The Roots of Songless Soul
Al Green: Al Green Is Love (Hi/The Right Stuff '75)
I never got with this album, which in the wake of the late-'74 grits-and-suicide incident kicked off Green's quick commercial decline with its only pop hit, the catchy, slight "L-O-V-E (Love)." That one sounds like it was waiting in the can for just such a disaster, and though eventually the post-paranoid "Rhymes" and the Afro-percussive "Love Ritual" caught my ear on compilations, the two other conventional songs here did not. Then I spun David Toop's midnight-soul concoction Sugar and Poison late this Valentine's Day and finally registered a genius piece I'd played 20 times before: the fluttering, vocalese "I Didn't Know," which makes eight minutes of impossible poetry from lines like "I didn't know that you feel like you do/Feel like you feel when you feel like you feel." Along with Sly's "Just Like a Baby," "I Didn't Know" is the linchpin of Sugar and Poison, and also the Rosetta stone of this album, which explores four or five other versions of the same idea. "Love Ritual." "The Love Sermon." It's all L-O-V-E. You got a problem with that? A
D'Angelo: Brown Sugar (EMI '95)
After getting religion about a precursor of songless r&b, I thought I'd revisit its modern wellspring, and wasn't surprised to have warmed to it‑-D'Angelo's concentration is formidable, his groove complex yet primal. But because it's bass-driven rather than voice-led, Brown Sugar is less subtle than Al Green Is Love, and less sociable too: D'Angelo, who was leading a great band through these songs by 2000, laid down all the instruments on four tracks and on two others brought in only co-producer Bob Power's guitar, which loosens things up nicely, though not like the string section on "Cruisin'"--a tune that originated with a pretty darn good songwriter named Smokey. A MINUS
Prior to the Soul Giants, Estrada fronted a band called Roy Estrada and the Rocketeers. The group released at least one single on the King label, "Jungle Dreams (Part 1)" backed with "Jungle Dreams (Part 2)".
Well, at least we now know he left the "Gym" part out.
The Mrs. got roped into one of those house product parties - so it's me and the baby at home alternating Sesame Street and Baby Einstein with the Creedence '69 albums and hard play tonight. He's just over six months and started pounding along to "Born On The Bayou" - and that made daddy smile.
Up to 8 full A's for 1969 - and it's likely now that I'll have to bump some for a top ten. Maybe not The Beatles' 1964, but Creedence's output and chart success for 1969 can't be bested.
An iconic book jacket:
Two iconic paperback book covers (for the same book!):
Unlike records, specific covers aren't usually identified with books. They usually change radically from hardback to paperback, although Penguin had a practice of using a picture over a few cover revamps.
This will all fade if and when physical music (and indeed books) becomes a thing of the past.
My ipod Nano 6's sleep/wake button is stuck. Internet says it's a design flaw. Need to go to Apple Store. GRRRRRRRRR.
(I knew you guys would understand.)
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.