Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Desert Island Discs (#3 in a series)

Lou Reed/John Cale - Songs for Drella (Sire 1990)
I suppose that, due to my persistent perversity, it would make sense that this is my favorite solo Lou record, and might yet be (depends on the day/week/year) my most beloved Reed/Cale collab. Yes, I know - "How can you"/"What an idiot"/"Velvets Godlike blah blah blah." And yes, I also know that the Velvets, musically speaking, were rather Godlike; to my ears that's unquestionable. But I feel a stronger emotional connection to this, Reed/Cale's first work together post-VU. That's not surprising, at least not to me, because I've always been a huge Warhol freak. (I even lugged all 900-odd pages of The Warhol Diaries around the halls of my high school upon its publication my senior year, and positively absorbed its contents. Bianca! Liza! The art world! I didn't just admire Andy, I wanted his life, down to the minutiae of logging his cabfares.)

What's in many ways the most surprising is the sheer prettiness of much of Drella (as opposed to how well Reed and Cale collaborate, picking up like they never etc.). Moreso than any Velvets record, this sounds like the most egalitarian of Lou and John's work together, very much equal parts, playing to both of their strengths like little either's done before or since. Mostly, Cale gets the slow(er), ambient ones while Reed rocks out, but each complements the other: Reed's surprisingly (there's that word again) atmospheric, sounds-treated-but-not guitar washes backing Cale, Cale's viola slashing away alongside Reed's guitar on the more propulsive tracks, adding acid, bitter and sad. I'm oversimplifying, of course.

Most of Reed's songs are about Andy, whereas most of Cale's are from Andy's voice, Cale standing in for his late friend and - mentor? Exactly what was Andy to Reed and Cale? That's never quite answered, which is fine; not everything need be told/said. There's an economy to both the words and music here which makes the results gleam like a blue diamond, with Reed playing guitar and Cale providing keyboards (both quiet synth chords and jagged piano) and viola. That's it: no drums, no bass, not needed nor missed. A little arty, yes, but so musical, so lyrical - so personal. Nearly every song is its own standout, so there's no need to spotlight specific tracks. Heartbreakingly lovely, this is one of Warhol's finest legacies. Inevitably, he'd hate it, but that's not for him to decide.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Desert Island Discs (#2 in a series)

Mariah Carey - The Remixes (Columbia 2003)
These are the true greatest hits of Mariah: short on the early work, true, but there's not much you need from her first three albums anyway ("Vision of Love," "Make It Happen," and - what else?), and the bulk of her early ballads really dragged those albums down, too. Split into two discs - one of club (read: dance) mixes, one hip-hop - this is how Mariah's best consumed; once she started veering more towards hip-hop (circa "Honey," her real Year 1 A.D.) her music immediately got more interesting, as this proves in spades. This also serves as a de facto best-of for Da Brat, as her best work pretty much always revolved around 16-bar contributions to JD's remixes (cf. "Heartbreaker," "Honey," "Loverboy," "Always Be My Baby"). Most of the club mixes are truly epic ("Heartbreaker/If You Should Ever Be Lonely" is probably Junior Vasquez's crowning achievement, and the Morales-Mariah pairing was always an inspired one), and the hip-hop mixes are such a natural fit it's ridiculous it took her (or more accurately, Tommy Mottola) so long.

Desert Island Discs (#1 in a series)

We'll see how many this series gets to, but I'm mainly shooting for those records I can listen to forever and ever, amen. No rules: doubles count, comps count, hits records count, etc. If it's mostly comps (whether single- or various-artist), don't be surprised.

Various Artists - Filtered; the Best of Filtered Dance (Tommy Boy Silver Label 2001)
Not only is this beat-mixed by Robbie Rivera, it's really as perfect a filtered disco comp as you could ask for: Stardust start, hand off to Van Helden, Joey Negro, the dub of Spiller's "Groovejet," the classic Dluglosch mix of Moloko's "Sing It Back," Bob Sinclair (before he went all Europe-conquering pop), Mousse T's "Horny," Pete Heller... if that doesn't give you a good picture, either you don't care or you're sleeping. Pretty much everything here will still get your ass moving. Ah, these were the days.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Why has the White Stripes' Icky Thump been so underrated? It's only, probably, the rock record of 2007.

Friday, October 19, 2007

David Bowie - "Bring Me the Disco King" (Reality, ISO/Columbia 2003)

Oh my God, how and why have I never heard this fairly brilliant track before now? One of the more elegiac songs in the Bowie catalog, this emotionally naked, gorgeously stripped-down cut is built around an aching Bowie vocal and some lovely piano. It's from an album I'd never really given a first thought, let alone a second (there's the answer to my question), but now I will.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Damn that DJ made my day

Having a shit day - no, week - so I really needed to hear something like this. Thanks, Launchcast.

Monday, October 15, 2007

George Michael - "Hard Day (Shep Pettibone Mix)" (Columbia 1988)

Every damned time I do one of those best __ songs EVAH lists, I seem to forget this, which is easily in my all-time top 20. It's GM's best single, period, and likely the best thing Pettibone ever had a hand in, too. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is the ne plus ultra in hard, dry dance music.


How frigging great would a nine inch nails singles comp be? As good as Reznor's albums are - and I'll go to bat for each and every one of 'em - he mightjustmight be an ever better singles artist. (Plus, a comp could include non-album selections such as "Burn" and "The Perfect Drug," both utterly sublime.)

Friday, October 12, 2007


CMA Awards Show Will Not Spotlight Hall of Fame Inductees, reads the headline at Apparently those running the televised CMA show are more concerned with "hot country" than providing a sense of tradition, history, and heritage - something that country music has traditionally done better than any other genre. This is a disgrace, and a shame - and the CMA should be ashamed. It's appalling.

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