Have you guys ever played a spirited round of “The Westbound Ohio Players were the best and here is why/No no you fool the Mercury Ohio Players were the fucking best and here is why”? When I’m drunk, this game is raucous and fun. When I’m not drunk, it’s the worst, and the people I’m playing against are always insufferable and don’t listen even though I make REALLY GOOD POINTS. (The situation’s the same when you play “Strata-East vs. Black Jazz” and “Human females collect and actually know shit about records: yes or no”: participants get heated, feelings get hurt.)
Anyway, I don’t have a solid position in the debate – it depends on whether I’m drinking rum or vodka and the evening’s phase of the moon and how Kobe’s knee is coming along and whether or not I’ve just listened to “Far East Mississippi” – but I do know the song order on Contradiction is all fucked up (sluggish side A should be switched with banging side B), the guys sure rebounded nicely from their Junie split, “Far East Mississippi” is my cut, and yes, still, even after all these years, I will not hide the fact that I’d lovvvve to share the same astrological sign as Sugarfoot given my feelings about bass, but I’m still happy to be a fabulous Arian like my guys Satch and James. (Drums n’ horns are my side boyfriends when bass is out of town.)
I believe the expression is “The bigger the headache, the bigger the pill.” Less popular but no less true is the expression “The bigger my love for Dr. Funkenstein, licensed administer of ear-canal narcotics including but not limited to rubbery bassline antidepressants, the greater the likelihood that I’m willing to forego monogamy and share my groom with my other sister-wives so we can blow the cobwebs out your mind.”
I wish George would give women a little wiggle room when it comes to roles – we are backup singers and side-project wives, and that’s it – but if I complain I’ll get kicked out of the family and he’ll easily find another fake wife to hit in the protons and make sure her hips keep moving. Having to share Dr. Funkenstein with some other ladies is better than no Funkenstein at all.
GODDAMN RECORD DOESN’T FIT IN MY POCKET, COMMODORES. YOUR ALBUM NAME IS STUPID. The handclaps and entire chord progression in “Lady” make up for it, though! I love youuuuu! xoxo.
[Besides, they’re most impressive OUT of the pocket, in front of a crowd – just like my man (or, more accurately, my mom’s man) Randall Cunningham! And, sigh, even though I’m a Raider fan I am contractually obligated SIGH to mention the unfortunately-tatted Colin Kaepernick when it comes to good scrambling QBs. I’m sick of the 9ers but Kap is pretty agile & smart; I’ll give him that. Plus at least he’s not my SWORN MORTAL ENEMY Philip Rivers, so there’s some silver lining.]
Saw a bumper sticker that said, “LIKE MOST MUSICIANS, YOU’RE FOLLOWING A BASS PLAYER.” Mike Watt would probably cringe at that because being a solid, nice, socialist dude means you don’t think you’re any more important than the other members of the band. But c’mon. We all know about my feelings for bass. (Sam Jones is my boyfriend, remember?)
This one will never get bumped as often as anything on SteepleChase or Curtom or whatever but it’s one I am fully aware I should have as a human being with functioning ears to share with the children of the future. #MikeWatt #BASS #plaidbuttonups #JesusAndTequila #CCR #
SPARKLING JEWELS! In effect like alternate side of the street parking rules!
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.
NOPE, not my tribute to the Denver Broncos. Hush now. These here are just the outtakes from my shoot for The State vs. Logan Melissa mixtape.
“You will spend $120 for 17 albums at Poo-Bah Records in Pasadena,” said my palm reader a couple weekends ago. “You really should tone it down with the spending,” she added. “Take it easy, baby doll.”
05/12/12. Poo-Bah’s leftside wall that I saw upon entering,
except, in BrownVision™,
HERE’S HOW I SAW IT.
Poobah is the name of a buffoonish, self-important character in a Gilbert & Sullivan opera, and the word has been taken to mean “pompous individual; person who mistakenly believes he or she exerts great influence” ever since. It also means “Slightly chubby MC in Historically Black University hoodie.” Grand Puba’s “360° (What Goes Around)” is all catchy, braggy self-promo with the divine Miss Gladys Knight on the hook and I love that. Puba’s known for getting money, hitting skins (teehee, ’cause it was ’92), wearing Girbauds (’92). Count on it. He’s predictable, like taxes, the sun rising, the circle of life record spinning around and around, “Sweet Dreams” coming on at the goddamn laundromat, Curren$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.
Least surprising name-instrument matchups: Sidney Sharp on strings (alliteration), Freddy Robinson on guitar (“Freddy Robinson” just sounds like a man in the ’70s who played guitar). Most surprising: Jim Horn on flute.
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.
Personal goal:If Oak is available post-Bynum, get him to punch the face of 106 & Park’s Terrence J, whose face was positively built for punching. Normally I don’t have these violent tendencies, but.
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.
Best Uncredited Appearance:
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.
Jeopardy! fact: Before she signed to Atlantic, Carole King had imagined that Tin Pan Alley was an actual, physical alley next to the Brill Building. What a dummy! This is why girls shouldn’t be in the music industry.
Personal goal: Jerry Wexler, bosslike always, referred to himself as “a despot who delegated poorly” at Atlantic Records, which reminds me that I should go to the Despot/Killer Mike/El-P/eXquire show at the Echo on 6/28, a block away from my apartment. I need to hear a hundred F words and I need you to buy me a drink and NOT tell me I look skinnier in person like everyone always does.
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.
“get get get get got got got got, blood rush to my head lit hot lock/poppin off the fuckin block knot, clockin wrist slit watch bent through bot/tail pipe draggin, volume blastin, bailin out my brain red light flash, dem stop i smash/abraxas*, hydroplane, massive, catch this flight flow, rainin madness/mastered mine and laced, the ave wit black cat fish tailin waves of stratus.”
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.
Jeopardy! fact: *“Abraxas” doesn’t really mean anything other than “Santana album from 1970.” In Greek, abrasáx is “of obscure origin” but the combined numerical value of the Greek letters is 365, “an important figure in numerology” OOOOOILLUMINATI, YALL.
Personal goal:Get Epic to re-release The Money Store with special bonus track “Phil Rizzuto.”
“Drums: Andy Newmark.”Bass: Gary King.” “Keys, producer, arranged by, conductor: Bob James.”Oh hello Windjammer, I said when I came across it in the bin, You must come home with me based entirely on these 3 credits.(Best Use of Andy Newmark; Best Use of Gary King; Best Use of Bob James). A Google image search of Gary King (I was just curious) has led me to the wonderful world of the TalkBass.com forum (Best Link). But JESUS, Most Disturbing Album Cover. Looks like something out of a Cronenberg movie.
Windjammer features the legendary Bernie Glow on trumpet. If his nickname was not Bernie Blow the music industry and the music-nickname industries have both failed me.
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.
Jeopardy! fact: Fellow flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione shares a song title with Afro-Rican (“Give It All You Got”)! This is a Jeopardy! fact but mostly it’s an “excuse to post this song because it’s been a long week and I feel like we can use it, also it’s good for the ass” fact.
Personal goal: Tear myself away from the TalkBass.com forum. It’s the new prince.org in apartment 680.
7. The Bee Gees, Main Course (RSO, 1975). 99¢.
Real Gs move in silence, fierce little Dwayne told me in early ’11. Real Gees, however, make slinky bass and falsetto sounds when they move. Also their hair is feathered and that goes whooooosh when they start walking briskly. Released in August ’75, Main Course entered a world in which the number one jam was the Isleys’ “Fight the Power,” a song about Mookie breaking windows at Sal’s Pizzeria. People obviously needed some levity, and the Gibbs came along to give some.
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.
These guys were capable musicians, not spectacular, and basically just got white-guy points for being white guys in the non-white-guy dominated world of the dance floor, but they had feathery hair they spent too much time on and they loved soul music, which is also a fitting description of myself. So I love em. The Gibbs came out so strong with those first 2 tracks; Main Course was produced by Arif Mardin which is why there’s that straight ear candy melodic goodness. But the brothers get fatigued out the gate, and the rest of the album is throwaway. Too many ballads. It starts bangingly and ends with a sad whimper, like the legacy of Pau Gasol as a professional athlete in Los Angeles. Still, those first two tracks! You need this album!
“NICE PANTS. HA, you guys look RIDICULOUS” – Kev Durant.
ASSORTED EPIC MOMENTS: Me, looking at the back cover and seeing “Conductor” as a credit (Gene Orloff); the first 10 seconds of “Jive Talkin,” which sounds like it could be the first 10 seconds of almost any Parliament song during the years 1974-9 (those amazing Gibbs! Sweet lord.); the weird echo effect on the “Edge of the Universe” vocals; the perfect BPM of “Nights on Broadway” (the piano break from which turned up in the speakers of every Maxima in ’98, courtesy of Dame Grease’s beat for DMX’s “The Convo.”Put that one on at your next BBQ if you’d like to see all the dudes over age 28 crying into their potato salad.)
Jeopardy! fact: The Gibbs were appointed to the Order of the British Empire. This puts them in the same category as George Martin and the flute player from Jethro Tull.
Personal goal: Book that concert I’ve been lining up in my head – the Bee Gees, the JB’s, O.C., L.T.D., and Thee Oh Sees. Live at PJ’s, of course.
8. David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended (Motown, 1969). $2.99.
My whole world ended when Khalifa’s people jacked the hell out of a Ruffin cover for Kush & OJ. It was upsetting and I regret having seen it. I also discovered a minute ago that “The Double Cross” from My Whole World Ended turns up as the break in, sigh, a J. Cole song. I regret having found this out. Cole’s producer is someone named Canei Finch, who does not appear to be as fresh as his name suggests (“Canei Finch”! So fresh!). His recent Twitter updates include the words “Sherman Oaks is popping,” which is absolutely a lie so I must leave Canei Finch behind. Moving on.
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: Have someone look at me longingly while the title track plays.
Jack and his lady with the tight-as-all-hell outfit-coordination Tampa Bay Bucs colorway.
9. Brother Jack McDuff, Tobacco Road (Atlantic, 1967). $5.99.
Best Hammond. Best Hammond. Tobacco Road was produced by Lew Futterman, a last name that ‘70s/’80s/’90s babies will probably (hopefully) always associate with “Futterman’s Rule” from Ill Communication. The album was purchased on the strength of Brother Jack’s esteemed status as a man whose songs were frequently tapped for ’90s breaks, but that cover design helped convince me, and the fact that “The Shadow of Your Smile” turns up in an Action Bronson song really just solidified the deal.
Statik Selektah looped that flute in “Shiraz,” which features the Logan-pleasing combination of words “I’m straight stoned – Sly, thank you.” I’m so easy. And here’s to my second Action Bronson mention in one post! King me! Oh, wait—what I meant was QUEENS me, due to my compulsive need to be clever. You need this album because it’ll remind you of that funny wordplay I just employed.
Brother Jack was from Illinois, so an album called Tobacco Road is silly. Then I found out the song was written by John Loudermilk, from North Carolina, and this soothed me because it made absolute sense. Loudermilk also wrote “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” a song of numerous versions that we will all now (hopefully) associate with this, below, the very best version, Johnny Nash’s version, which leads to my Turn-and-Look-Over-Your-Shoulder-Please-Don’t-Go/Heartbreaking-Vocal-Beauty-of-Johnny-Nash Interlude Yall, concurrent with my Strongest Plea with Kanye to NOT Use This as a Break, Ever, NO KANYE DON’T DO IT PLEASE You’ll Ruin It:
Jeopardy! fact: Bull Durham Tobacco had its logo painted behind the Yankees’ dugout, thereby sparking the phrase “bullpen.”
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.
She takes my flight/she holds my weight.
10. Jack White, Blunderbuss(Third Man, 2012). $19.99. (OUCH)
Jack reached his high point in my heart with that live video of the Raconteurs doing “Level,” oh my god, a walking-down-the-street banger from which my hips may never recover. Blunderbuss is helping to keep him in my heart, because of his freaky upper-register vocal tricks and because I like it when I have the same taste in music as someone whose record I’ve just purchased (the guitar riff that starts “Sixteen Saltines” proves that Jack and I both really love the intro of Def Leppard’s “Photograph”).
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.
Best Bars in This Record Haul, and Jack’s Not Even an MC: “Spike heels make a hole in a lifeboat/Drifting away when I’m talking and laughing as we float/I hear her whistle, that’s how I know she’s home/Lipstick, eyelash, broke mirror, broken home/Force fed, force meds ’till I drop dead/You can’t defeat her, when you meet her you’ll get what I said/The Lord knows there’s a method to her madness/But the Lord’s joke is a boat in a sea of sadness.”
You need this album.Like most great things in the universe, RZA is partly responsible for it. “Freedom at 21” was co-produced by LTJ Bukem, according to my imagination when I heard the opening drums. The title track is about fantasy love and contains the line An ancient grand hotel of Persian thread and ivory/And when your man would turn his head I’d see you look at me, which I swear is from an R. Kelly song. Plus the vinyl just feels really good to hold. It’s nice and hefty. I like a record that weighs 2 or 3 pounds, like a premature baby.
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.
CATCH ME SHOPPIN AT PEOPLE’S, LOOKIN REAL NSFW IN SOME LEGGINGS.
11. Lalo Schifrin, Voyage of the Damned score (ATV/Entr’acte, 1977). $3.99.
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.
Jeopardy! fact: Lalo was nominated for an Oscar for this score. But he was up against Jerry Goldsmith for The Omen and Bernard Herrmann for Taxi Driver, so, unshockingly, Lalo went winless. Shockingly, however, Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky did NOT win Best Song in ’77 (Conti lost to Oscar juggernaut Barbra Streisand). This is a 35-year-old fact that I find so irritating it might as well have happened yesterday.
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.
12. Wait Isn’t This the Dude Who’s Related to Alice Coltrane, The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder, 2011). $9.99.
Thundercat’s real name is Steve Bruner, a name so uncool it sounds like a cop’s name, and therefore comes with automatic ironic-cool cachet that almost makes up for the stupid photo above. YES, we see your Louis belt, Officer Steve Bruner of the LAPD’s Rampart division. You are dressed like a child and I’m mad you don’t use your real name. How could you NOT use the name Steve Bruner professionally? I do not approve of not using the name Steve Bruner. I also do not approve of cutesy-spellings for song titles (track 1: “HooooooO”), or strategically-placed Louis belts. Other than that, Nice Personnel on Your Record, Thundercat (Badu, the Sa-Ra guys, Daddy Kev). Nice Musical Genes; sadly, the musical-genes card is not as meaningful as it once was. For every Droop-E and Scoop Deville, there are the LMFAO professional musicians who have the blood of Berry Gordy running through them. And other than that, the best way to appreciate The Golden Age of Apocalypse is to indulge in some lo-fi sexytimes. Listen to some Julian Wass beats. Then listen to 4 Carl Craig tracks, The K + D Sessions, then Dots & Loops, Stanley Clarke’s first 3 records, then finish up with that Joy Orbison coke song, because I’m pretty sure those are the exact steps Thundercat took before sitting down to make this album. I’ll give it a few more listens, though, when I’m more focused. He’s a bass player so I will probably grow to love this record. But I’m too annoyed right now about the fact that there are 2 dudes nicknamed “Daddy” on this record’s credits (Daddy Kev mastered; Daddy Dave on drums), plus I’m still getting over the radness of the name Antonius Block. Gimme some time.
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.”
Personal goal: Make fewer impulse buys at the record store. I should also probably listen to more Homeboy Sandman and Ty Segall, but whatever. I’m a busy lady.
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.
13. Leon Haywood, Keep it in the Family (20th Century, 1974). $1.99.
He’s got some sort of poly-blend pants on. DOPE! Most ’70s Outfit.
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.
Sam Cooke hired Leon to play keys in his band, and this is yet another reason as to why Sam Cooke is not nearly as square as his reputation (and cherubic face) leads you to think. I heard Bieber and Curtis Jackson were at the Cotto-Mayweather fight a couple weeks ago. Aw, cute, but hey, I got some grown-man game for you, ESPN: Malcolm X sat courtside at the Ali-Liston fight in ’64, a seat away from Sam Cooke – a fact that further proves that Sam Cooke is not nearly as square as his rep and cherubic face leads you to think. The casual way in which I yield such a fact is proof that I’m like the Nardwuar of midcentury soul music if I were around in the midcentury and had a camera crew and were not afraid of looking foolish on camera. Listen, you need this record. Leon’s best known for “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You,” which seems a little forward for a dude who doesn’t even know me, but what can I do, I got that allure. He will never do anything as incredible as that song ever again, and he doesn’t have to. Mannie’s never making anything half as good as 400 Degreez but his legacy is established. I’ll still be inconsolable when he dies. If he dies. Goonies Whoadies never say die.
Jeopardy! fact: X-Cooke-Ali-Liston.
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)
“Internet, amphetamines and seclusion inspired my new album” – Danny BrownGrimes
14. Grimes, Visions (4AD, 2012). $12.99.
How could I not love a cutesy woodland creature who shows up in a filthy Gainesville strip club in 1989 to sing over some Magic Mike breaks and also Kraftwerk is her backing band? HOW COULD I NOT LOVE HER. Grimes is rad. Elle est ma, howdoyousay, petit French-Canadian synth-bass chipmunk. But the thing that’s troubling about Grimes is that the people who love her music today are the same people who tortured her in high school. I had to buy this, though. You should buy this. Support thick-eyebrowed girls who weren’t popular in high school.
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.
Jeopardy! fact: It rained lizards in Montreal once. “Lizards in Montreal,” by the way, is the Grimes remix of “N—-s in Paris.”
Personal goal: Get someone in the universe to create a grime Grimes mixtape – maybe Semtex could host it? – with Rae doing verses and Grimes doing the hooks, called Son I Had Crazy Visions. I’d also like to put on a sundress and walk through a grassy meadow while “Be a Body” plays at a hundred decibels.
15. The Dramatics, A Dramatic Experience(Volt, 1973).$2.99.
Most Sendakesque Cover.
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!
Most Stubborn:me. I’m in the minority in LA with this one, but seeing the Dramatics backing up Snoop in “Doggy Dogg World” is an experience I have always found to be legacy-killing and sad. Same for Roger Troutman in facepaint and spikes in the “California Love” video. Nobody knows how to shame some R&B gods like those shysters at Death Row. I’m digging in my heels and informing you all that The Dramatics shall always remain in the ’70s, where they belong, when it comes to my memory.
Jeopardy! fact: Oh, I don’t know – some random fact about Al Bell or Isaac Hayes. I got a million of ’em.
16. Roberta Flack, First Take(Atlantic, 1969). $3.99.
Joel Dorn, producer, is reason enough for me to insist that you need this album. And look – there’s Ron “Pretty Flaco” Carter on bass! But mostly you need First Take for the smoke-and-look-out-the-window-at-nothing heartbreak standard “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which sounds like something A$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.
PROMOTIONAL ALBUM–NOT FOR SALE, which is good, because you, sadly, do not need this record. I won’t ask you to watch me now or feel the groove when I put this on. You don’t need it. Get that YMO record for $9.99 instead.
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.
Jeopardy! fact: You’d describe the third dimension as “Thickness in an object or space,” which I wish Alex Trebek would say because it would sound like he’s talking about ass.
Personal goal: Instigate some kind of silly beef in the comments section. That would be funny and make me feel powerful.
Comments Section Suggested Beef Topic: Jimmy’s “L.T.D. (Love, Tenderness, Devotion)” are better initials than L.T.D.’s L.T.D. (Love, Togetherness, Devotion). Go.
$120 for 17 records. Quit fussin, I say to my checking account, There’s so much to love in this new group, a bright and lovely bunch, and I wouldn’t return any of them – not even Castor. My game needs tightening, though. Spending like this jeopardizes my apartment, plus it’s just sad that I can’t control myself. My Beat Swap Meet #18 haul just kicked some dirt in my face, then laughed and ran off to tweet about it.
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.
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart/But the very next day you gave it away, you JERK! This year, I’m giving you some peach Optimos and a picture of me in my new MG’s McLemore Avenue shirt. Don’t fuck up again, please.
Future husband, please understand that the small of my back is a playground of good feelings for me. (There must be a billion nerve endings there, and I love them all.) I’d like you to be pro-choice, pro-union, and pro-Pro Tools and pro-Pro Keds. I’m surprisingly forgiving when it comes to the contents of other people’s record collections, but yours is no doubt fresh anyway, so the matter doesn’t need to be addressed further. I’d like you to be able to correctly use “screamo” and “sissy bounce” in a sentence, future husband, and I’d like you to understand that 72% of our time spent together will consist of riding in the car, listening to music (we live in LA), and responding with our hands and mouths to all bangers as we hear them. (Hands up high in ecstasy; our mouths singing along, and making out). Please kiss me and tell me It’ll be OK when I talk about how I was born in the wrong era and should’ve been a teenage girl when David Ruffin was seducing teenage girls on the radio in 1966. Although I love my iPod, future husband, I’m in love with the radio–Power 106, where hiphop lives, and Hot 92.3, old school and today’s R&B, 93.5 KDAY, back in the day, of course the Whole Foods liberals on KCRW, and the nonstop oldies of K-EARTH 101, where you can often hear an old Wilson Pickett song called “Mustang Sally,” which, like 30% of Fabolous’ songs, is about a lowdown, unappreciative woman who drives all over town in a pretty car that her man bought for her. Its lesser-known remix is a song called “Prius Logan,” about a music dork with hips and skinny legs who drives all over town, singing along with her car radio.
And now, in no particular order, The Best Songs I Heard on the Radio During My Drive Back to LA from Mom’s House After Christmas.
Because: 1) Spector produced it. Industry rule # 4,000-somethingorother is that the men with the most unfortunate combination of brain chemicals are always the ones who make the sweetest melodies. Hearing this one also satisfied my Spector hunger in the absence of Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” Fuck off, radio gods, for not playing Darlene Love.
2) It’s the perfect BPM, the speed of a horse galloping. It’s the musical approximation of riding next to your best friend of a hundred years with whom you are fighting. You’re both sad and bitter, but the tightness in your chest says that the relationship is worth saving. You shared a good chunk of each other’s lives and you know you should talk about where things went wrong but what’s the point, and dammit, there it is, you just forgave all her trespasses in the span of about 3½ minutes thanks to Spector and his 4 little elves playing instruments.
3) “You and me chasing paper, getting nowhere” sounds like a sweet line from a capable MC who is part of a duo, referencing the early days before they made any money from rapping. Maybe Bun & Pimp C? More likely: Mos & Talib since they seem more willing than UGK are to acknowledge there was actually a time that they weren’t rich.
4) the moments from 03:00 – 03:08. The bass outro, too. Paul is really just the worst with his schmaltzy lyrics and big stupid ego, but he’s forgiven here. It turns out a Beatles block was happening on the station when this song ended, and the INSUFFERABLE “Long and Winding Road” came on instead of “Across the Universe,” like baby Jesus, the birthday boy, would have wanted. I glared at my car radio like it had eyes and/or a human brain capable of detecting hatred, then turned it to KCRW, where THIS pleased me because sometimes the radio gods aren’t so bad after all:
2. “Christmas Day,” Desmond Dekker & the Aces.
Oh goodness, these Jamaican singers and their voices filled with sweetness and light, yet punch-you-in-the-mouth masculinity at the same time (Barrington, Tenor Saw, Lord Creator)! My feelings about the island are always in conflict, as it is a land teeming with anti-gay sentiment and deeply-entrenched misogyny. Rastas also have that whole anti-oral sex thing, which makes them a people that cannot be liked or trusted. All this goes out the window for the moments that Desmond’s voice is filling my car, though. It’s Christmas! And he’s got his barrow in the marketplace! God bless us, every one!
Secrets of numbers, secrets of sound/Secrets of numbers, secrets of sound/Secrets of wisdom will be found/Baby, baby, baby, look to the sky/Seeking to find The Third Eye. Don’t tell Roy, but I’m pretty sure Del found the Third Eye sometime in the late ’80s. He turned it into one of the freshest icons in music and never looked back. Ah well. Like Del, Roy’s yet another space cadet dreamboat who lives in the warm depths of my heart. And like Mos Def, Roy enjoys writing songs about the sky and about Brooklyn (“Mylifemylifemylifemylife in the sun-shiiiiine”; “We live in Brooklyn, baby” – Roy; “Brooklyn BK BK blunts, stars nighttime, beautiful lady, champion lover not ease up, ism/schism, NASDAQ, skyline, stars, stars” – Mos). A man named Doug Rhodes plays drums on the album from whence this song comes, which is an adorable musical joke made just for me by the universe – like someone named Bob Zildjian playing keys! I’d also like to point out that Roy’s from LA just like J-Swift, and I bet you only 2 or 3 degrees separate us, friends-wise, just like me and J-Swift. I’d like to meet J-Swift. I really would. Before a bad fate befell him (chemicals), he produced this group the Pharcyde, an excitable bunch of rapping goofballs – including their song “Passin’ Me By,” which samples Roy Ayers’ “The Third Eye.” It’s true. (I read it on a blog.)
When I made it safely back to apt. 680 I could only find the version linked above, which, even while coursing into my ear canal through my precious, finely-crafted Sennheisers, sounds like it’s playing on an AM radio a hundred yards away while I’m standing in a UPS warehouse. Yet the entire MMG squad makes their lousy material on million-dollar equipment – this is the universe’s solemn reminder that sound quality will always trump sound quality.
A 1971 b-side produced by Johnny Otis, who was bosslike and from Vallejo just like E-40, this ain’t nothin more than a melodic wail by a dude who dreams about a pretty lady. But it is a fact that, currently in the United States, the #1 R&B song is “Lotus Flower Bomb,” about grenade-shaped perfume bottles and lady-areas being like flowers. This fact offends me not only as a person who buys perfume, but as a human female and a resident of planet Earth. Ladies should not smell like explosions or wartime, and we have enough to worry about without Wale laying out rules about our nails and handbags and how tight our, um, flowers should be. I wanna be reminded of tightness, I’ll watch Parliament live in ’76 like I did on Christmas Day with my family all on the couch, marveling at the interplay of brass and woodwind and cocaine.
We gotta a whole lotta money, but we still pay rent/’Cause you can’t buy a house in heaven. The single greatest country banger that Prince Rogers Nelson never wrote (his version would be called “U & I,” of course), hearing this one satisfied my hunger for a Prince banger in the absence of “Another Lonely Christmas” (Of all the ones I dream about/U are the one that makes my love shout, see/U are the only one I care for). Because the Internet is for sharing embarrassing moments: I actually teared up in H&M last week when this came on. I was tired and overstimulated from all the other humans in the store breathing up my air, but also because of this song’s Prince-ian chords and overall lyrical content. It’s been two years since I let you go/I couldn’t listen to a joke or rock ‘n’ roll/Muscle cars drove a truck right through my heart/On my birthday you sang me “Heart of Gold”/With a guitar hummin’ and no clothes/This time I’m not leaving without you. (PRINCE. It’s so very, wonderfully Prince. I see you, Gaga. Also I’d like Prince to do a cover of “Heart of Gold,” turning a bittersweet song about the passage of time into a 16-minute-long burning plea by his guitar to get the ladies in the house to cry and take their dresses off). Master manipulator Gaga plays my girly emotional insides like a piano, and Queen was a really fucking great band, plus I got a really cute bikini at H&M. So shoutout to the combined efforts of producer Mutt Lange, the H&M speaker system engineers, and the people hired by the H&M corporate office to select the songs for the playlists. Non-shoutout to me, however, for a pop song making me get weepy, rather than the fact that I was buying from a company that sells cheap cotton items made by underpaid workers in Bangladesh (not the producer Bangladesh, which would be so dope). Tangential shoutout to Elliot Mazer, who produced both Harvestand Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, displaying some real Rick-Rubin-esque range.
Gaga was on American Idol once and coached one of the kids to keep his mouth on the mic. “It’s your girlfriend,” she told him, adding that it’s also his money and telling him to “Make love to it,” which is the most sex-infused piece of technical advice I’ve ever heard. I love it. I love her. I am human and I have ears so of course I love this song. Gaga is a controversial choice, I get it, but there’s no arguing with me on this. It’s just like with Cameron Giles, Duke basketball, and Miracle Whip: you can’t change my opinion about any of those things, either (I hate them). Therefore, I say we stick to less controversial topics, like the artistic merits of Lana Del Rey and the best way to restructure the BCS.
Yeah yeah, Jay. You. Will. Not. Lose. We hear you, Jay. Easy, tiger. Now please repeat after me – there’s only one rule: RICK ROCK 4 EVS, 4 EVER & EVER. “Change” is one of the few Rick Rock productions with which I am not fully in love. Like “Can I Get A,” it is the very sound of Clinton Administration pop radio, shiny and hand-clap-py, so it’s just dated and that’s not the song’s fault, but it NEEDS MORE SNARE AND/OR BASS, says my soul, which does not understand the limits of space and time and the notion of something being “dated.” My soul does not care. More bass, please. It’s impossible to separate the song from its horrendous video, which features rappers not named DMX trying to convince me they ride motorbikes all around the city for fun (“NOPE” – my eyes, in response, just like back in September). But this one’ll always warm my heart. The boys all look happy and not beaten down by the industry, and Sigel Sigel in the house is fun and sing-song-y. It’s sweet that those 3 dudes could all be in the same room together at one point in history, which is really all a lady can ask for given the amount of crybaby-ness among rap professionals. I also like that it gives me an excuse to post the video of that time Robert Goulet spent the afternoon with Shawn and his coterie of ne’er-do-wells. The mix into “Mass Appeal” was nice, too, for this lady in 2011 driving her vehicle to her apartment in Los Angeles, years after these songs were made by dudes from New York and Massachusetts. “This ain’t just a car,” K.R.I.T. says, “This my time machine.”
“It’s dangerous, because it’s slick and catchy and done by black men and it might make our daughters want to have sex” – white US grown-ups, mostly regarding rock & roll music, but really, all forms of good music (1954-present, & forever & ever).
Promo is promo, meaning promotion, people talking, records sold, i.e., MONEY, and even in the ‘50s labels knew what they were doing when it came to making their stars sound badder than they actually were. Teenagers and their allowance money were a powerful bloc. They were also sullen and disrespectful, and thought they were real badass, and therefore bought the 45s of men whom they believed to be tough. This was mostly because they fell for promo tactics. But Chuck Berry! I’m pretty sure Chuck was/is a truly depraved gentleman, a genuine dirty bird, the real deal, who served actual jail time due to his taste for sweet young things and, years later, with the barometer for what he found stimulating raised higher throughout his life, his taste for odd and really unsexy things. It might’ve been promo, but that’s a hell of a commitment to promo, right? Even though I strongly want “Run Rudolph Run” to be a critique of what were socially acceptable gifts for American children in the late ’50s (the boy wants a guitar; the girl wants a doll), I am able to suspend this desire if I so choose. Just let it ride, Logan. This one’s just happy and Christmassy, it’ll make you stop wondering What in the hell must’ve happened to Chuck when he was a kid to make him so fetish-y? and instead it’ll make you think the much more pleasant How fucking hyped are you if you’re Chuck Berry and Mos Defdoes his hair like that and plays you in a movie!* Plus you got the essential Marty McFly element, and all those reindeer names sound like they could be A$AP crew members – A$AP Comet, A$AP Donner, and most especially, A$AP Blitzen.
OHHOLYFUCK, screamed my whole body when this came on, my inner Drunk White Girl showing all of a sudden. My hand could not physically move fast enough to the volume knob, and even though I didn’t get to proclaim Josie’s on a vacation far away (I caught the song halfway through the first verse), I still got to participate in some great sing-along parts (Stay the night but keep it un-der-cover) and savored the delicious wrongness of a song about a dude wanting to sleep with, and then sleeping with, someone other than his live-in lady. I have a fair amount of self-respect but even I would probably fall for I ain’t got many friends left to talk to; may I please cry upon your shoulder? (aww!). The proper feminine response to this is a wide-eyed Would it help if I took my dress off?, which I have ON LOCK because I’m softhearted and have a compulsive need to soothe others. In closing: sorry if you were in the lane next to me on the freeway last night and I almost killed you with my swerving 4-wheeled piece of Japanese machinery.
The Internet and my brother tell me that the best outfielder was probably Rickey Henderson, whom I’ve heard of despite my lack of interest in the stupid sport of baseball, because my dad always liked the A’s and because I always liked dudes who can self-promote in a verbally stylish fashion instead of a Kanyesian (“I’m 34 but inside I’m still a 13-year-old boy who is sad and mad that none of the pretty girls in class are looking at me”) fashion.
Perfect mix, whatsyourname who matched these two up on KDAY. They basically have the same BPM and I guess I never noticed it before. Hearing Craig Mack reminded me that I only drink the finest breast milks, and hearing Teddy Riley inspired me to proclaim “Finna bring back no diggity in twenty-twelve, along with vainglorious and honey dip” out loud to myself in my car. Let’s just skip over that unfortunate video with the puppets & Dre in a fucking Emmitt Smith jersey, and ignore Teddy’s sad attempt at hitting that note in “by no means avvv-raaaaage,” sounding so wobbly, like he’s crossing a stream and stepped on a rock that looked secure but, oh no, oopsie!, it’s loose! He might fall down! Shaky-voice! Let’s just focus on the greatness of this song, the story of a honey dip who drives a nice car and has dudes open all over town, probably because she is witty and knows a lot of musical trivia and has a blog in which she writes about Blackstreet and Bill Withers in equal measure. Let’s also focus on finding out why exactly Teddy moved his studio to Virginia in the early ‘90s. There must be a story there, right? TEDDY, WHAT HAPPENED? And did you know this hideous Clams beat completely boosts your ’87 sound? And where is Timbaland? Just heard “Are You That Somebody” and it holds up so well.
Like me, the young lady in the song has all kinds of hustles and isn’t satisfied with a man unless he makes tons of money. So if you are poor, you and I will never have sex or even go on a date. However, because I’m nice, I’m providing you with the criteria for getting hired by UPS. (Don’t be mad!) Like being my lover, a job at UPS is no walk in the park (except, of course, when you and I go for actual walks in the actual park). “It may be fun and exciting,” UPS warns, “but it’s also physical and fast-paced” (just like being my lover!). “Package Delivery Drivers must have excellent customer contact and driving skills, including the ability to operate a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission. Qualified applicants must have a valid driver’s license issued in the state that they live. This is a position that involves continual lifting, lowering, and maneuvering of large items,” HEY-O, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? No? Last night, in the bedroom? Remember? PS, a physical exam is also required (for both jobs).
10. “Rhythm Changes,” The Counts.
Unpleasant facts of life with which I must make peace include:
that there are actual human females who brag about giving their precious inner-thigh parts to charisma-free yet famous human males Fabolous and Juelz;
that “Maneater” preceded “Part Time Lover” by 3 years, so it would appear Stevie boosted the bassline from Hall & Oates, not the other way around, WTF;
and finally: I have big fat trouble coming to terms with the fact that I live in the entertainment capital of the world, yet “Rhythm Changes” is not on a constant loop on at least 2 of the 4 R&B stations in this city. I only heard it on Christmas night because programmers were given a little more leeway than usual. I believe it was Minaj who said something like, “This song just remind me of/Everything radio deprive me of.”
11. Emilio Santiago, “Bananeira.”
Bananeira não sei/Bananeira será/Bananeira sei não/Isso é lá com você/Será no fundo do quintal/Quintal do seu olhar/Olhar do coração (“Banana tree, I don’t know/Banana tree, maybe/Banana tree, I don’t know/That’s up to you/Maybe deep in the backyard/Backyard of your stare/The stare from the heart”). I mean, right? Exactly, Emilio! You nailed it!
Hypnotic and hip-friendly and more about the backing track than the lyrics, just like everything Jay Elect releases into the world, this is probably the best song about bananas since Dwayne Carter rapped over that one about being the best and fucking the world. This one also makes me forget about the banana trade in Brazil, an industry that’s a symbol of the income disparity that’s existed for hundreds of years. Bananas go bad really quickly, they can be racist, and their namesake spiders will kill you if you’re not careful. But at least Afro-Brazilian men can sing silly songs about bananas while still retaining their masculinity (it helps if you, like Emilio Santiago, have a deep, Scott-Heron-esque tone to your voice). Huddled with my family on the couch on Christmas Eve, “Cosmic Slop” on the TV, I was reminded of the sad reality of Black American manhood needing to disguise itself in fluffy hats and diapers in order to be less threatening. Um…merry Christmas?
I tried Trees is free, please leave a key/These meager fleas, he’s the breeze/And she’s the bee’s knees for sheez, but it covered up the whole picture plus it sounded like I was referring to myself as the bee’s knees which is not the case (I’m the cat’s pajamas).
Deep Earth – “House of Mighty II.” Motorik will perhaps give me energy to move the remaining 92% of my record collection (not seen in photo).