Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Dirtbombs take on techno

Garage guru Mick Collins has always had broad musical interests which sometimes show up in his intriguing cover choices. But the guitar-slinging founder of The Gories, The Blacktops, The Screws, King Sound Quartet, The Voltaire Brothers and The Dirtbombs has never before attempted anything quite so subversively bold as Party Store (In The Red) – a concept album reworking classic Detroit techno and electro joints in a garage-rock style.
What might initially appear to be a ridiculously wrongheaded notion or a nutty pisstake, The Dirtbombs' Party Store is actually an inspired follow-up to 2001's Ultraglide In Black album. Only instead of updating their favourite 60s and 70s soul and R&B tunes from the Motor City and beyond as they did a decade ago, Collins and crew are now blasting through D-town's post-industrial buzz of the 80s and early 90s. It all works brilliantly. The funky melodic electro-minimalism of Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Carl Craig – a perfectly cold and bleak soundtrack for a decaying urban metropolis – turns out to be surprisingly well suited to the brutally de-tuned 'n' distorted bashing favoured by the Dirtbombs.
They approach the material with just the right balance of respect and irreverence so it never seems like they're trying on an ill-fitting suit for size. And Collins clearly knows his shit judging by Party Store's exceptionally well-chosen repertoire which includes a selection of global dancefloor destroyers such as Inner City's Good Life, Rhythim Is Rhythim's Strings Of Life and Innerzone Orchestra's Bug In The Bassbin (featuring a cool cameo by composer Carl Craig) as well as a couple of cult curios like the sought-after 1981 b-boy banger Sharevari by A Number Of Names, Cybotron's Alleys Of Your Mind and the DJ Rolando jam Jaguar 1.
Even though the synthesizer use on the album is limited to selective whirring, gurgles and blurps, the Dirtbombs may very well alienate a certain blinkered portion of their garage-loving fanbase with Party Store. However, the bold move will likely make up for any losses with loads of new converts from around the world delighted by the Dirtbombs' boisterously rough-cut update of Detroit's future past. If the club crowd catches on, the album could be the Dirtbombs biggest seller ever. Adventurous DJs and vinyl junkies will be pleased to know that the 9-track Party Store disc is also available as a 3 LP package with a free download coupon currently selling for the price of a single LP.
Can't wait to hear what the Dirtbombs do with the music of J. Dilla, Moodymann, Black Milk and the Underground Resistance collective in 2021.

Sharevari by The Dirtbombs     

Sharevari by A Number Of Names on "The Scene" 1982

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wilco (The Label)

 photo by Zoran Orlic

After a number of well-publicized record company squabbles, Wilco has left Nonesuch and formed a label of their own run by the group's longtime manager Tony Margherita from his office in Easthampton, Ma.
According to a press release issued today, the new label has been given the catchy handle dBpm Records – unfortunately both Margaritaville Records and Pizza Records were already taken – and will release "all future Wilco recordings and more." What else besides Wilco's waxings is anybody's guess. The label's distribution is being handled by ANTI- who not coincidentally issued the Mavis Staples album You Are Not Alone that Wilco mainman Jeff Tweedy produced last year.

"This is an idea we've discussed for years,” said Tweedy in the statement. “We really like doing things ourselves, so having our own label feels pretty natural to me. And, to be working with ANTI- a label that has its roots in a label that was started by a punk rock guy to sell his own records seems like a perfect fit for us.”

The punk rock guy to whom Tweedy is referring is Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz who founded ANTI-'s parent label Epitaph

"Wilco's independent streak is well documented and nothing new," added Margherita. "and this is the culmination of what we've been working towards for the last 15 years. As we reached the end of our last deal, it felt like it was time for a change and the one thing we were certain we did NOT want to do was to sign another traditional recording agreement. Our discussions with ANTI-, coming on the back of a great experience working with them on the Mavis Staples record, led us to thinking we might be able to come up with something quite different from the norm that could potentially be better for us and, frankly, a lot more interesting. And that's exactly what happened....”

Wilco is currently holed up in Chicago recording the follow-up to 2009's Wilco (The Album) while Tweedy has announced plans for a short solo jaunt starting in Toronto at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on March 22 (see the Early Warning listings) followed by a brief Wilco tour in May.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

One For The Weekend: Will Crum

Macaroni by Will Crum

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where White went wrong with Wanda

Whoa, what a disappointment. Considering the exemplary job Jack White did producing Loretta Lynn's Grammy-grabbing comeback album Van Lear Rose (Interscope) back in 2004, it seemed like his pairing with the still wiry septuagenarian rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson was a can't-miss proposition but The Party Ain't Over (Third Man/Nonesuch) is a complete mess.
The big difference between the projects is that Jackson is an interpretive stylist rather than a singer-songwriter like her country counterpart, and also, Jackson was never anywhere near as hands-on in the studio as Loretta Lynn. Consequently White had to do more than simply assemble the band and serve as a quality control expert, he also had to choose the appropriate repertoire for Jackson and come up with suitable arrangements. Evidently White wasn't up to the task as his head-scratching song choices and the oddball arrangements ultimately set Jackson up for failure. It's now painfully apparent that he was unsure of whether to aim for the retro rock 'n' roll crowd, the old-school country holdouts or forget the nostalgia factor entirely and try reaching a new audience by remaking some contemporary tunes in a Wanda Jackson style. So instead of choosing a concept and seeing it through, White takes a scattershot approach, turning each song into a unique experiment in hopes that something might connect. Unfortunately nothing here really works.
The album opens with an effects-laden blast through Johnny Kid and The Pirates' Shakin' All Over and an equally over-egged version Little Richard's Rip It Up but things start to go pear-shaped with an off-kilter romp through Harlan Howard's Busted followed by a reggae-esque stab at Rum and Coca-Cola that's just plain goofy. Why anyone would think that Lord Invader's bawdy calypso about wartime prostitution in Trinidad popularized by the Andrews Sisters back in 1945 is due for an update in 2011 is beyond me (for the whole crazy story behind Rum & Coca-Cola see LINKS below). Sure Billy Childish once recorded a lame version of Rum and Coca-Cola back in 1988 but would White actually risk embarrassing Jackson by having her take a crack at the kooky novelty number in faux island patois just to one-up his former idol turned nemesis? Anything is possible I guess but whatever the reason, it's a terrible song choice for Jackson horribly realized.
Doing a song by Amy Winehouse isn't such a bad idea in itself but for 73-year old Jackson – who has been happily married to the same man for the last five decades – trying to sing convincingly about the sort of relationship detailed in You Know I'm No Good is more than a bit of a stretch. It also makes for an awkward transition into the holier than thou admonishments of Dust On The Bible. The Bailes Brothers' number made famous by Kitty Wells is one of the album's few selections the God-fearing Christian probably thought she could really get down with, at least until White decided that the country gospel classic needed to be retrofit with a booty-bumpin' funk groove. That doesn't come off any better than White's notion of revising Jimmie Rogers' classic Blue Yodel No. 6 (She Left Me This Mornin') with a clumsy gender flip or playing up the kitch value of Dinah Washington's Teach Me Tonight then tossing in an incongruously nasty guitar break as an afterthought. Why? Because he can.
Perhaps if White spent half as much time gathering appropriate material for the project as he did thinking up clever gimmicks to help sell the finished product – the limited fuscia-coloured vinyl version is being released with a special Greeting Card Gatefold™ sleeve design (see promotional clip below) – The Party Ain't Over might not have turned out to be such a laughable disaster. To find out just how awful it is, check out the fantastic 30-track Wanda Jackson compilation Queen Of Rockabilly – The Very Best Of The Rock 'n' Roll Years (Ace) which collects her most righteously raucous recordings for Capitol cut during the late 50s and early 60s.
Wanda Jackson will be appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight (Thursday, January 20) and on Conan Tuesday (January 25) accompanied by Jack White and the Third Man House Band.

Third Man Records promotional clip

Thunder On The Mountain by Wanda Jackson

Third Man Records

The intriguing tale of Rum & Coca-Cola

Monday, January 17, 2011

Return of the Jayhawks

The show of the week is the unlikely appearance of the classic Jayhawks line-up at the Phoenix on Tuesday (January 18) who have been recording on a new album slated for an early summer release. If their recent reunion gigs are any indication of what's in store, expect the set list to include a number of crowd-pleasers from 1992's Hollywood Town Hall (American) and 1995's Tomorrow The Green GrassAmerican) albums which together encompass the Jayhawks' finest work.

Not entirely coincidentally, both albums are being reissued Tuesday in expanded Legacy Editions with Hollywood Town Hall appended with the UK bonus track Leave No Gold, the Australian EP tracks Keith & Quentin and Up Above My Head in addition to two unreleased songs Warm River and Mother Trust You To Walk To The Store.

However, it's the re-release of Tomorrow The Green Grass that gets the real deluxe treatment with three previously unissued tunes (You and I, Sweet Hobo Self, Sleep While You Can), the B-sides Last Cigarette and the title track Tomorrow The Green Grass and most intriguing of all, a bonus disc entitled "Mystery Demos" containing 18 never-officially released numbers from the peak years of Gary Louris and Mark Olson's productive songwriting collaboration.

Dedicated Jayhawks fans will likely already know about the so-called "Mystery Demos" – some 44 different songs on cassette tapes said to be discovered in a closet by the girlfriend of someone vaguely connected with the band that have been circulating on the down low since 2003. But when exactly they were recorded, where and who played on the sessions has never been pinpointed. Some of the songs – or parts of them – eventually wound up being re-recorded by Golden Smog, The Creekdippers, the Louris-fronted Jayhawks and the Olson/Louris duo project Ready For The Flood but a few will be delightful new discoveries for those who believe the Jayhawks were at their best during the early 90s.

To get you in the right frame of mind for Tuesday's re-releases and Phoenix gig, here are a couple of vintage Jayhawks performances for the Twin Cities program Showcase which originally aired on PBS in 1992 as you could probably guess from the hairstyles. Be sure to watch the Two Angels clip right to the end or you'll miss Mark Olson's revelatory insights on band nutrition and touring economics. 

Wichita by The Jayhawks

Two Angels by The Jayhawks

Settled Down Like Rain by The Jayhawks

Waiting For The Sun by The Jayhawks

Crowded In The Wings by The Jayhawks

Friday, January 7, 2011

One For The Weekend: The Singing Loins

Check out the clip for Where's My Machine Gun? by Medway malcontents The Singing Loins whose  forthcoming album Stuff (Damaged Goods) is due out on January 24...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Best Reissues of 2010, Part 2: Single Artist Collections

Top 100 Re-released Albums and Artist Retrospectives

1. The Psychedelic Aliens - Psycho African Beat (Academy)
2. Hank Williams - Complete Mother's Best Recordings... Plus! (Time Life Music)
3. The Triffids - Come Ride With Me... Wide Open Road: Deluxe Edition (Domino)
4. Syl Johnson - Complete Mythology (Numero Group)
5. Buck Owens - Open Up Your Heart (Bear Family)
6. Rolling Stones - Exile On Main St. [Deluxe Edition] (Universal)
7. Patsy Cline – Sweet Dreams: The Complete Decca Studio Masters 1960-1963 (Hip-O Select)
8. Jimi Hendrix - West Coast Seattle Boy (Sony Legacy)
9. James Brown - The Singles Volume 9: 1973-1975 (Hip-O Select)
10. Bob Dylan - Bootleg Series Vol. 9: Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (Columbia)
11. David Bowie - Station To Station [Special Edition] (EMI)
12. Bruce Springsteen - The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story (Columbia)
13. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew [40th Anniversary Edition] (Sony Legacy)
14. Joe Tex - Singles A's & B's Vol. 2: 1967-68 (Shout!)
15. Iggy & The Stooges - Raw Power (Columbia Legacy)
16. Neu! - Vinyl Box Set (Grönland)
17. Jimi Hendrix - Valleys Of Neptune (Sony Legacy)
18. Velvet Underground - The Quine Tapes (Sundazed)
19. The Outsiders - Afraid Of The Dark + You Mistreat Me EP (Pseudonym)
20. Gram Parsons - The Early Years Box Set (Sierra)
21. Paul McCartney & Wings - Band On The Run [Deluxe Edition] (MPL)
22. Rikki Ililonga and Musi-O-Tunya – Dark Sunrise (Now Again)
23. The Uniques - Absolutely Rocksteady (Pressure Sounds)
24. Syd Barrett - Introduction To Syd Barrett (EMI)
25. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Mecca and the Soul Brother [Deluxe Edition] (Traffic)
26. Abbey Lincoln - Through The Years (Verve)
27. P.E. Hewitt Jazz Ensemble – Winter Winds, The Complete Works: 1968-70 (Now Again)
28. Dinah Washington - The Fabulous Miss D! The Keynote, Decca and Mercury Singles (Hip-O Select)
29. Kenny Graham and his Satellites - Moondog and Suncat Suites (Trunk)
30. Anibal Velasquez y su Conjunto - Mambo Loco (Analog Africa)
31. Los Saicos - Demolicion!: The Complete Recordings (Munster)
32. Lloyd McNeil Quartet - Asha (Universal Sound)
33. Tony Joe White - That On The Road Look (Rhino Handmade)
34. Bruce Haack - Farad: The Electric Voice (Stones Throw)
35. Dick Khoza - Chapita (Matsuli Music)
36. Steve Young - Rock, Salt & Nails (Big Pink)
37. Jackie Lomax - Is This What You Want? (Apple)
38. Soul Brothers Inc - The Story of the Soul Brothers Inc 1968 to 1974 (Tramp)
39. Phil Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble — Zulu 45s Collection (Jazzman)
40. Marvin Peterson & The Soulmasters - In Concert (Century/Jazzman)
41. Dennis Brown - The Crown Prince of Reggae: Singles [1972-1985] (VP)
42. Bill Fay - Still Some Light (Coptic Cat)
43. Green Pajamas - The Complete Book Of Hours (Green Monkey)
44. Junior Wells & The Aces - Live in Boston 1966 (Delmark)
45. Omar Khorshid - Guitar El Chark [Guitar Of The Orient] (Sublime Frequencies)
46. Melvin Davis - Detroit Soul Ambassador (Vampi Soul)
47. Sun Ra - Strange Worlds In My Mind / The Sub-Dwellers / The Outer Darkness (Norton)
48. Peter Gordon - Love Of Life Orchestra (DFA)
49. Poobah -  Let Me In (Ripple Music)
50. Johnny Heartsman & Circles - Music Of My Heart (Jazzman)
51. Jeff Phelps - Magnetic Eyes (Tomlab)
52. Alice Clark - The Complete Studio Recordings 1968-72 (BGP)
53. Jean Pierre Massiera - Horrific Child (Finders Keepers)
54. Bola Johnson - Man No Die (Vampi Soul)
55. Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth For Christ Choir - Like A Ship... [Without A Sail] (Light In The Attic)
56. Witch - Introduction (Shadoks)
57. Morly Grey - The Only Truth (Sundazed)
58. El Gran Fellove - Mango Mangüé (Vampi Soul)
59. Zakary Thaks - Passage To India (Cicadelic)
60. Tommy McCook and the Aggrovators - Brass Rockers (Jamaican Recordings)
61. Metronome Quintet - Plays Swinging Mahogonny (Sonorama)
62. Al King & Arthur K. Adams - Together: The Complete Kent and Modern Recordings (ACE)
63. Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights (Rhino Handmade)
64. Jimmy Hughes - Something Extra Special: The Complete Volt Recordings 1968-71 (Kent) 
65. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange (Majordomo)
66. Bobby Jackson - Bobby Jackson's Cafe Extraordinaire Story (Ninth Note)
67. Phil Cohran & Legacy - African Skies (Captcha)
68. Angelo Michajlov - Saxana OST (Finders Keepers)
69. Waylon Jennings - The Dark Side Of Fame (Omni)
70. Don Rendell / Ian Carr Quintet - Live At The Union 1966 (Reel Recordings)
71. Hasil Adkins - White Light / White Meat (Norton)
72. Bharat Karki & Party - International Music (Em)
73. Blaze Foley - Sittin' By The Road (Lost Art)
74. Hedzoleh Soundz - Hedzoleh (Soundway)
75. Lazy Smoke - Corridor Of Faces (Jackpot)
76. Basil Kirchin - Primitive London (Trunk)
77. Spur - Spur Of The Moments (Drag City)
78. Frankie Zhivago - The Age Of Flying High (Superfly)
79. The Up - Rising (Applebush)
80. Roland White - I Wasn't Born To Rock 'n Roll (Tompkins Square)
81. Moby Grape – Historic Live Moby Grape Performances 1966-1969 (Sundazed)
82. Pavement - Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement (Domino)
83. Ozzie - The Parabolic Rock: 1975-1982 (SSR Records)
84. Madeline Bell - Voice Of Soul/Sound Of Soul (Vocalion)
85. Wooden Shjips - Vol. 2 (Sick Thirst)
86. Ted Lucas - The Om Album (Yoga Records)
87. Mirrors - Something That Would Never Do (Violet Times)
88. Jon Wayne's Texas Funeral - Jon Wayne's Texas Funeral (Third Man)
89. Sons Of Truth - Message From The Ghetto (Truth/BGP)
90. Riley - Grandma's Roadhouse (Mo-Folk/Delmore)
91. The Wipers - Out Takes (Jackpot)
92. Minits - Follow Your Heart: The Sound Of Memphis Recordings (Kent)
93. The Young Lions - From The Vaults 1982-84 (Schizophrenic)
94. Claude Lombard - Claude Lombard (MPLS, Ltd)
95. Sweet Talks - The Kusum Beat (Soundway)
96. C'mon - C'monpilation (Blown Speaker)
97. Jim Sullivan - U.F.O. (Light In The Attic)
98. The's - The's (Third Man)
99. Kris Kristofferson - Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends: The Publishing Demos (Light In The Attic)
100. Jacky Chalard – Je Suis Vivant Mais J'ai Peur de Gilbert Deflez (Finders Keepers)