Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


A few years ago I gave away about 3,000 LPs to three friends and KXCI after realizing that I slapped an LP on the turntable about once every six months. That left me with (now) about 700 CDs.

Here’s what, over the following years, I find myself listening to. I’m not saying this is the best material in any of these genres — far from it — it’s just stuff I like and listen to repeatedly.

Check it out, you might like some of it:

Rock

  • The Doors, L.A. Woman — probably because I love playing Doors covers in bands.
  • Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks — when this came out in the ’70s it was the world’s greatest head cleaner.
  • Devo, Are We Not Men? — very funny, musically inventive, and contains the world’s best cover ever (“Satisfaction”)
  • Repo Man soundtrack. Absolutely great, the best of punk. My ex-GF/ex-wife saw the movie with me when it came out, and as we were walking out of the theater, after listening to me and the rest of the audience bust a gut over the horrors it contained, she said to me, “You Americans are sick!” (She was a colombiana — and she was right.)
  • Dead Kennedys, Too Drunk to Fuck (EP). Funny, explicit, and surprisingly hard to play up to speed.
  • Treat Her Right, Tied to the Tracks and the eponymous album. These guys later became Morphine, which IMO was a step down.
  • Jonny Chingas, Greatest Hits. A lot of very funny, pretty good stuff musically, including Se me paro (“I have a hard on”), and an indication of how much wonderful material this guy might have come up with if he hadn’t been killed in a drive-by. More enjoyable if you understand Spanish.

Blues

  • Willie Edwards, Everlastin’ Tears. The best blues album you’ve never heard — it sold about a thousand copies.
  • Doug Sahm, The Last Real Texas Blues Band. Yep, the same guy from the Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados. (And, yep, that’s how they spell it.) Greasy r&b-oriented blues. The final cut, “T-Bone Shuffle,” has probably the world’s greatest walking bass line.
  • Sugar Thieves Live. The material is wonderful and this has two, count ’em two, great vocalists, either of whom could easily front a band. Absolutely killer.
  • Pinche Blues Band, Postal. My old band. I’m partial.
  • Randy Garibay, Barbacoa Blues. A great melding of Mexican/latin music and blues.

Jazz

  • Charlie Mingus, Ah Um. If you don’t like this, you’re dead.
  • Misc. Artists, That’s The Way I feel. An ’80s compilation of Thelonious Monk tunes featuring everybody under the sun. Lots of great stuff, including a wonderful cut by (yes!) Todd Rundgren.
  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue and On The Corner. Kind of Blue is probably the best LP ever for sitting on the patio and having a beer or a glass of wine at 3:00 a.m. On The Corner is a tremendous, ahead-of-its-time genre bender.
  • Jimmy Smith, The Sermon. One of the finest blues-jazz LPs ever, featuring B3 master Jimmy Smith, an incredible guitar solo by Kenny Burrell, and a couple of great sax solos.

Latin

  • Ray Barretto, La Cuna. Not for purists, but a wonderful Afro-Cuban CD featuring exceptional musicianship.
  • Luiz Bonfa, Jacaranda. Not sambas, but basically latin rock. Lots of great tunes and very good musicianship.

Country

  • Al Perry and the Cattle, Losin’ Hand. Good songwriting, good musicianship, and very funny.
  • Junior Brown, Junior High. This is just a five-song EP, but if you’re going to have one Junior Brown album, this is it. Features his best version of “Highway Patrol.” (I think it’s also on three of his other CDs.)
  • Jerry Reed, Smokey and the Bandit II soundtrack. Jerry Reed was a terrible actor but a funny guy and one of the best guitarists ever.

Soul/R&B

  • James Brown, Live at the Apollo. The seminal funk album. “I’ll go crazy” is worth the price of admission.

World/Misc.

  • Cheb Khaled and Safy Boutella, Kutche. Best rai album ever, with very good musicianship.
  • The Harder They Come soundtrack. Incredibly, this contains almost every reggae track worth listening to. (Yep, there ain’t a lot of ’em.)

Classical

  • Bela Bartok, Fourth String Quartet. Written in 1927, this is still in all likelihood the best string quartet ever written. In parts, it’s rock and roll-like.
  • Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time. Written in a POW camp in the early ’40s, this is probably the second best LP ever for sitting on the patio and having a beer at 3:00 a.m.

Zeke Bob says, “check it out.”

 


(I’ve been spending way too much time on work the last couple of weeks — I work, therefore I am — and so haven’t had time to write for the blog. I’ll be out from under the worst of it in a few days, but in the meantime I’m posting a few short things I think subscribers will enjoy, including this, part of which I posted a few months ago.)Willie Edwards Working Man CDThis new one is from one of Willie Edwards’ self-produced CDs. Willie got thoroughly screwed after signing one of the worst recording contracts ever written — the CD, Everlastin’ Tears, only sold about a thousand copies and Willie surrendered the rights to a dozen mostly great songs — so he’s turned to self-production. The lyrics below are from “Police State on the Rise” on his self-produced Working Man CD. (Sorry, but the song isn’t available online; the closest and only thing available is his “Helpless, Hopeless Feeling” from the Everlastin’ Tears CD, which certainly isn’t the one I’d pick as a sample of his work.) Anyway, here’s the first stanza from the all-too-pertinent “Police state on the rise”:

Police state on the rise
By the same old guys
With the same old lies
Comes as now surprise
Well it’s very plain to see
It’s about your liberty
Police state . . . police state . . .

If you live in Vermont (yes, Vermont), check the local music listings. I believe that Willie still performs occasionally, and I’d highly recommend catching him and his band.


We published about 250 posts in 2017, and consider the following the 50 best. We’ve divided them into categories to make navigating easier; as with our past “best of” lists, the Humor, Politics, Religion, Music, and Science Fiction categories account for most of the posts. (Because several of the posts fit into more than one category, they appear in more than one place.) We hope you enjoy them.

Humor

Politics

Religion

Music

Economics

Civil Liberties

Science

Interviews

Addictions

Anarchism

Science Fiction


One of my recent musical projects crashed and burned because one of the other band members (a great guy and great player, who I consider a friend) wanted to do what the rest of us considered pointless, time-wasting rehearsals on needlessly complex versions of covers.

(Covers? I mean come on. Give me a break! Unless you’re doing something as brilliant as Devo’s cover of “Satisfaction,” why even bother?)

For example, take the Junior Parker tune “Mystery Train,” that Elvis made famous.

Standard 12-bar blues done in straight time.

Well, why on earth do it as a 14-bar tune and then drop back to 12-bar form for _one_ of the solos? No point as far as yours truly and the rest of the guys could see. A needlessly complex time waste (in rehearsal) that no one would ever notice.

How useless and pointless.

Then we get to the complex shit that makes sense.

Let’s take probably the most complex tune time-wise ever recorded: “The Dance of Maya,” by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, on the “Inner Mounting Flame” album. (I could be, and probably am, wrong about some of the particulars — hey! I’m a guitar player, not a drummer!)

It starts out in a straightforward compound meter 10/4 time (3+3+4), then goes to a straightforward swung 20/8 time (1… a 2 … a 3… a 4… a 5… 6…7 and), then goes double time on it, then drops back to the relaxed 20/8 time, and then superimposes the 20/8 on the 10/4.) Over and out. It’s unimaginable in any other form.

Absolutely brilliant. It just works. Blows you (at least me) away.

Pointless complexity is useless. True complexity can be beautiful.

 


For some unfathomable — which means “I don’t have a clue” — reason, “Mustang Sally” has been the most requested song in American live music venues for decades, far eclipsing such musical horrors as “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”

A few years ago the now-defunct music site Guitar Squid did bar bands a favor by posting the following uncannily accurate “Mustang Sally” flow chart. Enjoy.

Mustang Sally flow chart


Within the last two or three months, after decades of playing guitar, I’ve begun playing bass in one of my musical projects (Borrowed Time).

Until then, my attitude toward bassists was, “fine, play the damn root on the one, after that, whatever.”

I had no idea.

The Bassist's Bible by Tim Boomer front coverI thought it absolutely pathetic that the most popular part of The Bassist’s Bible was the appendix in the back listing the bassists in various bands over the last few decades.

Who could give a shit?

Bassists. That’s who.

Everyone else should, too.

As I’ve discovered recently, while learning to play bass, there’s a reason for that: bassists usually get no credit  at all, and they can be incredibly creative and vital to the success of a band.

How many bassists can you name right now? I’ll bet you can count them on the fingers of one hand. The really good ones you’ll probably name are Paul McCartney, John Entwistle and, if you’re a jazz freak, Ron Carter, Charlie Mingus, and Jaco Pastorious . . . and beyond that? Probably few if any.

Why are they so important? They anchor a song and more importantly drive it and can provide counterpoint to the lines above.

Check this tune out from the last Pinche Blues Band CD: Life Is Good. My pal Michael Zubay drives the hell out of it. It would be nowhere near as compelling without his driving bass line.

On this song, people tend to just listen to the vocals (Abe), my (guitar) solo, and Fred’s (organ) solo. NOT the bass line which drives the whole thing.

How does he do it? Rhythm. It’s one . . . AND (of 2nd beat — hammering it) . . . and four and one . . . AND . . . etc.

It’s only since I began playing bass myself, after decades of playing only guitar, that I really began to appreciate bass players.

Thanks guys. Over the decades, I’ve never properly appreciated you. I’m proud to join your ranks. It’s the most musical fun I’ve had in a long time.


Willie Edwards, "Everlastin' Tears"

Condemnation

To the global plantation

Bring it up

Elimination

On the road

To the company store

Won’t somebody tell me

Where I’m headin’ for

–Willie Edwards, “Company Store,” on the horrors of being enmeshed by the global corporate octopus, from the CD “Everlastin’ Tears” — a CD so rare that none of its cuts are up on youtube