By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
To Anastasio’s credit, his Phish dip into a far more varied sonic palette than most of their neo-hippie compatriots: Elements of folk, funk and psychedelia bounce off a decidedly rock & roll foundation. Claypool’s bass playing, too, though firmly anchored in jazz-funk, is stylistically all over the map, and it’s as instantly recognizable as his songwriting style. With The Grand Pecking Order, these two masters create a musical bridge that should appeal not only to Phish-heads and funksters, but to all the weirdoes in between. (Skylaire Alfvegren)Photo by Corey Wright
THA EASTSIDAZ Duces ’N’ Trayz . . . The Old Fashion Way (Doghouse/TVT)
The story thus far: Rappers Goldie Loc and Tray Deee once represented rival gangs, the Duces and the Trayz, but they agreed to put their differences aside to assemble a hip-hop supergroup with the help of mentor Snoop Dogg. “Can you dig it?” asks a spliffed/sedated Snoop as he holds court Warriors stylee, declaring the new and improved gang . . . the Krip’s Klux Klan!
There’s good news and bad news about the sophomore release by Snoop’s Tha Eastsidaz, Duces ’N’ Trayz. There’s nothing on Snoop’s latest spinoff that can’t be found on his previous releases, and (this is the good news, since it gives the hip-hop fan another adventure to go on) there isn’t much that can’t be found on five or six P-Funk records and one Curtis Mayfield. From the harmonized voice of “Sir Dog,” à la George Clinton’s “Sir Nose” — a character that gets replayed on so many hip-hop releases it’s hard to count — to the voice of Kokane, an MC the press release boldly describes as “George Clinton incarnate,” this new product stinks of old news. The voice is remarkably similar, but let’s not forget Snoop’s other alter ego, “Snoopy Collins,” affecting the persona of Bootsy.
But enough P-Funk, right? You’re a Snoop fan, and you wanna know if this record’s for you. Well, let’s confirm that there’s some crisp execution here, and aside from being produced in Snoop’s own studio, some of these tracks were labored over at the famed Electric Ladyland. Rawkus Records’ Hi-Tek puts on a production clinic, giving tracks like “Eastside Ridaz” just the right bounce. And with other guests such as Nate Dogg, Mobb Deep and Kurupt, if you’re too lazy to crate-dig for the O.G. shit, yeah, you’ll probably like it. (Daniel Siwek)
THE BLACKBYRDS CHARLES EARLAND At the Movies: Cornbread, Earl and Me; The Dynamite Brothers (Prestige)
Bringing together two rare jazz-oriented ’70s blaxploitation-picture soundtracks, At the Movies is a welcome release indeed. And while they’re no Coffy, Across 110th Street or Superfly, they are — of course — another fine blow against The Man! The first in our double feature, 1975’s Cornbread, Earl and Me, is not your average blaxplo, but a still-compelling tale of hoops and police corruption. Donald Byrd, having already hit the big time with his silky, funky urban jazz, wrote and arranged this soundtrack for his group of students, the Blackbyrds, whose next three albums went solid gold on the contemporary charts. Basically, these are jazz-funk instrumentals Blackbyrds-style: omnipresent electric piano, some git-down-funk, lotsa wah-wah, Byrd’s always clean blowing, and a title song so cool it’s done twice. Check out the lyrics: “He’s goin’ to school/Not lookin’ to fight/Not a neighborhood fool/with a gun or a knife/He’s Cornbread!”
Our second feature is the pretty much forgotten, more typical 1973 The Dynamite Brothers (“He has what every woman wants/He packs the biggest rod in town!”). The soundtrack’s a buried treasure, forgotten only because hardly anyone’s ever heard it. Organist Charles Earland (who died late last year) was a complex, misunderstood musician who often played the organ like a percussion instrument. Significantly, he was also self-taught, and “He didn’t know one chord from another,” according to guitarist Mark Elf. But “He had the feel.” Indeedy. The Dynamite Bros. was sort of a preview of Earland’s next LP, Leaving This Planet, six months later. But the overall rawness and the spirit of entering unknown territory make this disc unique, as does this Dynamite burger’s extra-special secret sauce — inimitable synth pioneer Doc Patrick Gleeson.
Not so coincidentally, the only comparable release from the period, Herbie Hancock’s Sextant, also sports “Squeaky” Gleeson. But here, Earland takes the cake — to left field at times, as on “Weedhopper,” best described as acid garage band jazz! The finest cut, “Kungfusion,” has both title and beat to kill for. “Snake” is like a cross between Can and later Beasties, while the freaky “Grasshopper “ resembles Sabbath jamming with a tripping Jack McDuff. Earland was clearly having a blast, and it’s infectious. Dy-no-mite! (Scott Morrow)
There’s a belief in certain literary circles that all writers have one recurring theme in their work and that a writing career is, in fact, a constant pursuit of the perfect way to express that theme. Bob Wratten, the creative force behind the British act Trembling Blue Stars, embodies that theory.