Monday, November 15, 2010

Sanctified Women

The posthumous album has one of hell of a bad name (colloquially known as "cash-grab") with just about everyone except record executives, the unscrupulous producers who remix them, and any label-associated young buck who got to spit some lyrics along with Notorious BIG or Tupac, without any of the self-doubt that would come with being matched up with such a towering figure. Guy can't call you out on your weak lines - he's dead!

So, naturally, you gotta be skeptic when you come across an album like Marvin Gaye's Dream of a Lifetime, released in 1985, a year after he passed on to the other side. Thankfully, this is no collection of half-realized songs stretched out, with talentless hacks contributing vocal overdubs and other stylistic . It's a little rough around the edges, yes, but kind of awesome, too. And it's alternately raunchy and tender, with songs like Savage in the Sack, Masochistic Beauty*, and Sanctified Lady (a gospel electro-funk workout initially titled Sanctified Pussy) matched up with a smooth, rolling song like Symphony. And at the helm, long-time Gaye collaborator, Gordon Banks.

Another Gaye collaborator, Leon Ware worked with Quincy Jones on his 1974 sexually charged album, Body Heat, co-writing the title track.

And... From the soundtrack to the (bizarrely titled) film Soup For One, comes a spectacular R&B jam courtesy of Fonzi Thornton, produced by Chic with that same great piano, bass and guitar interplay that's unsurpassed in the genre.

On a similar tip, check out Rilly Guilty and Fiend's R&B and funk mix, hosted by the fine folks at Lookout.

* Sample lyrics: "If you do it right, you get the pipe." "It's my duty, to spank your booty."

Friday, November 05, 2010

House-Making Cinema

Films T.V. Phone Age

One-hit wonders The Maisonettes' hit Heartache Avenue, all Motown bluster and swagger, was most recently sampled to good effect by UK garage-ists Roll Deep, for The Avenue. Films were a Japanese new-wave group. Their first and only album Misprint bears paying some attention to, combining Abba-esque harmonies, new-wave fuzz, bubbly energy, and saccharine synth lines. In the case of Radio Zone, there's also some very liberal borrowing from an 80's hit for the verse that I can't put my finger on. (Give me a weekend).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Photograph by Aneta Bartos
Luxuria Redneck
Colin Newman Better Late Than Never

Luxuria was Howard Devoto's post-Magazine project.
Colin Newman is the solo outing of the Wire frontman.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Didion's Interminable Documentary

"To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out – since our self-image is untenable – their false notion of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to your Paolo, Helen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan; no expectation is too misplaced, no role too ludicrous. At the mercy of those we cannot but hold in contempt, we play roles doomed to failure before they are begun, each defeat generating fresh despair at the urgency of divining and meeting the next demand made upon us.

It is the phenomenon sometimes called ‘alienation from self.’ In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home."

- From On Self Respect, Joan Didion