Good To My Earhole, February 14-24: “Don’t You Hate It When….”

Highlights of my last ten days’ worth of listenin’, rated on an analytically shaky 10-point scale. Doin’ the diggin’ so you don’t haveta….

Various Artists: BOSNIA–ECHOES FROM AN ENDANGERED WORLD – 10 – Don’t you hate it when you buy a world music album highlighting a country that you think has pretty homogeneous traditional music, then you’re forced to eat a LOT of crow? Especially when you’re confronted with amazing vocalized ritual repetition that would make Roscoe Mitchell pull NONAAH from circulation?

Booker Irvin: THE TEX BOOK – 9 – Don’t you hate it when you think your favorite living jazz musician (see above) is unfairly characterized as less than subtle, then a record by your favorite deceased (and rowdily subtle) Texas tenor forces you to eat a little crow?

De Nazaten and James Carter: FOR NOW – 8.7 – Don’t you hate it when you think dark thoughts about your favorite living jazzman’s imagination, and you discover he’s teamed up on the sly with a strange Netherlands world-jazz outfit that, on its website, brags of being “[p]urveyors of Bastard music”? And poses for the cover photo with a sweet ol’ lady?

River City Tan Lines: ALL THE 7 INCHES PLUS 2 MORE – 9 – Don’t you hate it when you love totally raving Memphis rock and roll and you realize you totally missed out on a great band 10 years ago, when you thought you were totally paying attention, and were visiting twice a year?

I BELIEVE I’M GONNA MAKE IT–THE BEST OF JOE TEX – 9.8 – Don’t you hate it when a reissue label has a chance to assemble an A+ compilation on the world’s most underrated soul singer of the classic era, and they forget songs like “You Said a Bad Word,” “Heep See, Few Know,” “If Sugar Was Sweet As You,” “Bad Feet,” and “We Can’t Sit Down” (I could go on, and more would fit onto this CD)?

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Good to My Earhole, February 5 – February 14:Walking the Negro Streets at Dawn

Highlights of my last week’s listenin’, in the truck cab and elsewhere, rated on a spin-the-bottle 10-point scale (w/a special touch). Also, I am deliberately diggin’ out dustbin doozies; please recall the Roger Price maxim, “If everyone doesn’t want it, nobody gets it!”:

ARE YOU FROM DIXIE: GREAT COUNTRY BROTHER TEAMS OF THE 1930S – 15 – Having trouble finding your way into old-timey music, seekers? Do it like I accidentally did 28 years ago, and dig up this can’t-stop-won’t-stop RCA comp. Across a single disc, the choices meet Harry Smith’s ANTHOLOGY even-up: you jake-walk on bad whiskey, chuckle along with your salty dog, get a line and go fer crawdads, stomp away an intoxicated rat, shoulder a nine-pound hammer, try to get your baby out of jail, and cozy up to someone ELSE from Dixie. It’s magic. Also: it needs a reissue. Extra bait: the Monroe Brothers, playing at punk tempos, inventing bluegrass as they go.

Catheters/STATIC DELUSIONS AND STONE-STILL DAYS – 9 – Best Stooges album since RAW POWER, not sure it’s been topped since its ’02 release, probably because these kids weren’t trying. Critically, only Greil Marcus gave a shit, and he was correct.

Julius Hemphill/JULIUS HEMPHILL PLAYS THE MUSIC OF ALLEN LOWE – 8.8 – I have sung the praises of Allen Lowe here multiple times, and if I ain’t convinced you yet, let the long-gone-but-not-forgotten sax master and arranging ace Mr. Hemphill do the honors. The record saunters through more rhythmic moves than has a cat on an easy chair (stole that from Roy Blount, Jr.), and closes up shop with the funky, greasy “Sleepless,” which justifies its title. (Note: there’s no tracks available via YouTube, so enjoy Hemphill’s amazing DOGON A. D. as a teaser. AND: grab the release from Bandcamp here, cheap!)

Mudboy and the Neutrons/NEGRO STREETS AT DAWN – 8.7 – Few but the likes of ‪#‎JimDickinson‬ (“The Pope of ‪#‎Memphis‬ Music”) could get away with the title reference/conceit, because he could put together the players. Chuck Berry-nugget opener, Sid Selvidge-crooned Southern stroke, surrender to capitalism loaded with subversive sermon lead off–sometimes I think they coulda topped ZZ Top if they’d cared.

Shaver/TRAMP ON YOUR STREET – 8.5 – Natural-born honky-tonk chronicler with hot-shit guitarist son as sidekick–some might call it schtick, but it’s by-God real. “Old Chunk of Coal,” “The Hottest Thing In Town,” and “Georgia on a Fast Train” are already playing a floor below Leonard Cohen’s in The Tower of Song. And closer to the ground floor is better.

Sun Ra/LANQUIDITY – 9 – Already in possession of 20+ “Sun One” records, I thought I’d heard all I needed. This late ’70s release almost goes disco–almost–without compromising the vision that kept a team of jazz aces together through five decades. Blaxploitation music with a more exalted vision–I dunno: YOU listen and YOU describe it. You will be better for it, whatever the outcome.

Good to My Earhole, January 30-February 4: Life’s Too Short

HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS WEEK’S LISTENING, RANKED ON A 10-POINT SCALE TO WHICH ‪#‎GreilMarcus‬ MIGHT OBJECT IF HE LISTENED TO JAZZ:

HAPPY #MARDIGRAS SEASON, MUSIC LOVERS!

A message from #ProfessorLonghair–watch those fingers when they hit the keys!

Now–on to the featured selections:

Rahsaan Roland Kirk/THE INFLATED TEAR – 8.8 – The album title refers to his tragic childhood sight-loss. The tunes might be today’s soundtrack–the man could always speak clearly and directly, without words.

Jason Moran/BLACK STARS – 10 – Perfect ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬ entry: best jazz album issued this millennium on a major label (did I stutter?), what with Byardesque young turk Moran spreading modes of joy via sprightly keyboard runs and then-78-year-old-now-passed-on Sam Rivers running hot and lyrical by his side on tenor, soprano, and flute (and even piano). Sam, you are missed on this turf. Jason…you’re due.

Odean Pope/ODEAN’S LIST – 9 – Many years have passed since I last heard Philly’s answer to Chicago’s Von Freeman (in the “eccentric soul” tenor sax sweepstakes). Careless on my part. 71 at the time, he surrounded himself on this session with some relatively young studs (Stafford, Watts, Blanding–and a guy named ‪#‎JamesCarter‬ on three rowdy tracks) and knocked out robust takes on nine originals and a standard. Each record like this makes me feel more guilty about my laziness in keeping up with the old guard–jazz is a different elder’s game, and records like this are great motivation for waking up tomorrow with a mission.

Benny Spellman/FORTUNE TELLER – 8.3 – Bought it knowing who’d be on the sessions, and guessing more joy awaited beyond “Fortune Teller” and “Lipstick Traces.” For the benighted, Spellman’s the deep voice who intones the title line of Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-In-Law.” There’s some filler, but there’s also “Life is Too Short” (Oaktown, can you hear him?), “The Word Game” (doesn’t QUITE beat “The Name Game”), and “10-4 Calling All Cars” (a weird song to sing from the heart of ‪#‎NOLA‬).

Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys/LET’S PLAY, BOYS – 9 – Junior Barnard and Tommy Duncan missing, dumb title, haven’t we heard enough ’40s swing transcriptions? NO. The band’s sprightlier than on the Tiffanys (I had difficulty typing that), and with three Wills brothers in tow and a Shamblin/Moore/Remington attack on electrified strings, it’s just marginally different enough for the Western swing fan to HAVE TO order it from the Oklahoma Historical Society. Plus, the eternally underrated “LX” Breshears on swinging trumpet.

CAVEAT EMPTOR!

DUD ALERT (5.0 at best): Robbie Fulks & The Mekons’ JURA and The I Don’t Cares’ (Paul Westerberg w/Juliana Hatfield in very intermittent geisha mode) WILD (make that MILD) STAB (exactly what it is).