Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Music Library: Ben Vaughn, Benko, Benny Goodman, Benoit Charest, Bernard Herrmann, Bernie Worrell, Bert Jansch, Bertha Lee and Charley Patton, Bessie Smith, Betsy In The Gene Pool, Betty LaVette, Beulah, Bevis Frond

Ben Vaughn - "Dressed in Black" and "I Dig Your Wig." These are from Halloween mixes by David Smay, I think. Pretty good bluesy-swamp rock.

Benko - An International Affair. This is the debut EP by Benko, a very interesting and fun Austin trio of drums, bass, and vibes. At Obscurity headquarters, we love Benko! But this reminds me that I have as yet failed to pick up their first full-length album, which came out at the end of August. Will do so soon!

Benny Goodman - "Sing Sing Sing." Swingin'!

Benoit Charest - "Belleville rendez-vous." Funny that this should crop up right after Benny Goodman, as there's certainly some familiarity between the two. This is the song from Les Triplettes de Belleville, the delightful, but deeply weird animated film from a few years ago.

Bernard Herrmann - Vertigo Original Motion Picture Score. That's cinematic! I am now filled with a vague sense of foreboding and an overwhelming need to sit down.

Bernie Worrell - Pieces of Woo: The Other Side. Surprisingly un-funky, this is a mostly jazz-oriented affair. It's - unsurprisingly - produced by Bill Laswell and has a lot of his influence in the sound. A few tracks are collaborations with Fred Wesley, who was James Brown's bandleader for a very long time. Some have Buckethead on guitar.

Bert Jansch - Dazzling Stranger and The Black Swan. Jansch is one of the greats of Brit-folk, the John Fahey to John Renbourn's Leo Kottke and Richard Thompson's... uh, Richard Thompson. Dazzling Stranger is a compilation of Jansch solo and tracks with The Pentangle, Jansch's eclectic 60s folk-rock band with Renbourn, Danny Thompson (who tours with Richard Thompson now and fronts the jazz-fusion band Whatever), Terry Cox, and Jacqui McShee. He's dabbled in blues, hippie folk, swirling rock, and lots of gorgeous fingerstyle acoustic guitar. Neil Young once said that Jansch had done for the acoustic guitar what Hendrix did for the electric. There's lots of standout tracks over the course of his career, but the tops are "Needle of Death" (recently a frequent cover of Yo La Tengo's), "Blackwaterslide" (covered by Jimmy Page on Led Zep's first album), "Reynardine" (more familiar from the Fairport Convention version), "When I Get Home," and "Train Song," (both of which I'll discuss more when and if I get to the Pentangle before I die of old age). I should mention how much I like Jansch's voice, too, which is not just world-weary and craggy but also lilting and pleasant. The Black Swan is a Drag City album from 2006 with Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart popping up, probably hoping to do for Jansch what Banhart and Animal Collective did for Vashti Bunyan: make this underappreciated 60s icon a touchpoint for younger music lovers. It's a killer album.

Bertha Lee and Charley Patton - "Mind Reader Blues" and "Yellow Bee." I'm not sure why these are under Bertha Lee instead of Charley Patton. Excellent early folk blues.

Bessie Smith - The Collection. More early blues from one of the all-time great blues singers.

Betsy in the Gene Pool - "Slow in the Left Lane." An alt-country band from North Carolina who moved to Texas around the time I did, but then vanished. Decent song, but I don't remember whether they had more that would stick around like this one.

Betty LaVette - "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got." Here's a gaping hole in my music collection. This is the only song I have by Ms. LaVette, who has a wonderful raspy soul voice and uses it to powerful effect on this cover of Sinead O'Connor's a capella tune.

Beulah - John Peel Session 4/20/2000, The Coast Is Never Clear, Live on KCRW 9/25/2001, Netherlands Radio 8/26/2001. So that's one studio album and three live shows? Weird. I got the live shows from that site that used to post Elephant 6 bootlegs. Does that exist anymore? I don't know. Beulah plays horn-heavy, somewhat-psychedelic power pop. You make music that could be described that way, and chances are I'll like it.

The Bevis Frond - He'd Be A Diamond. This is a compilation of the psych-rock band by my friend Jon B. They sound a bit like one very ambitious guy covering every song on the Nuggets box.


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