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Showing posts from July, 2012

World Upside Down - Jimmy Cliff

from the album Rebirth (2012)

For his first album of new material in seven years, Jimmy Cliff chose to work with producer Tim Armstrong.  This is an interesting choice as Armstrong comes from the worlds of ska and punk
(he is the former lead singer for Rancid) rather than reggae.  The results are outstanding.  The combination of Armstrong's hard edged production with an incredibly tight band provide a backdrop for Jimmy Cliff to let his vocals soar with a vitality not common anywhere, let alone in a 64 year old performer.

Track One is World Upside Down.  The short introduction is uptempo with a nice keyboard hook telling you "hear comes something special", then enters Jimmy Cliff's beautiful voice singing "They say the world is spinning around / I say the world is upside down".  This is ecstasy.  If my goose bumps were any bigger, I'd be a porcupine.

The vocal, keyboard hook, and driving rhythm section make you want to dance to this call for justice and…

The War's Dancing Floor - Karina Buhr

from the album Longe de Onde (2011)

I have been really digging a lot of Brazilian music lately.  A world onto itself, the Brazilian music scene has infused elements of hip-hop, rap, garage, and global dance music to produce splendid results.  But what I find particularly interesting is how effectively 80's music has woven its way into the mix.

The War's Dancing Floor by Karina Buhr is a song that gives me flashbacks to some of my favorite recordings by the Tom Tom Club and Bush Tetras.  It contains that sexy beat and infectious groove that filled New York City clubs thirty years ago.  But when I listen, there is no mistaking that this is a modern song.  Certainly the superb production plays a part.  Still there is something intangible in the vibe that gives it a fresh, exotic feel.

Above all, what I enjoy most in this song is Karina Buhr.  Her voice pulls me in the same way that Deborah Harry's did the first time I heard Sunday Girl.  I like that.

Click Here to check out her…
Red Solo Cup - Toby Keith
Clancy's Tavern (2011)

Along the banks of the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana is a town called Miles City.  At 612 Main Street you will find The Montana Bar.  It is one of my favorite bars on earth.  During the time I spent there, our crew showed up for most happy hours and typically stayed until the bartender turned up the lights.

The girls in Miles City like to drink Crown Royal straight up.  Someone in our group would typically slip one a five dollar bill and ask her to play the jukebox.  The most popular song was I Love This Bar.  That is how I became aware of Toby Keith.

Last month, my lady friend asked if I had ever heard the song Red Solo Cup.  I had not.  When I discovered it was by Toby Keith, I gave it a whirl.  The song is an ode to one of my favorite american pastimes: the keg party.  Filled with fun lyrical imagery and an infectious "sing along with Toby" melody line, you cannot help getting pulled into the chorus:

Red Solo Cup,…
The Bomber - Sly & Robbie
Blackwood Dub (2012)

Who are the five best rhythm sections of all time?  Tough question.  Well here are my five (in no particular order):

   >  Duck Dunn and Al Jackson
   >  Rick Danko and Levon Helm
   >  Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare
   >  Bootsy Collins and Jabo Starks
   >  Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts

So who do you think I missed?  Let me know.  It is likely a long list.

Sly & Robbie give me the chills.  They have left their mark across the landscape of music I dig.  Check out the You Tube videos of them playing with Peter Tosh in his Bush Doctor days.  Also take a hard listen to their performances on Grace Jones' Warm Leatherette or Amp Fiddler's Blackhouse (Paint The White House Black).  They create iconic vibes.

Blackwood Dub is a new record of Jamaican Dub Instrumentals.  Sly & Robbie have surrounded themselves with great musicians whose names grace the liner notes of the finest reggae ever recorded.  When you l…
Baby, Let Me Take You In My Arms - Curtis Salgado
Soul Shot (2012)

To the songwriter, each song is like a child.  It is created, nurtured, socialized, and one day it finds itself fending for survival in a cold, cruel world.  Most songs do not last long once they are out on their own. I mourn these songs.  However, on some rare occasions, a long forgotten song is rediscovered by an artist who breathes new life into it and introduces it to a new audience.  These are occasions to rejoice.

In 1972, Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) was released by The Detroit Emeralds.  It reached #4 on the US R&B charts.  The song had this great funky vibe and sweet vocals that reminds you of Eddie Kendricks or Curtis Mayfield.  Then in 1989, the song was sampled by De La Soul on the song Say No Go from the classic album 3 Feet High And Rising.

Now in 2012, it has been resurrected by Curtis Salgado.  Curtis is an incredible singer who combines Blues, R&B, and Soul seamlessly.  Curtis is most reno…
Midnight In Harlem - Tedeschi Trucks Band
Revelator (2011)

Great music has great tone.  When B.B. King or Eric Clapton play, you can name that guitarist in one note.  This level of craft is the result of a long journey.  First you learn to play, next you learn to listen, and finally you learn to evoke emotions with your instrument.  Some who achieve it have their names written across the sky... others not.

Of all the instruments, the human voice has the greatest ability to touch a listener with its tone.  Late at night, I've sat in dark rooms listening to singers connect with my deepest emotions thru their mastery of tone.  I am in awe of this ability.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band is an ensemble with a mastery of tone.  Every note by every instrument is the result of years of hard work and experimentation.  Yet rather than become "a meal too rich to eat", this group has created a collection of restrained, perfectly balanced music.  You can listen to it over and over again.

Mi…
Big Jet Plane - Angus & Julia Stone
Big Jet Plane - EP (2011)

This is a catchy song with a pop sensibility that I dig.  The opening guitars and orchestration couple rich tones with a steady rhythm, a trait I really enjoy in several Australian bands.  The vocals feature Angus, who I'm always keen on, with Julia providing lush harmonies that help make the melody soar.  Add the bass and drums and you have Angus & Julia at their best.

There isn't much to point your finger at and say "Hey dude, check this out", but there is something infectious about this song that provides a magical staying power.  I've been walking around singing "Gonna take a ride on a big jet plane" for about six months and counting.  More than a few people have asked me "What did you say?", and I reply "Oh, just singing a tune".  That is my polite way of saying "Bugger off jerk-face, I'm happy right now".

The EP has a few versions to choose from…