Solid as the Stones
Orchestra Baobab: La Belle Époque: Volume 2 1973-1976 (Syllart)
Proud owner of their early N'Wolof, which focuses on the pioneering Wolof traditionalist Laye M'Boup, and of the late-'70s Paris sessions released decades ago as On Verra Ça, I thought I had all the early Baobab I needed and most of what there was. Now I doubt that even this follow-up to the 1971-77 first volume reviewed below gets it all. As Florent Mazzoleni's français-seulement notes make (somewhat) clear, they released many (shortish) albums back when they were the toast of the post-colonial elite at downtown Dakar's Club Baobab. Salsa was the rage of Senegal's emergent ruling class, and there was always clave near the heart of Baobab's groove. But cosmopolitanism was also on the agenda of a multitribally multilingual unit that could bring off its worldwide ambitions because its band sound was as solid and unmistakable as the Rolling Stones'. Hear them run King Curtis over Jimmy Cliff on "Issa Soul" or go all-out JB on "Kelen Kati Leen," try an uptempo blues on "Sey" or a careful bolero on "Cabral," remember their roots on "Nidiaye" or stretch out San Francisco-style on "Sibou Odia." Hear Togolese Barthelemy Attisso run the show without ever hogging the spotlight. A MINUS
Orchestra Baobab: La Belle Époque 1971-1977 (Syllart)
This two-CD import has many discographical drawbacks. The adequate audio on the first disc, all or most of which was recorded live without audience in an empty club, could be more forceful and distinct. It shares the preponderance of its second disc with Nick Gold's On Verra Ça comp and a few tracks with the somewhat superior archive dig N'Wolof. Individual selections have been reinterpreted on Baobab's reunion CDs, picked up on this or that Afrocomp, and/or recycled on cheesier reissues. So as an economic matter this iteration of their early recordings, trending Latin and also often featuring Laye M'Boup‑-although note Rudy Gomis's star turn on the climactic "Yen Saay," which does have a studio sheen‑-may seem a redundant extravagance to some old fans. If so, however, I urge them to seek out not just "Yen Saay" but the gorgeous "Baobab Gouye Gui"/"Geeja Ngala Riir"/"Samaxol Fatou Diop" sequence, preceding it with "Jarraf" if they don't know N'Wolof, where it's called "Yaraf." Also, um, "Ndaga"/"El Vagabonde" up front is pretty sweet. Et cetera. B PLUS
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Regarding the Beck sheet music article, does this line, "That is correct, you'll have to literally play the songs yourself", sound to anybody else like, "That is correct, you'll have to literally stir the Italian sausage and spices into the tomato sauce yourself."
It's sheet music! What do you expect?
Technotronic Pump Up Jam - only have LP
Yo La Tengo - President - reissued onn CD onlyly with New wVe hot dogs
African Typic Collection - CD passable
Luther Vandross - 2 CD set sounds ok
Jimmie Dale Gilmore - CD ok
Perfect Disaster Up - only have vinyl which contains bonus single - I believe CD has some diffferent bonus tracks
Stevie Ray In Step - digital rrecording CD sounds good -
Thomas Mapfumo Corruption - only have LP
Thelonious Monster Stormy CD contains bonus tracks
Dwight Yoakam - Just looking for a hit - I hav e the Rhno Very Best of
Alpha Blondy - Revolution sounds weaker on CD than the Best of from a year later
Pavement - Slay Tracks - I have Westing
Misiani Benga OK on CD
Keith Whiteely - only hhe LP
Queen Latifah - only LP
Jayhawks - Blue Earth - just got CD and will play soon
Pointer Sister**** - CD ok
Ice T - CD good
Meat Puppets - Monsters - in the mail now
Lou Reed NY CD OK
Dancehall Stylee 1 - CD ok
Zetrospective CD Good
Jerry Lee Rockin CD ok
Mofungo Work CD OK
Ernest Tubb Live CD good
Clint Black Killin Time CD ok with one bonus track
Mojo o Nixon - don't have - wondering if CD ok
Rosanne Cash - Hits 1979-89 - CD sounds nice
Negativland - Helter Stupid only have LP
Lounge Lizards Voice of Chunk - CD great
Alexander O'Neal - CD sounds great
EU - Livin Large ditto
3rd Bass - I have the LP which is almost an hour so I suspect this one sounds pretty great on CD
Van Morrison - Avalon Sunset - onll have LP and have read that the origi 1989 CD sounded quiet/thin/weak so perhaps i'l check out the 1998 or 2008 reissue
Chaba Fadela - CD sounds good
Janet 1814 - CD sounds good
Yo MTV Raps - ditto
Fine Young Cannibals - Raw and Cooked CD sounds good
Diblo Super Soukous - I was disappointed with the sound of pre-1990 Shanachie CDs
Al Green Love Ritual - CD sounds good and it incluldes a bonus track "Beware" (long version)
Nick Lowe - CD sounds great
Carlos Paredes ditto
Black Havana - CD sounds a llittle weak but passable
Caetano Veloso Estrangeriro - CD ok
Konbit - CD good
LL Cool J - CD contains bonus tracks OK
Roxanne Shante CD ok
Baaba Maal Djam Leeli - CD contains bonus tracks
Nuestra Mejores Cumbias - CD sounds good
Royal Crescent Mob - CD sounds a little weak
Culture Combolo only have LP
I readily admit that, by lawyer standards, I have thin skin. So do most rhinos.
May I suggest that the following two statements are not anywhere near synonymous:
"made their names making records, and in live performance, not by writing material that had its primary impact through other performers. "
"it seems clear that the primary locus of creativity in US jazz and pop music is the recording, not the composition."
The first is indisputably true of most 20th century popular-music composer who are/were also performers (though you could make a very strong case that Monk's compositions have had wider impact than his recordings or performances of his works; Hank Williams, too -- but these are exceptions).
The second statement is not exactly false, but untrue in enough aspects that it has no force as an argument. The way James Brown composed his songs was enormously influential, a spur for oceans of creativity, whether or not performers specifically covered his numbers.
So when I read the second statement, my immediate responses is, "that's not true!" and I'm hard wired with lots of impulses to find out why I have such a reaction.
And I have the same response when I read:
""Particularly given [Springsteen's] reputation as a superstar who cares about his fans, this strikes me as disgustingly cynical, not in principle much different from a JPMorgan 1%'er forcing schmucks to accept one-sided terms in their home mortgages."
This isn't exactly "2 + 2 = 5" -- more like "2 + 2 = some number other than 4." Half-baked. Missing the forest for the trees.
But I overreacted. A more proportionate response would be: "That's not true! But it's not worth getting worked up about one way or the other."
Jason thanks for the info on Pump Up the Jam. I'm currently looking into what late 80s vinyl I can replace on CD and have found some winners: World Sax Quartet Plays Duke Ellington is a digital recording, as is Pet Shop Boys, Actually and they both sound fantastic in their original 1986 and 1987 CD configurations, respectively. Basically I'd rather have a CD than an LP but only if the CD sounds great. I'm not a big fan of those early CD issues you have to turn way up to hear, which is why I passed on Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me which sounds thin even though it's a digital recording.
Here's some notes on what I've found re 1989 albums on Xgau's dean's list, as far as LP or CD:
Mekons/Neil Young/Laurie ANderson/Beasties - CD sounds fine on all.
Remmy Ongala - I only have this on LP and see that the CD does contain an extra track so I'll try it out
Jungle Brothers- CD
Mekons Original Sin - CD only
Pere Ubu - Cloudland - CD contains nice lyric booklet and bonus tracks (the original Fontana I'm referring to)
Wire - On Returning - CD only
De La Soul - need this one on CD due to its length
Kampala Sound - i only have vinyl but believe it was reissued on CD in 1993
Clinton Cinderella Theory - CD sounds OK, a couple questionable bonus tracks
Marshall Crenshaw Good Evening - CD sounds great
Los Van Van Songo - CD sounds great
Boulevard of Broken Dreams - only have vinyl
TT Darby - only have vinyl - Columbia CDs usually sound good so perhaps I'll try this one on CD
Cheb Khaled - Kutche - need CD on this one per Xgau
Pylon Hits - CD only
Roches Speak - CD booklet contaiis lyrics not avail in LP
Neneh Cherry - i only have vinyl
Back to Gore Vidal- "Burr" is about as good as historical fiction gets from my
limited (I presume) point of view. In other words I've read my share of historical fiction
but who knows what I've missed.
These two Olympics articles seemed to have some relevance here. The first at least mentions The Bangles by name, but also discusses the public role that women have in various cultures. This subject has been a near and dear one to Bob and The Christgauvians for many decades now.
The second is even more elusive, but does mention 1) the art of athletics, 2) the 1% to 99% that exists in competitive sports where winning is the only acceptable outcome (reminds me of Bob's "dog-eat-dog monstrosity" line, and 3) what artists have to do to get beyond their own view of the world in order to create work based on other people's perspectives. If the first two don't work for you, hopefully the third will.
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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