Monday, May 21, 2007


There is little doubt that Parliament/Funkadelic is one of the most influential bands in the history of popular music. It's impossible to even entertain a guess as to what the last 30 years of funk, r&b, hip hop and soul music would sound like without them.

But let's go back even farther. Prior to the initial formation of P-Funk, Clinton spearheaded a slick soul outfit known simply as The Parliaments. Formed in 1955 and disbanded around 1968, the group released a string of consistently strong singles. The most well known of these is undoubtedly "Testify," which Wikipedia tells me hit #3 on the R&B charts and #20 on the pop charts. I'm particularly surprised by their cracking the top 20, as history always paints the Parliaments as the obscure doo-wop predecessor to P-Funk. So props to them. The Parliaments are not merely a curiosity for P-Funk fans (although this is admittedly how I found their work). Rather, their recordings stand on their own as solid r&b/soul sides.

Clinton re-recorded a number of the group's strongest tunes with Parliament ("Testify," "All Your Goodies Are Gone, "The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg"). In each case, both versions are strong, and indicative of Clinton's capabilities as a producer and arranger in their respective eras.

A few different compilations of The Parliaments' singles saw release in the 1990s, although all are sadly out of print for now. This collection was released by the Connoisseur label in 2000, and appears to be the most comprehensive disc yet.

1. Testify
2. I Can Feel the Ice Melting
3. All Your Goodies Are Gone
4. Don't Be Sore At Me
5. Little Man
6. The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
7. Look What I Almost Missed
8. What You Been Growing
9. Good Old Music
10. Time
11. A New Day Begins
12. I'll Wait
13. I'll Wait (instrumental)
14. All Your Goodies Are Gone (instrumental)
15. Baby I Owe You Something
16. Let's Make it Last
17. She's Always There
18. Heart Trouble
19. That Was My Girl

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

blog love, myspace love

Hello there, folks. I've got another post planned for later, but right now I'd like to share some blog love and point you to some good tunes on Myspace.

First, I'd like to direct your attention to Twilight Zone! This is one of my very favorite blogs, and one of the first that I started visiting habitually. Updated pretty much daily, RYP posts great music that is generally unavailable - either out of print, or never made it to cd. I also have to say I'm partial to his focus - garage, surf, rockabilly, psycho-billy (a genre I learned from TZ), dirty old r&b - all great stuff. I've gotten into a lot of great bands through TZ that I otherwise would never have known - Beasts of Bourbon, Blood on the Saddle, the Bambi Molesters...he also posts a lot of great compilations collecting rare singles. Definitely check out Twilight Zone, and bookmark it.

And of course you need to be reading Ick Music if you aren't already. Here you can expect to find interesting bits from artists you already know (like a recent Prince aftershow from Vegas, a 1980 show from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and of course lots of Springsteen); You can also expect to be turned on to artists you've never heard. Pete's turned me on to a lot of good stuff in the last year or so (Nino Moschella, Soel, Koop). Also be sure to check out the Prince and Springsteen fora, great places to meet fellow fans, discuss these great artists, and maybe even find some goodies. Check out Ick Music.

Lastly, blog love goes out to Off the Record. Here we have a group of folks that collectively post some great music, the vast majority of which are newer artists that I hear for the first time on this blog. This is another blog that is updated so frequently that it's sometimes difficult to keep up. But that's not a bad thing - lots of great music over there. Check out Off the Record.

Now for some Myspace fun. I admit, I only joined up on Myspace this past winter. I try to avoid getting involved with more websites that I know will become diversions from work, but I finally caved. I will say that it's great for music geeks. I used to get annoyed at unsolicited invitations from bands, but upon Pete's advice, I've started to check these out, often with good results. So here are a few of my favorite Myspace discoveries.

*Gems/Derek White
A few months ago, I got a friend request from Derek White. A fellow Pittsburgh native, Derek was working on some solo material which soon became part of the repertoire of a newly formed group, the Gems. This is just great indie rock/pop, well crafted, well produced, danceable. Definitely check out "Mean Tambourine."
Gems Myspace page

*Diablo Dimes
This page actually came to me by way of a friend. Diablo Dimes is in ways reminiscent of Tom Waits, but also very distinct in his own style. I can't quite describe his music, so here's how his bio describes it: "Honky-tonk, hooked, hop, hophead, heebies, and a full orchestration at a barrelhouse... Playing music calledSwamp, jump-blues, and boogie woogie." Maybe that doesn't help. But go check out both songs on his page, "Rainin' Wine on Sunday" and "Hot Ass Georgia Asphalt." He also has a full length and an EP for sale at his website, which I've been meaning to order for months.
Diablo Dimes' Myspace page

*Kid Sister
From Chicago comes Kid Sister, an emcee with bite. I don't really know what to say, so I'll just let the music speak for itself. Check "Control" and "Telephone."
A 7-track EP is available for download, although materialists like me will have to wait a bit for non-compressed non-digital formats.
Kid Sister Myspace page

I was immediately drawn in by the name. Any nod to old school video games is sure to get my attention. This is just super fun dance music. All of the three tracks posted are great, but "Sweaty Wet Dirty Damp" is one I just can't get enough of, and it's currently the song on my own page. They haven't said anything about a proper release, but I truly hope that they put something out soon so that I can bump these tunes in my car and discman.
Gameboy/Gamegirl Myspace page

That's all for now. Enjoy the links, and I'll be back with another post soon. Hint: British legislature.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

record shopping in Pittsburgh

Greetings from the Steel City. Today was spent record shopping, something I look forward to when I'm in town. Iowa City just doesn't have much to offer in the way of good record shopping, so it's always a treat to do some digging at Jerry's Fine Used Records when I'm home.

Over the years, I've found that my favorite way to experience Jerry's is to go alone and go early, giving myself ample time to dig through the seemingly endless collection vinyl Jerry's offers. Today was one of those days. I would venture to say that I spent between 90 minutes and two hours there. $60 later, I came out with a stack of roughly 15 LPs/12"s. Being that record shopping in Iowa is generally fruitless, I allow myself to splurge when I go to Jerry's. As always, I found I couple of things I was specifically looking for, but mostly I came back with dusty gems found by digging through the store. Mostly I came out with a lot of funk records. Excellent.

Don Lindich recently did a great piece on Jerry's (with lots of great photos) on his Sound Advice blog. Check it out. A warning to those of you that have never been to Jerry's: the photographs may give you a heart attack.

Jerry also does a great deal of online auctioning through his site - you can find a lot of great stuff there too if you aren't in the Pittsburgh area.

Jerry's Records website

I also stopped by Attic Records.

I literally hadn't been there since high school, so it was about time. I recalled them having a really good selection of 12 inches. They still do, although that area of the store is incredibly difficult to navigate.

To their credit, they were hit incredibly hard by a flood in 2005, so it's good to see them still there at any rate. I restrained myself there, picking up only Marvin Gaye's Super Hits LP, which I've been after for months. (It's the only collection that gathers all of those great early singles like "Hitch Hike," "Ain't That Peculiar," "Wonderful One," etc.) So I left pleased. I saw a lot of stuff I wanted, but figured I'd already spent enough money for the day.

When I'm in Pittsburgh, I also tend to make the rounds to various locations of The Exchange (a regional used cd chain), but that will have to wait until later.

I'll have some more odds and ends from the web in my next post, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Prince - Dream Factory (1986)

Following the Camille pots a few weeks ago, I have for you today a version of the
Dream Factory
album. The project started directly after the Parade (knowing Prince, they were writing and maybe even recording on the road). The album was to feature much more creative input from the Revolution than previous albums, something that injected a new energy into the group as is evident in the Rolling Stone interview with Lisa and Wendy. As Prince would have it however, he canned the band and the project, although some of the tracks survived to end up on what became Sign 'O' the Times.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - were this album to have been released, it would have been Prince's magnum opus. The songwriting and general style take the best aspects of the Parade material to the next level.

I also have to say that this is not the final configuration of the album. This configuration is the second, dated June 3, 1986. I chose this because I feel it to be the most comprehensive and most impressive of the known configurations. Here, Dream Factory was to be a double LP. This configuration also includes one of my all time favorite Prince compositions, "Power Fantastic," which due to being unreleased until 1993's The Hits/The B-Sides was not given due credit. But that's Prince for you. Tracks come from various sources, so the sound is a little uneven, sorry.

Side 1
1. Visions
2. Dream Factory
3. It's a Wonderful Day
4. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
5. It

Side 2
6. Strange Relationship
7. Teacher Teacher
8. Starfish and Coffee
9. Interlude
10. In a Large Room with No Light (aka Welcome 2 the Ratrace)
11. Nevaeh Ni EcalP A
12. Sexual Suicide

Side 3
13. Crystal Ball
14. prelude
15. Power Fantastic

Side 4
16. Last Heart
17. Witness 4 the Prosecution
18. Movie Star
19. A Place in Heaven
20. All My Dreams


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Show Review: Gore Gore Girls, 5/2

This is a week overdue, but it's been a rough week. The good news is that I wrapped up the semester yesterday. The bad news (for you) is that posts will still be sporadic, as I'm heading to the Steel City for a few weeks. (But that's good news for me, so it all works out.) I'll try to get a few posts while I'm there, but I make no promises.

The Gore Gore Girls are one of my very favorite neo-garage bands. As an acquaintance of mine put it so perfectly: "a near-perfect melding of girl group sound and Detroit muscle." I saw them a couple years ago, and was ecstatic to hear that they were gracing Iowa City with their presence once again. However, I got much more than I bargained for this time out, and got to see three other bands that I was very impressed with. So let's start from the beginning of the evening. And by "beginning of the evening," I mean 10pm.

Thee Almighty Handclaps!

I admit not knowing much of the local Iowa City music scene. The bulk of bands I come across are cover bands, because this is a college town with typical college students whose idea of going to a local show is paying $7 to hear upper classmen play Dave Matthews covers. I was refreshed to see Thee Almighty Handclaps open Wednesday's show.

The three piece consists of drums, a seriously fuzzy bass, an electric organ, and dueling vocals. They've got a great garage-y sound, and I was impressed enough to buy their 7". Check out their myspace page. Both of the tracks there are great, although my favorite on the disc may be "Sugar Bowl," which is not on their page. I spent some time chatting with their bassist and organist, and I'm told they're going back into the studio this week. I'll definitely be checking these guys over the summer.

Thee Almighty Handclaps! Myspace Page

Next up were The Rusty Buckets, another local band. Unfortunately I didn't grab any of their music, but these guys are TIGHT. And they have some great lyrics. I don't really have too much else to say about these guys. I will comment that the recordings on their MySpace page don't do their performance justice at all.

Rusty Buckets' MySpace Page

Then came The Dollyrots, a band whose name I've been hearing tossed around here and their, yet whose music I hadn't experienced. I loved it! They're musically tight, and have a great amount of energy. I could see some criticizing them for being too poppy, but I really don't care. They pull off the power pop punk thing very well. I picked up their newest cd while I was there, and it's been in heavy rotation. Great to have in the discman while on a run. I also have a crush on the bassist/lead vocalist. And yes, her voice really sounds like that, even when she's speaking. Also, they did a great rendition of Melanie's hit "Brand New Key," which I was pleased to find also made the cut on the album. Here's a live version of it:

The Dollyrots official website
The Dollyrots MySpace Page

And finally, it was time for the main attraction, The Gore Gore Girls! They're better than ever, still kicking ass, still taking names. They played a lot of material from their two most recent albums, Up All Night (2002, Get Hip Records) and Get the Gore (2007, Bloodshot Records). I was also pleased that they pulled out their awesome cover of The Golliwogs' "Fight Fire," which the also played the last time they were in town. Also similar to their last Iowa City performance, I was pissed that the crowd was so sparse. Seriously, what the fuck, Iowa City? At any rate, it was a great show. I of course grabbed their new disc Get the Gore and love it. All of three of their albums are great, but each release continues to improve and mold the band's sound. Definitely check them out if they hit your town.

Gore Gore Girls official website
Gore Gore Girls MySpace Page

I got on the guest list for the show, saw four awesome bands, and came home with two cds and one 7". A good night all around. And I also got to play some Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga at The Picador. Score!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Iris DeMent

Earlier this week, I finally finished watching the entire series of Northern Exposure. Admittedly, the finale was more of a whimper than a bang. Seems to me it could have ended any season. At any rate, the final scene was a montage of sorts over which a very fitting song played. After some research, I found that the song is "Our Town" by Iris DeMent.

I tracked down the album from which this song came, 1992's Infamous Angel. On the whole, the album is as strong as "Our Town," a collection of singer-songwriter Americana that is both honest and poignant. I don't care as much for the final track, but the disc as a whole is quite enjoyable. I haven't gotten into any of her other material yet, but plan to do so soon. Give it a whirl!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Kiss Internet Radio Goodbye

I want to once again urge all of you to contact your representatives about the recent actions of the Copyright Royalty Board, which will effectively KILL Internet radio. This is no exaggeration.

From a recent article on Alternet with Tim Westergren of

Westergren: As a webcaster, we pay a performance royalty for every song that we stream. It’s a royalty that’s not paid by terrestrial broadcasters, and is paid at a much lower rate by satellite broadcasters. Until this ruling, the rate that we paid was 1.17 cents per listener-hour, which equates to about 0.076 cents per song streamed to each listener.

The new rates, which are retroactive to the beginning of 2006, are immediately higher than that. They go from 0.076 to 0.08 cents per song, and then they go up incrementally over the subsequent five years. And by the end, they’re at 0.19 cents per song. That’s close to a tripling.

Economically, these new rates will represent 70-80 percent of gross revenues for folks like us, as opposed to only about 25 percent today. So they make the business completely uneconomic. There’s nobody that can deliver an advertising-supported webcast at those levels, because advertisers won’t allow us to raise rates high enough to cover it.

When you consider that satellite radio providers pay between 5 and 7.5 percent of gross revenues for the same thing, it seems especially unreasonable.

Sinnreich: As of May 15, you’re going to owe higher royalties retroactively to January 2006, due in one lump sum. How big is that check going to be?

Westergren: I can’t tell you specifically, but the near-term impact is many millions of dollars.

This isn't some whiny liberal media scholar bullshit I'm handing you here, folks. These rates have passed, and go into effect on May 15.

So if you have any interest in listening to Internet radio after next tuesday, seriously - get off of your ass and urge your legislators via email, phone calls, letters, whatever - URGE them to pass the Internet Radio Equality Act drafted by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.). The bill revokes the CRB's ruling, aiming to construct an alternate system wherein artists still receive royalties, but those fees aren't prohibitive for netcasters.

Even better, IT'S EASY. Free Press has it set up so you can send off a letter to your Representatives in literally seconds. If you have the time, you should write your own message about why this is important to you. But if you're in a rush, they have a nice form letter that you can paste.

Seriously folks - don't let this shit die. I'm sure there would be Internet pirates in the wake of this but the bulk of Internet radio will go away. This affects not just net-only stations like Pandora or Launchcast, but terrestrial stations with web simulcasts as well. Like listening to your local public radio station at work? Enjoy checking out college stations from other states? Your time is limited unless this bill passes.

Here's the form from Free Press:

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

IASPM 2007

Well, I'm back from the IASPM 2007 conference, or more accurately, music geekfest 2007. It was a great conference, if a bit draining. As this is a music blog, I thought I'd share some highlights of what I saw.

Perhaps the best panel I saw the entire weekend directly preceded my own.
-Wendy Hsu gave a great paper on Yoko Ono. Admittedly, this was the paper I was most looking forward to. When I first saw it listed in the program, I was nervous that we would be doing similar projects, but such was not the case at all. Wendy's paper focused on the role of gender and race in Yoko Ono's identity and her music, and did a great musicological analysis of "Kiss Kiss Kiss."

-David Brackett followed with a discussion of the unreleased Pennebacker documentary of Dylan's 1966 tour. Also very interesting. I could be wrong, but I think this is the documentary which includes footage of Lennon and Dylan riding around in a limo, wherein they have to pull over for one of them to puke. I didn't get a chance to ask. Brackett also looked very familiar to me for some reason.

-Keir Keightley spoke on Capitol's initial rejection(s) of the Beatles' music in the Americas. Lots of good history here, and he also set up some extremely interesting context by discussing the "Capitol of the World" series.

-Norma Coates had a very amusing presentation on John and Yoko's stint on the Mike Douglas show, which I hadn't seen footage of in years. I forgot what a weird (and cool) pop cultural moment that was.

My own panel was also really interesting.

-Richard Carlin drew on his personal history to discuss the Folkways Record label

-Cynthia Fuchs did a great presentation on Jay-Z's so-called retirement and comeback.

-Deborah Pacini had a very interesting discussion on Latin American music in the US, and the various ways in which it has been labeled and marketed over the years.

I was less consistent and hopped around on saturday. Some more highlights:

-Zarko Cvejic's presentation on Klaus Nomi. This is someone that I don't know much about, but Zarko showed some fascinating video clips on this very interesting figure from the late '70s/early '80s.

-Theo Cateforis delivered my favorite paper of the day on the current rash of 1980s nostalgia and the new wave revival. We heard about the rash of current bands appropriating the new wave aesthetic and even watched a bit of Devo 2.0, which I had hoped to never see again but was amused by nonetheless.

The last session I attended was a roundtable on VH1's White Rapper show. The roundtable format was perfect for this topic - everybody had really interesting comments and insights about this show which I've admittedly never seen.

All in all, an incredibly fun conference. I look forward to next year when it's in Iowa City and I don't have to travel for it.


While in Boston I also did some record shopping. Given that I'm going to Pittsburgh soon and will be hitting the vinyl mecca that is Jerry's Fine Used Records, I forced myself to show restraint. That said, I picked up some odds and ends in the 50 cent bins and kept my other purchases to things I've been looking for but haven't come across. These included:
-Madhouse 16
-Siouxsie and the BansheesJuJu
-Sweet - Desolation Boulevard
-Funkadelic - Uncle Jam

Speaking of which, has anybody used any of those record cleaning solutions? I've got a few discs that skip, but are unscratched. Wondering if this would rectify the problem.

That's all for now.