It ain't pretty being easy... (soopageek) wrote,
It ain't pretty being easy...

recent music adventures

Location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Want some free music? Keep reading.

In the current issue of The Onion there is a story in the "News in Brief" section about Satan being disappointed when a man in Uncasville, CT decided not to go to Mohegan Sun Resort Casino with his buddies. Heh, that's where I won my seven grand.

I haven't done a music adventures post in a while so this will encapsule the past few weeks... cut to spare those who could care less. By the way, I've decided instead of trying to do "mix" CD's online, I'm going to spotlight stuff I write about in my musical adventures. Throughout the text of it will be links to various songs. Due to the free hosting space I have, they're not very keen on "mp3" files, so all of them are named without the mp3 extension, but they ARE mp3's. When your computer asks you if you want to save it, just add/change the extension to mp3 and you should be good to go. When testing this, my computer tried to save it as a text file by default. I just deleted the .txt extension and added .mp3 and it worked just fine. Lemme know if you have any troubles with this. Sorry for the hassle, but I'm cheap ;-). Oh yeah, and if you take advantage of this please let me know. If it turns out that no one who reads my journal is going to utilize this, there's not much sense in me taking the time to upload it all, etc. So leave a comment and let me know.

Muddy Waters - Trouble No More: Singles 1955-1959
If One More Mile is for the general blues enthusiast looking for a good disc for his Muddy Waters section, then Trouble No More is for the novice. It has all the big hits like the title track and "Got My Mojo Working". A fine, fine compilation capturing some of Muddy Waters' most famous sides on one CD.

Bessie Smith - various tracks
I culled these mostly from some compilation but got some from other sources as well. There were well over 30 tracks of Bessie for me to purvey. Bessie has a voice that is huge and throaty. It's too bad the music is reduced to accompaniment, mostly a piano blues arrangment punctuated by clarinet or trumpet solos. In the end, most of the track sound the same. It was fun for the history lesson but not something I'm likely to return to any time soon. Check out "Do Your Duty".

Leadbelly - various tracks
I love listening to Leadbelly play his 12 string. Sadly most of the recordings we have of Leadbelly were horribly produced, a lot of them recorded "in the field" by the Library of Congress when he was "discovered" in prison. Leadbelly was less of a blues player than a folk singer, in the tradition of Woody Guthrie. He took songs he heard or remembered from his childhood: blues, gospel, country - it all got thrown in. If he had never done anything else, his recording of "Midnight Special" would be enough. His recording immortalized this folk song and his arragement of it has been covered eternally by future generations, most notably, Creedence Clearwater Revival's version.

Buddy Guy - Damn Right I've Got the Blues, Feels Like Rain, Slippin' In, The Very Best Of Buddy Guy, and Alone and Acoustic
With the possible exception of John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy is most likely my favorite blues musician. Buddy Guy once pointed out that everyone played the electric guitar like it was a flattop until B.B. King came along and showed them what to do with it. But Buddy quickly surpassed him in technique, panache, and tone. The problem was, Buddy's style was too harsh for the blues but too traditional (straight-forward 12-bar) to be rock and roll. So while Clapton, Hendrix, and Allman were becoming rock gods and B.B. was becoming the undisputed king of the electric blues, poor Buddy spent the better part of two decades in virtual obscurity. Only in the past 15-20 years has he begun to get the recogition and respect he so justly deserves, due in large part to his jamming sessions with fan/devotee Stevie Ray Vaughn and the very fine Rhino compilation The Very Best Of Buddy Guy in the early 90's. This collection is largely his scorching Chess Records sides he recorded in the 1960's. The entire compilation burns and smokes. The opening 12-bars of the live version of "First Time I Met the Blues" contains more subteltly and technique than most guitarists spend a lifetime achieving. This has long been a favorite album of mine and it was fun revisitng. Damn Right I've Got Te Blues (which won him his first Grammy), Feels Like Rain, and Slippin' In are all newer albums, both released in the 1990's. Damn Right is an alright listen, especially the title cut, but is largely inconsistent. His recent collaboration with Stevie Ray becomes apparent in his own licks, not to mention, the outright tribute "Rememberin' Stevie". I guess sometimes the student does rise to instruct the teacher, even from the grave. Feels Like Rain is much more uneven with a lot more guest appearances than Damn Right and excusrions into less-traditional blues arragnements, which is not his forte. Slippin' In returns to form and is arguably the strongest of the three. Finally, there is Alone and Acoustic which was an Alligator Records release in the early 90's. When you talk about Buddy Guy, you also have to mention Junior Wells, arguably the most famous blues harmonica players. The two have had a long history, playing on each other's records and various bands and albums recorded together. Their Drinkin' TNT and Smokin' Dynamite live album is one of the finer live albums ever recorded and I'm not a big fan of live albums. But anyway, someone at Alligator thought it'd be neat to record Buddy and Junior together, unplugged as it were. The result is nothing short of amazing. This recording manages to capture the intimate premise superbly. Just acoustic guitar and harp with both of these legends trading lyric duties. Particular high points: a nice rendtion of John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" and "Give Me My Coat and Shoes".

G Love and Special Sauce - G Love and Special Sauce, Coast To Coast Motel, and Yeah, It's That Easy
I still remember the first time I heard G Love. It was sometime in the early 90's and I was working in college radio. I put on this neat looking little 7" record, largley for it's nifty "Okeh" label in burgundy plus the name of the artist was certainly intriguing. There were these funky opening snare taps then G Love saying "Yo, could I get a cold beverage, I need some leverage". At the time, it was such a refreshing sound. What a disappointment it was to discover that not all of his muisc sounded as hip and refreshing as "Cold Beverage". But that first, self-titled album was plenty fresh and hip in other ways. I went to see them play live sometime around 1994 in a hole in the wall in Cincinnati called Sudsy Malone's and ranks as one of my finest concert experiences. They played for over three hours in the small, dank bar-cum-laundrymat to a packed house. The girls would swoon over "Baby's Got Sauce" and the guys could rock out with the head bob on "Garbage Man." Sadly, the proverbial sophmore slump hit hard with Coast To Coast but he recovered nicely with Yeah. "I-76" is a bonafide great song and "Recipe" is right up there, too. G Love's blue-eyed treament of soul/r&b and the blues with his boy-ish features and sensitive sid paved the way for the White Stripes. If you're a fan of the latter and not familiar with the former, you owe it to yourself to check out G Love and Special Suace.

Boyracer - B-side and Besides and To Get a Better Hold You've Got To Loosen Your Grip
I you like noisy, passionate post-punk that is intentionally low-fi, Boyracer is your ticket there. B-sides is a lotta demos, outtakes, alternate versions and, yes, B-sides. I'd only recommend this for the fan/completist. All in all, it's not that good. As a compilation, it's not as "must have" as Boyfuckingracer in that, even as a fan, you could probably live without hearing any of this mess. To Get a Better Hold though is fun, powerful and laden with more pop hooks than you can shake a stick at. Arguably, Boyracer isn't for everyone, but I think yer pretty fucking cool if you are one of them. Try out "Sarah and Sarah".

Lollipop - Dog Piss On Dog
Lollipop was one of the last really good bands signed to the ill-fated Amphetamine Reptile label in the late '90's. Imagine, if you will, that a band played every song and it just "popped" with amazing intensity, heat, and precision. Now also imagine that the vocals are sung correspondingly sloppy, often times slurred and la-la'ed kind of like the Sex Pistol's treament of "Johnny B Goode/Roadrunner" on The Great Rock and Roll Swindle. You're halfway to appreciating the madness and beauty of Lollipop. This first album of theirs blew me away. You can't understand a damn thing the guy sings but it is chock full of rock and roll swagger and dripping with cool. I particularly love thier cover of Love's "7 and 7 Is": the opening count-off sounds something like "Uht, two, tree, foe" and he manages to get about two lines of the lyrics correct, and just nails the "oop-ip-ip, oop-ip-ip yeah!" refrains. I have their second album somewhere, but it wasn't nearly as good as this one. This is one of those underground gems that I feel proud to know exists.

Bill Hicks - Love, Laughter, and Truth
I don't really care for Bill Hicks. I got hold of this just because listesning to comedy is good when driving, particularly when you're on a long one and need to stay alert: comedy is a little more mind-engaging than music. This album did nothing to win me over to the legions of Bill Hicks fans. I have become firmly convinced that his cult status over the years is due more to the fact of his untimely death to pancreatic cancer than for his comedic stylings. He has his moments, but on the whole, I just don't find Bill Hicks to be a very funny person. This was fairly amusing though, "Speaking of Homosexuality".

Deerhoof - Apple O'
So you want to start a rock band with a four year old lead singer? You might as well call yourself Deerhoof. Of course, that is the overly simplistic description. In actuality, the music is rather complex and intriguing. They takes risks and push the envelope of pop/rock, sometimes with amazing results and at other times they fail miserably. The end result is a refreshing take on the alt-rock format. But I could do without those annoying vocals. "Flower" is a cool song, check it out.

Braid - Frame and Canvas
I have to admit I like a lot of this album, especially the song "A Dozen Roses". It's good, driving guitar rock with those typical, passionate vocals. They play by the emo formula but do it well. They're tight, capable and engaging. When they grow-up, drop all the emo posturing, and write more songs with real melodies like "A Dozen Roses" they'll be a force to reckoned with.

Rainer Maria - A Better Version of Me
When I first put this on I thought someone had fucked up and put Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me" in place of the first track. Luckily, that didn't last long and it get better, much better. Actually Rainer Maria's music is much in the vein of bands like Sixpence, the Sundays, etc. Their sound is jangly and lush yet relatively simple. Their strength lies in the vocal hooks, which draws you in immediately. Repeated listens yields the subtleties of the rhythm section and guitar play. My particular favorite on this album is "The Seven Sisters": while she croons "I am a constellation/I'll guide you through the night" the guitars whir and scree like subspace noise being received on a radar dish.

Various - My Girlfriend Was A Punk: Rare, Early Female Punkrockers
The hailed from the USA, Canada, the UK, all over Europe and Japan from 1978-1982 on this compilation of long forgotten punk bands. There is nothing incredibly awe-inspiring about the songs on this album, yet it is full of solid punk offerings as good as any the boys had to offer. Joy Rider and Avis Davis' "Nasty Secretary" is very Thunders/Heartbreakers-ish and a real standout in the mix. The production is questionable as a lot of this bootleg was compiled from old demos, scratchy vinyl pressings, and mix-tapes from personal collections. A fun listen none-the-less.


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