The Freelance Mentalists.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
 
Some Albums Should Be Elected President (Or At Least Math Dept. Chair)

George Clinton and the P.Funk All-Stars, T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (Sony), 1996

It will come as no surprise to anybody who reads this site that I would love this album. But it's not just love. It's lust. I want this album in the worst way, all the time, in any available format. It's the perfect comeback record but it was slept on the way the P is always slept on. I think the failure of America to embrace T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. is indicative of larger issues in the country, but no other wiser country has embraced it either. So I guess I'm just disappointed with everyone who isn't me. And it wouldn't be the first time.

The title of course stands for The Awesome Power Of A Fully Operational Mothership, which would have been a better title but I think that was the name of the last Digital Underground record so no dice. And it is fully op on this here: not just prime George but all the living henchmen: Shider, Hampton, Blackbyrd, Billy Bass, Lige, Skeet, Mudbone, Junie, P-Nut, Ray Davis, Boogie. Bernie Worrell is here, as is Bootsy and his brother Catfish; Sheila Brody and Belita Woods and Uncle Charlie Wilson and both Fiddler brothers are here; and, of course, Clinton's rapping son Treylewd and singing daughter LaShonda. There are some others who you may or may not recognize too but you don't want me to list them all. A lot of people fit into the Mothership.

Maybe people just didn't like the fact that the first song (and bid for hit single) was the weakest. "If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It's Gonna Be You)" has a weak rap tag-team of Erick Sermon and MC Breed, and it's kind of genericky if you don't listen closely, so yeah I understand that. But better ears will reveal the undeniable groove and a hummo continuo that just won't quit and some sophisticated interplay, as well as George's typical apocalypso stylings about live bands being illegal soon so we'd better cleave more closely to the P. Which has turned out to be true, if you put the words "great" and "funky" in there before "bands". So: prophetic.

But the rest is so amazing that it's been bitten from since then. Kanye lifts his spaceship song (you know, the one where he argues that he's been oppressed for having to work at the Gap, man I wanted to smack him for that until I heard the workout song which is funny but then "Jesus Walks" started to annoy me so now I don't like him for a while) from "New Spaceship," where Charlie Wilson does so much woozy smoked-out testifying that Pharrell had to borrow him for Snoop's "Beautiful" last year. In fact, I think them Neptune boize must have a couple of copies of this album, because "Let's Get Funky" could be a N.E.R.D. slow jam, and the seven-minute grind of "Sloppy Seconds," where Bootsy and Bernie concoct a slutty early-70s crust--

You know what? I can't finish this. It's turning into a Review. I hate Reviews right now. You know why? I'll tell you.

This email was forwarded to me based on my review of Trap Muzik on Popmatters.

"Hi, My name is P***** W********, I am a 20 year old female representing GRIFFIN, GA  not that far from the home of T.I.  I wanted to comment on the article about T.I.  I think he is really the King Of The South.  His music is the best I've ever heard.  I think people are hating on him because he is original and the best upcoming rapper for the year 2004.  I have all his CD's(not bootleg) and a few posters.  I just wanted to tell everybody out there who have doubts about T.I.  "Please do not sleep on this man or doubt him because, he is one of the best, even though he has had ups and downs, I among others love the hell out him!!!!  I LOVE YOU, T.I.!!!!!"

This kind of thing happens on ILM all the time, and everyone gets all bent out of shape about "oh those damned Googlers again." But I want to emphasize that I am not posting this to make fun of Ms. W********. I think it's awesome. There is no ironic cool detachment here, there is no self-consciousness, nothing except fan love, sent through the electronic void to an online magazine that published a good review of a record she loves by an artist she really loves. I want to be her, I want to feel that fan love again without worrying about how it'll make me look, how people will react, whether or not I'm judging a record by some kind of fakey objective standards. Those standards are just buzzwords used to cover up personal likes and dislikes and we all know it and we continue to pretend that we're experts, that we have some kind of training other than just listening to shitloads of records and reading shitloads of older people's criticisms of those records and figuring out how to horn our loves and likes and dislikes and hates into the narrow shoes we are given.

And the P. does not deserve narrow shoes. I'm not going to convince you how wonderful T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M is by referring to great lines (although when "Mathematics" finally gets around to its hilarious punches like "I will go into you...TWO times" it really is funny) or to kick-ass musical moments (like how they slouch into the semi-rap on "Underground Angel" and it's all like 'oh snap they're actually rapping now') or anything. That's fine. Sleep on this record, the whole P.Funk catalog, I won't worry about it anymore. That'll just leave me to be a Fan like my girl P***** W********. That's the highest rung to aim at anyway.
 
Monday, July 26, 2004
 
Re following Drive-By Truckers: I was (somewhat) too hard on Patterson. "Tornadoes" is as eerie as Jason's songs, and it's not like PH hasn't done eerie before.And part of that's his voice, which is *not* shot, as I seemed to imply, without meaning to. It will be shot, or shite, if he keeps squinching it as much as he does on some other tracks. Guess I'm mainly frustrated/spoiled cos of their usual standard, but they're always a bit uneven (as I should've said in the Voice re SRO), so should've been ready to listen around the lesser without shortchanging *some* of the gooder. Frustrated here by the expectation-whettin' way PH presents a triptych of songs re the late hickory-stick totin' Sheriff Buford Pusser, of WALKING TALL mythology. WT was based on BP's *account* of his great deeds, otherwise largely unverified by others, or so I remember reading in the 70s, not too long after film came out. Most impressive aspects: a)Manager of one of the theatres showing it in B'ham taped unique-for-him radio endorsement,"and let me reassure all parents that the 'R' rating is for Violence, not Sex." Also (b) the ending, when Buford has finally been brought low(est).(He started seeming kinda sadie-maso, like Evel Kneivel or latterday Mel G.)Courtesy his old main squeezers the State Line Gang, and congregation runs out of church, to destroy the Gang's main den of iniquity. Somehow seemed prophetic to see them in their Sunday best, ripping that place to shreds, and, though I forgot about it, remembered when Moral Majority first burst through my haze, to hold rally on steps of our nation's Capitol. Well! Patterson, who is younger than me, but writes that he saw the movie back then, and who says he likes to do research, and also make up good stuff, really doesn't follow through. Good spoken intro, good snarly vignette, then Cooley's effective "Cottonseed," then whole subset *ends* with the PH tawky-boring bit of the kind I complained about below.However: one of Cooley's is boring me too (although his have grown on me before, so won't name it yet.) And! PH's "Lookout Mountain" does hold its own with Cooley's and Jason's, in the kill-No-Dozin finale totalizm. But "Lookout" is a pre-DBT, and the latter have recorded it before, haven't they. Still!
 
Sunday, July 25, 2004
 
Anodyne - Lifetime Of Gray Skies (Level Plane - 2004)


They leave cracks and spaces
inbetween notes and riffs
There are levels and there are levels
There are drum lessons and there are drum lessons
If everyone decides that they
want to be Dillinger Escape Plan then
who will run the Jet Propulsion Lab
in years to come
Not to mention that future M.I.T. mixers
will lean heavily toward They Might Be Giants fans
The rebels will be on the road
Inhaling the woodwork and faux-humble craft
of Unitarian Universalist basements from
fruited plain to fruited plain
The bass is back as noodle urger
Fomenting the need to twiddle
while Rome sputters
There are hints and stretches of
something beyond the pale/veil/door
A seasick ambience that doesn’t last
long enough
The din less inspired then one would hope
But the proper density
of sound is in evidence
They know what the effect
of their playing is
It’s a controlled environment
As for live
well
I can imagine the sweat and impacted molars
On record
I am rarely urged to fight
But I don’t run
I admire the density
The thick strings of notes
and noise that make up a
plan for a spacious
if empty
suburban home
 
Saturday, July 24, 2004
 
Drive-By Truckers: THE DIRTY SOUTH(Release date: 8/24/04)14 songs, 8 damn good, 2 pretty good, 4 too tawky, and the tawk aint that stimulatin.'(Having a veteran 'llow as how he "never saw John Wayne on the sands of Iwo Jima" no boffo.) Patterson's the culprit, as always, but more so here. Ideas, or at least topics, or at least *words,* don't lead the music, or follow it either. And that tight dry little cigarette voice, which can/could be effective, kind of in there between mosquito zingers of Eddie Hinton and 5 0'clock-shadow-tonsils of Steve Earle, but here it's closer to not-so-Mighty Mouse (and a cracker-barrel-retiree-Steve E.). Still and yet and yet and still more than compensated for/effectively contrasted by the sinuous writ x performance of Jason and Cooley. Brad's big bass drum, Shonna's bass guitar (and her voice, back there in the mix, but adding good thin sharp edge thereby, *when* audible: I keep listening for it, never taking for granted), also mucho gracias. Best songs are often/always? the "I" of a character yet obviously close to writer's own POV: grim li'l-but-loud victories of A Job Well Done. Doom's tapped & cut by music, which then proceeds to roll out and in (or in and out or in and inner, as the case may be). Supposedly (according to some sources), DECORATION DAY was a "follow-up" to PIZZA DELIVERANCE, this 'un a f.-u.to SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA. And, before I heard about those alleged relationships, was already thinking how several songs from DS would go good on a really deluxe personal burn of SRO. But *way too many* good'uns to fit that, strictly squinting. And I don't have a burner. Final? note on matters raved about below: I guess you could say that Swell Maps' "Read About Seymour"(1:27 track on WANNA BUY A BRIDGE? classic post-punk cusp comp, and Rough Trade's missing if they don't get that back out during current archaeo arc) is "like" what the Homosexuals did, but the 'mo's blew "Seymour" 's germinal up and down the highway of life and (out on a)limb. Drive-by truckers amen.
 
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
 
Afterword re me piece below. 1):As always, sorry bout the typos."Resluts" was delib. kept, others deposited by evil elves. I would've re-posted but we know how that turned out last time. Have not yet downloaded toolbar (vironoid). If/when I do, could email posts pasted with spellcheck perfection, if I din't continue to blink. Big if. Shorter posts? Wash your momma out! Butt it may come to that. 2): As for >"extrapolation" of (even-in-Am-Radio-edit of"Somebody To Love")Jorma twangbar cramps and moans< I meant that, even though COF lack a "Somebody To Love"-type focal point, insofar as actuall hook-grabber sonform (finished product), they *have* built on *elements* of cited songform, which were both grabby enough for AM Radio hit, and also sufficiently eldritch for any other Airplane track.So, COF basically doing stuff in right directions all at once. I'm not saying they should go work with Christina or something.(Unless of course she wanted to sound as primaloozeydelicatessurbal as she looks in That Video.)And touting live performances (a freebie, on my part),comes from the notion that world might be better/longer maintained if we all just GOT UP FROM OUR MACHINES and went out into the other radiation and forinstance heard some music on hot stinky waves of analog air.(Take yr toys with you if you must, and blog aloo me down that boardwalk, okay?)PS: "Freddy and the Dreamers," not Freedy," jeez sorry again.
 
 
Soon after SLING BLADE became a left field hit, Billy Bob Thornton got a proposal for "Carl Comics." "They said that it would be like: Ever' month, Carl comes to a different town, and solves folks' problems,his way." Although we may never know for sure (C'mon, give it a sling,Beeba!), resluts *might* have been as memorable as those of Comets On Fire and The Homosexuals [In Exile]'s coming to Yourtown this summer.(Check their labels, subpop.com and morphius.com, respectively, for gig info, although some's listed at end of this.) COF's new BLUE CATHEDRAL so far seems uneven, but sympathetically and perhaps even unavoidably so, since their basic alibi-premise-persona is like La Brea Brainiacs, Caveman vs. Saucers, Blue Cheer King Kong vs. Airplane, a brave/indiscreet mosh tapestry fetish.Minus any immediate "Summertime Blues""Spmebody To LOve"-type focal points for newbies like me to first grok Cometjuice ingredients.(Note to self: must, slide,manually, along, all, slots, linked, to: late-,pre-,para-,proto-,meta-,beta-,[count backwards & it's nooo problem].) But they do got for instance what Science Fictioneers like to call "extrapolation" of (even-on-"Somebody To Love"'s-AM-Radio-edit) Jorma twangbar cramps and moans, and even, just when I was getting used to their colorful vocabulary, a Stooges-like "Free Jazz" sax.(Guitar starts chahnging into an Easter bonnetful of Sonny Sharrockian machine parts, so they even listen to each other, it seems.)Re via vaunted Prog bonus element, we're served pale blue eyes of storm as setup for volcanos ringing round Uranus.(This last is also the last and I think longest, anyway my fave rave, "Blue Tomb.")The Homosexuals(pre-[In Exile]original version, the one on newly assembled THE HOMOSEXUALS RECORD and ASTRAL GLAMOUR) are being hyped as more of ye "post-punk pioneers." True, they did seize the right moment to move past punkthrodoxy (which early tracks prove they so bad at). But not to slide those ol' enosizers out of the closet for dance class, like Go4, Joy D., etc. No, the 'mos just let it rip and trip, into twin barrels of four-eyed Nerd Power, much less anal than Elvis Costello's or Devo's. Foreskinners of current shatter-trope spewcore, of which Mars Volta might be one of the more conservative examples.(Homosex of recs are more like Freedie and the Dreamers x vulcanized lick and proto-jangle enhanced by digital x Wire-asides x Mars V. x Fountains of Wayne? As high as I can find things to count on right now.) Spirit of punkadelica outside the laws of style and cool, and kind good, once they get a no-handle on it. But after all come to think of it including poptones, ground and oops into the goo-goo, so I guess Lydon *might* or o course certainly should have approvved this,however reluctatnly, and thus it's "post-punk" after all. Well that's a relief isn't it? The current Homosexuals, sic'd [In Exile], include only one orig. member, but he was and is the very frontman, I'm reliably informed. Shows! Comets on Fire: 7/26 with Viet Nam at Delancey Lounge;7/29 with Hidden and Sunn 0)))[not sure if this second date is same location; check subpop.com)Homosexuals [In Exile]:7/23 with Suicide (historically and histrionically perfect!) and The Flesh, at Knitting Factory; 7/24 in Brooklyn, bill and venue TBA.
 
Monday, July 12, 2004
 
Special Guest Mentalist: STERLING CLOVER!

Gangsta Boo Trounces Rumors, Mounts and Shimmers Her Way to Fame
Setting The Record Straight

Gangsta Boo
Enquiring Minds II: The Soap Opera
Yorktown Music

"..as far as doing Gospel music--no. They just sayin that so labels
wouldn't want to mess with me. They spreadin rumors."
--Gangsta Boo, *Murder Dog* v.10 #3

I knew Miss Lady Gangsta Boo when she was a Comparative Studies major at NYU. The last time I saw her was at a bar in the Financial District, around the spring of '97. --I'm totally different, she said. She was wearing a black dress with a twist across the middle and nasty heels. --I'm gonna be a fucking star, excuse me a second. When she came back from the can she looked way happier, and talked for like thirty minutes nonstop. --I worked as a stripper. She leaned in close when she said the word, like she did when she said she learned to work the hustle. Like she was proud and embarrassed she'd learned it, all at once. --Life changed, I changed, it's like, like a plan. I'm a... well I do other stuff now. You know, around the city. I didn't want to know; took another shot to make sure I wouldn't. --Some of the girls I work with. They used to be cheerleaders in high school. You won't believe the people I'm meeting. I'm gonna be a motherfucking star. Like Janet Jackson. I've been studying Prince. Like, studying. --Lola, I said, you're gonna sing? --Sing, dance, act, what-fucking-ever. Whatever it takes. You won't believe the bullshit I go through, do, put-up-with... I mean people from school, what do they know? They're gonna look down on me, stupid pussy-ass cunts, they don't even, I'm gonna. I'm gonna be such a motherfucking star. Money, you know, money. She started to run out of words until she went to the restroom again. --Fame is gonna suck, I can already tell.

She got a page pretty soon and left --My, uh, cousin, he's got, this producer, this, he wants me to meet. I didn't wanna know, took another shot. As she left the bar I couldn't take my eyes off her ass.

Enquiring Minds II: The Soap Opera is still Memphis, but more melodic and more electro than when she was with the Triple Six. I think it's goddamn great, but then I'm biased. I don't know what you're running from Lola, but go for it. You're a motherfucking star.
 
Thursday, July 08, 2004
 
My Nominations for Our New National Anthem

10. "I Will Keep the Bad Things From You," The Damnwells, 2004.

America loves its alt.country! Actually, not any more. But this great tune, from the really good album Bastards of the Beat, is pretty much a nation's love letter to its people. To a muted folk-guitar stroll, Uncle Sam in the person of Alex Dezen tells us what we really just want to hear: "I will be your dad and mother / I will give you older brothers / I will feed you fries with steak sauce / I will keep the price below cost / I will lead the way from 'all is lost'". Extra points for Deftones reference: "Catch it while you can, it's the feel-good hit of the summer."

09. "Freedom," Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, 1980.

All-inclusive on the tips of cross-generationality and -raciality and -genderosity. Easy to play along to; all the people in the stands before a game with kazoos and whistles is MY idea of patriotism. Plus it's eight minutes long, so you could just lower the volume and combine the playing of this with the introductions of the teams, thereby saving precious time. Good old U.S. focus on astrology--when they have everyone yell out their zodiac signs, we could all do that too, and there's no way to mess up those notes. Plus the title is more inspirational than "The Star-Spangled Banner."

08. "Jack and Diane," John Cougar Mellencamp, 1982.

The single most American song, white singer/songwriter version. (Paul Simon has been disqualified forever for trying too hard with "America," bump that noise. Sideways effort does the trick, full-on ambition is too desperate.) Imagine the final line sung by 40,000 people: "Two American kids doin' the best they can." Then a huge explosion of fireworks.

07. "River Deep, Mountain High," Ike and Tina Turner, 1966.

Why not? It's got the geographical references we like, it's got the theme of blind love for symbology that summarizes most people's approach to loving their country, and it's got a boogie-down section at the end that I would love to see tackled by the University of Tennessee Marching Band.

06. "Tyrone," Erykah Badu, 1997.

O tell me this wouldn't be sweet. A song about making your no-count hit the road, jack, because his act is TIRED is just so much more relevant than a song about a hostage emerging from genteel captivity to see a beat-up stripey starry thing. Plus Key swiped his melody from an old British drinking song, whereas Badu swipes her whole steez from Ruth Brown. Okay, push on that, but still. Also works as warning to other countries: You better call Tyrone, but you can't use our phone. Dammit.

05. "I Ain't Giving Up on You," Allison Moorer, 2004.

The opening track on Moorer's blisteringly anti-patriotic album The Duel actually kind of works, if you listen closely, as a hymn to her own country. She always told herself that she would walk away "when things get heavy," but she's breaking her promise--this is EXACTLY how I feel about America. Great DIY bootstrap-lifting spirit here: "All I want to do is break even / And you're the best chance I've got." Word booty to that.

One of these days I'm gonna write up my whole Allison Moorer thing here. I really think The Duel is a lot deeper and richer and braver than anyone else is giving it credit for, but my point has not been articulated fully yet. Gimme a week.

04. "A Change Is Gonna Come," Sam Cooke, 1964.

Awww. This song would be too depressing, of course, but would serve to keep our mind on where we've been and where we're going. Plus the theme that we don't know what's going to happen in the afterlife, or if there is one at all, would help keep religious fanatics in check.

03. Any song Chuck Berry recorded up until "My Ding-A-Ling."

THE MAN WROTE AMERICA.

02. "Dance to the Music," Sly and the Family Stone, 1968.

The single most American song, interracial funk-rock band version. This is like a slap in everyone's face: a slap of love. Tell me this wouldn't make an Olympic win just so much sweeter.

01. "One Nation Under a Groove," Funkadelic, 1978.

If you didn't see this coming, you're as blind as Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk. "Gettin' down just for the funk of it" is as American as you or I can ever hope to understand, and the One needs to be implanted in our children's heads as early as possible.
 

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