Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
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uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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Feel free to dig through the Deep Freeze for more, but stuff dated before mid-March 2005 is still formative and impressionistic, and not really worth the effort.

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I grew up reading Robert Christgau, Village Voice, and Lester Bangs, Creem, Punk, various others.

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Note: the copyrighted audio material on this site is for listening only, and is not downloadable. It is provided as illustrations to the articles, and to interest people in the legal purchase of these artists' material. Any copyright holder who would like their material removed should contact me, and I'll remove it.

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Friday, August 12, 2005
 

Weekend Reissue Roundup #20: 08/12/05

Fela Kuti: Best Best of Fela Kuti (2005)   Pilot: Two's A Crowd (1977)   The Plimsouls: One Night In America (1988)   Mouse on Mars: Autoditacker (1997)


Album: Artist (label, release date) 1-5 stars

Fela Kuti: Best Best Of Fela Kuti (Wrasse, August 8, 2005) *****
Pilot: Two's A Crowd (BMG Japan, August 8, 2005) ***
The Plimsouls: One Night In America (Oglio, August 8, 2005) *****
Mouse On Mars: Autoditacker (Too Pure/Beggars Banquet, August 8, 2005) ****


Fela Kuti: Best Best of Fela Kuti
Fela Kuti: Best Best of Fela Kuti (2005)
In every generation, in every genre of music worldwide, there are the rarified genre-definers; the masters, the popularizers, the spokespersons, the innovators. When one thinks of reggae, one thinks of Bob Marley; when one thinks of modern jazz, one thinks of Miles Davis, when one thinks of Chicago blues, one thinks of Muddy Waters, when one thinks of Tropicalia, one thinks of Caetano Veloso, and so on. Nigerian Fela Kuti, or just Fela as he was usually known, is one such figure. Towering above anyone else on the continent for musical vision, innovation, popularity, notoriety, political stance, and overall influence, Fela is the very definition of Afrobeat, the dominant African musical export of its day, a hardcore funk rhythm with soul overtones applied to indiginous musical tradition. It was embraced by many of the most intelligent and outward looking musicans around the world; in the rock/pop/jazz world his influence can be heard in Miles Davis' 70's work, the Police, the Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and many others. Fela was not only a master singer, musician, producer, arranger; he was a radical and an outlaw; an enemy of the state for championing the causes of a free Africa in the face of harsh (and western-supported) military regimes. He was always in-your-face about it too, at risk to his very life. Fela died in 1997 not from an assassin's or governtment's bullet or bomb, but from complications of AIDS at the age of 59;
Fela Kuti takes some inspiration
For those who haven't heard Fela, essential for anyone who has a serious interest in musical evolution, or those who have no idea where to start among his countless records, Best Best of Fela Kuti is as fine an introduction as any. A career-spanning double-disc, the lion's share of are lengthy jams from the 1970's, his greatest era, it represents much of the cream of his work. While three of these jams (which were usually side-long on the original albums) have been edited down to fit, which may disturb purists, it enables the disc to give a broader overview of his different styles and grooves than a single, unedited album would, and even with the edits (imperceptible, unless you're familiar with the original), the tracks average 13 minutes each. "Shakara" will grab you in seconds with its taut beat and township jazz horn section, "Shuffering and Shmiling Pt. 2" a good primer on his politics, and the surrounding material will enlighten, inspire, and funkify your life. This re-issue of Best Best of Fela Kuti originally appeared in 1999 on Universal (with different artwork) and kick-started an extensive reissue campaign; Wrasse is also re-issuing 7 other albums with this release.

Pilot: Two's A Crowd
Pilot: Two's A Crowd (1977)
On the opposite side of the spectrum from Fela is Pilot, a very non-funky melodic 70's soft-rock group from England (the members were Scottish). Often compared to Badfinger, Pilot was actually a good deal lighter-weight, perhaps better thought of as a mid-70's Air Supply, and their appeal was brief. Their biggest hits were "January", which reached #1 in the U.K. in 1975 and its predecessor, "Magic", a top 20 hit in the U.K. The core members of the band, bassist/singer David Paton, guitarist Ian Bairnson, singer/synth player/flutist Billy Lyall and drummer Stuart Tosh were all capable musicians, and Pilot's records did have little kernals of interesting moments, but their cult today remains very small, particularly in America, where they never had a hit. However, the cult that they do have may be please to know that the band's hard-to-find final album, which appeared on Arista in 1977 after EMI dropped them (and never appeared in the U.S.), is available again in limited release with a cardboard sleeve. Only Paton and Bairnson remain from their debut; both were also simultneously doing session work on I Robot by the Alan Parsons Project and providing backing vocals to Wings' "Mull of Kintyre", which led to further fruitful sessionwork for both. The single was "Get Up And Go", a fine piece of Beatle-esque power pop, and the rest of it is tuneful enough; 70's soft-rock fans with a sweet tooth will like it. The band's advance money for this album vanished in a trick of mismanagement, which hastened their breakup.

The Plimsouls: One Night In America
The Plimsouls: One Night In America (1988)
One Night In America, originally released in 1988, has always been a recording of somewhat mysterious origin; even Peter Case isn't sure exactly where or when it was recorded, although he suggests it was probably recorded in Cleveland, most likely while the band was still with Geffen following their lone Geffen release, Everywhere at Once. The Plimsouls was Case's second band follwing the breakup of the Nerves, and specialized in a meaty mix of power-pop, Byrdsy roots rock, bar band rock, and British Invasion tunefulness, delivered with an aggressive punch. Their Geffen album was their biggest, and remains the easiest to find, although its glossy production worked to the detriment of the band's strengths and failed to sell despite a big push. One Night In America is a much better example of how the band really sounded, with swagger to its rhythms, grit in the vocals, and spectacularly honed and inventive vocals from Case, who also gets some good duel guitar action with Eddie Munoz on every track. Not only doesn't the band sound slick, like the Geffen album does, it sounds dangerous, in the best rock 'n' roll tradition. Newcomers may only know "A Million Miles Away", but the disc is chockablock with great songs, especially "I Want What You Got" and "Hush Hush", plus an intense cover of "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". Sound quality is what you might expect (although it has been remastered), but it doesn't get in the way of the music.

Mouse on Mars: Autoditacker
Mouse on mars: Autoditacker (1997)
90's experimental band Mouse on Mars, from Germany, specialize in a sort of revived Kraut-rock mixed with dub, jazz, and hints of jungle and ambient, working the same neighborhood as 90's tourmates/labelmates Tortoise, although the bands have a very different sound and approach. They are a demanding listen; their albums tand to be busy affairs with a lot of instrumentation and studio inventiveness, but they consistently provide rewards to closer listening. Their music is an organic/studio hybrid; gifted musicians who play well as an ensemble, they also use many of the techniques of electronica, turning their music into something more abstract. Defiantly uncommercial, Mouse on Mars have always followed their own muse, one reason why their cult loves them, and defiantly released much of their work on vinyl only. Autoditacker was one of a trio of 1997 releases, and was contoversial among hardcore fans for being the most programmed and studio-oriented; some were disappointed, others swear this is their best. "Sui Shop" has a great bassline and keyboard playing from Mars, "Scat" features echoed and distorted staccato chords, "Twift Shoeblade" is a masterpiece, vaguely recalling Can's best work, with a filtered sax over drum 'n' bass footing. Autoditacker, despite its controversial position in Mouse on Mars' pantheon is probably a good album for a newcomer; its alien soundscapes may be disorienting at first, but given a chance, it'll give you a whole new concept of what a groove can sound like.

Weekend Reissue Roundup is a Friday night/Saturday AM feature.

A slightly modified version of this article appears at Blogcritics.org



     

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Lists: Top-Selling Albums of All Time

Lists, a new regular irregular feature, features music related lists of interest or enlightenment, with brief introductions.

Here's a list of the top-selling records of all time. Classic rock still dominates the list although great strides are being made on the pop, r&b/urban, and country fronts. Michael Jackson's Thriller has fallen from #1 to #2 in recent years. Shania Twain's pop-oriented juggernaut is now the best selling country album. The Beatles' "White Album" has surpassed Sgt. Pepper as the Beatles top seller, surprising since it is a double album, as are their "red" and "blue" album compilations which have finally surpassed all their other releases. Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" (penned by Dolly Parton) still powers The Bodyguard soundtrack. Highest among 90's rock performers are Alanis Morissette and Hootie & The Blowfish. While many of the 90's pop acts like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys sold in bigger numbers upon release than the classic rock acts (back when there was no platinum record award), it will remain to be seen if their back catalog continues to sell as reliably. Smart money goes on Mariah Carey, her comeback in high gear, who has two on the chart, and a devoted multigenerational fanbase.

The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975   Michael Jackson: Thriller (1982)   Pink Floyd: The Wall (1979)   Led Zeppelin: IV (1971)


The Recording Industry Association of America's Top-Selling Albums of All Time (as of Spring, 2005)

28 Million
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, Eagles (Elektra)

26 Million
Thriller, Michael Jackson (Epic)

23 Million
The Wall, Pink Floyd (Columbia)

22 Million
Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin (Swan Song)

21 Million
Greatest Hits Volumes I & II, Billy Joel (Columbia)

19 Million
Rumours, Fleetwood Mac (Warner Bros.)
Back in Black, AC/DC (Elektra)
The Beatles, The Beatles (Capitol)
Come On Over, Shania Twain (Mercury Nashville)

17 Million
Boston, Boston (Epic)
The Bodyguard (Soundtrack), Whitney Houston (Arista)

16 Million
Cracked Rear View, Hootie & the Blowfish (Atlantic)
Greatest Hits, Elton John (Rocket)
Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette (Maverick)
The Beatles 1967-1970, The Beatles (Capitol)
No Fences, Garth Brooks (Capitol Nashville)
Hotel California, Eagles (Elektra)

15 Million
Double Live, Garth Brooks (Capitol Nashville)
The Beatles 1962-1966, The Beatles (Capitol)
Saturday Night Fever (Soundtrack), Bee Gees (Polydor/Atlas)
Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (Capitol)
Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin (Swan Song)
Appetite for Destruction, Guns 'N Roses (Geffen)
Supernatural, Santana (Arista)
Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)

14 Million
Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits, Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia)
Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf (Epic)
Metallica, Metallica (Elektra)
Ropin' the Wind, Garth Brooks (Capitol Nashville)
Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys (Jive)

13 Million
Millennium, Backstreet Boys (Jive)
Greatest Hits 1974-1978, Steve Miller Band (Capitol)
Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston (Arista)
Purple Rain (Soundtrack), Prince and the Revolution (Warner Bros.)
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live 1975-1985 (box set), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (Columbia)
...Baby One More Time, Britney Spears (Jive)

12 Million
Forrest Gump (Soundtrack) (Epic)
Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits, Kenny Rogers (Capitol Nashville)
Hot Rocks, The Rolling Stones (abkco)
The Woman in Me, Shania Twain (Mercury Nashville)
Breathless, Kenny G (Arista)
Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)
Ten, Pearl Jam (Epic)
Yourself or Someone Like You, Matchbox Twenty (Atlantic)
Abbey Road, The Beatles (Capitol)
II, Boyz II Men (Motown)
Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi (Mercury)
Wide Open Spaces, Dixie Chicks (Monument)
No Jacket Required, Phil Collins (Atlantic)
Hysteria, Def Leppard (Mercury)

11 Million
Human Clay, Creed (Wind-Up Records)
Falling into You, Celine Dion (550 Music)
Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. II, Eagles (Elektra)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (Capitol)
No Strings Attached, 'N Sync (Jive)
Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)
Devil Without a Cause, Kid Rock (Lava)
Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight (Single), Elton John (Rocket)
Pieces of You, Jewel (Atlantic)
CrazySexyCool, TLC (LaFace)
Dirty Dancing (Soundtrack) (RCA)
Titanic (Soundtrack) (Sony Classical)
James Taylor's Greatest Hits, James Taylor (Warner Bros.)

10 Million
Fly, Dixie Chicks (Monument)
'N Sync, 'N Sync (RCA)
Let's Talk About Love, Celine Dion (550 Music/Epic)
Tragic Kingdom, No Doubt (Trauma/Interscope)
Life After Death, Notorious B.I.G. (Bad Boy/Arista)
Best of the Doobies, Doobie Brothers (Warner Bros.)
Dookie, Green Day (Reprise)
The Stranger, Billy Joel (Columbia)
Aerosmith's Greatest Hits, Aerosmith (Columbia)
The Hits, Garth Brooks (Capitol Nashville)
Music Box, Mariah Carey (Columbia)
Unplugged, Eric Clapton (Reprise)
Tapestry, Carole King (Ode)
Greatest Hits, Journey (Capitol)
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)
The Immaculate Collection, Madonna (Warner Bros.)
Like a Virgin, Madonna (Sire)
Legend, Bob Marley & the Wailers (Island)
Faith, George Michael (Columbia)
Greatest Hits, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (MCA)
Nevermind, Nirvana (DGC)
The Lion King (Soundtrack) (Walt Disney)
Can't Slow Down, Lionel Richie (Motown)
Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, Hammer (Capitol)
Daydream, Mariah Carey (Columbia)
Van Halen, Van Halen (Warner Bros.)
Eliminator, ZZ Top (Warner Bros.)
The Joshua Tree, U2 (Island)
1984 (MCMLXXXIV), Van Halen (Warner Bros.)



     

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