The Rough Guide to Highlife/Electric Highlife
Highlife as Pop and Not
The Rough Guide to Highlife (World Music Network)
Although the label's second pass at this expandable concept--which as has been its regrettable recent practice isn't marked as such anywhere on a package that in this case is orange and bears the serial number 1280CD--tends quirkier and quieter, in-house compiler Rachel Jackson goes for the gut tunewise. From the surprising pre-Afrobeat Fela who opens to the gospel falsetto-as-girl group who close, every song stands out, so much so that Jackson really could have risked Celestine Ukwu's "Osundu" rather than repeating the oft-compiled "Igede." Special faves: the Black Beats' "Tsutsu Tsonemo" for hook, Gentleman Bobby Benson's "Taxi Driver" for lyric, Francis Kenya's "Memia" for guitar compression, and Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe's "Osondi Owendi" for guitar expansion. There's a slight tailoff before the gospel closer, but not so as to spoil your appetite for the bonus disc by the university-based trio Seprewa Kasa. On Riverboat four years ago, I found their preservationism a mite polite. Here the same album provides a graceful, restful, informative coda. A
Electric Highlife: Sessions From the Bokoor Studios (Naxos World '02)
Ghanaian-Nigerian highlife was a pop music not just because it was urban and popular, but because it produced something resembling hits and stars‑-in their world, the Victors Uwaifo and Olaiya were genuinely famous. Not these eight early-'80s guitar bands John Collins recorded in Accra. As all too part-time musicians in a ruined economy, they share a likably ramshackle feel, which infused by the good cheer they mustered in the face of 100 percent inflation is enough to sell this collection. But I noticed a funny thing when I looked closely at the second Rough Guide to Highlife, which is that its two finest tracks began their public life at Bokoor: the hummable one by the Black Beats, who had a long if varied career elsewhere, and the musicianly one by Francis Kenya, who seems to have been Collins's greatest protege. Think there were some players over in Ghana? Must have been. A MINUS
But Rob Sheffield panned Behavior in the Spin guide with a (typically) brilliant takedown. After “Being Boring,” I don’t get it myself.
Joining in the B+ parlor game, my all-time fave album is New Order: Low Life so…
And now to drain myself of all authority, Train: “50 Ways To Say Goodbye” is one of the best singles of the year.
More commentary about David Lowery. At least someone seems to have some solid numbers for royalties.
gdash- No judgements just an observation. It's a fine parlour game to be sure, and I played along too. I wish I could sit and look at B+'s all day long , but Maggie's brother is coming again...
"As the commercial states- to have the time and inclination
to distinguish between Xgau's B+'s and your own A's -PRICELESS."
""Dang, This B+ is really an A or A- in my book"- #firstworldproblems"
I think it's fun, and actually pretty useful. No, it's not digging irrigation ditches
1. Fever to Tell - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
2. Like A Prayer - Madonna
3. Vicki Leekx Mixtape - M.I.A.
4. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - David Bowie
5. Undun - The Roots
6. Low-Life - New Order
7. Bitte Orca - Dirty Projectors
8. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - Neil Young
9. Blackout - Britney Spears
10. Wave - Patti Smith
1st runner-up: Tusk - Fleetwood Mac
As the commercial states- to have the time and inclination
to distinguish between Xgau's B+'s and your own A's -PRICELESS.
Current Listening: Grin- Live at the Grisner Auditorium Dec '72 Geo Washington Univ.
Mofungo- End of the World
Rolling Stones- Brussels Affair (Live 1973)
Dirty Projectors- swing lo magellan
All right, who the **** thumbs-down Tom? Do I have to come round with a baseball bat?
Putting aside things like Before Hollywood (we've been down that road before) my list of personal fave Xgau-sanctioned B pluses would include Stranded and Country Life for sure, two records Tom and I have in common. This reminds me also about certain records Tom's nudged me on over the years that I've been meaning to get to, namely things like The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein or The Modern Dance.
Behavior, another favorite of his, is one I've always wondered about. My brother loves that record too -- in fact, judging from the Spin guide, I think everyone loves that record except for me, which is one of the many reasons I've always cottoned to Bob's taste. I never got Music from Big Pink or Astral Weeks either.
Einstein was not a handsome fellow...
This Lebowski talk tells me I should revisit the film. Haven't seen it since its release, and at the time I'd thought it tanked after a half hour or so, and I'd felt [spoiler alert!] killing Buscemi's character was all wrong.
I don't really have my own grades, but some B+ records that might rate higher, excluding the ones I mentioned in the other thread (I recall Little Feat, Kevin Coyne and Roxy Music):
Artful Dodger, Honor Among Thieves. EWers, if you don't know this record, I urge you to.
Nils Lofgren's debut, absolutely.
Toys in the Attic
Between Nothingness and Eternity maybe
Frankie Miller's Highlife
Less Than Zero
BTO best-of (Winnipeg reference, re another thread; when you coming, Wussy? You made it to Montana)
Power Corruption and Lies? Thoughts, anyone?
Nilsson Sings Newman (I know it was downgraded for time; let's forgive)
At Yankee Stadium maybe
Smokey & Smokey & The Miracles have eight - odds tell us at least one would climb (same for Gil Scott Heron and Three Johns)
Boz Scaggs (a fave CG line: "that would appear to mean Boz Scaggs, folks")
All right, I'll stop. Haven't heard Let England Shake yet, this Liege and Lief fan wonders if it would make the cut.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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