I feel incredibly lucky to say that Colby is one of those rare friends who makes the transition from "friend-of-a-friend" to close personal friend in his own right. Best of all, our close friendship has included being able to play music with him, which is always a treat and pleasure. A true collector at heart, he is a fountain of enthusiasm for music, with one of (if not) the deepest wells of musical knowledge I've ever encountered. From what I can tell, there is almost no musical genre about which he doesn't have at least some passing knowledge, and many with deep interest. Best of all, his ongoing thirst for musical knowledge, trivia, and experience is driven by pure enjoyment and love of music, with none of the know-it-all snobbery endemic to many music completists. An incredible drummer and a generous musician (no, they're not always the same thing), Colby is the kind of friend with whom you find yourself laughing your guts out and telling your deepest thoughts to. Most importantly, he also has his own Wikipedia entry.
THE "LET'S GET THIS DONE" MIXTAPE
First off a hearty THANK YOU to Mr. Fox for asking me to compile a mixtape for his Faux Sounds series. While I am a music & vinyl junkie, it’s been a loooong while since I’ve put together a proper mixtape. I always preferred the Maxell XLII 90 as my tape of choice. Please be sure to flip it over after 45 minutes, and don’t forget to be kind & rewind the tape before passing it on to somebody else, or leaving it in your glove box.
Funkadelic – Get Off Your Ass And Jam Okay, let’s kick this thing off right. Long ago I decided that if I ever get to be a guest on a late night talk show, I’d ask the band director to play me on with some Funkadelic. Early Funkadelic preferably, when they were still on Westbound Records & were drrrrrrty. See, Funkadelic started off as a BAND with 5 guys in it. No horns, no extra singers, and NO George Clinton. Get Off Your Ass And Jam has that funky guitar (likely a trade off between Eddie Hazel & either Michael Hampton or Gary Shider) that nobody seems to be able to play anymore. What happened to kids wanting to learn guitar & play in incredible bands?
Fugazi – Bed for the Scraping Speaking of incredible bands that influenced the kids, Washington DC’s Fugazi has the distinction of being perhaps the highest model that a band could strive to emulate. They made up their own rules, tried to be fair to their fans (male and female alike), and upheld their own code at all times, and – made a bunch of incredible records. This is probably the greatest band of my generation.
Alice Cooper – No More Mr. Nice Guy Okay, so it took me a long time to follow the advice of a friend of mine, but it was well worth it. If you have never heard the first 5 (five!) records by the original Alice Cooper band, do yourself a favor and go stream them (or better yet, go buy ‘em on vinyl) and see why the original line-up of the Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.
Chic – Everybody Dance Of this year’s potential list of R&RHoF nominees, perhaps none have truly created hits in as many different decades as Chic. Essentially comprised of Nile Rogers on guitar, Bernard Edwards on bass (both on songwriting/production), and Tony Thompson on drums (oh, along with various singers over the years), Chic are the production crew behind countless funk, disco, and pop hits. We Are Family?I’m Coming Out?Let’s Dance?Material Girl?Notorious?Some Like It Hot? And this year's jam of the summer Get Lucky? Yeah, that’s Chic. Don’t front. Get up and dance.
Donny Hathaway – Little Ghetto Boy - Live Version For all of my obsessiveness over the history of music from the past 50+ years, Donny Hathaway has slipped past me until the last few months. I’m trying my best to amend this mistake. His live album, culled from two separate performances at two different clubs, is a perfect place to begin if, like me, you have been unaware of his greatness.
Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords One group who did not sleep on Mr. Hathaway was Shaoulin’s finest, The Wu-Tang Clan. (Check out their song “Little Ghetto Boys” to hear them sample Donny.) When the Wu form like Voltron, you know that GZA/Genius is the head! The title track from his classic 1995 album Liquid Swords is one of my favorite Hip Hop cuts of all time. The song kicks off the album with a sample from the film Shogun Assassin, followed by a loop of Willie Mitchell’s Groovin’. GZA’s low-key (like seashells!) lyrics and calm style speak far more than others who need to scream & shout in order to get their point across.
The Coup – The Magic Clap Picking up the pace a bit is another Hip Hop crew that started off around the same time as The Wu. Oakland, California’s The Coup has been making fantastic outsider records under the radar of mainstream Hip Hop since 1991. Boots Riley and crew’s latest album Sorry To Bother You has been one of my favorite releases of the past year.
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Run Paint Run Run From The Magic Clap to The Magic Band (ha!), the eighth track on side one is "Run Paint Run Run" from Captain Beefheart’s 1980 “comeback” album Doc At The Radar Station. Don Van Vliet may have been a tyrant as a bandleader, but damn that son-of-a-bitch could craft a lop-sided, guitar-driven, blues-infused, weird-o jam. He was a hell of an abstract artist as well, and thus - Run Paint Run.
Devo – Jocko Homo There have been several reissue/rereleases that have been blowing my mind lately. Bob Dylan’s Another Self Portrait, and The Band’s Live At The Academy of Music being among them. What tops the list however are the reissues of theHardcore Devo series (Vols 1 & 2). A glimpse into Devo’s early period from 1974-1977, before they moved to LA & before they signed to Warner Brothers records. These complications showcase the period when they were simply inventive dorks from Ohio who would go on to help change pop music (and keep it weird!).
Brainiac – V1NC3NT COM3 ON DOWN Another incredible group of weirdoes from Ohio, Brainiac were one of the best bands I saw in the 90’s. Sadly, just as they were about to sign a deal with a major label (remember those?) and put out a new CD (remember THOSE?) lead singer Timmy Taylor died in a tragic car accident.
Paul McCartney – Save Us Another life (rumored to have been) cut too short in a car accident, Paul McCartney was in a group from the 1960’s called The Beatles. After his doppelganger Billy Shears took his place in The Beatles, the “New Paul McCartney” went on to take The Beatles on to greatness, quit the band, write & record dozens of amazing songs, and also a bunch of crap. With his latest record New, Paul McCartney (see what I did there?) has actually made a REALLY good record again. Maybe the old Paul is back?
Emitt Rhodes – Somebody Made For Me Perhaps Billy Shears wasn’t an actual wanna be Paul, but Emitt Rhodes sure is! Who cares though, when his music is this good? This track sounds a bit more like Badfinger than Macca, but you get the point.
Spoon – The Way We Get By/Savages – She Will SPOON! (That’s a reference to The Tick for you kids) But in all seriousness, Spoon. What a hell of a band. I wish they’d make records more frequently. One of the best bands around today. So are Savages, who I had the pleasure of working with this summer at the Pitchfork Festival. They were uber-polite backstage, and absolutely ferocious onstage. I’m eager to see what they’ll do next. Best band I’ve seen since Wild Flag (I guess I like my modern bands to be absent of men?)
Okay, side one is done. Flip the tape over. It’s time to take it up one more time, and then to mellow out.
James Brown – It's A New Day James Brown. The hardest working man in show business. Mr. Dynamite. The Godfather of Soul. Just like Captain Beefheart and George Clinton, he treated his band like shit, and expected nothing less than greatness from them. Their pain is our gain. Dig it.
Roy Ayers – Coffy Is The Color - Soundtrack Version Next up, a double shot of Roy Ayers. If you’ve never seen the film Coffy starring Pam Grier, please feel free to give in to a guilty pleasure and check it out. It’s a Blacksploitation film, so you’d better expect a lot of gratuitous violence, sexism, racial stereotypes, and all-around inexcusable behavior. Set to a funky soundtrack and featuring Ms. Grier going out for revenge against Nichelle “Lt. Uhura” Nichols, Coffy is the shit. Drink it up.
Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Everybody Loves The Sunshine/Pharoah Sanders – The Creator Has A Master Plan Vibraphonist Roy Ayers made a bunch of amazing records, but my favorite has to be Everybody Loves The Sunshine. I remember the first time I ever heard it, and the feeling that came over me. The same goes for Pharoah Sanders composition, "The Creator Has A Master Plan." Both songs have a soothing, spiritual edge to them that I find hypnotic. I hope they take you on a similar journey to where they take me. If I had to pick one musical genre to listen to for the rest of my days, it would undoubtedly be Jazz music. Okay, I’ll shut up now and just let this record play.