I used to be a reallllllll pain in the ass music snob, and I didn’t like Jimmy’s sweet voice or the fact that he’s not Rasta because I had real strict guidelines for Jamaican masculinity in my record collection. I also did not care for this album opening with a song about the wickedness of womanly charms (“You came along with temptation and made me do wrong, I left my home and my good family, now you bring shame and disgrace on me, I was attracted to your vanity so I strayed in the wrong direction, now my life is full of misery,” etc. etc., aww somebody needs a nap and a bottle.)
Years later, I relaxed, grew and developed as a person, became slightly less of a pain in the ass, and came to love Jimmy’s vocal purity and grace. “I’ve Been Dead 400 Years,” I learned when I revisited this record, is my CUT. I also decided Jimmy’s spiritual beliefs are fine by me since Rastas consider oral sex unnatural so they are a people who cannot be liked or trusted.
Peter used to talk about his struggles with the devil and people thought he was a great big weirdo. “I AM AT WAR WITH THE DEVIL,” he said, and the people laughed. Then he got Al Jacksoned in his house one night and everybody felt like idiots for not listening to him. My point with this sad sad story is that you should listen to Peter Tosh, everybody (up until the early ’80s synth stuff, that is).
I don’t really care for Barbara’s voice or the stupid babyish “Yes, I’m Ready” lyrics about not knowing how to use your body to show affection (????! Lemme draw you a picture, Ms. Mason), but this one’s got the words “Gamble,” “Huff,” and “Curtom” on the back cover, plus I already had that striped shirt, so it was destined to be.
“WHY IN THE FUCK would I listen to Physical Graffiti when this new Funkadelic record just came out? USE YOUR HEAD.” – me, being all indignant during the spring of 1975, if I had been around back then. (Incidentally, “Use your head” is also my go-to strategy for getting a backstage pass. George Clinton was so taken with the idea he wrote a song about it.)
Later on in ’75, I would fall in deep deep throbbing love with records by the Meters, the Isleys, the Players of Ohio, Rufus, Burning Spear, Tom Waits, Heart (YEAH I SAID IT), and Curtis. But that spring was pretty epic – Chocolate City came out in March and Let’s Take It to the Stage came out a month later because George Clinton is the god damned devil.
(Special thank you to Natalie for handling black Sharpie duties)
I had planned to do The Young Mods’ Forgotten Story, but I couldn’t get anyone to stand in for Fred or Sam (I would be Curtis, DUHHH). At that point I was just alone in a trench coat, so it was either gonna be this one or Odyssey of Iska.
Sly Sex, it turns out, is not a bunch of songs about that summer I spent on tour with the Family Stone being Sylvester Stewart’s coked-out plaything. Sly Sex is nothing more than Redd Foxx being filthy and hilarious, you enormous dummies!
Depending on when you catch me during the day, I’ll either insist that this should’ve been called Slyy Sexx for continuity purposes, or I’ll say nope, that’s stupid, such a title would be overkill and kinda corny. There’s just no pleasing me, you guys.
(I hate how I look in redd but this cover kept calling me. It was just so damn easy to recreate. And besides, how could I not pay tribute to Mr. Sanford?)
My Invictus/Hot Wax listening cutoff point is right around ’73-4 - Honey Cone (FUCKING LOVE THEM), Chairmen of the Board, and Brian Holland’s ode to me, “Super Woman”). I will therefore never listen to this record for pleasure, and in fact will only listen to it if I’m having a Laws Family binge-listening session - an event that would only take place so I could eventually get to Afro-Classic and Pressure Sensitive. Great cover, though.
All the covers in Fontana’s “Popular Jazz” series feature an excited young woman and a shouty title in huge typeface – Erroll Garner’s is Move!; Clifford Brown’s is Warm! You got Oh Brother! for Les McCann, Cattin’! for Coleman Hawkins, and Gerry Mulligan’s is SAXY!, of course.
Hip! is the Roland Kirk one – a comp from the Mercury/Limelight years - so named because HOLY FUCK IT’S ROLAND KIRK! was not appropriate for midcentury music label marketing.
“I lay law like Derek and the Dominos” – Talib Kweli, blatantly pandering to Baby Boomers
One of the easiest covers I could possibly do. I don’t know what took me so long, but here’s to bad bitch Patti Boyd, all the musical gentlemen of color from all the SEC states who provided the entire framework of Clapton’s style/mojo but weren’t cute or British so they never got rich* (LOLOLOL, music industry), Duane Allman’s beloved guitar frets 1 through 6 (WHEEDLY WHEEDLY WHEEE), Jim Gordon’s Legitimately Insane ass* for that beauuuutiful “Layla” piano coda, and the Jimmy Conway murderous wreckage scene in Goodfellas, of course.
* Not Clapton’s fault, and at least he got Broonzy and Muddy and them a lot of publicity.
** severely mentally ill. Killed his mom. Also killed it on drums, though, so it’s OK.
I played this at my backyard BBQ at my house in the 3rd Ward back when Ford was in office and Pistol Pete was on the court in a Jazz uniform and we did a Soul Train line (I joined in during MY CUTS “You’ve Got Your Spell on Me” and “Party Happy”) just before we all stripped down and jumped in Lake Pontchartrain, remember?
(That spot next to my big window lets in lots of beautiful sunshine but it also advertises how sheer this shirt is. Hence the arm protection.)