Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx/Gorillaz
Tinkering With the Funky Homosapien
Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx: We're New Here (XL)
The Richard Russell-produced original of the revolutionary-poet-turned-brokedown-crack-addict's first studio album in 16 years strove respectfully to put a good face on‑-who exactly? The "survivor"? The "outsider"? The "revolutionary"? The hip-hop godfather? The colorful old black guy? Granting that the moving force was Russell, my Honorable Mention stands: "The premise isn't `I'm new here,' it's `I'm not dead,' and he strains mightily to get 28 spare minutes out of it." A year later Scott-Heron was in fact dead, and a year after that came this radical remix, which to my mind respects Scott-Heron more truthfully by chopping him to bits. This Scott-Heron is a drug fiend of considerable perversity and tremendous intelligence who's gonna be dead soon. Jamie xx hears in his last testament an irreversible disintegration that he translates into heavily sampled minimalist electro marked indelibly by Scott-Heron's weariness, arrogance, and wit. In part it's just a young man's bad dream about mortality, and of interest as such. But the snatches of Scott-Heron's voice, cracked for sure but deeper than night nonetheless, delivers it from callow generalization and foregone conclusion. A MINUS
Gorillaz: The Singles Collection 2001-2011 (Virgin)
Their synthbeat-meets-comix concept got over as pop because it found a mildly playful and pleasurable way to enact well-meaning self-effacement, which was how Damon Albarn disarmed the world well before designing a virtual band for the era of electronic interpersonal multi-tasking between unknowable avatars. As far as he's concerned, that isn't humanity sitting up "On Melancholy Hill"‑-it's a manatee, who got there by means only a cartoonist could grasp. Note, however, that he invokes real-life humanity in an all too traditional way: via such living persons of African descent as Bobby Womack, Neneh Cherry, De La Soul, and the affably virtuosic Del the Funky Homosapien. A MINUS
P.S. I did not know that Gorillaz had an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band.
Only record I can recall from my birth year is Subconscious-Lee, but since I don't think the LP had been invented I'm not clear on how (or when) it was released.
EDIT: Actually, wasn't the Chris Brown an NPR First Listen? I try to play all of those, even the metal. I remember not being too negatively impacted, at least by the music inself. FURTHER EDIT: Checking my indices I don't think it was a First Listen, but Mogged as a result of review in NY Times by Jon Caramanica [http://goo.gl/pI19d]
fav album from my birth year is probably You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish.
Also, I've been listening to Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast. Wonderful stuff, but I just want to mention that the original "Cryin' In the Streets" by George Perkins & the Silver Stars is a real gem. I first heard it on the comp. Down And Out: The Sad Soul Of The Black South. You can find the song on itunes under the title "Cryin' In the Streets (Part 1)".
- Chris Brown - F.A.M.E.
- Nickelback - Here And Now
- OAR - King
- 311 - Universal Pulse
- Gym Class Hereos - The Papercut Chronicles II
- SuperHeavy - Self Titled
- Metallica & Lou Reed - Lulu
- Kelly Rowland - Here I Am
- Jessie J - Who You Are
- The Game - Purp & Patron
- Sum 41 - Screaming Bloody Murder
- Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullaby
- The Head & The Heart - Self Titled
- Incubus - If Not Now, When?
- Daughtry - Break the Spell
- All Time Low - Dirty Work
- The Wonder Years - Suburbia, I've Given You All and Now I Am Nothing
- Lady Antebellum - Own The Night
- Trace Adkins - Proud to Be Here
- Rise Against - Endgame
Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Released the month and year I was born.
Ditto. Has possibly aged a bit better than I have
Jeff, I'm exhausted. Not from the column (although that's part of it, I suppose) but my job has been killing me lately. Cuts mean I've been doing twice, three times the work. I've been sick twice in the last month. I'm seriously thinking about skipping January and February and subbing with a few DD related projects I've been working on for the last few months, resuming my regular duties in March, starting 2012 afresh. Hope that doesn't let too many people down.
Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Released the month and year I was born. The best album my parents had on heavy rotation when I was growing up (although some of the competition was stuff like Ray Coniff and Joan Baez). Still sounds incredible.
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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.