Sunday, August 13, 2006

eMUSIC AUGUST

Here's my allotted 90 downloads from eMusic this month:

*Minimum Wage Rock & Roll (plus stray cuts from other albums) by The BusBoys I snared MWR&R just just in time. Just a day or two later it disappeared from eMusic.

I hadn't thought of The BusBoys in years. But last month when I was working on my column about coon songs and minstrel shows I recalled the band stirred controversy by messing with Steppin Fetchin shuck 'n' jive stereotypes with their moves, facial expressions and other antics in their stage show. "Hey! Can I shine ya'll's shoes? I just loves to shine ya'll's shoes ..." At the same time they directly confronted racial issues in their songs. "There Goes the Neighborhood" talks about how "the whites are movin' in." Back then it just seemed funny and ironic. Now it's obvious that it was one of the first rock songs about gentrification.

They also talked about segregation in rock, which was at it's worse in the early '80s, those strange days before Prince. Rock was for whites, funk and soul was for blacks. But in the BusBoys, the twain met. "I bet you never heard music like this by spades," singer Kevin O'Neil says in the Devo-like "Did You See Me."

More than 20 years ago I interviewed O'Neil after a show at the honky tonkin' Golden Inn. He was one of the first musicians I ever interviewed who was brutally honest about how downright grueling show biz can be. He was exhausted, cynical and by his account near broke -- and this was at the height of their short-lived popularity.

But it was a hell of a show. While fooling around on Amazon.com I was delighted to stumble across another person who had been there. She says she saw Willie, Waylon and Jessie there that night. I didn't see them, but I wasn't really paying attention to the audience.

*Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs. I mainly got this one -- White Stripe Jack White's latest musical project -- for my son, who has repaid me by constantly humming "Steady As She Goes" for the past week. I do like it, though not as much as The Stripes.

*Good Bread Alley by Carl Hancock Rux I first heard Rux on Bob Edwards Weekend a few weeks ago. Rux is a poet, playwrite and photographer, but veers into music when his art calls for it. His bio says he's been commissioned for a couple of operas. This album is mainly art-damaged, literate blues. My favorite track here are the title song and "Living Room," which is a mutated "Gimme Some Lovin'." There's also a song for Kurt Cobain.

*Live from Mountain Stage by NRBQ. Maybe this isn't NRBQ's best live album, but it's a darn good one. It has songs from two shows, one before the departure of Big Al, one after. I love Al's "What a Nice Way to Go," ("Let's play some stripper music, boys," he drawls at the outset of the instrumental section). Also there's a good sleazy take on "Our Day Will Come." Who among us doesn't like Ruby & The Romantics?

*Hardwired in Ljubljana and Live at The Casbah 10/21/2004 by Dead Moon
With the zeal of a new convert. I downloaded not one but two live albums from this Portland garage/punk/psycheledelic/whatever band. Ljubljana is the better of these two, but Casbah has a version of "You Must Be a Witch."

At first I just assumed it was just a cover of the '60s garage classic (included in Rhino's Nuggets box set), but reading up on Dead Moon, I learned that singer Fred Cole actually was a member of The Lollipop Shoppe, which originally did the song. But I still want to know why Toody Cole always skips the second verse of The Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire."

The above accounts for 89 tracks: For my final track I chose to expand my modest but growing eMusic Cab Calloway collection and download "Kicking the Gong Around" (one of Cab's "Minnie the Moocher" sequels. I previously downloaded "Minnie the Moocher's Wedding Day.")

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