Rocking the Vaults
Karantamba: Ndigal (Teranga Beat)
Gambian guitarist Bai Janha is best known as the leader of Guelewar, whose murky 2011-reissued Halleli N'Dakarou is slotted "psych" because some striver scored himself an organ. Much better this previously unreleased testament of Janha's last band, recorded in 1984 by the Malian-Danish bassist Moussa Diallo during Karantamba's residence at his club in Thiès, 35 miles east of Dakar. The personnel are unidentified young proteges of Janha who I surmise are mostly Senegalese, because no matter what Janha does or doesn't call it, these kids are playing some kind of mbalax‑-Islamic singing over sabar drums rattling away, horns adding sour decoration and commentary, Janha wailing. There was only one Étoile de Dakar. But this is a find, well-rehearsed yet bold and untamed. A MINUS
The Rolling Stones: Some Girls: Deluxe Edition (Universal Republic)
A major album, you knew that. But my grade is for the bonus disc, which‑-as I'd never have guessed after those drab Exile extras‑- has dibs on major as well. It outstrips not just It's Only Rock 'n Roll and Goats Head Soup but Tattoo You and probably Emotional Rescue (which several advisors insist I revisit). Where the regular album is musically quirky and lyrically either risky ("Some Girls," "Far Away Eyes") or generalized ("Respectable," "Beast of Burden," damn right "When the Whip Comes Down"), the bonus disc is musically classic-Stones and lyrically small-scale, including NYC specifics that warm my heart. Beginning with the Stu-does-Jerry-Lee bootleg fave "Claudine" and ending with the atypically near-political "Petrol Blues," its star player is a horny guy who just got divorced‑-a familiar character the classic Stones were made for. Mick's Hank Williams cover trumps Keith's Waylon Jennings cover. His Freddy Cannon cover trumps them both. A MINUS
Carola is my secret weapon on voices, just as I've always said. She's helped me dozens, hundreds of times.
Glen: I knew about FDII and iTunes. But iTunes is a direct B&N competitor, so, much as I would have liked to steer readers in that direction . . . (And by the way, that seems a complety reasonable restriction to me.)
But more than that -- an awesome Wussy piece. Awesome meaning that I am full of awe at your clarity, your perspective, your ability to search out artistic pleasure made by human beings and smile infectiously when you find it, and even greater, your desire to use your byline in this manner.
2) Initially, Mick's failure to be a decent/authentic/genuine/etc. human being was a positive. This was the '60s and we were awash in sincerity, most of it slightly stomach-turning far as I was concerned. But note that Paul and especially John avoided that cornballism too. They were just (even) funnier and (definitely) more soulful about it. With Mick, the irony got increasingly tiresome as irony became a cultural universal. (I must have said that before.) And even so there were plenty of times when it signified.
3) Without going into detail, insofar as r&r is blues-based pop no one ever did it better than the Stones musically, formally. Main reasons: Charlie and Keith. Whose authenticity has since become almost as tiresome as Mick's irony and sometimes more. And still still still they're so talented and so comfortable in their formula that they make great music sometime.
Which reminds me to say that while I agree with this from Milo as a general POV, "Mick Jagger found he was unable or uninterested in pursuing an age-appropriate extension of his personality projections", I did find the international settings for his confusion in "Laugh, I Nearly Died" from Bigger Bang to be highly effective.
Xgau's Wussy column is up at B&N review.
No one likes coercion, and both points are demonstrably untrue
There's a fine line between coercion and, I dunno, pity? The space between the guitars, the indefinable lazy/tight lock-in between the guitars and drums, the relentless force of the vocals ripping dizzy 3D rhythms through the sound, the forward momentum that never lets you forget you've got a beating heart...I mean, I suppose one could also have aesthetic issues with the textbook definition of rock'n'roll, or wish that in some alternative world one could remove the center and replace it with all the ephemera that properly belongs outside. But in this world, the Stones are at the center.
Hah, I just needed to get that off my chest. shapsm is good people; no offense intended. Keep listening, though; it's never too late. I will say that in my opinion the Stones are rarely bloated. When I've seen them, even with all those backup players, I'm always struck by how small and pared down, almost vaudevillian, the band seems. Charlie with that little kit. At the most recent shows, there's been a palpable and heartbreaking sense that they're going to take what they have with them. And that "what they have," once the cultural context fades, will be hard to define and impossible to convey. Already is, I guess. I'm vulnerable to criticism that I'm just driven by boomer nostalgia, but I think I'm open and curious enough that if a new center had been established, I'd at least see if not feel it. Not that there isn't great music around; there's plenty of that. Still. It's sort of sad, you know? Second hand? Yeah, everyone's second hand.
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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