Gun Hill Road
If Mike Ladd got out of his Bronx home more often, hed be an Infesticon. (He calls himself a Domesticon.) Still, hes leading the war against the Majesticons you know, the glamorous people: Its about pretty vs. ugly/and eons of struggle/are about to culminate/right up the street/on Gun Hill Road. Takin clippers to the Jheri curl come the Infesticons, says Yazeed on Cinderella Theme: Im only one of the few/sent to keep this shit live/ I mapped out my plans/plus my mission/broke down the whole system/now can you understand my oral tradition? Ladds roommate and fellow slam-poet-MC-scribe-creative Mums the Schemer spits about other kingdoms of con on Grinder Theme: poeticon, eclecticon, intesticon, decepticon, etc., further delineating this thematic albums view of how modern life represents its inhabitants.
In the spirit of Prince Pauls A Prince Among Thieves, Gun Hill Road is a conceptual voyage, a fun and intriguing one thatll have you studying its liner notes and abstract speech in search of the keys to unlock the basement door. Not exactly a scripted film in recorded form, its more like a musical saga whose 13 themes represent battle glories, exploits and ascension. Equipped with an MPC 2000, a couple of keyboards, some effects modules, and a cast that includes Beans & Priest (Anti-Pop Consortium, Blank Slates), BMS & Dana, Eric M.O., Myster Bruce and others, producer-arranger-professor-wordicon Ladd, a.k.a. Infesticon #0, scores each track as a gritty garage epic, employing a twofold approach of drum charges like rhinos and light synth reflections. Infesticon Saul Williams perhaps sums up the aesthetic on Monkey Theme: Im the om nia merican born/of beats and blood/ concert of the sun unplugged.
Zooming in on several vantage points of the coming war, Ladds Infesticons take it all in, with Sonic Sums Rob Smith letting loose on barcodiacs shreds in the trail mix/takin refuge in the zodiac, and Majesticon 69 sobbing about the days when he was able to enjoy a few of his favorite things, Like PM Dawn/in sequin thongs/like singing songs/by Celine Dion/ . . . Kenny G. Its all about now and the future and boom! Youll never be the same again.
THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS
Hot Burritos! The Flying Burrito Brothers
Anthology 19691972 (A&M/Universal)
The Flying Burrito Brothers
Gilded Palace makes up a full 25 percent of Hot Burritos!, a 43-track compilation that contains every single Burritos track youll ever need, and then some. Also included are Burrito Deluxe, Gilded Palaces solid but unexceptional sequel; 1971s Gram-less Flying Burrito Brothers; and a handful of rarities that have been circulating in various combinations for nearly 30 years. Some of these latter tracks are stone-cold amazing who else but Gram could have known that the Bee Gees To Love Somebody was as poignant a country ballad as Merle Haggards Sing Me Back Home? while others (a turgid reading of Merles Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down) are less so, but Burritos fans will be psyched to finally have them all in one place.
Recorded after Gram left to go solo, Flying Burrito Brothers is definitely a product of its era, a mellow-in-the-extreme slide into the sort of country-rock territory the Eagles (and others) would successfully mine in the years to come. Time has been much kinder to Gilded Palace and Burrito Deluxe, both of which are included in their entirety on Disc 1. The former sounds especially glorious on headphones; listen to the way Sneaky Pete Kleinows pedal steel dances nimbly around the far-out Everly Brothers harmonies of Gram and Chris Hillman, and just see if you dont get goose bumps. Despite the all-star cast of players that surrounded him on G.P. and Grievous Angel, Gram would never again find a band or a mission as compelling as that which inspired the making of Gilded Palace. Sometimes theres just nowhere else to go but down. (Dan Epstein)