Sweet Beats and Sour Notes, music reviews from the pages of Think Magazine.
Dope on Plastic
Vol. 3 (React Records)
Another in the madd, madd, fly series of Dope on Plastic. For all of you who haven't seen or heard the first two, this is what you're in store for; a dope previously unreleased 'Go Off' pitting Midfield General against Cut Le Roc, who does just that in his scratchmaster style without a pause. But it doesn't stop there. Taking you from Sheffield's Phuture Phunk Dub 'Shine the Light' by Matt Wood to the New York Hip-Hop M.A.W. team of Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez and 'Little' Louie Vega, with an off-the-center cut of the excellent Hard Hands label's Paul Hunter number 'Livin' Free'. For a little more mellow right on, try 'Images' by Aquasky or some of Si Begg's bip and boom breaknology. This compilation guarantees ample proportions and enough music for second and third helpings. There's no limit on portions and the menu is pure protein- no fat or fillers!
Nuttasurusmeg Fossil Fuelin' the Fonkay (Sony/Legacy)
The Bone is back! Actually they never went away, skankin' their way from the 80's into the 90's without missing a beat. This two CD compilation is an introspective look back at the one band that managed to rock millions without hitting the mainstream madness. This mulattoized mix of Vally meets Watts has been pushing the hardcore skankin' sounds since I bought my first pair of Monkey Boots and has inspired too many wine cooler drinkin', pot smokin', all night dancin' evenings for my two brain cells to remember. And this CD takes you back there, because every real lover of the Bone knew the songs two ways: the studio mix and the Live versions. Well. This release uncovers the gems that never made it to wax, 18 new tracks never before heard. Do you need more reasons? Oh yeah. Know where FishBone got their name? Take a look at the WackyPack sticker below, and you tell me.
LA LA LAI (Rachot/Behémót)
The first song on this album sounds like my old girl band did - except that we didn't handle chord changes as well OR have the courage to take it into the studio. A look inside the album cover and you realize why - all the band is the percussive section on this (as well as the last) song. Music following says "Just joking" and is also full of humour. Jester's style, Dunaj makes death metal take itself a little less seriously and runs goth rock through the industrial grater. The band is not void of sentiment, but chooses a no-genre genre to express it in. Dunaj's music is marked by the familiar strain of strong harmony against vocals of clownsinger, Jiří Kolšovský (info in Czech). Sans flute, they remind me alot of Jethro Tull. As you can imagine, their concerts are a riot.
Presenting the Hip Jazz Sounds of the West Coast (Blue Note)
Ever since Stan Kenton disbanded his Innovations Orchestra in LA in 1951, both the local jazz and movie colonies have co-existed comfortably along California's coastline. Far from being beached, most of these ex-Kentonites, together with others who worked with ol' Woody, found themselves in good lives of continental sports cars and casual wear in matching tones. The reason why? Those who by day blew the sounds on studio stages let loose in the jazz dens at night.
Startin' with Sunday afternoon jams at the Lighthouse in the summer of '49 (for which Chet Baker was tops) to Shorty Rogers droppin' the bomb with his Modern Sounds 10 inch for Capitol records in '51, the West Coast Jazz Sound was born. Sure, jazz had always been an integral part of life along Central Avenue (the West Coast's answer to Harlem), with Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray and Hampton Hawes bustin' it up in digs like Billy Berg's, the Jungle Room, and Jack's Basket almost every night of the week. But in the mid-fifties, the Big Dollar took over and jazz got split down the color line, with white jazz being the commercial winner. A form of music born of oppression was twisted into a bright, glamorous leisure scene meant to reflect the Good feelings of an affluent post-war prosperity.
No way were they gonna spend their days and nights in damp, smoke-filled gin joints, out onto the avenue and down the boulevard where the air is fresh! But this image is all that, image. Look closely, and listen well and you'll hear the depth that was always there, but missed in the glare of reflections off the plastic people. A right on tip for a genre long ignored.
You're Gorgeous (ECHO)
The second single from Britain's relatively unknown Babybird, a truly inspired collection of four tracks that any Beck fan would be proud to own. Ranging from the bizarre to the out-and-out obsessive, Babybird's pop tunes about love and Instamatic cameras get my blood flowing and my feet tapping. Okay, so you're sick of the resurgence of Britain's pop music scene and all of those pretty/whiny boys griping about lost love, love gone bad, no love. Fear not, for Babybird's lyrics reflect pure desperate longing and desire set against a lush pop background - something those other lads missed. Where do I sign up for such adoration?