Rough Guide to Desert Blues/Konono No 1
The Rough Guide to Desert Blues (World Music Network)
The blues tag is a marketing gimmick we should all hope works. Saharan music deserves an "accessible" variant of 2004's Rough Guide to the Music of the Sahara, and if a few comparatively undistinguished minutes of Ali Farka Toure from the Niafunke delta does the trick, all the better for the scene-setting Terakaft, the humbly imperious Mariem Hassan, the male-led Euro-African women's collective Tartit, the foghorn diva Jalihena Natu, the knot-tying Tamikrest, and various masters of various instruments whose names we have trouble remembering even if we've encountered them before. The most arresting track is Tinariwen's "Tenhert," which convinced many advocates that the stage-savvy Tuaregs' latest album is their best. It's better contextualized here. A MINUS
Konono No. 1: Assume Crash Position (Crammed Discs)
I don't expect their diminishing lo-fi claque to care, but the third album from these briefly modish Kinshasa techno-primitives is also their best, for solid yet marginal reasons that boil down to recording quality: the buzzing distortions of their DIY-amped likembes are more distinct, and so are the unpop although not therefore untrained voices of three singers it is safe to assume got their first lessons before they were three. A jam band to the core, they don't craft their "songs" any more cunningly, but the effect is more song-like. Then, after 52 minutes, there's an unbuzzy finale: four minutes of acoustic likembe and aged voice which I call a coda and you may call a bore. To my medium-fi ears, this is where to begin. If having begun one then chooses not to continue, that would be reasonable. There's a lot of great music in the world‑-even in Kinshasa still I bet. A MINUS
Now I see Propers available new at Amazon, so maybe they are freely flowing into the US again (if there ever was much of a blockage). But I don't see them at Daedalus again quite yet.
I don't think copyrights should extend beyond fifty years, so I don't feel morally compromised by buying them. Especially since the extension of copyrights is not to give the heirs (and heirs of heirs) ownership of their progenitors' output, but rather to protect corporate ownership of this material. Even if importing them might be illegal, enforcement seems to be spotty.
One case I know of where Proper released more recent material was a Willie Nelson set where they were pretty ingenuous about where it all came from. Usually they produce useful booklets, at least as good as JSP.
There's also a 4-CD Proper BoxI keep hearing terrible things about Proper (esp. versus JSP) concerning royalty payments and suchlike. What do you know, Tom?
There's also a 4-CD Proper Box that covers 1927-41, a little thinner, also a little cheaper. You couldn't go wrong with it either. They also have a 1-CD "Proper Introduction" -- strikes me as a great gift idea. They are deeper than that, but it would be extremely extravagant to seek out the 12-CD Bear Family box, even if you got a much better deal than the $410 list.
Avoid anything on Universal -- those are 1936-38 Deccas, not bad but so-so. I also haven't heard any radio transcriptions worth hearing again -- especially Arhoolie, which is usually a pretty useful label.
Current listening: 801 - Live
CORNERSHOP RELASES NEW ALBUM ON APRIL 20, 2010Unlike my Pazz and Jop ballots, my year-end discs often include New To Me This Year tracks. For example, on this set --
Cornershop will release Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast on April 20, 2010 in North America through their label, Ample Play. Released in the UK and Europe this past summer to critics’ delight, this is the follow up to 2002’s critically acclaimed Handcream For A Generation. North American tour dates are planned for this fall.
RAP AND DANCE 2010
1. Awadi, "L'esclave"/"Dans mon reve"
2. Deerhoof vs. Kasai Allstars, "Travel Broadens the Mind"
3. Nas & Damian Marley, "Tribes at War"
4. Flying Lotus, "Drips/Auntie's Harp"
5. Tricky, "Murder Weapon"
6. Die Antwoord, "Enter the Ninja"
7. DJ/Rupture/ Matt Shadetek, "Space Cadet"/"Strength in Numbers"
8. Scissor Sisters, "Whole New Way"
9. Dessa, "Children's Work"
10. Wax Tailor, "The Way We Lived"
11. Nicki Minaj, "Moment 4 Life"
12. DZ, "Down"
13. Rusko, "Cockney Thug"
14. Borgore feat. Diplo, "Sunset"
15. Eskmo, "We Got More"
There are a couple things I was just late catching up with. And in the case of Wax Tailor, I heard a single late in the year that made body parts jiggle a bit, but eventually decided I liked Hope and Sorrow a lot more than the single or his current release.
My Top-10 disc, though, is more rigorous and is confined to tracks from albums and singles released in the US in the stated year (with very rare exceptions).
Joey - then, funuck it, come to my house (you can drink at 18, smoke at 16 and smoke weed because you just don't give a funyuck?!) - I'm about to move into a new house and will be having a house-party, anyway - you're all invited!
Lol - now I get that thumbs down, Joey (I didn't do it! *denies)!
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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