Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mux Obliged

Thanks to the inspiration of Nick Hennies, I have made a muxtape.

Muxtape seems to be some sort of online mixtape website.

I decided to set myself some parameters: only songs that you could listen to in the car or while washing dishes, nothing too arty or dynamically extreme, and songs about which I might have something interesting to say. I figure that the point of this sort of thing is to invite friends to actually listen to the songs posted. I think most everybody I know would like these songs.

I am going to write about this muxtape with the following parameters: each piece gets written about in no more time than it takes to listen to the song. This will include checking wikipedia, and naps, and other things, so this might not be the most
helpful guide:

1)Takeshi Terauchi: this is really dream music for me... it combines the kind of gorgeous farfisa/rocksichord melodies I always hope will be in martial arts films from the 60s, but only ever find in Seijun Suzuki's movies, incredibly awesome Nokie Edwards meets Sonny Sharrock clean tone-treble pickup guitar playing (with no reverb-- a godsend for the reverb-allergic surf fan, which is sort of like being a matzoh-ball allergic Jew). The form is also wonderful---almost meta-hockets between 2 or 3 aural areas, and the glue of monkees-style country fills.

2) Judee Sill--"The Pearl": I have raved about Sill before, but I had to include this, because this may the single most beautiful song in my collection. I have 29 gigs of music that I love on my ipod, but I listen to this song every time I turn it on.

3) Stonewall Jackson-- "The Alcohol of Fame": I usually hate jokey country songs, and I really hate puns, so this is a weird one for me. To be honest, one reason I love this song so much is that I didn't realize it was a pun for weeks after I got the record. I just loved the metaphor of "alcohol of fame" and how apt it seemed for our current moment... this one though, also, proves that great country sidemen are the greatest thing in the world-- I am pretty sure this is Lloyd Green on pedal steel and Charlie McCoy on harmonica....

4) Bootsy's Rubber Band: In high school, I loved p-funk more than almost anything else in the world. After I got into sullen slow music, I felt I had to renounce funky music... and I hated the frat boys who loved funk music... but this was an epic mistake. This music really is utopian in the best sense-- and suggests the pertinence of things that go "wah,wah, wah" to collective happiness. Bootsy is also one of the best singers in the history of music... his gloss on Houng Dog is better psychedelic intertextuality than DJ Spooky's whole career, and the synth strings are so mind-blowingly rad. I also love how wide the pocket is. Bringing me to a question: what is the widest pocket on record? Or, more nerdily, how many bars does the longest funk groove go before returning to the one?

5)Hackberry Ramblers, "Jolie Blond": I think this one is on the Harry Smith anthology, but I could be wrong. This is of course a blindingly obvious choice for a cajun tune, but what the fuck, it is perfect. First, it is a waltz. Why do I forget that I love waltzes? Like, I would be in an all waltz band. I would even understand if people thought we sucked. I just think it is the way to make music, unless a really convincing argument otherwise can be made. Charles Stivale used to write essays on Louisiana music and Deleuze and Guattari, which I thought were dumb, but which I now see the point of, listening to this...

6) Bushwick Bill-- "Little Big Man" So darned great... Bushwick Bill's music always reminds me of the famous story about James Baldwin, who responded to an interviewer's question: how did it feel to grow up poor, black, and gay with the answer: "I thought I hit the jackpot." Bill's control of the line is truly remarkable, and the lyrical tricknology is always 3 times more sophisticated than it needs to be to still rock. Also, the bit of dancehall toasting makes me deliriously happy. Finally, the semi-cheesy rock groove is really effectively deployed. Sue me.

7)Nic Jones--"Us Poor Fellows": Nic Jones occupies so deep a place in my heart I can't really write about him. I was introduced to his music by Martin Arnold, who may introduce everybody to Nic Jones, but when he played me his record Penguin Eggs I felt that something intended for me was being beamed into my brain. With the exception of Derek Bailey little else has struck me thus. This comes from an incredible record, a ballad opera called, I think, the Transports. It has all of the amazing British Isles folks doing ballads, woven into a theatrical narrative of some sort. This song recurs 4 or 5 times. Anyways, it is one of the most touching and moving labor songs I have ever heard. A recipe-- this song, welsh rarebit, some glensomething whiskey, and Linebaugh and Rediker's Many-Headed Hydra. Also, the orchestration, by the Collins sisters (or one of them, at least) is so fucking righteous-- odd goreous polyphony, the beloved musical ethic and social philosophy of my dear friends in Toronto.

8)K-Rob/Rammellzee-- "Beat Bop": embarassingly enough, I didn't hear this tune until very recently. It is brilliant, beguiling electro... I have become really interested in Rammellzee recently... his rap, the second voice on this track, is wildly mind-melting. The cello (?) that intercuts his part is a beautiful choice.Of course, the choice of so reverby a track for a mixtape by a reverb-hater is perverse and probably lame... This song also features in Style Wars, one of my favorite movies ever... very worth seeing, if any of you are looking for a good documentary with lots of footage of Ed Koch looking like a total dick.

9) Blind Alfred Reed-- "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live": I fear that this is also on the Harry Smith anthology, but maybe I am confusing it with the Bristol Sessions. Anyhoo, Blind Alfred Reed is to my mind the great labor poet of the American old-time tradition. This song is so fucking hardcore and militant it is hard to believe that it was published. Reed also did religious songs in the masochistic/self-flagellating Methodist tradition, I think.... inteteresting. We usually think of the latter as
depoliticizing. We're wrong, I guess.

10) Henson Cargill-- "Skip a Rope": Great late 1960s Nashville production, Cargill's voice is fantastic, the guitar fills are pure brilliance (I have to asume James Burton, but who knows), love the finger snaps. I am into this song for many reasons, but one of them is that it is part of an important body of late 1960s country social protest songs-- usually ignored by historians who think country was all "Okie" in this time... between Cargill, Lynn, Paycheck,Campbell and others, there were tons of protest songs way better than "For What It's Worth" coming out of Nashville.

11) Judas Priest--"Rapid Fire": I was never a big JP fan in my teen years, but now I cannot get enough. Rob Halford is a total genius. The riff to this song is really heavy. I love riffs, but I don't like playing them. I like playing widdly widdly solos. This song has some of that too!

9)Archie Shepp-- "Blues for Brother George Jackson": Beautiful tune from the 1972 record "Attica Blues."

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