Sunday, September 25, 2005

4 Easy Steps Towards World Domination For United State of Electronica

Thank Jack Smith that La Gurney reads The Austin Chronicle. He (Gurney, that is) calls me up Sat. afternoon and tells me that The AC tells him that United State of Electronica are playing at Emo's...for FREE! Fuk yeah, baby bitch! Not even a big dicked visit from Jeremy Penn could make me refuse such an offer (well...). Anyhoo, Mrs. Gurney, Grigs, John Lennon's grandmother, and I make it past a cute (but kinda mean) door boy (oh, and a murder of HOT are-they-of-age gymnast-lookin types who all booked before the show) just in time for a CRIZAPPY opening band. Forgot the name too. Something like Kaiser Chiefs but with "Whales" in it (Kinship Whales?). Lead singer looked like El Señor Coconut. Did NOT sound like Freddie Mercury (sadly). The sound? Imagine some sort of conceptual electro act (Peaches maybe or for you Montréal gens, Lederhosen Lucille) filtered through rockish bar bandisms. Too guitary. Mais pourquoi? Shit, after that wet fart start, even Leann Rimes (or Palace) coulda cleaned up. (Random bizarre sighting: a rack of clothing under heating lamps [were they edible?] next to the merch table. Not t-shirts but rather, jackets and button-up shirts and such. And a hat bearing the Kinship Whales imprimatur.)

U.S.E. were even better this time than their two SXSW showcases. The audience energy level was a tad low towards the beginning. But that just made the crowd-width wad of cum splattered onto us about two songs before the "IT IS ON!" climax all the more disco-rock euphoric. These clearly hard-touring Seattlites have their Donna Summer down. The loud guitars propel the disco forward and the disco always reminds the guitars that their ultimate role is boogie oogie oogie. "Hot Stuff"-"Bad Girls"-"Hot Stuff"-"Bad Girls." Thesis-antithesis-thesis-antithesis-SYNTHESIS!

As Eric Weisbard pointed out in an early 1990s Voice piece on Rhino and cheese theory, the synthesis that classic disco achieved was welding camp sophistication to Hi-NRG. You could have it both ways (often at the same time): the camp sophistication insured that the music would be suitable for posing to (or simply luxuriating in its ever upwardly mobile production) while the Hi-NRG lit your buttcheeks on fuckin' fire. U.S.E. unquestionably got the buttcheek lighting down. But they trade the camp for a laid-back, even hippie vibe (which is probably why their music reminds me ever so vaguely of goa trance except that it's not, ya know, horribly shitty piddle). So you could bob your head from side to side with the dazed smile of someone who just taught the world to sing AND/OR you could hop around like Smiley The Potato Chip (whoever the hell that was - I seem to remember him/it referenced to in an Creem caption accompanying a photo of B-52 Fred Schneider). I did both myself.

Obviously, this band needs to take over the planet. So here are a few modest proposals for world domination:

1. Get more verse-chorus-versey without sacrificing each song's expansiveness.

Not that the songs are sooo expansive. The lengths correspond to Top 40 norms and hooks poke out to say hello. But often, the ferocious groove threatens to overwhelm the song structures that are already there. So maybe a production that will bring those structures out a bit more, oui?

2. Channel The Doobie Brothers.

A crucial source for both the laid-backness and the funk. As I mentioned to La Gurney after the show, it was no accident that The Doobs were the one country-rock band recontextualized for the dancefloor in the 1990s (I have a bootleg 12" featuring a nifty houseification of "Long Train Runnin'"). They simply boogied better than Poco, Firefall or The Eagles. And if U.S.E. can come up with something that sums up a sexual clime as perfectly as "What A Fool Believes," they could knock Kanye West off his number one perch (or at least inspire Michael McDonald to stop dressing like your plumber).

3. Release a live album.

Never thought I'd live to say this about anyone but they sound much better live than on disc. Not entirely sure why either. For sure, the visual of a group of people who definitely didn't sit at the same lunch table in high school helps. And missing from the disc is the scandalously popist drum machine that keeps beating in between songs. Also some chaos - it's too clean. I know the good times don't always travel over to the live album. But it's worth a shot.

4. Pick a leader.

This one saddens me because what's so beautiful about U.S.E. is that they seem like a true collective - the burnouts and the AV geeks and the theatre queens and the foreign exchange students and the spazzes and the class clowns united on one stage. But the Hot 100 has traditionally had little use for everybody is a star. So pick a star, preferably someone who can sing like Donna Summer (or at least fake it like that great faker).

Implement now!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

January + Dekker = ? (Jandek in Austin)

Through some scary harmonic convergence I don’t even want to begin to ponder, I wound up living in the same city where Jandek would play his first ever live show in the US (and mere days before he officially became my object of inquiry for the Authorship course I’m taking this semester). The husband couldn’t (and really didn’t want to) make it. So I gave my esteemed colleague Dave Gurney a late b-day present. Someone’s flesh had to be available for clawing in case things got too intense.

And intense it was. Not the music. Never the music. Rather, it was all the transitional moments that stirred the humors – waiting before, pondering afterward, the “oh gawd, what if someone shouts ‘I love you, Jandek!’?” silences between songs. As always with Janky (and me), the music was an avenue to something much more compelling, starting with the creepy ass venue itself, The Scottish Rite Temple. I mean, where ELSE would Jandek hold his coming out party but the playground of the Freemasons, one of those truths that are out there (but not really) in The X-Files?

Floating past an array of dusty old white men scowling at us from busts and oil canvases, Dave and I found seats about 5 or 6 rows back stage left. We sat behind two beautiful guys, one absolutely gorgeous tall blond boy (with a modest nose ring, if I remember correctly) and a shorter Seth Tisue lookalike. I saw blondie alone outside and assumed he wasn’t with the other dude. And indeed, they didn’t talk to one another for quite some time before the show began. But after a few exchanges which I took to be polite stranger sociability, blondie leaves and returns with a water for the other boy. Were they a quiet indie boy couple? Or was a love connection made?

After several sotto voce stomach ache admissions to Dave, Jandek took the stage precisely at 7:30pm. There he was, my beloved referent, making a path behind the two drum sets like a just-busted grammar school student choosing the longest route possible to get to teacher’s desk for his punishment. There were three other musicians including a HOT little drummer boy who I later found out was one Nick Hennies, a local noisemaker. I watched him as much as Jandek and not only because I was rehearsing fantasy scenarios in which I card him for cigarettes. In a kind of performer-conductor rapport, he kept looking at Janky for some sort of cues. At one point, Janky even smiled at him and Hottie Hennies smiled back.

But cues for what exactly? The unsurprisingly discordant music sounded like the product of people with nothing to say to one another. Now I’m sure someone out there will fire back that these four men were as in tune with each other as four men have ever been. And he (no doubt it’ll be a he) can back it up with musicological evidence. For sure, I’m no expert on this kind of stuff. I still don’t get Coltrane’s Interstellar Space and much as I adore 1970s Miles, it’s largely fantastically funky workout music to me (which is more than enough).

But let’s face it. WE were Jandek’s punishment that night. After all, this is a man for whom interacting with anyone has likely always felt like some sort of punishment. That’s why it was no surprise (to me, at least) that he never once addressed the audience – because there’s always a chance that we’ll answer back. After the show, a fan from Arkansas bravely admitted that he wished the man said at least one thank you to us. But for every person like me who appreciated such honesty, there are two (or more) who would have found it clueless, hopelessly out of sync with whatever makes Jandek a genius of sorts.

I imagine that this latter group comprises most of the “music over the myth” clan. But whatever pleasure they took in the music that night, it couldn’t have much to do with synergy. Rather, it inhered in discordance which, in this context, I take to mean an opportunity to “say” something with no fear that someone will “say” something back. Jandek isn’t the only person who experiences the entire world as a punishment. And for those who share this particularity with him, this is their music. But then why a concert? (I guess this is why the word “show” has more currency in relation to indie/underground/outsider sounds – it masks the interaction inherent in “concert.”)

Not that I didn’t enjoy the discord in fits and starts myself. The songs were best at their most DNA-like – you know, songs like “Not Moving” that actually kinda moved. One relatively windy number excoriating cops still stands out. But in the end, can discordance really build a musical community? Were we not all discrete little pulsations of self-interest once the curtain closed (and even after)?

Look, I know I overrate the community building aspects of groove. Gurney pointed this out to me in what turned out to be the most eloquent defense of prog rock known to me. Went something like this (through my distortion pedals, of course): “People who listen to prog rock aren’t comfortable with their bodies and those meter changes every measure reflect that fact. You, Kevin, require groove because you ARE comfortable with your body.” Which, in a way, is a laugh if you’ve ever seen my chunky A, a fact made brutally clear to me while watching a video of myself teaching yesterday.

But what can I do? It’ll take a while to lose the weight. And even then, will Sterling Smith still fuck me tomorrow? The public sphere is a punishment to us all. All egos are battered things, sez Freud/Terry Eagleton. Some of us just take it harder than others, e.g. Jandek. That predicament makes for a lot of shite music from Emerson, Lake and Palmer to Smog. What pulls Jandek out from this muck is that he actually shines light on these public sphere dilemmas rather than smothering them in bullshit mysticism and Appalachian alligator tears.

So in the absence of some changing same from the band, the pleasure I took in the evening was a “perversely” pop one. The non-interaction, the antisocial cauterwaul of the music that impelled you not to listen, the (ironic? campy? merely solemn?) pageantry with which he packed up his guitar – all went towards a Warholesque attempt to be in the public sphere but not of it, to express oneself but not. Like Sun Ra, like Prince, like Milli Vanilli, like New Order (all to varying degrees), Jandek has found a way to do it. A live show “merely” ups the stakes (as it does for all the artists listed above, again with varying degrees of threat involved). Jandek was seeing how far into publicity he could still remain cloaked and his dance with fire that night was thrilling to witness.

And yet writing all this in the wake of Katrina and her waves (not to mention lovely Rita), I cannot help but see this testing of the limits of publicity as an ultimately privileged affair. Katrina is one of those moments when we’re all supposed to drop the pose and help our brothers and sisters out. As such, it’s a model for the socialist revolution to come – a pathetic and probably clueless model but hey, at least it’s better than Christmas. But could an artist like Jandek, where a huge gap between performer and audience is part of what makes him signify, respond to Katrina in any meaningful way? And I ask this as someone who, on one level, doesn’t want to see that gap disappear and not as someone holier than thou who’s clocked in countless hours helping victims (because I haven’t). That gap is a reminder to us that everyday life (its codes, its processes, its ability to churn out Jandeks, for better or worse) is an enemy. So far, the negation of everyday life that Jandek has embarked upon seems to have worked. But only for him, in any absolute sense. So is it even possible to use that (valuable, I say) lesson in the face of thousands whose everyday lives have been quite literally negated by Katrina?

And come the revolution, will there be cake mix (as my bud Jessica Wurster is wont to ask)? Well, forget cake mix, sez I. I fucked up mac & cheese and needed serious help with Hamburger Helper. But which of these will be around come the revolution? Sun Ra? (Dead already.) Milli Vanilli? (1/2 dead already, you fucking bastards!) Prince? (Probably.) New Order? (Gawd, I fuckin’ hope so!!!) Jandek?

Top Ten Greatest New Age Singles...Ever!!!

1. Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumble: “Pruning Fanatic” (Narada 1991)
2. Constance Demby: “Breezes Through The Treeses” (Whispsong 1985)
3. Kitaro: “These Pitches Are Perfect” (Topographic Oceans 1989)
4. Andreas Vollenweider: “Dueling Lyon & Healys” (Columbia 1991)
5. George Winston: “I Realigned Professor Longhair’s Chakras” (Windham Hill 1991)
6. Vangelis: “Y Tu Therapist Tambien” (Polydor 1981)
7. Yanni: “Linda Evans Needs A New Push Broom” (Private Music 2012)
8. David Lanz: “Attain Spiritual Enlightenment…Or Else!” (Narada 1999)
9. Kenny G: “Highland Park Is Now!”(Arista 1988)
10. Deeds of Flesh: “Inbreeding The Anthropophagi” (Repulse 1998)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Fave 100 Singles of the 1970s

The rankings for these will never ever change. I forgot NOTHING. Also, there's nothing personal about my selections. These are scientifically the greatest singles of their respective decades. Feel free, however, to send me date, label, year, exact title, etc. corrections.

1. The Jackson 5: "The Love You Save" (Motown 1970)
2. Sister Sledge: "Lost in Music" (Cotillion 1979)
3. Machine: "There But For The Grace Of God Go I" (RCA Victor 1979)
4. Dolly Parton: "Coat of Many Colors" (RCA Victor 1971)
5. The Clash: "Complete Control" (CBS 1977)
6. X-Ray Spex: "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" (Virgin 1977)
7. Sweet: "Wig Wam Bam" (RCA Victor 1972)
8. The Sex Pistols: "Anarchy in the UK" (Warner Bros. 1977)
9. ABBA: "Bang-A-Boomerang" (Polygram 1975)
10. Hamilton Bohannon: "Foot Stompin' Music" (Dakar 1975)
11. The Doobie Brothers: "What A Fool Believes" (Warner Bros. 1978)
12. George Jones: "The Grand Tour" (Epic 1974)
13. The B-52s: “Rock Lobster” (Warner Bros. 1979)
14. James Brown: "Super Bad" (King 1971)
15. Sylvester: “(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real” (Fantasy 1978)
16. Boston: "More Than A Feeling" (Epic 1978)
17. Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: “Roadrunner (Once)”/“Roadrunner (Twice)” (Berserkely 1977)
18. Cher: "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves" (Kapp 1971)
19. Dolly Parton: "Jolene" (RCA Victor 1974)
20. Sister Sledge: “We Are Family”/“He’s the Greatest Dancer” (Cotillion 1979)
21. Starland Vocal Band: "Afternoon Delight" (Windsong 1976)
22. Donna Summer: "I Feel Love" (Casablanca 1977)
23. Cheap Trick: "Surrender" (Epic 1978)
24. Alice Cooper: "School's Out" (Warner Bros. 1972)
25. Augustus Pablo: “King Tubby’s Meets Rockers Uptown” (Rockers/Island 1975)
26. The Sex Pistols: “Holidays in the Sun” (Virgin 1977)
27. ABBA: "Angel Eyes" (Polygram 1979)
28. Anita Ward: "Ring My Bell" (Juana 1979)
29. Musique: "In The Bush" (Prelude 1978)
30. Paper Lace: "The Night Chicago Died" (Philips 1974)
31. Skatt Bros. "Walk The Night" (Casablanca 1979)
32. Althea & Donna: “Uptown Top Ranking” (Lightning 1977)
33. Kleenex: “Ain’t You”/“Hedi’s Head” (Rough Trade 1979)
34. Sweet: "Fox On The Run" (RCA 1975)
35. Mouth and MacNeal "How Do You Do" (Philips 1971)
36. Plastic Bertrand: "Ça Plane Pour Moi" (Sire 1978)
37. Stevie Wonder: “Sir Duke” (Tamla 1977)
38. Clarence Carter: "Patches" (Atlantic 1970)
39. Crystal Grass: "Crystal World" (Polydor 1974)
40. Vicki Sue Robinson: "Turn The Beat Around" (RCA Victor 1976)
41. Belle Epoque: "Miss Broadway" (Big Tree 1977)
42. Foxy: "Get Off" (Dash 1978)
43. Alice Cooper: "I'm Eighteen" (Straight 1971)
44. Delta 5: “Mind Your Own Business” (Rough Trade 1978)
45. Jilted John: "Jilted John" (Rabid 1978)
46. Raspberries: "Go All The Way" (Capitol 1972)
47. Rod Stewart: “Maggie May” (Mercury 1971)
48. Sylvester: "Dance (Disco Heat)" (Fantasy 1978)
49. Stylistics: "You Make Me Feel Brand New" (Avco 1975)
50. The O’Jays: “Backstabbers” (Philadelphia International 1972)
51. Donna Summer: "Hot Stuff" (Casablanca 1979)
52. Gilbert O'Sullivan: "Alone Again (Naturally)" (MAM 1972)
53. Cheryl Lynn: "Got To Be Real" (Columbia 1978)
54. ABBA: "Medley: Pick A Bale Of Cotton-On Top Of Old Smokey-Midnight Special" (Polygram 1978)
55. Cheryl Lynn: "Star Love" (Columbia 1979)
56. Michael Jackson: “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” (Epic 1979)
57. Parliament: "Flashlight" (Casablanca 1977)
58. The Sylvers: "Hot Line" (Capitol 1976)
59. The O’Jays: “Love Train” (Philadelphia International 1973)
60. Helen Reddy: "I Am Woman" (Capitol 1972)
61. Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Sweet Home Alabama” (Sounds of the South 1974)
62. Dave Edmunds: "Girls Talk" (Swan Song 1979)
63. Heatwave: "Boogie Nights" (Epic 1977)
64. Gladys Knight & the Pips: “Midnight Train to Georgia” (Buddah 1973)
65. Diana Ross: “Love Hangover” (Motown 1976)
66. ELO: "Livin' Thing" (United Artists 1976)
67. ABBA: "Does Your Mother Know" (Polygram 1979)
68. Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer: "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" (Columbia 1979)
69. Peter Brown: "Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me" (Drive 1977)
70. Carly Simon: "You're So Vain" (Elektra 1973)
71. Iggy Pop: "Lust For Life" (RCA Victor 1977)
72. Spinners: “I’ll Be Around” (Atlantic 1972)
73. Gloria Gaynor: "Never Can Say Goodbye" (MGM 1974)
74. Niney: “Blood & Fire” (Trojan 1971)
75. Bob Dylan: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (Asylum 1973)
76. Curtis Mayfield: “Freddie’s Dead” (Curtom 1972)
77. Nightlife Unlimited: "Dance, Freak and Boogie" (Casablanca 1979)
78. Marvin Gaye: “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)” (Tamla 1971)
79. Kleenex: “You”/“U” (Rough Trade 1979)
80. Shirley & Company: “Shame, Shame, Shame” (Vibration 1975)
81. Barry White: "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" (20th Century 1974)
82. KC & The Sunshine Band: "(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty" (TK 1976)
83. Bee Gees: "Night Fever" (RSO 1977)
84. Al Green: “Tired of Being Alone” (Hi 1971)
85. The Immortals: "The Ultimate Warlord" (RCA 1979)
86. Edgar Winter Group: "Frankenstein" (Epic 1973)
87. Ashford & Simpson: "Found A Cure" (Warner Bros. 1979)
88. Patti Jo: "Make Me Believe In You" (Scepter 1975)
89. McFadden & Whitehead: "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" (Philadelphia International 1979)
90. Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty: "As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone" (MCA 1974)
91. David Geddes: "Run, Joey, Run" (Big Tree 1975)
92. Boney M: "Rasputin" (Sire 1978)
93. The Desperate Bicycles: "The Medium Was Tedium" (Refill 1977)
94. Smokey Robinson: “Cruisin’” (Tamla 1979)
95. ABBA: "Happy Hawaii" (Polygram 1976)
96. Pere Ubu: "Final Solution"/"Cloud 149" (Hearpen 1976)
97. Faith, Hope & Charity: "To Each His Own" (RCA Victor 1975)
98. The Irish Rovers: "Yipes! Mr. Ipes" (Whora 1978)
99. Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip: "(I Lost My Heart To A) Starship Trooper" (Ariola 1979)
100. The Mentally Ill: "Gacy's Place" (Autistic 1979)

Fave 100 Singles of the 1980s

1. T. S. Monk: "Bon Bon Vie" (Mirage 1981)
2. Culture Club: "Time (Clock of the Heart)" (Epic 1982)
3. LiLiPUT: “Eisiger Wind” (Rough Trade 1981)
4. Funky 4 + 1: “That’s the Joint” (Sugarhill 1981)
5. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock: “It Takes Two” (Profile 1988)
6. Madonna: “Like a Prayer” (Sire 1989)
7. Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force: “Looking For The Perfect Beat” (Tommy Boy 1982)
8. Paula Abdul: "Cold Hearted" (Virgin 1989)
9. Big Stick: "Crack Attack" (Buy Our 1987)
10. Taana Gardner: “Heartbeat” (West End 1981)
11. Trinere: "How Can We Be Wrong" (Jam Packed 1986)
12. LiLiPUT: "Split" (Rough Trade 1980)
13. Roxanne Shanté: “Have A Nice Day” (Cold Chillin' 1987)
14. The Trend: "Band Aid" (Northside 1980)
15. Haysi Fantayzee: "Shiny Shiny" (RCA Victor 1983)
16. Pigbag: “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag” (Y 1981)
17. The Weather Girls: "It's Raining Men" (Columbia 1982)
18. Mudhoney: “Touch Me I’m Sick” (Sub Pop 1988)
19. George Jones: "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" (Epic 1980)
20. Eric B & Rakim: “Follow The Leader” (Uni 1988)
21. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5: “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (Sugarhill 1981)
22. Debbie Deb: "When I Hear Music" (Jam Packed 1983)
23. Michael Jackson: “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” (Epic 1983)
24. Madonna: “Open Your Heart” (Sire 1987)
25. Soul II Soul: "Back To Life" (Virgin 1989)
26. Dexys Midnight Runners: “Come on Eileen” (Polydor 1982)
27. Hüsker Dü: “Eight Miles High” (SST 1984)
28. Pat Benatar: "Shadows of the Night" (Chrysalis 1982)
29. Loose Joints: “Tell You (Today) (Vocal)” (Island 1983)
30. New Order: “Temptation” (Factory 1982)
31. Black Box: “Ride on Time” (Deconstruction 1989)
32. Roky Erickson: "Don't Slander Me" (Dynamic 1985)
33. Roxanne Shanté vs. Sparky Dee: "Round 1" (Spin 1985)
34. S-Express: "Theme From S-Express" (Capitol 1988)
35. Bruce Springsteen: "Born in the U.S.A." (Columbia 1984)
36. Technotronic: "Pump Up The Jam" (SBK 1989)
37. Teena Marie: "It Must Be Magic" (Gordy 1981)
38. Bon Jovi: "Livin' on a Prayer" (Mercury 1987)
39. Kate Bush: "Running Up That Hill" (EMI America 1985)
40. Public Enemy: “Bring the Noise” (Def Jam 1987)
41. Frankie Smith: "Double Dutch Bus" (WMOT 1981)
42. Cover Girls: "Because of You" (Fever 1987)
43. Debbie Gibson: "Shake Your Love" (Atlantic 1987)
44. ABC: "The Look of Love" (Mercury 1982)
45. Sa-Fire: "Don't Break My Heart" (Cutting 1986)
46. The Flirts: "Passion" ("O" 1981)
47. Musical Youth: "Pass the Dutchie" (MCA 1982)
48. Magazine 60: "Don Quichotte" (Baja 1985)
49. Digital Underground: "Doowutchyalike" (Tommy Boy 1989)
50. Prince: "Erotic City" (Warner Bros. 1984)
51. Divine: "Love Reaction"/"Kick Your Butt"/"Alphabet Rap" ("O" 1983)
52. The Human League: "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" (A&M 1983)
53. Exposé: "Point Of No Return" (Arista 1985)
54. The Freeze: "I Hate Tourists" (Rebel 1980)
55. Rosanne Cash: "Seven Year Ache" (Columbia 1981)
56. Jermaine Stewart: "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" (Arista 1986)
57. Bohannon Featuring Dr. Perri Johnson: "Let's Start II Dance Again" (Phase II 1981)
58. Agent Orange: "Bloodstains" (Posh Boy 1980)
59. Yazoo: "Situation" (Sire 1982)
60. Yoko Ono: “Walking on Thin Ice” (Geffen 1981)
61. Change: "The Glow of Love" (Atlantic/RFC 1980)
62. Front 242: "Headhunter"/"Welcome To Paradise" (Wax Trax 1989)
63. Eric B & Rakim: “Paid in Full (Seven Minutes of Madness Remix)” (4th & B’way 1988)
64. Royal House: “Can You Party” (Idlers 1988)
65. Time Zone: "World Destruction" (Celluloid 1984)
66. Killing Joke: "Change" (Editions E.G. 1981)
67. Bananarama: "Robert De Niro's Waiting" (London 1984)
68. Inner City: “Big Fun” (London 1988)
69. Michael Jackson: “Beat It” (Epic 1983)
70. Bow Wow Wow: "C30 C60 C90 GO!" (EMI 1980)
71. Roxanne Shanté: “Go on Girl” (Cold Chillin' 1988)
72. Neneh Cherry: "Buffalo Stance" (Virgin 1989)
73. AC/DC: “You Shook Me All Night Long” (Atlantic 1980)
74. Diana Ross: “Upside Down” (Motown 1980)
75. Prince: "U Got the Look" (Paisley Park 1987)
76. Change: “Paradise” (Atlantic 1983)
77. Pointer Sisters: "Automatic" (Planet 1984)
78. Tiffany: "I Saw Him Standing There" (MCA 1988)
79. M/A/R/R/S: "Pump Up the Volume" (4th & B'way 1987)
80. Debarge: “Rhythm of the Night” (Gordy 1985)
81. Pete Shelley: "Homosapien" (Genetic 1981)
82. Cyndi Lauper: "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (Portrait 1984)
83. Roxanne Shanté: “Roxanne's Revenge” (Pop Art 1985)
84. Joy Division: “She’s Lost Control” (Factory 1980)
85. Indeep: “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” (Sound of New York 1983)
86. Wham!: "Young Guns (Go For It)" (Epic 1982)
87. Liaisons Dangereuses: "Los Ninos Del Parque" (Mute 1981)
88. Zapp: "More Bounce to the Ounce" (Warner Bros. 1980)
89. Gregory Peck: "Oversized Mumpie" (Steely & Cleevie 1989)
90. Medium Medium: "Hungry, So Angry" (Cachalot 1981)
91. Donna Summer: "This Time I Know It's For Real" (Atlantic 1989)
92. George Jones: “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (Epic 1980)
93. A Flock of Seagulls: "Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)" (Jive 1983)
94. Tears For Fears: "Pale Shelter"(Mercury 1983)
95. Loose Ends: "Hangin' On A String" (Virgin 1985)
96. Chandra Simmons: "Never Gonna' Let You Go" (Fresh 1987)
97. Dwight Yoakam: "I Sang Dixie" (Reprise 1988)
98. Yarbough & Peoples: "Don't Stop The Music" (Mercury 1980)
99. Bruce Springsteen: "Hungry Heart" (Columbia 1980)
100. Fab 5 Freddy/Beside: "Change The Beat" (Celluloid 1982)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fave 100 Singles of the 1990s

1. Quad City DJs: "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)" (Big Beat 1996)
2. New Order: "Regret" (Qwest/Warner Bros. 1993)
3. B-Rock & The Bizz: "My Baby Daddy" (LaFace 1997)
4. Jaydee: "Plastic Dreams" (Epic 1993)
5. Cornershop: "Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook remix)" (Wiija 1997)
6. Backstreet Boys: "I Want It That Way" (Jive 1999)
7. Local H: "All The Kids Are Right" (Island 1998)
8. Whitney Houston : "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" (LaFace 1995)
9. Stardust: "Music Sounds Better With You" (Roulé/Virgin 1998)
10. Shanté: "Big Mama" (Livin' Large 1992)
11. Stretch 'n' Vern present "Maddog": "Get Up! Go Insane!" (Grandslam 1997)
12. Chumbawamba: "Tubthumping" (Republic/Universal 1997)
13. Armand Van Helden featuring Roland Clark: "Flowerz" (Armed 1999)
14. The Notorious B.I.G.: "Mo Money Mo Problems (Bad Boy 1997)
15. Belle and Sebastian: "Lazy Line Painter Jane" (Jeepster 1997)
16. Fatboy Slim: "The Rockafeller Skank" (Skint/Astralwerks 1998)
17. The KLF Featuring Tammy Wynette: "Justified and Ancient" (Arista 1992)
18. Naughty By Nature: "Ghetto Bastard" (Tommy Boy 1992)
19. Gypsy: "I Trance You" (23rd Precinct 1993)
20. Garth Brooks: "Shameless" (Capitol 1991)
21. OMC: "How Bizarre" (Mercury 1997)
22. Mariah Carey: "Fantasy" (Columbia 1995)
23. Reba McEntire: "I'd Rather Ride Around With You" (MCA 1996)
24. Real McCoy: "Another Night" (Arista 1995)
25. Will Smith featuring K-Ci: "Will 2K" (Columbia 1999)
26. Hanson: "MMMBop" (Mercury 1997)
27. MC Lyte: "Capuccino" (First Priority 1990)
28. M People: "Itchycoo Park (Morales Classic Club Mix)" (Deconstruction 1995)
29. Salt-N-Pepa: "Shoop" (Next Plateau 1993)
30. Sand Party: "Lambada Festival" (Worldbeat 1990)
31. Los Del Rio: "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" (RCA 1996)
32. Hoppy Potty: "Shpooky Potty" (MAD TV 1999)
33. Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112: "I'll Be Missing You" (Bad Boy 1997)
34. Stab Paradise: "Fuck Me" (Happy Vibes 1996)
35. Red Rat: "Dwayne" (Opera House 1997)
36. Barenaked Ladies: "One Week" (Reprise 1998)
37. Stretch 'n' Vern present "Maddog": "I'm Alive" (Grandslam 1996)
38. Livin' Joy: "Don't Stop Movin'" (MCA 1996)
39. Biz Markie: "Let Me Turn You On" (Cold Chillin' 1993)
40. Kriss Kross: "Jump" (Ruffhouse/Columbia 1992)
41. MC Lyte: "Ruffneck" (First Priority 1993)
42. C+C Music Factory: "Here We Go" (Columbia 1991)
43. Somethin' For The People: "My Love Is The Shhh!" (Warner Bros. 1997)
44. Crystal Waters: "Makin' Happy" (Mercury 1990)
45. Shazzy: "Giggahoe" (Elektra 1990)
46. Peter Heller: "Big Love" (Subliminal 1999)
47. Next: "Too Close" (Arista 1998)
48. Pulp: "Common People" (Island 1996)
49. George Morel: "This Is My Party, Bitch Get Out" (Strictly Rhythm 1994)
50. Smooth Touch: "House of Love (More Phearce Mix)" (Strictly Rhythm 1993)
51. LFO: "Summer Girls" (Arista 1999)
52. Atlantic Ocean: "Waterfall" (Pegasus 1993)
53. Judy Torres: "No Reason To Cry (Glenn Friscia's All Night House Party Remix)" (QPM 1996)
54. Shampale Cartier: "I Got A Man" (SFP 1998)
56. Craig Mack: "Flava in Ya Ear" (Bad Boy 1994)
57. Faith Hill: "This Kiss" (Warner Bros. 1998)
58. Aqua: "Barbie Girl" (MCA 1997)
59. Negativland: "U2" (SST 1991)
60. Spice Girls: "Wannabe" (Virgin 1997)
61. House Heroes: "Magic Orgasm (Funk Mix)" (Twisted 1997)
62. Dawn Penn: "You Don't Love Me (No No No)" (Big Beat 1994)
63. Alanis Morissette: "You Oughta Know" (Maverick/Reprise 1995)
64. Shades of Love: "Keep In Touch (Body To Body) (Junior's 10/30 Mix)" (Vicious Muzik 1995)
65. Salt-N-Pepa Featuring En Vogue: "Whatta Man" (EastWest 1993)
66. Will Smith: "Just the Two of Us" (Columbia 1998)
67. R.E.M.: "Losing My Religion" (Warner Bros. 1991)
68. Madonna: "Deeper and Deeper" (Maverick/Warner Bros. 1993)
69. Tag Team: "Whoomp! (There It Is)" (Life 1993)
70. The Bucketheads: "The Bomb (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)" (Big Beat 1995)
71. Britney Spears: "You Drive Me Crazy" (Jive 1999)
72. Aquarius: "Find The Groove" (Submarine 1997)
73. Deborah Cox: "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here (Hex Hector Dance Mix)" (Arista 1998)
74. 2 Unlimited: "Twilight Zone" (Radikal 1992)
75 Michael Jackson: "Black or White" (Epic 1991)
76. Will Smith: "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" (Columbia 1998)
77. Sneaker Pimps: “Spin Spin Sugar (Armand’s Dark Garage Mix)” (Virgin 1997)
78. TLC: "No Scrubs" (LaFace 1999)
79. Power Jam Featuring Chill Rob G: "The Power" (Wild Pitch 1990)
80. Beck: "Loser" (DGC 1994)
81. Color Me Badd: "I Wanna Sex You Up" (Giant 1991)
82. Anquette: "Janet Reno" (Luke 1993)
83. Fugees: "Fugee La La" (Ruffhouse/Columbia 1996)
84. New Radicals: "You Get What You Give" (MCA 1998)
85. Midi, Maxi & Efti: "Bad Bad Boys" (Columbia 1992)
86. Lonnie Gordon: "Gonna Catch You" (SBK 1990)
87. Color Me Badd: "All 4 Love" (Giant 1991)
88. Aaliyah: "Are You That Somebody?" (Atlantic 1998)
89. Tim Dog: "Fuck Compton" (Ruffhouse/Columbia 1991)
90. Crystal Waters: "100% Pure Love" (Mercury 1994)
91. Geto Boys: "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" (Rap-A-Lot/Priority 1991)
92. She Moves: "Breaking All The Rules" (Geffen 1997)
93. Apotheosis: "O Fortuna" (Radikal 1992)
94. David Peaston: "String" (MCA 1991)
95. Michael Jackson featuring Janet Jackson: "Scream" (Epic 1995)
96. Uncle Bob: "Uncle Bob's Burly House" (Stress 1992)
97. Michael Hall: "Frank Slade's 29th Dream" (Dejadisc 1995)
98. Alanis Morissette: "Ironic" (Maverick/Reprise 1996)
99. Boogie Down Productions: "Love's Gonna Getcha (Material Love)" (Jive 1990)
100. De'Lacy: "More (Paramour Thief in the House Mix)" (Rise 1998)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Review of Roni Size: New Forms

Here's an ancient review of Roni Size's New Forms from the dearly departed (and pretty well paying) Addicted to Noise. All the good ideas come in the last five paragraphs when I'm ripping on it.

New Forms, Roni Size (Mercury)

Bass and Drums

By Kevin John

Believe the hype. New Forms is one of the greatest drum and bass albums ever. Recent drum and bass albums from Photek and Jamie Myerson operate under the same lazy, conceited assumption that informs the aimlessness of most compilations - namely, that the inexorable clickety-clack of drum patterns loop-locked at 150 BPM can stand in for the absence of musical ideas exciting, affective or melodic enough to fill 250 bars of music. Because there is no such lack in the upper stratum of New Forms, Size and his collective can weave their bottoms in and out of the voices and "real" musicians, splitting the difference between drum and bass and bringing them
together only when dramatically expedient.


Toward the end of the title track, Bahamadia's rap stops after it's built rising action for the last five minutes. Just when you get sick of wondering exactly where her repeated verse will take you next, the drums drop out allowing a creeping bass line to create suspense on its own before the jittery jungle jerk of the drums kicks back in for a satisfying climax. This simple rhythmic formula recalls the tense foreplay that P-Funk held off until they splattered cum all over their Fun Fur diapers. As such, it tells more exciting and sexier stories than the voices do.

Of course, the voices (most of which belong to women – a refreshing development in such a boy's game) along with the "real" instruments are this album's calling card. The great throw-away rap in "Railing," the double bass and drums interplay of "Brown Paper Bag," and the sung melody of
"Heroes" all enable the listener to recall these tracks simply by hearing their names dropped by some bandwagoneer at a party. Those not accustomed to dancing in k-holes will have no problem shaking a rump to the fat-bottomed whomp of "Watching Windows." Even the genre's formerly prohibitive
speediness is rendered palatable by the slowing effect of the vocals and the constant play of the rhythms. All very nice.

But blessing New Forms one of the greatest drum and bass albums ever does not mean it's a great album. A good album? Sure. A great one? Pah! New Forms forces the future rather than simply being something new under the sun.

Take the opening line of "Share the fall": "Can you see what I see? The Future!" And, indeed, it sounds like the future, say a television spot for commercial inter-planetary flights from some bad sci-fi film. That is, the staccato cheese of Onallee's vocals transforms the track into a quaint idea of what the future will sound like and, as such, is no more innovative than the cantina music in Star Wars.

No doubt this strained, unintentional campiness stems from Reprazent's holy insertion of organic matter into their techno-utopia which betrays a sneaking sense that drum and bass is no good "on its own"; that it must aspire to such high-falutin' art forms as jazz and poetry in order to be significant.

In this context, it's easy to understand why this vaguely clichéd milestone has elicited the almighty cliché comparison to Sgt. Pepper. But, if anything, New Forms is too Sgt. Pepper before there was even a drum and bass Meet the Beatles to "improve upon" (if the Jungle Massive compilation from a few years back was it, we're all doomed). Drum and bass hasn't played out its fun, parents-just-don't-understand spirit enough to justify turning it into a respectable art form yet. In fact, it's not even close.

And if we're to judge New Forms as a double CD, then it is altogether an unmitigated flop. Most critics give the second disc a cursory mention if they don't ignore it altogether. That's because it bears the same relationship as the second disc of New Order's Substance (compact disc version) did to its first disc, i.e., a disc of remixes and other useless odds and ends (but not edits, oh no, never edits). The difference is, of course, that Substance was a greatest hits collection whereas New Forms is the Size crew's first pompous outing. Have you ever heard the prediction that in the future bands will debut with their greatest hits? Well, the future is here folks! So here's a proposition for the post-future that doesn't shoot so high: how 'bout a drum and bass album that lasts thirty-five minutes? Now there's something new!!