Albert Ammons/Masters of the Boogie Piano
Them Three Kings
Albert Ammons: Boogie Woogie Stomp (Delmark '98)
The canonical recording is The First Day, Ammons's first studio session with Meade Lux Lewis, which launched Alfred Lion's even more canonical Blue Note label in 1938. But its status partly reflects the room it makes for Lewis's blues feeling, which in truth is nothing special‑-there are hundreds of better blues players across the spectrum, from Speckled Red to Otis Spann to Thelonious Monk. For the left-hand speed rolls and right-hand sparklers that are why the world cares about Ammons and Lewis, this knowledgeably annotated excavation tops the Blue Note easily. I'd prefer more duets, but although there may be something better out there, I doubt the improvement would justify the search. Most of it was recorded live at a radio broadcast from a Chicago hotel in 1939, which given how uncomplicated it is to mike a piano is of no sonic consequence; the last four songs are from a stray studio session. Eighteen tracks in all, most under three minutes and three under two, with Lewis taking half a dozen and Pete Johnson a pair. You want blues feeling, try Lewis's "Chapel Blues." You want Ammons to shout for joy, wait till he gets away from those radio guys and lets loose in the studio. A MINUS
Masters of the Boogie Piano (Delmark '03)
Or you could settle for the two tracks commandeered from the Ammons album‑-one Ammons, one Lewis, both mastered eight seconds faster‑-on this go-for-the-hips budget comp released to celebrate the Chicago label's golden anniversary. Jumping, as one reviewer wrote, from "fist-fingered old pros" to "lightning revivalists," its most breathless moment comes when Roosevelt Sykes's two-lane "North Gulfport Boogie" is passed on the left by Pete Johnson's four-lanes-and-counting "66 Stomp." And it's topped off by that special thing, an Ammons-Lewis-Johnson trio. A MINUS
Checking my Mega Millions' numbers. Let's see.
Looks good. OMG-I think I won. OMG-$560 million.
Take a deep breath , Greg. OMG. Now what? DEcisions.
Who do I give to and how much? EWs deserve something.
Right? OK , let's see. I know -if you thumbed down me in the past-you're out.
Wait-that probably eliminates everybody-darn it. Whatever.
Chiddy Bang: Breakfast: A−
Carolina Chocolate Drops: Leaving Eden: A−
Balkan Beat Box: Give: B+/A−
Burial: Kindred: B+
Imperial Teen: Feel the Sound: ***
2012 HM List:
1. Lana Del Ray: Born to Die (B+)
2. Sinead O’Conner: How about, I Be Me (and You Be You)? (B+)
3. Chairlift: Something (***)
4. Fanfarlo: Rooms Filled with Light (***)
5. Emeli Sandé: Our Version of Events (**)
6. The Big Pink: Future This (**)
Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
The most materialist hip-hop rapper on the planet is back, and she’s not only a woman, she’s more b@llsy than most men. She’s back with a vengeance, and taking no prisoners; unlike Pink Friday, which was full of her insecurities, Roman Reloaded contains only confidence (which may or may not be a bad thing), bar ‘Right by My Side.’ What rocks here are the beats; on first impression, they sound cheap, but, when you give them time to envelope you, they just roll off the disk. I believe what’s missing are those high-melody, sung choruses from Pink Friday—omitted from the first half of the disk, the second half are mostly club hits. There’s a lot more rapping here—intentional, I’m sure—but none of this can detract from the overall goodness of the flow, timing and juxtaposition of bass and high-hat. My only real gripe is the inclusion of some minor rappers, sans Wayne, which I would have liked, to know we all knew were poor by now.
I just had a fever dream about the new Nicki and it is fcukin spec tacular. Haters will hate like stuffy neutered weasels and the opening 4:07 of “Roman Holiday” will ****ing DISEMBOWL them. Also, surprise surprise, the Chris “Tinydick” Brown track is real real good – not necessarily because of him, but not in spite of him either. So there goes that principled objection, and elsewhere go all the others. She still flows like a tasmanian devil and just coz she's only got 3.5 personas doesn't mean they aren't all miles more exciting than anybody else in the game. Meanwhile, the club/radio sequence from “Starships” through “Gun Shot” is the most spiritually invigorating pop since “Haven’t I Been a Fool”. And then comes “Stupid Hoe”, already a stone r & r classic. The girl is perfectly unfaded, and she’s already digested you and sh*t you out on the pavement. A+ #NICKI 2012
I wish I wish I wish I wish I wish a bitch wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooould
Hey EW'ers...was glad to see all the Bruce discussion in the last thread.
I'd like to chime in that I saw him last night in Philly...
and that I cried numerous times during the show, and left with the glowing feeling of having just gone to church...and that's comin from an atheist jew.
Wish I could remember the details of the series, but yeah, that's one great song.
Speaking of Bruce's falsetto, are you familiar with "Lift Me Up" from John Sayles' much underrated "Limbo"?
And thank you.
Much of the night I got the impression of listening to what must be the world's most prestigious cruise ship band. It was a generalized blues, both emotionally and tonally, and a generalized jazz, and a generalized gospel. The emotional specificity came in specific moments from specific performers, and in the meantime the multiple generalizations bolstered each other's improbable ascent, while the bassist's high mix replaced the types of fun those musics usually give off with a more funky variety. The fellow [note: James Andrews; tall, bald, smiley, and dancing] who was the physical and performative emblem of Pops on stage was not terribly impressive to me as a horn player, but maybe he wasn't trying that hard, I couldn't say. Microwave gumbo, all flash, no pan. Kermit was the real musical evocation of the presiding spirit, out of all else I saw. It has something to do with him being a horn player of quality standing in his shadow, there's a certain amount of cognitive overlap both for him playing and us listening at an event like this, but it also has to do with his ease and fluency. Kermit dug around in notes and melodies with the kind of attention and indifference that was more than reminiscent of the big guy, but his music was also loaded with jokes. And that's crucial. It takes alot to crack wise when you're kissing a metal tube, and it takes alot of good stuff to let your chops be more than just chops. He does what many solo horns don't bother doing, if most of them ever did, and turns the already existing music into a music he wants to exist: he took someone else's phrase and made it his sentence.
The other instance of Louis's presence among us, it seemed to me, was the inter-sex banter of John and his singer. The warm, open sexuality and charisma of both parties, loaded with outrage and relish, was the closest I got to seeing the man's spirit brought to life, or directly paid tribute to. Way out in left field, though, was Ms. Diaz and her concatenating assonance, which probably sounds sexual for a reason. I've listened to spanish island hiphop before, so I was in whatever small way prepared for what the Spanish language can do in a context which prizes aural density, but since I couldn't say she was rapping, I wasn't all that prepared. What it reminded me of more than anything was listening to Italians read Dante. They're both good examples of the virtue of having languages in which most words rhyme with at least a few hundred other words, but I bet if I were Ms. Diaz, I would have to work just as hard as Dante at shaping that resource into an actual musicality. She was stunning and I thank her mother.
Dr. John held the center admirably, with a wise left hand and a voice that did its duty. I'm not sure if he was asked to do this or he volunteered, but he seemed sheepish enough about the whole idea of it, either way. If I were a musician and someone asked me to pay tribute to Louis Armstrong I wouldn't know whether to cry or declare war.
That covers the bulk of what I experienced most vividly about the event. The parts where I was bored I might have just been skeptical, but most of the parts where I was bored are very nearly gone from me, already, so it's certainly something I enjoyed. The backing horns were really tight.
Looking over this I'd only add that Rene (who only gets a mention under intra-sex banter) was lovely, and the Blind Boys underused. The things me and Bob were in most direct agreement about were how impressed we were by Telmary Diaz, and how unfair it would be to hold the event and its members to the standard set by the man it was honoring. I'd never seen Dr. John in concert before, and had never really thought I would, so it was a good way to spend an evening.
Kermit Ruffins [horn, happy, fedora]
Rickie Lee Jones [singer, zooted, smile]
Roy Hargrove [horn]
Arturo Sandoval [horn]
Blind Boys of Alabama [choir]
Wendell Brunious [horn]
Telmary Diaz [singer(?)]
James Andrews [horn]
Rene Marie [singer]
Edit: Re-listening, it could be better; the beats are great. I just feel the choruses and lyrics aren't as direct/good as on Pink Friday.
'Bottom line is Xgau reviews what he wants, when he wants, and I wouldn't want it any other way.'Yes, yes--I think some people will see my Ten$ion poast as anything other than a joke, which is just trigger-happy (bar respecting poster's wishes) but whatevs.
To Seth T. Hi. I'm not Robert Christgau- but if I may-
listening to "greatest hits" albums-that's fine-but by doing that
you miss the gems that don't make the "cut". The Who-for instance- are worth listening too-
album by album-song by song. Ditto other classic bands. Hope you have the
time to indulge.
PS Go to robertchristgau.com -click on Consumer Guide-go to the alphabet chart-and click on the band.
His reviews follow.
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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