Spotify web link: Let The Beat Build #1
1. “Act Too (The Love of My Life)” - The Roots. JW: Full song metaphors went cheesy but then got good again. This one is so deep with its feelings, that it’s barely a metaphor. The beat is strong, and it can be built out into many directions.
2. “Mr. Invisible” - The Grouch. KW: I'm tired of these champagne sipping money fakers, but Grouch was tired of that shit first. I may never get enough of broke MFers talking about what it's like to really be independent.
3. “List of Demands (Reparations)” - Saul Williams. JW: The jazz poet set knows how to groove out and tell their real stories. But rarely does a rant depart from spoken word/slam and into a listenable, infectious, syncopated, musical expression. I played this song in my head every time I protested. Ironically, I was not protesting for a specific list of demands.
4. “Paranoid Chant” - Minutemen. KW: You want to talk rants? I try to work I keep thinking of World War Three! I try to talk to girls I keep thinking of World War Three!
5. “Sri Lanka Sex Hotel” - The Dead Milkmen. JW: Paranoid Chant got my balls aching for Beelzebubba. There are other tracks that sound more like the Minutemen, but I think this is the best one on the album. When I was a kid, we thought the line, “Let’s have sex without birth control” was “Let’s have sex with butt cajole.”
6. “Waves of Fear” - Lou Reed. KW: Sometimes the most careless thing you can do is take control of your own life, wrestling it out of the hands of your own demons. Also, this is just a nasty guitar performance from Robert Quine. This song is one of my personal favorites from the Underappreciated Rock Guitar Greatness category.
7. “Love Buzz” - Nirvana. JW: “Underappreciated rock guitar greatness” got me thinking of Ace Frehley. But only that someone said that once, not that I agreed. Then “nasty” got me thinking... I feel like post-punk and post-post-punk-grunge (really the best part of grunge) are like be-bop and speed chess. The trope spectrum is somewhat narrow, but that leaves you all this space to put yourself into it. Maybe this is the wrong song for that sentiment, but I have to go with my gut.
8. “New York Groove” - Hello. KW: I was a huge KISS fan when I was in elementary school. Ace Frehley was kind of a major influence on me, and I still have mad respect for his guitar solos. Frankly, vintage KISS is some dirty ass rock and roll, up there with Appetite for Destruction, even if it isn’t up to the level of, say, anything at all by the Pixies. Anyway, you laid down “Love Buzz” and I immediately thought, hey, that’s a cover, I’ve never heard the original, so I went and listened to Shocking Blue’s original. Then I thought, well, Ace Frehley, obviously I should drop “New York Groove,” but hey, that’s a cover, and I’ve never heard the original, so I listened to Hello’s “New York Groove.” Baby, you better believe.
9. “Run Fay Run” - Isaac Hayes. JW: Every 30 seconds of New York Groove I kept thinking of a new song. But that honky glam high school band clap reminded me of a soul clap and a booty clap. And then I thought of fap. And then I naturally thought of Isaac Hayes. I have nothing deep or historical to say about Hayes right now, though I could go off on a Tarantangent. Just enjoy this as part of a soundtrack to a samurai movie.
10. “I Can’t Wait” - Ol’ Dirty Bastard. KW: I was going to drop “Hawaii in Ten Seconds” by The Kingsbury Manx, but they ain’t got that shit in stock. Thus I couldn’t get to Hawaii and I ran out of time, and that’s why I was like “yo, yo Miami, yo California, north east west and south motherfuckers.” This is Dirt McGirt, who was here (all too briefly) to make you scream.
11. “Can’t Wait” - Redman. JW: “My flows bees wet like all your girls’ draws be...”
12. “My Dick” - Mickey Avalon. KW: Merry Christmas, Jesus.
13. “Licking Stick” - James Brown. JW: Is “licking stick” his penis? If so why should his mama bring it to him? If it’s something to lick, then what sort of metaphor is that? Or is it a switch for him to give her her “licks”? And if so, why does he sound pre-ecstatic? And what incentive is there for “mama” to bring it to him? That James Brown is one twisted sadist. Though he’s no Chuck Berry.
14. “Yer Blues” - The Dirty Mac. KW: Well, if you’re going to follow James Brown, you better be a fucking supergroup. For bonus points, you could go listen to James Chance, the laziest man in show business, a legend in his own mind. (“I’m gonna hit me a horn solo, it’s gonna violate your soul.”) Better let’s stick with John Lennon though.
15. “Tweeter And The Monkey Man” - Traveling Wilburys. JW: I’ll see your “fucking” supergroup and raise you an “arthritic” supergroup. The Wilburys toggle back and forth between awe-inspiring and yawn-inspiring but I love them deeply for their “nothing-to-prove-still-got-it-ness”. The narrative in this song is as deep and rich and cinematic as Hattie Carroll or Black Diamond Bay. Did you know Roy Orbison was in fact, NOT blind?
KW: Traveling Wilburys are the fucking man. “Tweeter and the Monkeyman” were the first Dylan lyrics I ever memorized. I was twelve years old in the back of a Luckenbach cathouse. My parents were there. My brother started a fight with Jack Ruby. Things got weird in the fifties.
16. “Heat Wave” - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. KW: Let’s consider the fact that the songwriters, producers, and musicians on this track (and most of the other early Motown tracks) consistently defined the trajectory of rock and R&B for over a decade. Absolute genius. The backup vocals are some of my favorite vocals on any record, period. Vandellas. Funk Brothers. Holland Dozier Holland. If you don’t like old Motown then [expletive deleted] in the face. I’m just kidding. You probably like other good stuff. It just happens to be the kind of good stuff that sucks.
17a. “Got To Get You Into My Life” - The Beatles. JW: Nothing like important music to reveal the limitations of the Spotify catalogue. This 17 slot should have been “Great Gig In The Sky” as a tribute to the crossover power of soulful background vocals. But instead we’re going in another direction. Revolver marks a quantum leap for the Beatles to experiment with new sounds and tools. The brass section, the sitar, engineering techniques, and the virtual foley studio of Yellow Submarine. And, of course, it’s a love letter to pot.
17b. “Shotgun” - Jr. Walker And The All Stars. JW: Alright, this one seems widely available. This has always been one of my favorite soul tracks. And it’s placement in Malcolm X is right on.