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.)

Review in OC Weekly

See Also Nate Patrin's excellent Pitchfork review

Buy What Does It All Mean?


MP3: Steinski-“The Payoff Mix”

MP3: Steinski-“Lesson Two (James Brown Mix)”

MP3: Steinski-“Lesson Three (History of Hip-Hop)”

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.

Arabian Prince Feature in the LA Times

Full Q&A Here

Chris Martins' Feature for LA Weekly Here

Buy Innovative Life


MP3: Arabian Prince-“Let's Hit the Beach”

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.

Egon's Story Behind the Record


MP3: Paul Burton-So Very Hard to Make It (Without You)”

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.

Randy Lewis' LA Times Review

Buy Sugar Mountain-Live at Canterbury House

 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.

 Buy To Be Free: Nina Simone Story

King Khan & The Shrines-The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines


I've written at length about Khan here and here.

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


Buy The Supreme Genius Of

MP3: King Khan & The Shrines-“Welfare Bread”

MP3: King Khan & The Shrines-“No Regrets”

MP3: King Khan & The Shrines-“Torture”

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.

Buy Rocking the Cradle-Egypt '78


MP3: The Grateful Dead-“Shakedown Street (Live at the Pyramids, 1978) (Left-Click)

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.

Buy 1970s Algerian Proto-Rai Underground

MP3: Groupe El Azhar-“Mazal Nesker Mazal (I'm Still Getting Drunk… Still)”

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.

See also Aquarium Drunkard's excellent review of Nigeria '70

Buy Nigeria '70-Lagos Jump

MP3: Sir Shina Peters and His International Stars-“Yabis”

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.

Buy the 6-Disc CCR Reissues

Honorable Mention: 

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)

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