Sunday, December 27, 2009

100 Right-On Reissues Of 2009

Top 50 Reissues You May Have Missed
Along with the release of some impressive anthologies documenting the important work of Louis Armstrong, Neil Young, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and the Beatles and re-releases of classic albums from Nirvana, Charles Mingus, Jesus Lizard and Kraftwerk, a wealth of amazing material unearthed this year was overlooked by mainstream media. Here are 50 crucial excavations worth checking...

1. Big Star - Keep An Eye On The Sky (Rhino)
2. 13th Floor Elevators - Sign Of The 3-Eyed Men (International Artists)
3. Nathan Davis - The Best Of Nathan Davis '65-76 (Jazzman)
4. Jim Ford - The Unissued Capitol Album / Big Mouth USA: The Unissued Paramount Album (Bear Family)
5. Joe Harriott Quintet - BBC Jazz For Moderns (Gearbox)
6. The Ex - 30 (Ex Records)
7. Kath Bloom & Loren Connors - Sing The Children Over / Sand In My Shoe (Chapter Music)
8. Lyman Woodward - Saturday Night Special (Wax Poetics)
9. Pax Nicholas and the Nettey Family - Na Teef Know de Road of Teef (Daptone)
10. Sabu Martinez & Sahib Shihab - Winds & Skins: The Swedish Radio Recordings 1978 (Mellotronen)
11. Roy Brooks and The Artistic Truth - Ethnic Expressions: Live At Small's Paradise (P-Vine)
12. Delroy Wilson - Dub Plate Style (Pressure Sounds)
13. Vampires Of Dartmoore - Dracula's Music Cabinet (Finders Keepers)
14. Tommy McCook & The Supersonics - Pleasure Dub (Pressure Sounds)
15. Gianni Basso Quartet - Jazz al Centro Pirelli (Cinedelic)
16. Joyce - Visions Of Dawn (Far Out)
17. George Jackson - In Memphis 1972-77: The Sounds Of Memphis and XL Recordings (Ace)
18. Witch - Introduction (Shadoks)
19. Skatalites - Occupation Ska! The Very Best Of The Skatalites (Nascente)
20. Emitt Rhodes - The Emitt Rhodes Recordings 1969-1973 (Hip-O Select)
21. Lloyd Miller - A Lifetime In Oriental Jazz (Jazzman)
22. George Jones - Good Year for the Roses: The Complete Musicor Recordings, 1965-1971 (Bear Family)
23. Danser's Inferno - Creation One (Think!)
24. Junior Kimbrough - First Recordings (Big Legal Mess)
25. The Relatives - The Relatives (Heavy Light)
26. SJOB Movement -- Move In The Right Direction (Academy)
27. The Tubby Hayes Band - BBC Jazz For Moderns (Gearbox)
28. Victor Olaiya's All Stars - Soul International (Vampi Soul)
29. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou - Echos Hypnotiques (Analog Africa)
30. Little Ann - Deep Shadows (Timmion)
31. Blo - Chapters & Phases: The Complete Albums 1973 to 1975 (Rev-ola)
32. Bernard Szajner - Some Deaths Take Forever (LTM Recordings)
33. Ray Camacho & The Teardrops - The Best Of Ray Camacho & The Teardrops (Freestyle)
34. Tim Buckley - Live at the Folklore Center March 6, 1967 (Tompkins Square)
35. Philip Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble - Spanish Suite (Zulu/Katalyst)
36. Solidarity Unit Inc. - Red, Black & Green (Eremite)
37. Jacques Dutronc - Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi (1966-1968)
38. Ngozi Family - 45,000 Volts (No Smoke)
39. Fitz Gore - Fitz Gore and the Talismen (GorBra/Plastic Strip)
40. The Masters Apprentices - The Masters Apprentices (Aztec Music)
41. Death - For The Whole World To See (Touch & Go)
42. Mebussas - Blood Brothers (Academy)
43. Prince Lasha Ensemble - Insight (Columbia/Dusty Groove)
44. Units - History Of The Units (Community Label)
45. Brigth Engleberts - Brigth Engleberts & The B.E. Movement (Hot Casa)
46. The Rationals - Think Rational! (Ace)
47. Psycheground Group - Psychedelic and Underground Music (Lupus/Cinedelic)
48. Famous L. Renfroe - Children (Big Legal Mess)
49. Sven Libaek - Solar Flares (Votary)
50. Sandro Brugnolini - Overground (Cinedelic)

Top 50 Various Artist Archival Compilations
1. Light: On The South Side – Photographs Of Chicago Southside Nightlife 1975 to 1977 (Numero Group)
2. Freedom Rhythm & Sound (Soul Jazz)
3. Fire In My Bones: Raw & Rare & Other-Worldly African-American Gospel 1944-2007 (Tompkins Square)
4. Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-1981(Soundway)
5. Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974 (Now Again)
6. Psych Funk 101 (World Psychedelic Funk Classics)
7. Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 (Rhino)
8. Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 2, 1966-67 (Ace)
9. Singapore A-Go-Go (Sublime Frequencies)
10. Black Rio 2: Original Samba Soul 1971-1980 (Strut)
11. Thai Funk ZudRangMa Vol. 1 & 2  Compiled by Maft Sai (ZRM)
12. Local Customs: Downriver Revival (Numero Group)
13. Legends of Benin (Analog Africa)
14. Si Para Usted – The Funky Beats Of Revolutionary Cuba Vol. 2 (Waxing Deep)
15. Can You Dig It? The Music and Politics of Black Action Films 1968-1975 (Soul Jazz)
16. Celestial Mass (Finders Keepers)
17. Ethiopiques Volume 24 – The Golden Age of Modern Ethiopian Music 1969-1975 (Buda Musique)
18. Designer Records Presents Together (Big Legal Mess)
19. Back To Peru Vol II: The Most Complete Collection Of Peruvian Underground 1964 to 1974 (Vampi Soul)
20. Cazumbi – African Sixties Garage Rock, Surf & Psych Howlers Vol. 2 (No Smoke)
21. Birmingham Sound: Soul of Neal Hemphill Vol. 2 (Rabbit Factory)
22. Raks Raks Raks: 27 Golden Garage Psych Nuggets From the Iranian 60s Scene (Raks)
23. World Is Shaking – Cubanismo From The Congo 1954 to 1955 (Honest Jons)
24. Mortika: Records From A Greek Underworld (Mississippi)
25. Memphis 60: Soul, R&B and Proto-Funk from Soul City USA (BGP/Ace)
26. Joe Gibbs Scorchers From The Early Years 1967-73 (VP Records)
27. The BYG Deal (Finders Keepers)
28. Working Man's Soul 2: Rare Funk, Rock, Soul & Jazz From The UK Cabaret Scene (Licorice Soul)
29. Anatolia Rocks – A Musical Trip Through Turkey 1968 to 1983 (Worldwild)
30. The Flamingo Connection: Great British Modern Jazz From The Ember Label (Fantastic Voyage)
31. Niney The Observer  Roots With Quality (VP Records)
32. Super Sounds Unlimited: Amphonic Music 1971 to 1981 (Amphonic/Vocalion)
33. Dr. Boogie Presents Heavy Jelly: Essential Instrumentals (Sub Rosa)
34. Siamese Soul: Thai Pop Spectacular Vol. 2, 1960s-1980s, Vol. 2 (Sublime Frequencies)
35. Musique Dessinee 03 – Essence (Disques Dessinee)
36. Histoire De Melody Vannier mixed by Andy Votel (Finders Keepers)
37. Tropical Funk Experience (Nascente)
38. Jah Shaka Presents: The Positive Message (Greensleeves)
39. Revolucion! Original Cuban Funk Grooves (Freestyle)
40. The Sound Of Wonder! The First Wave of Plugged-In Pop at the Pakistani Picture House (Finders Keepers)
41. Strange Breaks & Mr Thing II – More Rock, Funk, Soul, Jazz & Soundtrack Breaks For Modern Living (BBE)
42. Bridge Into The New Age: Funky Afro-Centric Spiritual Sounds From Jazz's Forgotten Decade (BGP)
43. Winston Riley Quintessential Techniques (VP Records)
44. Dillanthology Vol. 1: Dilla's Productions for Various Artists (Rapster)
45. Space Oddities Vol. 2 (Permanent Vacation)
46. Tumbélé! Biguine, Afro & Latin Sounds From The French Caribbean 1963-74 (Soundway)
47. Polish Funk 4 – The Unique Selection Of Rare Grooves From Poland Of The 1960s to 1980s (Polskie Nagrania)
48. Black Dynamite Soundtrack (Wax Poetics)
49. Roots of Hip Hop: From Church To Gangsta (Harte)
50. Daptone Gold (Daptone)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fave Fifty Of 2009

Putting together a list of my top recordings wasn't something I was planning to do. But when a number of people asked whether they could expect any best-ofs from me, I started thinking about all the amazing stuff that came out this year.
So here are the first 50 that came to mind, reissues to follow...

1. Alela Diane - To Be Still (Rough Trade)
2. Blakroc - Blakroc (Blakroc Project)
3. Dengue Fever - Sleepwalking Through The Mekong (M80)
4. Eleni Mandell - Artificial Fire (Zedtone)
5. Wooden Shjips - Dos (Holy Mountain)
6. Tandy Love & Mad Smooth - Anagram Jam (Finders Keepers)
7. Jenny Wilson - Hardships! (Gold Medal)
8. Oumou Sangare - Seya (World Circuit)
9. Masada Quintet featuring Joe Lovano - Stolas - Book Of Angels Vol. 12 (Tzadik)
10. Indigo Jam Unit - Collectivity (Basis)
11. El Michels Affair - Enter The 37th Chamber (Fat Beats)
12. Henry Threadgill Zooid - This Brings Us To, Vol. 1 (Pi)
13. DOOM - Born Like This (Lex)
14. Giallos Flame - Euro Slash EP (2600)
15. Mos Def - The Ecstatic (Downtown)
16. People Under The Stairs - Carried Away (Om)
17. Nostalgia 77 - Sessions featuring Keith & Julie Tippett (Tru Thoughts)
18. Yeti #8 mix (
19. KRS-One and Buckshot - Survival Skills (Duck Down)
20. Budos Band - The Budos Band EP (Daptone)
21. sun O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions (Southern Lord)
22. James Blackshaw - The Glass Bead Game (Young God)
23. The Flatlanders - Hills and Valleys (New West)
24. Handsome Family - Honey Moon (Carrot Top)
25. Diana Panton Trio + 1 - Pink (
26. Dexateens - Singlewide (Skybucket)
27. The Strange Boys - And Girls Club (In The Red)
28. Fever Ray - Fever Ray (Rabid)
29. Dam Funk - Toeachizown (Stones Throw)
30. Timo Lassy - Round Two (Ricky Tick)
31. Buika with Chucho Valdes - El Ultimo Trago (Warner)
32. John Doe & The Sadies - Country Club (Yep Roc)
33. Lisa O Piu - When This Was The Future (Subliminal Sounds)
34. Lee Fields - My World (Truth & Soul)
35. The Bats - Don't You Rise EP (Slumberland)
36. Lickin' Good Fried - Say Uncle! (Rooster Sandwich)
37. Cate Le Bon - Me Oh My (Irony Bored)
38. Dave Alvin - Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women (Yep Roc)
39. Nat Birchall - Akhenaten (Gondwana)
40. Muskox - Five Pieces (Standard Form)
41. Isla Craig - Isla Craig & The Continental Drift (
42. Buddy & Julie Miller - Written In Chalk (New West)
43. Audie Darling - Full Of Ghosts (One Shoe Rooster)
44. Ty Segall - Lemons (Goner)
45. Catherine MacLellan - Water In The Ground (True North)
46. Ian Blurton - Happy Endings (Sir Ian Blurton)
47. Brown Bird - The Devil Dancing (Peapod)
48. Sharon Van Etten - Because I Was In Love (Language Of Stone)
49. Gareth Dickson - Collected Recordings (Drifting Falling)
50. Wizard Smoke - Live Rock In Hell (Wizard Smoke)

Friday, December 18, 2009

KRS-One Still Battling Sucka MCs

Due to the biting music biz commentary presented in KRS-One and Buckshot's track Robot [from their Survival Skills (Duck Down) album] you'll probably never see the video clip win any industry awards and don't count on it even being broadcast on television. If you haven't come across it, have a look...

Robot by KRS-One and Buckshot

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Indie Rock Stars Support Chris Knox

photo by Jonathan Ganley
If you've been following the music coming out of New Zealand for the last few decades, you're probably aware of Chris Knox's important contribution to the development of Kiwi indie scene. The founder of the Enemy – Dunedin's first punk band – Knox went on to lead the highly-influential Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs who inspired groups like the Chills, Verlaines, The Bats and countless others who in turn began recording singles for the fledgling Flying Nun label using Knox's TEAC 4-track tape machine.
So when the 57-year-old singer/songwriter and cartoonist suffered a serious stroke at his Auckland home back in June, leaving him unable to speak, there was no shortage of artists eager to cut covers of Knox's songs for a tribute collection spearheaded by his friend and Nothing bandmate Roy Martyn.
Without any coaxing, Lou Barlow, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Jay Reatard, Yo La Tengo, Portastatic, Stephin Merritt, Lambchop and Bill Callahan each signed on along with David & Hamish Kilgour, Shayne Carter, Alec Bathgate, the Chills, Verlaines, the Bats and many others, enough for a two-disc set that's out now in New Zealand.
However, finding a label with decent North American distribution willing to sort out the licensing red-tape and release Stroke: Songs For Chris Knox and then put the proceeds from the sales towards Knox's rehabilitation wasn't quite so easy. Eventually Merge stepped up and will re-release the double-disc package here in February. But for those who can't wait, the music is now available (as MP3s or FLAC files) but if you pre-order the 2CD set, they'll send you a free digital download via email. Sweet.

Here's the full track listing:

Disc 1:
1. Jay Reatard – Pull Down The Shades
2. The Checks – Rebel
3. The Bleeding Allstars – Ain’t It Nice
4. Peter Gutteridge – Don’t Catch Fire
5. The Chills – Luck Or Loveliness
6. David Kilgour – Nothing’s Going To Happen
7. The Crying Wolfs – All My Hollowness To You
8. Stephin Merritt – Beauty
9. Portastatic – Nostalgia’s No Excuse
10. The Mint Chicks – Crush
11. Jay & Sam Clarkson – I’ve Left Memories Behind
12. Sky Green Leopards – Burning Blue
13. Shayne Carter – The Slide
14. Pumice – Grand Mal
15. Hamish Kilgour – Knoxed Out

Disc 2:
1. Boh Runga – Not Given Lightly
2. Red & Zeke (Feat. Bill Doss and Neil Cleary) – Bodies
3. Jeff Mangum – Sign The Dotted Line
4. Bill Callahan – Lapse
5. Genghis Smith – Growth Spurt
6. Yo La Tengo – Coloured
7. AC Newman – Dunno Much About Life But I Know How To Breathe
8. Alec Bathgate – Glide
9. Don McGlashan – Inside Story
10. Sean Donnelly – The Outer Skin
11. Lambchop – What Goes Up
12. The Mountain Goats – Brave
13. The Tokey Tones – Round These Walls
14. The Bats – Just Do It
15. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – My Only Friend
16. The Finn Family – It’s Love
17. Jordan Luck – Becoming Something Other
18. The Verlaines – Driftwood
19. Lou Barlow – Song Of The Tall Poppy
20. The Nothing – Napping In Lapland
21. Tall Dwarfs – Sunday Son

Chris Knox's site
Jonathan Ganley's Point That Thing photo blog

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wizard Smoke: Stonus Maximus

A late entry for metal album of the year consideration, Live Rock In Hell, the delightfully doomy self-released debut from Atlanta's Wizard Smoke will have fans of overdriven Marshalls thanking Satan. The five tracks denoted only by Roman numerals (out of sequence!) clock in at under 30 minutes but that's about all that Wizard Smoke needs to flatten the competition.
You can check it out here but be forewarned, the scorching sound of Wizard Smoke may inspire spontaneous Econoline mural painting.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ebo Taylor Returns

When the Ghanian guitar great Ebo Taylor recently took a trip from West Africa to Germany to record a new album for Analog Africa in Berlin backed by the members of The Poets Of Rhythm, Kabu Kabu and Afrobeat Academy, he had a brief stopover in Paris where he played his first-ever European concert at La Bellevilloise.

To mark the historic event, deep-digging DJ Loik of the Paris DJs Crew put together the stellar Afrofunk Atomic podcast mix with some super dope vintage Ebo Taylor album tracks and ultra-rare singles sides cut by his pals in Orchestra Poly Rythmo, El Rego Et Ses Commando, Black Santiagos and K. Frimpong. It serves as a brilliant introduction to the modern highlife innovator who initially rose to fame as the six-string slinger with The Stargazers and Broadway Dance Band before going on to a solo career while moonlighting at the Essiebons label as an A&R man and in-house arranger. Check Loik's awesome Afrofunk Atomic mix here.

Afrofunk Atomic 

01. Ebo Taylor - Atwer Abroba
(from 'Twer Nyame' album, 1977 / Philips) GHANA

02. Ebo Taylor Junior and Wuta Wazutu - Mondo Soul Funky 
(from 'Gotta Take It Cool' album, 1978 / Polydor) GHANA

03. Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou - E Wa Dagbee
(from 'E Wa Dagbee' 7 inch, early 70s / Albarika Store) BENIN

04. D'Almeida Blucky Et Les Black Santiago - Les Nanes
(from 'Entente Africaine' 7 inch, 19?? / L.A. Aux Ecoutes) BENIN

05. T.P. Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou Benin and Yehouessi Leopold - Aiha Ni Kpe We
(from 'Volume 4' album, 1978 / Albarika Store) BENIN

06. El Rego Et Ses Commando - Djobime
(from 'Djobime' 7 inch, 19?? / African Songs) BENIN

07. Joe King Kologbo - Another Man's Thing
(from 'Another Man's Thing' 7 inch, 1973 / Decca Afrodisia) NIGERIA

08. K.Frimpong and His Cubano Fiestas - Kyenkyen Adi M'awu
(from 'K.Frimpong and His Cubano Fiestas' album, 1976 / Ofo Bros) GHANA

While we're on the topic of Afrofunk podcasts,  there's a great new mix put together by the aforementioned Analog Africa label for The Wire. But why bother shelling for some overpriced UK magazine when you can download the excellent Analog Africa Selection, Volume 2 for free right here.

Paris DJs
DJ Loik
Analog Africa

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Satan And The Thetans

If you want to record an album and happen to be Charlotte Gainsbourg – the French actress daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin – all you have to do is make a wish and Jarvis Cocker, Nigel Goodrich, Neil Hannon and the dudes from Air will meet you in the studio quicker than you can say "Lemon Incest." Which just makes it all the more puzzling why the critically acclaimed star of Lars Von Trier's Antichrist would settle for working with Scientology poster boy Beck and his dad, string-arranging thetan David Campbell. Could she be completely unaware of Battlefield Earth?
In any case, listening to IRM (Because/Warner) [French for MRI which relates to the treatment Gainsbourg received for a brain hemorrhage following a 2007 water-skiing accident], the reason for Serge-fan Beck's involvement seems to be that since his study tech hasn't yet given him the power of raising the dead, the next best thing to recording with his idol would be collaborating with his daughter. You know, kinda like Elvis-nut Nicholas Cage marrying Lisa Marie Presley for four months. 
So our boy Beck writes the music, scripts the vocals, assembles the players while the game Gainsbourg immerses herself in the dual roles of surrogate Serge and Jane (some seductive whispering here, a little talk-singing there) while Campbell provides the appropriate string accompaniment a la Jean-Claude Vannier. It's not hard to imagine Beck putting on a copy of Melody Nelson before Gainsbourg went into the both to put down her vocals for Le Chat du Café des Artistes and saying "we're going for something like this..." To her credit, she nails it.

As a Charlotte Gainsbourg recording, the patchy IRM comes across more like a quirky Beck cut-n-paste vanity project with his goofy-surreal lyrical twists delivered by guest singer. As such, it doesn't really build on the promise of her impressive 5:55 breakthrough of 2006.
Nevertheless IRM still makes for an oddly fascinating Beck homage to Serge Gainsbourg's classic recordings of the late 60s and early 70s – not unlike what he's doing with his ongoing Record Club covers series – and Charlotte's presence will forever give him a big one-up on every other Serge tribute.
Rather than wait for the scheduled January, 2010 street date in the US, Warner Music Canada has wisely put out the IRM album this week to coincide with the French release date, stemming a certain influx of import copies in Quebec which probably accounts for 80% of her Canadian sales. 

Heaven Can Wait by Charlotte Gainsbourg with Beck

Charlotte Gainsbourg
Record Club

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Celebrating Eddie Hinton

While CD selecta Gord Cumming cued up Eddie Hinton's raucous Ting-A-Ling-Ling at Reposado last Tuesday night, it occurred to me that the this cozy Ossington tequila bar was probably the only joint in Toronto where the DJ would not only know that tune but be able to play the request on the spot. The other thing that hit me was that Gord, like everyone I've ever met who's equally enamoured with Hinton's rough-cut soul sound, has a different story about how they initially discovered the under-appreciated Muscle Shoals singer/songwriter who penned Cover Me for Percy Sledge and Breakfast In Bed for Dusty Springfield. Their personal testimonial almost always concludes with how they subsequently became Eddie evangelists for their own small circle of friends.
In the case of Darren Blase, the co-owner of Cincinnati's Shake It Records store and label happened across a 99-cent copy of Hinton's 1978 debut Very Extremely Dangerous (Capricorn) in a second-hand shop and grabbed it simply because the cover looked kinda cool. Once he got it home, he was delighted he did. Now, some 20 years later, Hinton's Very Extremely Dangerous is back in print, Zane Records' three volumes of his songwriting demos Dear Y'all, Playing Around and Beautiful Dream are all available on iTunes and Blase is in a position to spread the gospel according to Eddie with a series of limited seven-inch singles with some of his favourite artists covering Hinton's shoulda-been hits.    
Dangerous Highway - A Tribute To The Songs Of Eddie Hinton is planned to be a 10 single project with the first two volumes pressed in an edition of 2,000 copies apiece feature hardcore Hinton fan Greg Dulli on Volume 1 and the Drive-By Truckers do the honours for Volume 2.

 You can count on Dulli to revel in the darker aspects of Cover Me and Hard Luck Guy while the Truckers' Patterson Hood (son of Hinton's Muscle Shoals rhythm section buddy David Hood) sounds born to sing Everybody Needs Love and bassist Shonna Tucker brings an aching sweetness to Where's Eddie? which Hinton penned with Lulu in mind. Those two records are available from the Shake It Records site with follow-up installments from the Heartless Bastards and Hinton's songwriting partner Donnie Fritts due early in 2010.
It would be great to see fellow converts like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bobby Womack, Mavis Staples, the Black Keys and Kings Of Leon getting involved although, realistically, Blase's budget of $1,000 per artist probably wouldn't cover the parking costs for any of their tour buses. Of course, Blase would be the first to admit that this endeavour is not intended to be a big money-maker, just a labour of love by another Eddie convert trying to introduce a few more people to the greatest soul singer they've never heard.

Ting-A-Ling-Ling by Eddie Hinton, 1991

Everybody Needs Love by Drive-By Truckers @ Cox Theatre, Macon GA 08/20/09

Shake It Records
Zane Records
Live at Rose's Cantina in Atlanta 1979

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lost Afrobeat Classic Uncovered!

Even if the name Nicholas Addo-Nettey doesn't ring any bells, you've probably heard him singing and slapping congas as a vocalist/percussionist with Africa 70 on at least a few familiar Fela Kuti joints like Chop & Quench, Gentlemen, Alagbon Close, He Miss Road, Expensive Shit, Everything Scatter, Kalakuta Show, Ikoyi Blindness, Yellow Fever, Upside Down, Zombie, J.J.D., Sorrow, Tears and Blood, I Go Shout Plenty and No Agreement.
Not long after Addo-Nettey joined the band in 1971, he released the Mind Your Own Business album for the Tabansi label backed by the Martin Brothers Band from Portharcort, Nigeria which went nowhere. But after two years of playing hardcore Fela-style Afrobeat, Addo-Nettey had a whole different concept and cast of musicians when he returned to the studio to cut the follow-up Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef as Pax Nicholas and the Nettey Family (Tabansi). Evidently Fela saw through the sneaky alias and was none too pleased to find his Africa 70 musicians moonlighting on competing projects for different labels, particularly on recordings which so closely mirrored his own moves and grooves. Accounts differ on what Kuti said to Addo-Nettey about the album but we know that following their discussion, the Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef LP vanished without a trace in 1973 and Addo-Netty continued to live and prosper as a full-time member of Africa 70 for the next five years.

That could've been the end of the story had it not been for the sleuthing skills of German DJ Frank Gossner. The dedicated digger who relocated from Berlin to Conakry in 2005, for the sole purpose of scrounging for rare West African records came across a copy of Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef and was so blown away by the band's propulsive attack and perplexed by the album's obscurity that he tracked down Addo-Nettey to get the whole Pax Nicholas story.
Although Gossner runs the excellent Voodoo Funk blog, he doesn't have a label of his own so he set out to convince the dudes at Daptone Records to re-release the record which clearly didn't take much arm-twisting because they put it out right away on CD and vinyl. If you're any kind of Fela Kuti fan, you need to hear this Pax Nicholas LP on the double. There's good reason why Gossner considers it among his greatest discoveries.
Incidentally, while Gossner was turning over rocks to find vinyl in West Africa, he hooked up with filmmaker Leigh Iacobucci who shot footage of his travels through Togo, Ghana and Benin for the digumentary Take Me Away Fast which should be just about ready to screen. Have a look at the trailer:

Take Me Away Fast by Leigh Iacobucci

from on Vimeo.

In related Daptone news, they're ringing in the holiday season with a dope new Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Christmas single, Ain't No Chimney's In The Projects b/w Binky Griptite's Holiday Breakdown which hits the streets tomorrow (Tuesday, December 8). If you visit the Daptone site today, you can get a free MP3 download of the two tracks from the limited seven-inch by signing up for their newsletter.

Daptone Records
Voodoo Funk blog

Psychedelic Afro Shop mix
Big Beats, Sweet Talks and Psychedelic Aliens mix
Just For You mix

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Guitar God Can Out-shred Yours

News that tickets were on sale for Eric Clapton's showdown with Jeff Beck at the Air Canada Centre on February 21 got a couple of hombres next to me in a neighborhood bar debating the age-old question of who really is the greatest rock guitarist of all time. Loud arguments were made on behalf of Clapton and Beck as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and a few others. When the debate quickly deteriorated into a squabble about Tony Iommi vs. Randy Rhoads, it suddenly seemed pointless to chime in with Takeshi "Terry" Terauchi. No amount of explanation about the Japanese eleki icon's awesome technical facility nor his wholly unique minyo-rooted conception which involves the best bits of Chet Atkins, Nokie Edwards and Link Wray was gonna convince anyone who hasn't heard Terry-san rip that this dude from a GS band called the Bunnys deserves top ranking.

Heck, I wouldn't have believed it myself if I didn't get past the cover image of our Mosrite-strapped man posing seaside in polyester flares and Wallabies on 1974's Jongara Shi Bushi (King) LP to hear the outrageously nasty Blaxploitation soundtrack-style jams Takeshi was capable of kicking out. Since stumbling onto that album by entirely by chance a couple of decades back, I've consistently been impressed by his playing on everything else I've dug up, right back to his early country & western picking sessions with Jimmy Tokita and the Mountain Playboys circa 1960 and some odd stereo test records which you're not likely to see listed in any discography.

Trust me when I tell you there's no shortage of material to document every phase of his prolific career with the Blue Jeans, Bunnys and beyond but the one record that probably best showcases his jaw-dropping chops and awesome creativity is Rashomon, a collection of music inspired by the writing of Japanese novelists Ryunosuke Akutagawa (who wrote the story upon which Akira Kurosawa based his 1950 cinematic classic Rashomon) and Shichiro Fukazawa which Terauchi recorded with his Blue Jeans crew back in 1972. Fortunately, someone over at the Lucky Psychic Hut blog has kindly ripped their long out-of-print vinyl copy which you can check out for yourself right here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Neko Case's Spectacle

Congratulations to Neko Case on her first two Grammy nominations! It was just announced that Middle Cyclone is up for Best Contemporary Folk Album and the Mercury surfing sleeve she designed with her pal Judge is being considered for Best Recording Package at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards which will be given out January 31.
To mark the achievement, the Anti- label has had a museum-quality 18" x 24" Giclée print of the Middle Cyclone cover manufactured in a limited-edition of 1000 numbered copies which you can purchase here.

In related news, Case recently joined Sheryl Crow, Ron Sexsmith and Jesse Winchester on stage at New York's Apollo Theatre for a taping of Spectacle hosted by her fellow Grammy nominee Elvis Costello who's Secret, Profane & Sugarcane record also got the nod in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category (along with Tracy Chapman's Our Bright Future, Shawn Colvin's Live and Steve Earle's tribute to Townes Van Zandt, Townes). Knowing how competitive Costello can be, perhaps it was fortunate that this second episode of Spectacle's second season was taped way back on September 21, before the nominees were announced or the hardware was handed out. I've seen her kick-boxing moves, it wouldn't have been pretty.
During the show, Neko sang Margaret Vs. Pauline and Don't Forget Me accompanied by Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve and then Elvis stepped in for a new arrangement of Neko's Prison Girls. It would've been great to hear them duetting on Bowling Green as well but for some reason, Costello decided to sing it with Jesse Winchester instead. Hey, he's the boss.
Season two of Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... kicks off with a sneak peak featuring U2's Bono and the Edge on Friday, December 11 at 10 pm on CTV with the rest of the series rolling out in 2010.

That's not Case's only television time, oh no. She's also TCM's Guest Programmer for December which means you can see her chatting about cinema with Robert Osbourne on Tuesday December 8, after which, they'll screen four of her fave flicks: Woody Allen's Radio Days (8 pm), Elia Kazan's A Face In The Crowd (9:45 pm), Carol Reed's The Third Man (12 midnight) and Albert Lewin's The Picture of Dorian Gray (2 am). 

They're undoubtedly all classics but if you haven't seen Andy Griffith's star-making turn in 1957's A Face In The Crowd and think he's only capable of playing the mild mannered Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor and the folksy defense attorney Ben Matlock, don't dare miss it. His awesome performance as the singing drifter Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes in this prescient Budd Schulberg-scripted early warning about the power of television will knock you flat. Watch out for a young Lee Remick making her big screen debut as a teenage baton-twirling champ from Arkansas.
Fellow Fellini-fan Dwight Yoakam told me it's among his all-time favourite films and served as the inspiration for his cleverly-titled homage Lonesome Roads... "I'm just a face out in the crowd who looks like trouble."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Persian Rug-cutters

 Apart from Belgian beer, Spanish wine and British police serials, there's nothing that Dutch vinyl junkie Marthy "Huiboki" Coumans enjoys more than a raunchy raw rock record from an unlikely locale, preferably dating from the mid to late 60s. After all, he is the brains behind the killer comps Steam Kodok, Turkish Delights, Biet-Het, Mind Expanders and The Best of the Hungarian Rock Scene 1965-1971. So when a couple of shockingly good beat and garage singles from Lebanon and Algeria led to finds of more twisted psych from Egypt and Iran, the bad boy of Breda soon had more than enough Arabic teen craziness for another awesome Grey Past label concept collection which he put out as the Waking Up Scheherazade LP, on splatter vinyl of course.
No doubt some global-minded garage fiends will already be familiar with the Eastern-tinged twang of Lebanese beat bashers The Sea-Ders who turned up in the Rubble series but most of the other artists of Waking Up Scheherazade like Kareem Isaaq, Simon C. Edwards and His Soul Set, the Kool Kats, Ray Psyah, Tony Franks and the Hippin' Souls and Raks should be welcome discoveries for garage hounds with a taste for the exotic.

Others like Iran's Kouroush Yaghmaei of The Raptures and Algerian Berber brutes El Abranis were also well below the radar of Coumans' compiler competition until just recently when Middle Eastern psych and funk suddenly became a hot commodity on the collectors market. That's why you'll find the Kouroush joint Hajm-e Khaal on Stones Throw's recent Forge Your Own Chains (Now Again) comp and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see another one of his tunes turn up on the forthcoming Persian funk compendium Pomegranates that Finders Keepers is currently readying for release. Shhh!

While you wait, you can enjoy the Raks Raks Raks (Grey Past) set of more deeply dug Iranian rarities that Coumans just issued with full annotation as a 17-track LP but you should grab the expanded CD version which adds 10 more tunes you won't find anywhere else.

The well-chosen selection of seven-inch beat/garage swingers by Golden Ring (who have a new LP collection of vintage singles and EP tracks out on Persianna), Moha Jamin, Penahi, the Rebels, Zinguala Ha, Shakayik, Saeed, Ojoobe Ha, Bijan, the Littles, Gougoush and others is obscure enough that there likely won't be any crossover with Pomegranates which, knowing the B-Music crew, will focus on Iran's disco, wah-wah funk and prog-influenced jams issued in the 70s (stuff like Helelyos by Zia, Mherpouya's Ghabileye Leyli and Marjan's Karvir E Del) before the current regime of Muslim fundamentalists took over and did their best to rid the country of Westernized music.

It seems like a retrospective of the dancefloor-oriented material cut by the celebrated Iranian diva Gougoush is also in order, particularly after her tantalizing comp cameos covering Respect on Raks Raks Raks and I Wanna Take You Higher on Messin With Sly. Rumour has it that Gougoush keeps a residence here in Toronto so if you bump into her at you neighborhood supermaket, have her drop me a line at, it would be wonderful to catch up.

Persian Funk


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Joe Harriott & Tubby Hayes: Two Aces

Saxophone blasting beacons of British jazz, alto ace Joe Harriott and tenor titan Tubby Hayes recorded far too few studio sessions as leaders in their tragically short lives – both of which  coincidentally ended in 1973 with Harriott dying of cancer at 44 and Hayes five months later while undergoing heart surgery at just 38 – so the recent surfacing of brilliant live recordings by each at their peak from the BBC's Jazz For Moderns transcription series is cause for celebration.
When Harriott turned up at St. Hilda's Studios in Maida Vaile back in 1962, it was in the company of his classic quintet with Shake Keane (trumpet, flugelhorn), Coleridge Goode (bass), Pat Smythe (piano) and replacing Phil Seaman, the great Bobby Orr (the drummer, not the celebrated Bruins defenceman) who had recorded the fantastic Abstract album a few months earlier which would deservedly receive a glowing five-star review in Down Beat from my pal Harvey Pekar, the first-ever British jazz recording to be so honoured.

As Pekar astutely noted, there were significant conceptual differences between Harriott's "free form" approach and that of Ornette Coleman, the most obvious being that Harriott was pursuing a true group improvisation where each member was playing off the others whereas Coleman was still tethered to the steady pulse of a bebop-style rhythm section. And that comes across on the Joe Harriott Quintet's Jazz For Moderns (Gearbox) LP, primarily with the tracks Pictures and Tonal, the two Harriott compositions drawn from Abstract, which are nicely contrasted by the inclusion of their takes of Dizzy Reece hard bop thrillers Shepherd's Serenade (from 1958's Blues In Trinity) and Variations on Monk (from 1959's Star Bright).
Since Harriott's other important recordings from the period, 1963's Movement and 1964's High Spirits along with 1969's Hum Dono (a stellar collaboration with late Goan guitar great Amancio D'Silva) remain frustratingly out of print, Gearbox's limited-run 180 gram vinyl edition of the Jazz For Moderns set is all the more welcome.
Likewise with their simultaneously released Tubby Hayes Band Jazz For Moderns LP finds the hugely talented saxophonist/vibraphonist showing off his compositional chops at St. Hilda's in the company of trumpeters Jimmy Deuchar, Bobby Pratt and Eddie Blair, trombonists Keith Christie and Ken Wray, Alan Civil on French horn, alto saxophonist Johnny Scott, tenor saxophonists Bob Efford and Vic Ash, baritone saxophonist Harry Klein, David Snell on harp, pianist Gordon Beck, bassist Freddy Logan and drummer Allan Ganley.
Serious Tubbs-ophiles will note that that it's the exact same line-up which accompanied Hayes for the BBC Jazz Session set two months prior and they're also playing the same five-song program: Take You're Partners For The Blues, Souriya, Down In The Village, Early Morning Afterthoughts and the gentle Horace Silver ballad Peace (off 1959's Blowin' The Blues Away).

However the performance isn't at all a note-for-note recreation, more like a deeper exploration of now familiar themes which should become clear when you hear the way Hayes gets into his soulful ballad Souriya at the end of the first side. The jazz dance crowd will have their interest piqued by the inclusion of Down In The Village and this swinging version of the Hayes vibes feature doesn't disappoint. The classy sleeve art in period-appropriate designs and informed liner notes (Simon Spillett, who's currently working on a Tubby Hayes biography tentatively titled The Long Shadow Of The Little Giant, contributes a thoughtful and well-researched essay to the Hayes LP) make for better than average reissue packages but evidently Gearbox pressed up only 500 copies of each title on vinyl so it might be wise to visit Dusty Groove ( on the double before they're gone for good. Mind you, they're not cheap but worth every penny.
For further reading on Joe Harriott, check out Alan Robertson's excellent biography Joe Harriott: Fire In His Soul (Northway Books) from 2003 and the Coleridge Goode reminiscence Bass Lines: A Life In Jazz also published by Northway Books in 2002.

Gearbox Records
Simon Spillett on Tubby Hayes
Northway Books

Monday, November 30, 2009

Camera Obscura Do Jim Reeves

In what could be a bid to turn down the holiday cheer a notch or two, Glasgwegian sad sacks Camera Obscura have decided to release a characteristically twee cover of the Jim Reeves downer classic The Blizzard as a single just in time for Christmas.

If you don't know the maudlin original that Reeves cut for his Tall Tales and Short Tempers (RCA) album back in 1961, I won't spoil the ending but at least Tracyanne Campbell doesn't ruin the mood by giggling on the version they recorded for 4AD as she did during a recent performance at Other Music in New York (see below). Fortunately she had the good sense to write out the lyrics.

The Blizzard by Camera Obscura @ Other Music, NYC

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Sweet Mess Of A Single

The other day an old pal was asking if I'd heard any great new punk rock records coming outta Toronto lately. Well, it just so happens that City Sweethearts knocked out a super-socko seven for Red Lounge Records which is based way outside the GTA in Karlsruhe, Germany but I'd say their ace three-song EP still qualifies.
Don't be put off by the fact that the City Sweetheart front dude Vassil never really sang before and used to bash the drums for the Heart Attacks and Diemonds (after serving hard time in the Drum Shop at Steve's Music Store but that's another story) while guitarist Curtis was riffing for Sudbury hardcore hooligans Vicious Cycle, bassist Andy was in Action and drummer Ter hammered away with Riot99 – what they've come up with together doesn't sound like what you might expect from their prior offenses. Drop needle on the A-side's snarling scorcher I'm A Mess and you'll be taken back to the distorted delights of the Dead Boys at their Youngest, Loudest and Snottiest. Check it out for yourself on Red Lounge's MySpace page (link below).

The first time I heard it, I had to play it three more times and then plunked down my five bucks on the spot without even bothering to flip the thing over. The B-side's two tracks Timeless and Can't Stop Shaking aren't too shabby but I'm A Mess is definitely the business here. From the three newer tunes I've heard, it sounds like their forthcoming Sleeping Through Modern Times (p.trash) album due out in January could be a winner as long as they keep Andy away from the sitar and steer clear of those cheesy (UK) Monks covers.

City Sweethearts
Red Lounge Records
p.trash records 
Live set and interview

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Heavenly Heat

It may be too early to start choosing 2009's most impressive reissue packages, but the Fire In My Bones: Rare + Raw + Otherworldly African-American Gospel 1944-2007 (Tompkins Square) collection of post-war spirituals is sure to appear on a few year end lists.
Compiled and annotated by Mike McGonigal, the founder of Yeti magazine, former editor of Chemical Imbalance and tireless evangelist of emotionally-charged music of all stripes, the fabulous three disc Fire In My Bones set sidesteps the popular golden era quartets well-represented elsewhere to uncover the amazing one-off regional chillers and thrillers that have too often been overlooked by gospel historians and anthologists. The strength of this compendium lies in it's diversity.
What you get is nearly four hours of powerfully shouting preachers, guitar-slashing street singers and the soul-stirring harmonies of amped-up congregations all high on the Lord. Even if you've never been to church and don't plan on it, you can't help but get caught up in the heartfelt passion of it all. It hits you hard. Remember, this music was made to move mountains, not to make money.
Because these uniquely gifted artists are largely unknown outside of their parish or city block and they're all thrown together out of chronological sequence, McGonigal is able to impart a small sense of that digger discovery excitement, the wonderful feeling you get when stumbling onto some amazing lost artifact that can make the long hours crawling on your hands and knees for one seven-inch seem entirely worthwhile.
Audiophiles should note that the sound quality varies from track to track and these are mostly DIY productions and field recordings – sometimes sourced from decades old records salvaged in less than pristine shape from dollar bins, yard sales, dusty basements and second-hand furniture shops – so you may hear some slight imperfections now and again.
Where Fire In My Bones comes up short is not in sound reproduction but the visual component. The package could've been made much more engrossing had a little more effort been put into enhancing the accompanying booklet with more artist photos, sleeve art and label images. Tossing in four measly label shots for an 80-track set doesn't really cut it. Of course that would've made the three-disc package more expensive than the incredible $14.98 it's selling for at Soundscapes in Toronto at the moment but I don't think most serious roots music fans would've balked at spending a couple of extra bucks if it meant getting proper documentation.
Still, it's an amazing archival study at a phenomenal price. If you buy one gospel release this year, make it Fire In My Bones – you'll thank G... er... you'll just be glad you did.

Tompkins Square
Yeti Magazine

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Radical Art For Radical Music

Perfectly timed for the start of the holiday shopping season, which officially begins on "Black" Friday (November 27), the UK-based Soul Jazz Records has put out Freedom Rhythm & Sound (SJR Publishing) a spectacular compendium of vintage sleeve images from some of the most prized spiritual and free jazz recordings ever released that's sure to delight the hardcore jazz fanatic on your gift-giving list.
The large format (30.8 cm x 30.8 cm) hardbound coffee-table book was authoritatively compiled by Soul Jazz boss Stuart Baker in conjunction with celebrity DJ Gilles Peterson presents a well-balanced selection of the most aesthetically pleasing, bizarre, obscure, creative and iconic sleeve art from LPs issued between the years 1965 and 1983, primarily on independently-owned operations and often in editions of 1,000 copies or less.

That includes the album sleeve designs associated with such revered figures as John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Ornette Coleman, Art Ensemble Of Chicago and Sun Ra alongside lesser-known artists like The Frank Derrick Total Experience, Dadisi Komolafe and Lloyd McNeill. While the labels Strata-East, ESP-Disk', Tribe, Delmark, Nessa, Black Fire, BAG, El Saturn, Nimbus, Actuel/BYG, Perception, Im-Hotep, Baystate, Asha, Mustevic Sound are each well-represented, the one notable exception is Black Jazz. Whether or not this has anything to do with the dispute Black Jazz had with Soul Jazz over the Universal Sound sub-label release The Best Of Black Jazz Records (see link below), is difficult to say but their achetypal cover images are conspicuously absent. 
Even though it would certainly have been a much more comprehensive overview had a sampling of the consistently dope designs of Black Jazz been included, the 179-page volume is still a worthwhile and wholly enjoyable document that doubles quite nicely as a collector's checklist.

As a musical companion, Baker has compiled a suitable survey of tunes from the albums depicted as the Freedom Rhythm & Sound 2CD set which ideally would've come attached to the inside of the book's back cover. But of course, this is a Soul Jazz release, not a lavish Numero Group production, so the double-CD package, with choice tracks from Steve Colson, Horace Tapscott, The Pharaohs, Philip Cohran, Roy Brooks & The Artistic Truth, Sun Ra, Oliver Lake, Ralph Thomas, Stanton Davis, Gary Bartz NTU Troop, Errol Parker, Joe McPhee and others, is being sold separately. No word as yet whether a vinyl version is planned.
Soul Jazz Records
Black Jazz

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spacemen 3 Vs. Wooden Shjips

It takes a special breed of record nut to operate a vinyl-only label at a time when the format is supposed to be obsolete. Rarer still is the sort with exceptionally good taste like Dominic Martin (of Earworm Records notoriety) whose UK-based Great Pop Supplement label has snuck out an impressive series of high quality artifacts presenting superb music by uniquely talented fringe artists in aesthetically dazzling packages – we're talking multi-fold handmade sleeves, embroidered bags, photo mounted envelopes, nut-bolted balsa wood, stickers, packets of seeds, the works.
So when you buy a GPS record, you don't just get to hear a couple of great songs by a Swedish one-man-band or a Japanese psych unit, you've also got a snazzy conversation piece to impress that friend who thinks they've got everything MV + EE and Jack Rose have ever done.

To mark the label's 50th release milestone, Dom has just issued a red wax split pairing an early demo version of Big City by Spacemen 3 with a fabulously fuzzed-up cover of the Playing With Fire album corker I Believe It courtesy of San Francisco's Wooden Shjips, perhaps the only currently active group who could do it justice. As a neat final touch, it comes housed in a sleeve created by Spacemen percussionist Natty Brooker. I'm getting a buzz just looking at it. 
The good news is that instead of the typically miniscule pressings of say 111 or 220 copies which Great Pop Supplement have been known to drop in the past, gps 50 was reportedly issued in an edition of 1000. However, the bad news is that according to Dom, the entire run "literally vanished in an afternoon." But whatever the conventional vinyl vendors didn't stockpile for mailorder purposes was very likely hoovered up speculators hoping to quintuple their investment on eBay. So don't fret, you'll be seeing the single turning up online for months if not years to come.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pieta Brown Gets Was-ified

 The day after publication of my less-than-glowing review of Willie Nelson's Countryman disc – a high concept Willie-goes-reggae scheme from 2005 – the album's proud producer Don Was decided to ring me up for good old fashioned dressing down. The call came as a complete surprise since I'd never had any prior contact with Was and it's not typically the producer of an album who takes the initiative to hunt down a writer and angrily voice a complaint. That's typically handled by a publicist, someone from the artist's label, management or immediate family – right Mrs. Millan? Producers are usually too busy working on their next project to concern themselves with personally sorting out a critic who may have a conflicting opinion about a previous release. Not Was, oh no.  
After he finished shouting up a storm in a lengthy rant about how music critics know nothing about the difficult task of making albums, he growled about hoping to run into me some day. When I responded without hesitation that I'd very much look forward to a meeting, he grunted "Huh?" apparently aback by my interest in a face-to-face confrontation. "You know that Chris Gaines album you produced with Garth Brooks in a wig? I've always wanted to find out what the fuck you guys were thinking." Click. Dial tone.

It appears that I'm not the only one to be honoured with a cold call from Mr. Was. Also receiving a similar call from Was out of the blue was Pieta Brown, the Iowa-based singer/songwriter sidekick of guitar slinger supreme Bo Ramsey, only I'm guessing there was a lot less cursing involved in hers.
So the story goes, our man Was just happened to be listening to radio station KCRW in Los Angeles when he heard an amazing voice that stopped him dead in his tracks. He phoned into the station to find out the name of the singer, then traced her to Iowa and called her up at home to proposed a recording session. That might sound like some slick record label PR crap to hype the resulting Shimmer (Red House) CD but based on my own Was experience, I'd say the entire scenario is entirely plausible.

There have been some questionable choices made by Was in the studio over the years, not confined to the aforementioned Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks head scratchers, but he gets it right with Shimmer, wisely paring down the instrumentation to just Ramsey on guitar with himself on bass – no drums – to keep the focus on Brown's bluesy crooning, giving her all the room she needs to vocally stretch out and work her seductive charms. The other sharp move here was to cut Brown's vocals dry, almost completely free of reverb on the majority of tracks, which gives her singing a wonderfully intimate pillow-talk quality that's immediate striking since most recorded voices you hear today are saturated in reverb and heavily filtered. Shimmer's only shortcoming is that it contains only seven songs but don't worry, you'll definitely be hearing more from Brown. 

Last Night In My Mind I Was Talkin' To Loretta  

main site

Bo Ramsey
Bo's myspace

Friday, November 20, 2009

Andre's Back In Ass-kicking Action

Despite the dearth of advance press, Andre Williams' post-rehab return to Toronto's Legendary Horseshoe Tavern with the Sadies last night turned out to be a spectacular triple-bill triumph to the delirious delight of the packed house.
Resplendent in red, the 73-year-old mack daddy of raunchy R&B shook, shimmied and shouted in tip-top condition suggesting that performing alongside two gorgeous go-go gals like Vivian and Veronica Verre (pictured) was a much safer and perhaps even more effective stimulant than booze or blow. Even though the Sadies had only a 45-minute rehearsal with Williams to pick out appropriate songs for the night, you'd never know it from the seamless, well-paced set that built beautifully to a storming crescendo with a raging rip through Bad Motherfucker that had the whole brew-hoisting crowd shouting the tag-line in unison.
Silly grins could be seen pasted on people's faces all over the club, including those of local celebs in attendance Ron Sexsmith, Dan Burke, Craig Daniels, producer Peter Moore, OPM label boss Jan Haust, Neil Young's brother Bob Young (who was climbing on the railing to get a better view) and ace shutterbug Shadowy Don Pyle who took time out from assembling his highly-anticipated book of punk-era photographs to document the memorable event. You can thank Don for kindly supplying the snazzy accompanying image above.
Can't wait for Andre's new album with the Sadies and Heavy Trash which, from all reports, is gonna be a doozy. In the meantime, check out Andre's new work of fiction Sweets And Other Stories (Kicks Books) which you can read all about in the post from Satuday (November 14).

Here's a clip of Andre and the Sadies performing a magnificently menacing version of I Can Tell at the Casbah in Hamilton, Ontario on the following night.

Andre Williams w/ The Sadies @ the Casbah 11/20/09

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

D-Sisive's Cult Classic

 Love it or loathe it, there's no denying that the pitcher of Kool Aid makes for a provocative sleeve image on D-Sisive's new Jonestown (Urbnet) CD, released today (Wednesday, November 18) to coincide with the 31st anniversary of the Peoples Temple mass suicide in Guyana.
It's difficult to say what's more remarkable about the concept – the fact that something so innocuous as a fruity beverage has become a cultural signifyer for a horrifying grand-scale human tragedy or that capitalizing on such deeply troubling events in recent history to help sell a product is now considered to be an effective marketing strategy.
Whether the striking design of the Jonestown disc has a positive or negative consumer impact is something for the bean-counters to fret about. D-Sisive's never been overly concerned about how his twisted sense of humour is perceived any more than his sales numbers. Heck, he's giving away the album for free right here.
The surprisingly quick follow-up to his critically acclaimed Let The Children Die album, Jonestown is a welcome return to more of the punchline-style approach upon which our battle-ready boyo established his rep on the T.O. hip-hop scene. Way back in the 90s, before the whole mask thing, D-Sisive was masquerading as a gangly goofus in glasses that sucka MCs quickly learned not to test, especially if their girlfriend and/or crew happened to be watching in the audience.
While the 12-track album ain't all fun 'n' games, D-Sisive's fond reminiscence that is 1974 suggests the passing of his father still weighs heavy on his mind, he still packs in enough clever word-play wallop throughout Jonestown to shake off the unfortunate "emo-rapper" tag.
On point production from Marco Polo, Muneshine, MoSS, Anonymous Twist, Murr, Shinogo, 9th Uno and The Dirty Sample should help turn some headz and the kooky cameo from his electro-billy homeboy Slim Twig on Around The World is definitely good for a larf, much like the non-reference to Jeff Goldblum in They Got Guns. Yeah, it's dope.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

(Black Keys + MCs) x Damon Dash = Blakroc

As you may have already heard, music biz mini-mogul Damon Dash of Roc-A-Fella infamy had this crazy Blakroc scheme to make an album bringing together the nasty jams of the Black Keys with the grimy rhymes of the Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon, RZA and the late ODB, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Billy Danze from MOP, Ludacris, Q-Tip, Jim Jones (ex-Diplomats) and NOE (ex-Dipset), sweetened up by soulful singer Nicole Wray.
You're probably thinking, "Oh yeah, just what we need – another lame high-concept rock/rap novelty album." But the reason why this unlikely collision between the rustbelt blues-rockers and the Big Apple's finest MCs could actually click when the self-titled Blakroc album drops November 27 (aka "Blak Friday") is because aside from whatever Dash's money-making, world-conquering ambitions may be, it's a truly creative collaboration at the core. Not your typical corny mash-up gimmick but more of a genuine musical hybrid sans samples.  
With the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney providing all the beats, there's a consistently rock-solid foundation throughout and perhaps most crucially, the Akron aces' level of creative input is matched by that of the hip-hop artists involved. At least, that appears to be what's happening from the revealing in-studio documentary footage shot by Jonah Schwartz and parceled into nine webisodes which you can watch below.  
But before going any further, you need to check out a video clip of the first Blakroc track leaked from the sessions, Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) voiced by Auerbach and Mos Def with insightful commentary rhymed by Jim Jones. It'll give you a good idea of what the 11-day studio throwdown actually produced. 

Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)

1. Coochie (with Ludacris, Ol' Dirty Bastard) – 4:10
2. On the Vista (with Mos Def) – 2:39
3. Hard Times (with NOE) – 2:38
4. Dollaz & Sense (with RZA, Pharoahe Monch) – 3:47
5. Why Can’t I Forget Him (with Nicole Wray) – 4:16
6. Stay Off the Fuckin’ Flowers (with Raekwon) – 2:31
7. Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) (with Mos Def, Jim Jones) – 3:23
8. Hope You’re Happy (with Billy Danze of M.O.P., Q-Tip, Nicole Wray)
9. Tellin’ Me Things (with RZA) – 2:39
10. What You Do to Me (with Billy Danze, Jim Jones, Nicole Wray) – 5:14
11. Done Did It (with Nicole Wray, NOE) – 3:29

Webisode 1 – Damon Dash's innovative fireworks

Webisode 2 – Mos Def's pure heart

Webisode 3 – Smokin' Jim Jones

Webisode 4 – RZA's guitar lesson

Webisode 5 – Nikki Wray gets serious

Webisode 6 – NOE's Blackberry booth breakdown

Webisode 7 – Q-Tip will sneak up on you

Webisode 8 – Billy Danze straight up

Webisode 9 – Clear is the way Pharoahe Monch goes

Blakroc Radio
Black Keys
Jim Jones
Billy Danze
Nicole Wray
Pharoahe Monch

Monday, November 16, 2009

Folk Psych Spellcasters – TNG: Alela Diane

The otherworldly sound of cult faves Vashti Bunyan, Karen Dalton, Linda Perhacs and Sibylle Baier has left some freak folk fans wondering, "where is the next generation of spellcasters?" Well, they're out there waiting to be discovered much like their predecessors from the 60s and 70s who didn't really register any degree of popularity until decades after their recording career was over.
Some of them are closer than you think. In fact, one of the most beguiling voices to come along in decades belongs to 26-year-old Alela Diane who's currently en route to Toronto where she'll be playing the Horseshoe with Marissa Nadler tonight (Monday, November 16). Arising from the same tiny Nevada City scene in Northern California that produced Joanna Newsom, Alela Diane grew up singing and playing guitar with her musician parents in the sort of breathtakingly bucolic environment that continues to shape the imagistic choices of her songwriting.

Back in 2004, her guitar-picking father, Tom Menig, home produced what would become her breakout album, The Pirate's Gospel which she initially sold from the stage at shows in handmade paper and lace sleeves much like her long out-of-print Forest Parade self-released debut from the previous year.
However, it wasn't until the Pirate's Gospel was reissued two years later in a far less fancy edition by Portland's Holocene Music and the UK-based Names Records issued a collection of her acoustic demos for a follow-up album as the Songs Whistled Through White Teeth as a 10" EP that Alela Diane's prodigious gifts came to international attention.
There's a wonderful directness and warmth to Alela Diane's intimate delivery which quavers with a slightly melancholic underpinning that's strangely compelling when woven into her gently plucked guitar figures. It sticks with you.
When New York A&R dude Eddie Bezalel (behind Mark Ronson's Version album) and pals David Holmes and Primal Scream producer Hugo Nicholson were looking for a singer with a certain mystique to voice their Headless Heroes covers concept album, they knew they hit paydirt when they came across Alela Diane's myspace page.

The fact that she wasn't familiar with many of the songs they wanted her to sing for The Silence Of Love album – stuff like Philamore Lincoln's The North Wind Blew South, Juicy Lucy's Just One Time, the Gentle Soul's See My Love and Daniel Johnston's True Love Will Find You In The End) wasn't a drawback. They were looking for fresh takes and Alela Diane gave them much more than they could've hoped for. But without proper promotion and a clueless marketing plan involving staggered UK and North American release dates sans tour support, the Silence Of Love album never really got off the ground. Decades from now, it'll be the overlooked cutout-bin classic in Alela Diane's recording canon that obsessive fans will hail as a lost masterwork.  
The Headless Heroes one-off was soon eclipsed by the February release of Alela Diane's To Be Still (Rough Trade) album, her finest work yet. Begun in Portland where she now resides and finished up back at her father's home studio in Nevada City, To Be Still easily her most fully realized recording, making tasteful use of string accompaniment, harmony vocals and yes, even percussion!

Of course, it's all merely window dressing for that captivating voice but her own remarkable compositions like White As Diamonds, the Alder Trees and Tatted Lace also suggest that she's maturing into a fine composer as well. For those who prefer hearing Alela Diane with less instrumental fillagree, a thrilingly stark six-song duet session with Alina Hardin has just been issued as the Alela & Alina (Family/Names) 10" EP to coincide with the current tour which brings her to the Horseshoe this evening. You'd better act fast though, it's a hand-numbered limited edition of 1000 copies and mine is 972.