Monday, July 06, 2009

Music Library: Dolly Mixture, Dolly Parton, Don Caballero, Don Cherry, Don Gibson, Don Rich, DOOM, Doris Duke + Danger Doom, Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse

Dolly Mixture - Demonstration Tapes (1983). As much as I love the Pipettes (which is lots!), they weren't the first band to attempt to meld 60s girl-group harmonies with post-punk snarl. That title goes to this band, the awesome Dolly Mixture, who sounded like The Shangri-Las fronting The Damned. This is a reissue of their double-album from 1983 that may or may not include some of their singles, as well. The information I've found on the web is contradictory.

Dolly Parton - The Essential Dolly Parton, Vol. 2 (recorded 1970s & 80s). I love those Dolly Parton songs from right around when she was ditching Porter Wagoner for her own career. For some reason, the Essential Dolly Parton, Vol. 1 focused on her early 80s hits ("9 to 5" and such) and had a re-recorded version of "I Will Always Love You" from the 80s. Maybe that's essential for some people, but not for me. This collection has the original version of "I Will Always Love You," a song so gorgeous and pure that it leaves me breathless (and yes, this is the same song that Whitney Houston ululated all over for that Kevin Costner movie, but it's best if we all agree to ignore that version as the abomination it is). Also included: "Coat of Many Colors," her 1971 hit that addresses her childhood poverty dead-on, "Joshua," the feminist anthem "Just Because I'm A Woman," and "Jolene," a song of such raw emotional immediacy that it's practically proto-punk. Afterwards, the collection veers into her crossover pop hits of the late 70s, which don't interest me as much, although they helped to make Parton into a multi-gazillionaire.

Don Caballero - What Burns Never Returns (1998). Is math rock jazz-metal? Or is it post-rock with distortion pedals? Sounding a little like Tortoise and a little like Slayer (and a little like music from space), Don Cabellero ultimately sounded like nobody else. What Burns Never Returns is still a surprising album.

Don Cherry - Live At Cafe Montmartre 1966 Volume Two (1966) and Symphony For Improvisers (1966). Cherry first came to prominence as Ornette Coleman's sideman. Despite sharing a name on an album with Coltrane in 1961 (The Avant-Garde), Cherry didn't start putting out albums as a bandleader until 1965 with Complete Communion, an improv-heavy set that echoed his work as a sideman to Coleman and Albert Ayler. These two albums followed shortly thereafter. Live At Cafe Montmartre is a 5-piece with Gato Barbieri on sax plus vibes, bass, and drums, and the highlight for me is the Ayler medley of "Holy Spirit" and "Ghosts." Symphony For Improvisers expands his Complete Communion quartet into a septet with vibes, a second bassist, and Pharoah Sanders on piccolo, and it's a killer set.

Don Gibson - A Legend In My Time (recorded 1957-1965). One of the greats of classic country, Gibson wrote such all-time classics as "Oh Lonesome Me," "Sweet Dreams," "Sea of Heartbreak," and "I Can't Stop Loving You." He's a great entertainer, and his songs - even the less famous of them - pack a punch that's helped along by his lean instrumentation and Jordanaires-style backing singers.

Don Rich & The Buckaroos - Country Pickin': The Don Rich Anthology (recorded 1961-1974). Don Rich was the bandleader of Buck Owens' Buckaroos, and these tracks focus on his unique contributions to the Bakersfield sound. Rich started out as Owens' fiddler, but switched to lead guitar at some point in their long collaboration. Many of these tracks are instrumentals, but Rich was a great singer, too, and quite a few feature his lead vocals. Anyway, this is an amazing collection of songs from a guy who spent his career on the sidelines before his all-too-early death in 1974 at a mere 32 years of ago.

Donald Fagen - "I.G.Y." No fan of Steely Dan am I, despite the best efforts of well-meaning friends. And this song, from Donald Fagen's solo album The Nightfly, makes me cringe. While snorting coke off of the dashboard of my vintage Mustang while driving aimlessly about LA with a dead hooker in the trunk.

DOOM - Born Like This. (2009). This album is the most problematic of DOOM's career. It's sharp and clever, as you would expect from MF Doom, but it's also bogged down by the homophobic "Batty Boyz" (which samples one of Jeff Dunham's "comedy" routines) and the track "Cellz" features some 18 hours of Charles Bukowski reading his poetry before DOOM cuts in. My pal Nate has a clearer take on it from Pitchfork, to which I link because I'm still befuddled by the damn thing.

Doris Duke - I'm A Loser (1970). Swamp Dogg is one of the least-appreciate soul genuises of the modern era, turning out utterly brilliant R&B sides for years with little but cult recognition. Imagine the pain of being his protogee, as the case was for poor Doris Duke here. This is her first album, a brilliant piece of Stax-ish soul with smoldering Aretha-esque vocals. Why isn't it huge? I don't know. But I do know that Duke followed it few a few more albums that were even more poorly received and then retired from music, current whereabouts unknown. This one's a killer, though, so seek it out.


Danger Doom - Occult Hymn EP (2006). The followup to the excellent The Mouse And The Mask album, this one is slighter and somewhat less fun.

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul (2009). This album, of course, has never actually been released, and it seems to exist only in a half-state of digital content that can be found only in a succession of 1s and 0s on the net. Which isn't that different from Danger Mouse's calling card debut The Grey Album, come to think of it. Anyway, strangely enough, it feels to me more like a Sparklehorse album than a Danger Mouse album, although it's credited to both. The guest vocalists on every track lead me to suspect that Mark "Sparklehorse" Linkous may not even appear on the album. Still, the songs sound like Sparklehorse songs, but after a dozen or so listens, I don't think they're as strong as his material usually is. By which I mean that the lyrics and melodies never stick in my head like Sparklehorse songs tend to do. Danger Mouse's sounds are as excellent as always. It's odd that I don't love this album more. I mean, I like it fine, and I'm intrigued with it enough to keep playing it over and over. I think that I may grow to love it with time. My plan is to continue to revisit it until I get sick of it or decide that it is, actually, quite brilliant.


Phil Nugent 5:33 PM, July 08, 2009  

So it sounds as if maybe I should just buy this Dolly Parton record and stop waiting for her 1975 RCA best-of--cut for cut, maybe the most perfect album I've ever heard in my life--to come out on CD?

Hayden Childs 10:25 PM, July 11, 2009  

I'm sure this one isn't quite as good, but it's definitely better than waiting for Godot.

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