Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wonder Show

It´s a dirty job, but somebody´s gotta do it... So without further ado, here´s the one and only For The Sake Of The Song end of year list. Accept no substitutes, baby. Ten albums that were in heavy rotation during 2010, and that´s what counts in the end. Check! Buy the whole wonder show why don´t you.

1. Gil Scott-Heron - I´m New Here
Unexpected comeback of the year, by one of HipHop´s true forefathers.

Gil Scott-Heron - I´ll Take Care Of You MP3

2. Bonnie Prince Billy & The Cairo Gang - The Wonder Show Of The World
Will Oldham met guitarist Emmett Kelly, which lifted the fog on many a dreary day.

3. Charlie Parr - When The Devil Goes Blind
Intense and authentic pre-war blues, anno 2010. No, I´m not kidding.

Charlie Parr- 1890 MP3

4. Neil Young - Le Noise
Teaming up with producer Daniel Lanois was an excellent idea, sonically speaking.

5. First Aid Kit - The Big Black And The Blue
A lovely Swedish girl duo provided no-frills acoustic bliss. Jag älskar dig.

First Aid Kit - Sailor Song MP3

6. Phosphorescent - Here´s To Taking It Easy
Matthew Houck´s take on Americana compared to slipping into a warm bath.

7. Wounded Lion - Wounded Lion
Growling barb wire pop from smoggy LA. Debut of the year I´m sure.

Wounded Lion - Pony People MP3

8. Tunng - ...And Then We Saw Land
Not as adventurous as previous outings, but still the finest freakfolkers around.

9. Isobell Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Hawk
That marriage between a Belle and a Screaming Tree surely was made in heaven.

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - You Won´t Let Me Down Again MP3

10. Bill Callahan - Rough Travel For A Rare Thing
The former Smog foreman impressed once more, this time in an intimate live setting.

Bubbling under: Sun Kil Moon, Grinderman, Joanna Newsom, Drive-By Truckers, Pearly Gate Music, Off!, the Black Keys, Alasdair Roberts, Roky Erickson with Okkervil River, and the Graham Nash tribute Be Yourself.

Some old stuff released this year that I really enjoyed: Johnny Cash´s epitaph American VI: Ain´t No Grave, Dylan´s Witmark Demos and Live At Brandeis University, Complete Mythology by Syl Johnson, Satan´s A Waitin´ by Sonny Burns, and the Legacy Edition of Raw Power by Iggy & the Stooges. Music books of the year: Bob Dylan In America by Sean Wilentz, and We Never Learn - The Gunk Punk Undergut 1988-2001 by Eric Davidson.

Wishing you a bopping new year, dear readers. I´m off on a short break, see ya sometime early 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four-letter Word

Not even X-mas yet and I´m thoroughly sick of the white stuff already. As Jesse Winchester sings: "I was tuning in the six o'clock newscast, and the weather man mentioned snow, as soon as I heard that four-letter word, I was making my plans to go..." Snow, be gone. A cold cold six pack.

Jesse Winchester - Snow (demo version) MP3
Little Feat - Six Feet Of Snow MP3
Galaxie 500 - Snowstorm MP3
Simon Joyner - Out Into The Snow MP3
Bill Monroe - Footprints In The Snow MP3
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Abominable Snowman In The Market MP3

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 45

Welcome to take 45 of Wild Weekend, the last edition of 2010. In store this week amongst others: true American Music courtesy of the Blasters, sweet rockabilly with Johnny & Dorsey Burnette, hot flamenco, and a track from an album Bonnie Prince Billy is extremely fond of: Kevin Coyne & Dagmar Krause´s Babble. Next week will see the glorious For The Sake Of The Song albums of the year extravaganza, so be prepared. In the meantime, just have a wild one.

And we´re rolling with Dave Alvin and his Blasters, bringing you an enthusiastic ode to America´s musical heritage. "We got the Louisiana boogie and the Delta blues, we got country swing and rockabilly, too... we got jazz, country, western, and Chicago blues: it´s the greatest music that you ever knew." Amen to that. Hint: buy their Testament - The Complete Slash Recordings. You won´t regret it. Next up is a prime example of one of the styles mentioned in Alvin´s song: rockabilly. After the demise of their famous Rock and Roll Trio, Johnny and Dorsey Burnette recorded this hiccupping beauty as The Burnette Brothers in the year of ´58. "Night breezes chill me, your warm love it thrills me..." Indeed it does.

The Blasters - American Music MP3
Burnette Brothers - Warm Love MP3

Black Merda from Detroit - where else? - is said to be the first all-black rock band ever, and the soulful monster that was their eponymous 1970 debut should have sold at least a million copies. But hey, maybe that´s just me. Suffice to say it didn´t happen. There´s no justice in this world I guess. Set the record straight and buy the cd reissue, brothers and sisters. We continue with another prime example of flamenco puro, a genre that proves surprisingly popular here. Make way for the deep voiced Juana La Del Pipa, the oldest singer in the Mujerez conglomerate. Simply amazing. ¡Toma la! Stop press: just bought me two tickets for the April Mujerez gig in Amsterdam. Can´t wait.

Black Merda - Prophet MP3
Juana La Del Pipa - Pero Más Flamenca No MP3

My man Bonnie Prince Billy is playing around with a band called the Babblers at the moment, covering the underrated Kevin Coyne & Dagmar Krause collaboration Babble in its entirety. Why, you ask? Listen to the fine Sun Shines Down On Me and you just might get it. It´s time for a Kevin Coyne revival, folks! And now for some sad news just in: Don Van Vliet, the incomparable Captain Beefheart, has died. He was a true original and an inspiration to many. Miss him.

Kevin Coyne & Dagmar Krause - Sun Shines Down On Me MP3
Captain Beefheart - I Love You, You Big Dummy MP3

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Colour Me Green

Tell me now: have you ever bean green? Presenting an exclusive hand picked six pack for your listening pleasure, featuring sixties psychedelica by the Soft Machine, triumphant white soul by Dexys, and a fine folkblues by Furry Lewis. Furthermore, the Tune Rockers deliver a sharp novelty instrumental, the Hüskers flip their wigs and Tim Hardin wants to know who you love. Like what you hear? Buy the albums these tunes come from. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Soft Machine - Have You Ever Bean Green? MP3
Dexy´s Midnight Runners - Tell Me When My Light Turns Green MP3
Furry Lewis - I Will Turn Your Money Green MP3
Tune Rockers - Green Mosquito MP3
Hüsker Dü - Green Eyes MP3
Tim Hardin - Green Rocky Road MP3

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Devil In Disguise

Don´t you mess with Christine, folks. Gram knows, he´s been there and back. "It´s alright to call her but I´ll bet you, the moon is full and you´re just wasting time..." A bona fide vintage country rock classic, coming at you in true cosmic American stereo, with vocals left, right, and centre.

Should Ingram Cecil Connor III be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame as soon as possible? Of course. He may not have invented country rock single handedly, but he sure played a very important part in its conception.

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Christine´s Tune MP3

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 44

Welcome to Wild Weekend #44, the all-women edition. Why, I dunno. Just is. Just enjoy. On this week´s menu: soul, lofi, more soul, country, folk, and flamenco. Have a wild one.

First we´ll visit The Scene Of The Crime, soul veteran Bettye LaVette´s red hot ´07 collaboration with the Drive-By Truckers. Exhibit A: the Lavette/Patterson Hood composition Before The Money Came, a fingerlickin´ good autobiographical barroom stomper. "I was singing R&B back in ’62, before you were born and your mama too..." And to ring in the festive season in style, let´s pass the mic to the lovely Cynthia Dall, once prominently on stage in a vintage wedding dress with Smog. Quite a sight, I remember well. You can hear Smog mastermind Bill Callahan, her then-boyfriend, on guitar here btw.

Bettye LaVette - Before The Money Came (The Battle Of Bettye LaVette) MP3
Cynthia Dall - Christmas (California) MP3

More soul: everybody knows Piece Of My Heart as one of Janis Joplin´s signature tunes with Big Brother & The Holding Company, but Aretha´s older sister Erma sang it first. Written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns, it wasn´t that big a hit when first released back in ´67. Strange, as that pumpin´ piano alone is worth the price of admission. But Erma found justice a decade or three later, when her Piece Of My Heart finally topped the charts on the back of a jeans commercial. Next we´re moving firmly into country territory with the incomparable Tammy Wynette, who´s on a journey to the wilder side of life here. Seeing her live in concert once, mainly singing from a barstool, and with a dress change between almost every other song, is something I still remember fondly. "If you like ´em painted up, powdered up, then you ought to be glad, because your good girl´s gonna go bad..."

Erma Franklin - Piece Of My Heart MP3
Tammy Wynette - Your Good Girl´s Gonna Go Bad MP3

"Hurting like a woman and crying like a baby..." Or: another original of a song interpreted so well by Bonnie Prince Billy and Tortoise on their The Brave And The Bold covers collection. Don´t think Melanie Safka is all Lay Down and Candles In The Rain and stuff, she could carry intense teenage pregnancy psychodramas like Some Say (I Got Devil) to perfection as well. Heavy stuff. And it´s bye bye and adios for now with some hotblooded flamenco puro from one of the Mujerez. Presenting Dolores Agujeta, a hell of a singer from a famous Jerez De La Frontera flamenco dynasty. ¡Agua!

Melanie - Some Say (I Got Devil) MP3
Dolores Agujeta - Llévame Contigo MP3

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gimme Fever

On a cold night like this, try warming up with some steaming Afro soul and funk. Works every time. Check out the Ghanese Bokoor Band for instance, who recorded their bluesy trance jewel Onukpa Shawarpo in ´74. Or get hip to Ishmael Jingo from Kenya, who got the James Brown fever that same year.

Bokoor Band - Onukpa Shawarpo MP3
Jingo - Fever MP3

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dis Ya Time

A tasty r&b and reggae top 10 songs list by none other than Keith Richards in Rolling Stone magazine made me dig up some old wax from that wonderful Jamaican vocal group The Itals. Thanks for the reminder, Keef. Their Early Recordings 1971-1979 singles compilation is an essential roots monster, filled to the brim with heavenly harmony singing over sharp riddims. For some reason, their full-lenght album debut was only released very late in their career. Recorded at the end of the roots era, Brutal Out Deh from ´81 nevertheless remains right on par with the best late-seventies work of the Mighty Diamonds, Culture or the Abyssinians. Here´s two gems from each. "So it was written, so it must be done..."

The Itals - In A Dis Ya Time MP3
The Itals - Time Will Tell MP3
The Itals - Brutal MP3
The Itals - Rastafari Chariot MP3

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PJ Dread

"People throwing dinars at the bellydancers..." That first taste of the upcoming PJ Harvey album Let England Shake sure is pretty. And what´s more, it contains a surprise for reggae lovers everywhere. Because starting around the one minute mark, craftily mixed in, you can hear a hard-hitting roots track playing in the background. "Let it burn, let it burn burn burn..." That´s the classic Blood And Fire of course, recorded in the early seventies by Jamaican producer Winston Holness, better known as Niney The Observer. Cool choice, Polly.

PJ Harvey - Written On The Forehead MP3
Niney The Observer - Blood And Fire MP3

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 43

It´s cold cold cold all of a sudden, with snow and ice and windchill factors all in the mix, so we´ll try make this 43rd edition of Wild Weekend as heartwarming as we possibly can. So put another log on the fire, pour a stiff drink and enjoy this six pack of fine fine tunes, while virtually travelling from Japan to Jamaica, from the deep south to the far north, and back again. Have a hot one.

We´ll start off in the land of the rising sun with a hot psych track from Love Live Life +1, a shortlived soulful super session group based around organist Hiro Yanagida and guitar wizard Kimio Mizutani. Did these guys listen to Sly´s Family Stone a lot? You bet. From Love Will Make A Better You (´71), one of the best trips in the Japrock canon. Next we take a plane to Jamaica, where Freddie McKay meets us at Kingston airport. He recorded this beauty for Leonard Chin´s mighty Santic label in the early seventies. And is that Augustus Pablo perhaps, leading it all in on melodica? Sure is.

Love Live Life +1 - Facts About It All MP3
Freddie McKay - I´m A Free Man MP3

Two weeks ago we featured a Swamp Dogg produced soul scorcher by ZZ Hill here, and now it´s Doris Duke´s turn. I just can´t get enough of I´m A Loser, an exemplary collection of her recording sessions with Jerry Williams Jr, better known as the Dogg. Take an earful of If She´s Your Wife (Who Am I) and you´ll definitely understand why. Onward to the freaky part of Montreal now, where we encounter Poney P, Mingo L´Indien and Bobo Boutin, better known as Les Georges Leningrad. Their Track Georges Five is, to say the least, quite a confrontational piece of dissonant post postpunk. Love it or hate it, but do try it out I beg you. You´ve probably never heard anything like it.

Doris Duke - If She´s Your Wife (Who Am I) MP3
Les Georges Leningrad - Track Georges Five MP3

"Arithmetic arithmetock, turn the hands back on the clock..." That can only be Tom Waits of course, with the jazzy title track from Alice (´02). Hot news: early next year will see the release of a book called Hard Ground, documenting the plight of the homeless in poems by Waits and photo´s by Michael O´Brien. Better start saving up. And we´ll call it a day with an intense piece of blues recorded back in ´59 in Angola State Prison, Louisiana. Robert ´Guitar´ Welch, who was behind bars there together with legendary bluesman Robert Pete Williams, fears they´ll send him straight to the hot seat. "Wonder why they´ll execute a man at the one o´clock hour at night? The current is much stronger, people turn off all the lights..."

Tom Waits - Alice MP3
Guitar Welch - Electric Chair Blues MP3

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Country Laureates

"That´s when they hung my name, in the fool´s hall of fame..." Country trivia fact of the week: only five performers were inducted into three Halls of Fame: the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here´s a classic song by each.

Jimmie Rodgers - Blue Yodel No. 8 (Mule Skinner Blues) MP3
Hank Williams - My Son Calls Another Man Daddy MP3
Bob Wills - Time Changes Everything MP3
Bill Monroe - I´m Going Back To Old Kentucky MP3
Johnny Cash - Fools Hall Of Fame MP3