compilation Archive

Album Review: Wattstax: The Living Word

With apologies to Sir Walter Scott, “oh, what a tangled web we weave, when again we practice to re-release.” The 1972 Wattstax festival was black R&B’s excellent (if belated) answer to Woodstock and other festivals of the era. Concerts in and around the Watts district of Los Angeles put the spotlight on Stax Records’ best

Album Review: Stax: The Soul of Hip-Hop

This compilation would have been an inspired, brilliant idea, had it not been done already (see review of the 2008 Blue Note compilation Droppin’ Science). So instead it’s merely a very, very good idea. Hip-hop is a genre that is largely built on synthesizing earlier works. And one of its virtues is its sense of

Album Review: Various Artists — Stax Does the Beatles

Before succumbing to the vicissitudes of the record biz, Stax Records was one of the coolest labels in the 60s and 70s. Rawer and earthier than Motown, the black-oriented label out of Memphis turned out classic albums from Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MGs and many others. Many of these artists wrote their own

Album Review: Various Artists — Malt shop Memories

I’ve made a similar point before, but it’s worth saying again: in general Time-Life musical retrospectives haven’t got a long history of credibility. In general they’ve been viewed as cash-ins, as attempts at capitalizing on the fleeting resurgence in popularity of a particular genre, subgenre or craze. So it was against that backdrop that I

Album Review: Droppin’ Science: Greatest Samples from the Blue Note Lab

This is one of those projects that makes you ask, “Why didn’t someone do this sooner?” Many artists on the famed Blue Note label have had their work sampled over the years. The 1969-’75 work of their artists would be a treasure trove for innovative hip-hop artists; many of the era’s best jazz/pop tracks were

Album Review: R. Stevie Moore — Meet The

R Stevie Moore is one odd dude. I can’t say whether he’s the sort that listeners would wish to “have a beer with”, but his music is worthwhile for the adventurous. There’s a whole sub-subgenre of music that sometimes goes by the sobriquet of “incredibly strange music.” (I’m not sure of this, but I think

Album Review: Moby Grape – The Place and the Time

Moby Grape was (and remains) one of those unlucky star-crossed acts that never, ever seemed able to catch a break. From the beginning, things seemed to go wrong for them. They managed to survive the critically disastrous over-hyped debut: while the self-titled album was nearly perfect, the record company’s insisted on feting it with an

Album Review: John Lee Hooker — Anthology: 50 Years

John Lee Hooker was never the smoothest of bluesmen. While he had no qualms about going electric (in fact nearly all of his celebrated work features electric guitar) he made few concessions to modern song structure. His songs — beginning with the classic “Boogie Chillen'” in 1948 — worked in the Delta blues style of

Album Review: Rodney Dangerfield – Greatest Bits

Rodney Dangerfield is a cultural icon. Even those not overly familiar with his standup comedy work on television and in film would recognize his face. And his distinctive voice is quite memorable, as is his most famous quip (“I don’t get no respect!” or some variant of that phrase). Yet Dangerfield released only about a

Album Review: Illegitimate Spawn: The Fuzztones Tribute Album

The concept of Illegitimate Spawn chases its own tail: an international compilation of unknown groups playing cover versions in tribute to The Fuzztones, a group who are themselves essentially a tribute to Nuggets-style 60s music; it’s certainly not for everyone. As an incurable addict of the melodic end of sixties fuzz-drenched garagepunk, I’m not sure