Cds, no joke

Reminder: I am listening to all of my CDs, one at a time, and the whole process should, at my current rate of listening, take 2-1/2 years, if I don’t buy any more.

50) Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior

Oh, where to start. Richard Thompson has saved my life even more times than Los Lobos’ Kiko CD, and I will listen to many more of his recording by the time this project is over. And then I will go back and listen to them again… a startling, unabashedly literate songwriter, passionate singer, and stunning guitarist who modeled his style as an early player on concertina and accordion melodies. This CD is his most recent (as of 11/18/2008), and is as consistently strong as his best solo work; “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” is the best Iraq war protest song I’ve heard, “Bad Monkey” and “Mr Stupid” are snarky and smart, and “Guns Are The Tongues” mines the same vein as “Vincent Black Lightning” without being mere revision. His best recording in several years, methinks. (bonus: the liner notes start with Edmund Spenser’s “Sonnet LVII.” What else could you want?)

51) Alison Krauss: Now That I’ve Found You

Alison Krauss can veer too far into M.O.R. repressed memory flavorlessness for my tastes about 1/4 of the time, but the other 3/4 she plants twangy kisses on my head and her band rips like they lived through the French Revolution and don’t want any more heads to roll, but are still quite pissed about the Directoire. This is a greatest hits of a sort; while “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” is the best-knows baby song here, I prefer “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby.” (bonus: “When God Dips His Pen Of Love In My Heart,” featuring one of those bloody metaphors that Christianity so excels in. Their version of “I Will” also makes me feel inky.)

52) Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington: The Complete Sessions

Whilst lunching down near the starchy roots of American popular music (at Duke’s Place, I suppose), Louis and Duke made this recording: “I’m Just A Lucky So and So,” “Black and Tan Fantasy,” “The Mooche,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “I’m Beginning To See The Light”… geez. Armstrong’s voice/horn and Ellington’s piano and arrangements are the Tigris and Euphrates of American pop, they define our ability to recognize things like “soul” and “melody” in other artists. (bonus: “Solitude.”)

53) Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

I’m confused, since I never bought this CD, and it’s in the Kate Bush The Sensual World CD case, though the cover is missing… I did buy the Kate Bush CD, but I have it complete, in another case, with cover, elsewhere. Oh well, Neil Young has been both under- and over-rated during his long career, and his estimation of his own lead guitar playing is definitely out of whack–playing the same note over and over while the band chugs on is interesting for a minute, not for 3, and not in every goddamn song–but in any case, he has written some great songs, 4 of which are on here. I won’t list them, everyone should have their own Ur-Neil… (bonus: though I expected Kate Bush, at this point in the project, surprises like this are more than welcome. And I’m sure there is an interesting story behind the misinserted CD.)

54) Funkadelic: Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow

I’ve seen P-Funk 7 or 8 times, 3 times on my birthday (in 2 different cities, a weird coincidence), and never have they played 2 of my favorite Funkadelic songs: “Friday Night, August 14th” and “Funky Dollar Bill,” both from the album. I understand why this particular CD is an obscure part of the P-Funk canon: it is so drenched in reverb, it sounds like it was recorded in a swimming pool inside a swimming pool inside George Clinton septum. I love it, it’s scary psychedelia, the acid rush preceding the roaring fright funk of Maggotbrain. (bonus: “Friday Night, August 14th” is apparently about nothing more than getting a tax rebate from the gov’t and blowing it with as much style as possible, but the date is also, in the U.S., national Creamsicle day.)

55) Spike Jones: Spiked! The Music of Spike Jones

That this CD follows Free Your Mind… is one of those accidents of CD shuffling that I hoped would happen when I began listening. Apropos Spike’s music, some stray notes: Billy Barty was in the band for a while. Doodles Weaver (the horse race announcer on “William Tell Overture”) was Sigourney Weaver’s uncle, and an early contributer to Mad magazine. Thomas Pynchon wrote the liner notes to this collection. “Winston, are you in voice?” And of course, “Pal-ya-chee…” (bonus: bless their digital hearts, here are some episodes of Spike’s radio show on the Internet Archive.)