Midori Takada – Crossing (1983)

April 8, 2018 Leave a comment

A holy grail of Japanese ambient music, the Through The Looking Glass LP was finally released on CD in 2017.

This track is my favourite and finds Japanese composer Midori Takada really channeling her inner Steve Reich.

Pitchfork describe the creation of the LP thus:

… Takada entered the studio by herself to realise this music. Over the course of two days, she put to analog tape all four of the LP’s extended performances as well as laying down the overdubs, producing and mixing the album on her own … Looking Glass is one of the most dazzling works of minimalism. be it from the East or West.

The track “Crossing” builds up layers of overdubs from a single struck cowbell. More cowbell? Yes, please.

Stunning stuff.

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Booker T. and the M.G.’s – Time Is Tight (1969)

April 6, 2018 Leave a comment

Quite simply one of the best records ever made. The tension builds so slowly, the restraint is compelling, the command is complete!

I actually first heard this song as a cover version by The Clash on the superlative 10″ LP “Black Market Clash”,  almost 40 years ago (gulp!). In those days it was so difficult and expensive to find and hear the original versions of songs!

Featuring a staggering bassline; some of the most restrained percussion of all time; a classic, insistent, guitar riff from Steve Cropper, and; Booker T.’s perfectly timed keyboard strikes and washes, this is instrumental music of the highest precision!

Perfect popular music!

The single version then a great live cut!

 

Prince – Baltimore (2015)

April 6, 2018 Leave a comment

This is a worthy companion piece to the beautiful track “Alabama” by John Coltrane posted earlier tonight,

Taken from Prince’s last LP, Hit n Run Phase Two, “Baltimore” might be the best thing he ever wrote. Over a relentlessly catchy pop song, Prince queries the legality and proportionality of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 and the death of Freddie Gary in police custody in Baltimore in 2015.

Just a great video and a wonderful record.

 

John Coltrane – Alabama (1963)

April 6, 2018 Leave a comment

An extraordinary, brooding, spiritual, reflective and poignant piece by John Coltrane.

This track is taken from his Live in Birdland LP and was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing carried out on September 15th 1963 by the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama. Four African American girls were killed.

Despite the title of the album, “Alabama” was recorded in the studio and features a false start that almost makes the piece feel like two songs spliced back to back.

It gets no better than this.

The LP version then an extraordinary live version shown on the Jazz Casual TV programme back in 1963.

Mary Margaret O’Hara – When You Know Why You’re Happy (1988)

April 2, 2018 Leave a comment

Canadian singer songwriter Mary Margaret O’Hara only released one LP: 1988’s wonderful Miss America.

The gestation of this album was troubled to say the least with Virgin Records never being happy with the recording process or the finished result. Remarkably, in a world where every album ever made seems to have been re-issued many times over, Miss America was only once re-issued after its 1988 release and that in the mid 1990s.

This is my favourite track on the LP which sees the occasionally erratic MMO stripping the music back to its very basics – the bass provides a metronomic and understated pulse, the percussion shuffles quietly, and, over the top, the vocals duel with stripped back electric guitar to achieve pop perfection!

The original from the LP then a great live version from the telly.

Zazou/Bikaye/CY 1 – Dju Ya Feza (1983)

April 2, 2018 Leave a comment

An extraordinary track taken from the fantastic Noir Et Blanc LP released on Crammed Discs in 1983.

As the blurb on the back of the CD says:

An unsurpassed milestone in European/African fusion, this is a head-on collision between traditional Central African vocals and uncompromising analog electronics. Resulting from a torrid encounter between Zairean singer Bony Bikaye, Algerian born French composer Hector Zazou and mad scientists CY1 …

Relentless.

Peter Perrett – Man of Extremes (2017)

March 24, 2018 Leave a comment

The third coming of Peter Perrett. Back in the day, The Only Ones recorded one of the greatest records of all time, “Another Girl, Another Planet” – previously posted here. Then, in 1996, the now solo Peter Perrett released the superb Cultured Palate EP featuring the astounding “Baby Don’t Talk” (previously posted here).

15 years later, Peter P’s How The West Was Won is pretty much the album of 2017 and “Man of Extremes” is just one of many tracks that could have qualified for elevation to thebestmusicofalltime. Byrds-like descending chord progressions with that trademark laconic drawl over the top of it. Peter, perfect.

Looking forward to the next (re)incarnation in 2032!

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