Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Cs

Cambodia: Traditional Music Vol. 1 (released 1975) and Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk and Pop Music Vol. 1 (released 2004). I'm not too enamored of the traditional Cambodian music, but the second disc, a recording of Cambodian garage bands, rocks most mightily.

Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010. An excellent compilation of Austin music curated by Gerard Cosley with the extraordinary Follow That Bird! (who have re-formed as Mirror Travel) and the great Distant Seconds.

Chains And Black Exhaust (released 2002). This top-notch comp collects rare psychedelic funk tunes.

Chess Psychedelic Jazz and Funky Grooves (1968-75) and Chess Soul: A Decade of Chicago's Finest (1963-72). The former collects the awkward attempts of some great jazz, blues, and soul artists to make garage-y psychedelic music. Perhaps it helped create a market for the brilliance of the Chains and Black Exhaust music, but it pretty well sucks. The latter collects the more classic Chess blues, soul, and R&B music, and it is solid.

Classic Bluegrass from Smithsonian Folkways (released 2002), Classic Harmonica Blues From Smithsonian Folkways (released 2013), and Classic Mountain Songs From Smithsonian Folkways (released 2002). Smithsonian Folkways is doing the lord's work here. Each of these collections contains amazing old music that would be right at home on Harry Smith's Anthologies of American Folk Music (and, in a couple of places, overlaps that collection). The Harmonica Blues compilation came out last year and is proof that Smithsonian Folkways can continue to curate a collection built around a central concept, and the label's seemingly endless depths and quality of their archives, a veritable diamond mine of folk music.

CMJ 2007: The Bands, The Music, The City, Vol. 1. A freebie collection of indie rock bands from 2007 that I will probably delete.

The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968, The Complete Stax-Volt Singles Vol. 2: 1968-1971, and The Complete Stax-Volt Singles Vol. 3: 1972-1975. Total songs on these three boxes: 669. The first two box sets are perfect. The last still has moments of brilliance, but things were getting sloppy at Stax-Volt.

Country Funk 1969-75, Country Got Soul Vol. 1 (rel. 2003) and Country Got Soul Vol. 2 (rel. 2004). These are much better attempts at fusing two genres than the Chess Psychedelic stuff. The tracks are well-selected from white folks (especially Memphis-based white folk) who were often classified as country musicians while any fool can hear how much R&B goes into their sound (Charlie Rich, Dan Penn, and Bobbie Gentry, most prominently).

Country Legends Hits (1955-75). This is an 8-song cheapo compilation that I may have bought in a gas station with some truly excellent songs - all original versions! - on it: Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy," Conway Twitty's "Hello Darlin'," Sonny James' "Young Love," Ferlin Husky's "Wings of a Dove," Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee," Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons," Faron Young's "Hello Walls," and Willie Nelson's "Crazy." I think I bought this on a road trip in 1991 or 92 and realized that I really love country music.

Crossing Jordan Soundtrack (rel. 2001). This is a show I never watched, but I had the distinct impression that it was not one I would enjoy. However, this soundtrack, which is mostly Americana types covering iconic 60's songs quite well, leaps way higher than I could expect with Vic Chesnutt's "Buckets of Rain" and - especially - Richard Thompson burning down "Season of the Witch."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Music Library Compilations: Bs

Beat The Retreat: Songs By Richard Thompson (1994). This is a pretty fun tribute album. Best track: Dinosaur Jr. - "I Misunderstood." I can't find a copy of that, though, so here's a close runner-up.

Before Night Falls: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2001). Pretty pleasant music, I guess. I'm not so knowledgeable about Latin music.

Beg Scream and Shout!: The Big Ol' Box of 60s Soul (1961-69). Well-named. Six discs of 60s soul music with no clear rhyme or reason for the selection or tracklist. I don't have the liner notes, so maybe they would clear this up a bit. All awesome.

Believer 25th Issue Compilation (2005).  This one has indie-rock bands covering other indie rock bands. Best track: Spoon doing Yo La Tengo's "Decora."

Believer Music Issue, July/August 2008. This one's all over the place and not in a good way. The Madlib and Aceyalone tracks are good, though.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002. Buncha authors reading from their own work, curated by Dave Eggers. There's some good writing on here (Sam Lipsyte, Sara Corbett, Eric Schlosser), but it's like a serious of This American Life Act IVs.

The Best Of Blue Note (1958-65). No idea where I got this one! The tracks are great - Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage," Horace Silver's "Song For My Father," among other greats, you know - but the selection is disjointed.

The Best of Mountain Stage Live, Vol. 3 (1992). I only have a couple of tracks from this one, actually: Yo La Tengo doing an acoustic version of "Lewis" and Jo-El Sonnier covering Richard Thompson's "Tear Stained Letter," but both are excellent. This is not the same version, but it'll do.

Better Than The Beatles: A Tribute To The Shaggs (2002). Not too bad, as far as tribute albums go. Deerhoof is an obvious inclusion, but the Danielson Famile and R. Stevie Moore nods are inspired.

The Big Beat 1963. All Brian Wilson projects. Best track: The Honeys - "Little Dirt Bike."

The Big Lebowski Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1998). I picked this up for a read-through of The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski at my house a few years back. Solid selection, curated - I assume - by T-Bone Burnett, although it leaves off a number of songs from the movie.

Black and Proud: The Soul of the Black Panther Era, Vol. I and II (1968-2001). The first one mixes obscurities with soul classics from 1969-75, and it is excellent. The second one throws in some hip-hop and a Galactic track from the 00s, and I don't know what the hell they were thinking.

The Blasting Concept, Vol. 2 (1986). Top-notch SST comp.

Bloodshot Records Free Label Samper 2007: Yr Welcome, World. Okay.

Bloodshot Records eMusic Honky-Tonk Compilation (2007). Best track: Robbie Fulks and Kelly Willis on "Parallel Bars."

Bloodshot Records Sampler 2012. Even stronger. This comp sold me on Lydia Loveless, who stands her own with the likes of Dexter Romweber, the Waco Brothers, Kelly Hogan, Graham Parker, and Alejandro Escovado.

Blue Note: The Lost Grooves 67-70. Jazz-funk with Grant Green, Stanley Turrentine, and Lou Donaldson.

Blues Legends (1947-82). Well-curated cheapo blues comp. Wins by starting with a Gatemouth Brown track.

Blues Masters: Essential Blues Collection (1927-67). I don't know how essential it is, but there's some solid choices here, too.

The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs For Bumpy Wagon Rides (2002). I think this is Bloodshot doing music for kids, but Robbie Fulks wins again with his creeptastic, kid-unfriendly song "Godfrey."

Brain In A Box (throughout the 20th century). Bizarro box set collecting theme music from sci-fi movies and tv shows along with a disc of incidental music and two discs of sci-fi songs. Fun listen, but weirdly curated.

The Bridge: A Tribute To Neil Young (1989). This is a really great comp. Best track: The Pixies doing "Winterlong."

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Music Library Compilations: As

I'm not really going to review my compilation albums unless they need it. I will, however, list them. It's the least I can do, literally. Well, almost. I suppose I could also do nothing. But this is a blog post, which is almost the same thing. After some consideration, I'm not including friend-made samplers because it's just too complicated to mention what's on them, but there are quite a few of those, too. Five here in the As.

Absolutely Kosher 2002 Sampler. Best track: The Extra Glenns - "Baltimore."

Achoo! An Asthmatic Kitty Sampler, Vol. 2 (2007). Best track: Half-Handed Cloud - "Sailing The Veil-Boat."

Acute eMusic Sampler (2006). Best track: Theoretical Girls - "Computer Dating."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2010. Best track: High On Fire - "Speak In Tongues."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2011. Best track: Cerebral Ballzy (name: ugh) - "On The Run."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2012. Best track: Wye Oak - "Spiral."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2013. Best track: Captain Murphy feat Viktor Vaughn, Earl Sweatshirt and Thundercat - "Between Villains."

Adult Swim Singles Program 2014. Still ongoing. Best track so far: Sleep - "The Clarity."

African Swim (2008). Another [adult swim] compilation, this one featuring African hip-hop. Best track: GUMSHEV - "Matha."

AK79 (1979). This is a compilation of New Zealand punk from 1979. Best track: Toy Love - "Toy Love Song."

American Primitive, Vol. I: Rare Pre-War Gospel, 1926-36. No best track. They're all phenomenal.

American Primitive, Vol. II: Pre-War Revenants 1897-1939. All good again.

The American Song-Poem Anthology: Do You Know The Difference Between Big Wood And Brush? (2003). These are the songs where people would send in their poetry throughout the 60s and 70s and a group of very game LA session musicians would throw it down on vinyl. There are so many great songs here. And there are some that are unambiguously ironic. This is one of both.

The American Song-Poem Christmas: Daddy, Is Santa Really Six-Foot-Four? (2003). These are less engaging, but there's a few standouts. The following has been covered by Yo La Tengo.

Angola Prison Spirituals (1959). Gut-wrenching religious songs by prisoners in dire circumstances.

I Eat Records 2005 Sampler: Appetizers and Leftovers. Sampler from a pretty great defunct Austin label with tracks from Okkervil River, Phosphorescent, and Shearwater. Lotsa great tracks from bands that no longer exist, but the only one I can find on youtube is the Okkervil River track.

ATL RMX (2009). Another [adult swim] compilation, this one featuring remixed hip-hop tracks from Atlanta. Best track: Young Jeezy - "I Got This (Remix by El-P)."

Monday, August 04, 2014

Music Library: Neil Young, Yuck, Yung Wu, Yusef Lateef, Frank Zappa, Zombies, Zoot Sims, ZZ Top, 3Ds, 6 String Drag, 6ths, 13th Floor Elevators, 16 Horsepower

Neil Young - Live At The Cellar Door (1970), Chrome Dreams (soniclovenoize recreation) (1977), Don't Spook The Crazy Horse bootleg (1990), and Americana (2012). Yeah, I've talked about Mr. Young ad nauseam. The Cellar Door is very similar to the Massey Hall live album that came out a few years back. Chrome Dreams is a recreation from here. The Don't Spook bootleg is from the Ragged Glory tour, and Americana is, of course, a recreation of traditional folk songs in the style of Crazy Horse.

Yuck - Yuck (2011). Young people who sound like old people. But my kind of old people!

Yung Wu - Shore Leave (1987). The best of the many Feelies-who-aren't-Feelies bands. This one is fronted by percussionist Dave Weckerman!

Yusef Lateef - The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef (1960), Eastern Sounds (1961), and The Golden Flute (1966). First-rate hard bop/post-bop that cooks even when Lateef switches to flute. And that's a feat, y'all.

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats (1969). The only Zappa album that I will own because I hate Zappa but love Beefheart, who sings on two of the songs here and gives the proceedings more of a Beefheartian feel than the usual Zappaist self-indulgence.

The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle (1968) and R.I.P. (soniclovenoize recreation) (1969). The original chamber-pop maestros. Odessey is delightful and R.I.P. is yet another recreation by the blog guy here.

Zoot Sims and Stan Getz - The Brothers (1956). Just realized that this should probably be a Stan Getz album and not a Zoot Sims one.

ZZ Top - ZZ Top's First Album (1971), Rio Grande Mud (1972), Tres Hombres (1973), Fandango (1975), Tejas (1976), Deguello (1979), El Loco (1981), and Eliminator (1983). Tejas is kind of terrible, mostly because of lousy production, but the rest of these are quite deserving of their reputation as Texas boogie (or cheesy synth-y Texas boogie, in the case of Eliminator).

The 3Ds - Hellzapoppin (1992). Most excellent kiwi-pop.

6 String Drag - 6 String Drag (1997) and High Hat (1997). Fantastic alt-country from Raleigh. Saw them back in 1997 or so, and they rocked like hell.

The 6ths - Wasps' Nests (1995) and Hyacinths And Thistles (2000). Stephin Merritt's project of electropop as sung by other indie-rock personages. The titles are deliberately designed to make you lisp.

The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966) and Easter Everywhere (1967). Roky Erickson's Austin-based psychedelic-garage rock band. This is Ground Zero for Austin music.

16 Horsepower - Sackcloth n' Ashes (1996) and Low Estate (1998). This was a Denver-based alt-country band with a predilection towards sin-and-retribution lyrics.

...and - holy smokes - that wraps up the regular coverage of my music library, which I started in 2008. 2008! We were all so young then. I'm going to run as quickly as possible through my compilations and the numerous albums I have picked up in the meantime or accidentally skipped in the regular rotation. And then I will try to enjoy music again. Is crunking still a thing?

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