A Real Rhapsody playlist blog of questionable quality

Friday, April 29, 2005

Jay Berliner, Guitar: Take 2

Part the second in an ongoing foray into the Rhapsody-available highlights of the musical contributions of guitarist Jay Berliner. And why not?

Mister Berliner appears on several albums by legendary jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus.

I listened for his guitar on Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus and on The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady, and by far his finest detectable contribution is on track 4 of the latter record.

Even on an album not known for its clear, pithy song titles, this one stands out:

Medley: Mode D-Trio And Group Dancers: Stop! Look! And Sing Songs Of Revolutions/ Mode E-Single Solos And Group Dance/ Mode F-Group And Solo Dance

I don't think any earthly Web site database administrator has accounted for a track title of such heft. It took me half an hour to find the complete song title (on the excellent Impulse Records Web site).

It's a meaty track, and Mister Berliner's trademark Spanish-flavored guitar playing is in fine display.

Charles Mingus - "Medley: Mode D-Trio And Group Dancers: Stop! Look! And Sing Songs Of Revolutions/ Mode E-Single Solos And Group Dance/ Mode F-Group And Solo Dance"

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Thursday, Befuddled, Haiku

I upgraded to v3.0 yesterday and am still adjusting to the altered "workflow." I made heavy use of being able to drill down and add individual playlist tracks from My Library in the left pane while poking around in right pane. Eliminating library access from the left pane has me all clumsy-like.

Here's a haiku for a Thursday whiles I get adjusted:

the low spark of high heeled boys
looking for a kiss

(Source: Gene Simmons, Traffic, New York Dolls)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Jay Berliner Retrospective, Take 1

Last Monday I posted about the 1974 Milt Jackson album Sunflower. I singled out the guitar playing of Jay Berliner, and was surprised I hadn't come across his name before. I pledged to research his work and report my findings here. Well, Berliner claims to have played on over 10,000 recordings, and his list of album credits on allmusic spreads over three pages. I'll feature some highlights here as I unearth them.

Jay Berliner was a ubiquitous player throughout the seventies on recordings for Creed Taylor's CTI jazz label. Our first Berliner history lesson track is "Spirit of Summer" from the 1972 Eumir Deodato CTI release Prelude. This album was made a huge hit for its funkified version of Strauss' classic Also Sprach Zarathustra. Spirit of Summer is a little toothless in comparison, but I'm pretty sure Berliner plays the guitar solo on this one. Of note, Prelude also includes Ray Barretto on percussion, Billy Cobham on drums, and Ron Carter AND Stanley Clarke on bass. Deodato himself sounds like another odd character who could provide fascinating playlist research fodder.

Deodato - Spirit of Summer

Just because it rocks, and I'm shocked I hadn't heard it before, I'm going to include a link to Also Sprach Zarathustra, too. From my meager research I'm pretty sure the guitar solo at the half-way point in this track was played by a gentleman named John Tropea.

As someone who saw Phish play Also Sprach Zarathustra more times than I can remember, I feel like a complete dolt for not being aware of this version. From the "out-from-chaos" opening to the electric piano foundation to the funky beat, their version is basically a cover of this cover.

Deodato - Also Sprach Zarathustra

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

From Melbourne to Guangzhou, via Helsinki

On Sunday Amanda posted a current Australian music playlist. The band Architecture in Helsinki stood out for me, and I proceeded to consume their entire 2004 release Fingers Crossed.

Track 6, entitled Spring 2008 displays a distinct Eastern patina. It uses wood blocks, plucked strings, and indecipherable lyrics in a way that made me run straight into the arms of my current Rhapsody closet obsession: Cantonese opera.

Anyone I've exposed to Cantonese opera has considered it a painful endurance contest of caterwauling and twisted metal. What can you do? I must have been in an especially susceptible state when I was first exposed to it. Whatever the reason, I can while away half a day bobbing my head and working with this stuff playing.

I've found about thirty records of Cantonese opera on Rhapsody. I haven't heard them all yet, but here's a highlight from my research so far:

Cai Yanfen - Xi Shi

Monday, April 25, 2005

TJ Kirk Source Material

One of my favorite records turns ten years old some time this year. TJ Kirk was an occasional side project featuring 8-string guitar magician Charlie Hunter. In 1995 they had all the elements necessary to whip my ears into a happy froth: an acrobatic three-guitar (and drums) celebration of the music of Thelonious Monk, James Brown, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk that was alternately funky, heavy, jazzy, and dreaddy. I was lucky to catch an early show at the Great American Music Hall in San Fransisco before they were forced to shed the original moniker James T. Kirk. I soon found a copy of the first album on cassette, and it didn't leave my player for a very long time.

None of the TJ Kirk records are currently available on Rhapsody. Here, though, is the track list source material for the first album:

TJ Kirk - TJ Kirk

Soul Power - Brown
Teo - Monk
Bemsha Swing - Monk
Shuffle Boil/You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks and I'll Be Straight - Monk/Brown
Volunteered Slavery - Kirk
Serenade to a Cuckoo - Kirk
Freaks for the Festival - Kirk
Cold Sweat/Rip, Rig, & Panic - Brown/Kirk
Humph - Monk
Epistrophy - Monk
I Got to Move/In Walked Bud - Brown/Monk
Jackie-ing - Monk

Friday, April 22, 2005

Warm Glowing Warming Glow

So my brother and father are coming over today to whack a coat of timber oil on the body of the house. Time is short, so as the mercury gradually climbs I'll just offer some classic thoughts of summer.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Playlist Haiku Manifesto

Maybe some people shouldn't be allowed a second cup of coffee so early on a day as nice as this. Here's how it works: a three song playlist whose titles make a proper 5-7-5 haiku. It's a form that provides the traditional poetic benefits of haiku with the added musical juxtaposition of the songs those titles represent.

Here's two to inaugurate the genre:

Playlist Haiku #01

cigarette sandwich
I am a motherless child
come and buy my toys

(Source #01: Scud Mountain Boys, Tina Turner, David Bowie)

Playlist Haiku #02

hurting each other
Belinda Carlisle diet
if this room could talk

(Source #02: The Carpenters, Patterson Hood, Sly & the Family Stone)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Baritones in the Sun

They've got the otherworldly deep voices that rock you down to the first chakra. The Baritones.

The first song that pulled me in to their sexy, subterranean realm was a version of Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me on a Roland Kirk record sung by Al Hibbler. I was amazed someone could sing so low and still be so expressive and acrobatic.

Unfortunately that track's not available on Rhapsody, but here's a playlist of stellar baritone performances. Let me know if there's any standouts missing (I almost overlooked Kurt Elling until Covalent Bond refreshed my memory with his Quail-Eating Playlist).

Earl Coleman - Two Different Worlds
Arthur Prysock - Blue Velvet
Johnny Hartman - My One and Only Love
Jon Hendricks - In Walked Bud
Al Hibbler - Pretty Woman
Billy Eckstine - Tenderly
Kurt Elling - Night Dreamer
Joe Williams - Smack Dab In The Middle

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Unemployment Line Mix Addendum

I haven't been too tempted by the Featured Mixes on the Rhapsody home page since joining up a few weeks ago. But, the "Rockin' the Unemployment Line" mix up today caught my eye with the Clash, Replacements, and Bare Jr. all at the top of the list.

My personal favorite song for those disgruntled work moments and sunny Fridays is missing, though. If you try this mix out, may I suggest adding Pink Slip by the Unband? The Unband was a fine group originally formed out here in western Mass. that has since disintegrated into various splintered musical pursuits.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Those Monday Vibes

Here's another record I stumbled upon last week that unexpectedly floored me.

Milt Jackson - Sunflower - 1974

The man who redefined jazz vibraphone, recording in the mid-70's.

Cover of a contemporary soul hit.

A large string section.

Electric piano.

Five ostriches silhouetted by a buttery sunrise on the album cover.

The potential for high schmaltz is incredible.

Instead, Sunflower consistently delivers a sublime passion perfect for the coming of spring. I came to hear People Make The World Go Round, which is the high point, but the whole album is soul nourishing.

And what a lineup:
Freddie Hubbard - trumpet, flugelhorn
Herbie Hancock - piano
Ron Carter - bass
Billy Cobham - drums
Jay Berliner - guitar

I'd never heard of Mr. Berliner before, but his guitar work perfectly push starts the album on its languid, loving way. As it turns out he's recorded with everyone from Charles Mingus to Laura Nyro to Frank Sinatra, and appears on the Animal House Soundtrack. Sounds like perfect playlist research material...

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Grail

Well, the Rhapsody gods are smiling upon me. Less than a day after naming this blog I stumbled upon what has to be the ultimate expression of ribaldry and schmaltz. I listened to this song three times in a row when I found it, and still couldn't believe it even existed.

I'm speaking of course of Guava Jelly by Barbra Streisand.

Guava Jelly is a vintage Bob Marley song of romantic innuendo. Streisand gives it a slow, sultry island treatment complete with echoing steel drums, a feisty chorus, and an extended climactic outro that is just mind-blowing.

This track is from the 1974 album Butterfly. The album cover features a stick of butter on a white background with a housefly on it. Wow. Barbra behaving badly. I had no idea. I mean, I knew she had "nothing to be guilty of" but this is out there.

For the adventurous, Butterfly also offers an unconvincing cover of Life On Mars by David Bowie and leads off with a song titled Love in the Afternoon:

"And deep in my soul
I could feel a quiver
Then he went down
And found that sweet old river
And he showed me the way
To find love in the afternoon"

I still suspect this whole thing is a hoax, but I love it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ribaldry #01

So what does a guy do when confronted with 27 versions of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me", but not a single "Shipoopy"? What does he do when lost in the conundrum of being able to listen to "Draw the Line" but not the superior "Kings and Queens" from the same album? Where does he turn when Freddy Fender has been swept under the rug by Baldemar Huerta?

Why, to adolescent over-the-top sex jams, of course. And this dark, hilarious corner of Rhapsody didn't let me down. At the risk of alienating anyone with taste on only my second post, here's a short playlist of some of the classics:

Ribaldry #01

Monty Python - Penis Song
Joe Walsh - I.L.B.T.'s
Eazy-E - Automobile
Blowfly - [I can't even type this one in public]
MC Paul Barman - Cock Mobster

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Facing the Abyss

For some reason the first time I faced that empty search text box in the Rhapsody interface, out of all the possibilities I searched for Paul Desmond. And why not? The first song I played a few seconds later?

My Funny Valentine

Is there anybody smoother?

This track is from "The Complete RCA Victor Recordings" box set. 55 tracks total. The jazz box sets have been a real shining point on Rhapsody. The biggest one I've come across so far? The Complete Billie Holiday, weighing in at a fecund 256 tracks. If you've seen bigger, please do note it in the comments.