Monday, November 30, 2009

Single of the Week - Rufus Thomas

I love these funk 45's that have Part 1 and Part 2, where Part 2 is just them continuing to jam. Fill those grooves up with the funk, y'all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holy Shit Music

N.A.S.A. with Kool Keith and Tom Waits:

Blakroc (the Black Keys collaborating with Ludacris and a couple old verses from ODB.

Making of webisodes here.

The Heliocentrics with Percee P and MF Doom:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Single of the Week - The Mark IV

The Mark IV - I Got a Wife
The Mark IV - Ah-Ooh-Ga

Somehow, I picture "I Got a Wife" as being sung by a chorus of Fred and Barney's buddy's from the Water Buffalo Lodge. "Ah-Ooh-Ga," despite the brilliant title, is not that good. It seems to be a spoof of rock-n-roll written and arranged by people that had barely listened to the stuff.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Songs of the Season, Part 18

This song really feels like Autumn to me. I can't listen to that opening piano bit without thinking of leaves blowing down the street, red and gold flickers against a dull grey sky. Walking down the road, the edges of your trenchcoat being blown in front of you like that Donnie Darko thing to point the way. It's got that kind of melancholy, that sadness that feels good, of a year winding down.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Single of the Week - The Gentrys

The Gentrys - I Need Love
The Gentrys - Why Should I Cry?

As soon as I saw the Sun label, I got excited, expecting some kind of cool rockabilly or gospel or other American roots music. Nope, the A-side is a light pop song called "Why Should I Cry," sounds exactly like a song I often hear on the Good Times and Great Oldies station, but don't know the name of. Even weirder, the B is this crazy, obnoxious heavy rock track with guitars and organs all in the red.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Drag Me To Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)

One sub-genre of horror film that I've never really cared for is what might be called Catholic Horror: films like The Exorcist, The Omen, The Prophecy, Stigmata, End of Days. OK, that's a pretty diverse group in quality, and obviously I think The Exorcist (the only one I actually like) is a lot better than End of Days, but somehow I could never really get into these movies. I've never really been sure why, but I think Raimi's film Drag Me To Hell has clarified things for me. See, these movies are all totally wrong about what's scary in Catholic mythology. The Exorcist seems to think Satan is the scariest thing in Christianity, but he's not. There's not a single story in the Bible, or the sort of informal folklore around it, where Satan kills or harms someone. Sure, he can tempt you, but it's not like most people need much help in that department. The Omen thinks it's the Antichrist. Well, the idea of Armageddon did used to freak me out, but that's really not the heart of things. What's scary in Christian mythology is Hell. (Another way to say that would be that what's scary is God.)

Hell is worse than death. Infinitely worse. It's infinite pain and torment for eternity. It's the most sadistic human urges given life through our imagination. Not only is it eternal, it's irrevocable. No matter how truly repentent you become in Hell, your judgement is final. And God will throw your ass in there for the most petty offenses: masturbation, homosexuality, not going to church, disrespecting your parents, or just failure to believe in Him when He's given you no evidence of His existence (that's the one that freaked me out the most, which is kinda funny--I believed in God enough to believe I could go to Hell for not believing in him, but not enough to believe that I was safe!). Anyone who was brought up Christian knows this fear, and it doesn't matter how liberal your church was. I was brought up in about as liberal a Catholic household as one could imagine, and the priests at St. Martin DePores were not given to fire and brimstone sermons, and I certainly never had the sort of Sunday School lecture that Stephen gets in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but the idea was sure gotten across. This may be the dirty secret of most atheists--we didn't stop believing in God because it was illogical, but because the stress of believing in Hell would drive you insane otherwise (and if you look at the people who do believe in it, you see that born out).
So it's kind of amazing to think that Drag Me to Hell is the first horror movie I can think of that harnesses that fear. Not fear of the Devil, but fear of Hell. Raimi lets God off the hook with the whole Lamia storyline, but that's fine with me. The point is that Hell is fucking scary. Even scarier than being face-gummed by an old gypsy woman. And the fact that the heroine incurred that fate for basically being the same kind of shitty person that we all are, at least sometimes, gives even more weight to the Christian guilt complex the horror rides on.

Single of the Week: Meco

Meco - Star Wars Theme/Cantina Song
Meco - Funk

When people ask me about the first album I ever owned, I'm never really sure about the answer. The Star Wars soundtrack was the first, but my dad just bought that home. The first album I actually picked out in the store was Meco's Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, aka the disco version of Star Wars. This was actually much cooler than the real Star Wars soundtrack, because it had all these cool sound effects from the movie mixed in. I liked it so much that I bought the follow-up, Encounters of Every Kind, which is like a disco concept album about traveling through time, from the dinosaurs to ancient Rome to...I actually can't remember what else, except that it climaxes in a disco-ized version of (of course) the theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I'd love to hear this album again. Anyone have a copy?

Anyway, the cool record store across the street from me just went out of business, so I bought a big pile of singles for 50 cents a pop, a good enough reason to revive this weekly feature. And one of them was the single version of Meco's Star Wars theme, probably a better bit of music than the half-an-album-length version I had when I was a kid. The b-side, called "Funk" on the single and "Other Galactic Funk" on the album, is pretty odd: basically a disco-ized marching band. At the time, I didn't know anything about New Orleans second lines, or the southern tradition of drumlines, so it seemed even more unlikely. The album version stretches out for something like 15 minutes, and is pretty boring, but this shortened version isn't much better.

By the way, I love the cover to the album. Clearly, they couldn't get the rights to any images remotely associated with Star Wars, to you get this cheesy retro-Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers thing, which is so awesome!