nate patrin.

June 9, 2008, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Music

Thanx to Leonard Pierce, I got roped into the seven songs occupying your mind meme-deal that’s been pinballing its way through music blog land. Anything to get me posting to this howling void, I s’pose.

Grover Washington, Jr., “Knucklehead”
Grand Theft Auto has not really altered my behavior in any way that would make me any more prone to violence or crime, but it has turned me on to and/or reminded me of a lot of fantastic music; GTA III in particular was really useful in that it alerted me to how great Scientist’s early ’80s stuff was and now he’s basically up there with King Tubby, Prince Jammy and Lee “Scratch” Perry in my list of favorite dub artists. This particular GTA IV soundtrack selection, which I recognized almost immediately as the source of the beat from K-Solo’s “Fugitive,” is one of those things that completely and totally justifies jazz’s dalliance with funk and soul fusion in the early-mid ’70s, all sharp, towering horns and slinky low-end that sounds perfect next to circa ’75 stuff like, say, Parliament’s “Mothership Connection (Star Child)”. Great in any context; even better when you’re ditching a three-star wanted level in a faux-Cadillac.

Clarence Carter, “What Was I Supposed to Do”
A super-smoky, Mooged-all-to-hell downtempo ballad centering around a nightclub flirtation scenario gone wrong. Basically Clarence is upset at some other man flagrantly macking on his lady (asking the color of her lingerie, grabbing her behind, real classy shit) and spends most of the song attempting to justify whatever unspoken-of retaliation he enacted on this scuzzy Romeo. It’s kind of macho and possessive on some hot-tempered super-chivalry business, though he seems to justify his actions against the other man with the notion that he doesn’t want his woman to be “disrespected” — it’s kind of a gender-studies minefield, I suppose. It’s also really, really blunted, with all kinds of super-reverbed guitars and the aforementioned Moogs — there’s at least three different keyboard lines running through this thing, and they all sound like ’70s sci-fi dystopia.

The Go, “Secular Century Man”
These guys should be a whole lot dumber, but they’re not. I described them once, at least in the context of their Jack White-augmented ’99 Sub-Pop debut Whatcha Doin’, as “KISS in MC5 camouflage,” but there really isn’t a whole hell of a lot wrong with really basic, really familiar rock tropes when they hit on so many cylinders just right, stonkingly obvious lyrics (“altered states of consciousness/have changed my brain in permanent ways”) notwithstanding. Nu-garage-psych is pretty hard to screw up, but it’s also pretty hard to make into an earworm, which this chorus does severely. And they don’t seem too prone to smirkiness, which always helps.

Melt-Banana, “We Will Rock You”
Japanese noise-rockers breathe life into Queen’s most tiredest-assed song by turning it into minimalist yet super-noisy subwoofer fodder — the stomp-stomp-clap is replaced with a whole lot of Miami/ghetto-bass low end, and instead of Freddie Mercury running around singing like he’s grabbing his junk you get these really, really chirpy lead vocals that deflate the whole goonish machismo yet still sound really enthusiastic and exciting.

The Whitest Boy Alive, “Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix)”
When Michaelangelo Matos breathlessly asks me “OK, have you heard this” it usually means I’ll wind up with a candidate for single of the year (see also: LeLe’s “Breakfast”), and this fits that scenario. He already covered this song in his version of this meme with the mostly-appropriate phrase “Camaros. Keyboards. Riffs. Yes.” As someone who is far more interested in the place of automobiles in the pop-culture pantheon than anyone without actual ownership of a car should be, I figure this is more Lotus Esprit than Camaro: all straight folded-paper lines, built around maneuverability rather than raw horsepower, and drawing off a stylistic backbone that has aged surprisingly well since the base model’s mid ’70s-late ’80s heyday. Erlend Øye is one of those singers that has a traditionally melodic and rich, warm voice but sounds really, really good pitted against the super-synthetic (see also his appearance on Someone Else’s remix of Röyksopp’s “Remind Me”), and few house producers make the super-synthetic sound warm like Fred Falke, so it’s a win-win.

Joe Bataan, “What Good Is a Castle, Pt. 2”
An amped-up 1975 rework/rewrite of a ballad from his 1970 album Riot! — Pt. 1 is also ballady, but this portion of the song is all high-grade Latin funk with a fantastic electric piano and a vocal melody that somehow manages to sound mournful and lonely even as everything around it is a big uptempo party. The unofficial Pt. 3 instrumental coda after the fake ending is a nice bonus.

Eric B. & Rakim, “Juice (Know the Ledge)”
Always a classic, though after watching the movie from whence it came I was kind of disappointed that things started deviating from NYC-in-92 slice-of-life-gone-wrong drama got into credibility-straining super-melodrama territory. (Director Ernest R. Dickerson would later helm some of my all-time favorite episodes of The Wire, though, so it’s all good.) The line that sticks with me in Rakim’s lyrics: “Somebody’s got to suffer, I just might spare one/And give a brother a fair one”. Dude made sympathy sound badass.


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I know I’m also supposed to pick seven other people to do this, but I get the feeling most of the people I’d choose have already done it.

Comment by natepatrin

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