Girl Talk/Nicki Minaj
If Time Is Money, Nothing Is Free
Girl Talk: All Day (Illegal Art download)
Less fun than Feed the Animals because the sample pool is less obvious, but deeper, if stolen party music can be deep, which in his shallow way is what Greg Gillis believes. With the predictable scad-and-a-half of exceptions on an album that claims 373 sources, the strategy is to provide verbal content via the most unpoetic strains of hop-hop‑-marginal Dirty South club records, say Project Pat's "Twerk" or Young Berg's "Sexy Can," of which most fans from outside that world were unaware‑-and beats/grooves/IDs via canonical rock: U2 and the Ramones, Iggy's "Lust for Life" and Miley's "Party in the U.S.A." Of course, since these won't necessarily provoke enough partying in the U.S.A., there are also actual beats a level below, drums and that sort of thing. Multifarious posteriors notwithstanding, the lyrics are less raunchy than on Feed the Animals‑-rated R, not X. As a result, Gillis's vision becomes less orgiastic and more humanistic. Track 10 features Springsteen and Nirvana, track 11 Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day," and the finale goes out on the daily double Gillis could have conceived the entire record around: the tough-guy sentimentality of UGK's gangsta threnody "One Day" over the mods-versus-rockers universalism of John Lennon's late-hippie hymn "Imagine." Suffused with hope that someday we'll join him and the world will live as one, Gillis dares Yoko Ono to tell him otherwise. A
Nicki Minaj: Beam Me Up Scotty (Trapaholics download)
This 2009 mixtape, not the more recent Barbie World, is why if not where hards decided a biracial female was street enough. Without undue popping of coochie, she quickly establishes herself as a highly unsisterly, rabidly materialistic "shopaholic" set on becoming "the black Hannah Montana." That way of putting it should have alerted hoodrats unworthy of her hiney implants to the scope of her ambitions; on the other hand, so should "behind every bad bitch there's a really sweet girly-girl." Even her materialism is relative: "Tell Michelle I got my eye on Barack Obama/Tryin' to get that Madonna/You know Hannah Montana [a theme?]/Could find me sittin' Indian-style with the Dalai Lama/I'm meditatin' I'm in cahoots with a higher power." One does wonder, though--once you rhyme "Dalai Lama" and "higher power," do you need Hannah Montana anymore? A MINUS
Larado?! Does she/he mean 'lardo'?! :S :p That level of self-deprecation would make me like him/her more - unless it's slang - in which case I need to brush up! :p
I'm making fun of all of us true believers who find that the encore of "Born To Run" with the house lights up is the coolest place on the planet right at that moment. Making fun of us as in saying the password or giving the handshake.
I agree with you on "rawk" but hate the redundancy and faux high falutin'-ness of "rock music" even more.
Walter: Bruce Springsteen -- the guy who shouts a lot. That's a classic right there. Couldn't deny it if I wanted to try.
I'm still laughing and something tells me even he would think it's funny.
As far as these "new" songs reflecting that older period of his career, that's exactly how I hear them. They are definitely pre-Born In The USA in feel and tone and maybe even subject matter in a way.
All the best. Let me know if you agree, and even if you don't. Another perspective, especially a European one for such a traditional USA artist, is always interesting and welcome.
Walter: There are almost certainly professional reviews that can give you better advice on The Promise than I can do, but since you asked, I'll first ID myself in the Bruuuuuuce world as a true believer but not an obsessive. The obsessives didn't like The Promise because they already had bootlegs of the original versions of these songs and the fact that he re-did them to his current standard (or sound, take your pick), put them off. I'm not that picky, took them as I heard them, really liked the female chorus on "Someday (We'll Be Together)", as an example, which never would have happened in 1978 since his current wife sings on it, and had never heard the bootlegs in the first place anyway.
The songs themselves fall kind of in two camps, simple romantic pop songs (mostly up-tempo but not exclusively), and the melodramatic semi-epics that depict the difficulties of blue collar life as he sees it. Out of the 22 songs there are half a dozen or so of this latter style. Generally longer and slower tunes. It depends on how you feel about this style in general since there is a sameness to the sound of the songs that could put a person off. I really didn't like this version of "Racing In the Street" at first. It's tuneless and includes lame lyrics that he would eventually re-write. About the 4th time I listened though I realized how deeply he inhabited the story, especially after the instrumental break, and now I hear it like a Literature major might hear an early audio tape of F. Scott Fitzgerald working out his "boats against the current" idea (and yes, I just compared Darkness on the Edge of Town to The Great Gatsby). When he sings "For all the blown off strangers and hot rod angels stumbling through this promised land" I think he really means it. I think it's not just some clever RnR lyric. I think he has real people in mind, real people he's known in a real country he worries about. It's very moving.
The romantic pop songs spend time on the generalities of boy/girl stuff, without any of the details of the blue collar semi-epics. I wrote them off at first as too simple and cliched, which they are individually but collectively they really cover the relationship waterfront. Alternately he is tumescent, regretful, lucky, sad, funny, stoopid, determined, classically romantic, lost, found, disappointed, buoyed, and ultimately grateful ergo happy. I had to cut and paste the song order to my taste to make this happen, but hey, what's technology for if not to improve life. I'm sure this is cheating, and even doing that didn't remove the cliches of "Spanish Eyes" or "One Way Street", much less keep me from wanting to give him a Lesley Gore-inspired "You Don't Own Me" slap upside the head for the "You belong to me" chorus of the otherwise pretty "The Way".
And finally, the finish to "Someday", from the 4:05 to 4:50 mark, is my favorite music of the year. He always wanted to sound like Roy Orbison and damn it, right there he did it. I end my re-sequenced version with that song.
But then like I said, I'm a fan. Although not enough of one to re-buy the original Darkness itself for the third or fourth time. This is just The Promise.
In sum, if it had been released at the time, it would have changed how we think of him, less semi-epic and more pop-oriented (which his notes in the enclosed booklet make clear that that is why he didn't release them then). How they make you see him now depends somewhat on you feel about old-school big band rock and roll. I love it. Is it relevant? That's a very good question. I think so since excellent musicians playing committed music will never go out of style, but am somewhat more doubtful every day (see above).
Hope this helps in some way. GM
The Dorsey/Sinatra Sessions (3 volumes, but he says a 1-volume comp would be preferable)
The Dorsey/Sinatra Radio Years
The Essential Sinatra (Columbia, three volumes)
He likes the MoFi box, but who wouldn't? Otherwise:
In the Wee Small Hours
Songs for Swinging Lovers
A Swingin' Affair
Come Fly with Me
For Only the Lonely
Come Dance with Me
No One Cares
This Is Sinatra
Sinatra's Swingin' Session
The Rare Sinatra (English Capitol import)
("At least thirty-five [Reprise] albums are currently in print, of which the following fifteen are especially recommended:")
I Remember Tommy
Sinatra & Strings
The Concert Sinatra
It Might As Well Be Swing
A Man and His Music
Strangers in the Night
Sinatra at the Sands
Francis A. & Edward K.
Sinatra & Company
She Shot Me Down
Cam, though in general theory I'd agree with your assessment of those get-you-coming-and-going "Deluxe" editions, in practice I own a number of them that I enjoy a lot - the Daydream Nation one is great, as are the ones for Goo and (especially) Dirty. Those latter are worthy if you like them in jam mode, which I do...much like James Brown, there are times where I can fall into something like a trance and binge on their records for days.
It is on my wishlist, but I wonder if my wallet can stand the strain. It will likely start me chasing down many of the recordings referenced therein.
Also, I agree with everyone on Xgau's year-end reissues CG - they were awesome. Try 1992: Billboard Top Hits: 1984 (my favorite year ever for top 40 pop), The Coasters' 50 Coastin' Classics, Hoosier Hot Shots, Louis Jordan's Five Guys Named Moe, Yoko Ono's Walking on Thin Ice, Randy Travis, Wild About My Lovin': Beale Street Blues 1928-1930... just, wow! No doubt the pickings have been getting slimmer in that department, but there's gotta be something out there worth writing about, and I don't mean padded overpriced reissues of albums everyone already owns (I'd be willing to give the expanded Daydream Nation and The Harder They Come a shot, though).
(I'd always assumed his ilm id was an homage to the abbreviated "xgau.")
Tom , thank you for referring me to the Gary Giddens book 'Jazz". I will check it out.
Also, Xgau singled out some excellent old jazz and blues records in his Barnes & Noble review of Tom Moon's 1000 records to hear before you die
Yanojo -- I have no idea what Mr. Xgau thinks about this or that Sinatra album, but for me, Will Friedwald's post-mortem discographical breakdown in Entertainment Weekly was very instructive. I think he's misguided on the Reprises (which I avoid) but love many of the Capitols, and my top 5 was handed down to me from that article: Swingin' Lovers, Only the Lonely, Close to You, Swingin' Affair, In the Wee Small Hours, all Nelson Riddle aided and abetted. Add Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy and you're set for life.
And on a side note, the fact Buble is seen as his inheritor by people who don't know any better is pathetic. It's important to remember Sinatra in many ways "created" standards, by seizing obscure songs and making them new -- "You Make Me Feel So Young" was nothing before he got his paws on it. Little different than "jazzing" (retain quotes please) the Eagles, isn't it?
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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