Every day, we count down the 1000 best albums of all time all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #879:
2 Live Crew – Live in Concert
The first-ever live hip-hop album, it’s an urban supremacist’s wet dream, an all-white audience of Arizona college kids rapping along with every filthy lyric, frequently drowning out the group onstage: “Face down, ass up, that’s the way we like to fuck.” This may seem pretty tame by teens standards but at the time the album came out in 1990, it was radical. As with the Dead Kennedys, the right wing had tried to put the group out of business with an expensive obscenity trial after witnessing the explosive popularity of the 1989 album As Nasty As They Want to Be. But the rappers won the case, and this is their response, a bigot’s worst nightmare. Neither Luke, the group’s leader, nor his sidekicks Brother Marquis or Fresh Kid Ice, could ever rap worth a damn, but their puerile sex jokes, and ability to get the totally crunk crowd to respond to them, are often hilarious despite themselves. This has all the band’s hits from the period: Me So Horny; Face Down Ass Up; We Want Some Pussy; If You Believe in Having Sex; The Fuck Shop; Brother Marquis’ completely inept Throw the D, and the Springsteen ripoff/parody Banned in the USA. There are a lot of torrents out there and many that appear to be for this album are in fact other concerts (which are often very funny themselves): this one appears to be the real deal.
Galeet Dardashti’s new album The Naming celebrates women throughout history who broke the rules. Dardashti herself is both a pioneer and a traditionalist in Jewish music. She serves as cantor at her Brooklyn synagogue, a role traditionally reserved for men (such as her grandfather, a star in Iran whose popularity transcended his outsider status in a predominantly Muslim culture). With soaring vocals in Hebrew, she sets tales from the Talmud, Bible and Midrash to hypnotic Middle Eastern grooves blending elements of Persian, Jewish and Egyptian music. She’s assembled a first-rate cast of New York musicians around her: violinists Megan Gould and Lila Sklar, cellist Eleanor Norton, percussionist Matt Kilmer, bassist Yossi Fine and hammered dulcimer wiz Max ZT (of psychedelic instrumental combo House of Waters), who build alternately lush and austere textures behind her sometimes hushed, sometimes spectacular voice.
The first track connects the dots between Michal, wife of King David, who like her male counterparts would use tefillin prayer beads, just as Dardashti’s childless aunt Tovah did in Iran some millennia later. It opens with a ululating vocal taqsim over an ambient drone, building to an imploring, Fairouz-style ballad evocative of Natacha Atlas’ recent work, a feel echoed in the equally hypnotic title track. Hagar/Sarah is a slinky levantine dance number with staccato strings over Kilmer’s trance-inducing clip-clop percussion. Sheba celebrates the queen’s spirited seduction of Solomon with a rousing, dulcimer-driven groove. The dulcimer opens the terse, distantly Indian-inflected Dinah with a pensive improvisation; Vashti, a joyously syncopated dance number, commemorates the famously disobedient Persian queen. The album winds up on a high note with the impassioned, anguished Endora, a duet featuring Hazzan Farid Dardashti’s stern cantorial voice contrasting with all the Bjork-inflected swoops and wails. What’s not trance-inducing here is often exhilarating. Galeet Dardashti plays the cd release for the album on September 14 at 6:30 PM at le Poisson Rouge, including a performance by the Syren dance troupe.