R.I.P.: Michael Apted

What can I say? Every smart soul in the world would claim that all of the “7 Up” documentaries and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” must be seen to consider yourself culturally literate. And “Gorillas in the Mist” as well, according to me.

Design Downer

I see the beautiful sidebar designs I had for years on here have been stripped away. I’m very sorry because, though I cannot remember who created them originally, they were the perfect degree of zany for me. Even worse, I get the feeling this is a step toward closing down the WordPress operation altogether.

I mean, what a sharp move to make blogs more drab and impersonal.

Next day: YAY! The Designs Are Back! YAY!

The Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool #38:

Bob Marley & the Wailers, Catch a Fire (Deluxe Edition) (Island/Tuff Gong, 2001)

The prize here, of course, is “The Unreleased Original Jamaican Versions” on Disc One. Has a spare force of beat and words (and song sequence) that the sweetened-up Island release can’t begin to touch. But I think it’s worth comparing the two for a sharp insight into the idea of how to introduce something “strange” as reggae in 1973. (One of my prized LP possessions is the first-release “lighter” version — though I sure as hell see why they ditched it pronto. Careful as I was with records back then, my copy is still a bit beat-up.)

Plus — sex (“Nasty Reggae”) and politics (“400 Years”)! Sex (“Baby We’ve Got a Date”) and politics (“Slave Driver”)!! This was the most graceful and relaxed combination of the two I had ever heard and holds up flawless today. A bonus was the flair with language (“her mind is confused with confusion”). The topper of the original sequence is that it ends with “No More Trouble,” exactly the uplift send-off the times demanded.

Final Notes of 2020

This is a list of my favorite albums I discovered after I finished making 2020 best-ofs. Inspired by other Top Whatever lists and the must-watch documentary “Break It All”

1. Bab L’ Bluz, Mayda! (Real World)

2. Bajofondo, Presente (Masterworks)

3. Bajofondo, Tangoclub (Surco)

4. Gorillaz, Song Machine (Warner)

5. Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (Bonus Edition) (Warner)

6. Manal, S/T (Sony BMG) (consists of late-60s singles and 1970 debut album)

7. Riddim Doctors, Ope (Gratitude) (MansMark)

8. Pert Near Sandstone, Rising Tide (self-released)

9. Thelonious Monster, Oh That Monster (Outliner)

10. Various, Spiritual Jazz XII — Impulse! (Jazzman)

11. Various, Keleketla! (Ahead of Our Time)

12. Waxahatchee, “Saint Cloud” (Merge)

R.I.P.: Charley Pride

When the first black country star died on December 12, I was disappointed but not totally surprised I had none of his recordings. My impression from radio listening and the media was that he was both token and MOR. But now was the time to get a played-at-home-opinion. I checked in with Xgau Consumer Guide and ordered RCA Country Legends. And after careful listens, I agree with every word of the Xgau review. This certainly belongs in big collections, but is all you need.

(Unexpected) Xmas Presence

This demonstrates what offbeat encounters can happen when you have thousands or albums scattered around your house not in chaos but not in order, either. I was looking to make sure every part of the basement remained dry in the midst of today’s downpour, when I came across a super-plain bootleg-type CD called Deconstructing Beck from 1998 (I had totally forgotten about it):


So I checked it out and concur with virtually everybody that it’s more abrasive than engaging. But it’s something to keep around (I filed it upstairs along with regular Beck), because it embodies a still-unresolved puzzlement about sampling. Shite, you can check the whole thing out yourselfs: