Cornershop/Amadou & Mariam
Cornershop: Urban Turban (Ample Play)
Ever ecumenical, Tjinder Singh loves Europop thrushes no less than Bollywood thrushes: one cameo apiece to a pop hopeful from Bordeaux née Sokolinski, a U.K.-based music teacher-gospel singer, Celeste with a French accent, Katie without one, a Swedish nightingale, the British-Indian daughter of a singer poetically but also inconveniently named Mangal Singh, und so weiter. Several distinguish themselves‑-SoKo all breathy, Lorraine nice and rough‑-as does (Tjinder) Singh, changing up the rhythms as he "milks" his usual tiny store of melody. Leading and closing with the same unpasteurized song are the five-year-olds of Castle Hill Primary. "What Did the Hippie Have in His Bag?" they ask again and again‑-perhaps because, as the visiting dignitary knows full well, for five-year-olds hippies are approximately as real as wizards. B PLUS
Amadou & Mariam: Folila (Nonesuch)
As if their charming calculation has become routine‑-maybe for them, maybe for us‑-this never takes off the way Welcome to Mali did. But it does hang in there, and rewards attention, especially as regards its many cameos: less big names Santigold and TV on the Radio than Tuareg guitarist Abdallah Oumbadougou shredding louder than Nick Zinner or Scissor Sister Jake Shears disco and proud. Not so welcome is perpetual guest Bertrand Cantat, a lapsed French rocker-activist who did a mere four years for beating his girlfriend to death in 2003. True, Cantat's harmonica tenses nicely against Ahmed Fofana's ngoni in "Sans Toi." But mostly he sings, and he's no Tunde Adebimpe or Kyp Malone. There's such a thing as taking tolerance too far. A MINUS
I know "We Need More Money" from *Go Go Crankin'* but not much more. And I was interested to learn in his obit that he was married to Jocelyn Brown--of "Love's Gonna Get You" fame...
You know who else loves that one? Dave Marsh. Second on his 1980 ballot for P and J after *The River*
And don't want to make you spend time on this, but do you have any leads on when/where she actually said anti-gay things?
There's a great chapter on Donna Summer in Yuval Taylor and Hugh Barker's book *Faking It*--they start in Munich in 1975 and what she did with "Love to Love You Baby" (modelled on Marilyn Monroe's vocal attack, she says) at the end of it they talk about how hard it has been for women in pop to project an "authentic voice" in the male-dominated music industry. They mention Nina Simone, Liz Phair, Lucinda Williams and a few others who have managed. Then this:
"As a strong female performer who made her own success and wrote key songs in the process, one might expect Donna Summer to be held in the same regard. But the idea of authenticity has worked against her all the way: every bit as inventive a musician as her female peers, she has been perceived as only faking it the whole time."
R.i.p. Cutler's Record Shop of New Haven, ct-
A family store founded in 1948 with personal help from the Sam Goody (so says their website), it's just sad to see another independent bite the dust.
I should probably mention that one of the reason I A:B things is because there was a long stretch of time in which I wasn't listening to very much. So while I did hear the last Cornershop and Best Coast records (A- by me) I didn't hear the last Beach House record at all. I've played it three times this week...I don't think I was missing all that much. Better than the Cocteau Twins, but beholden to the same ooey gooey principles.
Edit: and oh yes, A:Bing things gives you one more perspective to write about.
(favorite song: "I Feel Love", duh)
(has anyone here heard her Europe-only debut, Lady of the Night? or her last Moroder-produced one, I'm a Rainbow - recorded in 1981, unreleased until 1996?)
"Jeff;what's ominous?Snider's Fortunate son?? no i'm still in heaven when i'm listening to that acoustic
"Humanbrained horse"so you could say that i'm still susceptible to it all."
You just made my day, Walter. Don't be a stranger!
Tom, thank you for giving Gregory Porter a B. I couldn't get what all the hype was about. I did love the Tindersticks album, though, and OFF! is an A record for me.
Didn't do an A:B on the last two Cornershop records either. I liked last year's well enough to write it up as an A-, and after 3 plays came to the same grade for this year's, but have no idea which is better. (If memory serves, which increasingly it doesn't, it's the new one, but not by much.) Evidently I like both more than Bob does -- part of that may be that whenever I play a new one my wife comes in and raves about them having "the best beat ever." (Part may be that I waste less time on Beach House and Best Coast: they got one play each; Jack White and Rye Rye got two before I decided they weren't going to get any better.)
I just dusted off some old writings on Donna Summer over at my blog. I wound up writing on her for RS because none of their regulars were interested, late-1970s disco was very important to me, and she was both important then and moved beyond. (Probably also because we were paid by the piece and she had a lot of records to sort through, so the pros didn't consider her cost-effective -- probably why I got George Jones and Willie Nelson, too.) Don't recall whether I replayed everything then, but very likely. Today, however, I have other fish to fry -- currently listening to a trombone player named Andreas Tschopp. He'll probably get a second play, partly because I'm not concentrating well as I write this, also because he's pretty good.
And I've never stopped listening to Donna Summer. 'Round here we always refer to her as "Dorchester's own! Donna Summer!" And while Nate might be right about that Quincy Jones thing, I've always adored her take on "Protection." That's one Bruce (the other Bruce) just could not sing himself.
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.