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Creedence Clearwater Revival “Cosmo’s Factory” (1970)

I think I started smelling phantom Patchouli when “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” came on. This song is great! I love the little guitar solo interlude, and when it gets very slow, but there’s definitely a hippie stigma attached to it. Before putting this album on, I looked at all of the pictures taken by Bob Fogerty on the back cover and all I could think about was that these guys looked like stereotypes of hippies. And this probably has no actual merit to it, but they also look like kind of cocky assholes.

CCR is one of those bands that I know everything about and absolutely nothing about. Their  songs are still played on the radio all the time! But what were they like when they were together and writing these famous songs? Their Wikipedia page says that they’re actually from San Francisco and not the south. Did you know that?

I enjoyed the first four songs, but it wasn’t until “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” came on that I finally felt the urge to write something. I was actually about to turn the record player off and come back to it tomorrow, because I just wasn’t inspired to comment on anything, but then that phantom patchouli smell came in through the back door, so to speak.

Let’s see what side two brings.

I also read about this album earlier than I usually do because I wasn’t feeling inspired and saw that it is considered their best by critics and fans. I like not knowing that information until after I’ve listened to the entire thing, but I’ll try to keep it out of my review.

You would think that “Up And Around The Bend,” would have been the first song on side one, not side two! This song is so familiar that it’s a little hard to hear. I wish I could hear it with fresh ears. I wish I could play it for Harvey for the first time and that he could talk and tell me what he thinks. As I typed that sentence I just realized that I will actually get to do that eventually! And that is the reason people have babies.

“Who’ll Stop The Rain,’” feels like a discovery of a beautiful song that was waiting to be written. The song waited patiently for a long time somewhere until John Foggerty found it, and he gave it to us.

Another “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” cover! I wonder how many albums Alex has that cover this song. So far, I’ve written about the original version on the “Big Chill Soundtrack.” This is a pretty fine version. I’m perfectly happy about the fact that it’s eleven minutes long. The ramblingness of it never loses some sort of electric energy that you can feel and they get real deep away from the chorus and into the jam. That main guitar riff is such a genius riff, I would guess that playing it over and over again on the guitar would be very satisfying.

This album has a lot of great songs on it that everyone loves, but I don’t feel any passion for it. Except for “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” there’s a passionate space in my soul for that one.

The Cramps “Bad Music For Bad People” (1984)

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The first thing I’m noticing about this cover is the really awesome drawings on the front and the back by Stephen Blickenstaff. I immediately googled him and found his website which looks like it was last updated in 2004. He seems really sweet and also into cats which confirms my theory about him being a cool, sweet dude:

image

In this photo, I’m awaiting final approval by my (late) cat Hamilton, on some monster heads I’ve sculpted.

Click here to find out more about these.

This website is putting me in a great mood and almost inspiring me to write this entire post in comic sans! (Almost, but not quite.) On that note, let’s put the record on!

The first song, “Garbageman,” starts with a really inviting catchiness, yet something feels very unique about this song. Halfway through there’s a sweet guitar solo. This feels like a perfect combination of blues and punk. I really like this song.

With this project, I’m often discovering that the image on the cover of an album, the name of the band and title of the album can often seem much “scarier” than the music inside could ever be. I can picture myself not even considering ever listening to this album when I was a teenager just getting into music, because it would have seemed scary, and intimidating and not for me. Something told me - maybe it was adults, friends, MTV, society in general, that an album that looked like that on the outside was probably for kids who wore leather jackets, had weird piercings or spikes in their hair. And was probably more likely for boys. But while the music sounds different than stuff you hear on the radio, it also feels friendly and inclusive and beautiful. I wish I’d had someone to hand me this record when I was a lot younger and reassured me that I should be listening to it. I’m sure I saw it a million times at The Princeton Record Exchange, but I was too busy looking through Dave Matthew’s Band and Counting Crows cds to stop and consider if that album could also be for me. That the musicians wanted someone like me listening to it too.

Love Me,” has such a raw, southern, country feel to it. It feels like Road House music, with a little bit of Elvis in the vocals.

I love how raw and rambling “She Said,” is, even though I can’t really tell what he’s saying, I like the feel of this song and the drums really hold the whole thing together.

On to side two. “Goo Goo Muck,” has a little bit of a B-52’s vibe sounding kind of surfy and silly. I’m loving this album. Some wikipedia reading is telling me that the lead singer, Lux Interior died in 2009 and that Poison Ivy, one of the guitar players is a woman! Must read more! I wonder if she came up with the name of the band.

Awww I just found this really sweet interview with Poison Ivy and Lux Interior! Why are they not the most famous rock couple ever?

Poison Ivy: There’s not anything that we deny each other. I’ll always hear somebody say, “Oh, I’d like to buy that but my wife would kill me”, or vice versa, and I’m, like, “God, what is that?” We don’t feel that either one of us has any right to say anything about the other’s needs. We just have to trust that person and what that person is entitled to. Fortunately, we happen to like a lot of the samea things, but even if we didn’t, that shouldn’t matter. We’re both real free-thinkers. We’re nice to each other. There’s all those reasons why we’re together, but I think it’s also karmic. We’re karmically entwined.

He’s easy to love. He’s someone I can get crazy with, I knew that about him right away. I thought: “Oh boy, what’s gonna happen now? Something exciting!” It’s still happening.

Omg, I’m going to cry. This is the most romantic interview I’ve ever read. It’s so sad that Lux died.

Lux Interior:We’re different in a lot of ways. I tend to fly off the handle and go crazy and start screaming and she tends to be a bit wiser and calmer and more patient than I am - before she starts going wild, too. I think she’s a lot classier than I am, but I think I’ve gained a lot of class from her. It’s hard to figure out how we’re different because we’re together all the time and we always do everything together. In a way it’s kind of one thing, me and her, but she’s also very much an individual and very strong. She grows like a tree. She’s faceted like a diamond. There’s a million sides to Ivy and I just love all of them.

This album is amazing and it was written by true and pure love.  I wish I would have known not to be afraid of it when I was younger but I’m really glad I discovered it tonight.

Couch/Bullet In The Head split 12″ (1993)

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Tonight’s album is by the band Couch. I know nothing about this band. Conversation that was just yelled across the house because Alex is doing the dishes:

Me: Is the album called “Bullet In The Head?”

Alex: It’s a split.

Me: What?

Alex: It’s a split.

Me: What?

Alex: Side A is a band called Couch. Side B is a band called Bullet In The Head.

Me: What?! How was I supposed to know that?

Seriously though, I’m pretty sure I’m totally unfamiliar with the concept of a split album. Wait, that’s not true! I randomly bought the Oneida/Liars split album when I was in college. And then ended up becoming friends with Kid Millions after I moved to New York. So the moral of the story is, split albums lead to friendship.

I asked Alex how he decided to alphabetize this album under C for Couch instead of B for Bullet in the head and he kind of went on a long tangent about how it’s always a really hard decision with split albums. I zoned out a bit. Long story short: he likes Couch better.

I’ll be the judge of that! Let’s put it on!

Ah yes, the melodious sound of banging on trash cans and a dying goose. Alex just started barking “old man” at me. AKA “singing along.” There’s also the sound of a person dying in the background (an old man, I suppose?) I can tell Alex is so excited to put me through this experiment in sound.

The second song starts off sounding more like music but then turns into a rattling swarm of killer bees. This song feels kind of defeated whereas “Old Man” felt triumphant.

The next song starts with an auctioneer speaking gibberish. It’s spooky. This song is called “Chinese Mechanic,” and there is possibly real Chinese being yelled or gibberish, I’m pretty sure this band is white dudes, so…either way, I don’t really know what to say.

The next song has a Jon Spencer Blues explosion vibe. I think I’m okay with it. He just yelled something and then Alex said, “that song’s called truckload of boats.” I think you can guess what he yelled then. And now the side is over. What was that? I feel like I was just on a roller coaster of weirdness. Okay, let’s check out Bullet In The Head.

This has a much more elegant space vibe to it. More like an alien’s laser bullet in the head than an earthling’s bullet. And then the song ends with the sound of someone running on a treadmill.

Song two is feeling a lot like song one. Maybe you’re inside of a wind tunnel and a plane is flying overhead. What you’re hearing is a song. And it is this song. Maybe your dryer is broken and your radio is on top of it playing only static. That is a song. And it is this song.

Well, that was a short window into the sound of some folks fulfilling a creative urge. It was fine! I can’t really imagine ever wanting to put it on again, but I’m glad it exists and I’m glad I listened to it. Go music, you’ve surprised me again.

Alex says: I mentioned couch in the Bassholes review way back when, because it was Marlon Magas, ½ of couch, that introduced me to them. Marlon Magas was this guy who worked at the record store we worked at. He was probably in his early 20’s, but he seemed impossibly mature and impossibly cool when I was in high school. And he was this unassuming guy who told us one day to come see his band, Couch. I couldn’t believe how bizarre and life changing they were.

We were stupid shit snot nosed punks listening to bands like Minor Threat, all punks who dressed weird and played fast and loud, but were essentially playing music with melodies. And then we went and saw Couch and it was like entering another dimension. They wore suits! They looked like G-Men! They played something that approximated music, but wasn’t quite music, and it was scary and gleeful all at the same time. I remember I asked Mr. Velocity Hopkins what kind of amplifier he had and he responded to me in German! Who were these weirdos?!

Velocity Hopkins (AKA Pete Larsen) ran Bulb Records, the label this record came out on, and it was just incomprehensible to me that there was a dude in my town putting out music that sounded like this. Realizing that music could sound like this helped me realize how huge and varied the world is and how exciting and scary music can be. It can be like landing on another planet. It can be sounds you’ve never heard before. It can sound like a snake charmer and a wretch fighting in a junkyard, or a guy reciting his mantra in a cave while a dog careens across piano strings.

To me, these were guys who were rejecting fashion, rejecting “the scene,” even rejecting music, and they seemed like they were having so much fun doing it. They were so fucking cool.

It’s not like I wake up every morning and think to myself “I really have to listen to that couch album,” but it’s hard to overstate how eye-opening it was to see them play.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget you can follow me on twitter @sohollz

Alice Cooper “Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits” (1974)

I know that Alice Cooper is heavy metal but that’s about it! I just asked Alex if “Alice Cooper” is a band or a person- and as I was saying it I thought, this is going to sound like an insanely naive question. But turns out it’s perfectly valid because apparently it started out as the band name and then the lead singer “Vincent Furnier,” took it as his name, so now it’s a person. Alex’s copy of this record has the name “Nancy Oliver” written in the bottom right hand corner. I love that this album was first owned by a girl! Unless “Nancy Oliver,” was some dude’s heavy metal name. Imagine Nancy Oliver and Alice Cooper jamming together in their parent’s garage.

Let’s put it on!

The first song is “I’m Eighteen,” and this just sounds like regular rock and roll not “heavy metal”! (The only recording on youtube is a live recording and the video is really good.) Alex’s record is very scratchy btw. “I’ve got a baby’s brain and an old man’s heart,” is the sweetest, funniest and most poignant line I’ve ever heard. This song is so earnest! “I’m eighteen, I get confused everyday.” So true. This song doesn’t sound polished at all. I like how raspy his voice is. I can also picture a sea of young white dudes all chanting violently “I’m eighteen,” together at a concert.

Desperado,” really has a lot of different layers to it, when the strings came in it really surprised me. I can’t decided if I love it or if it’s cheesy.

I’m not sure how I feel about this album, none of these feel like big hit songs to me so far (although I did like “I’m Eighteen”) and this is their greatest hits album. Like “Under My Wheels,” isn’t offending me, but I can’t really picture myself singing along to this song. And then a saxophone comes in? I feel like this song should be making me feel more excited than it is.

Be My Lover,” starts with a very catchy riff and feels like it’s going to build up to a good chorus. Huh, but then it almost get’s doo-wopy. How the hell is this a “shock rock” band? They sound so clean cut and sweet!

School’s Out,” is the only song I recognize so far, and I do like this song. You can’t help but sing along to the “no more pencils, no more books,” chorus and the guitar sounds really cool. The whole song sounds cool. It is a song written by the cool kids who hate school. And why should they like it when rock and roll is so much better? I could see someone listening to this song and thinking, I want to play guitar like that. The record winding down ending is a little strange though, I don’t think I even noticed that when they play it on the radio.

On to side two!

Hello Hooray,” is the first song. That would be a good lifestyle blog name. Uh, what is this. Are they trying to be like Pink Floyd? Because I’m getting a little bit of a The Wall vibe in this song. I don’t like rock songs that have a circus vibe to them. But I do like the line “I’ve been waiting so long to sing my song.” It does make me feel like saying “hooray,” for Alice.

I’m noticing that except for “Elected,” every song on side two has an amazing name. “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Teenage Lament ‘74” and “Muscle of Love.” Something about the phrase “Billion Dollar Babies,” is really funny to me, and I just love the sound of the words “teenage,” and “lament,” together.

Elected,” is a crap song. Crap in title, crap in sound.

All in all, I didn’t really love this album. I think the next time I’m in the mood for “heavy metal,” from the 70s, I’ll just put on “Paranoid,” instead.

The Best of Sam Cooke (1962)

I always feel intimidated when I have to write about a classic album that I already know really well. It’s so much easier to write about a classic album that I’ve never heard of because I can write about feeling my way through it. I’ve already worn a groove of opinion and emotions into this record. Those emotions are reliable though. I know how this record is going to make me feel before I put it on, that’s why I put this record on a lot. WIll I be able to articulate that feeling with words though? I’m going to try my best.

Before starting the record, I read the back cover for the first time. This album is from 1965 a reprint from the original 1962.This album has been on this earth for 50 years!!! I wonder where it was before it was in our house in the stupid record collection. Anyway, the note on the back is written by Hugo and Luigi who were producers at the RCA Victor Label. They sign their names at the end of what they’ve written and there’s this little “Hugo & Luigi” logo which makes me think that was something people looked for when they bought records. Like, if Hugo & Luigi liked it, they probably would too. Oh yeah, there’s totally a wikipedia page about them. And check out this website http://kokomo.ca/hugo.htm.

Alright, let’s put the music on and have some fun! The first song is “You Send Me,” and I sort of feel like I could listen to just the sound of that first “darling,” over and over again and I would be perfectly content. Like if this record skipped and it played that “darling” on an endless loop, I don’t think I’d get up off the couch to fix it. I’m noticing for the first time the background vocals. They almost don’t sound like human voices and more like an instrument. An organ maybe?

I’m really listening to the lyrics of “Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha,” for the first time, I didn’t realized it was about being on a date with a girl who doesn’t know the “cha cha cha.” He’s so nice about it! I’d be like, uh, deal breaker.

The next song is “For Sentimental Reasons,” and the idea of just singing “IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyou,” over and over is really the best idea. You know when it also works? Totally different song, but very similar I think, when Van Morrison says “And the love that loves the love that loves the love that loves the love that loves to love the love that loves to love the love that loves.“  in “Madame George.”  Thinking “Madame George,” is making me want to read the Lester Bangs essay about Astral Weeks again.

When he starts saying “La ta ta ta ta ta,” in “Wonderful World,” it just makes you feel like smiling. “Summertime,” almost feels like it doesn’t quite fit in with these other songs. It has an eerie downbeat feel to it especially when the background singer comes in. It’s also melancholy in a way the other songs aren’t. This isn’t about being on a date with someone who doesn’t know how to cha cha. I love when he really holds a note out. I’m realizing just now that this song is maybe meant to be sung to children, as a lullaby? Because of the line, “So hush little baby, Don’t you cry.” Yeah. It’s totally a lullaby! I never realized that. And it’s definitely a spooky lullaby. It has never come up on my Raffi pandora station, I’ll tell you that much.

Side two starts with “Chain Gang.” This is also a sad song but it’s hard to remember that when because of the catchy refrain at the beginning - “Hoo! Haaa! Hoo! Haaa!” Maybe it’s just me, but “Cupid,” is a song that I always forget about and it might even be my favorite on this album. I think it would be a great sleeper karaoke song. No one would see it coming and everyone would love it. Especially if you have a sweet singing voice. Which I do not, but I still want to try and remember to sing in the next time I do Karaoke.

Okay everyone get up. You can’t listen to “Twistin’ the Night Away,” sitting down. You just can’t.  Sam Cooke’s voice sounds like he’s telling you a comforting story that may be a little funny at times. It sounds like he has a smile on his face while he’s singing and also like he’s thinking, I just want you to be happy. Also, if anyone can tell me where this place somewhere up a New York way is, please tell me.

The album ends with “Bring It On Home To Me,” which, actually I think this is the best song. Singing about heartbreak is almost always better than singing about love. His voice has a pain about it in this song too. It’s still sweet and smooth but troubled somehow.

These are the greatest hits from one of the greatest artists of all time and I loved it. 12 perfect songs. Listen to it. Feel the feels.

The Third Unheard: Connecticut Hip Hop 1979-1983 (2004)

I studied the cover and inside gatefold of this album for a while before even putting the music on. There is a note from the compiler, which doesn’t really tell me much, as someone who really doesn’t know anything about the Connecticut rap scene, but it doesn’t matter because all I need to know can be found in the old poster which takes up most of the gatefold. The first thing I noticed was the time of the show: “Sunday 8:00 pm-Until (Your Moma [sic] Call). and then I noticed what it says in the upper right hand corner:

This show will be videotaped. There has never been a show like it in Connecticut or be another like it. It will be the talk of 1984, and the video will proved if you were there. Tell your Moma[sic] don’t drop you off, come party with you.

That is a bold and intriguing declaration. And looking at it from the smartphone age we live in now, it just reinforces that the urge to document endlessly, just to prove you were there and a part of something, was around way before it was so easy to prove. The arrogance of this poster cannot be contained. All over it says “A once in a life time show,” “Anyone who is someone will be there.” And a small detail that in 1984 no one would think twice about really sticks out to me. The directions. “Direction: Take New England Thru Way [sic] (95) to Exit (31) Go east to Benton St., Make a left.” I can just picture some kid pulling this poster off of their college bulletin board, piling in a car with some old high school friends (the concert was on Christmas day, so they’re home visiting their families) and smoking a joint down the New England thruway all the way to exit 31 to prove that they were there and saw something life changing.

I’m afraid that this poster might not be real though- I’m hoping it’s at least the modification of a real poster.Since this album is a compilation of connecticut hip hop from 1979-1983, we’re not about to listen to a live recording of what this poster advertises and it does say the album’s title at the top. I’m hoping that that’s the only thing they added to this poster, because as I just scanned it even closer to see if it was obvious that it was fake or not I noticed this part “featuring a four year old break dancer.” Come on! This really was the show of shows.

So with all that in mind, let’s put this record (another double lp!) on!

The first song is called “Rappin’ WIth Mr. Magic,” and starts with a very solid bass line and some clapping. To really prove that this is a Connecticut song, Mr. Magic starts naming Connecticut

towns followed by a chorus saying “we’re down!” I like the fast funkiness of this rap which also has a lot of clever lines, but everytime I tried to write one down, I’d get too distracted by the next line, so you’ll have to just listen for yourself. The next song “Get Up (And Go To School)” by Pookey Blow is either a woman or a child. It really does sound like a child’s voice. And since it’s a rap about school, I’m going to go with the child theory. Is this the four year old break dancer?

In the middle of the school raps, there’s the classic “Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn” line from “Rapper’s Delight,” which is always a fun time to be able to yell out “say what?” There are some more call and response lines which are great. I feel like I need to remember to play this song in the mornings when Harvey starts going to school. And then the kazoo jam comes in and you know this is an A+ song.

On to side two with “Party People (remix)” by Rappermatical 5. This definitely sounds like a song you could roller skate to. This one has some great horns and the bass is almost overpowering the sound. There’s also a pretty intense synthesizer solo accompanied by the sounds of people partying in the background. This definitely feels like a great song to play at a party especially when they start saying names like “If your name is Vern, then you’ve got a lot of money to burn. We’re gonna give you the name ‘Disco V.’ Disco V, you run society.” This song really builds, you can feel the excitement growing and picture a dance floor just getting crazier and crazier.

The next song, “Million Dollar Legs,” by The Outlaw Four starts with a very heavy drum beat and then the phrase “Million dollar legs,” said a few times, which feels kind of funny to me. The rapping between “Million dollar legs,” is mainly about bragging about being a ladies dream. “Ladies if you please, we have the remedies.” The rapping turns into group rap/singing about the ladies! That was a great interlude. And it’s immediately followed by a funky saxophone solo. This song’s kind of got it all. I really like all of the brass instruments included in these songs.

On to side three! It starts with an energetic instrumental jam complete with laser beam sounds.  Mr. Magic again with “Potential 1980.” This album really builds in a great way. You should play it in the exact order when you have people over. By the time you make it to side three, it will be just enough time to get people warmed up and dancing. This feels like disco and I’m loving every booty shaking moment. Ha! That’s funny, the next song by The Chillie 3 MCs is called “Shake your boody!” One thing’s for sure, whether it’s a booty or a boody, when this record is playing it cannot be contained!

Let’s put on the last side! Oh shit the kazoos and some serious synthesizer are back with “2001 Kazoo’s” by Mr Magic and Positive Choice Band.  Alex says that this is his favorite song on the album, but so far I think “Potential 1980” and “Get Up (And Go To School)” are my favorites. This song is good though. All the songs on this album just make you feel good. Like the poster recommends, tell your Moma, come party with you. The last song is “Ventriloquist Rap,” and I’m pretty sure he’s rapping as a ventriloquist with a puppet. Willie Brown and Woodie. Is Woodie the puppet? It’s pretty impressive if that’s the case. How do you even learn how to be a ventriloquist? This song helps you wind down from all the boody shaking ruckus and you’ve got to wonder what it was like to see a rapping ventriloquist at the video taped show of all shows in 1984.

PS- I’m trying to tweet again. So follow me if you like @sohollz and it’ll feel like we’re real and true pals!

The Congos “Heart of the Congos Deluxe Edition” (1977/2008)

Another double lp! Not totally sure what to expect with this one, as there is pretty much no information and I haven’t heard of the band before. I’m going to guess reggae based on the picture on the cover, but who knows, really? What I do know is that these guys look like they’re having fun, which is always a good sign. Cedric Myton and Roy Johnson. Cedric and Roy, those are two names you don’t hear that much anymore. I like both of them. Let’s put it on.

The first song, “Fisherman,” starts right off with a slow sexy vibe and then almost seems like a type of folk song with the lyrics, “Row fisherman row.” I guess a lot of reggae has a little bit of a folk music vibe in spirit. Almost religious, but not really. Ah, here we go, wikipedia says that stylistically, reggae incorporates some musical elements of “mento” which is “a celebratory, rural folk form that served its largely rural audience as dance music and an alternative to the hymns and adapted chanteys of local church singing.” Isn’t that what I just said?

The second song, “Congoman,” has really beautiful vocals. I’m really liking this song. The vocals are slow and drawn out but the music is faster paced and bouncy, you can hear the staccato beats. There is a really nice repetitiveness to this song.

I really like the quiet sweetness of these vocals, it’s very pleasant and beautiful. “Children Crying,” makes you want to pick up a baby and dance with him.

Oh, I know this next song! Where do I know it from? “La La Bam Bam.” I feel like this album would be a good thing to listen to when you’re really sleepy and it’s a saturday afternoon and all the windows are open. You can definitely take a very satisfying nap to this music.

On to side two. I’m also familiar with this song, “Can’t Come In.” Continues to have sweet soothing vocals. I’m finding the bass line in this song in particular to be very comforting. In every song though, it seems like the bass line will take your hand and walk you through the welcoming arms that are these songs. This album is a warm hug.

The Wrong Thing,” has very high vocals which I feel like gives it a playful and celebratory feel. Also, the occasional whistle noise! But there is a little bit of sadness too. Especially in the chorus: “All they do, they just say the wrong thing all over”

This really feels like a great album to listen to on your phone, I think it could really help if you’re going through something slightly stressful, like a plane ride or a commute. I think it could really help someone chill out and see the world differently.

So this reissue is a double lp “Deluxe Edition.” The first album which I just finished was “Heart of the Congos,” the “All-time Classic.” And yes, I agree, that shit was an instant classic in my book. Anyone who listens to this album will definitely love it. I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life!

The second album is just called “The Best of the Rest,” but it feels hard to listen to right after just hearing “Heart of the Congos” for the first time. I feel like I need a moment to live in that hug some more. But it’s Sunday night, and getting late and I’m just going to put the second record on. The first song, “Days Chasing Days,” still has a sweet soothing sound to it, but not as friendly and welcoming! Am I being biased because I know it’s not part of the classic album? I don’t know. I don’t think so. The next song, “Hail the World of Jah,” is definitely friendly though. So far it feels like this album is more rambling and “Heart of the Congos” has a much more cohesive feel about it. You want to listen to those songs together in that order. I’m not getting that feeling so far with “The Best of the Rest.”

Side two starts with “Stay Alive.” I don’t think I like the idea of this deluxe edition. “Heart of the Congos,” is such a stand alone album, why pair it with less classic songs? I guess it was a deal, more music when you only buy one record. But for the purposes of discovering an amazing album and writing about it as you are experiencing that discovery, it’s not really working. I feel like I rushed through the savoring part that comes with a new discovery, and while these songs are pleasant, I’d rather just re-listen to “Heart of the Congos.” I really reccomend “Heart of the Congos,” if you haven’t listened to it before! It’s an album for everyone’s collection!

Mr. Len “Class-x (Tribute to Company Flow)” 2003

Alex really likes rap music, (I will call it rap music just like I insist on calling punk “punk music”!) but he keeps a lot of his rap records (mostly singles) in a separate place with his djing records- will I ever get to that area of our house? I think they’re in the basement right now…only time will tell. But occasionally a rap record slips in to the regular collection section. I think the last one I reviewed was Biz Markie “The Biz Never Sleep”  And now I’m reviewing Mr. Len “Class-x (Tribute to Company Flow).”(Alex has this flied under C for “Company Flow.”) Will it be a problem that I’m not familiar with the band they’re tributing to? Group? Alex just clarified to me that Mr. Len was in Company Flow so that this album is actually more like b-sides than a tribute. I’m feeling confused! And it’s a double LP! Ahhh! I’m mad already!! Let’s put it on.

The first song, “Juvenile Techniques” has a very sweet description underneath it that is making me feel happy. “This was the first song we released and it was the song that sparked our friendship and respect for each other’s musical direction.” I like the slow beat mixed with faster rapping but it’s hard to really hear all of the words. I just noticed a mention of Tina Turner and a “Fisher Price mic.” I think this song is about being awesome even though they’re inexperienced. I think that’s a good message.

Every song has a line or two written underneath it on the back cover by Mr. Len. The next one, “People Are Shady” has “always been a favorite” of his. This one has quiet vocals that are making me squint my eyes to hear better. It’s funny how some lines just stand out to you like, “sucking dicks up in the bleachers,” and then others you just do not hear at all. This is a very quiet and slow rap song. I can’t really hear anything special about it, but it seems like if you were stoned, you would enjoy it. There is a great piano sample that they keep playing in the background. I wonder how they thought to sample it- it’s definitely not your typical hip-hop sample sound.

The next song, “Fire in Which You Burn” says “Wouldn’t you Have been angry if this wasn’t on here?” underneath it. So, I just asked Alex if this song was famous and he said yes, and that it was the first song he ever heard by them and was blown away by the rapping. I’m not really getting it. It just sounds like people are talking really fast to a random drum and sitar in the background. It kind of sounds like poetry when you can hear what they’re saying.

I’m trying to let it wash over me. I promise.

The next song “Weight,” sounds like a woman rapping to me. Which perked my ears up immediately. Alex just googled it. Her name is Queen Heroin. I want to hear more from her.

I just noticed there is a song on side b called “Linda Tripp.” Haha throwback. Alex said it’s really good and clever because the premise is they secretly record a phone call from another rapper and play it in there song. On to side B then! But first, the song “End II End Burners (remix)”

I’m trying to let it wash over me, but I really can’t understand what they’re saying. I feel so lame saying this. But it just sounds like a person talking really fast. And I like fast talkers! I’m from New Jersey! But, I feel like it’s not connecting in a part of my brain that it’s supposed to be. Maybe if it was just lyrics and no beat in the background to distract me. I guess that’s called poetry. But it’s hard to hear a beat and fast talking my brain feels like I really just want them to slow down. Am I supposed to feel this way? I just told Alex that I don’t know what they’re talking about and he said, “They’re talking about how great they rap, basically always.”

On to Linda Tripp! It starts with the phone call. This one feels like my favorite so far. I like how the beat comes in and I like how they’re sort of finishing each other’s sentences as they rap. I can tell that they’re definitely being mean in this song.

OH! A sample from Popeye!! I know this! That’s at the end of the LInda Tripp song. Best ending ever.

The next song starts with beat boxing that is making me feel good. This is “Lil Johnny’s Interlude,” very good rhythm!

Alex is enjoying this a lot more than me. He says it’s “atmospheric and smart and dense. The production sounds creepy, it sounds like it’s from the future, it sounds like blade runner, it sounds like it’s from another planet. It’s awesome. It’s also super dirty and sounds like it was recorded in someone’s basement, so I can understand why you don’t understand it. But it’s really good!” We all know Alex loves music that sounds like it’s from another planet- I’m talking to you Helious Creed! So, not surprising. All it’s done for me so far is made me feel like I want to go watch Popeye instead of finish listening to this DOUBLE LP!!

But I must press on. On to side C.

It starts with a song called “Patriotism.” I can tell I like the message of this song, I’m going to look up the lyrics and start it over. Alex just said, “Oh shit, Sarah’s on Rap Genius.” I really like the sound of these words together: “Join the census, censorship sentences sentence.”

Also: “My favorite flavor of gas is mustard.” I’m actually having a flashback. I’m pretty sure my college best friend who was a crazy hippie played this song a lot- I’m going to try and confirm that statement. Hold on. Yes! Confirmed through text message. Memory Moment!

Alex just said that the sample on the next song “Infokill,” “Sounds like you’re in a opera house in the future.” It doesn’t sound that special to me though.

On to side D! I might keep looking at Rap Genius, it’s helping a bit. AH! No lyrics for the first song! “Lencorcism.” I’m liking the beat to this song a lot. I don’t really know what this youtube comment about this song means, but I love it.  “Mr.Len kingin’ it. This cut smells like pure ‘82 linoleum. Love this shit.” I mean, I think I know what it means emotionally just not literally. I love the idea of remembering the smell of pure linoleum from 1982. There is a song called “Linoleum” on this side though- so, still confused. Under “Lencorcism,” it says “Because I’m Vain” and under “Linoleum,” it says, “Me being vain again.” So they must be related. Can anyone explain this mystery to me?

All and all, this was a very long album that had some moments for me but ultimately just made me want to watch Popeye instead.

Alex says: In the summer of 1998, I was living in Ypsilanti michigan. I was depressed, I was bored, my band had just broken up, and I was living with a bunch of dickheads (I’m talking about you, Jason). I felt like the vibrant scene I was a part of in high school was fracturing, people were moving away, venues were closing. I was totally lost.

So I was constantly pulling for those little moments of magic, and in order to manufacture them, I would do basically anything. I would follow around people I barely knew, I’d try any drug, I’d stay up all night drinking coffee at the diner, I’d skateboard aimlessly around town at three in the morning with complete strangers - anything to feel like I wasn’t alone.

One evening, I was hanging out with a friend, and he was hanging out with a bunch of other folks I thought were “too cool” for me. You know, people who had better records than me, were funnier than me, were more comfortable in their own skin. I looked up to them and wanted more than anything for them to think that I was cool too. So when my friend took off and left me alone with them, I was totally over the moon. It was a magic moment. I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t even manufactured, really.

It was weird, because I was walking into a totally normal day for these kids, but for me it was a cascade of perfect incidents. First, we got high and ate vietnamese food, which was amazing and delicious. Then they took me back to their pad and I watched Wild Style for the first time, which was just an overwhelming and exciting experience. And then, afterward, they put on Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus. Stoned, coming down off of Wild Style and Vietnamese food, Company Flow was hard to process, but then there was a track called “Help Wanted” that featured a bunch of samples of this movie I was into at the time called The Holy Mountain, and I was totally sold.

I went home feeling like I had broken through into an awesome new clique. The next day I went and bought Funcrusher Plus and listened to it nonstop in the cold, sober light of day, it was still amazing. I listened to that album on repeat all summer. But I never hungout with the cool kids again.

Alice Coltrane “Journey In Satchidananda” (1970)

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There’s usually a baby in that doorway jumper behind me at this time of day. I dropped Harvey off at his first official day care trial day this morning, as I’m going back to work on Monday. I’m home, it’s 11:30 in the morning, and it’s just me here, so I’m writing a review! What better way to distract myself from that weird feeling that comes with change than to put on some music.

Alice Coltrane is up and this is an album that I’m pretty familiar with, it’s been a go-to for a while now when I’m looking for something instrumental. Let’s talk about the cover first. It’s a picture of Alice, by herself, without any instruments sitting on the floor with an orange/red background. She’s looking off into the distance and looking quintessentially 1970s with her hair, leather braided headband, jewelry and dress. Inside the gate-fold, Alice Coltrane actually writes a little description about each song- score! And from what’s she’s written, I now know that this is a very spiritual album (I never bothered to read the inside cover before.) 

Quote:“Anyone listening to this selection should try to envision himself floating on an ocean of Satchidanandaji’s love, which is literally carrying countless devotees across the vicissitudes and stormy blasts of life to the other shore.” 

Swami Satchidananda was Coltrane’s “beloved spiritual preceptor.”Let’s put it on and envision that ocean!

The first song, “Journey in Satchidananda” starts with some serious bass and then a harp comes in. Why is the harp not used in more music? Why don’t more people play the harp? It’s so beautiful! The bass keeps this song together as some saxophone comes in and feels like the bottom of a ship rocking in the ocean. The ocean of Satchindanadaji’s love, that is. There’s all these bells and tambourine sounds in the background which are the seagulls lulling you to sleep as you rock back and forth in a giant ocean cradle. 

The next song is called “Shiva-Loka.” Coltrane writes in the liner notes: 

“Shiva is God, in one of his myriad forms, as the third person of the Hindu Trinity, in his aspect as dissolver of creation. Loka means realm or abode. I try to stretch my mind thoughts over to Shiva-Loka, one of the highest points of the universe.” 

In this song, the harp really pulls you in and then the saxophone sounds really sweet and beautiful, more smooth and less avant than it sounded in the first song.  It’s definitely stretching my mind thoughts right now. Even though there is so much going on in this song- saxophone, harp, bass, percussion, bells, tambourine, it feels like a real quiet groove and perfect for my real quiet, baby-free house right now.Coltrane writes, “I hope that this album will be a form of meditation and a spiritual awakening for those who listen with their inner ear.” And there definitely is an urge to listen to it sitting still with your eyes closed. I think I might have to try that. What if I put this album on, and just sat still and listened with my eyes closed the entire time? What would happen to my mind thoughts?

I decided to do it. I re-listened to side one sitting quietly with my eyes closed the entire time. It was kind of hard! The first thing I noticed was really how beautiful the harp is. I also thought it sounded very similar to a piano at first, until the piano comes in on the last song, “Stopover Bombay,” and I realized how different it sounds! Midway through “Shiva-Loka” I almost started falling asleep/dreaming and had to remember to really listen to the music.

On to side two. the first songs is called “Something About John Coltrane.” Coltrane writes, 

“I know that there remains to this very day something inexplicable and indefinable about John Coltrane, ‘Something About John Coltrane,’ is set on a d-minor mode and will not be unfamiliar to John’s followers. It is played beautifully.” 

I want to know more about their marriage! They weren’t together for that long before John died of liver cancer at age 40, but they had three children together. They met in 1962 and he died  in 1967. So much happened in those five years! This album was put out three years after his death. I wonder how Alice was feeling at that time.

I’m enjoying this song, it feels like the most improvised one so far. But it’s not giving me that “rocking in a boat floating on an ocean of Satchidanandaji’s love” feeling that the first song gave me.

The next and final song is 11 and a half minutes long and is called “Isis and Osiris.”  This song was recorded live at the Village Gate and feels very mysterious and dreamy in the beginning. The drums and harp seem to be trying to hypnotize you. The Wikipedia page about The Village Gate is pretty interesting. This line is super depressing though: “The Village Gate closed its Greenwich Village location in February, 1994. The ground floor is currently occupied by CVS/Pharmacy.” (Le) Poisson Rouge occupies the sublevel though, which is cool. I saw Bill Callohan there when he was touring for “Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle” and it was fantastic. Also, the Village Gate sign is still hanging on the corner. You can see it on Google maps. So, the next time you walk by that dumb CVS, look up!

As the song progresses there is an upbeat melody that seems like it is asking you to dance. I’m really enjoying the drums in this song. The audience applause threw me off a little, even though I knew it was a live recording- they were so quiet the for most of the song! Must have been lost in those heady mind thoughts.

Bottom line- this album is amazing and everyone should listen to it. All jazz should include 100% more harps. 

cLOUDDEAD “dead dogs two” (2004)

Alex has no idea what this record is. Conversation that just happened:

Alex: What’s next?

Me: Cloudhead.

Alex: What?

Me: No. Cloud Dead.

Alex: What?

Me: cLouddead.

Alex: I don’t know what that is.

Me:..

Alex: How the fuck do I have that?

We’re both intrigued! It looks like a single and on the back it says “this is clouddead number 9 of 10.” So…let’s put it on!

First of all, we can’t figure out the speed it’s supposed to be played on! 33 sounds way to slow, but 45 sounds chimpmunk-y! But I think 45 is right. So, I’m not digging the vocals. This song is called “Dead Dogs Two,” and the vocals are too distracting for me to enjoy it. Oh no. Then there’s like a talking/rapping part. No. After the rapping part, the song gets softer in this sort of dreamy pretty way, with string instruments which I am enjoying.

Turns out I listened to side two first, which was “Dead Dogs Two” Remixed by boards of canada. It’s not labeled! I can’t be held responsible! That’s the only song since it’s a single. Let’s flip ‘er ova’!

So this is “Dead Dogs Two,” the original. Hmmm. I really don’t like the sound of the vocals it’s distracting me from the musical parts which I think I do like. It’s kind of reminding me of The Postal Service a little bit. Youtube is telling me that Werner Herzog’s voice is at the end. Alex was like, “yeah, I could tell it was.” Whatever. (Insert eye rolling imogi here.)

The next song is called “Mulholland Instrumental.” It’s weird and ugly sounding, but ugly sounding in a deliberate way. Alex just said, “this sounds like something I would have recorded in high school,” He still has no recollection of ever purchasing this record, ever listening to it or ever hearing of this band. Ahhh! Memory is so fickle!

Mulholland Instrumental is not a song. It is sounds. That’s my final statement.