Expert Witness Comment for the Week

On the stereo: Now That’s What I Call 90s Pop 

VERY useful collection, not only because exquisitely entertaining sequence of tunes, but because I can dump at least three CDs I was keeping for only one number (Will Smith, Christina Aguilera, Sheryl Crow).

 

PS: That posted, I have to say the sequence isn’t brilliant enough to make me like Boyz II Men and Ricky Martin and … well, I donno how often I will throw this on. But the contexting work is a keeper.

Trio of Praises

I’ve done only one (very casual) Best of 2017 Albums list, so I’m not the least surprised that I just now ran across a couple of releases I should have added to it …

 

Bob Dylan, Triplicate (Columbia) (that’s what he gets for releasing vinyl-only so it could get lost behind a passel of Thelonious Monk albums I brought up for a marathon obit-tribute)

Kendrick Lamar, Damn (Alternative/Innerscope). Crap, I put a selection from this on my Best of the First Half of 2017 mixdisc, but this got switched to a different pile for some unknown reason. Anyway, terrific.

This morning I re-listened to the soundtrack of Linklater’s Boyhood for the first time in a very long while and again marveled at his skill for picking and sequencing songs, in particular making me love tracks (in context) from groups I don’t like at all (The Flaming Lips, for instance).

Fred Cole, Pt. Two: Wowsers and YIKES!

Continuing the process of trying to hear everything Cole recorded. To start at the start, I knew The Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be a Witch” from the original Nuggets collection but for many years I did not know, out of raw ignorance, that this was Cole’s first band (only album came out in ’68 when he was 20). Then, since I never even saw a single copy of it, I smoothed over my curiosity by assuming (like the dummy I was) that Just Colour suffered from the usual Nuggets Curse (that is, aside from the one marvelous track, the album was either too derivative or outright bleh). I got the definitive 2008 reissue on Rev-Ola and wowsers was I wrong — one of the best garage-classic-containing LPs I’ve heard and a Rilly Weird. Piece of Work. “Underground Railroad,” “Who’ll Read the Will,” “Don’t Close the Door on Me” and the last track, “Sin” show Cole’s angry, morbid/supernatural and proto-punk attitude in place already. Only [small] defect: the two unreleased Bonus Tracks are weak. The sort of simpering stuff you were afraid the whole album would be like.

The YIKES is that on what I believe is the Pierced Arrows final album, Descending Shadows, the songwriting and performing remain intact, but Cole’s voice sounds wracked and ravaged. Not surprised this was the end. Still, perfect final song for a free spirit who flew his own way decade after decade: “Coming Down to Earth.”

R.I.P.: Fred Cole

Lifelong incarnation of “indie spirit rock and roll.” I discovered him and Toody when they were playing a Pierced Arrows album at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula and I asked “who in the hell is this dandy item?” It was some early version of Straight To the Heart that doesn’t look like the one you can get now. Loved it, but sat around in ignorance until I read this definitive presentation by Bob Xgau. The double-CD is clearly where to begin, but I wanna snatch up anything I can find by Fred and Toody.

Surprise Books & Music Kick — En Francaise

Dropped by the French Culture Center (a must-visit for Boston locals — delights abound) and discovered that by chance it was the Library Book Sale. Hundreds and hundreds of volumes — $1 each! Zoot aloors!

What I grabbed:

Cinema magazine (May, 1971), featuring La Salamandre by Alain Tanner (not least because I can never have enough pictures of Bulle Ogier).

Cinema magazine (June, 1981), featuring Les Annees Lumiere by Alain Tanner (Light Years Away in the US) (not least because I saw this strange flick and loved that it did not even try to make linear sense)

Les Gens de Justice by Daumier (1974). Of course the jokes are lost in the French text, but the reproductions are so superior to any American volume I have run across that … less than a penny a page seems like the bargain of a lifetime.

Amour – Erotisme en Cinema, by Ado Kyrou, edited by Eric Losfeld (not sure what this means) (1966). Treasure of new to me film stills, from the heyday of hedonism-on-the-rise in movie houses. The historic stuff is also incredible. Has a bookmark. Looks the most-used of the books I got. Donated to the Cultural Center in 1969. (PS: the cover features a stylized image of Louise Brooks, confirming the country’s obsession with her erotisme.)

Various, La Chanson de L’Annee 2016 (MCA/Universal). Four-CD set! A bit less MOR than I expected, and way, way more fun than 25 cents a disc.

Combined Birthday Vacation/Morning Workout Soundtrack

  1. The Black Lillies, Hard to Please (2015) — Americana mix with a welcome fondness for r & r. Inspired me to check out an earlier release which was meh.
  2. Hard Working American, We’re All in This Together (2017) Only complaint is that it’s so long my road player wouldn’t read the disc.
  3. Go Sailor, S/T (originally recorded 1994-95). Look ’em up.
  4. Jupiter Apple, Uma Tarde Na Fruteira (2007) Droll Italians — lead-off song title: “A Marchinha Psicotica de Dr. Soup”
  5. Jupiter & Okwess, Kin Sonic (2017). Gotta listen some more but maybe yet another new African style. Tuff. Tight.
  6. Rudesh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition, Agrima (2017) Of course improves on all the Indo-Pak borrowings of vintage jazz-rockers.
  7. Maneige, Ni Vent … Ni Nouvelle (1995 reissue of 1977 LP) A Montreal prog outfit I had never heard of but now play at least once a week. Warning: contains flute, but sort of as a sweet, warm-up-the-introduction routine.
  8. Alma Micic, That Old Feeling (2017). This is the album of American songbook vocals that beat down my resistance. I wasn’t as charmed by an earlier record, but this has a certain flintiness that cuts through all the retro fog.
  9. Motorhead, Under Cover (2017). Utterly inspired memorial for Lemmy. Again, the finest metal outfits are also superb outright rock and rollers.
  10. Various, Listen … OKA! (2911). A fusion album featuring Bayaka pygmies that does mesmerizing other straight recordings of similar styles never do for me.
  11. Quicksilver Messenger Service, live at the Fillmore, June 7, 1968 (2015). Yeah, yeah, I’m a Cipollina nut. So stone me. Ran across this and hadn’t listened in a long while.
  12. Oneohtrix Point Never, Rifts (2012). Like I’ve said, somehow this guy was fully formed from the first track: Betrayed in the Octagon has more churning moods, Russian Mind a never-content’s version of ambient. Zones Without People a bit of both.
  13. Peace Worshipers, S/T (2015) One of the many raga-fusion albums to come out this year, with more consistent mood and momentum and deep calm than others. Sorry I still feel too ignorant to write about it.
  14. Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet, Ladilkan (2017) A triumph at the heart of several trends key to this year. A must.
  15. UNKLE, The Road, Part 1 (2017). Not your uncle’s UNKLE or even their earlier selves’. Uneven, but I’m captivated by the determination to keep re-inventing.
  16. Various, Afrobeats Hot Hits (2017) See (and hear) my review.
  17. Various, Gentle Giants: the Songs of Don Williams (2017). Very peculiar anthology in a way. Williams did not write these songs. Only some of those paying him homage try to replicate his style. More of a tribute to his taste in tunes and kind heart.
  18. Laura Veirs, The Triumphs & Travails of Orphan Mae (2001). The earliest album (her second) Veirs has kept in circulation. Her career is a fascinating study in the interaction of precise songwriting and subtle but insistent production. The one show I saw was a pallid dud. Maybe it was an off night. Maybe her work needs the massage of the machines. This argues for the former.