As we slowly crawl towards my favorite season, I’m finishing up a summer of disciplined listening characterized by creating specific musical homework assignments for myself. Most of these assignments have been attempts to force myself into confronting some of the foolish assumptions that I’ve made about music throughout my youth, and have since carried into my adulthood. Basically, I’m trying to unlearn some dumb prejudices that crept into my thinking way back in the 90s when I was more than a little concerned with how punk everything was.
Case in point: I’ve always assumed that reggae was ridiculous, and there simply couldn’t be any “serious music” in the genre. So, I decided to read about and listen to as much reggae as I possibly could, in a journey to find the great albums or at least some stuff that isn’t that lame. As it turns out, it’s mostly the serious stuff that is lame, with the artists that focus on hooks, a reverence for American soul, and fun tending to be much more enjoyable than those with that pesky “message” vibe. Especially when their message is “smoke weed” or something about Ethiopia that doesn’t seem to make sense. Wow, lots of quotation marks so far.
In addition to the reggae/rocksteady/ska stuff, you’ll find my continued obsession with 90s indie-rock on full display (Unrest, Antietam, Beatnik Filmstars) and some great new-to-me 80s British jangly-stuff (Jasmine Minks, Weather Prophets). As we all know, Rhino has always done amazing job of putting together great compilations of under-appreciated genres and bands, and recently I’ve been exploring some great early R&B, doo-wop, and girl group stuff that they’ve collected. The Cadillacs and Chantels are representative of some of that listening.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah: I was lucky enough to see Yo La Tengo again recently, and was completely blown away that they dusted off the Only Ones tune “The Whole of the Law” as their final, near-a cappella encore of the evening. They originally recorded a cover of the song on their album “Painful” over 15 years ago. Both band’s studio versions appear on the mix, both of which are quite gorgeous. Enjoy, and, as always, thanks sooooooo much for reading! (Download Slow, Slow Music’s August 2010 Mix here.)
The paintings used for this month’s cover art and post-banner-thing were done by a man named Aaron Smith. I stumbled upon Aaron’s work a few weeks ago whilst perusing the internet for interesting things and clicking on random stuff. Honestly, I can’t for-the-life-of-me remember what blog or website originally introduced me to his work, but, luckily, he runs his own site with a sampling of his fine work here.
1. Angel I’ll Walk You Home – Unrest
2. Hands Down – Antietam
3. The Whole of the Law – The Only Ones
4. No Man’s Land – Fairport Convention
5. Play Me – Marcia Griffiths
6. I Don’t Know – The Jasmine Minks
7. Gloria – The Cadillacs
8. Bigot Sponger Haircut Policy – Beatnik Filmstars
9. It’s Cold Outside – The Choir
10. Manchmal – Cluster
11. Pull Me Over – Lonely Trailer
12. The Backyard – Miracle Legion
13. Song to the Siren – Tim Buckley
14. I Wear My Slanders – The Gaylads
15. Fire – Arthur Brown
16. Maybe – The Chantels
17. You’re My Ambulance – The Weather Prophets
18. Private Number – Bob & Marcia
19. Covers and Pages – Moviola
20. Cold Heart – The Jasmine Minks
21. Certain Muse – Antietam
22. Black Metallic – Catherine Wheel
23. The Whole of the Law – Yo La Tengo
24. Splat – Bailter Space
25. Big Sister’s Clothes – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
PS: I’m desperately seeking an mp3 of the song “Payday” by the tremendous 90s and 00s Columbus, OH band Moviola. Please let know if you have one that you’d be kind enough to pass along. Thanks again!