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Bettye LaVette “Some Of Her Best Songs: 1962 – 2003″ [Anti-]

Michigan native Bettye LaVette is another female soul singer with a shockingly low fame-to-talent ratio. This CD, released by Anti-, is a compilation of 25 soulful songs that showcase her amazing voice.

The songs follow her career for over forty years as she moved from label to label, releasing singles and staying mainly in the soul and R&B genre with touches of country here and there. Ms. LaVette has an unnerving way of getting inside the lyrics and making them her own. You believe her whether she is shouting for joy, singing about her love, or moaning in pain. Listening to the whole CD in one sitting is an overwhelming experience.

A few words about the more notable covers:
He Made A Woman Out Of Me (Bobbie Gentry) — a paean to either young love or statutory rape, depending on the age of consent where the song is being played.
Take Another Piece Of My Heart (I always heard the Janis Joplin version) — Ms. LaVette sings it beautifully and is still alive to boot
It Ain’t Easy (Ron Davies) — the most famous version is by David Bowie
Your Turn To Cry (Joe Simon) — fantastic, though this single’s failure to sell as much as expected led Atlantic to not release an album’s worth of material. It was later released in 2000 as “Souvenirs”
Behind Closed Doors (Charlie Rich) — interesting
Souvenirs (John Prine) — the best song on the CD

Ms. LaVette is still going strong, touring and putting out albums, and winning music awards.
–Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on June 29, 2005 at 5:39 pm
  • Filed as CD,Soul
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  • Totem ?Totem? [Vampi Soul] (33 rpm)

    Totem, from Uruguay, released their first and eponymous album in 1971. Originally on De La Planta, it was re-relased in 2004 by Vampi Soul, an interesting label that has been re-releasing vintage music – often out of print – from the 60′s and 70′s (check the insert in the album).

    The genre of this music is ‘candombe-beat? a fusion of Western pop and the native Afro-Uruguayan rhythms of candombe (pronounced can-dome-bay). Candombe is played with three drums (or tambores): piano, chico, and repique. The beat came to Uruguay by way of African slaves.

    The music is definitely a product of its time and the production sounds slightly dated. But they are rocking out with the extra percussion and rhythm guitar. The singing is smooth, bordering on crooning.
    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on June 28, 2005 at 3:55 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,International
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  • Blendcrafters “Melody” [Up Above Records] (33 rpm)

    Blendcrafters is DJ Nu-Mark (of J5 fame) and Pomo. A year after their album, they are back with a 12″ single containing two songs.

    There are 4 different versions of a remix of the first song, Melody: clean, non-clean, a cappella (which translates as ‘in the style of the chapel? by the way), and instrumental. M.F. Doom is featured on the remix, spitting out tongue twisters with twisty meanings just behind the beat. In the background is a piano playing jazz chords while a tenor voice asks, ‘What good is melody? What good is music, if it ain’t possessing something sweet?’ There is also a sound effect of a bat hitting a baseball just in time for summer!

    The other song is Eddie Harris‘s Bold and Black with Carol Kaye overdubbing a fantastic bass part and Derf Reklaw punching up the percussion. It’s an instrumental and definitely as strong as the A side.

    It’s not easy to combine jazz elements with hip hop, based on the semi-embarrassing attempts I have heard from other groups before, but Blendcrafters makes it seem effortless.
    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on June 28, 2005 at 3:54 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,Hip Hop
  • 1 comment
  • [coll] Goodbye, Babylon [Dust-to-Digital]

    Probably the definitive collection of American religious-themed music since the dawn of recorded sound. Producer Lance Ledbetter founded the Dust-to-Digital label to release this project, calling on experts from the worlds of American music scholarship and record collecting to find the most idiosyncratic and heartfelt spiritual music drawn from all manner of styles, including gospel, folk, country, blues, and jazz, as well as fiery sermons delivered by ministers who often were just as popular as the musical artists of the time. Over 150 tracks span the 6 CDs here, mostly transferred from 78 rpm records, with the sermons taking up the entirety of the sixth CD. And drawing on his experience as a radio programmer, Mr. Ledbetter sequenced each disc by themes, rather than genre, resulting in a huge variety of styles on each disc, far more rewarding for extended listening than a purely chronological or genre-specific collection would have been. As if that wasn’t enough, the set is accompanied by a massive paperbound book that provides biographies of every artist, as well as useful historical and/or cultural information to give some context to each selection. It’s nearly impossible to single out any individual tracks as standouts, given the overall quality and quantity of the contents, but suffice to say that those who enjoy the full spectrum of American music forms will find plenty to get excited about here.

  • Reviewed by Art Crimes on June 23, 2005 at 12:27 pm
  • Filed as CD,Country
  • 1 comment
  • [coll] “Yo Yo a Go Go 1999″ [Yo Yo Recordings] (CD)

    This is a great document of Yo Yo a Go Go, the indie music festival held in Olympia, Washington beginning in 1994. The 1999 fest has many highlights, from the simplicity of folky Mirah and Mountain Goats to Yo-Yo regulars/feminist icons Mecca Normal and The Need. Pop sweetness from Crabs and Sleater-Kinney always rock. The closer is Negativland leading the audience in a “sing along” of Casey Kasem’s raunchy outtakes. (added 6-21-2005)

    Note: Language on 9, 21

    -Cynthia Lombard

  • Reviewed by lombard on June 21, 2005 at 3:00 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Mccombs, Cass – “A ” – [Monitor]

    Falling in between the ???Not the Way??? EP &
    the ???I Cannot Lie??? 7??? single (both in the KFJC
    library) is this debut full-length from Brooklyn
    (by way of Baltimore) singer/songwriter CASS
    MCCOMBS. The going here is slow and decidedly
    innocent, though powerful & most endearing???
    ??????Aids in Africa, and cancer back home???.???
    Acoustic guitar, piano, tambourine, + well-laid
    melodies bestir this material, with best bets on
    Side A ???What Isn???t Nature???, the deft details of
    ???A Comedian is Someone?????? ??????I spent my days,
    shaking hands, forgetting names?????? sample also
    Side B???s amiable ???Gee, it???s Good to be Back Home???,
    the standout stanzas of ???When the Bible was Wrote???,
    and an easygoing ???My Pilgrim Dear???. A former
    PALACE player, MCCOMBS plays a swooning pop
    of guitar and foreground emotion in oblique settings,
    somewhere betwixt SIMON JOYNER + PEDRO THE
    LION, and always, as noted by John Peel,
    ???Unobtrusively brilliant???.
    MITCH June 2005

  • Reviewed by mitch on June 16, 2005 at 12:46 am
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players- “Vintage Slideshow Collections from Seattle, Vol. 1″ – [Bar None] (CD)

    This is a wacky pop opera/concept album that provides the soundtrack to their touring slideshow of found photos. You can pop the CD into a computer to see slides for a few songs. It IS a family affair, with the youngest Trachtenburg starting her drumming career at age 6. Kitschy lyrics inspired by Swiss fondue, corporate marketing memos, and tourists in Japan. 2003 release. (added 6-14-2005)

    -Cynthia Lombard

  • Reviewed by lombard on June 14, 2005 at 3:12 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Vromb ?Rayons? [Ant-Zen]

    Based in Montreal, Hugo Girard is the man behind Vromb. Rayons is his fourth full-length release.
    Mr. Girard‘s intent with this release (and I know because I read the press pack) is to capture different types of rays – hence Rayons – and translate them into music. The rough audio cuts of the songs were given to photographer Alain Gauvin, who was inspired to take some pictures around Montreal which appear on the album cover and the CD insert that should be inside the album cover. These photographs in turn inspired Mr. Girard‘s final mixing of these tracks.

    All the sounds on this album, except for a touch of voice on one track, are synthetically generated. Despite the emphasis on light, to me it has a dark, ambient feel. Some tracks are amorphous with the beats in the background or non-existent and others pulse with the regularity of a lawn sprinkler.
    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on June 4, 2005 at 8:11 am
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • [coll] ?Rough Guide to Afro-Peru? [Rough Guide]

    Another excellent release from the Rough Guide series. This time it is a collection of music that was brought to Peru by slaves from West Africa and continues to evolve through their descendants.

    This CD can only present us with the music, but it is important to realize that this sensual music cannot be separated from the dances that accompany it, such as The Alcatraz (track 14) in which dancers have a piece of red paper between their legs that other dancers try to ignite with a lit candle. These dances were so threatening to the Spanish colonialists that they were outlawed along with all drums.

    This explains why a large wooden box, called the cajon, is the one of the important percussion instruments on this CD. The instruments are acoustic: guitar, bass, some brass. There are many different types of percussion instruments (including my favorite, the vibraslap) marking complex meters. It combines the best elements of African and South American music. Check it out.
    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on June 4, 2005 at 8:10 am
  • Filed as CD,International
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  • Weird War ?Illuminated By The Light? [Drag City]

    Though they were originally intended as a one-off project, this is the third full-length release by Weird War. The line up is frontman Ian Svenonius and bass player Michelle Mae (who also play together in the Make-Up), guitarist Alex Minoff (with Mr. Svenonius and Ms. Mae are the Scene Creamers) and drummer Sebastian Thomson. It was released 4/19/05.

    When I heard the synth roto-tom fills on the first track, I figured that this band was either completely naff or completely great. Of course, as I listened further I decided it was the latter. Combining elements of funk, disco, and glam with a solid rock underpinning, they are beyond irony, beyond tribute, and on to their own thing.

    Ian Svenonius‘s vocals are all over the place, with from falsettos and sobs to blas? intonations. He said in an interview that the only bad sounding vocal is a quiet vocal. He makes his point on this CD. Alex Minoff solos through almost the whole album with a compressed distorted tone that I haven’t heard since I lost my Rockman.

    The lyrics have some great lines like ‘Why do girls like guys like that?’ and ‘I may be weak but history will vindicate me,? and my personal favorite, “I don’t love you any more… Have a nice time at the war.”
    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on June 4, 2005 at 8:09 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
  • 2 comments


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