Deep Album Cuts Vol. 72: Heart

Thursday, July 28, 2016


















Earlier this month, Ann and Nancy Wilson released their band Heart's 16th studio album, Beautiful Broken. It's an odd little collection that includes a duet with Metallica's James Hetfield, a song co-written with Ne-Yo, and re-recordings of six songs from the band's early '80s albums. But then, they've had a long, impressive career, and I guess they've earned the right to do what they want. And comparing the new recordings to the original versions made me want to delve deeper into their catalog. I've always loved their '70s hits had been meaning to check out their albums, especially after seeing them live for the first time about a year ago.

Heart Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Sing Child
2. White Lightning And Wine
3. Soul Of The Sea
4. Say Hello
5. Go On Cry
6. Love Alive
7. Devil Delight
8. Mistral Wind
9. Sweet Darlin'
10. Down On Me
11. City's Burning
12. One Word
13. Johnny Moon
14. Language Of Love
15. All Eyes
16. Bad Animals
17. The Night

Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from Dreamboat Annie (1975)
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 from Little Queen (1977)
Track 7 from Magazine (1978)
Track 8 from Dog And Butterfly (1978)
Tracks 9 and 10 from Bebe le Strange (1980)
Tracks 11 and 12 from Private Audition (1982)
Tracks 13 and 14 from Passionworks (1983)
Track 15 from Heart (1985)
Track 16 from Bad Animals (1987)
Track 17 from Brigade (1990)

Heart's career arc reminds me of another band I featured in this series recently, Cheap Trick: both bands sold millions in the late '70s, experienced a commercial downturn in the early '80s, and then came back big after the industry started feeding them big crossover power ballads from outside songwriters, and then they kind of went back to writing their own songs and plugging along as a legacy act from the '90s onward.

It's the songs from the three early '80s albums that were re-recorded for the new album, Beautiful Broken -- you can hear the originals on tracks 9 through 14 on this playlist. It's interesting that they chose to revisit deep cuts and unsuccessful singles from the only records from their first decade or so that didn't go platinum. Those albums haven't, as far as I can tell, become cult favorites or anything in the last few decades, and they don't feature the band's classic lineup with Roger Fisher on lead guitar. The songs aren't bad, though. In fact the biggest problem with Beautiful Broken is that I don't think they actually improved on those songs for the most part -- the '80s records sound perfectly fine, but modern hard rock production is pretty flat by comparison, and to be honest, Ann Wilson's voice isn't what it used to be.

I included stuff from the band's late '80s and early '90s albums since they obviously contained some of Heart's biggest Hot 100 hits. The Wilsons, and their longtime co-writer Sue Ennis, continued writing songs on some of those records even as outside writers provided most of the big singles, and Sammy Hagar helped out on a couple of good deep cuts including "The Night." It was cool to hear the title track to Bad Animals, which inspired the name of the Wilsons' Seattle studio Bad Animals Studio, which I grew up seeing in the liner notes of a lot of big grunge era albums by Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and others.

Those '70s albums hold up, though. Clearly, Heart's biggest influence is Led Zeppelin, and they really drank deep from that inspiration, not just grabbing a couple recognizable elements. And that means that Heart albums tended to have the same kind of mix of electric hard rock and mellow acoustic material as Zep. I prefer Heart's rockers, so in some ways it's a bummer to put on the band's albums and not find a wealth of songs that go as hard as "Barracuda." But there are some really lovely tracks like "Song of the Sea" that make me grateful for the variety. And "Sing Child" and "Devil Delight" are great rockers.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 72: Fantasia

Monthly Report: July 2016 Singles

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

























1. Phantogram - "You Don't Get Me High Anymore"
"Fall In Love" was one of my favorite singles of 2014, but I like that they don't really have a particular sound they lean on, every single they come out with sounds fairly different from the others. I wasn't sure about this one at first, and I thought the 20-day countdown clock on their website for a moderately popular group to release a new single was kind of ridiculous. But it's grown on me, the quiet pre-chorus is a great contrast to the hard-charging beat of the rest of the song. Here's the favorite 2016 singles playlist I add songs to every month.

2. L√ČON - "Tired Of Talking"
I heard this song on a local pop station once and am basically obsessed with it now, she's a Swedish singer who released an EP on Columbia last October, and this song has 28 million plays on Spotify, but it hasn't really broken through and charted in America yet. I'll be surprised if it doesn't, though, it fits perfectly in with the sound of Top 40 radio right now but has this unusual relaxed lilt to it that not enough hits have these days. The whistling bit will probably help it but I feel like the song doesn't need it.

3. Fergie - "M.I.L.F. $"
I've always kinda rooted for Fergie's solo career, her only album came out almost a decade ago but it had more great singles than nearly any pop album since. And while 2014's "L.A. Love" rode DJ Mustard's coattails pretty well, it just wasn't quite the comeback single she needed, and "M.I.L.F. $" reunites her with the producer of some of her early hits, Polow Da Don, for something a little closer to that bonkers Fergie swag that only she can pull off. The cameo-filled video made a big splash when it was released, but I'm not sure if it will take off at radio -- it kind of reminds me of songs like Nicki Minaj's "Stupid Hoe" or Britney's "Work Bitch," things that were a little faster and trashier than everything else out and got kind of shut out of radio play. I love it, though, it's ridiculous.

4. Jon Pardi - "Head Over Boots"
Jon Pardi has been kicking around the country radio charts with some minor hits for a few years, but this is his first big top 10 hit, and it's really grown on me, the kind of cheesy sweet little song with slide guitar that is sadly rare these days. I kinda want him to be really successful just so I have opportunities to refer to him as PardiNextDoor.

5. Lloyd - "Tru"
It's been 5 years since Lloyd Polite, Jr.'s excellent last album King Of Hearts, and it was a really pleasant surprise to turn on the radio one day and hear him explaining his absence on this bittersweet autobiographical ballad.

6. Ingrid Michaelson - "Hell No"
The single from Ingrid Michaelson's last album, "Girls Chase Boys," was this kind of surprising perfect pop jam from someone who'd built a little indie Adult Album Alternative empire without those kinds of big uptempo hooks. "Hell No" isn't quite as good as "Girls Chase Boys," but I'm glad she's still pushing in that direction, it works for her.

7. YFN Lucci f/ Migos and Trouble - "Key To The Streets"
YFN Lucci has been growing on me lately, especially after I realized that Wish Me Well 2 is full of piano ballads. "Key To The Streets" is a decent radio breakthrough, it's odd to get a leg up from Migos when they seem to be on their way out of fashion, but Lucci and Quavo's voices sound good together on the chorus.

8. Anthony Hamilton - "Amen"
It amuses me how this song practically takes Meek Mill's "Amen" and just reshapes it to be less sacrilegious, but really Anthony Hamilton is always a welcome presence on R&B radio and this is his best song in a minute.

9. T.I. f/ Marsha Ambrosius - "Dope"
The idea of a T.I. track produced by Dr. Dre with an Aaliyah sample seemed really dull and lame on paper, but this song grew on me. Tip hasn't had a good smooth R&B single in a while and he has a great flow for tracks like this.

10. Brad Paisley f/ Demi Lovato - "Without A Fight"
I like both of these artists, and I don't wanna sound like a prude, but it is a little weird for Paisley, a 40-something who's married to someone his own age, to do a steamy duet about makeup sex with a pop starlet 20 years younger than him. This song has a nice Stonesy riff, though, it works musically.

Worst Single of the Month: Kiiara - "Gold"
This kind of "trap indie pop" has been some of the worst music in the world for a while now (and I say that even having praised the Bishop Briggs single last month). But man, all the wonky vocal loops that have been big on the last Bieber album and other big pop records lately, they really jumped the shark with this song, it's just incredibly annoying, I'm ready for this sound to die.

Monday, July 25, 2016


























I went long on Gucci Mane's new album Everybody Looking for Noisey.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


















I wrote about the 10 best rapper-producer relationships right now for Complex.

TV Diary

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

























a) "Vice Principals" 
After watching The Foot Fist WayObserve And Report, and maybe half the episodes of "Eastbound And Down," I've come to the conclusion that I don't particularly like Jody Hill's work, even if I don't outright dislike it (okay, I dislike Swagger Wagon). But I wanted to give this show a chance, especially since Walton Goggins has been way overdue to do a comedy show, and he is a really good foil for Danny McBride here. But McBride is just the same dumb asshole he always plays and it's not that funny, in fact I didn't laugh once during the first episode. I do think the show has some potential, I particularly like the marching band score, but I would kinda categorize this with "Teachers" and "Those Who Can't," two other cable comedies that debuted this year about immature adults working in elementary schools.

b) "Stranger Things"
It's probably not fair to judge a mystery show like this until you've seen the whole thing play out, and a lot of people have already binged all 8 episodes and raved about it. I've only watched half the episodes so far, so I guess take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I'm not super impressed so far. There have been so many weird "dead/missing child in a small town" shows the last few years that have all been a wash, and this is a cut above those. But the more they pull the thread on all the weird unexplained stuff in this show, the less I care what it's all building up to. The thing with Winona Ryder and her missing son is stressful and sad but it also feels a little too emotionally manipulative to really get to me.

c) "Dead Of Summer"
"Dead Of Summer" is another spooky '80s period piece, but it's on Freeform and is much more a broad, unambitious homage to old school horror movies. I feel like they at least get the '80s music right more than "Stranger Things," though. Tony "Candyman" Todd as the mysterious bad guy is a nice touch, though, and there have been a few nice twists.

d) "Roadies" 
As a rock fan and musician who frequently works backstage at events, I have a lot of respect for roadies. I've worked with guys like Metallica's old lighting guy or Neil Peart's old drum tech, that world is full of great stories and big personalities. And Cameron Crowe creating a TV show about that world is a promising idea, especially since I think a lot of the quirks of his humor and storytelling are in a way more suited to television than film. This show isn't really living up to that potential, it's a bit lightweight and sometimes the contrived storylines remind me of, like, "Entourage" plots. And I wish that it focused more on the convincingly grizzled old roadie-looking guys played by Ron White and Luis Guzan instead of, like, Machine Gun Kelly, who's as unconvincing as a rocker as he is as a rapper. But there have been some fun, charming moments that capture a bit of what I liked about Crowe's best movies, and I enjoyed that there was an entire episode making fun of a thinly veiled Bob Lefsetz-type character played by Rainn Wilson. And it's fun to hear stuff like Little Feat and the Modern Loves played in the background.

e) "Greatest Hits"
This is a stupid summer show on ABC hosted by Arsenio Hall where each episode celebrates a different 5-year period (the two episodes I watched were 1980-85 and 1995-2000) with performances of songs from that era. As a music fan, I hoped there'd be some light nostalgic entertainment in it, but I dunno, it just seems like a grab bag of big obvious songs, Kenny Loggins doing "Footloose" or Hanson playing "MMMBop." If they did individual years per episode I think you might actually get a more interesting selection of songs with a more targeted time period, but this show isn't for music nerds. I don't really know who it's for, besides people who just put on ABC in the summertime even though the popular shows aren't running new episodes.

f) "American Gothic" 
Boring CBS show about a Boston political family who finds out a member of the family was a serial killer. A cable show with this premise might be intriguing but this just has crappy CBS production values and is too bland to even make me care about the mystery.

g) "Greenleaf"
One of my favorite developments in TV in the last couple years has been Keith David revealing himself as a hilarious sitcom actor on "Enlisted" and the last season of "Community." But in "Greenleaf" he's back to being the more intimidating patriarchal dramatic lead he usually plays, and a show about scandals and secrets at a megachurch is a pretty great premise. I haven't really found it very interesting so far, though, most of the cast besides David is kind of flat, and the sporadic scenes with Oprah as a club owner, always standing behind the bar on the phone with characters, probably so she could just shoot all her scenes in one day, are hilariously perfunctory.

h) "Animal Kingdom" 
I haven't seen the 2010 movie this show was adapted from, but TNT moved the setting of the story from Australia to California, and I suspect the story lost something essential about it by making it about Americans. I could easily see this being an interesting story about an Australian outlaw family, but this show just feels like a half-assed "Sons of Anarchy" without motorcycles. Ellen Barkin's matriarch character would be an interesting focal point for the show, but it feels like there's more screentime for two actors I have irrationally hated for years, Scott Speedman and Shawn Hatosy. This show is pretty entertaining for how many strategic camera angles they use for nudity, though, it looks like it took an insane amount of planning and editing for these mildly titillating scenes.

i) "Guilt" 
For years, my wife and I have had a silly running joke about the song "Big Empty" by Stone Temple Pilots, because she thinks the lyric "dizzy head" sounds like "daisy head," so it amused me that the lead actress in this show is named Daisy Head. The only thing about this Freeform murder mystery show that's really entertaining, though, is Billy Zane, who has in recent years given some really hilariously over-the-top performances in direct-to-DVD/VOD movies that virtually nobody has seen. His first scene in this show's pilot features him talking to an extremely fake-looking squirrel.

j) "Not Safe with Nikki Glaser"
I liked this show when it debuted earlier this year, I'm glad they brought it back for more episodes in the summer. I thought maybe they'd run out of raunchy sexual topics to draw humor from pretty quickly, but there really is just endless material and I feel like Glaser's unusually upbeat attitude really sets a unique tone for a show like this.

k) "Angie Tribeca"
This show's first season just debuted in January, and I guess TBS wanted to strike while the iron's hot. I think they're getting better at the wacky joke-a-minute style of comedy, too, they had Kevin Pollak show up for a 2-second cameo in an A Few Good Men parody scene and I was laughing about it for the rest of the episode.

l) "Casual" 
I really finished the first season of "Casual" last year with a feeling of total indifference about whether it ever came back. But it did, and I'm still here, and it kind of has more of a plot this season to keep me watching from one episode to the next. But Tommy Dewey is the only part of the show that's ever even remotely funny, and his charismatic asshole routine is not really as interesting as the show thinks it is.

m) "Difficult People"
"Difficult People" is a Hulu series in its second season like "Casual," but it's much more of a comedy -- in fact there's a great bit in the "Difficult People" season premiere where Billy Eichner bitches about how "comedies are just 30 minute dramas now," and "Casual" is the exact kind of show he's talking about. Eichner and Julie Klausner are pretty dedicated to the "Seinfeld" school of mean pointless misadventures in New York, but the rhythm of the dialogue is very different and I feel like it's really coming into its own as a show right now.

n) "Another Period" 
Another comedy back for its second season. It's kind of a one-joke show, but that joke is still pretty funny, it's just something decent I tend to put on when I don't feel like paying attention.

o) "The Jim Gaffigan Show" 
Another comedy co-starring the very busy Michael Ian Black in its second season. Sometimes the storylines they come up with so Gaffigan's not just walking around New York eating food are kind of more over-the-top than they need to be, but for the most part the show captures the amiable silliness of his standup pretty well.

p) "Mr. Robot" 
I was this show's biggest skeptic last year, but I'm trying to give the second season a chance. The 2-part premiere was not promising, though, it kinda went back to the brooding slow-paced style of the first season's weakest episodes, and now that they've played out a lot of the reveals and climaxes that the first season hinged on, I'm not really sure where they're going. But Joey Bada$$ is getting acting work, I guess that's nice.

q) "Killjoys" 
My wife really enjoyed this show last year, but it's kind of a show where I'm just along for a ride. It's pretty fun when it revolves around Hannah John-Kamen kicking ass, though.

r) "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" 
It amuses me how half-assed this show is, like what could Jerry Seinfeld do with his time that's less taxing? A show about golfing and being fed grapes? It's fun to watch, though, the shortness of the episodes is a good idea. The highlight of this summer's episodes was the Margaret Cho one, which ends with her going back to a place she bombed recently and apologizing and talking to the audience and then giving them a good show (with Seinfeld opening). It was kind of cool and unusual, and then it ended with Seinfeld deflating it all telling her "You know this is all just product placement, right?"

s) "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah"
Trevor Noah was never gonna have an easy road, but I feel like now that he's been given a historically ridiculous election year and hasn't really risen to the occasion, it's more or less over, whether Comedy Central decides to replace him soon or wait a while. Ratings have dropped like 37% since Jon Stewart left, "The Daily Show" didn't get an Emmy nomination for the first time in ages, I saw a Noah clip widely shared on social media for the first time just recently and it wasn't even particularly good. I don't dislike the show as it is now, even with Jessica Williams exiting I think the lineup of correspondents is good, I especially like Desi Lydic. But man, it feels like the public has decided and it's just a matter of time now.

t) "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" 
Colbert has been a little underwhelming in his new gig, too, but lately I've been watching the show more and more and I feel like he's gotten a bit of that old spark back. His stuff at the RNC this week really feels like it might turn the tide a little in him at least holding his own on CBS.

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 71: Fantasia

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
















Fantasia Barrino is releasing her 5th album The Definition Of... next week, and every advance single has been really great. I always enjoyed her singles ("When I See U" is a classic) but it wasn't until Side Effects Of You became one of my favorite records of 2013 that I started to really appreciate her as an album artist. At this point I think she's undeniably got one of the best discographies of any recording artist whose career was launched by "American Idol" -- personally I'd put her right at #2 below Kelly Clarkson.

Fantasia Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. This Is Me
2. Ain't All Bad
3. Teach Me
4. Surround U
5. Who's Been Lovin' You
6. Get It Right
7. Move On Me
8. So Much To Prove
9. Selfish (I Want U 2 Myself) featuring Missy Elliott
10. Good Lovin'
11. Two Weeks Notice
12. I'm Not That Type
13. Bump What Your Friends Say
14. If I Was A Bird
15. Don't Act Right featuring Jazze Pha
16. Trust Him
17. Lighthouse
18. Got Me Waiting
19. I Feel Beautiful
20. Falling In Love Tonight
21. End Of Me

Tracks 1, 9, 10, 15 and 18 from Free Yourself (2004)
Tracks 4, 11, 12, 13 and 19 from Fantasia (2006)
Tracks 3, 5, 6, 16 and 20 from Back To Me (2010)
Tracks 2, 6, 8, 14, 17 and 21 from Side Effects Of You (2013)

Missy Elliott has always been one of Fantasia's most crucial collaborators, working on some of her best singles, "Free Yourself" and "Without Me." So I highlighted Missy's work on Fantasia's albums with the run of songs from track 9 to track 13 here (honorable mention to Fantasia's great feature on "4 My Man" from Missy's The Cookbook). Missy is almost underrated as an R&B songwriter, and Fantasia has quietly become probably the best vessel for that side of her work post-Aaliyah.

But really, Fantasia has just had a great track record all around with collaborators who know what to do with her unique, powerful voice. She didn't start co-writing her own songs until working with the very underrated Harmony Samuels on Side Effects Of You, but had her choice of top shelf songwriters from the beginning thanks to "American Idol." Back To Me features great production contributions from James "Malay" Ho, a couple years before he made his mark with Frank Ocean, on tracks including "Teach Me" and "Move On Me." And her discography features top shelf contributions from Babyface ("I Feel Beautiful"). Rico Love ("Falling In Love Tonight") and Johnta Austin ("Don't Act Right").

Her earlier albums sometimes incorporated covers from her "American Idol" tenure, but for the most part she's built an impressive discography of contemporary R&B. There's occasional forays into retro soul like the furious barnstormer "Get It Right" or clubby hip hop-leaning tracks like the Swizz Beatz production "Surround U," but for the most part she's found a sweet spot of not being too old-fashioned and not trying too hard to keep up, which is I think why her catalog has aged so well.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol, 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio

Thursday, July 14, 2016
























My latest Remix Report Card is up over on Noisey.

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


















This week, the long awaited and oft debated Ghostbusters is finally out, along with a soundtrack album that features a new theme song by Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott that interpolates the theme song from the original 1984 film. And that original song by Ray Parker Jr. is kind of an odd pop culture phenomenon that stands almost completely apart from the rest of the artist's catalog, and ultimately did little to benefit his career, if it didn't undo it entirely.

Throughout the '70s, Ray Parker Jr. was a session guitarist and sideman for stars like Stevie Wonder and Barry White, and a hitmaking songwriter for Rufus, before launching his own band Raydio. Raydio released 4 albums full of R&B radio hits, with the latter 2 credited to 'Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio,' though Parker often delegated lead vocal duties to Jerry Knight or Arnell Carmichael. Then Parker disbanded Raydio and went fully solo, releasing two albums with increasing crossover pop visibility when the opportunity came to write "Ghostbusters." Suddenly, he had a #1 record, but the uncharacteristic novelty hit more or less existed in a vacuum.

Every Parker/Raydio album before "Ghostbusters" charted in the top 50 on Billboard, and every album he made after that charted outside the top 50. He doesn't seem bitter about the experience -- in fact I saw Parker on the new ABC series "Greatest Hits" just a couple weeks ago, singing "Ghostbusters" as happily as ever -- but I wouldn't fault him if he was. As goofy pop relics go it's a pretty fun, well assembled song, but it's glaringly different from the rest of his music -- and the fact that a settlement was reportedly paid to Huey Lewis over similarities to "I Want A New Drug" kind of casts a shadow over the song. It's a bit like what happened to Robin Thicke recently, finally breaking out of his R&B niche with an uptempo song that he ultimately had to go to court and pay royalties to the Marvin Gaye estate over.

Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. You Need This (To Satisfy That)
2. Me
3. Get Down
4. When You're In Need Of Love
5. Rock On
6. Goin' Thru School And Love
7. It's Time To Party Now
8. Until The Morning Comes
9. Everybody Makes Mistakes
10. All In The Way You Get Down
11. Old Pro
12. Street Love
13. Let's Get Off
14. Stop, Look Before You Love
15. Electronic Lover
16. I Won't Want To Know
17. N2U2

Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from Raydio's Raydio (1978)
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 from Raydio's Rock On (1979)
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 from Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio's Two Places At The Same Time (1980)
Tracks 10 and 11 from Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio's A Woman Needs Love (1981)
Tracks 12, 13 and 14 from Ray Parker Jr.'s The Other Woman (1982)
Tracks 15, 16 and 17 from Ray Parker Jr.'s Woman Out Of Control (1983)

"Jack And Jill" and "A Woman Needs Love" stand out as Parker's enduring pre-"Ghostbusters" singles, but a lot of these deep cuts are as strong as any of the singles. "You Need This (To Satisfy That)" and "All In The Way You Get Down" are killer disco-era funk jams, and even in the smoother Parker solo era, he still made room on his albums for stuff like "Electronic Lover."

Now, if "Ghostbusters" had never happened, I don't know if Ray Parker Jr. would be a whole lot better off, but he might. He had a nice slow rising career, gradually coming into the spotlight as he discovered a suave sweet spot in his voice and a romantic side of his songwriting. He was never going to suddenly blossom into a Prince-level genius, but he might've found his way to a Lionel Richie-like pinnacle. Instead, the air came out of his career very quickly. And it's a shame, because the six albums he'd made at that point were fully of playful funk jams and the occasional immaculately written song.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle

Movie Diary

Monday, July 11, 2016
It still astonishes me that this very good film written/directed by Tom McCarthy won Best Picture at the Oscars less than a year after McCarthy's The Cobbler was released because The Cobbler is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. But Spotlight, yes, it's pretty excellent. I really enjoyed seeing this story told through the lens of newspaper journalism, and worried that it might kind of reduce what it was all about to an abstract principle, but by the end they really drove home the horror of the story without ever showing or barely saying anything particularly explicit. I had been sick for a couple days when I watched it and was feeling kind of fragile, but it really got to me. And the whole movie is just full of actors I enjoy watching, and also Liev Schreiber.

This was a pretty cute novel little movie. But man, what is it with kids' movies always having dead parents as a plot point? Do we really need to do the Bambi thing all the fucking time? Isn't it kind of lazy and callous and a cheap way of obtaining gravitas? Just saying.

Vin Diesel sure is resilient, I never thought he'd headline a non-franchise movie with a $90 million budget again, but after the last few Fast & Furious flicks and Guardians, I guess they thought it was worth a shot. But this was a big silly movie with some pretty cool visual effects.

I never lived near a Tower Records, and I was never terribly impressed with Tower on the rare occasions I was in one, but I did buy CDs in record stores pretty heavily in the '90s in the early '00s, so this was an interesting movie, and Tower's story is kind of a good microcosm for the rise and fall of physical media in music commerce. I feel like some day I could show my kids this movie and they'd be completely flabbergasted that music worked this way before the internet. 

I've enjoyed some Joseph Gordon-Levitt movies, but there's always been something kind of forced and unnatural about his performances for me, like the way he projects his voice tends to sound off and weird. So I feel a bit of schadenfreude about watching him attempt a French accent for an entire movie and falling flat on his face. It's funny because he acts opposite Ben Kingsley, who has probably played more nationalities and ethnicities than any actor in screen history, and of course you just buy Kingsley as a French guy so much more easily. But honestly it'd be nice if Hollywood wasn't just so eager to cram Americans and Brits into these roles and actually like, got some French actors? That goes for all sorts of movies/roles, it's obviously a huge widespread problem.

This movie seemed pretty unappealing based on the ads, especially since a 70-year-old as an intern just seemed like a simple escalation of the comedic premise of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as 40-year-old interns in The Internship two years earlier. And in general, De Niro's kindly old man roles since Meet The Parents have been pretty depressing. But I actually really enjoyed this, the story unfolded really well, and there was only one section in the middle with an unnecessary 'madcap scheme' comedy setpiece, everything else felt pretty natural and unforced, with some interesting insights about gender and generational differences and workplaces. Ann Hathaway kind of gets to do a role reversal of The Devil Wears Prada and be the intimidating boss. But man, when "Workaholics" premiered a few years ago, you would not have been able to tell me that 2/3rds of those guys would be co-starring in a Nancy Meyers movie.

I still have this weird compulsion to watch every new Woody Allen movie, even though I feel like his brain has turned to mush and his movies have been incompetent and awful for much longer than most people want to admit. At this point I guess I'm just curious how low he can go. Irrational Man is kind of a return to the themes he's revisited now and again since Crimes And Misdemeanors, of people committing or attempting murders and other terrible crimes and whether they can get away with it and whether they can live with themselves after they do. This movie isn't as dour as Match Point or as laughably bad as Cassandra's Dream, and it doesn't end quite like they do, but it still winds up as a stupid little pointless morality play that's been too painstakingly contrived to actually stand up as any kind of statement. 

I thought I would enjoy a good old fashioned disaster movie with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson more than I did, but the visuals weren't that impressive, and after a while it just felt stupid to watch all these people die and suffer while you're supposed to cheer on this one lucky family that came out unscathed.

This was a tightly constructed little kidnapping thriller with some cool setpieces and impressive performances -- Gemma Arterton is a great heroine and I've never seen Eddie Marsan in a role where I haven't absolutely hated him, but especially this one. But by the end it kinda felt like they'd just plugged in all these plot points to maximize the drama and it never really gelled as a story. 

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 69: Chevelle

Friday, July 08, 2016

















Chevelle is the kind of mainstream hard rock band that rarely gets critical attention. But they've won my respect over the years with great rock radio staples like "Send The Pain Below" and "Jars," and since my wife is a fan, I've gotten to hear and enjoy their albums a bit as well. With their 8th album The North Corridor out today, I thought I'd look at their back catalog.

Chevelle Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Fell Into Your Shoes
2. Comfortable Liar
3. Get Some
4. Clones
5. Twinge
6. Prove To You
7. Paint The Seconds
8. Forfeit
9. Sleep Apnea
10. Breach Birth
11. An Evening With El Diablo
12. Brainiac
13. The Meddler
14. Another Know It All
15. Straight Jacket Fashion
16. Black Boys On Mopeds
17. Roswell's Spell
18. Arise
19. Jawbreaker

Track 6 from Point #1 (1999)
Tracks 2, 8 and 11 from Wonder What's Next (2002)
Track 16 from Wonder What's Next: Deluxe Edition (2003)
Tracks 3, 10 and 14 from This Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In) (2004)
Tracks 7, 12 and 15 from Vena Sera (2007)
Tracks 1, 9 and 17 from Sci-Fi Crimes (2009)
Tracks 4, 13 and 18 from Hats Off To The Bull (2011)
Tracks 5 and 19 from La Gargola (2014)

When Chevelle started out in the late '90s, they were just another heavy Chicago band with an independent album engineered by Steve Albini. But even that album had enough hooks that the title track charted nationally and got them signed to a major label, the next album was a huge platinum success, and they've had a ton more hits since then. The band started out with the three Loeffler brothers, although bassist Joe left (or was kicked out, depending who you believe) in 2005, resulting in one of the odder sibling rivalries in recent rock history. I wonder Thanksgiving is like for that family.

The band's sound hasn't changed much since their second album, but there have been interesting little wrinkles over time, like the sudden turn into more fantastical lyrical subject matter on the aptly named Sci-Fi Crimes. I tried to highlight unusual, texturally rich songs like "The Twinge," and outliers like their excellent cover of Sinead O'Connor's "Black Boys On Mopeds." "Sleep Apnea" and "The Meddler" are album tracks that appeared on their compilation Stray Arrows: A Collection Of Favorites.

I like to joke that Chevelle streamlined pop version of Tool and the Deftones, with more concise and less abrasive songs, but I really think Pete Loeffler has a great voice and a sharp ear for hooks. I almost wasn't mad that when I took my wife to see the band a few years ago, he sang along with a pre-recorded vocal track to bolster how good he sounded live -- still I have to admit that disappointed me a little. It was subtle enough that I don't think most of the audience even noticed.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic

Monthly Report: June 2016 Albums

Wednesday, July 06, 2016





























1. Maren Morris - Hero
I've been listening to Maren Morris's self-titled 2015 EP since I was first heard "My Church" on the radio at the beginning of the year, and about a third of Hero's brief 37-minute running time reprises songs from the EP. (plus the song she wrote on Kelly Clarkson's last album appears here). That is to say, I adored a chunk of this album already and I'm quickly getting to know the rest. Morris stands out as a writerly traditionalist in the context of modern country radio -- to crassly oversimplify things, she's kind of this year's Kacey Musgraves -- but to just say that would, I think, do a disservice to the actual appeal of this album. Tracks like "Sugar" and "80s Mercedes" are strutting, witty, groove-driven anthems, and "How It's Done" has this spacey R&B thump to it. There are a few pretty old school country moments that justify the old-fashioned cover art, but mostly it's fun, summery album made by someone with a strong command of a lot of different sounds.

2. YG - Still Brazy
My Krazy Life was a great album that felt like it was just the right people at the right time, one of DJ Mustard's closest associates dropping an album full of his beats at the peak of Mustard running radio, and capturing the spirit of '90s west coast gangsta rap with a new sound. But that narrative could do a disservice to how great YG was on that album, and the fact that he's stepped up his rapping ability for a harder-sounding album without Mustard beats the second time around. The whole record sounds great and is funny and disrespectful as fuck. But it's not until the trio that closes the album ("FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)," "Blacks & Browns," and "Police Get Away With Murder") that Still Brazy really feels like it has purpose and meaning that puts YG more in the lineage of Ice Cube than I ever thought he was before.

3. Wye Oak - Tween
Wye Oak has been one of my favorite Baltimore bands since I first saw them play an amazing set in a tiny room under a different name 9 years ago, and at this point I pretty much feel they're one of the best bands in the world. Two years ago, I got to interview Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack about their 4th album, Shriek, and talked a lot with them about how Wasner wound up not playing guitar on that record and focusing on bass and synth. But it surprised me to learn that they basically had a whole album's worth of more guitar-driven material recorded between 2011's Civilian and Shriek, which they surprise released in June. Like the My Neighbor / My Creator EP, I think this stands tall with the band's official albums, and "If You Should See" and "Better (For Esther)" are among the best songs they've ever made.

4. So Nice Yesterday - Best Party Ever
The Baltimore duo Thom Castles and Berko Lover intrigued me with the So Nice Yesterday songs they released last year, I don't know if they consider themselves dance music or R&B or hip hop or what, but there's a really charmingly relaxed, unpolished vibe combined with a lot of intelligence and personality and humor ("Curieux" is the first time I've heard the word "libations" in a song lyric since Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues"). I pitched this group to several publications and nobody got back to me, which is frustrating, but at least I can recommend the album here.

5. Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger
As our music legends of the '60s and '70s and '80s begin to perish with an inevitable but alarming frequency, I've been pretty interested to see who's still making unusually good music in their twilight years. And the fact that Paul Simon made a pretty vital and inspired album 50 years after Sounds of Silence is pretty remarkable (along with the fact that "The Sound Of Silence" charted just this year because of an internet meme and a terrible hit cover by The Disturbed). The mix of acoustic and looped percussion is really textured and beautiful, and he remains an idiosyncratic and funny lyricist who leaves odd little phrases rattling around in your head.

6. Kino Kimino - Bait Is For Sissies
This band is a young frontwoman, Kim Talon, backed by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, and it's always great to hear what those guys are up to, especially since this is some of the most uptempo stuff they've done in a long time. If anything it reminds me more of Brownstein-sung Sleater-Kinney than Sonic Youth, it's all nervy and hard charging for the most of the record.

7. Future & DJ Esco - Project E.T.
DJ Esco's name is bigger than Future's on the cover of this mixtape, but that was the case with 56 Nights as well, that just happened to a tape of all Future tracks, whereas Project E.T. is 12 Future songs padded out with Esco productions by other artists. In any event, Future remains a mixtape rapper who churns out music at an astonishing rate, and now that his career has reached a new plateau, people have started to act weird about that and treat every new tape like an important statement on whether he still has 'it.' But I really dig some of the songs on here, I've been bemoaning that his last 5 projects (everything since Beast Mode) have been dominated by Metro Boomin' and 808 Mafia beats, and they only account for half of Future's tracks here. "My Blower" is the first Future beat by Tarentino since "March Madness," and "Champagne Shower" is an overdue collaboration between Future and Rich Homie Quan, who people used to dismiss as a Future soundalike before we learned what that really is with Desiigner. But my favorite song on here is "Married To The Game," there's just a lot of gems here and I feel like people are hating on them because of how they were packaged as old outtakes for Future's DJ to pull out of the vault.

8. Kodak Black - Lil B.I.G. Pac
A lot of people who I often share taste in rap with have been talking up Kodak Black and saying he's the best of this year's XXL Freshmen (which he might be, although it's a pretty weak lineup this year). So I've been trying to catch up on his stuff, listening to this new mixtape and some of his biggest older songs. I'm not totally sold on dude, he still sounds really young and rough around the edges to me, especially next to Gucci and Boosie on songs on here, he's not quite ready to carry on that lineage, but maybe he could a little further down the line.

9. Mozzy - Mandatory Check
Here's another regional street rap dude that my cool friends like and I'm still catching up on. I like his voice, the production's good, but not many of the songs here are very memorable, might need to check out some of his other records.

10. Little Big Town - Wanderlust
I raised my eyebrow a few months ago at the news that Pharrell Williams had been in the studio with The Band Perry, but before anything he'd done with them came out, another country group announced that they'd made an entire album with him. The album was only announced 2 weeks ahead of time, with the terrible single "One Of These Days," and it would've been a short album even in the vinyl era, 8 songs over 25 minutes -- I guess they realize an album like this is a gamble, and really I can't picture country or pop radio embracing this record. But honestly, I expected the worst from this album based on the single, and I actually dig it. It's a huge step down from their last album, but they've already said they're working on another album with Pain Killer producer Jay Joyce, so it's all good. And Pharrell's goofy disco grooves work better with Little Big Town's voices than I thought they would, "Skinny Dippin'" and "Willpower" really get the equation right with a little slide guitar on top.

Worst Album Of The Month: Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
The music press loves Dev Hynes and writes lots of fawning profiles that make him seem like a really fascinating, important cultural figure. But my lord, he makes boring music. It all has this soft focus '80s synth pop gauze over it, the rhythms and melodies always sound as slow and rudimentary as possible, syllables whispered as whole notes over rigid quarter note grooves, it's just incredibly bland, like he's never had an interesting musical idea his entire life. "E.V.P." is the closest the album comes to an original sound, but it's kind of clunky and poorly executed. It's possible that the lyrics lend some dimension to this record, to be fair I couldn't make out the words a lot of the time, because of all the whispering and wooshy production. I've heard a lot of the '80s records he's emulating, and practically all of them are way more enjoyable than this.

Saturday, July 02, 2016







Justin "OG Johnny 5" Davis invited me to appear on the latest episode of his Voice Of The Voiceless podcast, so we basically talked for an hour about Baltimore, music, and some of the big albums of 2016.

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic

Friday, July 01, 2016




















Last week Bernie Worrell passed away, and even before that, when it'd been announced that his health was failing, I'd been listening to a lot of Parliament and Funkadelic. I remember years ago I had an eMusic subscription and had started working my way through the P-Funk discography, but they just have so many albums that I never got really far past the early records. But they've made an amazing catalog, and Bernie Worrell in particular has always dazzled me as one of the most important people to raise the synthesizer to its own distinct instrument, so it was nice to comb over some of these records and remember his work.

Parliament-Funkadelic Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Mommy, What's A Funkadelic?
2. Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow
3. Maggot Brain
4. I Call My Baby Pussycat
5. You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure
6. Alice In My Fantasies
7. Presence of A Brain
8. Together
9. The Song Is Familiar
10. Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication (The Bumps Bump)
11. Everything Is On The One
12. Let's Take It To The People
13. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk [Pay Attention - B3M]
14. Liquid Sunshine
15. Let's Play House

Track 1 from Funkadelic's Funkadelic (1970)
Track 2 from Funkadelic's Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow (1970)
Track 3 from Funkadelic's Maggot Brain (1971)
Track 4 from Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young (1972)
Track 5 from Funkadelic's Cosmic Slop (1973)
Track 6 from Funkadelic's Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On (1974)
Track 7 from Parliament's Up For The Down Stroke (1974)
Track 8 from Parliament's Chocolate City (1975)
Track 9 from Funkadelic's Let's Take It To The Stage (1975)
Track 10 from Parliament's Mothership Connection (1975)
Track 11 from Parliament's The Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein (1976)
Track 12 from Funkadelic's Tales Of Kidd Funkadelic (1976)
Track 13 from Parliament's Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome (1977)
Track 14 from Parliament's Motor Booty Affair (1978)
Track 15 from Parliament's Trombipulation (1980)

The tracks on here that I would highlight as featuring some of Bernie Worrell's best work include "Free Your Mind," "Together," "Sir Nose," and "Let's Play House," but really it's fun to just listen chronologically and hear him progress from blaring acid rock organ to these incredibly off the wall synth patches. And obviously just one of a few amazing instrumental virtuosos who did their best work alongside George Clinton.

The whole confusing affair with Parliament and Funkadelic essentially being the same group of people operating under under two different names was, primarily, a brilliant hustle that allowed P-Funk to record for two different labels. And each band individually churned out LPs at the swift rate of most bands in the '70s. Over the course of the decade, they released a total of 19 albums, dwarfing the output of almost any other non-jazz artist in the '70s. Parliament and Funkadelic released 3 albums a year between the two groups in both 1975 and 1976, and I would put P-Funk's 1975 trio (Chocolate CityTake It To The Stage, and Mothership Connection) up against CCR's 1969 as one of the most impressive single year outputs in pop music history. Since many of their best songs are pretty long (four 9 or 10-minute tracks take up half of this mix), I just stuck to one track per album, and still had to skip several albums.

You may recognize a lot of these songs from samples by N.W.A. ("Sir Nose"), A Tribe Called Quest ("Let's Take It To The People"), De La Soul ("Mommy, What's A Funkadelic?") and of course the Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" ("Let's Play House"). But mostly I wanted to capture the way the band evolved, and how they basically ran with what Sly Stone and other funk forebears had created and blew it up into this bizarre, unique sound and mythology that helped bridge eras right up into hip hop. The emotional balladry of "The Song Is Familiar," the hard rock of "Alice In My Fantasies," the straight up funk of "Everything Is On The One," the legendary guitar freakout of "Maggot Brain," this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell