Weiss' Best Reissues & Compilations of 2008
Steve Stein and partner Double Dee, were dropping lessons on kids when Shadow and Cut Chemist were still constructing crates out of lincoln logs. Finally collected on the aptly named, Illegal Art label, Steinski's seminal singles are that rarity--as fun as they are important. Neither The Avalanches nor Girl Talk, are remotely possible without the break-beat battery of an ex- advertising executive and a commercials engineer. What does it all mean? Just cop it and figure that out later. (Hint: it can only be found somewhere within the collected discography of Alf.)
Arabian Prince-"Innovative Life: The Anthology (1984-1989)
In a serious bid for '08 Angeleno M.V.P status (Manny Ramirez and K.O.B.E. nonwithstanding), Peanut Butter Wolf excavated these electro-funk jams from local hip-hop pioneer, Arabian Prince. Add that to the Carolina Funk comp, Karl Hector and the Malcouns, the Madlib and Koushik records and the Stones Throw conglomerate is better than even the backpackers thought it was. Innovative Life presents a broad survey of the career of N.W.A. co-founder, the Arabian Prince--from the exotic middle eastern fantasies of "Strange Life" to his later work under the Professor X moniker. Plus, the sleazy lustre of the Prince's jheri curl during the Reagan Years can only be matched by Eazy.
MP3: Arabian Prince-"Let's Hit the Beach"
V/A-Carolina Funk: First in Funk
Another Peanut Butter Wolf (and Egon) production, via Stones Throw subsidiary Now-Again Records, Carolina Funk combs
both Carolinas to excavate 22 gorgeous and gutteral Southern funk cuts.
Curated by North Cackalack native/cratedigger, Jason Perlmutter, this
is a producer's dream: arcane breakbeats, filthy grooves, and celestial
soul. The sort of bible material that feels criminal to have been been
hidden for so long--particularly, when one considers this.
Neil Young-Live At Canterbury House (1968)
Before he became a viable candidate for G.O.A.T., Neil Young was a trepidacious 22-year-old, hoping to launch a fledgling solo career following the dissolution of Buffalo Springfield. This acoustic set, taped at Ann Arbor's Canterbury House just days before the release of his eponymous solo debut, displays Young Shakey's fledgling genius and wry sense of humor. Half composed of Buffalo cuts, half yet-unreleased songs, it's a fascinating and beautiful document ideal for any Neil Young fan. Which, I presume, is all of you, barring some weird perversion like cannibalism or Two and Half Men fandom.
Nina Simone: To Be the Free-The Nina Simone Story
Nina Simone, in her '60s and '70s prime, singing standards and Bob Dylan, live. Elaboration seems redundant--I'm no Simone expert. We could tell talk the civil rights legacy, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea voice, but I'd be cribbing Wikipedia and ok, here. You can read the history but it's all in the songs. This boxed set served as a suitable introduction to the wonder that was Nina Simone--for that, I owe someone a thank you joint.
King Khan & The Shrines-The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines
I've written at length about Khan here and here. In the latter piece, I said that Khan was the best performer at the Pitchfork Festival, providing "a hammy blend of James Brown showmanship, eccentric brilliance and true lunacy." The guy took the stage in a gold Josephine Baker head-wrap, a black cape, too-tight stretch shorts and occasionally a Mexican Luchador mask. Rest assured, I will be writing more about this fellow in the future, as I like the cut of his gib--though he may show off his gib a bit more than is preferred.
The Grateful Dead-Rocking the Cradle Egypt 1978
In the wise words of the Genius, this is "strictly fam members only." Do you need the 15-minute version of "Shakedown Street," recorded live at the Pyramids in 1978? Probably not. But I do and don't fuck with my parade. I have powers. Political powers.
I'd make a terrible hippie.
V/A-1970's Proto-Rai Algerian Underground
Sublime Frequencies unearths these long-lost gems that built the foundation for the Rai movement that dominated Algerian music from the '80s and on. A cross between the smoky, Sahara guitars of Tuareg Bedouin music and the copper crash of classic '70s afro-beat, track two is called "Mazal Nesker Mazal (I'm Still Getting Drunk... Still)." Best served with mint tea, couscous, and hookah.
V/A-Nigeria 70-Lagos Jump
Strut Records won't cast as long a shadow as it deserves on this list. I'm pressed for both space and time, so just one album from the recently revived indie will make the cut. But rest assured, their entire '08 calendar, has been phenomenal. From Calypsoul '70, to Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story, to Kid Creole's Going Places, to this collection of Nigerian afro-beat in the key of Kuti, the label's taste is impeccable and every release demands attention.
Creedence Creedence Clearwater Revival 6 Reissues
We live in a post-Wes Anderson world, where the Kinks are the darling of every hipster sapling, as let's be honest, they should be. So it's time to annoint Creedence the title of the 60s' most underrated group. Granted, the Coens valorized them and Forgerty can still work the minor league baseball circuit cranking out the jab/uppercut of "Centerfield" and "Proud Mary." But more often than not they're relegated to an imiginary second tier of '60s acts, along with The Animals, Donovan and Jefferson Airplane. This reissue of their discography does yeoman's work in bolstering the band's rep, with a fresh coat of remastering and blistering live versions tacked on to each of the six discs.
V/A-Daptone Records Singles Collection Vol. 2; V/A-Calypsoul '70; V/A, Nigeria Disco Funk (1974-1979); Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story, Delta Dandies-Dance Bands in Nigeria (1936-1941)