I’ve been listening to a lot of newish music recently, I’m feeling passionately excited by a few things. But before I get into that I’m going to post this rather lovely movie of the grand old gentleman of southern soul, Allen Toussaint, performing Southern Nights last year. The song is of course best known for the shallow bashing it received by Glen Campbell (although I’d image Allen liked the cheque) but the original comes from Toussaint’s 75 classic album of the same name.
Ok and since I’m on a roll, here’s the same man doing a Longhair-ish rolling take of Lipstick Traces, a song he wrote in the early sixties, charted first by Benny Spellman, in a version produced by Toussaint, and later in 1965, produced, as I recall, by H.B. Barnham on Imperial, by The O’Jays in their pre-PIR days.
And one more, an encore from the Allen Toussaint / Elvis Costello tour in 2006 (to promote the sadly patchy River In Reverse), wherein Toussaint takes Elvis’ I Want You and places it squarely in the Mississippi Delta
Jose James – The Dreamer (Brownswood)
I’ve seen this guy compared by the odd reviewer to the likes of Michael Franks and Al Jarreau. Nothing could be further from the truth..it’s a little like the infamous description of Gregory Isaacs in Q some years back as a Maxi Priest soundalike.
Signed to Gilles Peterson’s (often hit and miss) label, the name I’d be happier drawing a tangent from is the late, rather great ,but almost forgotten, Johnny Hartman, albeit a dirtier, more expansive and at times noisier version. Recorded, it seems, almost live, with his band in New York City, The Dreamer is an extraordinarily gritty, haunting, soulful fuck-me-that-makes-me-shiver sort of record in a classic style. You almost find yourself almost waiting for the tragedy to hit. Because it always does…
Carl Craig – Sessions (!K7)
I was pretty reserved about this initially. Not about the contents…well yes maybe..I didn’t need Carl Craig’s career overview as a two CD mixed album. I’ve got many of these tracks on various mixed albums and I wanted just, well, the songs…from beginning to end. Long have I craved a full length digital version of Clear & Present for example, rather than the edited version on the Paperclip People CD (and transferring large chunks of my vinyl to digital is just too much of an overwhelming concept).
And then, lo and behold I discovered the iTunes version of this. Somebody, somewhere is thinking. Someone somewhere has gone beyond the pointless whinging about how downloading is killing music and done the sensible thing. The album, in its CD form retails for about US$18. The digital download, also on Amazon, Emusic (although that seems only to include the unmixed tracks) and Beatport, is about US$9 (or, predictably, gouged, in NZ the CD / MP3 differential is NZ$35 / NZ$25…what the hell is with that?).
The greatest electronic artist of the past 25 years offers a career retrospect, and even with obvious gaps (where the hell is the standalone track of Angola? It's in the mixed version) what else is there to say?
Francoise K – Masterpiece (MOS)
I’m always wanting a mix album to put on, often rather loudly, whilst I do the interesting things in life, like the tax, or working on the endless screeds of paperwork that seem to come my way. Right now, Francois fits the bill quite well. Three discs of electronic sounds all with the trademark dubby (remember, the man virtually invented the modern electronic dub, and was a part of the small group who defined the form of the ‘remix’ as we now know it) techno tinge, the three being in order: big room, contemporary and heritage. One of the truly great producers, disc jockeys, and musical visionaries of the last two decades of the last century (his live in Japan in 91 set with Larry Levan is one amongst many on Deephousepages worth tracking down), much of this simply pulses and tugs the listener along.
The place where King Tubby meets Stockhausen.
Electronic torch ballads from Germany. This one crept up on me. I own a 12” by these guys, The Craze, included here in a live form, from about 2005, which I played to death at the time. A rather reverent homage to late eighties Chicago House, complete with the almost clumsy vocals that were such a trademark or the era, and I’ve always found rather appealing, it points the way for the rest of this utterly charming and disarmingly beautiful deep house long player. There is a kind of purity in a record like this, almost everything is intentionally underplayed, nothing overpowers anything and space is the essential instrument.
Ok that sounds nicely pretentious, that’ll do…