East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Roots CD-R sampler

Mostly chronological, with some front-loading.

1. "The Seed (2.0)": Some people need to cheat to be aroused. Some need to procreate.
2. "Don't Say Nuthin'": Misheard lyric: "Give him head, and don't say nuthin'." More evidence that vocalists shouldn't enunciate.
3. "You Got Me": It's Badu's song, though Eve nearly steals it. Eve knows her real competition is the mic (or turntables/keyb etc.), so she has to tease that a baller's interested, just to keep her man on his toes.
4, 5, 6. "Mellow My Man", "Respond/React", "Clones": To make smoothness compelling requires mad skills, which the early Roots had some of the time.
7. "Act Too (Love of My Life)"
8. "Proceed" (live): Never having seen them, I'm suspicious of how the common description of them as the best live crew in hip hop usually occurs near "they play their own instruments", but parts of their live album make it seem tenable that they deserve their rep.
9. "Quills": On Phrenology, probably their best album, on they shared their discovery of sex and rock & roll, soon dropping the latter for drug funk.
10. "Break You Off" (dub): From Home Grown 2, a beginner's guide to understanding the Roots less.
11. "Star"
12, 13, 14. "False Media", "Don't Feel Right", "Long Time": Retro as postmodernism is so 1981. Still processing Game Theory, which at this early stage is up there with Phrenology, but for now I'm happy to steal Jeff Chang's picks*.
15. "Why (What's Going On)/In Love with the Mic/Din Da Da"

*Are Blender's recommended downloads chosen by the credited writers or by the editors? The former would make more sense, but the picks sometimes seem inconsistent with the main review.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Weird mercies

Thursday, November 23, 2006

OK, I like this game

A Tom Waits sampler CD-R (revised 16 Dec ought-six)


1. Ol' 55
2. Tom Traubert's Blues

3. 16 Shells from a 30-6
4. Gin Soaked Boy
5. Union Square
6. Downtown Train
7. Innocent When You Dream (78)

8. All Stripped Down
9. Goin' Out West
10. I Don't Wanna Grow Up
11. Russian Dance
12. I'll Shoot the Moon
13. Crossroads
14. Big in Japan
15. Come On Up to the House

16. Lullaby
17. Alice
18. Hoist That Rag
19. Bottom of the World
20. Road to Peace

Yes, I'm the only person who thinks Waits did his strongest work in the Nineties.

A David Bowie sampler CD-R that's better than Changesbowie because it stops at 1980
1969-72: "If you stay with us you're gonna be pretty kooky too"
1. Space Oddity
2. Changes
3. Life on Mars
4. Kooks
5. Starman
6. Ziggy Stardust
7. Suffragette City

1973-76: "He's quadraphonic, he's a, he's got more channels"
8. Let's Spend the Night Together
9. Young Americans
10. Station to Station
11. Golden Years
12. TVC 15

1977-80: "I will be king, and you, you will be queen"
13. Sound and Vision
14. Be My Wife
15. Beauty and the Beast
16. Heroes
17. Boys Keep Swinging
18. Ashes to Ashes

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Bob Dylan sampler

The game: Compile as much of Dylan's talent as can fit on a CD-R.

The Sixties: "I'll know my song well before I start singing"

1. Love Minus Zero/No Limit: His most beautiful straight love song is really that straight, as his loaded double rhymes rise and fall twice a verse. Dig the way he vibratoes "broken".
2. I Want You: If you still doubt he's a great vocalist, how many singers could make such a simple statement so seductive?
3. Positively 4th Street: When the rolling stone stops, watch out.
4. Mr. Tambourine Man: Remember when drug songs were pretty? More proof they banned the wrong shit.
5. Like a Rolling Stone: Because schadenfreude is OK when it's class war. You know it's really about the organ, but how about that piano?
6. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream: If only all Great American Novels were this funny.
7. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall: More than any other song, this opened up pop music to pretentious lyrics. Bobby had been reading the Symbolists, and decided the best way to capture this in song was to pile on image after image.
8. Visions of Johanna: What do you mean best lyrics ever? "Fish truck", jeez.

The Seventies: "Still on the road, headin' for another joint"
9. Knockin' on Heaven's Door: Concise.
10. If You See Her, Say Hello: After the end of the road.
11. Shelter from the Storm: It's rare for him to be understated, but it makes his refuge alluring.
12. Tangled Up in Blue: Fully-formed short short stories, each with a kick to them. The compression is skilled; the slight fluctuations in tone as they're stitched together is Dylan.
13. Idiot Wind: To some his great confessional (just because he starts off the tonic), this is where he admits he's been playing crooked all this time. Or maybe he really can't help it if he's lucky.
14. Hurricane: His best really long song, partly because it's not really really long. Just about his last attempt at immediacy and his last moment of relevance, though he started making good records again in the Nineties.

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RIP Robert Altman


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Les Enfants du paradis: The Science of Sleep vs Marie Antoinette

Visuals (sexiness of stars)
TSoS: Charlotte Gainsbourg's sexiness is not just ignored by everyone in the movie, it's actively opposed. Still, there's Gael.
MA: That Jason Schwartzman is unprepossessing is at least a joke. Meanwhile, Kirsten Dunst get to have an affair with a hot Swede.
Winner: The Science of Sleep

Visuals (sexiness of objects)
TSoS: Gainsbourg looks hottest when she's transformed into a skiing, woven Lauri Faggioni doll. The cardboard and glue look is cute, the wish upon a star/"it's aliiive" horse is cuter.
MA: I prefer the foot to the footwear, so it's impressive that the movie let me feel how fucking awesome having dozens of pairs of colored shoes is. Also: food, gambling and Versailles.
Winner: Marie Antoinette

TSoS: In lieu of character development, we get an ambiguous ending. I'm not so keen on it... OR AM I?
MA: The Serious Point is that Louis's and Marie's arrested development leaves them incapable of rule. But though said seriousness is competently executed, it doesn't resonate, because what precedes it is too much fun.
Winner: irrelevant

Tiebreaker: usefulness of narcissism
TSoS: Yz, of Gael -- "He only gets away with it because he's cute." Some of the time even that's not enough.
MA: Makes self-involvement seem as fun as it should be. Who doesn't want to be the girl with the most cake?
Winner: Marie Antoinette


Monday, November 13, 2006

Canonball #951: One, Two, Three

USA, 1961
Starring James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, from a play by Ferenc Molnar
Directed by Billy Wilder

The Wilder/Diamond script is not just their worst, it's atrocious, with the trivialisation of politics less offensive than the staleness of the gags. The movie features the infamous line in which the Russian delegate complains about a shipment of Swiss cheese because it was full of holes: most of the jokes are on this level. Yet Wilder and especially Cagney make the picture amusing through sheer density. Paced by the "Sabre Dance", Wilder slings gags so fast that you eventually have to laugh at the least bad ones. Cagney employs a quintessentially American technique: if you have nothing to say, shout it. The Commies never stood a chance.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

RIP Ellen Willis

Top Ten: Brilliant corners of the mind

Too many long tracks for me to bother to post MP3s, they're available by request.

1. David S. Ware, "The Way We Were": Eight minutes of solo honking before Ware gets to anything resembling the tune, which, it must be said, is pretty insipid. The chords rule, though, and Matthew Shipp and band thump them lusciously, with occasional disintegration (which is easy) and reintegration (which isn't). 18 mins all up.
2. The Hold Steady, "Chillout Tent": Kinda sexy because why should a minor OD stop you from having a one night (morning) stand? Kinda creepy because it's the girl from the Reputation and the guy from Soul Asylum.
3. Robyn, "Be Mine": Another terrific Europop single it took me far too long to get to. "You never will be mine" -- Robyn sings like she's trying to convince herself.
4. Anthony Braxton, "Take Five": The two standards boxes Braxton has released on Leo are the most accessible work he's done. Square Brubeck fans, like myself, might think them the best.
5, 6. Justin Timberlake, "My Love" (ft. T.I.), "Lovestoned": Bringing metrosexy back. Thank Eros for Timbaland, who won't consider any position besides the top. Together Timber and Timba sound like, well, Nelly Furtado and Timba.
7. Herbert, "Harmonise": Up, down, turn around, please don't let him hit the ground.
8. Craig Harris, "The Color Line": The maddest of possible words: Coleman to Harris to Lake. 17 mins.
9. Paraphrase, "Trading on All Fours": Half of a two-track album; the other half is also worthwhile. 24 mins.
10. The Hold Steady, "Southtown Girls": The Mall of America is for fickle tourists; the locals are loyal to Southtown. Unless they prefer the Quarry.

Ten more: Capone, "U So Craaazzzy"; Ray Cash ft. Scarface, "Bumpin' My Music"; Drive-By Truckers, "A World of Hurt"; E-40, "They Might Be Taping"; The Hold Steady, "Chips Ahoy"; James McMurtry, "We Can't Make It Here"; The Pack, "Vans"; Nerina Pallot, "Everybody's Gone to War"; Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock, "Moonlight in Vermont"; Yung Joc ft. Nitti, "It's Going Down".

Mildly overrated: Kelly Clarkson, "Walk Away" (prefer "Behind These Hazel Eyes"); Of Montreal, "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games" (its use in an Outback Steakhouse ad is what it deserves); Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Cheated Hearts" (prefer "Phenomenon").