(Moral support via Daniel Dumile and Grandma’s afghan.)
My entire hair repertoire, from “smooth and nicely-brushed” to “aw fuck it.”
“If it is not beautiful, it will not last. In the end you buy the pieces you cannot resist,” says the house of Lanvin’s artistic director and adorable bear-like human Alber Elbaz. (I can’t afford Lanvin. In case I’m ever seated at the same wedding-reception table with Pharrell and at least one Thornton brother, I’m keeping my knowledge of the line close at hand.) Elbaz was referring to ladies desperately needing to have one of his preposterous fantasy pieces, reassuring them that it’s OK to spend $3500 on a halter jumpsuit, but it’s like he was talking to anyone with a compulsion to collect lovely objects, which is to say it’s like he was talking right at record nerds. Pieces are irresistible. I don’t deny myself the pleasure of good finds. It’s just that I have to reign it in when it comes to spending. I work, I eat, I keep my lights on and my rent paid, I put some in savings, and other than that, my money goes to the purchasing of records, which, in the end, I cannot resist.
There’s a Beat Swap meet once every few months in LA; I am always there, so I was at the most recent one, a couple Sundays ago. 17 records later, I’m back with my report on the pleasures, the frustration, the rooms of so many elbows. I limited my spending to $50, apparently because I’m really into self-punishment-? I sold my original autographed test-pressing of Kraftwerk for 5 bucks. I ate a whole bunch of Miracle Whip. I wrote a love letter to Tim Tebow, charisma-free soldier for the lord. Then I listened to a bunch of Iggy Azalea and voted for Rick Santorum. Oh wait, no – the $50 cap was actually established because I have to pay my rent. I’d go crazy without a limit, like Hammer in the late ’80s, flinging cash carelessly except in tight pants. But it turns out a lady doesn’t have to choose between adding depth to her music collection or keeping a roof over her head. $47 for a collection of goodies is how it’s done. Yes, I’m sure I did get the Person with Breasts discount at my stops throughout the afternoon, a fact that may be upsetting for those without breasts but a fact that I think is just a version of affirmative action. My private areas are fodder for political gain. My paycheck amount drops by 30% because of my gender. The last song I heard on classic rock radio whined to me that there are lots of people talking but few of them know that the soul of a woman was created below. Please just let me have my small, $47 victories.
Jeopardy! Fact: Johnny Otis was technically from Berkeley, but he first hit planet Earth in Vallejo and was bosslike, just like E-40.
Personal Goal: LA’s a graveyard of shut-down record labels and studios. I need to start my own tour of these sites, catering to persons just like me, who want to see where Let’s Get It On and Quik is the Name were recorded (i.e., me. And Oliver Wang. And Dave Tompkins, if he would ever email me back). Kent Records used to be here, right by the Slauson Super Mall, star of a hundred Nipsey Hussle songs that will never make it to my headphones. I just can’t get into him. Lord knows I’ve tried, Los Angeles.
In 2012 we get A$AP Rocky in some damn camo cargo shorts.
Personal Goal: Find out if anyone else is getting a “young Morris Chestnut” vibe from Eddie LeVert up there (far right).
God’s voice is actually probably Doom; who am I kidding. And the sound of God trying to get my attention is definitely Curtis’ guitar-squeal that opens the title track, which happened yesterday while I was house-cleaning as the record played in apt. 680. By the way, you guys, God says hi. And he wanted me to tell you all that, for the record, he thinks people should be able to marry whoever they want. And he apologizes for the state of Florida continuing to exist.
I recommend the horns on “Marcus Garvey” as aural caffeine (nice work, Bobby Ellis), plus the vocal is so solid – typical of Jamaican singers, those triumphant wails. I also recommend that a producer use the piano-bass-drums snippet at the beginning of “Jordan River” as a break. I do not, however, recommend doing a lyric search of Marcus Garvey, as this will yield verses from terrible MCs trying to give you a history lesson (Lupe, Asher). The good news is that I can pull out my Black Star album for a refresher course, should anyone need it, followed by my mini-speech about Curren$y and how the news about him suing Dame Dash fills me with a deep satisfaction, like when I see a kitten or I hear the bass ride out like an ancient mating call.
“I’m not afraid to say I’m scared,” Thurston wrote in Sonic Youth’s “Burning Spear,” a fun, lo-fi journey of drums and bass that LCD Soundsystem has tried to take me on numerous times through imitation (with a fair amount of success, actually). “In my bed I’m deep in prayer/I trust the speed, I love the fear/The music comes: the burning spear.” You can’t argue with that. Of course Das Racist mentions Burning Spear in lyrics; shockingly, the Beastie Boys do not, according to the quick scan of the Beastie Boys lyrics section of my brain. Anyway, “Deep Ass Shit” has that great Doom loop, which is actually a Madvillain loop but Doom Loop sounds so cool, like an exhilarating, super-scary rollercoaster. Trust the speed. Love the fear.
Unkle saw their drum break opportunity with this record and pounced on it. Smart move. But Black Milk – Zappa fan and person who puts DRUMS on his tax return under Occupation – could kill this record, just stab it and leave it for dead on the side of the highway. I’m thrilled to have found apostrophe, but a Zappa-Black Milk meetup in my brain will always take a dark turn as long as the “Zap” break continues to remain elusive. It tortures me. At the swap meet I passed by House Shoes, a man who would definitely know what that break source is, but I was too shy to say anything even though he and I have a mutual love of Dennis Coffey. I am shaky and large-eyed and nervous, like a Chihuahua. Alcohol doesn’t work very well for me as a social lubricant so a drink would not have helped. I relax on half a Valium and THIS playing when I stroll around:
Jeopardy! Fact: Discreet was Zappa’s label subsidiary, his attempt to subvert the corporate interests of the mighty Warner Bros. Records (just like Prince would attempt a few years later. I am told this did not end well). Discreet also put out an album by Ted Nugent in ’74. Given the differences in Nugent’s and Zappa’s political views, the only explanation that works here is that Ted must’ve just been “eccentric, bad-boy Michigan woodsman” at this point, and hadn’t yet turned into “INSANE, xenophobic, ‘Get the hell off my property’ right-winger with a shotgun.”
Personal Goal: FIND OUT WHAT THE “ZAP” BREAK IS, JESUS CHRIST.
Best Logo in This Particular Record Haul, no question. Best Band Name. Best Bass. “Do You Like…Mantronik?” is the album’s best song, and for the record I LOVE Mantronik, thank you, but the album’s Best Song Title is “In Full Effect (In Full Effect),” which, in case you forgot, is on that Mantronix album called In Full Effect. And isn’t it super fresh that dudes are once again are dressing like this, in 2012? Yes, it’s fresh (it’s fresh). It’s fresh.
Jeopardy! Fact: In Full Effect came out in ’88, as did In Effect Mode by your man Al B. Sure! I’m not sure which is the better album title, but Al “definitely had the better hair,” says Ryan Evans, guard for Wisconsin.“Oh really, because I prefer his eyebrows,” adds Anthony Davis.
Personal Goal: Run into Peanut Butter Wolf at Trader Joe’s sometime. He and I need to have a chat about these guys.
“Yes, I know! And Dr. John! And Lee Dorsey!” I said, in a very nice way, I promise. (I’m a know-it-all, but I was raised right.) “C’mon, Andy! It’s not amateur hour.” Andy smiled, and thus a new friendship bloomed in the Los Angeles afternoon, the sunlight bouncing all over the place while EWF’s “Getaway” played. I can be intensely nerdy and high-spirited, and did not want to scare Andy off. Thus, in our first few minutes of knowing each other, things I kept to myself included the fact that Toussaint means “all saints” in French, and he wrote the song that was later used for the “meet your bachelorettes” portion of The Dating Game (“Whipped Cream,” as played by Herb Alpert). I suppressed my speech about how Arcade Fire are direct descendents of Earth Wind & Fire, since they both traffic in joy, multilayered arrangements, that thing where there are 50 people on stage, and lyrics about a better life. Nor did I start a spirited round of “Handclap Ranking,” my most favorite party game, in which the topic of whether Toussaint’s perfectly-placed handclaps on the Meters’ “Handclapping Song” are superior to the ones on “Nolia Clap” or “Party All the Time.” That comes later in our relationship.
HAND. CLAPS. The “We Luv Deez Hoes” break is proof that Antwan and Andre have the same taste in records as me. And I am not a ho but I bet you I could catch the eye of any straight man from the counties of Fulton or DeKalb because I wear jeans that are a little too tight and because, in the words of Lee Dorsey as written and produced by Toussaint, everything I do gon be funky from now on. EVERYTHING.
Rock Requiem was a respectable purchase, though percussion deities King Errisson and Ron Tutt are underused. Also I’m still confused as to why Ron never got the nickname “King” since his last name is Tutt. Of additional note: It says “For the dead in southeast Asia” on the back, a heavy, serious concept that Marvin Gaye took on that same year but in a way sexier fashion. Marvin added James Jamerson and some front-cover sexy wistfulness and though I was not alive that year, I decided in 1971 that Marvin and I should probably kiss and maybe get married. The song “Agnus Dei” bangs, and the song title “Kyrie Eleison” (I had to look it up) means lord have mercy, which is like how your Aunt Jean says it, as opposed to the lawdaMERcy of Cutty Ranks. And Alexander Saint Charles (Mustafa voice on “Final Prayer”) appears a few years later on Quincy’s Body Heat, the title track of which is used in a “They Want EFX” remix, the original of which is dipped in purple stuff and used in “Trilla,” shoutout to Beautiful Lou for emailing me the instrumental because I asked sweetly, and shoutout to Danny Brown’s supercalafragilistic tic-tac flow during his turn in the XXL cypher. He says about 8 words during his turn and still puts heads to bed. Bum-stiggedy.
Personal Goal: Get a tight, tight nickname – NOT something like “Henchman” or “Un.” Those dudes are what my 13-year-old cousin would call “bitch made.”
10. Love Unlimited, Under the Influence Of…Love Unlimited (20th Century, 1973). 99¢.
Breaks-use low points include Wale and Khalifa, two individuals whose success I take as personal insult. High points, thankfully, include the Beatnuts, 9th Wonder, and Buckwild, who harnessed the woodwind and keys from “Under the Influence of Love” up there and crafted this, my heroic theme song as I glide over rooftops to save Gotham from The Joker.
Jeopardy! Fact: Glodean, on the far right up there, entered into holiest and funkiest of matrimonies with Mr. Barry White in ’74, the image of which is now giving me sexy nightmares. She looks pretty dainty, that’s all I’m saying.
Personal Goal: Introduce JuJu to my dad.
11. Roy Ayers Ubiquity, Mystic Voyage (Polydor, 1975). $3.
Shoutout to you, biology-teacher-looking-guy with red hair at the booth upstairs who was amazed and a little jealous that I have an original copy of Ayers’ Change Up the Groove (NWA break, Pretty Purdie on drums). Felt good. But NONSHOUTOUT TO YOU, guy who had the unabashed GALL to walk around in a Celtics jersey while the LA-Boston game was on the TV (inside, near the bar). By the time the game was over, he was gone and I never got the chance to make some kind of sassy comment to him about the superiority of the Lakers (97-94). Ah well, at least LA won, and at least the team still has the ultra-clutch Derek Fisher, who, in a typically reliable performance that day, had 9 points and 2 assists, along with his usual bag full of calm vibes and classy sportsmanship, contributions which cannot be quantified! He will forever be frozen in time as a Laker and never every go awa–OH.
All fired up after seeing the clown in green and white, because I’m exactly like Buggin Out in Do the Right Thing, my city pride swelled. It suddenly became extra necessary to buy some vinyl by a local musician. I already have Appetite for Destruction and Forever Changes on vinyl, and while my copy of Detox seems to keep getting lost in the mail, I do have No One Can Do It Better which contains the Dre work I hold most dear. I needed an LA someone – preferably someone who has been on the scene ever since honeys (my mom) was wearin Sassoon. I also needed to get some music-nerd points back after enjoying that awful “Thun Thun” song on the radio a little too much during my drive to the swap meet. (Link provided just so I can prove to you that Tyga’s curtains-in-a-Southern-funeral-home-meets-Chris-Wallace style is not something I made up). I chose a little Ayers, which obviously hit the spot. I am a genius. Logan, you’re a genius, you’ll say at my next BBQ, when I put on “Brother Green (The Disco King)” and the ladies put on their Sassoons and dance and drive the boys wild. (The song was written by Ayers and Edwin Birdsong, who had a hit with “Cola Bottle Baby,” a jam about the way my Sassoons compliment my shape.) Then I put on “Rapper Dapper Snapper” and we all drink Patron and talk about breaks, and someone says This is what heaven is. Blame it on the Patron but it’s the goddamn truth.
Jeopardy! Fact: The brownstone-owning, OJ-drinking Celtic fan in Do the Right Thing was played by John Savage, character actor on cop shows. He worked as an assistant production manager for certain sequences of Malcolm X – which was shot in South Africa, where Savage was living at the time working with Nelson Mandela on the anti-apartheid movement. This only slightly makes up for his attempts to gentrify Brooklyn, however.
Personal Goal: Make an Ayers x Isley mixtape for someone I have a crush on. Call it Mystic Voyage to Atlantis.
12. Scritti Politti, Cupid & Psyche 85 (Virgin, 1985). 99¢.
Remember the “driving home from my mom’s after Christmas 2011” moment in the Prius, when The Outfield’s “Your Love” came on the radio? I nearly drove off the road to my death, remember, because I was so delirious with melody and fuzzy guitar chords? Scritti Politti’s “Perfect Way” is like that, plus 3 Zolofts in my eggnog plus the sugar from 12 candy canes coursing through my bloodstream, plus KEYS INTERLUDE. Fred Maher produced “Perfect Way,” along with Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend,” another delicious piece of fluff celebrating the Caucasian female. This record is exactly what it sets out to be; the songs sound like what the photo above looks like. The synth and drums are pleasing, but in that dated kind of way that we tend to look down on. “Fairlight progamming is an actual credit!, bwahaha.” We’re such snobs. But then there’s Arif Mardin‘s name under “producer” for 3 of the tracks, which we appreciate because we’re dorks, and this credit decreases the guilt part of the record’s guilty pleasure ranking. But really all I care about is somebody getting Prince to cover “Perfect Way” at the Fantasy Concert of ’86 That I Will Attend Once I Achieve Time-Travel Abilities*, please.
Jeopardy! fact: We all know about Cupid in Roman mythology. Psyche, however, is lesser-known – she was a mortal girl who was “born too beautiful for her own safety,” a situation with which I am very familiar, obviously. Psyche also means “butterfly” in Greek! Aww.
Personal Goal: Get a DJ to play “Perfect Way” at the Do-Over.
13. The Fatback Band, Raising Hell (Event/Polydor, 1975). $3.
“This is not music to roller skate by,” explain the liner notes on Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch!
“This is music to roller skate by,” explains me, when I put on Raising Hell. And it’s got that Roni Size break. But I’m still returning my copy because I couldn’t find “My Adidas” anywhere on the track listing.
Jeopardy! Fact: “Fatback” is an actual thing – “the strip of fat from the back of a hog carcass usually cured by drying and salting,” says Webster’s. I’m no longer a Five Percenter, so I can partake if I so choose.
Personal Goal: Get Fatback’s Let’s Do It Again – “Ah yes, the one with the ‘Mathematics’ break that I flipped,” according to Premier, in my imagination, when he wants to talk about nerd stuff and sends me a DM.
14. Mandrill (Polydor, 1971). $3. And in shockingly great condition.
Dudes say I fuck with this so hard. Dudes in LA say I fuck with this so hord. I am a lady, so I just went Gasp! and said Ohmygodddd and did a little excited jump-up-and-down real quick when I found it. I had this one but not an original of this one, which is only important to the kind of person who cares so deeply about the dearth of originality in modern culture that she posts hateful things about MMG’s roster in rap site comments sections.
Someone named Mark Henry produced that new Don Trip “Help is on the Way,” its beat built atop THISSSSSS, gasp!, Ohmygoddddd what a SONNNNG. Normally I’d back slowly away from a producer who assisted tiny, unpleasant Wale (someone named Mark Henry), especially if this Mark Henry maybe got the break idea from Eminem’s All 12-Step Everything album, but in 2012 I guess I should open my mind a little. No more assumptions. I also thought the combination of a Jodeci snippet and David Banner raps would be an automatic slam-dunk, for example. Alas, no. But if you can do a good approximation of Banner’s YAUGH-ughhh for me, I want to hire you for my parties.
Personal Goal: Get to Memphis. Need to see Issac’s gold Eldorado, have someone play “Hold On…I’m Comin” when I walk down the street, see the ghost of Otis around every corner, and go record shopping. I also hear I might be able to get some fairly decent BBQ.
15. Ennio Morricone, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly soundtrack (United Artists, 1967). $3.
I’d like El-P (rapbeat master of so many action-tension-release journeys in my headphones) to score a film, so let’s get on that; in the meantime, Morricone is the master of the action-tension-release journey in cinematic sound. The hero of this film is someone named “Blondie.” The “crying coyotes” sound from its main theme is looped in productions by superb musical humans including but not limited to Larry Blackmon and Mannie Fresh. The title itself turns up in Doom’s mouth during “Vomitspit.” It was 3 bucks. It’s Morricone. Case closed. I bought it. “You wanna come home with me?” I asked it, reaching inside to check its body for scratches and other signs of wear. “Listen, I don’t have time for psychological romance,” I said, “just be straight with me.” Seduced, it took me up on my offer. (I was wearing really tight jeans). We’re having a threeway next week when I get the I…Comme Icare soundtrack with the sparkly Rae break.
Jeopardy! Fact: “In my childhood, America was like a religion,” director Sergio Leone said, “Then, real-life Americans abruptly entered my life – in jeeps – and upset all my dreams.” Well, yes. This has been our foreign policy for decades now. I get it, Serge.
Personal Goal: Time travel. *Cameo are headliners at my Fantasy Concert of 1986, the lineup for which I have been curating in my imagination for the last several days. I’m frequently shuffling the show’s time slots but it’s a done deal that the opener and closer will be Cameo and Prince, respectively. Starship will do “We Built This City,” and when Simply Red comes out to do “Holding Back the Years,” we’ll all sway in the audience and cry and hold each other. DeBarge will definitely do “Rhythm of the Night,” for which we’ll form a dance circle. Oran “Juice” Jones will do “The Rain.” I’ll need Jermaine Stewart to make a brief appearance. We’ll forget him a month later but in the moment we will feel like he’s just going to keep putting out terrific singles. Ready for the World will tear the fucking house down, and Prince will come out and build a new fucking house just to tear it the fuck down, including the basement, perimeter footings, and the concrete foundation. He’ll do a cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” turning it into a 23-minute-long slow-burner with 3 guitar solos. His surprise guest will be Sheila E. He’ll pull me onstage during “A Love Bizarre,” and he’ll impregnate me just by touching my hand. THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT. For any of you interested in coming to the afterparty, these dudes Derrick, Juan and Kevin are DJing.
Undeniable jungle cat, professor of Freakonomics, Dude in Italian Leather Who I’d Let Boss Me Around, Rick howls and growls and pleads on Cold Blooded, and it is delicious. But Throwin’ Down is better. And other than the pleasure derived from tracks 1 and 2, Cold Blooded would probably be just another 12” x 12” surface on which I’d chop and snort something if it weren’t for the contributions of Allen McGrier on bass (“Square Biz”; “In My House”). Too many slow jams. And the fact that “Cold Blooded” is supposedly about Linda Blair is too weird for me to cope with. Still, Rick’s white suit inside (gatefold cover) is killer, and like Mac Dre says, “Hoez Love It,” which is true, hoes really do, making Cold Blooded the second record in this haul to have provided a sample source for a ho-themed song (Toussaint/Outkast). Hoes also love the FREEZE part in the middle of the song, where the key changes and the synth takes control like synth is supposed to. Some of my cousins are hoes so I know about these things. I mean it, though – avoid the ballads. When Rick talks to women like they are actual people instead of sex dolls, he loses his touch. The awful “Ebony Eyes,” for example, features Smokey Robinson, who thought he looked cute with a mustache. This was the fault of cocaine. Mustaches are reserved for Slick Rick, Zappa, Morris Day, John Oates of course, my uncle Pete, and Mario & Luigi. Cue “Super Brooklyn.”
Jeopardy! Fact: Back when he was called “Jumpman,” Mario was given a mustache because his mouth was too difficult for the animators to draw in pixellated form. And they made him a carpenter by trade because overalls were an easy outfit to animate.
Personal Goal: Let my hair down/Let my body dowwwwwn more often. To please Rick.
“Easy Money” is the superstar on Larks’ Tongues; those first 45 seconds are pure Fripp-ery and if you don’t get it, you are straight FRIPP. ING. I care too much about the fact that there’s a credit on this record for the almighty Mellotron, a prog-rock instrument that was “very temperamental and required regular servicing,” much like myself. This bit of history will never turn up on Jeopardy!, yet I’m super invested. Typical. I care too much about finding an original Moğollar pressing, and about my dream of convincing Juicy J to do an all-kung-fu-sample mixtape and calling it Bruce Lean, and about the make and model of the Purple Rain motorcycle. I also care wayyyyy too much about the visual trickery apparent in the XXL freshmen cypher videos. They make it look like Danny’s nodding his head to the lyrical stylings of Future. He’s not doing that. I’m positive. LOL, video editors.
Jeopardy! Fact: “Aspic” is a disgusting gelatin-and-meat substance created by the people from whom I am descended – the English. (We are good at prog-rock. Not food.)
Personal Goal: Before Kanye™ thinks of it, get someone to loop the hell outta whatever you call that magic starting at 01:37.
17 records, $47. I have successfully maintained my rent for another month. I have milk and bread in the fridge, a fresh jar of Nutella on my counter. The monthly Prius payment has been sent in and my Internet works. I’m good. My Time Warner bill comes in an envelope stamped with red ink in an attempt to convince me it needs my urgent attention. This does not work. You’ll get paid next week, horrendous cable conglomerate.