Knob twiddling can be fun
Two Fingers: Stunt Rhythms (Big Dada)
At my usual loss when attracted to an electronic dance album, I sought out reviews to see what I could crib, and never got past the Pitchfork 5.6 I started with. Chicago Reader staffer turned Brooklyn freelancer Miles Raymer, thanks for providing lingo I can spin. "The brainy, meticulous knob twiddler [i.e. Amon Tobin, who did another album I liked under this slumming moniker] might be having a laugh at the expense of his own reputation as a brainy, meticulous knob twiddler"? Keep a smile on your face, Amon. "It's like flipping through the sketchbook of a respected conceptual artist only to find it full of expertly rendered pornographic cartoons"? Reminds me of a painter pal who in the '60s did a whole slipcase of polarized bicolor sex silkscreens‑-some lovely, some gross, all yummy. "The unmistakable trademarks of Americanized dubstep"? I'll leave that one to my aesthetic advisor Carola Dibbell, who enjoys this CD even more than me but observes, "He's not as good as Skrillex, though." A MINUS
Lukid: Lonely at the Top (Werkdiscs/Ninja Tune)
Although I enjoy an endless groove as much as the next Afropop fan, my Afropop-inflected taste in grooves means that when it comes to British dance music, I prefer my beatmakers rockish. So it finally is with Luke Blair, who on his fourth and least austere album ventures into songlike territory without ever enlisting a vocalist, although vocal sounds do enter the mix. The first three tracks evoke a Madchester DOR approach, only Blair's fuzzed-up, uninhibited textures, the first two incorporating treated chorales, have more character than most of the wasted singers on that scene. Subsequently, different sonic sets front each track. One thumps, one arpeggiates, one twinkles, one loops atmospheric, one loops bassy, and so forth. It's almost as if Blair has called in has-beens for cameos‑-here Otis Clay, there, I don't know, Brett Anderson. Not exactly, though. A MINUS
Suggested alternate headline --
Science Republicans Do To Make Themselves Feel Better
Please God, spare us from this insanity. I pray, truly.
I wonder how important they are in the grand scheme of things, probably not much, I reckon.
But 4.5 on "classic" albums raises an eyebrow as to why. To be controversial to get subscribers?
My favorite reviews are like the Pinkertons, original 3 star and then bumped up to 5 stars 10 years later. Then again I can forgive that because underration obviously occurs. It's kind of like with Exile on Main St got a lukewarm reception from most critics or hip-hop.
*On screen or on paper.
These days the idea that the mag oversees the rating is a given everywhere. I certainly see nothing wrong with negotiating ratings--younger critics are often pretty foolish about them. But in this post-edited era, fat chance.
Grump grump grump grump grump.
To finish up a small theme that may not come up anytime soon, sniffing around I discovered that Mel Brown played on T-Bone Walker's 1969 LP *Funky Town*, a gig which apparently factored into Brown's long (and according to me kinda meh) stint with Bobby "Blue" Bland in the '70s.
So I checked it out and yeah, changes my picture of T-Bone a bit, and for the better.
Is it as successful as, say, Hank Ballard's adaptation to soul 'n' funk? No.
Is it long enough? No -- nine cuts in 32 minutes doesn't make it.
Does it prove without question that T-Bone didn't stop evolving in the mid-'50s? Yes, absolutely.
It also refutes the notion that he became consistently more genteel.
At least one track that highlights Mel Brown belongs on a comprehensive T-Bone anthology.
Gdash, Mental as Anthing were bigger (and more enduring and endearing) then Men at Work. They were so uncool that....they were still uncool. The song titles said it all- "If you leave me, can I come to?", "The nips are getting bigger"(bout whisky) etc. This is what happens when pub-rock meets art-rock. Consider a best of, although Xgau gave Creatures of Leisure a B+ in '83.
As an aside, one of the original Mentals, Reg Mombassa, went on to form Mambo art and clothing ( think really loud Hawaiian shirt) and was selected to create the Australian Team uniform for the opening ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Also, Colin Hay from Men at Work still perform the festivalcircuit solo, esp in his native Scotland. Very entertaining, think LWIII without songs.
Sadly, Greg Hamm, whom played the flute riff on "Down Under" passed away a few months ago after ill health, accelerated by a protracted court case surrounding ripping the riff from "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree", a kiddies song, from way back, presumed out-of-copyright. The similarity was pointed out on a tv music quiz show. Lawyers got excited.
My tram route home passes his house everyday.
It's an open secret that diddling around with stars happens at *Rolling Stone* too, right?
Oh definitely the original "Reckless." The Tensnake remix is cute for how it recasts Sylvester-inspired house in a Madchester stylee. But it siphons out the fierceness as a result.
The Azari & III album was patchy (to this day, electronic dance music remains a singles genre) but apart from "Reckless," these were the tracks I rescued (in descending order of preference): "Into the Night," "Manic," and "Indigo."
JY- "The Last Boy" was a good read, though some have carped Leavy dwelt too much on the Mick's not so exemplary habits off the field. I always feel you have to take the good with the bad and thought she did well detailing Mantle the icon/hall of fame baseball player vs. Mantle the tormented, drunken, playboy. Her Koufax book is on my yet-to-read list as well.
JeffC- perhaps you have by now realized Vauche's latest incarnation is heaping praise upon Notre Dame's football team, which has returned to its former glory under the leadership of their eminently praiseworthy coach Brian Kelly. However good this development may be for their worldwide multitude of fans and college football as a whole, the Fighting Irish have always been submerged at the bottom of my barrel, sunk even lower than the loathsome Seminoles, 'Dawgs and Crimson Tide of the NCAA world. I never, ever root for the Pope. Especially when he's a Nazi.
Now that I've affirmed myself as a bigot and dug myself one foot deeper into hell, I have one further request:
Cam- although I'm pretty sure you're a man of non-violence, if on one of this week's outings you should cross paths with a nutty-acting, unshaven and unkempt software pioneer somewhere along the backroads or wilderness of Belize, please introduce yourself as the ghost of Greg Faull then proceed to beat him senseless before calling the authorities. Greg's old buddies would be most grateful.
The heavy metal story is an urban myth I've never heard before. I would have been over there with an elephant gun if anybody had changed a grade on me. My wonderful designer Jesus Diaz was a big prog fan and a funny enough guy to have started just such a rumor. Jesus was also a union stalwart and last I heard he was still there, which makes him the only survivor besides my old pal Robert Sietsema, mhy NAJP colleague Micheal Feingold, and the eternal Michael Musto. If you're in the vicinity, Jesus, I still think of you fondly.
I need some thumbs down to get my day started.
The trouble with electronic dance music-
is that it's electronic-like in robot. And talk about convoluted reasons to enjoy it?
I mean, I meannnnn -what -you can't dance to rock?
Each to their own though.
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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