Diablos Del Ritmo/The Rough Guide to Senegal
Two ways to cross over
You'll need the physical on this package because the 60-page booklet is part of the attraction: a detailed if not always fluent rundown of musical doings in the "dormant diaspora" of coastal Colombia, where the biggest port on the Colombian Caribbean, Barranquilla, was transformed by forces half understood into a voracious market for African dance music in the '70s and '80s. Although crate-digger obscurantism is big on this scene‑-Barranquilla is still home to a contest in which DJs compete to play the rarest African record‑-these two discs are a cherry-pick, and astutely programmed too. I prefer the one where Colombians imitate Africans, which is heavy on short-form soukous derivatives and makes room for Fela and Miriam Makeba rips as well as the sui generis Wasamayé Rock Group. But the jerkier, accordion-heavy "Puya, Porro, Gaita, Cumbiamba, Mapalé, Chandé, [and] Descarga" of the Latin selection has a gritty, fetchingly homemade quality. And if you want something smoother, try J. Alvear's "Cumbia Sincelejana." A MINUS
The Rough Guide to the Music of Senegal (World Music Network)
As someone who mistook Youssou N'Dour's warmup guy for the boss several times back in the day, I agree that Senegal brims with impressive singers. The strategy of showcasing winners by such longtime crossover hopefuls as Cheikh Lo, Ismael Lô, Mansour Seck, and Baaba Maal honors and exploits this plenitude: make sure you check out the Thione Seck, Sister Fa, and Amadou Diagne picks. But put on either of the Music in My Head collections and find out why you could miss them if you didn't make an effort. The bows to Orchestra Baobob and Etoile de Dakar here pop out every time because one band cooked and the other exploded. In fact, even the Westernized folkloricism of Daby Balde's worthy bonus disc powers a more striking collective identity than most of these tracks. B PLUS
Got interested in the nominees for best 1-2 punch to start of an album. Didn't read all 184 comments; but seriously, did nobody else mention "Rocks Off" and "Rip This Joint"? Did like most of the other nominees I did see.
"I never really thought of myself as a groupthinker, though -- until 2010 there was no "group" to speak of."
This comment reminded me a bit about the disorientation Carola D expressed in her Steely Dan concert review "Not Alone with Steely Dan". (Which you can and should read on her website.) I didn't discover Xgau until the waning years of my communal listening life, so his writings, like my music listening, has been largely a private affair for two decades. Then this happened. Not quite the same as a group pf physical friends, but no longer private either.
Speaking of the publication that should not be named, I too (predictably) like Xgau's choices - Plagenhoef, Wolk and Abebe are all admirable writers. Though Abebe's pieces frequently don't sit well with me - the piece on rockism he wrote a year ago and a new nymag piece on Grizzly Bear (the first for being too undeveloped and the second for being too disingenuous). Yet, I loved his Pussy Riot article.
To this list I'll add Tom Ewing who used to write very astutely about britpop (http://tinyurl.com/ayzb5ec) in the Poptimist column which I love and has for all practical purposes been ceased. Anyone else got favorite writers worth checking out on that rag?
"mandyperk sounds as formal as Michael Tatum. That's a compliment."
Thanks for noticing, Mr. Smallwood! (And hello, Ms. Mandyperk.)
"I'd note that a few weeks prior, one board member (me) picked up another board member at the San Diego airport, met a third member, and proceeded on to dinner and drinks."
Do I owe you gas money for that, btw?
"I have no idea how many core CG-based buyers there are--really, no idea."
I have no problem admitting I've been a rabid CG loyalist since 1991 -- in fact, there's not an A or higher record I haven't sought out since then, with plenty of rooting around in the A-/B+ regions as well. And what of it? I've learned a great deal -- much more than I would have had I, let's say, merely relied on Rolling Stone, or Spin, or my own curiosity. I never really thought of myself as a groupthinker, though -- until 2010 there was no "group" to speak of. I merely relate to the Dean's musical aesthetic -- and I don't think I'm the only one. Well, obviously.
Oooh, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Thanks Kenny. I can call you Kenny, right?
My coworker loves to sing "Sweet Home Alabama" when we do karaoke, and after that I only know "Freebird". I checked Mr. Christgau's reviews and he seems to like them a lot. I'm sure Uncle Joel has some of their stuff. I feel so lost sometimes when it comes to stuff before 1990.
Question for you Wussy fans
I've been loving the online video for the song "Magnolia", too bad it wasn't on Buckeye. My question concerns what Lisa is singing about? Is Cassie a fictional or real person?. Every time I pick up a guitar and try to write a song I'm reminded how much I suck. Thanks Lisa.
A major hobby (and nice side source of income for me) is buying and selling rare records on a popular auction site. I go to flea markets, estate sales, hit the classifieds to buy a few records at a time and even whole collections, etc. About six years ago, I responded to an online ad that had 1500 LP's for $ 1500. ('All kinds of music"). That's more than I normally like to spend - but I'm glad I went to check it out!
Turns out the guy moved back and forth so many times, that he just couldn't deal with lugging his records anymore - so these albums were stored in his friend's basement - about two miles from my house. When I started pulling out titles like "Africa Dances", "Lubbock (On Everything), "On the Other Ocean" and came across a half dozen Peter Stampfel LP's - I nearly pooped my pants. I immediately mentioned Christgau and he told me that he had been buying records from Voice recommendations since the mid-70's. He had a few thousand CD's (mostly Xgau faves again) but those he was keeping. I ended up buying the vinyl collection - and put aside about 250 records to either add to my collection or replace some of the more beat up titles there.
FWIW, I have three friends who don't post here that buy on Xgau's recommendations. One eventually gets nearly everything - but will wait years for good deals. Another is big into Indie Rock and his sources there, but heavily leans on Xgau for Afro Pop and Hip Hop - and the other just buys a few albums a year.. I don't post much these days (too busy with the hobby and work, but mostly my favorite toddler) and I've just added five more names to the Xgauian fan and music buying base. The overall number may surprise us all.
mandyperk sounds as formal as Michael Tatum. That's a compliment. Anyway glad to have her here.
Dave brings up a good point. I have a stack of great movies from Netflix gathering dust on my coffee table because I'd rather listen to music. I go in cycles but right now I'd listen to music 15 hours a day if I could.
Sad to say I will miss the Philly/NYC Wussy shows this weekend but have cleared my schedule for late April and plan on a Pittsburgh/Newark Delaware back to back if anyone wants to hang out with this Seattle based core crazy since 1981.
Mr. Cohen- While it's true that I found out about Mr. Christgau through my love for Wussy, I'm sure it's mostly the other way around. I stumbled upon this band by pure luck. I've always been drawn to bands with a strong female presence and Lisa Walker is totally that. Nice person too, they both were. Once back in Oz their CD rarely left my car's CD player. Wanting to know more about them I checked out their website and under the press heading was Mr. Christgau's article. I was blown away that a band this good was not more popular. That article helped confirm what I had been feeling all those many days and nights driving back and forth to work. This band is special. Anyway, you already know that.
What I wanted to say was that since then I've been searching Mr. Christgau's site for other music that might speak to me. Luckily my Uncle Joel is a huge music fan and let's me borrow his CD's from time to time. This last weekend he let me borrow his copy of Car Wheels On A Gravel Road after first showing disgust that I'd never heard of her. Needless to say he's not getting it back anytime soon. Wow what a great one she is. That is one I wouldn't have tried without Mr. Christgau's help so thank you for that. Everyone here seems so smart about this stuff, I hope you will go easy on me as a feel my way though this online thing.
I did speak to A.B. Guthrie once, near-mummy that he was.
He had a powerful passage in the speech he gave for the occasion. Concerning ecology, he invoked the horrendous scene in *Jude the Obscure* when miserably impoverished Jude discovers that his children have hanged themselves. Guthrie cited the note the children left as an apt message of why we should be aware of our pressure on Earth: BECAUSE WE ARE TOO MANY.
Ha! I used to have a rule against parting with any album that Xgau had rated A or A+. Then one day I said "screw that" and sold about 50 of them (almost all vinyl) to Primitive in Montreal. I'm hoping some fellow Montreal Xgaumaniac stumbled upon those and danced a merry jig.
I remember once walking into Venus Records and thumbing through a vinyl collection that had clearly been sold to them by a core crazy. Slightly unhinged myself (why did they sell? will I sell mine too, someday?) I picked up the Oh OK ep.
He's one of those guys whose vision of a licentious and languorous world that's so much more forgiving than the one we're stuck with creeps up and tickles your ear. Then you play some Hank Williams or Muddy Waters and think this is what I need with what I'm stuck with.
Same reason I don't see every movie praised by Roger Ebert or go to every restaurant that gets a high rating from [insert food critic here]. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with collecting every record Xgau likes if you have the inclination, time, wealth and perseverance to do so. But I wouldn't want it to be to the exclusion of all other music. My musical universe would be measurably poorer without Abba, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, The Damned, Jorge Ben, Os Mutantes, Plume Latraverse, Aut' Chose, Boney M and Can in it (this is not a knock on Xgau - I don't expect any one critic to like everything I like).
A brief but touching interview with Robert Wyatt about recently deceased Kevin Ayers on the BBC is here:
I’ve been intermittently interested in Ayers, in part due to Xgau’s Subjects for Further Research comment “With his bananas and borrowed pataphysics, Ayers has always been an oddball's oddball, and his best-regarded work has never been released here. At the proper time, whateverhesingsillreview.” Also, give credit to the Trouser Press crowd for championing his languorous eclecticism.
In retrospect, Ayers puts the best nefarious light one can on being a wastrel and a sexual raconteur. So I took some time for the 5-CD “The Harvest Years 1969-1974” reissue upon his passing a couple of weeks ago. His first album after leaving the Soft Machine, “Joy Of A Toy” doesn’t hold up as well as I had remembered: Let’s give Nick Drake some Cialis and drop him down into a prog bacchanalia. But Ayers can be engaging when he omits the sleepy dust: “Lunatics Lament” raises the earth, and don’t tell me that Lou Reed didn’t pattern the “Rock and Roll Animal” version of “Heroin” on “Decadence”.
Good songs abound over this set, varying degrees of fee, wasted, and inscrutable. Equal or more misfires and welcome-to-Gao bedthirsty throwaways. The whole thing isn’t to be listened to over and over.
And the one album to take home with you is still “Whatevershebringswellsing”. In addition to killer Cantabrigian cover art, this is where Ayers strikes the best post-prog balance of baritone songcraft and idiosyncratic popism. A minor artist, you bet, and a major waste of talent. I wish his last album, 2007’s “The Unfairground”, was better than the sum of it’s fifteen-year-hiatus parts. I’m still not sure why he died in his sleep. But if ever there was an artist who took a spliff and a porn mag off to the great unknown with him, it was Ayers.
Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, has launched , an online music fan forum seeking direct input on future digital releases from the world's foremost archive of commercial recordings, an unmatched collection of music dating back to the 1880s with artists and titles representing virtually every historical genre.
Utilizing the power of social media with its user-friendly interface, LegacyRecordingsVault.com allows fans to vote on which rare or out-of-print recordings they'd like to see made available digitally, along with the opportunity to offer their own release suggestions and comments. The familiar online message board format of the site is designed to promote free and open discussions of obscure artists, titles and musical movements. The forum also is featured on the Legacy Recordings page on Facebook.
LegacyRecordingsVault.com is currently spotlighting more than 30 titles currently under consideration for digital release. Fans are encouraged to vote for the albums they'd most like to see made available as digital releases, and to make their own suggestions. With thousands of albums in the Legacy Recordings archives becoming potentially available for digital release, this crowdsourced service will provide a valuable mechanism in the preservation of the original recordings while giving the online community a new way to request access to an unprecedented array of historically and culturally significant music. The site also includes a Music Reissues forum where fans can suggest archives projects such as new compilations, unreleased demos, expanded editions and more--beyond the scope of the reissue of an out-of-print title.
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.