Preference Personnelle
Friday, May 30
Here are two more songs you might like:

First, a cover version of 'My Sweet Lord' by Edwin Starr, who's best-known for 'War,' which was covered by Bruce Springsteen. I've also got a couple other soul covers of 'My Sweet Lord,' which makes me wonder why it seems to be such a popular choice (probably the most popular Beatles cover among '60s/'70s soul artists, in fact). Do the soul folks like it because of its spiritual-ness, or because they know that it's mostly 'He's So Fine' with some clever new Krishna lyrics, or for some other reason entirely?

And, second, another song from the GTAIV soundtrack: Burro Banton, 'Badder Dan Dem' (I've also seen the title listed as 'Badderdandem,' which I like better, because it reminds me of 'Batterram.' It's a dancehall song, and it's interesting to me among other reasons because of the voice-as-instrument thing. For that same reason, I'm kinda liking rapper T.I. lately.
Wednesday, May 28
Here's this song, 'Between the Lines,' by Charlie Whitehead. I became aware of it when RJD2 included it in his 'Poorboy Lover Megamix,' on the Your Face or Your Kneecaps mixtape (OOP, but surprisingly still available, kinda.)

And here's this other song, 'The Crackhouse,' by Fat Joe featuring Lil Wayne. I became aware of it when I heard it in Grand Theft Auto IV. This seems to be the version from the in-game radio rather than the one from Joe's latest album, Elephant in the Room.
Tuesday, May 27
At my library, the power's out.
Wednesday, May 21
Here's a list of books I like (or, uh, liked. I posted this list in 2003 or so, on a blog on another site that I had at the time).

Matthew Arnold--Culture and Anarchy, 1869.
Classic essay about the relationship between politics and culture from a man better known these days for 'Dover Beach,' which appears in many a poetry anthology.

Thorstein Veblen--The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1934.
One of the first Americans to write about conspicuous consumption like it's a bad thing.

George Orwell--Politics and the English Language, 1946.
Yeah, everybody knows about some of his other works. Now that you're not twelve, this one's better.

C. Wright Mills--The Power Elite, 1956.
Mills thought that the military, big business and government run things. He makes a good argument.

Vance Packard--The Hidden Persuaders, 1957.
Cited by all sorts of people, this is a seminal look at the inherently deceptive nature of advertising.

Michael Harrington--The Other America, 1962.
Harrington sees the 'invisible' poverty in this land of milk and honey. A big influence in the thinking behind social programs in this country.

Eric Hoffer--The True Believer, 1963.
Eminent sociologist writes about cults, mass movements, and the kind of people that go in for that sort of thing.

Jessica Mitford--The American Way of Death, 1963, Kind and Usual Punishment, 1973.
One of my favorite muckrakers takes on the funeral business, and the prison business. She also wrote the excellent 'American Way of Birth.'

Marshall McLuhan--Understanding Media, 1964.
Out of fashion for a while; now, in this age of global computer networks, very much back in.

Studs Terkel--Working, 1972; American Dreams, Lost and Found, 1980.
Superstar journalist (and hero of mine) talks to the person-on-the-street.

Eugene Gans--Popular Culture and High Culture, 1974.
A little dry, but an acknowledged classic on the subject.

Neil Postman--Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk, 1976.
The author of the more-famous-these-days 'Amusing Ourselves to Death' examines the misuse of language, intentional and otherwise.

Paul Fussell--Class, 1983.
Probably the funniest (nonfiction) book ever written about social class in the U.S.

James Gleick--Chaos, 1987; Faster, 1999.
One of my favorite science writers on chaos theory, and the increasing pace of everything.

Timothy Ferris--Coming of Age in the Milky Way, 1988.
Wonderful overview of the history of astronomy and cosmology.

Mark Hertsgaard--On Bended Knee, 1988.
Scathing indictment of the way the press treated Reagan. He's also written memorably on nuclear energy, and just published 'The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World.' Mostly good reviews, but I haven't read it.

Paul Slansky--The Clothes Have No Emperor, 1989.
Hilarious look at the U.S. during the Reagan era, from someone who spent years working on Esquire's Dubious Achievement Awards.

Michael J. Weiss--The Clustering of America, 1989.
Demographics, zip codes, target marketing. A nice thing to read before reading 'Database Nation,' later on this list. Weiss also published 'This Clustered World,' on the same topics, in 2000, but I haven't read it.

Howard Zinn--Declarations of Independence, 1990.
Everybody loves 'A People's History of the United States,' but I think this is the better book.

Mike Davis--City of Quartz, 1990; Ecology of Fear, 1998.
Both about Los Angeles, but also very much about urban studies in general.

Susan Faludi--Backlash, 1991; Stiffed, 1999.
'Backlash' gets all the props, but, personally, I think 'Stiffed' might be the stronger of the two.

James Twitchell--Carnival Culture, 1992; Adcult USA, 1996.
I'd recommend the earlier one--he's no longer the outsider that he used to be. For evidence of that, check out his 2001 'Twenty Ads that Shook the World.' 'Living it Up' and 'Lead Us into Temptation,' by contrast, are both worth reading.

Henry Will--In Defense of Elitism, 1994.
Occasionally-infuriating call for a return to standards. You could lump him in with Dinesh DiSouza, Harold Bloom and others of that ilk, but probably shouldn't.

Douglas Rushkoff--Coercion, 1999; Media Virus, 1994.
A little breathless at times, but a very perceptive observer of our technology culture, and one of my favorite writers.

Walter Kendrick--The Secret Museum, 1995.
The best book i've ever read about the history of pornography in Western culture.

Nadine Strossen--Defending Pornography, 1995.
ACLU leader makes excellent arguments against Dworkin/MacKinnonites and other crusaders.

Susan J. Douglas--Where the Girls Are, 1995.
Boomer-y, but very readable look at gender and pop culture.

Laura Kipnis--Bound and Gagged, 1996.
Very accessible look at the aesthetics and politics of pornography.

Jeffrey Toobin--The Run of His Life, 1996.
I couldn't resist including an O.J. book. By far the best one, unless you prefer the indignant tone of Vincent 'Helter Skelter' Bugliosi's 'Outrage.'

Richard Zacks--An Underground Education, 1997.
Nice broad survey of repressed and forgotten history. Kind of like what the 'People's Almanac' people would have written if they were bigger liberals, and not so fond of lists.

Ian Grey--Sex, Stupidity and Greed, 1997.
Essays that attempts to explain just why so many movies are so bad. 'Bodies of Subversion,' also from former RE/Search publisher Andrea Juno, about women and tattoos, is also very good.

Thomas Frank--The Conquest of Cool 1997; Commodify your Dissent, 1997.
The latter title is an anthology from The Baffler. Frank's 'One Market Under God' is also excellent.

Joe Queenan--Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon, 1998.
Cynical critic spends a year taking in the worst that American popular culture has to offer.

Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art, 1998.
A nice complement to more scholarly art history.

Neal Stephenson--In the Beginning was the Command Line, 1999.
If it weren't for my no-fiction decision, I'd also include 'Cryptonomicon.'

Simson Garfinkel--Database Nation, 2000.
Frightening look at privacy in a digital age. Might even make you think about those doubleclick cookies.

Mark Prendergast--The Ambient Century, 2000.
Small factual errors take away from it, but this sweeping attempt to connect modern musical forms still impresses.

Daniel Harris--Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic, 2000.
Angry look at the aesthetics of consumerism and 'the lies we tell ourselves to preserve our individuality.'

David Brooks--Bobos in Paradise, 2001.
Bourgeois Bohemians, the new elite? Not nearly as good as many of these other titles, but intermittently funny, topical and rather popular, in a 'The Tipping Point' kind of way.

John Seabrook--Nobrow, 2001.
Not great, but quite entertaining. And I love the subtitle: the culture of marketing, the marketing of culture.

Eric Nuzum--Parental Advisory, 2001.
Concise history of music censorship in the U.S., from a WKSU staffer.

Eric Schlosser--Fast-Food Nation, 2001.
Gets compared to Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle,' and justifiably so.
Tattoos of Indochina: Magic, Devotion and Protection, by Michael McCabe.
Those Schiffer folks have been publishing some pretty nifty tattoo books lately, and this one is no exception. It kinda covers some of the same travelogue/interview/ethnography/modern-whatsit ground as, say, the Schiffer Japanese one-point book, or those photobooks of West Coast tattoo tours. Not as much anthropological detail as more academic books, and not as much flash as a Maarten Hesselt van Dinter book.

I'm fascinated by these kinds of tattoos, because the protection/magic thing is, in some respects, very far removed from the appeal of tattooing for someone, y'know, more like myself. But yet the aesthetic of these tattoos (or of authentically tribal ones, or even of prison ones) is something that really appeals to me. Not necessarily a lot of mind-blowing creativity or astonishing technical skill, but that's not the purpose, either of this book or of these tattoos. And besides, there are plenty of other tattoo books for that. Recommended to anthropology and tattoo fans.
Here's a cover version of Bill Withers' 'Use Me' by Esther Phillips. And a remix of T.I.'s 'Rubber Band Man' (not to be confused with The Spinners' 'Rubberband Man,' which is also a nice tune) by Nick Catchdubs, which uses a 'Use Me' sample.
Monday, May 19
Here's another mp3 that you might like:
Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble - Detroit Red

This is from The Malcolm X Memorial, which is still in print. It's one part of a four-part suite dedicated to Malcolm X. This particular section seems to be dedicated to his hustling years. Cohran played trumpet with Sun Ra, and was one of the founders of the AACM.
Saturday, May 17
Two books that I returned to the library completely or mostly unread:

From Betamax to Blockbuster: Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video, by Joshua M. Greenberg
Seems like it'd be up my alley, and has a blurb from Siva Vaidhyanathan. Just didn't get around to it.

The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes
It's another one of those books where it all seems to be available on the website.
Friday, May 16
5:30 A.M.: [Al] Jarreau corners [Bob] Dylan by the piano. He’s choked up. “Bobby,” Jarreau says, holding back tears, “in my own stupid way I just want to tell you I love you.” Dylan slinks away without even looking at him. Jarreau walks to the door of the studio, looks back at Dylan, cries, “My idol,” bursts into tears and leaves.
--from the We Are The World liner notes, quoted in Jason Hare's Chart Attack on Popdose.
Wednesday, May 14
Hey, speaking of 'What's Going On' cover versions, here's another, from Mr. Clean and the Soul Inc. I don't know any more about them than that they appear on this Funk Spectrum compilation.

And here's a version from Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the crazy genius blind multi-reedist jazz musician.

And here's Weevie's 'Pickit Line Dub.' This is from an album subtitled 'Deep Soul in Dub.' It's definitely modern, as much electronic as dub, and very crate-digger-ish. To quote a turntablelab review of a different album, think DJ Shadow plus Wesleyan University.

Last but not least, here's the 'Detroit Mix' of 'What's Going On.' Apparently, Gordy rejected it, or somesuch. What do I know?
Because I like cover songs, here's a version of 'What's Going On' by Truth and Soul affiliate Timothy McNealy.
Monday, May 12
Another lost post from 2005:

The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed, John Vaillant
This book got a glowing review, no pun intended, in Outside magazine, and it's totally worthy of the praise. Here's a succinct version of the story: some Pacific Northwest Haida lived on a tiny island with a very sacred, isolated and biologically unique tree--a spruce with gold-colored needles that figured heavily in their creation mythology. Then Europeans arrived. Logging got big, rapacious, clear-cut-happy and high-tech. An ex-logger and wilderness-survival type, right out of Edward Abbey fiction, had what was either an epiphany or a religious vision or a psychotic episode or all three. He kayaked through some of the roughest ocean water in the world, cut down the tree and then disappeared shortly before his trial. He's presumed dead, but nobody really knows. And there's an epilogue. Great stuff.

Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class, Ross Gregory Douthat
Part memoir, part journey to conservatism, and very small part examination of what social class and meritocracy have wrought. I finished it, but I wouldn't particularly recommend it. Nicholas Lemann's The Big Test is, for me at least, a much more interesting treatment of this kind of thing. If you must read about folks whose educational ambitions find themselves suddenly out of their (Ivy) league, there are plenty of better choices available. (Erich Segal's book are not among them.)

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
, Nick Flynn
Slacker type gets a job in a homeless shelter, meets his estranged, crazyish, novel-writing father, writes a novel about him. Recommended for people who like literary fiction, memoirs, or biographies about crazy people, as well as anyone who likes to read about parents and children. Great title, too.

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
, Jeff Chang
Have I mentioned how much I like books with the phrase 'cultural history' in the title? This book should have some of that. Years from now, it will occupy a place in the pantheon of hip-hop scholarship alongside David Toop and Tricia Rose. Excellent for anyone interested in hip-hop music or just modern cultural history. To paraphrase a review I read of Boogie Blind's Live at the PJs mix, Chang picks his spots, and when he hits, he hits hard.

Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy
, Lindsay Moran
Decent memoir--Moran is a good writer, and much of the book is fairly interesting, especially the segments related to CIA training. She's an engaging character, and, more than anything, this is a breezy read whose high points come during the incredulous descriptions of CIA training exercises involving made-up countries Vaingloria and Malevolencia, and whose low points come when Moran tries to make sense of the job, and the CIA, post-September 11.

Fried Chicken: An American Story, John T. Edge
By now it's a familiar story--author examines classic American foodstuff, travels the country like Charles Kuralt soaking up local color, chatting with entrepreneurs, elderly lunatics, plucky immigrants and true-believing neo-traditionalists, includes a few recipes, makes me hungry for chicken. You know the drill. This sounds dismissive, but it's not meant to--I love this kind of book. It's a fun time. The author, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, is passionate and knowledgeable. And I've got his Apple Pie, next in what he plans to make a series, on my to-read pile as I write this.

An experiment in one-sentence reviews:
Hell Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict, Seb Hunter
It's a British Fargo Rock City, only not as good.
Courtney Love: The Real Story, Poppy Z. Brite
Brite makes Boswell look skeptical, and given Love's, uh, poetic conception of truth, this is a dealbreaker.
Can't Take My Eyes Off You: 1 Man, 7 Days, 12 Televisions, Jack Lechner
Like Super Size Me, except in print, and with televisions; a sort of sequel/homage/update/whatnot to Charles Sopkin's '60s Seven Glorious Days, Seven Fun-Filled Nights
The thing is, I am perfectly capable of watching a lot of bad television and then having insights about it--I don't need some other guy to do it for me.
Stranger than Fiction, Chuck Palahniuk
Since he published this nonfiction/journalism anthology, I figured I'd give him another chance, but he's still not my thing.
Lost post from 2005:

Here's a moonshine recipe from Arkansas' Old Statehouse museum, and a NYT article about people throwing away their computers instead of removing ad- and spyware.
Another lost post from 2004:

I just finished reading Eric 'What Liberal Media?' Alterman and Mark 'Consumer Bible' Green's book, 'The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America.' I had high hopes, among other reasons because I'm a pretty big fan of some of the authors' other books. When I worked as a telephone poll-taker for Peter Hart Research (If you're thinking of a b-list pundit, it's fairly likely you're thinking of a different Peter Hart. This one is more the kind of guy who appears as an expert every now and again to talk about polling), we did a lot of calling during the NYC mayoral election (eventual winner: Giuliani). After a few days of reading off heavily-slanted summaries of various primary candidates' positions, I was rooting for Green, but, alas, it was not to be.

I was sufficiently interested in ol' dude to pick up his book, and The Consumer Bible is both a good resource and a good time. It's like a Naderite Heloise. Well, not exactly, as Heloise basically writes about goings-on inside the home, while this book focuses on interaction with the outside world, but I really wanted to use the phrase 'Naderite Heloise.' There are at least two editions of TCB (ooh, now I like it even better, like Elvis, and that Supremes/Temptations television special, and Mr. T), and either one is worth picking up. Not, perhaps, ideal pleasure reading, except for reference-book junkies, but an excellent resource--a throwback to second-wave consumerism, if you will, more in the spirit of Consumer Reports and 'On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors' than Adbusters and 'No Logo.'

Not long ago, I also read Alterman's 'What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News.' It's not amazing, but it's definitely good, in a preaching-to-the-choir, old-song-in-a-new-key kind of way. And, like many of these kinds of things, it's an incredibly well-supported argument. Alterman begins by examining media ownership, then separately treats specific areas of the punditocracy, looks at coverage of specific events including the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations and the Floridian 2000 election debacle and, finally, says a word or two about those portions of the media which are outwardly, aggressively conservative. Alterman is an entertaining and persuasive writer, which is a shame in a world where people, myself included, mostly read things that reinforce their existing opinions.

But what about The Book on Bush? It's good, but kind of mixed. The authors attempt on one hand to examine Bush's serial duplicity and the other to look at the real-world effects of his policies (I tend to associate these goals with Alterman and Green, respectively). And, well, these goals are not entirely compatible. Still, though, it's a good read. The main arguments are that Bush is consistently loyal to his base--big business, neocons and the religious right--and that he begins with conclusions and supports them with the aforementioned lies. 'The Book on Bush' is near the top of the list when it comes to Bush books. Bushwhacked is funnier, and angrier. American Dynasty is more exhaustively-documented. House of Bush, House of Saud is more provocative. The Book on Bush, however, is reasoned, measured and authoritative. Were I going to recommend one Bush book to, for example, my father, who is a)not particularly well-informed, b)moderate and c)on the fence, this might well be the one.

Also, not that long ago, I finished reading George Anastasia's 'The Last Gangster: From Cop to Wiseguy to FBI Informant: Big Ron Previte and the Fall of the American Mob.' There is a wonderful book out there, or maybe just in my mind, about organized crime in this country and, well, what happened to turn the 'Will He Still Love Me Tomorrow?' first reel of Goodfellas into the 'Gimme Shelter' third reel. Such a book would tell small stories to explain a larger one--small stories of individual criminals to explain the larger Darknet of criminal behavior, and the small story of criminal behavior to explain something larger in American culture. It would examine things like European immigration and assimilation, life imitating art and vice versa, and the rumored death of civilized, stratified society. I'm getting excited just thinking about it. 'The Last Gangster,' alas, is not that book. Previte is a fascinating figure, but, even so, it's just another tale of stupid, violent, thuggish mobsters.
Friday, May 9
Lost post from 2004:

I just returned the library's copy of Kool Moe Dee's 'There's a God on the Mic.' Remember that report card that Moe Dee issued to a bunch of his then-rapping peers, and the revisited rankings he did for Ego Trip? Well, here's more of the same, coupled with short explanatory essays. Listing his top twenty MCs would fall into the category of fair use, right? Sure it would, especially considering that this is a review. Here goes:

20. Redman - Bo knows everything, from sports to other stuff. But I betcha Bo don't know how to roll a blunt.
19. MC Lyte - Thirty days a month your mood is rude--I know the cause of your bloody attitude.
18. Ice Cube - Even saw the lights of the Goodyear blimp, and it read 'Ice Cube's a pimp.'
17. Method Man - Never ever give my pussy away--and keep it tight, aight?
16. Treach - It's the longest, loveliest, lean--I call it the leanest. It's another five-letter word rhymin' with cleanest and meanest.
15. Jay-Z - I got extensive hoes with expensive clothes, and I sip fine wine and spit venomous flows. What, you didn't know?
14. Kool G. Rap - Makin' veterans run for medicine, 'cause I put out more lights in a fight than Con Edison. Rip the damn cage like I'm on a rampage, so if you want rage, I'ma make front page.
13. Tupac - And don't blame me; I was given this world--I didn't make it.
12. Queen Latifah - Who you callin' a bitch?
11. Nas - Verbal assassin, my architect pleases. When I was twelve, I went to hell for snuffin' Jesus.
10. Lauryn Hill - More powerful than two Cleopatras, bomb graffiti on the tomb of Nefertiti. My rhymes are heavy, like the mind of Sister Betty.
9. Biggie - You ain't have to explain shit. I been robbin' motherfuckers since the slave ships.
8. Chuck D - I got a letter from the government the other day. I opened and read it. It said they were suckers.
7. LL Cool J - Don't run from the cops, makin' suckers jock, and I'm only eighteen making more than your pops.
6. Grandmaster Caz - But she couldn't keep her hand from off my fly. So I made her lock the door, and went to check it. When I came back in she was totally naked. That was my cue to do the do. I took my clothes off and started on the prove. Well I was tearin' shit up, and 'bout a quarter to three, she said, "Caz! Somebody's comin'!" I said, "Yeah, me!"
5. Kool Moe Dee - I'll ask him who is the best--and if he don't say Moe Dee, I'll take my whip and make him call himself Toby.
4. Big Daddy Kane - And when my pen hits the paper, aww shit.
3. KRS-One - With one and a half pair of pants you ain't cool.
2. Rakim - I don't like to dream about gettin' paid, so I look into my pocket at the money I've made.
1. Melle Mel - 'Cause it's all about money. Ain't a damn thing funny--you've got to have a con in this land of milk and honey.

Good things about this book: It's filled with old-school photographs, many of them quite entertaining. (Is that a Yo! Pop-Swatch that Lyte's wearing? Damn, I gots to get me one of those.) And, from describing being asked to write a dis record for Antoinette to reminiscing about his battles with LL, there's a lot of entertaining rap-game gossip. While I'd hesitate to call it funke funke wisdom, Moe Dee does bring a unique perspective to the top-whatever format, which has been pretty thoroughly played out by critics and journalists (i.e., haters). And it serves as a good entry point, for newbies into hip-hop history and for heads into debate and second-guessing.

Bad things about this book: It's not even close to objective. When it comes to individual ratings, Moe all but makes things up. Here's a sample: "Based on his freestyle ability and his lyrical prowess, you can just tell that he's an emcee that has the battle skills in him. He hasn't been in any popular battles, but Kurupt definitely has the tools. You can see it on him. You can see he's a battle emcee." Kurupt hasn't publicly battled anybody--just come out and say it. And, as with a lot of books about popular culture, the copy-editing and fact-checking is pretty ass-out. A lot of rhymes are quoted, not always accurately. The bleeping, with asterisks, is inconsistent. And the continual use of the word 'nukka' is just weird.

All in all, I'd say it's one to leaf through at the bookstore, or check out at the library, rather than one to purchase. Apparently, Moe Dee has a greatest-groups book in the works. Bonus information for library types: although his name appears on this book as Kool Mo Dee, Kool Moe Dee is the LC authority form.
Hay what is up with you are you mad? What did I do to you? did I do somethig bad tell. Love you. I am sorry--found in a book a while back.
Thursday, May 8
"At this point, in 2008, if you put out a book, a movie, or write a verse, paint a painting, it should have some sort of social value. Art is the polar opposite of the current communication saturation--the elimination of the art of storytelling, the lack of passing traditions on from generation to generation, when two men would just sit down and talk. A return to art that has some meaning, some deeper political value, might be part of the answer."--Tariq 'Black Thought' Trotter, quoted in Rolling Stone.
Two books I recently read:

Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, Carl Wilson.
Not that Carl Wilson. I haven't read 'em all, but I suspect that this is the most interesting title yet published in the 33 1/3 series (though some of the more high-concept ones, like Kate Schatz' Rid of Me book, a sort-of novella, come close). Sure, it's about a Celine Dion record, but it's also, mostly, about taste and coolness and the very complicated feedback-loop kind of way that people construct pop culture and their own selves. Highly recommended to music geeks and cultural-studies types. If you want an in-depth explication of Dion's creative process, though (or for that matter a bunch of glamour-shot photos of her), look elsewhere.

Midnight Sun, Ben Towle.
Here's a bold pronouncement about my tastes: anything both graphic-novel-ish and historical-fiction-ish, or nonfiction-ish, will probably be up my alley. This is a great story, with sparse and evocative illustration. It is, however, too short. (And, for any library collections types who may be reading, it might be a little bit more dark and profane than the YA standard.)
Tuesday, May 6
Two fiction books that are somehow body-modification-related, and which I checked out from the library and am returning unread, and hope to maybe someday revisit:

Snakes and Earrings, Hitomi Kanehara
The Tattoo Artist, Jill Ciment
A while back, I made an all-cover-songs compilation CD for some pals. Here's a .zip file of the whole thing (90 mb zip) (I like .7z and .rar, but, hey, compatibility--plus .mp3s are already compressed, so no algorithm will make a huge difference, it doesn't seem). Questions, comments, opinions, suggestions--I'd love to hear 'em.

And here's a tracklisting:

Ella Fitzgerald - Sunshine of Your Love
Originally by Cream. The big band backing is okay, but I wish Ginger Baker was in it.

Lonnie Smith - Think
A live B3 soul-jazz version of the Aretha Franklin song, livened up by a couple extra percussionists.

Bobby Byrd - Signed Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours)
Byrd's one of those high-energy kinds of singers, and the JB's band is at least as energetic.

A Darker Shade of Black - Ball of Confusion
Totally one of the best psychedelic soul songs ever written. Originally by the Norman Whitfield-era Temptations, though I suspect that the roughly-contemporary version by the Undisputed Truth better reflects Norman Connors' intent.

The Meters - Sing a Simple Song
Originally by Sly and the Family Stone, but this is one of those 'All Along the Watchtower' situations. Holy shit. The Breakestra covers this version, but it's not nearly this good.

The Neapolitans - Crosstown Traffic
It's a Jimi Hendrix song (with a great video from the very early days of same), but I don't know much of anything about the folks who are playing this cover version (beyond that it appears on a mixtape from NYCTrust DJ E's E). Love the organ, though. Little mixing at the end of the track.

Kenny & the Beach Boys - Big Payback
Not those Beach Boys. Bahamians.

Al Green - I Want To Hold Your Hand
Maybe you've heard the original version.

Aretha Franklin - Eleanor Rigby
Quite different from her version on This Girl's In Love With You, this song is from the Live at the Filmore West shows.

The Israelites - Come Together
Jamaicans. And yeah, three Beatles covers in a row. And mixing.

Jackson 5 - Ain't No Sunshine
Most of the songs these guys sang were done first by somebody else, so why pick this one? Well, because I think it's a really good song, and a mildly well-known hip-hop sample source. And let's just say there might be a reason that Mikejack songs don't have a lot of spoken introductions in 'em. He's no Bill Withers, that's for sure. Of course, Bill Withers is no Michael Jackson, either.

Horace Andy - Ain't No Sunshine
Yeah, it's the same song, twice in a row. Did I mention that I think it's a really good song? Plus, Horace Andy, fairly late in his life, had that great Massive Attack connection.

Carol Cool - Upside Down
Here's a Jamaican version of Diana Ross' 1980 disco classic 'Upside Down' (I was really, really fond of this song when I was a little kid). Pick up the LP version of the Diana album for gatefold cheesecake, or the CD deluxe edition for ridiculous extras, including the alternate version of the album--Motown rejected the first version that Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers submitted.

Irish Man - Part Time Lover
Half the goddamn lines in this song end with the words 'part time lover.' It's like Stevie is a lazy mc.

Gang Do Tagarella - Melo Da Tagarella
I was going to follow R's lead, and not include any mix/mashup/re-interpretation kinda things, and I could've even done a decent job at it. But it's hard. Realness, authenticity, they're problematic. Take this song--It's a bunch of Brazilians playing a cover of 'Rapper's Delight,' a greedhead studio creation which depends heavily on, by which I mean totally bites, the bassline from Chic's disco classic 'Good Times.' And this is a cover of a rap song, but there's no rapping in it.

Byron Lee & The Dragonaires - Express Yourself
Lee was like the Jamaican Don Ho or something. Here he plays 'Express Yourself,' as originally performed by Charles Wright and the 103rd Street Watts Rhythm Band, and probably made most famous by NWA.

Laura Lee - What A Man
Originally performed by Linda Lyndell, and a big successful hit for Salt 'n' Pepa and En Vogue in the '90s.

El Michels Affair - C.R.E.A.M.
Here's another cover of a rap song, but without any rapping in it. These soul/retro guys' covers of Wu-Tang songs are so good that they later released an EP with Raekwon and played a show as the Wu's backing band. Stay awake to the ways of the world--that shit is deep.

Ananda Shankar - Can't Help Falling In Love
Apparently, there was an Indian Elvis tribute album, released shortly after he died. My man Ananda Shankar, always crossover-minded, was totally down.

Last Exit - Big Boss Man
A quick, loose cover from this all-star team of jazz weirdos. Chuck Eddy likes these guys.

Jerry Granelli and Jamie Saft - Don't Stop
A quick, loose cover from this all-star team of jazz weirdos. Granelli's highest-profile gig was probably on a few Vince Guaraldi albums. Saft's highest-profile gig might be his trio album of Bob Dylan covers.

Youngblood Brass Band - Human Nature, Pt. 2
This is really becoming one of my favorite Mikejack songs. He didn't write it, though. In any case, I think they should play Nas' 'It Ain't Hard to Tell,' perhaps as part of some Jay-Z/Roots-ish MTV thing.

Shirley Ellis - Stagger Lee
I could've made a whole CD of 'Stagger Lee' versions. This one, from the lady who sang 'The Name Game,' is probably more upbeat than most. (I can think of at least two pretty good Stackolee books, btw.)

Slim Harpo - When The Saints Go Marching In (live)
This was recorded at an Alabama frat party in the early '60s. Despite all that, man, I would love to have been at this show. Those folks are having one hell of a good time.
Sunday, May 4
Just got on train from chicago to little rock.
A lagniappe of cultural kitsch and B-movie claptrap

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