e don’t bother having a winter companion for this article. You wouldn’t want to read it. (We tried last year and didn’t end up running it; it was a series of teary, 4,000 word essays on the virtues of inert drunkenness, slow curses of seasonal affective disorder, and timid, highly poetic reflections on sadcore. They read like chapped lips look. We got over it.)
You don’t hear a lot about winter mixes because winter, save the farcical attempts during Christmas and New Years or the enduring efforts by the resilient people experiencing 24-hour-a-day darkness in Iceland, is a very fucking lonely time dotted with isolated moments of intense, diary-worthy beauty. And mixtapes are things to share—with friends, dates, whatever. They’re odes to and companions for.
Spring comes on like an embarrassed smile; we just keep waiting for it to break—finally, it does. And we’re animal, we’re mercenary. Summer makes good. Summer makes us feel young and free; we stockpile fun and wipe aside pre-emptive regrets with the knowledge that eventually, we’re going to have to face winter again. It’s a wonderful time. And we need music, because again, music, it’s social.
Of course, not all these tapes are going to be labeled Sweat-Hot Dancefloor Jamz Oh-Sixx or Barbecue, Fuckers; summer is wonderful because amongst the hungover mornings at work, impulsive trysts, and general climate-condoned frivolity is a sense of peace. Few experiences are as deeply satisfying as feeling a long summer day slip into a quiet night; depending on where you live, the sky might be flecked with fireflies or the streets littered with strolling couples—soft human chatter replacing a city’s noise. And we’ve got tapes for those times, too.
In the heat, we feel acutely present. Winter forces us to protect our bodies from its weather; summer only asks us to temporarily relieve ourselves from it. It’s an active relationship like that. And the sun stays out. So we do, too; we stay out, and we bring our jamboxes, ghetto blasters, transistors, and irredeemable factory systems for the whole park to hear. And this is what we play.
(We’ll be posting one or two mixes a day for the whole week, so be sure and check back. For reference and pure indulgence, please peruse our past Summer Jamz efforts from 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.)
Summer’s for Dilettantes
Get Out of the Studio!
I CAN HAS BURTHDAY MIX?
Glued to the Street in the H-Town Heat
In 1960, Ray Charles released The Genius Hits The Road, a collection of songs about various locations around the United States, including stops in Vermont, Texas, and ole’ Virginny, among others. Inspired by Brother Ray’s concept, my 2007 Summer Jamz Mixtape takes me on the ultimate summer vacation around the world, heading east from my beloved hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, to circle the globe (more or less), with the tracks arranged in the order of the places I’d visit. While this might not lead to the same running order I would assemble if I were looking to make the best musical matches and flow, you can’t argue with geography, and there’s something magical about hearing the world through someone else’s eyes. Enjoy the trip.
Squeeze - “Piccadilly”
Renegade Soundwave - “Brixton”
First stop: London, presented here with two tales of the city. In the former, a sprightly pianner line leads the way to a charming romantic mix-up after a night out, peppered with lust and a handful of touristy cliches. The latter is altogether more dark-minded, showcasing the city’s seedy underbelly where tourists seldom tread. Cities are complex, living, breathing entities, and in the simple minds of the sightseers, the parts where the nasty business goes on usually don’t exist. These twin snapshots of distinctly different pockets of London help to show that sometimes the real, memorable travel experiences don’t always happen as if on a postcard, and sometimes aren’t altogether pleasant.
Scott Walker - “Amsterdam”
Further accentuating the point, Scott Walker’s take on Jacque Brel’s portrait of seedy old Amsterdam is suitably tempting and lascivious. The city’s reputation as a haven for dope-minded college kids on Euro holiday has prevailed over the last few decades, but in the mid-60s, Walker’s take was more accurate and still breathes with character. You can nearly smell the place.
Safety Scissors - “Where Is Germany and How Do I Get There? (Ellen Allien Germany Remix)”
In the Detroit airport, there’s a moving sidewalk that runs from one terminal to the next that is unlike any other I’ve seen. The lights are darkened, with nightclub-style colors on the walls and overhead, pure, sweet, melodic Detroit techno is pumped in through the overhead speakers. It’s a surprising and heartfelt tribute to the city’s pioneering electronic scene, showing travelers who otherwise had no idea that there is far more to Detroit’s musical legacy than just Motown.
With that in my mind’s eye, I picture Berlin’s airport to have this track blasting through it at maximum volume on an endless loop, for the airport shops to sell vinyl, and for the baggage handlers to be decked out in club gear.
John Cale - “Paris 1919”
I suppose I’d like to visit Paris, the renowned city of romance and fashion and culture, but given my druthers, I would have visited the old Paris that Cale so melodically visits in his song, full of ghosts and old European charm rather than today’s modern “Euro” capital full of anti-Americanism (though I don’t blame them for that one bit). Quite like a ghost, Cale’s “you’re a ghost/la la la la” chorus haunts for days, refusing to leave your head by any means short of an exorcism.
The Teardrop Explodes - “Seven Views of Jerusalem”
Heading into more exotic territory now, musically and geographically, as Cope & Co. host a spiritual journey via fretless bass. Though he’s been heavy into the whole Pagan scene for the last few years (and the Mother Earth scene before that), Cope’s lyrics and the band’s effortless atmospherics make for a compelling musical postcard. Apparently, Jerusalem is best seen from overhead.
DJ 3000 - “Passage To Malësia”
I really had to scour the globe to figure out exactly where in the name of fuck Malësia was, but knowing a tiny bit about DJ 3000’s ancestry, I had a vague idea. According to Wikipedia, “Malësia (or, more formally, Malësia e Madhe, Serbian: Malesija) is a geographical region in northern Albania and eastern Montenegro. It consists of the large area of land that stretches from the southeast of Podgorica to northern shores of Lake Scutari, and includes much of the Malësi e Madhe District of Albania.” That said, this track is a percussive fusion of old world styles with Detroit techno sensibilities, and it really sounds like motion, like travel. Hard to put that across in a song, let alone an instrumental, but this manages to pull it off nicely. The percussive elements lead nicely into...
Japan - “Visions of China”
Marching with the complex rhythm of a tight military maneuver, David Sylvian provides the self-portrait of the frightened youth not quite ready to meet his Army requirement, but its his brother, Steve Jansen, who steels the show with a barrage of percussion walking in perfect formation. More than 25 years on and that drum break still grabs and holds like a propaganda poster. I find it sad that great and wondrous China is still thought of as a mysterious place of fear in these post-Cold War times, but I also suspect the feelings expressed in the lyric here are closer to the truth than not.
David Bowie - “Crystal Japan”
Released as a single in Japan (of course) in 1979, “Crystal Japan” is one of Bowie’s more obscure tracks from the era, both in rarity and content. In the heart of the Scary Monsters era, Bowie’s textural production might have seemed out of step with the rest of his work, but look back to “It’s No Game” and you can see the seeds. The track conjures the ornate, delicate side of Japanese culture rather than the hypertechno attitude that many associate with the country now, the flipside of the Yellow Magic Orchestra’s groundbreaking electronic work.
The Future Sound of London - “Papua New Guinea”
Buoyed by a high-stepping breakbeat, ethereal vocal snippets, and a simple three-note riff, “Papua New Guinea” was a pioneering ambient house number that somehow managed to capture the tribalism of the island life with a bank of pulsing keyboards and a few well-chosen loops. Most effective in its long version, the track has always made me wonder what the place was actually like, having never really considered the question before I heard it.
The Kinks - “Australia”
Ray Davies has always had a gift for describing places in his songs—Waterloo Station, various croquet lawns and village greens, and the like—and his ode to Australia perfectly captures the sense of wonder and joy that his characters are feeling in anticipation of starting their new lives there. The song is glorious like a national anthem, full of soaring good attitude. For Arthur and his family, from whose album-length tale the track is excerpted from, things would get more complicated, but don’t they always?
The English Beat - “Dreamhome in NZ”
I’m not sure that my personal dreamhome would be in New Zealand, but there certainly is no reason why it couldn’t be. It’s all in the company you keep, I say, which is basically the sentiment that Dave Wakeling puts across here over a liquid island groove. I suppose my dreamhome is more likely in grimy, depressed Northeastern Ohio, which reinforces his point, I would think.
Neil Young - “L.A.”
Winging back to the States now, and if Los Angeles weren’t a big enough turn off on its own, Neil Young’s tongue-in-cheek ballad of SoCal hipsterdom certainly pushes my thoughts in that direction. My own time in L.A. was short, and really, that’s how I’d like it to stay. I’m sure there are some perfectly wonderful people and places there, but I found it to be plastic and transparent, a real Valley of the Dolls populated by Stepford Wives and those hustling to be their pool boys or henpecked husbands. You can almost see Neil’s sneer when he sings, “Don’t you wish that you could be here too?” None for me, thanks, just passing through.
Wilco - “Via Chicago”
Any plane route from the West Coast to Cleveland generally takes you through the Windy City, and so this poignant ode to “coming home, via Chicago” is especially apt here. So too is the world-weary tone of the song and especially Jeff Tweedy’s longing vocals. Coming home after a long trip, this song serves as a perfect salve, a welcome reminder that no, you haven’t gone too far. Despite the famous saying to the contrary, you can always go home again.
Summer’s the season of sun, bikinis, beer, naïveté, and short-lived romance. For millions of young Americans, summer’s all about bumming around your parents’ place and waiting for adventure to call, or taking a job with the local frozen banana stand in order to check out chixxx/boizzz. Those of us who’ve entered the work force don’t really get much of a summer any more (other than that overly short two weeks a year). Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever again have a chance to experience the dizzying self-discovery of a well-spent summer.
This mix is dedicated to that proposition. Airy, breezy pop with a catchy melody rules the day, often taking part in some sort of after-the-fact revival inspired by some asshole from circa-1981 Sheffield. A lot of this stuff is the hipster equivalent of “yacht rock,” and fittingly, a little bit of bona-fide yacht rock also appears. These cuts have all the glitz and shimmer of an ephemeral summer fling; however, if you’re on the verge of discovering the joys of, say, driving up Highway 1 with the top down, or hopping the Eurostar into a European city for a day, then this disc may very well, as the saying goes, change your life.
01. Max Tundra – “Mbgate”
Our opener hails from Tundra’s 2002 opus Mastered by Guy at the Exchange and recently underwent a small renaissance by appearing in a Sirius commercial. “Mbgate” is a tale of two tracks, first skittering around a chunky guitar riff and start-stop drum beat, but morphing at the 1-minute mark into a churning electro-funk explosion driven by, of all things, conga rhythms. It’s sort of like dance music for people who would rather just tap their feet while staring at the computer screen. And then it just screeches to a halt, horns blaring, cymbals stalling out. How did I know you wanted to hear that?
02. The Knife – “Heartbeats”
I actually heard the Jose Gonzales acoustic cover of this track before the real thing. Gonzales’s take soundtracks that Sony Bravia commercial shot in San Francisco where thousands of rubber balls bounce down Nob Hill. While his version plays up the situation’s lyrical gravitas, it’s the original that better captures the color outburst of the absurdist scene. Backed by a fat, buzzing synth-bass line and adorned with beats culled from a tropical 80s ballad, “Heartbeats” has a surprising amount of “Take My Breath Away” in it, but Karin Dreijer Andersson’s lilting vocal performance jars “Heartbeats” out of any one time period, except perhaps the 22nd century.
03. Level 42 – “Something About You”
“Is it so wrong to be human, after all?” Level 42 transitions surprisingly well from “Heartbeats,” which probably owes heavily to the license taken by the Knife. These British white boys get funky in a way that only dedicated blue-eyed soul devotees could really pull off. Mark King’s bass alone deserves millions in royalties and scads of groupie fucks enjoyed by copycat groups who ripped off King’s signature slap-sound in the late 80s.
04. Hall & Oates – “Private Eyes”
I spent a summer in Japan as a research assistant for a large telecom company just south of Kyoto. In sampling the summer nightlife in Kyoto, I found that one learns two things: (1) those kids are crazy for reggae & dancehall, and (2) “Private Eyes” plays just about every night at just about every club. Everyone knows the exact timing of those hand-claps, the little nuances of Daryl Hall’s vocals, and the rises and falls of that transitory solo. Back in the States, listeners are split down the middle on Hall & Oates, but over there, people put aside personal opinions when it came to the Sultans of Smooth.
05. Justice – “Phantom”
Made by a couple of young French twenty-somethings in order to French-house your fucking face off. In their singles and new full-length, Justice has correctly approached the groove as the motor driving both the dancefloor and the moshpit. Accordingly, they’ve developed this system of communicating electro house via the medium of mind-melting, uber-distorted riffage. While “D.A.N.C.E.” is poised to be a big summer anthem, it’s early cuts like “Phantom” that’ll roll over a nightclub audience, bodies flying everywhere, the souls of the pure corrupted by demonic hedonism. Now THAT’S what I call summer!
06. UB40 – “Kingston Town”
When Paris Hilton gets out of the clink on Tuesday, she’ll have even more summer legal trouble to deal with: UB40 has filed a lawsuit claiming Hilton ripped off their cover of Lord Creator’s “Kingston Town” for her single “Stars Are Blind.” A back-to-back listen some startling similarities, but we’re not in the business of determining the legal culpability of ripoffs (otherwise, we might have something to say about the first five tracks on this mix). As long as you’re being a dilettante, you might as well bump in the summer months to this agreeable white-reggae footnote in the “career” of Miss Hilton. And it’s sure a fuck of a lot better than “Stars Are Blind” itself.
07. The Blow – “True Affection”
Casio-pop and the related twee-ish substyles surrounding it pop into the public consciousness every now and then and deeply impact cutely-dressed cool kids. The Blow has a bit of an edge to ‘em, but “True Affection” sings sweetly and earnestly about, well, true affection. Featuring a spartan little beat and Khaela Maricich’s emotive vocals, this little ditty brought down the energy level and closed Paper Television, the Blow’s first and last album as a duo. Fun fact: Jona Bechtolt joined the group for that album before leaving to refocus on his one-man-asylum act YACHT.
08. Röyksopp– “Remind Me (Someone Else’s Radio Edit)”
Gotta love those Geico caveman commercials. The original version of this song soundtracks the commercial spot in the airport, where the caveman notices the offending Geico ad whilst on the moving sidewalk. Norwegian multi-tasker Erlend Øye guests on all versions, singing (as he often does) about Europe and traveling and diaspora and stuff. The music video uses the very similar “Someone Else’s Club Edit” and features a striking animation, cataloguing the joys of a day in the life of a young office worker. It’s so easy, a twenty-something can do it.
09. Cut Copy – “Time Stands Still”
Australia’s Dan Whitford seriously needs to write and record another album; otherwise, his fans might get the idea that the retro-futuristic “Time Stands Still” opening the debut Bright Like Neon Love is his group’s high water-mark. No offense to “Hearts on Fire,” allegedly a new CC cut according to their Myspace page, but “Time Stands Still” best distills the “City Lights, Future Nights” aesthetic that Whitford has stolen from a number of artists before him (if I had to pick one influence at random, I might go with Human League). Make it snappy, Whitford!
10. The Dukes of Stratosphear – “Vanishing Girl”
XTC’s psyched-out alter-ego from the mid-80s released an album and a half’s worth of psychedelic rock tributes, immortalizing 60s-style riff-fuzz. I always liked the Elephant 6 aesthetic and rabidly followed Will Cullen Hart, and the Dukes acted as precedent for him and his minions’ freaked-out pop experiments. This is my favorite Dukes cut, a short-and-sweet track that falls short of three minutes even with a little children’s-book sample at the end.
11. Ghostface Killah – “Back Like That”
Laid around the foundation of a sunny Motown sample (Willie Hutch’s “Baby Come Home”) and heavily featuring Ne-Yo, “Back Like That” paints the picture of a conflicted Ghostface. Ghost narrates confronting a betraying woman and his subsequently disowning her. What comes out, in the end, is that Ghostface, the big, bad, angry Wu-Tang elder statesman, used to really love her, and he can’t do a goddamned thing about the situation except bitch. With Ne-Yo’s clubby choruses complimenting Ghost’s browbeating, this might be the easiest way to get n00bs into Ghost’s sometimes prickly oeuvre.
12. M83 – “Run Into Flowers”
This Parisian electronic group led by mastermind and vocalist Anthony Gonzales, if you’re willing to believe it, transitions well from the Ghostface cut. “Flowers” was lauded upon release for what was seen as equal-sized hits of My Bloody Valentine and Jean Michel Jarre. On 2003’s Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts (on which this track appears), Gonzales (with former member Nicolas Fromageau) took an ambient pop tack that he claims is Eno-inspired. Well, in neither Dead Cities nor 2005’s more rock-oriented Before The Dawn Heals Us is there much Eno other than the fact that it’s music made from electronic instruments. Let’s all just keep believing the electro-shoegazer hypothesis.
13. The Soft Boys – “Unprotected Love”
The Soft Boys still sounded sharp when they got back together briefly in the early part of this decade—just long enough to tour, promote a re-issued Underwater Moonlight, and record one more album before they broke up again. Robyn Hitchcock has obviously stayed musically fit in his lauded solo career, but his whimsical noodlings lack the edge that the Boys put on cuts like “Positive Vibrations” and “I Wanna Destroy You.” “Unprotected Love” off 2002’s Nextdoorland rocks without fucking with the garage-inspired originals. It’s really a stunning comeback: The Men Who Re-Invented Themselves.
14. Feist – “One Evening”
When the lovely Leslie takes on that lyrical lilt in “One Evening”’s chorus, everyone gets a little bit sweaty. Between the lines “When we started” and “broken-hearted,” Feist ups the funk ante about a million bucks by simply transposing the melody up a couple steps. Judging it as a downbeat meditation on therapeutic one-night stands, this Feist/Chilly Gonzales R&B standout may be one of the best in an incredibly saturated market.
15. Zoot Woman – “Jessie”
Poised to become dance music’s David Bowie, Stuart Price has skipped through a number of dissimilar territories with surprising ease. He’s played to the French touch as Jacques Lu Cont and to electro-pop as Les Rythmes Digitales. As a producer, the guy’s won two Grammys and remade Madonna’s musical brand (by turning her into Cher, but whatever). Yet his most affecting work remains his rock/pop group Zoot Woman, with just two albums to their credit. “Jessie,” off 2001’s Living In A Magazine, plays synth-tinged R&B like a Hall & Oates castoff, yet is played with a charming sincerity.
16. Ryan Paris – “Dolce Vita”
Italo disco artist Ryan Paris’s one great hit took the entire world by storm in 1983. It’s a shame Paris was never able to catch the magic of “Dolce Vita” again; the track’s plink-plonked synth leads, the matter-of-fact way he sings the English lyrics, and the soaring, carefree chorus could probably have been the worldwide summer anthem for the last twenty-five summers.
17. Sloan – “Everything You’ve Done Wrong”
This was a big hit on Canada’s MuchMusic video channel in 1996, when One Chord To Another came out. Always noted for their Beatles-esque sound (much like Cheap Trick, a more direct Sloan influence), here their penchant for pop melody is at its, er, poppiest. I dunno, whenever a group is criticized for Beatlesque melodies, it’s difficult to figure out what’s actually wrong. After all, isn’t the implication that the Beatles wrote all the best pop songs? Well, Sloan got in on that action and came out with one of 1996’s best pop songs.
18. Daft Punk – “Superheroes”
Have you heard this one? It’s some sort of Barry Manilow cover. These French take a bit of a Man-i-low vocal and loop it over and over and over, and then throw in these big beats and some Baroque synthesizer leads and shit. Think it’s on YouTube?
19. Languis – “Locked In Circles”
Here’s the analogue to “Superheroes” for those hazy sunrises when you’re 30 miles from home in the car finishing up a spontaneous cross-country road-trip. This Brazilian duo got a little messier on their 2004 album The Four Walls than their usual pastoral electronic faire, and nowhere is it more telling than on the Fennesz-with-a-sequencer fuzz of “Locked In Circles.” I like to end my mixes with long songs, and at seven and a half minutes long, “Locked In Circles” works just fine. In this mix, I fade out at six minutes, before the extended feedback section gets going, because us dilettantes have no time for feedback.
Summer is a season of obvious things. Heat, sun, shorter clothing. Most importantly: summer dresses. It is about immediacy. But more importantly, it is a season in which we are ALWAYS in our cars. We are perpetually en route to that next stopover in all this blind heat. And silence and road noise are not things we can tolerate. So we listen to music. And everyone around us listens to our music. Because it’s got to be loud.
Well, what better mixtape source than the simple, head-jogging thrills of our favorite old funk and soul records? For me, it’s those bottom-heavy basslines, those trap-kit grumblings, that set the season’s strong tone. They are all body and physical motion. The head shut down ‘til cooler weather prevails. Thus, my mixtape for 2007: Rump-Fat.
Betty Davis – “Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him”
It’s hard to believe Miles and Betty could occupy the same space without causing spontaneous combustion. This opening track from her 1974 hard-funk masterpiece They Say I’m Different makes hard labor of its bass-and-trap work and a squirrelly Buddy Miles guitar. Predating the slippery, almost artless fixations of Grace Jones, “Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him” is crude and full of foul lust. It’s the kind of track you better turn down if mama knocks. Even if you’re not sure what she’s saying, either somebody’s fucking or they’re about to be.
Al Green “God Is Standing By”
Before Al Green got it over with and just BECAME a minister, he was singing some of the finest gospel pop on the charts. It’s a trick played again and again in the annals of blues and R&B. Love can be so many things. “God Is Standing By,” then, comes straight outta the pulpit. As the song moves towards its gorgeous chorus, Green is smooth and confident. The consummate Father-figure, but a man who still goes home at night and is never alone. With that famous Hi Rhythm Section behind him, Green was again up to his old tricks: making religious music sound so naked it’s made for other things.
Booker T and the MGs – “Hip Hug-Her”
Perhaps known to many through its placement in the Bukowski-based Barfly, “Hip Hug-Her” is the kind of brainless sexfunk “Green Onions” tried to cook up without having tasted. Booker T fills in the gaps, but its Steve Cropper’s teeth-filing guitar and the bayou switchback sound that famed rhythm section Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson Jr. get cookin’ that really gets the legs trembling.
James Brown – “I Love You”
Given its aims, JB had to be on here somewhere. Though The Payback is his best album, Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud is my favorite. The song’s lean swagger can’t hide just how hungry Brown is. Slowly cooking up a punchy bass box-rhythm and filling it with deafening horns, Brown perfects the soul crescendo. The brass is a siren’s peal here, and it just keeps getting louder. Call it the Doppler effect of really good soul music. Of course, Brown is just working that same old theme: come home now, girl. Otherwise, neighbors gonna hear me wail.
Allen Toussaint – “Soul Sister”
This one gets me laughing before it gets my head jerking. “Hey, you, hey, you, with the curly bush on your head.” A famed New Orleans soundsmith and producer, Toussaint stepped out of the producer’s chair again in the early ‘70s. Life, Love, and Faith was that bayou-caked sound with most of the edges he brought to the Meters, who play on the album, washed off. Except for “Soul Sister.” This one’s gritty and full of stink like a hard sunny-day.
Otis Redding - “Hard to Handle”
Yeah, that “Hard to Handle.” Except before the Black Crowes put their hippie grease to it, poor Otis was dead and gone and this was so full of breath. Otis, oh so American, is treating us to an Irish wake on his behalf. Toasts and drinks, oh plenty of them, and later everything turns to song. Unearthed for the posthumous 1968 release, The Immortal Otis Redding, it’s instantly recognizable for the pounding of piano that kicks it off. But it’s when the music cuts clear and Otis fronts that old-record static that you revel in our loss: “Pretty little thing lemme light your candle ‘cause mama I’m sure hard to handle now yessiram.”
Donna Summer – “Pandora’s Box”
From 1975’s Love to Love You Baby, “Pandora’s Box” takes the breathing spot of this mix. It owns the lightest rhythm track of the bunch, and Donna fits her voice to it well, sounding resigned to the end of the affair. But she’s unwilling to go without one last word. With its slinky guitar and thrifty piano melody, on “Pandora” Donna gives her best Dolly Parton, bringing out the country in the track’s gorgeous river-of-tears songcraft.
Bill Withers – “Use Me (Live)”
Withers wants to tell you something. He’ll be your man-whore. But in the telling, he’s gonna steam things up past boilover with one of soul music’s timeless grooves. It’s so tightly wound and concentric it could keep grandpa’s watch wound for more time than he’s got. Here, as the opener of his Carnegie Hall set on that famed October night in 1972, Withers uses it to trade wet for wet—the crowd’s rain-damp for sweat. After an introductory break at the six-plus minute mark, the audience urges him back to the song’s hot simmer and soon the sound of clapping is louder than Bobbye Hall’s hand-drumming. You wish they’d all take the stage. But you probably couldn’t tell the difference from here.
Bo Diddley – “The Story of Bo Diddley”
Bo had his ramshackle shuffle down by 1959. He was no longer just a bluesman. There was something exotic and forlorn about him now. With Willie Dixon on bass, Bo returns to his favorite subject: Bo. Here, we’re given the mythic crossroads story of his birth. But that ain’t why it’s on the tape. Check that messy slopback beat. That rollicking piano. That storyline guitar. So much audio hypnosis. Why Madlib or DangerMouse haven’t sampled this one yet I don’t know.
The Meters – “Ease Back”
What would a summer mixtape be without the Meters? If this mix is meant for endless drives and summer detours, then “Ease Back” is for reclining as the light goes red. Miles Davis kind of cool personified, the Meters nailed the woozy swampheat of the bayou with their careful, hippy rhythm work and bluesy guitar soloing. But, honestly, that sinewy guitar and sliding organ are wasted. You can’t get past the beat.
Johnnie Taylor – “Watermelon Man”
Taylor took Herbie Hancock’s standard and put a little more pop in it. From his underappreciated 1967 classic Wanted—One Soul Singer, “Watermelon Man” is founded on that trademark Stax bass-and-rhythm guitar roll. While Taylor never had Otis’ stadium presence, his husky voice was perfect for the cut’s inferno chorus. And, after all, nothing says hot like buying watermelon on a sticky summer street.
Funkadelic – “Can You Get to That”
So Mother Earth’s pregnant for the third time. We’ve all knocked her up and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna have to chip in and raise this fucking brat. “Can You Get to That” may well have been the bluesy back-backbreaker that greased us up last Saturday and put us in this jam. A swirling cross of blues, gospel, and funk, this was the first real argument that Funkadelic was more than their own feedback. It’s a summons to some place so lustrous and strange not many would give it two full eyes. (Personal post-script: I know this firsthand. The DJ at my wedding refused to play my request. He may have been right. This leaves a bright spot that he couldn’t wash out with “Yellow.”)
Percy Sledge – “My Special Prayer”
Percy always made sad-eyes as well as anyone. One of his lesser-known songs, “Prayer” is the ideal mix closer. A milky drift of Spanish guitar and full choir, it’s Percy doing a sweet little senorita love song. But much like Al Green’s softest material, Percy still manages to bring a little libido to his misery. And while he gives his hallelujah prayer some smoke and rise, he leaves no mistake: he wants this girl back. And I don’t wanna meet the woman who’d refuse this pleading.
Each summer brings the promise of that one truly great party; each summer my brother Kenny Schwartz and I try to make that one great party our party:
This summer promises the third installment of SOULFUCK, which we’ve tentatively dubbed SOULFUCK Vol. III: Souljob (so it doesn’t get out of hand). Below are some select cuts from this year’s mix, though I must warn you, proceed at your own risk and keep an eye on your soul because it just might get fucked!
The Parliaments – Good Ole Music
Our guests begin to arrive while Tiki Fulwood lays down that thick proto-P-Funk groove. The Parliaments lay down the SOULFUCK manifesto: tonight is about nothing else but good music, good people, good drinks, and good times. Hmm, that’s interesting. I don’t know any of the people who’ve just walked into my house. Clinton sings, “Give me more of that good ole funky music, yeah!” Coming right up King of Interplanetary Funksmanship!
100 Proof (Aged in Soul) – Not Enough Love to Satisfy
I invited 30 people to SOULFUCK. Kenny Schwartz invited only four. There are now 130 people in my house! This is bad. My brother was simply way too popular in high school and as a result my house is currently overrun with a lot of sloppy drunk girls. This is very, very bad. To make matters worse I’m already running low on alcohol just as the grinding soul symphony of “Not Enough Love to Satisfy” bursts through the speakers. “Just enough love to keep you standing by / But not enough to keep you satisfied.” Party Rule #1: Always have enough love and/or alcohol to keep people satisfied. Good rule.
Bettye Swann – Don’t Look Back
Candi Staton – Heart on a String
Apparently he thought it would be a good idea to drink an entire bottle of Jack Daniels by himself. This was, as it has always been, not a good idea, so now 16 year old Chris Padovano is throwing up all over my living room carpet to the sweet southern soul sounds of Bettye Swann and Candi Staton. Swann and Staton’s early material was reissued by Astralwerks back in 2004 and has been a staple of SOULFUCK playlists ever since. Just tremendous stuff. If I was going to humiliate myself a half-hour into a party in front of 130 people I would want these songs playing while I waited for my dad to pick me up.
Irma Thomas – (I Want) A True, True Love
The girl I like has to leave. Her 16-year-old sister is at the party, too, and, well, yeah… (Fuck!)
Al Wilson – My Song
This party is completely out of hand.
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – Easily Persuaded
My friend Keith leaves the party. My house phone rings. It’s the police. They’ve received some complaints about the noise and they’re heading over to check out the scene. This is very not good. Shit. Shit. In five minutes I will realize it was just Keith pretending to be the police. Ha, what a kidder. You can’t stay mad at Keith.
Andre Williams – Girdle Up
Upstairs a boy (or girl) who looks just like Prince is crying on its cell phone in my bathroom. (S)he has either been too bold or remains unsatisfied. Now would be a great time to play “Bambi” or “Feel for You” but the SOULFUCK central nervous system queues up this manic hornfest explosion. Williams insists that his women wear girdles because they have to look good if they’re with him. I insist Prince get the hell out of my bathroom and go cry on my lawn. He does. Ha! He’s crying all over my lawn.
Nina Simone – Save Me
I’m rather intoxicated at this point. There are some local gang members in the backyard giving me bad vibes, so naturally I start hurling some obscenities at them. They are, how do you say, nonplussed. My little brother saves my life while the great Nina Simone tackles this Aretha Franklin classic on 1969’s A Very Rare Evening, wrapping her distinct smoky vocals deep within the track’s locomotive groove. “Somebody help me, this man wants to taunt me.” Perhaps it’s time we started kicking people out.
Stevie Wonder – We Can Work it Out
With the children gone the real party can begin. Everyone’s having a good time but suddenly a SOULFUCK commotion begins to brew. It appears my friend Tiffany thinks Keith called her a ho’ when what he actually said was that I was, “the host with the most.” Her boyfriend Tom cocks back his fist for the deathblow rainmaker … But cooler heads prevailed thanks to Stevie Wonder’s joyous take on the Beatles’ classic from 1970’s Signed, Sealed & Delivered.
FACT: Stevie Wonder’s version > Beatles version.
Eddie Kendricks – If You Let Me
At any party you attend there’s always going to be those people who want to take over the music selection duties. My advice to these people: fall back son. Still, there’s nothing to stop a group of people from asserting their control over the stereo and, inevitably, forming a freestyling cipher. STOP DOING THIS. Local rapper Redrum gets a few lines out over the opening bars of Eddie Kendricks’ “If You Let Me” before I put a stop to it. The freestyling, not the song. The song, from 1972’s People … Hold On, is a gorgeous piece of soul perfection.
David Ruffin – Turn Back the Hands of Time
A 40oz of Hurricane Malt Liquor lays shattered on the kitchen floor, its deliciousness still dripping from its cracked edges. I can’t believe I dropped it. I suppose these things happen, but if I knew it was going to happen I’m sure I would have taken every necessary precaution to ensure I made the same mistake only once. If only… Just at that moment David Ruffin and his brother Jimmy snatch this classic right out from under Tyrone Davis. This duet performance from 1970’s I Am My Brother’s Keeper holds its own against anything in the younger Ruffin’s Temptations catalogue. “If I had one more chance we'd have a love so sweet.” I’m sorry 40 Oz of malt liquor. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Slave – Baby Sinister
The night is winding down and Kenny Schwartz is rambling again, as he is wont to do, over the nasty Dayton-funk grooves of the unjustly forgotten Slave: “Yo. That Wendy’s Triple Sack Sandwich looks pretty sick. Man! Wendy’s burgers don’t get their due! Everyone wants to talk about their chicken. The chicken’s great … but their burgers are really good, too!” So what Kenny is trying to say, I think, is, “Wendy’s burgers are like Dayton, Ohio funk. Everyone wants to talk about P-Funk, but yo, have you had some Slave lately? You should.”
Summer is messy. We go outdoors, we wear minimal amounts of clothing, we let it all hang out. We spend our days in the sunshine and our nights partying, and everywhere we go there are other people, all doing joyous, messy, outré things. It’s not a cloistered time of year. If you’re an artist, it’s definitely not the time of year to be in the studio. That’s why the songs in this mix don’t sound like they were recorded in a little booth, and they certainly don’t sound like they were meant to be listened to shut up in indoors. They bustle with external noise: claps and chants, chatter and conversation, crowds and traffic, the entire sweaty, muddled chaos of the season so dominant that it permeates the very fabric of the music even before the artist has mastered the mix. Ironically, to create this au naturel feel requires more meticulous work within the studio, but that’s for the artists to worry about, not the listeners.
01. The Ramones – Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?
Well, do you? I’m not sure I do, because I never heard radio like this. Then again, I was born in ’83, three years after the Ramones brought in Phil Spector to produce their nostalgia-fest. However, even if you, like me, don’t actually remember “Jerry Lee, John Lennon, T-Rex and Ol’ Moulty,” there’s a good chance you have a summer night in your distant past that was spent listening to the radio with “the covers pulled up over your head.” The genius isn’t that this track would be the perfect song to hear in such a situation, but that no matter when you listen to it, it already sounds like it’s blaring from the radio.
02. The Jackson 5 – A.B.C.
”Stay tuned for more rock ‘n’ roll!” the Ramones’ DJ promises as their song fades out, and if our next track, the Jackson 5’s “A.B.C.” doesn’t exactly fulfil that promise sonically, it does in spirit. The dusty production has the same long-gone summer feel as the Ramones track, but the best part is the middle eight, when a young Jackson switches off the radio and drags you out into the streets and sunshine. “Damn girl!” he cries over clattering percussion. “Show me what you can do!” The crowd cheers him on, and this three minute ditty transforms into an instant party, complete with entertainment and your name on the guest list.
03. Justice – D.A.N.C.E.
French knob-twiddlers Justice pull out the radio for “D.A.N.C.E.” but that doesn’t mean they have to leave the streets. They don’t leave the Jackson 5 far behind, either; this song sounds like it’s a recording of a bunch of enthusiastic kids getting the words to “A.B.C” fantastically wrong. Do the D.A.N.C.E., it’s as simple as do-re-mi.
04. The Notorious B.I.G. ft. Ma$e & Puff Daddy – Mo’ Money Mo Problems
There are no actual ambient noises on this recording, but it still sounds like the very essence of summer is soaking through it. Maybe it’s the limp, half-hearted way Puffy and Ma$e rap their verses, as if they were just accompanying an actual recording of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” rather than a beat that utilizes that sample. Adding to the pasted together feel of the song, Biggie’s final verse comes transmitted from beyond the grave, and even his then recent death can’t blunt the celebratory feel of the recording.
05. Alicia Keys – You Don’t Know My Name/Will You Ever Know It (Reggae Remix)
With its Keys-asking-out-Michael-who-orders-the-special spoken word interlude, this already sounded like you were eavesdropping on a private conversation in its original incarnation, but stripped of its Kanye West production, the song seems even more spontaneous. The syncopated instrumental that now provides the background to Keys’ musings turns her unrequited love into a wistful daydream. Stuck working in a diner, we can believe that the waitress-character she plays might well be humming along to Burning Spear’s “Columbus,” and longing to not only call up that man who comes in every Wednesday, but to take him away on a glorious, sun-drenched Carribean vacation.
06. Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song)
And even if Keys can’t get away for that vacay, Weezer know this totally awesome party going on. Then again, listening to it, we could already be there. People might be talking over the music and asking for rides, and sure, Rivers Cuomo sounds like he’s having less fun than everyone else. But even if this entire song is the sound of people hanging out waiting for something better to do, that actually isn’t an awful way to be spending your time. Cuomo, take off the damn sweater already and relax.
07. Mos Def – Ghetto Rock
From Mos Def’s much maligned The New Danger album, first single “Ghetto Rock” is a forgotten gem. As a rap song, sure, it’s perhaps sub-par; Mos Def doesn’t have very much of interest to say here. As a rock song, though, it’s pretty exciting, with a warped bluesy guitar line and throbbing drums underpinning Mos’ gritty vocal. The entire composition swelters, and the rapper’s voice is crowded with the chants and claps of little girls playing in the street.
08. The Go! Team – The Power Is On
The Go! Team usher Mos Def’s skipping and hopscotching mites out of the place and bring in the cheerleaders. Sure, that sounds more of a fall thing – football and basketball games are more the natural domain of school spirit chants like these — but the sweaty horns and driving beat of The Go! Team’s collage is pure summer. Wipe the sweat from your brow after the song’s done...
09. Missy Elliott – Pass the Dutch
...that is, if you get the chance; Missy Elliott has a public service announcement regarding a mystery virus afflicting club-goers. It’s called a Timbo beat, and Timbaland’s concoctions are a natural for both the sound of this mix and the season. The instrumental for Missy’s club jam is a mish-mash of claps and clicks, whistles and car alarms, and a throwback to De La Soul’s “Potholes in My Lawn.” The whole thing could almost have been assembled out in the street with little more than a helping hand from Mos Def’s girls and the Go! Team’s cheerleaders. That is, if they were all extraordinarily co-ordinated and musically brilliant.
10. De La Soul – A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays”
De La Soul themselves are out for the next track, and they come accompanied by the Ramones’ radio. The D.J. introduces the track over a fanfare, before Posdnuos, Trugoy, Maseo and a baby scratch take over the skating rink with a rolling bassline, a naggingly catchy hook and, of course, Grease, the musical. It’s a great party, and even better for the rink DJ’s inability to settle on a single song to play.
11. The Avalanches – Stay Another Season
The Avalanches entire Since I Left You album sounds patched together (and it is) but “Stay Another Season” more than any other track has the feel of flitting between a hundred different parties at once. One gathering is dancing to Madonna’s “Holiday,” another the remnants of that crooning sample the group used for the album’s title track, and a third, most mysteriously, is overrun by a parade of neighing horses.
12. Justin Timberlake – Señorita
Unlike the rest of the tracks on this mix, “Señorita” doesn’t actually sound as if it were being put together impromptu amidst a crowd of people. Rather, it feels very much like Timberlake and the Neptunes, holed up all alone, are trying to fake that feeling. Pharrell fills the empty spaces between Justin’s lines with constant adlibs, and of course, there’s the gleefully goofy breakdown that sees Timberlake encourage an imaginary crowd of people to play call-and-response with him. The “audience” is just the singer and his producers, alternating between stupidly high voices and stupidly deep voices, but once this track made its way out into the summer streets, few could resist adding a stupid voice of their own.
13. Bubba Sparxxx – Jimmy Mathis
Timbaland’s back, but he’s out in the country, now, and Bubba Sparxxx is leading him through a good old fashioned hoe-down. A clattering beat backs up an incessant harmonica, and Sparxxx, Timbo and all the devotees of the New South are gathered round the campfire, spittin’ these flames out and drinkin’ Bud Light beer.
14. M.I.A. - Boyz
M.I.A. always sounds as if she were rapping along to someone else’s tune, and her daft chants about “boys” sound like the heat-crazed excitement of a woman who has spent a too-warm day around too many members of the opposite sex. How to deal with that feeling? Naturally, you hijack a marching band and lead them in your own composition.
15. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer in the City
The all-too-familiar piano line and rattling guitars carry the unmistakable stench of summer, but “Summer in the City” closes out this mix because the sound of the bustling, overheated city rams its way right into the song. John Sebastian can’t even sing about meeting ladies out at the nightspots without the whole world feeling like it has to have a piece of the action, and so the recording gets overrun by honking cars and jackhammers. Noisy, sure, but better than being boxed up on a recording booth? Undoubtedly.
There’s never a bad time of year to make a mix CD for someone you love, but summer brings its own unique set of demands. Maybe you and your highbrow lover can get away with furtively exchanging shoegaze comps and lo-fi folk scratchings in the womb of winter, but romance in the bare-shoulder months demands a soundtrack that’s equally buoyant and carefree. I made this particular mix as a birthday present for my fiancee, Lauren, and while it would have been easy enough to just throw together a bunch of great soppy stuff like “Two of Us,” “Adore” and Alan Jackson’s “Anywhere on Earth” and then call it a day, I knew such a disc would elict an “awww” and perhaps a single play-through before it got consigned to the ‘ol memory box alongside anniversary cards and concert ticket stubs. What I wanted instead was a collection of songs that were mostly about love, but more importantly that were fun, something that might still elict a few awws, but only in between bopping around the room and singing along in the car.
Oh, and I did create a cheeseball gimmick for this mix just in case you don’t catch it – pay attention to the first letter of each song title.
01 Help You Ann – The Lyres
I agonized over a leadoff track for ages, initially choosing the Stones’ “Happy” before deciding Lauren was probably sick to fucking death of that song. I’m almost certain she’s never heard this one though, and so it looks like I worked harder because it’s all obscure and shit. Also, her middle name is Ann, which obviously helps.
02 Atlas – Battles
I think someone at work tipped her off to these guys, and she wasn’t at all surprised to find out I already had their record. I’m pretty sure she’d agree with me that the only good songs on this album are the ones with the chipmunk voices. I put this on here mostly because I told her I thought it sounded like they’re singing “hemoglobin hemoglobin terror terror,” and so she started singing it that way too.
03 Pumping On Your Stereo – Supergrass
We saw these punters open for Radiohead once, and they were serviceable enough. This song’s sorta Stones-y I guess, and so I figure it partially makes up for me not putting any actual Stones on here.
04 Party All the Time – Eddie Murphy
For no real explicable reason other than the fact that it’s awesome, and that I once read an article in Blender where Ted Leo (who Lauren thinks is like the awesomest person in the history of ever) went to Union Square and busked five of the Blender-chosen worst songs of all-time (worst of all-time? the fuckwits!). This one got the best response from passersby, because, of course, it’s awesome.
05 Young Turks – Rod Stewart
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was that crack for Lauren back in ’04, and this was one of her favorite songs to listen to while conducting gang warfare. And you wonder why I’m marrying her.
06 Be My Wife – David Bowie
See, all those hours spent shaking down civilians and murdering prostitutes and still I proposed.
07 It’s Alright You’re OK – Chisel
Like I said before, Lauren thinks Ted Leo is the bee’s knees. He’s one of a select few “famous” people to be elevated to first-name status in our household, joining the elite likes of Jon (Stewart) and Steve (Nash). Lauren’s worn out every one of his Pharmacists records, but for some reason she hasn’t really made it around to the Chisel stuff, so this should be a treat.
08 Real Man – Bruce Springsteen
Oh, and did I mention Ted likes to cover “Dancing in the Dark” sometimes in concert? Well, at least it makes for a nice segueway into this rousing cut from one of Bruce’s most underrated records, Human Touch. It’s about not being a tough guy or a lady-killer but still feeling like a “real man” when you’re with your lady. Er, I can relate.
09 Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
I had to slow things down eventually, even if just for a little bit. A recent re-viewing of Napolean Dynamite confirmed the schlocky brilliance of this one.
10 Hold Me So Tight – Sally Shapiro
The missus-to-be might not know this icy neo-disco stunner, but I think it fits well here, plus it’s pretty undeniably swoon-worthy. Aww.
11 D.A.N.C.E. – Justice
I’m pretty certain this is legally required to appear on every ’07 mix that makes claims on being “fun.” Still, it’s times like this that I’m glad I’m not marrying another music critic, and so I never actually have to hear the phrase “blog house” spoken aloud.
12 All Night Long – Lionel Richie
Like the Murphy and Lauper cuts, there’s no real science behind this pick, just pure 80s magic. This song always gets overlooked when people (especially hipsters) talk about the best of the 80s, but I guaran-damn-tee you can’t stop smiling every time you hear it.
13 Your Precious Love – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
This is the one real concession I made to the pop-romance canon, but this is pretty much the greatest love song of all-time, so it stays.
14 Little Babies – Sleater-Kinney
I know, I know, this song is really an arch-feminist critique of groupie culture or stay-at-home self-medicating malaise or some such post-Friedan bum trip, but if I want to read it without the slightest trace of irony, then fuck it, that’s what I’m doing. I mean, I wash the dishes plenty enough, so my guilt is assuaged. If you’re still too uneasy, feel free to substitute Eno and Cale’s “Lay My Love” instead.
15 Atomic – Blondie
“Oh, your hair is beautiful.” See, that’s much easier to parse. Everyone can enjoy that!
16 Underwater (You and Me) – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Finding a good song that started with “U” was pretty tough, to the extent that I almost solicited my Stylus comrades for help (several of whom no doubt could have put together a better mix than this one inside of ten minutes). I wasn’t crazy about CYHSY’s first record but I do like the follow-up, and thanks primarily to its infectiously melodic bass line this is the best thing on the whole album.
17 Right Back Here In My Arms – Prince
There absolutely had to be some Prince on here somewhere. In this spot I could’ve gone with “Raspberry Beret,” but this Emancipation cut nicely suits my romantic thesis without being horribly overplayed. Does he have better songs? Of course (maybe 100 better). But mid-grade Prince is still better than damn near anything else on this planet.
18 Enjoy Yourself – The Jacksons
See also: Prince w/r/t necessity of inclusion. In fact, MJ’s pre-penis-touching tenor is damn near a prerequisite for making a buttery summer love mix, as this ’76 hit represents a high-water mark for Michael’s vocal work just prior to Off the Wall.
19 Never Stop – Hilary Duff
This one’s a risk. I worked so hard getting to this point and now I might just lose Lauren at the very end. I doubt she’d go so far as to despise Hils, but if she ever thinks about her at all it’s most likely with derision. But screw it, this song’s sweet, plus I didn’t put any Madonna on here and this one reminds me a bunch of Madge’s early stuff. Which just happens to be the stuff Lauren likes the best. So maybe I won’t crash and burn after all.
It's not the heat, it's not even the humidity—it's the haze, enveloping the residents of my new hometown like a sweaty, torpid gauze. As Houston's monsoon season drifts into the straight-up oppressive season, the atmosphere climbs into feverish territory. But within the strangest fever-dream, the colors and shapes take on a hue almost calming in their pungency... So, this 90-minute tape-bound selection of staples of hallucinatory warmth...
1) Aphrodite's Child - "8"
We begin with one of the unassailable great ritual invocations for the summer, coming of course from Vangelis & Co.'s classic prog-freak opera of the Revelation of St. John. "8" is what iTunes calls it, but it's the sideways double-ellipse or infinity symbol that it is called on the album. Or, you could call it a single drum beat waddling around in the background as a woman of unknown European extraction enjoys a rather frightening and extremely vocal orgasm while reciting Tantric koan number 74.
2) Dif Juz - "Heset"
One of my primal mind-bending musical experiences was hearing an LP-onto-cassette copy of Extractions, an album I still haven't been able to find. These little-known 4AD post-punkers mixed dub and psychedelia in equal measures and still fit cooly under the label's moody-ass shroud. "Heset" is a high point, melding Scientist-esque echo drums with brittle guitar harmonics.
3) Out Hud - "The L Train is a Swell Train and I Don't Want to Hear You Indies Complain"
Wither Out Hud? Their transformation from beat-obsessed post-rockers to indie-dance heroes was one of this Millennium's most exciting. Screwing too many of your bandmates is no excuse—we need their swirly junk now more than ever. Despite a typically silly song title, "L Train" is a journey reminiscent of Midtown light rail hopping (what honor system?) en route to the next sweltering affair.
4) Underworld - "Dinosaur Adventure 3D (Chicken Lips Version Adventure)"
The unsuspecting "Dinosaur Adventure 3D" (again with the track names, guys!) takes on a baked new dimension with the Lips' re-jigger, building from throbbing cosmic Italo work-out to voyage of total hedonism onboard the Dubship Lollipop over twelve succulent minutes. Houston's haze refines itself into a glazed corona after the third Corona, but the beads of sweat continue to accumulate...
5) Psychonauts - "Hot Blood"
And again, wither? The Psychonauts 2003 debut was a classic album of pastoral punk-funk and bruised urban post-folk that sounds as toasty today as when it was waxed. "Hot Blood" takes us to that next party, where we suddenly realize that we can defeat the heat by letting the concrete dissipate in the name of the beat. Still, you have to go home sometime...
6) DJ Screw - "It's Like That"
Well, it is.
1) Black Sabbath - "Planet Caravan"
Pairs so perfectly with DJ Screw I wonder why I didn't think of it before. With all the heavy metal thunder, people forget that Sab were just weird, dark hippies. Which fits us just fine as the midnight hour passes and the atmosphere is finally almost endurable. We can handle a little jamming. As long as it's weird. And dark.
2) King Crimson - "Book of Saturday"
I've loved this song since I was like 5. Dozens of Brit axemen made whole careers off of loving the blues, but few soundly so solidly entrenched in whispered green fields of Albion as Mr. Robert Fripp. After the dragon-rock touchstone of In the Court of the Crimson King, Fripp's rotating, unmerry band of hirelings began to delve into a deeper mountain hall, and "Book of Saturday" is as lonesome as Hank Williams seated back-to-back with Nick Drake, staring from a lonely weathered hill into Lady Guinevere’s favorite holler.
3) Dorau / Kohncke - "Abermorgan"
An obscure Kompakt b-side rides the bluesy vibe into terrain of a Teutonic hue. I can almost feel a chill coming on with the slithering guitar, while the numbing heavy-gloved caress of an H-Town summer day recedes into the relative calm of evening.
4) Hot Chip - "Crap Kraft Dinner"
There is melancholy, too in Summer's stoned heat. Hot Chip's wistful recalling and name-calling ("jack-your-body loser") of a loved one left with nothing but dehydrated mac n' cheese spoils us with such a painful evocation of July's cardboard economics. Lo, though the sun may broast our flesh, there is coldness in these old bones yet...
5) Low Profile / Mr. Sancho - "Track 05"
As appropriately H-Town of any of Low Pro's flossier tracks might have been, the obligingly named "Track 05" from the Low Profile Instrumentals disc is perfect for chilling on the deck of a cool Houston June evening, sipping a frosty Lone Star and delighting in the refreshing feeling of sweating slightly less than usual.
6) DJ Assault - "Sometimes (Instrumental)"
Didn't expect DJ Assault to bring the space travel back into the picture, did ya? This suavely downtempo booty track wouldn't be out of place on some blunted K&D mixtape, and it slides in so nicely with our post-party hubris, demanding renewed energy as the night air rides smooth over our charred skin like balm.
7) A Certain Ratio - "Sounds Like Something Dirty"
When was it ever written that frustrated gothic soul-boys in khaki trousers didn't want or need their own personal jam-band? Certainly not by me, as ACR's sphincter-tight funk noir uncoils of a swollen night, the party beginning to disperse and the wear of a long, unctuous day finally beginning to take its toll.
8) Neu! - "Fur Immer (Forever)"
And lastly, one of the great transcendental bands provides us with a luminous route out of all this haze, while still giving our fuzzy feelings their due. "Fur Immer" is one of the building blocks of post-70's rock. How fitting that it was set to tape in 1973 by a couple of dudes kicked out of Kraftwerk for having too many ideas. As the night dwindles in earnest, another face-melting day will soon begin, so why not take this time to get metaphysical as a motherfucker and rejoice in a future of heat, light and beautiful noise? As long as it don't last much past September...
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2007-06-25