Thursday, March 31, 2005

Erotic Blues
Robert Christgau's reviews of Sarah Vaughan's Love Songs and Lucille Bogan's The Best of Lucille Bogan: Shave 'Em Dry seem a bit unusual compared to the typical album review. Knowing very little of either artist, the tone of the reviews made little sense to me, though they're both an entertaining read.
Thanks to ILM , the content of the reviews is now very clear. And I'm fascinated by Bogan's song "Shave 'Em Dry," based on the lyrics which are posted on the board. Bogan opens with the lines:

"I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb,
I got somethin' between my legs'll make a dead man come,
Oh daddy, baby won't you shave 'em dry?"

Later in the song, she admits:

"Now if fuckin' was the thing, that would take me to heaven,
I'd be fuckin' in the studio, till the clock strike eleven.
Oh daddy, daddy shave 'em dry,
I would fuck you baby, honey I'd make you cry."

So I know, you're thinking, why is this guy so fascinated by raunchy lyrics. Well, the song was recorded between 1933 - 1935, and this compilation of songs from that period has a parental advisory sticker on it.

Something about that seems very humorous though intriguing to me. And as other critics have mentioned in their reviews, Logan's lurid lyrics pre-date the likes of Missy Elliott, Ludacris and others by about 60 years. I'm not sure what kind of following Bogan has (or had at the time), but it appears she recorded a number of sides between 1927-1935, though the above-mentioned song appears to be her best known number, which is hardly surprising.
posted by Jonathan

Monday, March 28, 2005

School of Rock
A documentary called Rock School is doing the rounds at the different festivals, and recently posted the trailer. First off, the teacher, Paul Green, doesn't appear stable, and relies on his short temper and screaming as a form of inspiration. Secondly, though I can't make out the sentence, he says something about his dream and Rolling Stone Magazine. Now, in 2005, how can someone seriously suggest they know anything about music if they still favour anything found on the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine?! Secondly, how long was this movie in production? There is a clip of two kids saying that before they went to the school, they listened to Bush and 311. I'm sure he also fills these young heads with various rockist views (another form of child abuse, maybe?). Apple's site has trailers to a number of promising movies due out in the next few months. This isn't one of them.
posted by Jonathan

Monday, March 14, 2005

What good am I if I'm like all the rest?
Solomon Burke - Make Do With What You Got (Shout Factory)
In 2002, Solomon Burke's Don't Give Up On Me on Anti Records compiled eleven new songs written by Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Dan Penn and others. The lack of familiarity with these songs allowed Burke's powerful voice to be the central focus of the album, resulting in a brilliant deep soul album that garnered a grammy for Best Contemporary Blues album as well as being named best album of 2002 by Mojo magazine.
On Burke's new album, once again we see various songwriters on the project. The difference this time is that there are only a few new songs, including the Van Morrison penned "At The Crossroads" and "After All These Years" which Burke co-wrote with Eddie Towns. Added to these tracks are covers of “What Good Am I?” taken from Bob Dylan’s 1989 album, Oh Mercy, "It Makes No Difference" taken from The Band’s last great studio album, Northern Lights, Southern Cross, and "Let Somebody Love Me", a song previously recorded by David Ruffin (which can be found on his Ultimate Collection, or the recently released Hip-O Select album, David - The Unreleased Album).
Make Do With What You Got opens with the explosive (by Burke's standards) "I Need Your Love In My Life" (taken from the modern blues album Suspicion by Coco Montoya). Unfortunately, Don Was's production can appear too slick at times, with the opener being the best example of a song suffering from being a little too clean, which strips away from the edge that the song deserves. The gorgeous gospel blues closer, "Wealth Won’t Save Your Soul" from Hank Williams' album I Saw The Light, allows Burke to reflect on the riches of his life, and realize what is most valuable to him.
Despite filling the album with covers of previously released material, Burke's voice strips the songs of their past lives and, similar to his work on Don't Give Up On Me, keeps the focus directly on Burke's vocal strengths and his execution of the lyrics. In fact, many of the songs featured here are stronger than those on Anti release. One in particular is the Otis Redding flavoured Rolling Stones' gem, "I Got the Blues", from Sticky Fingers. Though the Stones attempted to create a Stax era sound, they never really captured the essence in this song. When King Solomon belts out his version on Make Do With What You Got, he returns the song to the southern US in the 60s, when Stax reigned supreme.
In the end, what makes Make Do With What You Got so compelling is that Burke has picked songs from a variety of styles and turned them all into deep soul classics.
posted by Jonathan

Sasha Frere-Jones on Grime.
posted by Jonathan

"There are kids who listen to both hip-hop and indie and there are kids who dress a certain way but act another way. But it's OK. That could be the new thing-- that we're all a bit confused."

M.I.A. identifies with music fans in her interview with Pitchfork.
posted by Jonathan

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dizzee, Dynamite MC, MIA, Rodney P!!!!!
Joe Ransom, I don't know who you are, but your Fabriclive compilation looks amazing.
posted by Jonathan

Sufjan Stevens continuing with 50 States project
After Michigan was released, I read that Stevens was planning on releasing an album per state, which will amount to 50 albums. I don't really understand the motive behind this (other than to get press for attempting such a tremendous feat), but I wonder if Stevens can sustain the personal connection reflected in the songs about his home state of Michigan. It might be pretty easy on the next one, which deals with Illinois, but once the focus of the releases becomes foreign to him, the quality of the songs may suffer.
Other points that concern me from the PF newsbit: "the album implements more than 30 instruments and musicians, from the usual guitar and banjo to horns, string quartets, and a small choir. . . 'It's like the music at the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland, like really big and kind of patriotic sounding.' Sufjan really wanted to make it sound a little bit more polished and professional . . . the Illinois record will not be the sum of Stevens' recorded 2005 output, claiming that "by the end of this year" there will "probably" be another state album that will double as a christmas album. Seemingly relentless, Stevens is also bouncing around the idea of recording an EP for a smaller state. His PR went on to say they think the state records will continue to be produced for the indefinite future."
Stevens is currently riding high with two critically acclaimed released, and putting out an album per state will also increase his profile in numerous magazines, but if the quality of the music suffers, then what's the point?
Having said all that, I love how a smaller state might only get an EP. Maybe Rhode Island will be summed up on a 7". Or a b-side.
posted by Jonathan

Thursday, March 03, 2005

M.I.A. signs to Interscope: Album to be released by mid-April.
posted by Jonathan