Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 12/24/10

Today has not been particularly productive for us: if you think it’s easy to run a music blog while everyone around you starts partying at noon, you haven’t tried it. In the meantime, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues as it does every day, all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #767:

The English Beat – Wh’Appen

You will see more albums like this as we move up the list. There’s only one song here that’s a genuine classic – the gorgeous reggae-pop ballad Doors of Your Heart – but every single track is solid. For us, that’s what defines a classic album, one that’s consistently good all the way through rather than one with a couple of great songs surrounded by filler. The rest of the cuts on this British second-wave ska band’s 1981 sophomore album are a characteristically tuneful blend of ska and chorus box guitar-driven new wave. All Out to Get You is punk-style encouragement to fight the good fight: “You’re so scared of death you don’t know what life is.” Monkey Murders sets flamenco-inflected guitar to Mexican-flavored ska; the franglais French Toast (Soleil Trop Chaud) has an afrobeat feel. Drowning and Cheated dive into dub reggae, while Over and Over has some deliciously watery Leslie speaker guitar. There’s also the sarcastic Dream Home in New Zealand, the cynical Walk Away (foreshadowing the more pop direction they’d take on Special Beat Service) and the big hit, Get-a-Job. After the band broke up in 1984, various reconfigurations including General Public, Special Beat, and most recently, guitarist Dave Wakeling’s barely recognizable version of the group have continued to record and tour. Here’s a random torrent.

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December 24, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, reggae music, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: El Pussycat at Otto’s, NYC 10/5/08

As this sensationally good eight-piece old-school ska band took the stage at eleven on a Sunday night, the obvious question was, why weren’t they playing Saturday night instead? A peep at El Pussycat’s website provided the answer: they were at the Knit Saturday; apparently they were doing this one for beer money for departing for their native England. While there wasn’t much of a crowd in the bar, those who remained there quickly gathered in the back by the stage where an impromptu dance party began. With a skintight rhythm section, percussion, keys, trombone, sax, guitar and an utterly charming frontwoman, they absolutely slayed during their barely hourlong set. Their sound is pure Kingston, 1966 albeit with better quality instruments and amps. Their cover of the Laurel Aitken hit Bad Minded Women featured excellent solos from both the guitar and piano, the singer channeling the Skatalites‘ Doreen Shaffer at her most casually alluring. They followed that one with a tersely danceable ska version of These Boots Are Made for Walking but without the walk down the scale at the end. Their version of the eerie Dawn Penn hit No No No blew away the original, with the horns wailing away on the bluesy hook in the break after the chorus. The high point of the night was Skaravan (the ska version of the Ellington classic Caravan), featuring wah wah guitar and eventually a deliciously chordal guitar solo followed by a jazzy one from the keyboardist while the singer provided some fetching vocalese. They encored with the Toots & the Maytals classic Monkey Man. What was the likelihood? Let’s hope they make it over here again. In the meantime, check their myspace page, where in lieu of band member bios they have a menu of each of the band’s signature sandwiches! 

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment