Saturday, February 28, 2009

Music Library: Bobs Marley, Mould, and Wills + Andrew Bird, Animal Collective, Antony & Johnsons, Aretha, Bats, Bert Jansch, & Black Star

Bob Marley: Jungle Dub plus various tracks. Jungle Dub is an album of early Wailers tracks remixed by Lee "Scratch" Perry. It's not in the 1st or even 2nd tier of Perry's work, but it's okay for what it is. The other tracks came about because, well, here's the deal: I'm not too crazy about Bob Marley & the Wailers. I like some of his rocksteady work, but the superstar-reggae-dude bullshit just smells too much like patchouli and weed and privilege to me; I can't get past the cultural baggage. However, I used to play bass in a Tuscaloosa band called the Copasetics that played nothing but early reggae, rocksteady, and ska. The time I spent in that band taught me a lot about how the bass fits into music. There's a few Marley/Wailers tracks that I like and want to hear. So when my wife asked me to download a track for her, I went ahead and bought the seven or so Marley tracks that don't set my teeth on edge, mostly popular stuff. I really like the basslines on "No More Trouble" and "So Much Trouble In The World," because I guess I like the way that trouble sounds in the bass. I'm glad to have them, but for the most part I don't want to listen to them often.

Bob Mould: Workbook, Black Sheets of Rain, LiveDog98, two bootlegs, and his cover of "Shoot Out The Lights." Man, I love Bob Mould, but I sure got diminishing pleasure out of his solo albums. I mean, I have owned some of the post-Sugar studio albums in the past, but I never held onto them because I just didn't like many of the songs. Maybe I should pick them up again and see if they're more interesting to me now. Workbook and Black Sheets are awesome, though. You can hear Mould attempting to figure out what's next. And his cover of Richard Thompson's "Shoot Out The Lights" (off the best-of Poison Years) is just a freakin' treat. The live albums is decent and the bootlegs are ok, but that's all.

Bob Wills: The Essential, a compilation called 1935-1940, and a couple of other tracks. The fun of Bob Wills's music is well-documented. The Essential is rightly-named. The tracks on the comp are scratchy, as if they've been copied from old 78s. The other tracks are fantastic.


Andrew Bird - Noble Beast. Wow. It's too soon for me to figure out how to rate this. I loved the last three of his albums, and this is part of that continuum. Is it a move forward? Lateral? I don't know.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion. First impression: I like this better than Strawberry Jam, but not as much as Feels or Sung Tongs. This opinion may change with more exposure.

Antony & the Johnsons - The Crying Light. Beautiful stuff from the showtune side of glam. Neo-glam? I don't know. I need more time to process.

Aretha Franklin - Aretha Now. Another great album from Aretha's ass-whuppin' late-60s output. Not quite up to I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You), but for the love of Pete, what is?

The Bats - The Law of Things. My exploration of the Bats continues. This one is somewhere close to the median of my estimation of their work.

Bert Jansch - Bert Jansch. Debut solo album from the legendary Brit-folk guitarist. Contains lots of gems, but none better than "Needle of Death," which just rules.

Black Star - Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Top notch hip-hop circa 1998. Am I a good source for hip-hop recommendations? No, I think we've established that I'm a dabbler at best. But I like this album.


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