Friday, May 18, 2012

Music Library: Otis Rush, Otis Taylor, OutKast, Overkill L.A., Owen Pallett, Buck Owens, Ozzy Osbourne

Otis Rush – “Double Trouble” (1958). Excellent and ominous blues.

Otis Taylor – White African (2001). Bluegrassy folk blues that has quite a bit of heart for blues made in the double-oughts.

Outkast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994), ATLiens (1996), Aquemini (1998), Stankonia (2000), Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003). The progression from chicken-fried funk to psychedelia to the unbridled pop of the 2003 double album makes for a great afternoon of listening. What happened to these guys?

Overkill L.A. – Triumph of the Will (1985). SST put out some excellent metal with St. Vitus, but this is just turgid and dull.
Owen Pallett – Lewis Takes Off His Shirt EP (2010). Since retiring the Final Fantasy name, Pallett has put out an album that I hear is pretty great, but sadly, I have yet to pick it up. This EP, which mostly consists of remixes of the title cut, is only so-so.
Buck Owens – 21 #1 Hits: The Ultimate Collection (1963-1988). I picked up this at a bargain-basement price after I covered Owens a million years ago. This has most of his hits from the 60s in their original form, but substitutes a 1988 duet with Dwight Yoakam for the original “Streets of Bakersfield,” an astonishingly short-sighted attempt to rope in new fans who would be in their 40s or 50s now.
Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz (1980) and Diary Of A Madman (1981). I’m awfully fond of these albums, although they are nothing but buttery cheese. I love Sabbath’s doom and gloom, but Ozzy on his own is not that far from David Lee Roth’s sense of schmaltz and showmanship.

And that's it for the Os. More coming soon.

Music Library: Oscar Peterson, Osvaldo Golijov, Otis Redding

Oscar Peterson – The Jazz Soul Of Oscar Peterson (1959) and Night Train (1962). Peterson’s piano graces many of my jazz albums, but these are the only two I have with his name on the cover. Both are excellent, although I don’t find either to be quite as transcendent as the best of the best. This is almost definitely a failing on my part, not Peterson's.

Osvaldo Golijov – Oceana (with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, and Dawn Upshaw, 2007). Like jazz, modern compositional music, especially opera, is another place where I lack a decent vocabulary. This is lovely, powerful music, though, although I like the instrumental Kronos Quartet piece “Tenebrae” best.

Otis Redding – Pain In My Heart (1964), The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads (1965), Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965), The Soul Album (1966), The Dictionary Of Soul (1966), King And Queen (with Carla Thomas, 1967), Otis Redding At Monterey Pop (1967), The Dock Of The Bay (1968), The Immortal Otis Redding (1968), Love Man (1969), Tell The Truth (1970), The Otis Redding Story (released 1989). There is a reason that this man receives such reverence from R&B fans. It doesn’t hurt that he has Booker T. & The MGs backing him up (and a quick RIP to Donald Duck Dunn), but Otis Redding pours himself into these songs like whiskey into an old-fashioned. My favorite single is “Knock On Wood,” because I’m helpless before the building horns on the intro, but there’s no way to say that this one will still be my favorite in five minutes. They’re all as sweet and tangy as the best old-fashioned anyone ever made.

Music Library: Orthrelm, Os Brazões, Os Lobos, Os Mutantes

There are two parts to my listening project: (a) listening to everything in my iTunes library and (b) writing about it. There may be a third part: (c) deleting the things I dislike, but I have rarely taken that step. I write about it here, and while my last update was six months ago, but I have kept up the other side, the actual listening. Since we left off with Ornette Coleman, I plan to finish the Os and then do a little catch-up with albums that I either purchased after the point where I would have regularly reviewed them or just flat-out missed for some reason. Anyway, without any further ado, I’m going to try to update this thing more regularly.

Orthrelm – Iorxhscimtor (2001) and OV (2005). To my mind, this is approximately the same sort of skronk-metal that Hella plays, although friends more immersed in the two bands tell me that they are quite different in purpose and ambition. I forget exactly how, and the music itself offers no clues. The upshot: this is great stuff for clearing a room or befuddling your own mind, with millions of guitar notes matching the millions of beats per second in the tempo. Fast, loud, annoying, and somewhat dangerous.

Os Brazões - Os Brazões (1969). Trippy garage tropicalia with heavy fuzz.

Os Lobos – Os Lobos (1971). Poppier but less effective (because it is far more polite) tropicalia. No heavy fuzz.

Os Mutantes – Os Mutantes (1968), Mutantes (1969), A Divina Comedia Ou Ando Meio Desligado (1970), Jardim Eletrico (1971), Haih Or Amortecedor (2009), Everything Is Possible: The Best Of Os Mutantes (1968-1972). One of the most incredible things about tropicalia is how it takes the very familiar, in this case the psychedelic sides of The Beatles and the Beach Boys along with a smattering of Nugget-era garage rock, and turns it into something half-alien. It is easy to dismiss something that is utterly alien; without a roadmap, people have been dismissing and/or destroying unfamiliar culture since prehistoric times. The half-familiar/half-alien, though, is intriguing. Where Os Mutantes is concerned, they are at their best when the music sounds familiar enough to rope the listener in, but full of unexpected and delightful weirdness. The first three albums are all full of sudden left turns that the kids in Mutantes built from a combination of the indigenous music of Brazil and their own art-damaged big-city ideals. The first two, actually, are the best of the lot, leaping from fuzz-driven garage rock to chamber-pop to polyrhythmic chanting, sometimes in the same three-minute rock song. The third album is a more ambitious concept album (I think), but it also delivers with some of the most brilliantly bizarre Mutantes tracks. Jardim Eletrico, unfortunately, is trying hard to be both weird and poppy, and it only succeeds on a track or two. The best parts of that album appear on the well-named compilation Everything Is Possible, which also collects some of the greatest tracks of the first three and a middling track from a later album. Haih Or Amortecedor was hailed as a triumphant return for the band, but to my ears, it lacks the effortless fun of the first three albums without dropping to the lows of the fourth. It sounds like the work of an older, less spontaneous band, and while it is not exactly calculated, it doesn’t inspire.

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