the course of the series - so you witnessed just about everyone having their moments of nobility and of utter schuckery; very much like life.
* it needed to be actively investigated to make sense; it was full of insider references as to local politics, Louisiana's history, local music venues, restaurants, music, neighborhood subcultures, etc. To be fully enjoyed, it had to be approached interactively, intensively and persistently over time -- the polar opposite of "Jerseylicious"
* finally -- I think the central character was...the city itself which indeed you got to know as intimately as you can through a fictive TV series.

having given myself over to this pretty wholeheartedly, I will aver that I came out much enriched by it having been driven to study and collect its broad range of music (marvelling at the continuity between and coherence of what'd appear to be a myriad of styles over a period of more than a century -- being conservative), master some of its marvelous foodways and -- being buoyed by its embrace and support of vivid individuality, playful deviance and an acceptance of both life and death, lively entertainment and decay...and, finally joyful defiance in the face of adversity. (and if you think I'm making this shizz up listen to performers from Jelly Roll Morton (the vocal performances) to Big Freedia.

But this particular rant is occasioned by watching the stream of "The Whole Gritty City" - a documentary obstensibly about the brass band programs operating in high schools, middle schools and also via independent institutions. Beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring in turn. You wouldn't think that being part of the school band would be much competition for joining a street gang but in New Orleans it is exactly that for many youngsters. It winds up being a means of self-empowerment and learning life skills that are invaluable in a wide spectrum of situations Black youth face in surviving and hopefully thriving in this city. Amy contributed to the Kickstarter campaign for the documentary. I contribute to the Tipitina Foundations initiative to provide musical instrument to New Orleans youth.

How this ties in to "Treme" is -- actually two of the youngsters we meet in the documentary, a boy nicknamed "Bear" and a girl who goes by the name "Jazz" wound up as recurring characters in "Treme" starting in the second season - basically playing themselves; participants in after school brass band programs, enriched and excited by their experiences, the discipline, having a band leader who takes personal interest in all their students...and touched by tragedy. In "Treme" its Jazz whose best friend is murdered because she'd witnessed another child being gunned down, in real life it was Bear's brother who was shot and killed at age 19.

Previously I'd noted that Simon had also tapped Spike Lee's documentary, "When The Levees Broke"; several people who figured prominently in Lee's film wound up as characters on "Treme" most prominently Phyllis Montana LeBlanc who played Antoine Battiste's baby momma, Desiree.

It'd appear in both cases that Simon had access to these other films (all though "Gritty City" is just surfacing now, but has been in production since before "Treme" started airing) and drew directly from them for plot lines, characters, and indeed the actual people that appeared in the show. And... that's cool. Because as you view some of Simon's likely source materials and how they wound up being used...he did 'em full justice. There's no disconnects between factual material and their fictionalized incarnations in the show. Simon may have rearraanged what happened to who when and indeed created characters. But he got the overall saga straight, kept it as complicated and nuanced as it ought to be, and still turned it into coherent, to some folks, COMPELLING television.

So one of the effects of this is -- that the source materials - Lee's documentary and now "The Whole Gritty City" work beautifully as companion pieces - that expand on and illuminate matters touched on in "Treme." Or you could look at it in just the opposite way. But having watched one, the other will not seem alien at all; it'll feel entirely familiar though the documentaries are more poignant and intense because - what they depict is not "just a TV show." So don't take the step further and not expect to be moved and hopefully moved to action.

While some aspects of New Orleans have rebounded fantastically (i.e. hospitality industry -- I think that hotel rates are now HIGHER than they were BEFORE the "Federal Flood.") Meanwhile problems like poverty, education, unemployment still beleaguer folks down there.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beatles = Boy Band = Bull

I'm not a fan of commenting on media coverage as it's commenting on what's often commentary to begin with - but new the Time Magazine ("Infinity Machine" cover) has a music feature equating the Beatles with One Direction titled "The Boy Band Blueprint." Which is simply DUMB.

The Beatles were a rock 'n' roll band that formed, woodshedded and began writing original material without management involvement for many years. Management's input (besides cutting business deals) was largely cosmetic and some just focusing on things the Beatles had already started experimenting with - i.e. the "mop-top" haircuts their German pal Astrid talked them into trying. Even after they had management and a recording contract they STILL pursued their own agenda (i.e. championing American R&B and rock 'n' roll).

One Direction et al were/are individuals who are actively, purposefully scouted by management to be made into a "group" and then intensively trained in singing, dancing, doing media interviews, have their look created by a stylist. When they record they exclusively use material by outside composers.

I'm not arguing as to the comparative aesthetic or entertainment value between the Beatles and Backstreet Boys (whatever floats yr boat). But this article (mainly a big pie chart with a little fluffy commentary) shows NO CRITICAL THINKING WHATSOVER.

It'd appear that some editorial meeting some top dog said "we need more Beatles anniversary coverage" and jumped at the first lame idea offered-- actual quality of content not being as important as being able to stick "Beatles" into a headline and include an iconic graphic.

Meanwhile the "meat" of the piece was that marketing "blueprint" that the Beatles established was the range of personality stereotypes involved -- smart one, cute one...which is as flimsy an angle to hang an article as wet toilet paper -- you can make the same observation about ANY grouping of individuals, period. And even sticking with actual bands -- The Rolling Stones, The Who, etc. Pointing this out is mainly a function of the media looking to flesh out and personalize coverage.

So, my point? Just disappointment that such a poorly conceptualized piece should take up editorial space in a publication where music coverage is exceedingly slim in a world chock full of interesting stories.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

...then there's everything else

It'd be my observation that if you're an active music fan/consumer and you rely on the mass media for information on current goings on in contemporary music such as new releases you're likely being exposed to a a fairly narrow range of info. If you monitor national print publications devoted to music (an easy task as that's now just a handful) and the most prominent online outlets you'll note that the same acts are getting covered across the board. And that's for a number of reasons (including the impact of folks in my particular line of work) that include, occasionally, the overwhelming creativity, technique (or ability to transcend considerations of conventional skills), power to excite, inspire and connect with listeners; but quite often, it's down to expert and well funded marketing. And music, finally, is a pleasure -- and if what you're exposing yourself to is pleasant to you -- all well and good.

If it's not working for you...

A couple years ago, I started subscribing to Offbeat, which is a monthly music magazine published in New Orleans. It's printed on slick paper, full color. About the length of Entertainment Weekly. This was a part of my efforts ala Huysmans' "A Rebours," to recreate a bit of the ambience and spirit of that city in my current hometown of Morrisville, PA. (please see my FB page for pix of the Mardi Gras beads festooning the front porch railing and Carnival tree set up in a back room). Yes, it's a silly affectation - but no sillier that furnishing your house in expensive, neo-Colonial or mid-Century antiques 'cause in the end that's just stuff you sit or lay on or stash stuff in - and it's pleasures me. Whatever.

Back to Offbeat -- on reading it month after month, then year after year, what emerges as most striking is that it is devoted primarily to local artists - all the cover stories, most of the inside features and the grand bulk of the record reviews (and the reviews section rivals Rolling Stone's in the number of releases covered). More than enough to warrant there being a monthly magazine devoted to covering. Stop and ponder that for a second - a regularly published music magazine that doesn't cover much if any nationally popular music and still finds plenty to fill its pages. Practically NONE of these ever show up in national coverage and a fair amount are vital, entertaining, enlivening listening experiences, many of them bearing little or no relationship to anything you've likely been exposed to watching the Grammy's or other TV awards shows, reading national media, listening to the radio etc.

One is thus confronted with the possibility of having an active, ongoing relationship with a delightful and in fact stylistically diverse body of contemporary music that is largely uncurated, unfiltered and unfettered by the many aesthetic/economic constraints that fence in the arenas of "pop," and mainstream "alternative" music (nothing against Miss Lorde but how she's the "alternative" to anything other than Rihanna etc. is obscure to me).

Of course, while the New Orleans music scene is especially large and diverse and notable for been extraordinarily supportive of its own (outside of the skirmishes between bourgeoise homesteader and folks looking to preserve and expand on the city's LONG tradition for street music and widespread live music in clubs), the same sort of thing happens around the country -- almost entirely under the radar of media "tastemakers," and "trendsetters" (read "power brokers").

If you're a fan of current pop trends - bless ya! Whatever brings some innocent joy into your heart is a good thing, finally. But if you find yourself dissatisfied (maybe you're addicted to novelty and exotica like me perhaps) - there's a WEALTH of amazing music out there waiting for your discovery. To paraphrase Dr. Leary: "Power down, Unplug, Move On." Trust your ears and your heart.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Finding Shallow Joys in Consumerism

Last weekend had a long overdue round of record store visits. I hit Positively Records in Levittown, PA and Princeton Record Exchange.

At Positively Records picked up: used copy of "Doo Wop Box" Volume 1 - 4 CD set I doubt anyone needs me to give a history lesson on what this stuff is, it's place in the evolution of popular music internationally, etc. The things that caught my attention were -- that the Beach Boys covered a couple classic Doo Wop numbers - The Regents' "Barbara Ann" and The Students' "I'm So Young." Meanwhile, bits of The Crows' "Gee" pop up in the long versions of "Heroes and Villains." Dave Edmunds, of course, did a great, very faithful recreation of The Chantells "Maybe." Yeah, a good amount of being redone by rock and pop acts into the 1980's and being a large influence in various ways on a wide range of artists notably Lou Reed who wrote "I Found A Reason" in this style for the Velvets "Loaded" and later took The Excellents' "Coney Island Baby" for the title of one of his early solo albums. I must admit -- most of Doo Wop's impact on white rock and pop has faded since the 80's and hard to discern much in those styles nowadays.

used "Elvis Presley" $2.99 Elvis is what my older cousins listened to and ever since I've filed him in my head with other pre-Beatles pop performers like Sinatra, Perry Como, etc. I REALIZE that's wrong and periodically try to experience him as paradigm shifter that he did function as. And this -- his debut for RCA has some great rockers on it...and a buncha maudlin ballads that testify to his willingness, perhaps intent to become and be accepted as a legitimate pop singer. Yet, it's hard to deny the force and fire in "Blue Suede Shoes," "I Got A Woman" and "Tutti Frutti"...but, honestly, I think that Ray Charles and Little Richards originals totally kick ass on Presley's renditions.

Steve Wonder "Talking Book" and "Innervisions" both used for $2.99 each "Music From My Mind" and these two form a stunning trilogy of a world class artist taking control of his career, his art and exceeding the already lofty heights he'd achieved under the closer direction of the mighty Motown brain trust. There is some fluff on these but even that's charming. The high points like "I Believe" "You Are the Sunshine Of My Life," "Living For The City" -- are catchy, ambitious and sophisticated in ways that severely challenged the conventions of soul-based Black pop and contributed to an explosion of creative innovation in the field that has yet to be equalled.

Big Joe Turner "The Definitive Blues Collection" NEW $2.99 Man, the packaging and marketing of this SUCKS. Generic, misleading packaging, no detailed session notes...but man this music rocks! Turner was a powerhouse vocalist, connecting with great material, backed by inspired musicians (wish it was spelled out who that had been!) And while it IS bluesy, it's clearly Rhythm & Blues with a strong undercurrent of beat and motive force of that R&B sub-genre that'd eventually be labelled "Rock N Roll." Indeed, Turner cut the original version of "Shake Rattle & Roll" that Western Swing bandleader Bill Haley would appropriate and have one of the early national rock 'n' roll hits with.

Ruth Brown "The Definitive Soul Collection" NEW $2.99 Basically, ditto to all my comments re the Turner collection - bad packaging; a ton of smokin' early R&B.

Fergie "The Duchess" used $2.99 Haven't listened much yet. But I likes to peep current pop after the brouhaha around it has died down.

Princeton Record Exchange:

Velvet Underground "White Light/White Heat" 45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (2 CD) version - new, full price Not too much to add to what other folks have said about this. This is music I've cherished since I picked up my first copy in 1975 in some record shop on "K" Street in DC (one of the clerks was a dude named Olsen who went on to found the Olsens' Records chain)(and my copy came with the black on black embossed artwork - good score for the $3-4 I spent on a new copy). I think I still have 3 vinyl copies, all with different artwork and one autographed by John Cale one night I and some friends opened for him. It's a total mind blow. Really took the most forward looking elements the Velvets expressed on their debut album ten steps further. Among its many achievements, demonstrating the high art that repetitive rhythm guitar could aspire to. Songs like "Heard Her Call My Name" and "Sister Ray" might initially seem like monolithic onslaughts of noise but close listening reveals intricate rhythmic motifs being laid out, one after another. Frankly, you could write a full album or two just out of the unique rhythm guitar figures on display in "Sister Ray" alone.

As per the bonus tracks on disc one -- I think this is the third time most of these have been trotted out. Perhaps mixed and mastered better, perhaps not.

Disc two - "Live At the Gymnasium" - I haven't collected the bootlegs so I'm glad to have this stuff, tho most of the repertoire that didn't make it on to their studio output...shows that there was some savvy A&R at work. I'd imagine that this is only important to fans that didn't already buy the bootlegs.

Incidentally, Kudos to UMG for releasing the live material as part of the Deluxe package rather than making it exclusive to the SUPER DELUXE package (as with the 45th Anniversary of "The Velvet Underground And Nico."

the new M.I.A. - for Amy - new, full price I mainly hear M.I.A. when Amy plays it in whilst we're driving around. Of all the current crop of dance pop performers out there she's the only one I really dig and who appears to be an artist rather than merely a performer. Cheeky, experimental AND infectious. Killah!

William Onyeabor "Who is William Onyeabor?" - new, full price I'll admit I bought this because of the fullsome media hype - NY Times, Time Magazine, etc. And I DO have a long standing penchant for non-American/Brit musical stylings (used to pick up the cheap Nonesuch Explorer titles at Sam Goody's back in the day). And this cat's good, and certainly unique, but... I'm not utterly sold. What IS cool is that Onyeabor hybridized African musical vocabulary with electro pop's. That's actually a good fit since both styles made use of lengthy repetition of simple, very beat-conscious melodic figures. What's not as cool ultimately comes off as a bit one-dimensional, kinda simplistic. The arrangements woulda benefited by a couple added layers of rhythm patterns and a whole lot more swing. Still, I do dig the audaciousness of the cross-pollination being undertaken.

Eddie Floyd "Greatest Hits" $1.99 Most of these songs written and produced by Steve Cropper and/or Booker T Jones. Nuff said. On first listen "I've Never Found A Girl" perplexed me -- the opening sounds like a lift from the Young Rascals' "Groovin'" (I'll need to study release dates and see who lifted from who), but, hey, some folks imitate, artists steal (right, Keef?); but the chorus...damn I KNOW THIS SONG! But from where? Rascals? Dells? Spinners? And finally I realize that Alex Chilton (a Memphis lad after all) did this in the set documented on the live "Electricity By Candlelight" set. Man, had excellent taste!

Bobby Womack "The Poet" used $4.99 Haven't listened yet - but this thing and "The Poet II" used to BLOW OUT THE DOOR of Melody Records on Dupont Circle in DC back in the early 80's. Now I'll find out why.