STILL BEEFING WITH: Kev Durant’s shooting accuracy and Westbrook’s incredible clutchness, people who don’t use turn signals, the state of Florida, the radio station at the laundromat that plays the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” every goddamn time I’m there, MMG now and forever, and Daniel Dumile for keeping his tour in foreign places, far away from my home. NEW BEEF: the state of Arizona, that awful new Animal Collective song (honestly, WTF), people who clicked “dislike” under the Danny Brown doc (HONESTLY. what in the fuck), and Nelly for not following Pharrell’s lead in making a respectful mention of the death of Chuck Brown, even though this anger is of my own making. (My expectations are probably too high of someone who puts “CEO of Nelly, Inc” as his first bio credit on Twitter.)
BRAND-NEW BEEF!: my recent lack of self-control at the record store. I am about my paper, obviously, and I like to shout about it; “Look at me, just look how I’m always adding to my collection while still being able to eat and pay rent.” (This is my version of Got a condo on my wrist.) Last week in Pasadena, however, this system took a hit. I overspent, boss. I’m terrible. You say you need a hundred bucks? I’d spot you, but man I’m fresh OUT, or as my man E-40 said during the old school lunch hour on the radio today when I was driving, “perhaps today my scrilla ain’t feeling me.” Being CEO of Logan, Inc. doesn’t pay as well as you’d think.
Big big shout and hello, before we begin, to whoever tagged this blog NSFW on Reddit. Anonymous Internet soldier, you got me about a hundred thousand hits, but my mother would like to have a word with you. “This site is very SFW,” she’ll say, and “And yes, Logan did get her hips from me; who do you think taught her how to use them to get out of speeding tickets?” To those of you who were expecting sexy, sexy filth based on the NSFW tag, I’m sorry for the lack of nudity. We can engage in penetration but only of the cerebral kind. Which reminds me:
WHO WANNA HEAR ABOUT SOME RECORDS I BOUGHT.
These here are just the outtakes from my shoot for The State vs. Logan Melissa mixtape.
Poobah is the name of a buffoonish, self-important character in a Gilbert & Sullivan opera, and the word has been taken to mean “pompous individual; person who mistakenly believes he or she exerts great influence” ever since. It also means “Slightly chubby MC in Historically Black University hoodie.” Grand Puba’s “360° (What Goes Around)” is all catchy, braggy self-promo with the divine Miss Gladys Knight on the hook and I love that. Puba’s known for getting money, hitting skins (teehee, ’cause it was ’92), wearing Girbauds (’92). Count on it. He’s predictable, like taxes, the sun rising, the circle of life record spinning around and around, “Sweet Dreams” coming on at the goddamn laundromat, Curren$y doing a song per week about cars and penthouses and the whores who love them. Your Starbucks order is so predictable, as is mine of course.
Puba probably wasn’t hitting a ton of skins, in ’92 or at any point, but he was telling the truth about the cyclical nature of human existence. We’re all predictable. I’m predictable. Alamo, is you with me? Cuz there’s just one thing I wanna say, and that is If what goes around comes back around again, tomorrow morning I’m getting my iced coffee with vanilla syrup at Starbucks, just like I did this morning and the morning before that. I’ll do laundry on Saturday; I’ll buy records on Sunday. My buffoonish sense of self-importance leads me to think I can spend and spend and somehow keep apartment 680’s rent paid. I’m coming back to Poo-Bah with my debit card and an intense stare. (When I get evicted, let’s be roommates! I’m a good cook and I’m fun to be around. Just don’t touch my stuff.)
Librarian in a sweater 2 sizes too small, and Sounwave doing his “Black Milk Signs to Interscope in 2005.” Our styles are so different but we both love this Monk Higgins record.
1. Monk Higgins, Dance To The Disco Sax Of Monk Higgins (Buddah, 1974). $4.99.
I learned from Schoolboy’s “There He Go” that some dudes smoke Garcia Vegas (verse 2). I also discovered that I do a mean lean-point-&-lipsynch move (during the hook), and Sounwave and I have at least one record in common in our collections (the break, which comes from Dance to the Disco Sax). What I learned from the video is that Kendrick continues to be the square one of the crew, surrounded by cool guys who manage to be interesting just by sitting there. He’s the Ernie Johnson of Black Hippy, and he’s got Barkley to his far left (Ab) and Shaq to his right (SBQ). Poor Kendrick-Ernie. Anyway, the erotic-thriller sounding piano at the beginning of “There He Go” absolutely makes the song; it’s so dreamy and perfect. But like I’ve said about so many songs throughout history, it would be nothing without those drums.
You need this album. Jesus, what a find! “One Man Band (Plays All Alone)” is the “There He Go” drum break that Sounwave used, and the hook turns up in Meyhem Lauren and Action Bronson’s “Typhoon Rap.” Bronson and Lauren have that big-boned body type in common, and they’ve both done NFL player name songs (“Larry Csonka,” “Ray Lewis”) – a trend that is becoming tiresome even for someone like me (football fan; Fantasy Football team owner; person who tweets at the fucking NFL on Fox robot doofus out of boredom and rage). Bronson and SBQ have this break in common, they both look extremely huggable, and I’m pretty sure they satisfy that requirement I have of all straight men in that they do not know anything about ladies’ purses. None of you guys should know the difference between an LV Speedy and a Trouville. It’s one of my heart’s rules. All I need is simply to be the more feminine one in a relationship, whether that relationship is headphone-based (I don’t know you but I like your music) or flesh-based (I know you, and we are sleeping together, sharing childhood stories, watching Sportscenter, and other couple-y things). Jot it down.
Most Perplexing: Nobody’s chopped n’ looped the first 10 seconds of “Space Race.” The Beatnuts in ’97, get on that. Best Album Title, with its instruction to Dance to the Particular Instrument that Mr. Higgins Plays. Everybody go on and dance if you want to, I’m humming to myself as I write this. The muuuuuusic makes your body move. WELL, ALL RIGHT. I’m still thinking about Ohio after having found Zapp for $2 and marveling at how much Delonte West looks like Bizzy Bone. Jazz dazz, disco jazz, said the Dazz Band (from Cleveland). Jazz dazz, disco jah-yazzz. Monk Higgins was from Arkansas but I feel like he’d agree with the Dazz Band that “disco jazz” is a real thing.
Jeopardy! fact: Jim Horn was often used by Spector in the Wall of Sound, and plays sax on Ike and Tina’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” Tina took her shirt off when recording the vocal, a fact that everyone in the studio remembers with pervy accuracy according to the 3 Spector bios I’ve read. Jim Horn also played sax and flute on Pet Sounds (hi Dad!) and Ladies of the Canyon (hi Mom!), in case the topless Tina story is too sexy for Jeopardy!
Personal goal: “5’7”, 280, murder bloods for rep” – Bronson, “Typhoon Rap.” Start a 5’7″ club with Bronson! Kate Moss can join too.
2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, live at the Forum, April 1969 (bootleg – but Zipper was the first label trying to profit from it, 1988). $7.99.
The topic on LA sports talk radio again today was the Bynum Problem. What do we do about Bynum, everyone wants to know. Our giant baby with the glass knee: will he mature? Or is his inner knucklehead a permanent part of his personality? Call now, lines are wide open, blah blah, opinion, analysis, disagreement, sarcasm, yelling. Andrew will mature, absolutely, unless he doesn’t. We should keep him, or maybe we shouldn’t. I don’t know! It is a debate I have no personal stake in but that nonetheless entertains me, like Backwoods v. Swishers v. Optimos (v. Garcia Vegas!). At the end of the hour, the consensus was that the Laker organization should hire Charles “Terrifying Human Being” Oakley to be an enforcer and knock Andrew’s crybaby block off. Kobe’s serial-killer icegrill has proven to be ineffective in making Andrew act right; Andrew, we all agree, will only respond to physical intimidation. Furthermore, I maintain that if the team played at a creaky, old, soulful venue like the Forum, Andrew’s behavior would not be tolerated. Staples is lovely and comfy, but it’s so completely soulless, from David Beckham’s stupid floppy hat to all the Speedy bags underneath the seats of plastic-breasted ladies sitting courtside. Becks ain’t coming to Inglewood. Listen, the point is what can I possibly say to describe a Hendrix bootleg album that I got for less than ten bucks other than YOU NEED THIS ALBUM and the beautiful gentleman sitting on the hood of the car up there wins the award for Best Impression of Andre Benjamin.
Jeopardy! fact:In ’96, Dr. Octagon, Roger Troutman, and Cobain did a show at the Forum, which you will obviously know as the FABULOUS Forum if you’re from anywhere within a 50-mile radius of my apartment.
3. Smokey Robinson, Big Time soundtrack (Tamla, 1977). $3.99.
“MCs couldn’t hang if they was lynched by the Grand Dragon.” You need this album. It’s got the “8 Steps to Perfection” break.
Prettiest Lady: my forever/always girlfriend Jayne Kennedy, star of Big Time and men’s daydreams, and the epitome of “bad.” Those credentials are good enough, GO JANE, but the bigger feat here is that she’s “bad” while simultaneously looking “sweet” and “has a college degree”-ish, such a tricky combination to pull off. I got “college-degree looking” on lock; “bad,” however, is still something I need to attain. I feel like my hips get me halfway there, but then my gait and prim demeanor set me back in Schoolteacherville. SIGH. Teach me, Jane!
Most Transparent: the marketing folks at Motown Films in 1977. “Small-time con man Big Time Eddie Jones hustles his way to the big payoff,” goes Big Time‘s media kit description, “while trying to stay one step ahead of insurance investigators*, the FBI and the Mob. Think Uptown Saturday Night, with a harder edge.” Ha. Yeah, I bet you’d like me to think Uptown Saturday Night, Motown Films, and you’d also like me to ignore the fact that Big Time has no Poitier, no Silky Slim, and no Geechie Dan. Smokey probably turned up in Jet in ’77, being interviewed for a promo fluff piece and talking about how if you squint hard enough during Big Time, you might see a guy who looks kind of like Richard Pryor. Willie Hutch should’ve just ended the whole charade and put out a song called “Gullible Moviegoers.”
* Least-sexy villains in any film.
BEST OPENING. BEST BEST OPENING. The first 25 seconds of the movie’s theme song bang so freaking hard, courtesy of freaking hard-as-HALE guitar-banger god Wah-Wah Watson. That opening makes you think the song’s gonna be some spacey oddball adventure with sexy alien ladies and maybe a fake-Moroder bassline, but then, sigh, it turns into vanilla ’77 discotheque white-noise. As a listener, I feel bamboozled; “Ha Ha (Gotcha, Bitch)” would’ve been a more appropriate song title. Smokey could only divert from the norm so much, though. Even in the late ’70s he was on that tight Motown leash.
Jeopardy! fact: Marvin’s I Want You; Blondie, Bohannon, George Duke, Quincy Jones, the Beach Boys: Wah Wah Watson never appeared on a corny album.
Personal goal: Get that El-P + Killer Mike “G-Money” vinyl package. Am I my brother’s keeper? Shut up, who cares, GIMME. I must own it! The instrumental album is blood red!
4. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (Atlantic, 1972). 99¢.
Chicago’s got some bad juju — Donny’s suicidal brain chemicals, Kanye’s women issues, Derrick Rose’s ACL, poor Chief Keef can’t afford a tshirt. Good Chicago juju, thankfully, includes the unstoppable gray-haired, marriage-equality-pushing most-powerful-man-in-the-world calm-temperament swagger of one B. Obama, and the achy powerful beauty of Donny’s voice (top 10 voices in apt. 680’s collection, easily). I hereby announce that YOU NEED THIS ALBUM. This news fits right in with the rest of the world, as this week was full of facts that did not need to be announced – like Mitch Kupchak’s official statement that the Lakers “will be considering trades” (thanks, Scott Van Pelt) or that _____ and _____ were beefing last week and now, what’s this? They’re collabing? Imagine I’m doing a “Public Service Announcement” freestyle when I tell you this, and it’ll come out less like an order and more like a helpful suggestion: You need this album. It’s Flack and Hathaway. I cannot WAIT for the Weezy x Pusha mixtape, by the way.
This one wins Best Hangover Album—it’s melodic, floaty, and gentle, which makes sense since Arif Mardin was in charge of strings and a gentleman named Joe Gentle played flute on it. (Best and Most Appropriate Flute Player’s Name: Joe Gentle). And it’s got Purdie drums, which are never too brain-rattling. You’ll appreciate this when it’s the morning after you yelled BOTTLES ON ME 14 separate times in one night, and you did that stupid “WOOOOO” that ladies do, and the memories of acting like a retard are flooding your brain and making you cringe and also the terrible terrible nausea.
Roberta and Donny do their take on “You’ve Got a Friend” – appropriate, since they were best buddies. They do “I Who Have Nothing” and “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” a song that I have never liked but it’s got a great Spector-being-creepy story behind it. The critics went nuts for this album. It is a collection of music that is the opposite of ironic. Roberta and Donny will slay the grouchy dragon that lives in your heart with pure, uncut love of humanity. They excel at earnestness. The two of them are the best in the whole world at it, other than maybe Neil Young. The fact that Donny’s brain chemicals were starting to betray him at this point in his life lends a beautiful gravity to the album, and also a sense of really making me mad and hopeless. Stop it, songs, my brain says. It’s like the songs are telling the future, the horrible bleak future of Donny, but that’s not true – I’m just reading too much into the songs like always. It’s best to listen to this album in a vacuum. Put it on and pretend it’s ’72.
Best Piano Break, provided by Donny, above, later used in “On My Block,” the instrumental of which you’ll recognize as the backing track for every “successful MC returns to his old neighborhood” story on MTV. “Where is the Love,” already a huge bummer of a song, provides the break in Nate Dogg’s “Never Leave Me Alone,” last heard in the lunchtime old school hour on the radio every day in Los Angeles for the last 5 years. Ugh. Nate is on my radio these days on the hook of a song called “Party We Will Throw Now,” a song that is too awful for me to link to and which should be called “Make Money off Nate Dogg’s Name and Likeness We Will Do Now.” Biggest Bummer.
5. Death Grips, The Money Store (Epic, 2012). $14.99.
FIRST of All, Most Unbelievable in 2012: Epic Records still exists. Second of all, this really is some dude rap and not really appropriate for a proper lady such as myself.
I’m not going to pretend I can enjoy these lyrics half as much as someone with a penis, because the laws of the universe state that this is impossible. Thisssome DUDE RAP, no doubt about it. But in a world of this type of babyish male communication
I am in pure, old-fashioned, Sacramento industrio-love with Death Grips.
Hahaaaaaaaaa. (9 a’s).
In my more compassionate moments, I’ll see a post on Rap Radar about the latest MMG wind-up rapper and think Aw, this is awful music, but what do I care. Let ’em have their fun. Get paid, darlings. I drove to Poo-Bah with the radio on, enjoying that “Burn” song in was the most guilty, dirty pleasure of my week. Then I get the fucking Death Grips album and I’m filled with heat and energy (which I guess is just another way of saying heat) and I think Yes, this is exactly how it should be. Only the people who I say can rap should be able to rap. Meek Mill still has the best cheekbones since Metta World Peace, but the fact remains the pleasure’s been stripped from future listenings of “Burn”; I bet “Cashin’ Out” will be next (sorry for this link, everyone with good taste). And now it is time for an “I’ve Seen Footage” interlude to cleanse my palate.
(I’ll listen to your “Stay Schemin” freestyle if you can get me the “Audemars” instrumental, though. Deal? My fondness for Meek Mill’s vocal playfulness and light rasp is well documented. Unfortunately, I reached my saturation point for Audemar raps back in August ’11, so: instrumental, please.)
“Hustle Bones,” “I’ve Seen Footage,” and “Get Got” are the Best Song Titles in this record haul (next to “Sugar Lump” on that Leon Haywood record). This baby was destined to come home with me the second my eyes met it from across the room; the only misgiving I had about buying it was when I realized that Bieber probably has it on his iPod. But I fought it off, and now The Money Store is home with me, wedged in between some Nu Shooz and Jerry Butler on my living room floor.
Personal goal: Get Epic to re-release The Money Store with special bonus track “Phil Rizzuto.”
The title track, above, provides the Best Walking-Down-the-Street Snippet (00:22 – 01:01), which turns into the Best Transitional Moment in My Personal Narrative, Such as When I Turn a Corner and See An Ex-Lover and Must Decide Whether to Stay for Some Uncomfortable Conversation or Run Away (01:02 – 01:25, the panic of the horns illustrating this perfectly). Then, starting at 02:48, my ex and I are making out in a sexy, dirty alleyway. (Sorry, Mom! It’s just a makeout; we’re not getting back together). And finally, at 3:20, I come to my senses and continue down the street. Probably Jamba Juice, because I’ll feel a little sick and feverish after I acted that way, making out with my ex – so out of character for me! – and I’ll want something healthy.
“Neo Terra (New Land)” has a spacey, super Bob-James-sounding open that Masta Ace used, though I must deduct points for Low End-era Tribe not using it. It would’ve been perfect. I also must deduct points for Freddie, or more likely Freddie’s A&R, deciding that “Neo Terra” had to include “(New Land)” in its title, since otherwise how could a buyer of this record with some basic understanding of Latin root words possibly know what the words neo terra mean.
Personal goal: Tear myself away from the TalkBass.com forum. It’s the new prince.org in apartment 680.
Side A, track 1: “Nights on Broadway,” yes, perfect, love it, a yummy piece of chord-progression cake with synth frosting. Side A, track 2: “Jive Talkin’,” a headphone banger to such a degree that I get upset when it comes on at CVS in those tinny speakers that don’t do it justice.
Further down in the post I share that I have big problems with Khalifa’s team design-jacking a David Ruffin album cover. But Akinyele jacked the Bee Gees’ cover and I have no negative comments. I’m complicated. And I actually prefer dancing to the version of a song done by feathery-haired Australians over the version done by Rufus, which is so weird for me to type, but it’s true. I’m complicated.
My Whole World Ended is like all other Ruffin albums in that it falls into the category of Records That Both Juicy J and I Would Tell You to Buy if You Ever See Them In Your Local Store’s Bin, along with anything by Womack or Willie Hutch. This alone is reason enough to buy it. Also, it’s Ruffin. You need this album. Support beautiful, doomed, coke-ravaged vocal masters by collecting their records, even though Berry Gordy is obviously Illuminati.
Personal goal: Get a hug from cuddly tough guy Bronson. He’s probably top ten in the world right now when it comes to huggers.
I’ve loved songs about homemade narcotics ever since daddy played George Jones’ “White Lightnin'” in the living room on Saturday mornings when I was little. This is why, as a grown-up, I’ll beat you, anytime, just name the place, if you’d like to engage in a Nickatina-lyrics-off with me. Or perhaps E-40’s more your speed? Let me know! Bro we can do this anytime. We can do this. My brain’s got a special area where the verses are embedded, deep within the gray folds, and it’s only gotten more developed with age. I am also guaranteed to love anything with a pedal-steel guitar in it because of all my dad’s other Saturday-morning turntable DJ classics. The lovely pedal-steel on Blunderbuss‘ title track, which I love of course, comes courtesy of Fats Kaplin. He played with Pure Prairie League, the ones behind baby-Logan-family-vacation-car-tape-deck-everybody-sing-along-banger “Amie,” even though Kaplin wasn’t in the band when they recorded “Amie.” Nonetheless: “AMIE” INTERLUDE YALL.
Jeopardy! fact: A blunderbuss is a musket-type gun. It’s also something you call a “clumsy, unsubtle” person. That’s why Cory Gunz can also be called Cory Blunderbuss without his name losing any meaning.
Personal goal: Go to Detroit. Make it a real place in my heart and head. The problem, guys, is that Detroit’s too fraught with history, tragic romance, and musical pixie dust. It’s not real. It’s Henry Ford, Derrick May, Barry Sanders, Proof. The motor city’s burning. We almost lost Detroit. Kick out the fucking jams. Bass bass bassbassbass, metal-pipe sound from the GM assembly line, backspin, bass. I know from the hit film 8 Mile that Detroit gentlemen like to have sex in factories. I know from books that what was once Aretha’s dad’s church (New Bethel Baptist) is on the corner of Linwood and Philadelphia. But I don’t know where the westside begins or how to get to Ford Field. “I would never let my children roam the Dexter-Linwood area or 7 Mile and Chalmers,” says a concerned parent on a Detroit message board, “but how many responsible parents would?” Concerned parent, how should I know? I’ve never been to Detroit. I need to go to Detroit. I’ve already practiced what I’ll look like at People’s Records.
There’s no gentle way to say that this is the score of a film about a boatful of doomed Jewish refugees in 1939. Voyage of the Damned is a super bummer of a record, but even bummer Lalo, unstimulating Lalo, is Lalo worth having. The music does what it’s supposed to – just kind of lulls around in your brain after you’ve listened. It’s not a good sex record; it’s a folding laundry with frequent moments of staring off into space record. I could try to sell it by convincing you that owning this Lalo record will provide you with a wonderful object to spark historical conversation with your children about major life themes (persecution, war, humanity). I’ll just leave it at It’s Lalo Schifrin; you need this album.
At least 100 Bibles have been to the moon, I read once in Harper’s index. It made sense. People like to feel secure when they go on trips in which they might die; Lalo’s soothing background music for the boat trip was composed with this credo in mind. And for some levity, let me point out that one of the film’s protagonists is named Professor Egon Kreisler, played by THE GOD Max Von Sydow, whose characters always sound like they need to be mentioned in Doom songs (“Lankester Merrin,” “Colonel Kosnov,” “Antonius Block”). I’d tell this to Doom in person if only he’d bring his tour to my country, the United States.
Personal goal: “Antonius Block” – DOOM feat. Kool Keith, Danny Brown, Mac Dre, Brian Eno, Scarface, The D.O.C., Reggie Watts, and Nas when he was 19, with some mid-90s UGK skull-rattle bass, someone on a Rhodes from ’74, and 3 or 4 Dilla sirens sprinkled throughout.
Jeopardy! fact: The Thundercats are apparently already a thing, all rights reserved, and cannot be copied or rebroadcast without the expressed written consent of blah blah. I believe the expression I always hear on Law & Order is “Lawyer up, Thundercat.”
Most “Are You My Boyfriend?” YouTube Comment: “1:05 looks like Paris the black fu from detroit grand pubahs” – darkmagik347, who should have my phone number.
Cutest YouTube Comment: “he’s got picachu pants on. DOPE.” This tells you everything you need to know about Thundercat and about the fans of Thundercat.
Most ’70s Cover Design (nature scene + lapels + singer/songwriter wistful gaze, which is usually seen on James Taylor album covers.) Most ’70s Name: “Leon Haywood.” Sounds like he should be playing bass in Sister Sledge or training Larry Holmes for his next match.
Personal goal: “Blah blah Big Meech, Larry Hoover/’B.M.F. Beautiful’ is a song by Leon Haywood – hallelujah.” Include this line in my upcoming mixtape Teflon Fawn. (doe eyes)
– Danny Brown Grimes
Big Sean makes way more commercially successful Welcome-to-Gamma-Phi-Beta Whitegirl Party Jams, as every female customer at H&M demonstrates when he comes on the playlist loop and they all walk around mouthing his verses to their friends and I want to die. But Grimes makes the Best Whitegirl Jams in This Particular Record Haul. She elicits true, uncut, premium-grade white girlishness inside of my skinny frame and big heart, just like when “There is a Light and it Never Goes Out” comes on the car radio and I lose control of my tear ducts and I must sing along. The Smiths turn me into a character in a future-apocalypse sci-fi movie in which I’ve been given a directive. I must sing along in order to save my own life and the lives of my family members. I feel it pretty deeply, you guys. Anyway, I’m a sarcastic, insecure white woman in a major metro area so of course as I write this I’m wearing my standard-issue Toms, eating a mayo sandwich, watching Girls, listening to Grimes. Bet you didn’t know she did the hooks on “Oh Boy”and “Through the Wire,” neither.
15. The Dramatics, A Dramatic Experience (Volt, 1973). $2.99.
My dad had an OG copy of this, and misplaced it during the family move from First House to Second House when I was in high school. I got mad at him and went off to pout. I made mischief of one kind, then another kind, and then I sailed back over a year, in and out of weeks, and through a day, and into Poo-Bah Records in Pasadena, and found A Dramatic Experience, then brought A Dramatic Experience home, into the night of my very own room, where I put it on the turntable, AND IT WAS STLL HOT. You need this album.
A Dramatic Experience was recorded in Detroit during the fall of ’72. Amazing human Robert Harris was mayor of Ann Arbor at the time and worked with the city council to reduce weed-possession fines. “I’ll Be Around” was a big hit. The Tigers won their division. You were probably feeling yourself pretty hard if you were from the Detroit major metro area in the early ’70s. If it were me, I would’ve made up a story about how I grew up 2 streets over from Tony Hester, production god, arrangement god, writing god, who roared his terrible production roar and showed his terrible arrangement claws, warning us on A Dramatic Experience that “The Devil is Dope,” a song about the joys of hare-on that tries to pass itself off as an anti-drug song. (It’s impossible to make an anti-heroin song; email me your counter-arguments if you like, but I will just write “NOPE” in my reply to you.) This album’s necessary because it’s the Dramatics, simple as that, but they used up the really good stuff a year earlier on Whatcha See is Whatcha Get. If there is a better way to announce yourself to the world than by screaming and firmly suggesting everyone get the fuck up, I don’t want to know about it because I will have a hundred orgasms and then drop dead and I ain’t done living yet. They incorporate my favorite ’70s R&B thing of calling a woman mama (“Get up, now look at mama/Look at mama”). Then they fucking start side B with “In the Rain,” murdering it, just chewing up and spitting out my heart and guts. Tony Hester was Pac Man, treating my heart and guts like pac-dots. Game, as Lil Flip would say, over.
Lloyd Banks’ “Just Another Day” samples “Beware of the Man with the Candy in His Hand,” yet another attempt by ’70s musicians to convince me not to try pills and powder; meanwhile, most of the ’70s albums in my collection were made by dudes on pills and powder. Sigh. Stop trying to make drugs not cool, musicians. You sound like my middle school principal. Tone Capone does a nice job with the sample; here’s the instrumental version, free of Banks’ voice, because that’s how it should be. Capone also produced “I Got 5 On It” (!!) but had to resort to working with Banks a few years later because the mortgage payment was due. No judgment here. Get it, daddy. Even Donald “Duck” Dunn, bass god, may he rest in eternal sexy throbbing-bass peace, played on a freaking Rod Stewart album.
Most Diverse Side Hustles: Ellis Chapell. An in-house artist for Stax and Volt, he did the cover painting for A Dramatic Experience, designed book covers for John Grisham, Kurt Vonnegut, and Elmore Leonard, was the commissioned portraitist of the Neville Brothers for NARAS, and, most impressively, did the University of Tennessee Dental College portrait of Dr. Jim Slagle!
Jeopardy! fact: Oh, I don’t know – some random fact about Al Bell or Isaac Hayes. I got a million of ’em.
Personal goal: Make a BDP x Dramatics mixtape. Call it A Lot of MCs Like to Use the Word Dramatics-al.
Joel Dorn, producer, is reason enough for me to insist that you need this album. And look – there’s Ron “Pretty Flaco” Carter on bass! But mostly you need First Take for the smoke-and-look-out-the-window-at-nothing heartbreak standard “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which sounds like something A$AP “Pretty Flaco” Rocky says he hears from girls all the time. (I don’t find him to be that pretty, but he keeps insisting that I do). The song is Roberta’s take on the ODB classic with words that I am too ladylike to repeat here and which is this record haul’s Best 13-Year-Old-Boy Memory-Provoker. Remember when you heard Return to the 36 Chambers for the first time at your friend’s house? You were 13 and in love with dirty words and sex talk. You still are, even though you’re grown; you just hide it better these days.
Jeopardy! fact: Joel Dorn once said, “A bell goes off in your stomach when you see or hear something that grabs you.” He was describing his ear for good production and, years later, my body’s response to 808.
Personal goal: Get Roberta to write her autobiography. (Roberta Flack has no autobiography! That’s wrong!) I’m guessing she’s got a few stories to tell.
17. The Jimmy Castor Bunch, Dimension III (RCA, 1973). $9.99.
It’s got a lack of Lenny Fridie on congas and that’s not Jimmy’s fault. He is to blame, however, for the stupid decision to cover “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” What in the world. The original song is unable to be improved upon, because the original has that Hammond. Jimmy’s sax can’t save the day elsewhere on Dimension III, either. In 1973, nobody could out-horn-section Willie Hutch.
2636 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
Pros: XXX on display just for me, I swear; huge selection of used stuff – especially jazz and soul; store DJ plays upstairs from a perch (the Honey Cone! Lee Hazlewood! Pharoah Sanders!); good, cheap prices like the record store gods intended. It’s also just down the street from Coffey Optical, which makes me feel like Dennis secretly lives in Pasadena and loves fitting people for frames.
Cons: My checking account is sad.