How about some rock star tooth trivia? You'll be hard pressed to find a musician with worse teeth than Shane MacGowan. But, other musicians have suffered when opening their mouths in public, too. What founding member of Buffalo Springfield lost his bid to become a member of The Monkees to Peter Tork because the producers didn't like his teeth? If the picture above wasn't a large enough clue, here's the answer: Stephen Stills. It's true, so file that nugget away for future reference.

I think things worked out well enough for Stills in the long run. Hopefully, things will work out well for me, too, as I've got an unfortunate appointment with an oral surgeon on Monday. Now I don't have bad teeth, but I do have one in particular that needs to go, due to a deterioration that's been going on for years. And while I'm getting the gas, the doc is also going to yank out a remaining wisdom tooth. So, I doubt I'll be in much of a mood to write about music over the next few days.

In the meantime, here's a sugary sweet pop tune from Mouse & the Traps to give you a surefire cavity. I've written about these guys in the past, so click here for that. For now I'll just restate that I can not get enough of this tune. The organ is simply fabulous, and the song itself has Number One Hit written all over it. How it failed to climb the charts is just beyond me. Anyway, enjoy.

Mouse & the Traps - "Cryin' Inside"

For more on Mouse, see this.


Ever heard of Richard Swift? Me neither. He's not the former frontman of a fading indie rock band. He's not a media-hyped alternaboy on a major label. And he's not some long-lost relic from the Seventies. No, you see, he's Richard Swift. And what he does is write pop songs with an undeniable good-for-the-soul hook. He'll appeal to those who know Ron Sexsmith by heart, but while the two share some similarities, in many ways they're quite different. He'll also be of interest to fans of Josh Rouse and Andrew Bird and Tom Waits and Randy Newman (yes, you heard me right). Matter of fact, I'm going to go so far as to say that if you enjoy lo-fi singer-songwriters like M. Ward or hi-fi singer-songwriters like Harry Nilsson, you will dig Richard Swift.

Why such a dichotomy? Well, because Swift's new album, The Collection Vol. 1, packages together two of his albums, The Novelist (an EP from 2003) and Walking Without Effort (from 2005). And the two albums, while sharing some common DNA, are completely different in skin tone. The Novelist sounds as if it was recorded by Joe Meek in the 1950s. The compressed, small-sound production and elements of old-timey jazz lend the album a pre-War feel, yet Swift's songs are grandiose bedroom lullabies that seem to be always attempting to burst the bubble. The end result places the listener in a time-warp confectionery stacked to the ceiling with pop goodies.

As yummy as that may sound, Walking Without Effort -- a fully realized gem that updates Swift's references from the Twenties to the Seventies -- is where the action is. For modern reference that's about as dead-on as it gets, if you could imagine Ron Sexsmith fronting Josh Rouse's 1972 album ... that's Walking Without Effort. Others might simply declare Swift a Jakob Dylan clone, but if you listen closely, I think you'll find such language foolish. But hey, you decide for yourself. Here's an offering from Walking Without Effort, followed by a selection from The Novelist.

Richard Swift - "Beautifulheart"

Richard Swift - "Lady Day"

Once again, props are due to Secretly Canadian, who continue to turn up interesting acts as if they're growing them by planting magic beans in potted soil at their laboratory in Bloomington, Indiana. If these two songs didn't sell ya, don't worry. No two Swift songs are really alike. And luckily for you, you can hear more of his songs at his home on the web. You can also catch him on tour right now (playing tomorrow night in Atlanta with The Poises before doing some dates with Earlimart).


The pairing of southwestern Americana band Calexico with indie folk darling Iron and Wine is a no-brainer, so it comes as no surprise that the resulting seven-song EP In the Reins is receiving favorable press. The songs were written by Sam Beam, and hence they remain familiar to fans of Iron and Wine. Calexico is essentially here to give Beam's songs some spice -- to toss a few cattle skulls in front of the barbed-wire fence. So, on "Burn That Broken Bed" -- the longest song on the album at a shade over five minutes -- we get a warm bass line, a windy atmosphere provided by the electric guitar, and a lone, effects-drenched trumpet. Of particular interest is the album's opener, "He Lays in the Reins," which briefly blends Tuscon-based flamenco singer Salvador Duran's voice into the sonic mix. The bold move -- consider Duran's operatic voice in stark contrast to the gentle upper register meanderings of Beam -- actually works, giving the song further south of the border flavor and a touch of dark bravado otherwise missing.

But even with the unique embellishment, "He Lays in the Reins" still sounds like a dolled up Iron and Wine song. Only two songs here truly sound like a successful fusion of two artists. The first is "A History of Lovers," which sways to a fairly uptempo beat, features a full horn section, and sorta rocks in a country & western sense that's unlike Beam's own work. The second is the backwoods bluesy stomp of "Red Dust," which one could fairly call a tad funky. While the rest of In the Reins is memorable, I would have preferred that Calexico had an even heavier hand as heard on these two songs. If Sam Beam is going to open his music up to interpretation, why not go for broke?

Calexico with Iron and Wine - "He Lays in the Reins"

Visit Sam Beam and Calexico, or see October tour dates for the pair here.


What separates Devendra Banhart from the pack isn't his modern hippie chic or his wacky Marc Bolan-esque voice. It's his songs, stupid. Devendra Banhart's songcraft is remarkable by any decade's standards, and he slips effortlessly from middle-eastern psych-folk to adult-AM folk to harmless, boy-meets-girl ballads to Spanish-sung ethnic folk to mystical freak-folk to trippy, happy folk-rock. He's a chameleon by design, and the fact that he's so capable of adapting to disparate musical environments is what makes his music so entertaining. Sure, he's enlightening, too -- "deep" at times and silly at others. But he's simply got -- pardon the phrase -- bigger balls than most anyone else, present or past, in the category of folk music.

If the media coverage of Devendra or his "movement" has soured you on him, please attempt to wipe your hard-drive clean and erase any perceptions. In doing so, you might just find his new record entirely approachable. On Cripple Crow, he plays up his playful self more frequently, and the results are an accessible album that's full of subtle depth. That depth comes from a slightly fuller sound, compliments of the collective of musicians that Banhart surrounded himself with while recording in Woodstock. I think time will prove this record to be his best, so far. It's certainly his longest, for better and worse.

I couldn't choose just one tune to represent a 22-song album, so here's a couple that showcase Banhart's ever-expanding sound. The first, "Canela," is a pretty piano ballad. The second, "Long Haired Child," is the most rockin' song Banhart has recorded to date, complete with -- ohmygosh -- lead guitar!

Devendra Banhart - "Canela"

Devendra Banhart - "Long Haired Child"

Neither of these songs are truly representative of Cripple Crow as a whole, so if you're a newcomer to Banhart they might not serve as the best introduction. To see Devendra get his T. Rex on in person, check out the video for "I Feel Just Like a Child," also from this record.


And we wrap up our tour of the Love, Peace & Poetry series with the British volume. My gut told me that the British volume would be weak because there's already so much material available on the second Nuggets box. But it's actually fairly solid (if a bit more mellow), which is a testament to how much good garage rock was released in Britain that we just don't know much about.

We start with the song "Comets" by Pussy. Released in 1969 on their album Pussy Plays, "Comets" is an instrumental freakfest full of fucked-up theremin and what sounds like a sample of a cow mooing. It's quite easy to see why this one was forgotten over time, as there's nothing memorable about the tune in a pop sense. However, it's a good example of just how far some bands of that era were willing to push the envelope. Pussy feels right at home alongside Red Crayola and Can.

Red Dirt's "Memories" is like the second coming of The Beatles by comparison. The group's self-titled 1970 record was originally released on Fontana, but apparently fell into the void of the unknown shortly thereafter. It's a mellow slice of psychedelia which reminds me of Pearls Before Swine jamming with Richard Thompson. Good stuff!

Pussy - "Comets"

Red Dirt - "Memories"

Pussy's album can be had from Forced Exposure. A few expensive copies of Red Dirt are available over at Gemm.

Note to those of you waiting for me to get back to some modern music: Next week I'll be looking at new releases by Devendra Banhart, Richard Swift, and Iron & Wine with Calexico.


To most fans of '60s garage rock, it's not too strange to discover that there was a rock and roll scene in Brazil forty years ago. Plenty of people are familiar with Os Mutantes, who were not only one of Brazil's most stunning bands, but also one of the world's best (if least known). But I was shocked to learn of the depth of the Brazilian garage rock scene, as evidenced by the Brazilian volume of the Love, Peace and Poetry series. The quality of this volume is second to none in the series, even if it's not quite as diverse as the Asian volume.

I love singer's who stick with their foreign tongue -- especially in psychedelic music. Something about having no idea what they're going on about only adds to the mystery, which in turn strengthens my enjoyment of the music. I suppose it adds an artificial trippyness, if you will. My favorite foreign language is Portuguese (even though I can't speak a lick). Why, I don't specifically know, other than I find the language to be incredibly sensual. So I really find Brazilian psych rock to be the ultimate mindfuck.

Take, for example, Os Brazoes. "Tae Longe De Mim" ("So Far of Me") is an easygoing tune recorded in 1969 that's heavy on percussion, funky rhythm guitar, and a hollow, jug-like bass line. The tune sounds a lot like other Brazilian offerings, blending Tropicalia with rock. But what sets it apart is the warped, lead fuzz guitar, which squeals over the top of the song in periodic bursts. Os Brazoes spent some time as a backing band for other Brazilian songsmiths, including well-known composer Tom Ze and singer Gal Costa.

By contrast, Bango was more of a heavy psych-rock band in the mold of their American and British counterparts of the day (although, I'd say, better than most). On "Inferno No Mundo" ("Hell in the World"), a backward vocal intro quickly gives way to some superb harpsichord work which flavors the biting guitar and bass -- both fuzzed out -- with just enough of a playful streak to make the song tempting to those turned off by the song's rugged shell. These guys are routinely mentioned as the best of Brazilian psych, and the self-titled 1970 album from which this song was plucked is available for purchase on CD nowadays.

Os Brazoes - "Tao Longe De Mim"

Bango - "Inferno No Mundo"

The web was of little assistance in tracking down further info on either of these bands. If you're looking for a good starting point for Brazilian garage and don't want to gamble on this record (you fool!), the best place to start is still the compilation Everything Is Possible: The Best of Os Mutantes on David Byrne's Luaka Bop label.


Today's post is a quickie as our tour of the Love, Peace and Poetry psychedelic rock series continues with the African volume. Easily the series' weakest link -- most likely because the continent offers a smaller sample size of garage rock -- the African volume is bizarre, and truly stretches the definition of "garage rock" past its boundary. Most of the music on this volume -- including today's offering -- comes from South Africa. And a good deal of the South African contributions are by white-skinned British musicians. Or, in the case of Freedoms Children, Scottish musicians.

Freedoms Children were considered to be the best of South Africa's psych rock bands. The following is from their 1969 album Battle Hymn of the Broken-Hearted Horde. (Just listen to the song; it's even weirder than the title of the album.) To quote a nice blurb I found on the world wide web: "[Battle Hymn...] has all the wonderful excesses of early progressive rock; the deep 'meaningful' poetry, spoken words, majestic organ-playing, sound effects, choirs, long guitar solos, etc."

Freedoms Children - "Kafkasque"

For more than you could ever hope to know about these guys -- including more mp3s -- click here.


Today's post finds us in Asia for a look at the Asian volume of the Love, Peace and Poetry series. (See yesterday's post for more background.) The Asian volume is probably my favorite simply because the range of sounds is spectacular: from the "Turkish Jimi Hendrix" (Erkin Koray) to the swinging sounds of sixties Cambodia to Japan's The Mops (easily as bad ass as anything the States had to offer in '68). There's plenty of great stuff to sample here, so I'm going with two songs whose sounds are so far apart that you could park Keith Moon's drum set in-between them.

We start with Justin Heathcliff, who is one of the few artists on this comp to sing in English. Heathcliff was actually prolific recording artist Osamu Kitajima's attempt at striking gold in 1971. Considering Kitajima adopted a British-sounding name for this release, one has to wonder if Heathcliff was hoping to pull the wool over his countrymen's eyes. On this tune, he adopts the sound of trippy California sunshine pop -- or, possibly Donovan -- and creates an incredibly likeable slice of subtle psychedelia. Heathcliff reverted to his real name for future recordings, which saw him veer into ambient, world music, and new age. In a small way, he was sort of like the Japanese version of Brian Eno in that he tried his hand at popular rock music before making his name in unpopular music.

For our second offering, we head to India to meet The Fentones, who released "Simla Beat Theme" on an Indian garage rock compilation in 1971. To quote the liner notes: "Simla was the name of an Indian tobacco company in the 1960s-1970s who wanted to appeal to the youth market [imagine that!] of the time." The company released two "Battle of the Bands" comps of Indian bands merging their traditional music stylings with that of Western garage rock. Not a single sitar or tabla is heard on the album. The Fentones' instrumental contribution is an infectious psychedelic number heavy on trance-inducing rhythm and atonal guitar.

Justin Heathcliff - "You Know What I Mean"

The Fentones - "Simla Beat Theme"

To see what Justin Heathcliff has been up to lately, go here. Next to nothing is available on the web about The Fentones. Tomorrow we're heading to Africa!


I have to thank my former fellow blogger Jon (over at getLevitation) for turning me on to the Love, Peace and Poetry compilation series, which collects psychedelic garage rock circa the late-'60s and early-'70s from around the world. There are eight volumes of the series available on both LP and CD, and you can find them all at Forced Exposure. Turn Me On Dead Man also has a list of the volumes on his site, which is well worth exploring if you dig garage rock. (Check out his online radio show too!)

I've been listening to all eight volumes for the past two months, and I'm so excited about them that I don't even know where to begin. As you'll find out as I hop continents for the rest of the week, there was a good deal of garage rock going on around the globe to parallel -- and in some cases, surpass -- the offerings of American and British bands so painstakingly detailed in the Nuggets series. I was planning to do an in-depth review of each volume, but that proved to be too time consuming. Plus, there isn't much information available concerning a lot of these bands, as their records were incredibly rare even in their day. But, I do want to spend this week highlighting an interesting song or two from five of the volumes.

We'll start with the Mexican volume. The only band among the 17 that are featured here that I was already familiar with was Dug Dug's, whom I stumbled upon in April. Even more impressive, to some degree, is Kaleidoscope, who are represented here by the song "Hang Out" from their 1969 self-titled album (which was originally pressed to only 200 copies). Like a brilliant blend of The Sonics with The Music Machine, Kaleidoscope's R&B-infused garage rock makes use of a potent farfisa riff (doubled up on kazoo!). Unlike most of the remainder of the Mexican volume, this particular song is sung in English.

Kaleidoscope - "Hang Out"

Kaleidoscope's self-titled album was reissued a few years ago in a limited pressing (surprise!) and can still be had for a good price on both CD and LP if you know where to look. For a bit more info on the band (who shouldn't be confused with their British contemporary), see Richie Unterberger's review at Allmusic. Tomorrow were heading to the largest continent on planet Earth...


It might not have been the most eloquent of speeches, but the message was dead-on. And for saying it on national TV, I say:

It's been a long couple weeks for me. (And believe me, in light of recent events, I say that with a sense of perspective that plants my tongue in my cheek.) I've gone under the knife in a minor surgery, suffered through major tooth pain (both unrelated oddly enough), and like a majority of this country, I'm still struggling to process all of the disturbing images that I can't seem to stop watching on the television. Throwing cash at the problem just doesn't do much for me, even though I've already made a donation. I need a break, and I'm taking today off. I leave you with one of the best anti-government songs of recent note.

The Gris Gris - "Necessary Separation"

Visit Gris Gris on the web here. Watch the video clip of Kayne West here.


The fact that I've seen Unbunny perform twice in the past three years puts me in exclusive company with: 1) those who have been struck by lightning on more than one occasion; 2) those still alive that witnessed the Cubs win a World Series (in person); 3) those who didn't say "Aaaah" (at least to him or herself) several times while watching March of the Penguins; and 4) Unbunny groupies (some say they exist!). The entire two years or so that singer-songwriter Jarid del Deo -- he that is Unbunny -- lived in Champaign-Urbana, he played the grand total of two shows within city limits. And I was at one of them.

Then, Jarid moved away to New England for a couple years before swinging back through Champaign-Urbana a few weeks ago en route to Seattle, where he now resides (again). On his way through town, he stopped for an in-store appearance at Parasol Mail Order, which also houses Parasol Records and its subsidiary, Hidden Agenda, who had the honor of releasing Unbunny's last album. Snow Tires, released in 2004, ranked No. 28 on my Top 30 Records of '04. Looking back, I placed the album a bit too low on the list. Since 2004 ended, I haven't listened much to The Sadies, the Drive-By Truckers, The Soft Pink Truth, or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- all records that I ranked higher at the time. So, if I could turn back time I would scoot Unbunny up a few notches as it really has had more staying power than some of its peers on that list.

Seeing Jarid a second time "in concert" only affirmed my belief that he's one of the best unheralded singer-songwriters in an army of thousands. Here's what I said about him in my review of Jarid's break-up record, Snow Tires: "Albums borne out of a cathartic need to create can either be stimulating or suffocating for the listener. In this case, Jarid del Deo ... has struck a tiny nerve that's inside us all. It's one that we prefer to pretend is nonexistent but can't help but agitate from time to time when we revisit photos tucked away in shoe boxes or mix tapes long since forgotten. He makes toying with that nerve a point of curiosity that doesn't quite kill the kitten. And with that success, Snow Tires picks up where Elliott Smith left off."

It's no lie. And if you happen to be lucky enough to be able see him do his thing live -- don't miss out! He may sound like a bummer on this album -- Is it possible to sound cheery on a break-up record? -- but in the flesh he's anything but. Check out the following tune, and purchase the record at Parasol Mail Order for the bargain price of $10. (His previous record, Black Strawberries, is also quite good!)

Unbunny - "Casserole"

Unbunny lives at this address on the web.


Even Arab Strap feels like a pick-me-up after being consumed by coverage of Hurricane Katrina for the past week-plus. I can't remember if I purchased Arab Strap's debut, The Week Never Starts Round Here, direct from Che Mailorder in England, or from Other Music. Either way, I bought it shortly after it came out, as an import on the Chemikal Underground label. (Matador then re-released the album about a year later in 1998.) I bought this disc after being taken by a one-sentence blurb in the mailorder list. How may times have you purchased a record with a similar lack of knowledge and shot yourself in the foot? I know the count is high for me. But this time it worked out.

Arab Strap sounded like nothing else in my record collection at the time. I've heard them described as "post-folk," which doesn't mean much to me. Instead, I'd describe their older music as pub rock for obnoxious barstool philosophers (which also needs some explanation). Their music is the kind of "rock" that a pair of disgruntled dudes would make together after a long night of drinking. Sure, it's "folk-ish," but only in a warped sense. Multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Middleton is essentially a bedroom songwriter. He uses whatever is at hand -- drum machines, acoustic and electric guitar, violin, and organ -- to create the often creepy, somber sounds that encase Aidan Moffett's tales of debauchery, drugs, and regret. But Moffett's off-kilter spoken delivery and blunt tales are really the group's drawing card. If it sounds like he's drunk, pissed, and depressed all at once, it's likely because he is.

But to pigeonhole these guys as a screwy novelty act is to make one huge mistake. After witnessing them live, it's easy to see that there really is a good deal of musicianship and songwriting (as well as effects pedals) to be had if one looks beyond the group's lazy, slobbish appearance. See "Deeper" for example, an awkward tale of young romance set to a Slint-like sonic landscape. Meanwhile, "I Work in a Saloon" is downright cheery by comparison. Utilizing a simple high-hat driven drum beat and a folky acoustic guitar accompaniment, the song weaves the tale of a bartender working in a room "full of conquests". That sort of cocky, macho character is present in most of Moffett's songs. I've often wondered if there's anyone Moffett hasn't slept with where he lives; if so, she must be the only truly happy person left on Earth.

"Driving" reminds me of classic Richard Thompson in regards to Middleton's guitar work, and possibly it's Thompson's grasp of a drunkard's vulnerability that truly informs Moffett's writing. Except, instead of one source of grief (Linda Thompson), Moffett finds inspiration everywhere he looks.

I'm tempted to go with the big "hit" from this record, the Trainspotting-esque "The First Big Weekend," but I think I'll leave that for you to discover on your own. Instead, here's "The Clearing," a rather unique song for the album, one that seems a bridge to the band's latter work. And, as a bonus, here's a brilliant song from their 1997 Chemikal Underground EP, The Girls of Summer. Together, these should give you a good idea of where these guys came from.

Arab Strap - "The Clearing"

Arab Strap - "Hey! Fever"

Visit them on the web. If you have no fucking clue what he was singing about, click here for help.


The LSD-fueled counter-culture movement in Haight-Ashbury had record executives scrambling to find new source material in the late-'60s. Once it was apparent that the San Fran and L.A. scenes were tapped, the industry turned its eye to the East Coast. MGM's bright idea was to sell a nation of eager buyers on a new hippie music scene -- the "Bosstown" scene -- in Boston. Problem was, Boston didn't really have a counter-culture music scene at the time -- at least not one of note. But that didn't stop the record label from taking out ads in mags around the country to push the "Bosstown Sound". Meanwhile, Bostonians themselves scratched their heads. The rest of the record-buying public had the same reaction, and the MGM-fronted Bosstown Sound -- which included the bands Beacon Street Union, Orpheus, Tangerine Zoo, Phluph, Earth Opera, and Ultimate Spinach (I'm not making this up!) -- was a total failure.

Today's subject is Beacon Street Union, who were signed to MGM in 1967 by Wes Farrell, he of Partridge Family fame. Their debut, The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union, was released in March of 1968 and was promptly ripped in just about every music publication in the country. It was the first of many pin pricks that would soon pop the Bosstown bubble.

I can see why the press ripped it; the album is confused, disjointed, and full of a lot of cut-rate psych-rock that does little (if anything) to differentiate itself from West coast bands of the day. And Beacon Street Union was obviously suffering from a bit of heavy-handed production courtesy of Farrell. Case in point, their cover of Chuck Berry's "Beautiful Delilah," which is a complete rip off of The Kinks' 1964 version, right down to Ray Davies' nasally whine. And that's not the only mind-boggling cover selection: the band also tackles Sonnie Terry and Brownie McGhee's blues standard "Sportin' Life" in a straightforward, lounge-y fashion. Hearing those two songs back-to-back, smack in the middle of standard fare psych rock is a bit disorienting.

However, I'm glad I stumbled upon this record at my friend's garage sale for a few reasons. "Sadie Said No" is a Remains-influenced garage rock number that wins despite some weak production. And "Speed Kills" -- originally released as the B-side to the group's debut single -- is a pretty cool, Kinks-inspired pop song. But the most important reason that I'm glad to have found this record: I didn't know squat about the Bosstown Sound experiment prior to researching Beacon Street Union -- and knowing is half the battle.

Beacon Street Union - "Sadie Said No"

Beacon Street Union - "Speed Kills"

For more on these dudes, see this. And for more on the Bosstown Sound, go here.


First Fats Domino, who was rescued from the submerged 9th District of New Orleans, and now this:

Family and friends of musician Alex Chilton (lead singer for 1970s power-pop band Big Star and 1960s rock group the Box Tops) have not been able to locate him since late Monday when he was last heard from alive at his house in New Orleans after the initial storm before the phones in the area went down. His sister in Memphis and friends are very worried because people are now dying in New Orleans from exposure and he has still not been able to get to a place to contact his family and friends. It is believed he may possibly be waiting to be evacuated in the French Quarter, which was within walking distance of his home.

Taken from the NOLA blog.



...ya gotta move.

Sad news today, as if we needed any more. Modern Delta blues legend R.L. Burnside passed away in a Memphis hospital this morning at the age of 78. If not for the work of dedicated folklorist George Mitchell in the late-'60s, and the Fat Possum record label in the '90s, R.L. Burnside's music might have been forever lost. As the following song will attest, he was truly a unique, gifted vocalist and guitarist. (Yes, this is the song that was written by Mississippi Fred McDowell and covered by The Rolling Stones on Sticky Fingers. But R.L. possesses the song in a way that Mick Jagger could only dream of, probably in no small part because it was McDowell himself who taught Burnside the blues.)

R.L. Burnside - "You Gotta Move"

R.L. is often seen as a curiosity even to dedicated blues fans because of his connection with indie rock and specifically the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I remember scratching my head as I attempted to assign his 2000 album, Wish I was in Heaven Sitting Down, to the resident blues reviewer at the weekly paper. I was told that he just "didn't get Burnside and wasn't that interested in southern blues." I still can't comprehend that statement.

I was lucky to see R.L. on tour in 1999 with his nephew (I believe) Cedric Burnside on drums. The old man sat down on a chair, sipped his drink, and delivered a long set with the power and certainty of a sack of bricks to the face. Witnessing him live at 70+ years was truly like having a window open to a world of long ago. I wonder if folks get the same impression when they see B.B. King nowadays?

R.L. is survived by his wife Alice Mae, 12 children, and numerous grandchildren. If you're interested in making a donation to his family, see the Fat Possum web site.

On a somewhat related note, thank goodness that it was just announced that Fats Domino, who lived in the flooded 9th District of New Orleans, is now safe and sound. His manager had feared the worst after Fats decided to ride the storm out.


I'm late to the James Chance fan club. As far as no wave artists are concerned, James Chance & the Contortions -- who also went by James White & the Blacks -- had the NYC scene by the balls in 1979. His hybrid of James Brown, John Zorn, Pere Ubu, and free-jazz skronk was truly a thing to behold. Chance's stylings predate Jon Spencer's similar schtick, and hence should make James Chance & the Contortions of interest to fans of the Blues Explosion.

Continuing with the theme of records that I snagged at the garage sale, I picked up The Contortions debut Buy in its original pressing on the ZE Records label. It's heads and tales better than the Contortions live album, Lost Chance, that I picked up last year. You can hardly tell a difference in Chance's delivery from record to live setting; he's an uncontrollable urge in each case. But, I prefer the more song-oriented Buy to the less-structured live recording. It's definitely recommended listening for anyone into modern bands like The Watchers, Erase Errata, the Ex Models, and the like.

James Chance & the Contortions - "Contort Yourself"

For a more general overview of the no wave scene circa 1980, click here. For a compilation from ZE Records from the era, see this. The "definitive" no-wave comp (produced by Brian Eno), No New York, can still be found, too. ZE has also reissued Buy on CD.