Friday, November 27, 2009

Music Library: Jody Harris & Robert Quine, Jody Reynolds, Joe Ely, Joe Jackson, Joe Maphis, Joe Strummer, Joel Plaskett, Joey Ramone

Jody Harris & Robert Quine - Escape (1981). Two underappreciated guitar greats make some spidery, skronky, and creepy instrumental pseudo-funk. Among the appropriately titled tracks: "Flagpole Jitters" and "Termites of 1938." Hard to find, but pretty worthwhile for fans of no-wave or Quine.

Jody Reynolds - "Fire Of Love." Killer rockabilly tune that was later re-recorded by The Gun Club.

Joe Ely - Honky Tonk Masquerade (1978). This albums is between Ely's time in the Flatlanders - the great band with Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, and a singing saw - and his tour with the Clash that brought him to a greater audience. It's a pretty definitive version of Texas country music, with elements of the Tex-Mex sound that influenced so many songwriters from here and an emotional gamut that runs from "I'm sad, so let's dance" to "I like this song, so let's dance." Ely has a great delivery and I especially love Butch Hancock's songs, so it's nice to hear them and "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown" in this context.

Joe Jackson - Look Sharp! (1979). Like Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, Jackson wrote great pop songs with enough snarl to be fashionably punky (some folks call this the genre of "new wave," but I don't really trust that term). All of the songs on this album are smart, economical, literate, and witty. Highly recommended.

Joe Maphis - Fire On The Strings (1957). After reviewing Jimmy Bryant the other day, it seems appropriate that Joe Maphis would come up so soon (and not just because I'm going alphabetically through this). Like Bryant, Maphis is a fast-as-greased-shit player who brought bluegrass variations to the electric guitar. These are all instrumental tracks that are as much about a virtuoso having fun as they are about speed and precision. Maphis isn't quite as witty a player as Bryant (probably because the latter listened to much more swing and, in particular, Django Reinhardt), but he's pretty amazing, anyway.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Global A Go Go (2001) and Streetcore (2003). Ah, we miss you, Joe. The former of these starts with the excellent "Johnny Appleseed," which I can't hear now without picturing the fantastic opening credits sequence from John From Cincinnati. Other than that, it's ok folk-rock with elements of different world music. Streetcore is a posthumous release with more rock and reggae than the prior album. It's ok, but I could go the rest of my life without hearing anyone, especially a white guy, covering Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."

Joel Plaskett - "Powerful Lights." Great little indie-folk song that abruptly turns into a rock song about 2/3 of the way through. I might have gotten it as a free download from eMusic. This was the first time I'd listened to it, though.

Joey Ramone - Don't Worry About Me (2002). Jeez, another posthumous release from a punk rock legend. This one is more focused than the later Ramones releases (and make no mistake, it sounds like the Ramones), but almost unbearably poignant given the circumstances of its release.


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