Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 9/13/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Sunday’s song is #318:

The Rolling Stones – Memo from Turner

Originally credited to Jagger solo, this first appeared on the soundtrack to the cult film Performance with the Stones’ frontman playing a supporting role. Recorded during the sessions for Beggars Banquet, it’s one of their funniest songs: is he gay or isn’t he? Also incidentally one of Brian Jones’ most stinging moments in the band.The link above has the song playing over an amusing pastiche of clips from the movie. Mp3s are everywhere, but you’ll have to sift through a lot of dodgy outtakes. If you want something better sonically, it’s on a million European vinyl Stones anthologies.

Advertisements

September 13, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 8/19/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #343:

The Rolling Stones – Waiting on a Friend

In the process of editing the list, this one fell off for awhile…and then fell back on because it’s so good. Talk about perfectly capturing a mood – Pharaoh Sanders’ pensive yet contented sax and Keith’s guitar, wow. And it’s a New York song: the link above is the video made at the now-defunct St. Mark’s Bar in 1981.

August 18, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/30/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Thursday’s song is #363:

The Rolling Stones – The Lantern

Finally, three hundred and twenty-three songs into this list, a Stones tune. Why so few? Because you don’t need Lucid Culture to tell you how great the Stones were. When we first dug the list out of the drawer and decided to put it up online one song at a time, there were a ton of Stones tunes on it. But we figured it would be karmically smarter and vastly more useful to feature more obscure artists rather than just listing  Stones song after Stones song, ad nauseum. This one happens to be delta blues reinvented as macabre psychedelia from Their Satanic Majesties Request, 1967, Brian Jones’ greatest moment in the band. Mp3s are everywhere and since this was a major label release, don’t feel guilty downloading it.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 5/6/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #448:

The Stooges – No Sense of Crime

In many cases Iggy & co. did the opiated, Exile On Main St. major key bluesy rock thing even better than the Stones and this is a prime example, circa 1972, beginning as an elegiac acoustic ballad and building to a hypnotically pulsing anthem, James Williamson doing a spot-on version of Keith Richards. It’s been anthologized to death (the Kill City lp from the late 70s was the first); mp3s are everywhere.The link above is an imeem stream.

May 6, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Tinariwen – Aman Iman: Water Is Life

It’s not often that a band lives up to its press. This time, believe the hype: Tuareg nomad rockers Tinariwen are every bit as good as the recent lovefest in the Western press would have you believe. And they deserve it: it’s something of a miracle that this band exists at all. A close-knit but diverse group of Tuareg freedom fighters driven from their traditional stomping grounds in their native Mali by a repressive regime and the encroachment of Western multinationals, they add electric instruments and a small dose of rock riffage to the ambient, chorus-driven traditional desert songs of their native culture. The result is hypnotic and very captivating. Ali Farka Toure is the obvious comparison, but Tinariwen’s material stays closer to the original source. Musicologists will have a field day with this stuff: what they play isn’t a simple chicken-or-the-egg question. When American and British rockers started stealing melodies from across the third word back in the 60s, third worlders were doing exactly the same thing, appropriating rock arrangements, motifs and instrumentation, and it’s clear that Tinariwen have done this to a certain extent. But they aren’t really a rock band: their music is world music in the best sense of the word, original songs based on ancient traditions which also draw on contemporary Malian artists like the aforementioned Ali Farka Toure and Baboucar Traore.

Chord changes aren’t a big part of Tinariwen’s music, yet their sound is as anthemic as it is trance-inducing. While a lot of the songs on this album are very danceable, they don’t bear much if any resemblance to the perennial smiley-facedness of mainstream African pop. Much of their music has a somewhat grim forebearance, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that this is music made by exiles. Their lyrics are in Tamashek, the Tuareg language.

The cd opens with Cler Achel, a slinky groove with call-and-response male/female vocals, two guitars trading off different textures (slightly distorted rhythm with resonant reverb vs. a reverb-driven lead with a lot of fast hammer-ons, providing a sitar-like effect). Very gripping. The next song Mano Dayak begins with a slow intro into a hesitation rhythm, blending electric and acoustic guitars. Eventually a choir of women enters, their voices keening eerily in the upper registers.

Matadjem Yinmixam follows, closer to Ali Farka Toure than the other songs on the album, with meandering, sputtering lead guitar over an insistent staccato rhythm. And finally a chord change (up to a fourth) at the end of the verse! It’s very anthemic as the female backing singers kick in on the chorus. The next track, Ahimana begins with a spoken word intro and then call-and-response with the women in the choir, very hypnotic in syncopated 6/8 time, the vocals just a little behind the beat. After that, the cd continues with the quiet, subdued Soixante Trois. Toumast, arguably the best song on the album brings in layers one at a time: spooky electric guitar hammer-ons, then distorted, staccato electric rhythm guitar, bass, and the drums and vocals. It’s the best song on the cd, with a nice, terse guitar solo after the first verse.

The dark, relentless Ikyadarh Dim features just acoustic guitar, percussion and a single vocal with an additional harmony voice added on the chorus. At one point someone in the band exhales audibly: out of fatigue, exhilaration, exasperation? The hip-shaking yet hypnotic Tamatant Tilay could be a big Mississippi hill country blues number, like something straight out of the T-Model Ford catalog, if it had English lyrics. Likewise, the next track, Assouf is a burning, open-tuned minor-key blues number. The cd closes with the pretty, pastoral, acoustic Izarharh Tenere, somewhat evocative of the Stones’ Moonlight Mile. All in all, a great album, absolutely one of the best of the year, something you should own if you have any sense of adventure.

Memo to Tinariwen management: get this band on the jam band tour. Haitian rockers Tabou Combo made a pile of money off of rich hippies who have nothing better to do than run all over the country with Phish, and so can these guys. Consider it a unique approach to foreign aid: it would be particularly appropriate given everything the band has been through.

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment