CDs, December 09

A reminder: I am listening to all my CDs (all 1600 of them), one at a time, and then writing a bit about each.

72) The Clash: Combat Rock

London Calling is better, but this is still a great CD, and “Straight To Hell” may be my favorite Clash song just now. It’s also the CD most people will recognize, so if you are stuck in a room with 100 strangers, and you just have to play a Clash CD, then this one will please the largest percentage of folks, at least once “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” comes on; “this is a public service announcement–with GUITARS!” will probably alienate many of them at first, and then “Car Jamming” is a bit of a wash, but then the hits come one and you are off and running and won’t be torn limb from limb by the mob. (bonus: they never became the Rolling Stones, let alone Led Zeppelin, despite the attempts of many coke-spoon and pinky-ring wearing bastards to make them so.)

73) Karen Dalton: It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You Best

Dalton was a part of the Greenwhich Village folk revival, playing with Dylan before he needed to shave–not sure he needs to now, actually–and she had an amazing, languid, slightly gravely voice that sounds a bit like a mix of Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf. She didn’t sing in french, just had a similar world weary creakiness to her tone… and she played a big old tenor banjo too. But, she had a sad life, mental illness, homelessness, and early death, and listening to her sing, such a fate is not hard to imagine. (bonus: well, just listen:

)

74) Psychic TV: Trip Reset

I have a Throbbing Gristle CD somewhere, and I used to have one of the earllier Psychic TV LPs laying around; P-orridge and the gang seemed to get more and more playful with each recording, and after listening to this CD the first time (which is downright goofy, albeit laced with images of blood), I had to go back and check out Throbbing Gristle again to be sure I hadn’t missed something. And I think I found the thread: this is a kids CD, more or less, composed by a person who used to pierce his penis with needles onstage, and in fact the old TG stuff–“Hamburger Lady,” “His Arm Was Her Leg,” etc–is kids music too, kids music for folks bored with pop and uninterested in more difficult avant-garde stuff. Quite a lot of fun, actually. (bonus: I won’t embed the video this time, but this short documentary, about P-Orridge’s life after the death of his love, Lady Jaye, is quite affecting, especially because he and Jaye had been having lots of plastic surgeries in an attempt to look more like one another and essentially become one being.)

75) Ana Moura: Guarda-me a vida na mão

Moura sings fado, which is an achingly sad Portugese genre that, according to some, began with poor women singing a cappella in taverns around Lisbon for $. Whatever the origin, fado songs are generally sparse, often in minor keys, and usually address some aspect of suadade, an apparently untranslateable Portugese word that means something like “longing for what is love.” The word immediately reminded me of “mono no aware,” a Japanese term (物の哀れ) that means something very similar, a yearning born of the transient nature of things, and a sensitivity to their inevitable disappearance from this world. And yes, that’s what these songs evoke, even though my knowledge of Portugese is pretty much limited to fado and suadade. (bonus: fado singers are called fadistas. Don’t know why, but that just tickles me).