Music Notes September 2016

September 30, 2016 at 10:35 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s that time again

1 Jack White – Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

A two-CD set of acoustic favourites drawn from throughout White’s career; many you’ll know, some B sides, remixes and a few unreleased gems. Basically though, it’s worth hearing to note how White is able to take those old blues structures and do something new with them. There’s a bunch of interesting tunes including my current fave title “Honey, we can’t afford to look this cheap.”

2 The Mekons –Existentialism

OK, you get a live recording of the band in Red Hook, a 96 page book complete with essays, sketches and poems, and a link to a video. Now, the sound on this record is a little thin because of the nature of the recording (the band crowded around a single live mic), but there’s a warmth and a joy that goes with any Mekons record that more than makes up for it.

3 Tricky – Maximquaye

Tricky’s debut is his best. Hip-hop. blues, garage, soul and more on this one. There’s just a feeling that rolls over you. It’s also available as a deluxe edition with unreleased versions and remixes which are not essential, but worth a listen.

4 The La’s –  The La’s

Possibly by most popular album ever to be disowned by its main architect. I don’t care what Lee Mavers says, this is a brilliant record. I hadn’t listened to this in a while, and had forgotten just how perfect “Timeless Melody” is.

5 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

After a cataclysmic event, there’s a tendency to view everything through that lens. After Ian Curtis’ suicide Closer was dissected as an extended suicide note. After the death of Cave’s son last year, there is a tendency to view with album as being all about Arthur. There’s certainly a possibility, but the songs stand. The fist half focuses on Cave’s vocals, with the music almost an afterthought, but the second part of the album seems a return to a fuller songwriting. After listening, I wondered whether this might not have been more successful as a book of poems or as a spoken word album.

6 The Pixies –Head Carrier

After the relative disappointment of Indie Cindy, I worried about this album. No need. It’s not one of the original four, but how could it be? Decades have passed and a Firefly reunion is more likely. No, it’s a brilliant new record with crackling songs in that classic Pixies sound but is still fresh. Cool.

7 Billy Bragg and Joe Henry – Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad

There’s always been a romantic sensibility about the train. Travelling across the plains , the hobo hitchhiker etc. (This can quickly be cured by taking a 12 hour trip from Toronto to New York and you realize what train travel has become – the boy is still complaining  year later) But I digree. No longer the angry young man, Bragg is making quiet Americana-esque records that are a pleasure to listen to.

8 Iggy Pop – New Values

Maybe the Ig’s first  solo album without Bowie’s involvement. I remember buying the first single from this, “Five Foot One” as a picture disc (sure that must be worth a few bob). New Values
is a new wave album by your cool uncle.

9 Sultans of Ping FC- Teenage Drug

My wife is watching a show called Moone Boy. It’s a comedy with the brilliant Chris O’Dowd, but the closing credits are accompanied by the song, “Where’s me Jumper?” by Sultans of Ping FC. Now imagine that the Sweet came after not before punk and you can imagine what this might sound like: loads of songs about being teenage (even though the band gleefully concede they’re in their twenties), rock ‘n’ roll, drugs, hot Japanese girls etc. Even a Yoko Ono cover. Loads of fun.  (Oh, I should mention, the song from Moone Boy is on their first album. Teenage Drug is the second)

10 Prince Buster

Cecil Bustamente Campbell died September 8, 2016. It’s probably too much to say without him, there would have been no ska music, but his contribution was enormous. Like many the first I heard of his work was through 2-Tone: the Specials’ first single “Gangsters” was a reworking of Buster’s “Al Capone'” and Madness both took their name from one of his songs and covered “One Step Beyond for their second single. The best thing you can do if you want to assess the man’s contribution is to listen to his work.

 

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