Steve Stein and partner Double Dee, were dropping lessons on kids
when Shadow and Cut Chemist were still constructing crates out of
lincoln logs. Finally collected on the aptly named, Illegal Art label,
Steinski's seminal singles are that rarity--as fun as they are
important. Neither The Avalanches nor Girl Talk, are remotely possible
without the break-beat battery of an ex- advertising executive and a
commercials engineer. What does it all mean? Just cop it and figure
that out later. (Hint: it can only be found somewhere within the
collected discography of Alf.)
Arabian Prince-"Innovative Life: The Anthology (1984-1989)
In a serious bid for '08 Angeleno M.V.P status (Manny Ramirez and K.O.B.E. nonwithstanding),
Peanut Butter Wolf excavated these electro-funk jams from local hip-hop
pioneer, Arabian Prince. Add that to the Carolina Funk comp, Karl
Hector and the Malcouns, the Madlib and Koushik records and the Stones
Throw conglomerate is better than even the backpackers thought it was. Innovative Life presents a broad survey of the career of N.W.A.
co-founder, the Arabian Prince--from the exotic middle eastern
fantasies of "Strange Life" to his later work under the Professor X
moniker. Plus, the sleazy lustre of the Prince's jheri curl during the
Reagan Years can only be matched by Eazy.
V/A-Carolina Funk: First in Funk
Another Peanut Butter Wolf (and Egon) production, via Stones Throw subsidiary Now-Again Records, Carolina Funk combs
both Carolinas to excavate 22 gorgeous and gutteral Southern funk cuts.
Curated by North Cackalack native/cratedigger, Jason Perlmutter, this
is a producer's dream: arcane breakbeats, filthy grooves, and celestial
soul. The sort of bible material that feels criminal to have been been
hidden for so long--particularly, when one considers this.
Neil Young-Live At Canterbury House (1968)
Before he became a viable candidate for G.O.A.T., Neil Young was a
trepidacious 22-year-old, hoping to launch a fledgling solo career
following the dissolution of Buffalo Springfield. This acoustic set,
taped at Ann Arbor's Canterbury House just days before the release of
his eponymous solo debut, displays Young Shakey's fledgling
genius and wry sense of humor. Half composed of Buffalo cuts, half yet-unreleased songs, it's a fascinating and beautiful document ideal for
any Neil Young fan. Which, I presume, is all of you, barring some weird
perversion like cannibalism or Two and Half Men fandom.
Nina Simone: To Be the Free-The Nina Simone Story
Nina Simone, in her '60s and '70s prime, singing standards and Bob
Dylan, live. Elaboration seems redundant--I'm no Simone expert. We
could tell talk the civil rights legacy, the 20,000 Leagues Under the
Sea voice, but I'd be cribbing Wikipedia and ok, here.
You can read the history but it's all in the songs. This boxed set
served as a suitable introduction to the wonder that was Nina
Simone--for that, I owe someone a thank you joint.
King Khan & The Shrines-The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines
In the latter piece, I said that Khan was the best performer at the
Pitchfork Festival, providing "a hammy blend of James Brown
showmanship, eccentric brilliance and true lunacy." The guy took the
stage in a gold Josephine Baker head-wrap, a black cape, too-tight
stretch shorts and occasionally a Mexican Luchador mask. Rest assured,
I will be writing more about this fellow in the future, as I like the
cut of his gib--though he may show off his gib a bit more than is
The Grateful Dead-Rocking the Cradle Egypt 1978
In the wise words of the Genius,
this is "strictly fam members only." Do you need the 15-minute version
of "Shakedown Street," recorded live at the Pyramids in 1978? Probably
not. But I do and don't fuck with my parade. I have powers. Political
I'd make a terrible hippie.
V/A-1970's Proto-Rai Algerian Underground
Sublime Frequencies unearths these long-lost gems that built the
foundation for the Rai movement that dominated Algerian music from the
'80s and on. A cross between the smoky, Sahara guitars of Tuareg Bedouin music
and the copper crash of classic '70s afro-beat, track two is called
"Mazal Nesker Mazal (I'm Still Getting Drunk... Still)." Best served with
mint tea, couscous, and hookah.
V/A-Nigeria 70-Lagos Jump
Strut Records won't cast as long a shadow as it deserves on this
list. I'm pressed for both space and time, so just one album from the
recently revived indie will make the cut. But rest assured, their entire '08 calendar, has been phenomenal. From Calypsoul '70, to Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story, to Kid Creole's Going Places, to
this collection of Nigerian afro-beat in the key of Kuti, the label's
taste is impeccable and every release demands attention.
Creedence Creedence Clearwater Revival 6 Reissues
We live in a post-Wes Anderson world, where the Kinks are the
darling of every hipster sapling, as let's be honest, they should be.
So it's time to annoint Creedence the title of the 60s' most underrated
group. Granted, the Coens valorized them and Forgerty can still work
the minor league baseball circuit cranking out the jab/uppercut of
"Centerfield" and "Proud Mary." But more often than not they're
relegated to an imiginary second tier of '60s acts, along with The
Animals, Donovan and Jefferson Airplane. This reissue of their
discography does yeoman's work in bolstering the band's rep, with a
fresh coat of remastering and blistering live versions tacked on to
each of the six discs.
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V/A-Daptone Records Singles Collection Vol. 2; V/A-Calypsoul
'70; V/A, Nigeria Disco Funk (1974-1979); Funky Nassau: The Compass
Point Story, Delta Dandies-Dance Bands in Nigeria (1936-1941)