Saturday, March 01, 2008

eMUSIC MARCH

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever downloaded by monthly allotment from e-Music for a month before the month actually began. (My account actually refreshes in the middle of the month. Now I'm going to have to wait until March 17 to start downloading again and already there's a bunch of stuff I've got my eyes on.)

*Get in the Groove by Various Artists. Here's the deal: This might just be the coolest album I've ever downloaded from eMusic.

It was recorded live at the 50th birthday party of Billy Miller, head honcho of Norton Records, where the musical guests included Bettye LaVette, Andre Williams, Nathaniel Mayer, Barrence Whitfield, Lonnie Youngblood, the Mighty Hannibal, King Coleman and The Great Gaylord, with Rudy Ray Moore -- yes, Dolomite himself! -- as the emcee.

Some of these guys are real codgers. Mayer sounds like Howlin' Wolf with a sore throat. But everyone involved just oozes with the crazy spirit of old-time R&B. And it never lets up. The high point has to be the raucous version of Ray Charles' "Night Time is the Right Time," performed here by Lavette, Williams and Mayer. These three might be senior citizens but they're having more fun than a bunch of horny teenagers.

One word of caution: eMusic has some of the credits screwed up. It's Whitfield who sings "Mama Get The Hammer" (and Hannibal who sings "Good Time.")

* The Funky 16 Corners by Various Artists, This is a powerful collection of obscure funksters from the '60s and '70s. It's not to be confused with one of my favorite music blogs of the same name, but it's the same kind of great music. Both the album and the blog are named after a crazed song by The Highlighters, an Indianapolis band, which is included here. Chances are you haven't heard of the artists here --Ebony Rhythm Band, The Soul Vibrations, Spider Harrison, etc. But if you love hardcore late '60s/early '70s funk and Blaxploitation soundtrack music, check it out.

One of my favorite cuts here is "The Kick" a funky War-on Drugs fight song/dance craze that never got off the ground. Then there's the proto-rap "What About You (In the World Today)" by Co-Real Artists. Not as militant or as intense as The Last Poets, but good fun.

* Take a Good Look by The Fleshtones: Yes, they’re “retro.” Yes, they’ve been plowing a lot of the same ground since they first took the stage at CBGBs in New York’s Bowery more than 30 years ago. But The Fleshtones attack their music with such strength, confidence, energy, and rock ’n’ roll joy that such reservations seem uptight and prissy.

What I'm trying to say is this a dang fine album. You might have already read my full review, but if not CLICK HERE.

I'm also very happy I stumbled across Allo Brooklyn, Ici Montmartre a five-song EP from 2006 by Tony Truant & The Fleshtones. Mr. Truant is a Frenchman, formerly with a band called The Dogs, who had a track on last year's Fleshtones tribute album, Vindicated! (which I need to find.) He fits right in with Peter and Keith and the boys. There's a cover of The Fleshtones' "The Girl From Baltimore" and a French version of Dylan's “If You Gotta Go, Go Now." I don't understand the words, but I understand this music.

* Two Headed Cow by The Flat Duo Jets A decade before the world heard of The White Stripes or The Black Keys, there was a loud, rowdy, blues-screamin’ duo from North Carolina called the Flat Duo Jets. With Dexter Romweber on guitar and vocals and Chris “Crow” Smith on drums, FDJ stripped rock ’n’ roll down to its basics. This CD is a companion to a recent documentary of the same name. It’s a live show from 1986, but it sounds like it could have been made in 1956 or last week. (And yes, if you have the feeling you've read this before, I reviewed this in the same recent Terrell's Tune-up where I reviewed The Fleshtones. CLICK HERE.)

* RIP by Rocket From the Crypt. Remember the "San Diego Sound"? I don't either. But for about 14 minutes back in the mid '90s, when "The Next Seattle" became the late 20th Century version of "The New Dylan," some civic boosters were pushing Tijuana's neighbor to the north for that dubious honor. Their best argument was Rocket From the Crypt.

Alas, RFTC is no more. They broke up on Halloween 2005 immediately following one last gig in their hometown. Fortunately they recorded the show and finally (in fact just last week) they released it in the form of this album.

The music is timeless and unrelenting rock 'n' roll and, as far as I'm concerned, sounds better than any of the studio stuff I've heard from RFTC.

PLUS

* Smithsonian Folkways Sampler: A Sound Legacy--60 Years of Folkways Records and 20 Years of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings . This is a far-flung collection of blues singers. calypso bands, Woody & Leadbelly, world field recordings, Watergate criminals and, yes, tree frogs. And it was FREE!

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