There's a special use value to this 10-track collection, eight from 1952 with two from 1954 mixed in, which has been reissued in more iterations and titles than I can catalogue‑-my copy is PR-CD-7027-2 and begins with "Little Rootie Tootie," as it should, but others reshuffle the same takes. What all offer is the not so common chance to hear Monk as a solely featured soloist with a rhythm section. Moonlighting NYC cop Gary Mapp is merely functional like so many Monk bassists, although even he has to hop around to follow the razzle-dazzle child's play of "Little Rootie Tootie," and Percy Heath adds his own flourishes to the 1954 "Blue Monk," which at 7:36 is the only selection out of three-minute range. But drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach are co-stars‑-don't ignore Blakey's rhumba sticks on "Bye-Ya" or Roach decorating "Bemsha Swing," one of several tunes Monk rocks like one of his stride-piano idols. Monk signed with Prestige after an unwarranted arrest that cost him his cabaret card prevented him from showing off his mastery of a body of melody as fetching and mind-boggling as Gershwin's or Berlin's. And if not every original is from the top of his canon, the Russ Columbo chestnut "Sweet and Lovely" could almost be "Round Midnight"'s fraternal twin when he makes it his own. A PLUS
Thelonious Monk/Sonny Rollins: Thelonious Monk/Sonny Rollins (Prestige '06)
Rollins lays out on two trio numbers and tackles only one Monk tune on this five-track, 34-minute 1954 product. But that performance belongs on both guys' life list: the little-recorded closer "Friday the 13th," an indelible four-note motif Monk made up in the studio that's stated breathily by Rollins and then tossed around for 10 minutes by the principals, MJQ bassist Percy Heath, left-field drummer Willie Jones, and‑-adding unexpected and melodic textural chutzpah‑-Julius Watkins on French horn. Supported by original bebopper Tommy Potter and hard-bop stalwart Art Taylor, the Fields-Kern and Caesar-Youmans standards that open ain't Swiss cheese either. A
Playing some Fela tonight and a question came up. I'm looking to replace my worn 1977 Mercury vinyl of Fela's Zombie with CD, but there are so many editions and I don't see a single one of them having the same track listing as the Mercury LP which was the edition Xgau graded Aminus in 1977 which contained only 3 tracks: Zombie, Monkey Banana and Everything Scatter. Wasn't Zombie reissued as part of MCA's Fela reissue project 10 years ago - and if so, why did they change the track listings?
No contact from the Voice. No ballot sent from the Voice. No nothing.
Thanks much to Michael Tatum and James Hunter who counseled and helped to get me back on the list. More thanks to Joyce Millman who advised don't bother with that damned, dead thing.
From now on I'm going to do what a part of me always wanted -- and what I did last year -- listen thoughtfully and carefully to all the releases of the past 12 months that any voices convince me I should hear. Evaluate in the calm of the still and chill months of early NE year and come up with a best-of around the end of March. I like the one I did last year much more than a number of previous. It did conclude jazz sucked that period. But whatever comes up is considered in a way I want to live with.
1. Loudon Wainwright III: Older Than My Old Man Now - 15
2. Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Fluorescent - 15
3. Van Morrison: Born to Sing, No Plan B - 10
4. Todd Snider: Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables - 10
5. Chris Knight: Little Victories - 10
6. Chiddy Bang: Breakfast - 8
7. Sam Rivers/Dave Holland/Barry Altschul: Reunion: Live in New York - 8
8. The Coup: Sorry to Bother You - 8
9. Iris DeMent: Sing the Delta - 8
10. Houston Person: Naturally - 8
Two EW A records, two A-, three jazz, three others pretty much no one else likes (although I swear folks are really missing something special). Two of the three jazz finished in the top ten of Francis Davis' poll (as yet unpublished), so the jazz isn't way out of critical consensus, but everything else is. The highest scorer in my metacritic file right now is Dement (28), followed by Snider (25), Wainwright (23), Rivers (20), Lehman (18), Coup/Morrison (15), Chiddy Bang (12), Knight/Person (3).
I've heard 80 of the top 100 records in my metacritic file, and rated 11 of those A-, with Frank Ocean closest to making my list (currently 12) -- the others are: Kendrick Lamar (takes some time but not a turkey), Fiona Apple, Killer Mike, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young (Psychedelic Pill, not Americana), Neneh Cherry, Patti Smith, Vijay Iyer, Jens Lekman. My A-list currently numbers 109, a bit more than half jazz.
No time to try to concoct a singles list. Hope to get the Christgau website updated and a new Streamnotes posted by tomorrow.
And yes, for further confirmation that Mr. Berry is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma and sprinkled with occult bitterness.
Hi all. The Melbourne Age has just published its top 20 albums of 2012. Disappointed that "Older than my Old Man" and "Americana " not in the list. Outrageous no "Truth About Love". And they probably never heard of Todd Snider or Iris Dement. Think I could possibly swap "Born to Die"? A few tasty locals, and a handfull of good choices, but this is why I read EW.
1. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
2. Dr. John - Locked Down
3. Tame Impala - Lonerism
4. Neil Young - Psychedelic Pill
5. Oh Mercy - Deep Heat
6. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
7. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel …
8. Dirty Three - Toward the Low Sun
9. (tie) Grimes - Visions
9. (tie) Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
11. Lana Del Rey - Born to Die
12. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
13. Spencer P. Jones and the Nothing Butts - self-titled
14. (tie) Suzannah Espie - Sea of Lights
14. (tie) Redd Kross - Researching the Blues
16. Jack White - Blunderbuss
17. Sarah Blasko - I Awake
18. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light
19. Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods
20. (tie) Cat Power - Sun
20. (tie) Moon Duo - Circles
Anybody have any comments on 2 through 4 and 6 through 10? (#1 is Iris and #5 is the Jamey Johnson/Hank Cochran album)
Kip Moore at #8 sounds pretty good. A little bit towards Steve Earle's first album, with some Bobby Pinson added in.
Next on the preview list: Dwight Yoakam followed by Kellie Pickler.
Dicks, *Kill From the Heart*
Always preferred the Big Boys from the ground-level Austin hardcore punk scene, but inspired by running across the 7" shorty-LP the Dicks split with the Big Boys for an initial release, and remembering I hadn't listened to the group for probably 20 years, I checked out the long-delayed CD reissue of their solo debut plus "Dicks Hate the Police" and a couple other early numbers.
So how has the snarl aged? Eeeh -- so-so at best. Gary Floyd rants and rages like the social and political outcast he was in 1980, but fate has not been kind to the bile and the decision to avoid not just melody (who cares, ya bums!), but hooks and clear-ferocious edge-of-attack adds to the damage. Couple-three tracks belong on anthologies, rest historical interest only.
Flying Lotus, *Until the Quiet Comes*
Too many guest stars? Tracks not quite fully baked? Down to lesser tune concepts? Whatever -- artworks are always a matter of inches, and this is one of those short gaps on the far side of captivating.
Hey Joey are the following albums eligible for the EW poll? "Some Girls" (Deluxe) / Karantamba "Ndigal" / any of the "Rough Guides."
I know this is super gratuitous, but I was perusing various lists and I happened upon Pfork's greatest 200 songs of the 60's. There's a lot of good stuff there for sure but do they know that Chess records was still making music after 1959? No Wolf, Diddley, Sonny Boy!!! or "Promised Land" or "You Shook Me." Also no EJ, Bland, Hooker, Hurt. No Marvelettes, "Cold Sweat," or Janis. I suppose this is a reflection of something the Dean mentioned in last year's end of year essay.
"Call it dad-rock, an ill-defined and already superannuated formulation that is Rolling Stone's true mission and Pitchfork's true anathema -- not just Social Security freeloaders like me, but any younger band drawn to the blues-derived harmonic and rhythmic usages of the '50s and '60s."
And Ray Collins, the Giant who became a Mother, checks out for the last time:
I've often thought of Collins as a superb example of the saddest sort of typical fate from the evanescent '60s -- launches a prime cultural shake-up almost by accident, hangs onto it for what now looks like a moment, no doubt expecting the next big thing to come along any time, then spends way more than half his life fading, fading, fading. Happens to more briefly-triumphant artists than I ever like to think about. May he get to hang out on an eternal streetcorner.
Dear xgau, gdash, and everybody,
If nothing but a Merry Christmas will do you, for the reasons xgau laid out so cogently, then of course I wish you a very many more Merry Christmases. Forgot about the pre-Christian solstice aspect – at this latitude, a day celebrating the return of the dying light is exactly what this S.A.D.-affected person needs. And while for forty years Xmas was barely on my radar screen, it has grown into a tradition I wouldn’t do without – I’ve just celebrated my tenth delightful one with the in-laws. (Spanish family, three courses of seafood, capped off with… roast lamb. And there I was gearing up for dessert.)
But some version of “happy holidays” will likely remain my general purpose season’s greeting, not so much for PC reasons as that I need a phrase covering that semi-statutory period running from December 22 to Reyes Magos during which my fellow workaholics and I cease to call each other requesting documents that were due yesterday, and light out for some cabin in the snow-covered hills. Every one of these days is precious R&R (some of both kinds) to me.
So: a belated Merry Christmas, and best for whatever holidays you’ve got left. I look forward to reading y’all in 2013.
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.