No Sweating Required
Monday, January 09, 2017
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Camp for Music Lovers
Like Oliver, consumers always want more. And Simpatico is here to serve. Below are some suggestions for your record collections. If you have any questions, send your e-mail to simcoblog
at the domain gmail.com
. Please specify “Musiccamp” in your subject line. Depending on how your browser is set up, you can also do this by clicking on Mail-Off.
[Jazz/Swing/Big Band (Coming Soon)]
[R&B/Soul/Hip-Hop (Coming Soon)]
[Country/Bluegrass (Coming Soon)]
[Best of the 1990s
American Folk Music
If you love music, you owe it to yourself to watch—and listen to—documentaries such as “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey
” (2003) and “Ken Burns Jazz
” (2000) on PBS (pbs.org). The blues has influenced everything from R&B to 1960s folk music and, of course, rock ‘n’ roll. We seldom hear the blues on the radio except occasionally on a hit like Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” and as samples on records by Moby and Primitive Radio Gods.
Unlike the 10-part “Jazz” series, “The Blues” is made by seven directors with feature-film credits. These filmmakers, three of whom are Oscar-nominated, eschew the talking-head interviews favored by documentary veterans like Burns. The seven-part “Blues” series is more unconventional and improvisational in tone and can be viewed in any order. The music from the series is available on a plethora of records, including a best-of compilation, seven soundtrack albums, 12 individual artist compilations, and a five-CD boxed set.
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Birds of a Feather
For fans of the following dance genres, you might like these other representatives (some recent, some going back a few years).
Just Can’t Get Enough
|Electronic||Astroline, “Close My Eyes”|
C.O.P. Project, “Pornostar”
Cygnus X, “Superstrings (Rank 1 Remix)”
Rob Dougan [Rob D], “Clubbed to Death”
Felix da Housecat, “Madame Hollywood (Tiga’s Mister Hollywood Version)”
Felix da Housecat, “Silver Screen Shower Scene (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)”
Golden Boy With Miss Kittin, “Rippin Kittin”
Mars, “Pachelbel 8000”
Robert Miles, “Children”
Olive, “You’re Not Alone (Oakenfold/Osborne 12” Mix)”
The Other Two, “Selfish”
Mauro Picotto, “Komodo”
Plaything, “Into Space”
Soul Dujour, “Here We Go Again”
Underworld, “Two Months Off’
Jurgen Vries, “The Theme”
|House||Tori Amos, “Professional Widow (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix)”|
Azzido da Bass, “Dooms Night”
Blue Boy, “Remember Me”
Full Intention, “America (I Love America) (Full Length 12” Vocal Mix)”
The Goodmen, “Give It Up”
Jamiroquai, “Space Cowboy (Classic Remix)”
Junior Jack, “My Feeling”
Ke, “Strange World (Tribalistic Mix)”
Lady, “Easy Love (Stay the Night)”
David Morales & The Bad Yard Club Featuring Crystal Waters & Delta, “In de Ghetto”
Sound De-zign, “Happiness”
Ultra Nate, “Free (Mood II Swing Radio Mix)”
Armand Van Helden, “The Funk Phenomena”
Armand Van Helden Featuring Duane Harden, “U Don’t Know Me”
|Dance pop||Tori Amos, “Jackie’s Strength (Wedding Cake Mix)”|
Angel Moon [Angelmoon], “He’s All I Want”
A7, “Piece of Heaven”
’Becca, “You Make Me Feel…(More & More)”
Chicane Featuring Bryan Adams, “Don’t Give Up”
Tina Cousins, “Pray”
Dario G, “Sunchyme”
Jewel, “Serve the Ego (Gabriel & Dresden Club Mix)”
The Lovebite, “Take Your Time”
Bob Marley vs. Funkstar de Luxe, “Sun Is Shining (ATB Mix)”
Mousse T. vs. Hot ‘N’ Juicy, “Horny”
No Mercy, “Where Do You Go”
Nu Romantix [vs. Tears For Fears],” “Mad World”
Pharao, “I Show You Secrets (Sandstorm Remix)”
Pocket Size, “Walking (Sal Dano & Brian K. Mix or Tronco-Cento-Acid Mix)”
Res, “They-Say Vision (Robbie Rivera’s Vocal Mix Part Two or Bastone & Burnz Remix)”
Summer Junkies, “I’m Gonna Luv U (Original UK Version)”
If electronic music is really your cup of tea, you should be familiar with these artists.
|1990s||Air, Alcatraz, Dot Allison, Aphex Twin, Aphrodite, Aqua, ATB
Angelo Badalamenti, Basement Jaxx, Beats International, Bjork, Black Box, La Bouche, BT, B-Tribe
Cappella, Captain Hollywood Project, Cassius, The Chemical Brothers, Chicane, Cirrus, Le Click, The Crystal Method, Culture Beat, Cygnus X
Daft Punk, The Daou, Dario G, Dead Can Dance, Deep Forest, Delerium, Dimitri From Paris, DJ Jean, Dr. Alban, Rob Dougan [Rob D], Dubstar
808 State, Electronic, Enigma
Faithless, Fatboy Slim, Fierce Ruling Diva, Filter, Fortran 5, Front 242, Fun Factory, The Future Sound of London
Grace, The Grid, G.T.O.
I Start Counting
Jam & Spoon
L.A. Style, Layo & Bushwacka!, Paul Lekakis
Machines of Loving Grace, Billie Ray Martin, Massive Attack, Messiah, Mighty Dub Katz, Robert Miles, Moby, Monaco, Mono, The Movement
Nalin & Kane, Nightmares on Wax, N-Joi
Olive, Opus III, The Orb, Orbital, The Other Two
Real McCoy, Renegade Soundwave, Rozalla
Sash!, The Shamen, SM-Trax, Sound Factory, Space [U.K.], Stardust, Sunscreem, Swayzak
3rd Party, T99, Transglobal Underground
Underworld, Utah Saints
Paul van Dyk, Vengaboys
White Town, Josh Wink [Winx], Wolfsheim
|1980s||ABC, Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force, A-Ha, Marc Almond, Alphaville, The Art of Noise
Berlin, Blancmange, Book of Love, Boxcar, Bronski Beat
Camouflage, Cetu Javu, Cube
Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode, Desireless, Duran Duran
Falco, Figures on a Beach, The Flirts, A Flock of Seagulls, Flying Lizards, Freeze
Jan Hammer, Heaven 17, The Human League
Men Without Hats, Ministry
Naked Eyes, New Order
One-Two-Three, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Pet Shop Boys
Real Life, Red Flag, John Rocca
Peter Schilling, Soft Cell, Spandau Ballet, Sparks
Talk Talk, Thompson Twins
Ultravox, Until December
Yaz, Yello, Yellow Magic Orchestra
|1970s||Cerrone, Patrick Cowley
Jean Michel Jarre [Jean-Michel Jarre], Patrick Juvet
M, Man Parrish, Giorgio Moroder [Giorgio]
Space [France], Donna Summer, Sylvester
Tangerine Dream, Telex
|1950s-1960s||John Cage, Wendy Carlos|
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Best Albums of the 1990s
Compiling a canon of any kind—be it books, movies, or music—is always tricky because it’s not an exact science. Do you emphasize first impressions? Do you take into consideration whether the work has aged gracefully or not? Should you ignore a person’s impact on an industry and pop culture in general? Is an album with two great tracks and the rest fillers better than one with five good songs and no fillers? In the end, it’s a judgment call.
But we do have two rules: 1) an album must contain at least 60 percent new or previously unreleased material, which eliminates greatest-hits compilations; and 2) we have purposely omitted multiplatinum bestsellers such as Nirvana’s “Nevermind
” (DGC, 1992) and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggystyle
” (Death Row/Interscope, 1993-94). These hit albums will never go out of print and their songs will continue to be radio staples. So we won’t waste digital bits talking about them. Indeed, five of the albums on our list are out of print in the U.S. (as of 2006). Except in two cases, none of these albums sold enough copies to achieve gold status (500,000 units).
Here are the 10-plus 1990s albums that deserve to be heard. They represent different genres of music: pop/rock (4), country/bluegrass (2), electronic (4), and soundtrack/original cast (2). This alphabetical list is not meant to be comprehensive—there’s not enough time in the world to listen to every recording released. What are the best cuts from these albums? Check out the three-part 1990s playlist we put together for our 2006 Webcast
|Artist – Album (Original Label, Peak Year)/Producer/Official Web Sites/Comments|
Julee Cruise – Floating Into the Night (Warner Bros., 1990)
David Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti
juleecruise.net, warnerbrosrecords.com, watermusicrecords.com (artist’s latest label), angelobadalamenti.com, davidlynch.com, wikipedia.org/wiki/twin_peaks
The obsession with the ABC series “Lost” is nothing compared with the hoopla surrounding “Twin Peaks,” the David Lynch series that became one of those TV landmarks. (Cherry pie, anyone?) And it all happened B.I.—before the Internet. The pilot premiered on April 8, 1990, on ABC and attracted 35 million viewers. Warner Bros. re-released Julee Cruise’s 1989 album after the first season of “Twin Peaks.” As a result of its association with the television series, sales of the album were brisk the second time around. The instrumental version of “Falling” is the show’s theme; two other tracks were featured during the first season (the singer herself appeared in at least one episode).
Written and produced by Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, who scored the music for the TV series, this retro-sounding record reflects Lynch’s sensibilities. The moonlighting movie director was also responsible for the album’s art direction and photos. It’s dreamlike, eerie, innocent, and dark—you could say the same of “Twin Peaks.” Badalamenti is to Lynch what John Williams is to Steven Spielberg; he’s composed the music for six of Lynch’s feature films. In fact, Cruise’s “Mysteries of Love” was first released on the “Blue Velvet” soundtrack (Varese Sarabande, 1986). The history of this album and the stories of belated discoveries (Eva Cassidy, for example) really make one wonder about the hundreds of records that fall through the cracks every year.
Deep Forest – Deep Forest* (Sony/550 Music/Epic, 1994)
deepforestmusic.com, epicrecords.com, sonymusic.com, telex-music.com, synsound.be
For a while in the early 1990s, dance music displayed a kind of medieval bent. Remember Enigma and B-Tribe? (And even though you can’t dance to their records, let’s not forget those Benedictine Monks.) The French duo Deep Forest went native outside Europe, sampling voices and chants by the peoples of central Africa and the Solomon Islands. This indigenous folk music meets ambient sounds recording actually works, earning Deep Forest their only gold record in the U.S. An interpolation of “Sweet Lullaby,” the international smash, was a dance hit for Mauro Picotto (“Komodo”) in 2001. If you enjoy Deep Forest’s debut album, check out 1995’s “Boheme” (Sony/550 Music/Epic).
Producer Dan Lacksman remains a part of the Belgian electronic trio Telex (known for their 1979 dance hit “Moskow Diskow”). In 2006, Telex released their first new album since 1988. Deep Forest’s interest in world music is shared by Lacksman, who produced the 1998 album by Difang, the aboriginal Taiwanese singer sampled on Enigma’s 1994 hit “Return to Innocence.” He also founded Brussels’ Synsound recording studio in 1980.
Electronic – Electronic (Warner Bros., 1991)
Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr
feeleverybeat.co.uk, warnerbrosrecords.com, kochrecords.com (artist’s latest label), neworder.cc, johnnymarr.com, petshopboys.co.uk
If they were a mainstream rock band, critics would’ve called Electronic a super-group because this trio comprises members of New Order, The Smiths, and occasionally, Pet Shop Boys. Like Echo & The Bunnymen before them, these members of quintessential 1980s modern rock bands decided to take a detour at the beginning of the ’90s. This is ostensibly a side project for New Order’s Bernard Sumner. Though not as good as the best New Order records, Electronic’s debut album still stands out in a rather weak decade.
Havana 3 A.M. – Havana 3 A.M.* (I.R.S., 1991)
Havana 3 A.M.
emimusic.co.uk (I.R.S. sold to EMI)
What do you get when you mix a little rockabilly and a little punk rock together in Southern California—and top it off with a dash of mariachi? You end up with Havana 3 A.M., named after a Perez Prado album. Almost as commercial-sounding as the Stray Cats, this record represented one strand of modern rock that would be squeezed out eventually as the modern rock format took a hard-rock turn by the mid-1990s. A couple of tracks would have been perfect for Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” soundtrack (A Band Apart/Maverick/WMG, 2003). After you have a chance to listen to this album, see below for the quartet’s genesis and untimely dissolution.
Alison Krauss – I’ve Got That Old Feeling (Rounder, 1991)
Will VornDick, Jerry Douglas
alisonkrauss.com, rounder.com, jerrydouglas.com
Thanks to a Grammy award (the first of many for singer/fiddler Alison Krauss) and a popular video for the title track on CMT, this album enjoyed modest commercial success for a bluegrass record. Four years later, Krauss achieved mainstream acceptance at country radio with her remake of “When You Say Nothing at All.” The best part is she did it without compromising her music. Since her debut album in 1987, Krauss has alternated recording with her band Union Station, one of whose members was the singing voice of George Clooney’s character in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (Mercury Nashville, 2001-02). Against all odds, this soundtrack to a movie that was neither a critical nor box office hit has sold an astonishing 7 million copies.
Co-producer Jerry Douglas, the dobro master who has played on more than a thousand albums, was a member of the seminal bluegrass band J.D. Crowe & The New South. Since 1979, Douglas has released his own sometimes genre-bending solo albums. He joined Union Station for a few years after 1998.
Ian McCulloch – Candleland* (Warner/Sire/Reprise, 1990)
ianmcculloch.com, repriserecords.com, cookingvinyl.com (artist’s latest label), bunnymen.com, blazemonger.com/gg/
The first solo album from Echo & The Bunnymen’s lead singer is quieter and almost acoustic in places. Released in late 1989, this record was largely overlooked in the U.S. That didn’t stop modern rock radio from playing a few tasty cuts. Diehard fans of The Bunnymen already have this album; everyone else should give it a listen. Bassist Ray Shulman is one of three brothers who founded the 1970s British progressive rock band Gentle Giant. He’s also produced The Sugarcubes.
Eleanor McEvoy – What’s Following Me? (Sony/Columbia, 1996)
Kevin Moloney, Eleanor McEvoy
eleanormcevoy.com, columbiarecords.com, marketsquarerecords.co.uk (artist’s latest label)
After winning the Irish Recorded Music Association Award for best new artist in 1992, Eleanor McEvoy got the opportunity to release records stateside. Fans of the “Precious Little” single would be in for a nice surprise because this album, her second U.S. release, includes several catchy pop tunes. McEvoy is perhaps best known for “Only a Woman’s Heart,” her 1992 record that inspired a popular compilation of songs by Celtic women.
Malcolm McLaren – Paris (Gee Street/Island, 1995)
Malcolm McLaren, Lee Gorman, Robin Millar
malcolmmclaren.com, v2music.com (Gee Street sold to V2), deneuve.com (fan site), francoise-hardy.com, homepage.mac.com/leighgorman/, bowwowwow.org
Malcolm McLaren has always been a little bit ahead of the curve. He managed the New York Dolls briefly in the mid-1970s. He gave the world the Sex Pistols, which spawned the whole punk rock revolution. In the early 1980s, he dabbled in hip-hop when most artists frowned on this genre. His sampling of obscure but intriguing music became a prototype for future artists such as Deep Forest and Fatboy Slim. He used opera on a dance/pop/hip-hop record in 1984. He released a song about a dance style a year before Madonna recorded “Vogue” and the premiere of the documentary “Paris Is Burning.” And he recorded this album long before there was a thing called chillout.
Paying homage to Paris is not just the musical thing to do; twenty international directors each contributed a five-minute segment shot in the city of light for the 2006 film “Paris, Je T’Aime” (Paris, I Love You).
McLaren’s co-producers have interesting resumes of their own. Lee Gorman (or Leigh Gorman) was the second bassist on Adam & The Ants’ 1979 debut album. He and two fellow Ants later joined Bow Wow Wow, the 1980s new wave band assembled by McLaren. Gorman has produced Voice of the Beehive, Modern English, Fuzzbox, Funk Deluxe, and Soho, among others. Robin Millar has worked with a long list of artists, including Sade, The Style Council, Simple Minds, Strawberry Switchblade, Fine Young Cannibals, and Everything but the Girl. He also helped found a producer’s guild in the U.K.
Moby – Everything Is Wrong (Warner/Elektra, 1995)
moby.com, atlanticrecords.com (Elektra merged with sister label Atlantic), v2music.com (artist’s latest label)
Of all the albums included on this list, this is the only one that failed to impress immediately. We were wrong about “Everything Is Wrong.” The club singles, featuring choppy vocals over a concoction that resembles house music meets drum ‘n’ bass with a rave chaser, still sound jarring more than 10 years later. It’s the album cuts that put this record over the hump, especially the instrumentals “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters” and “First Cool Hive,” used effectively in the films “Heat” and “Scream,” respectively, and the haunting vocal track “When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die.” Moby is one alternative artist who eventually received mainstream recognition for his breakthrough album “Play” (V2, 2000-01). Listeners who’d never heard of Moby until “Play” should check out this 1995 album.
Original Cast [Cirque du Soleil (Rene Dupere)] – Nouvelle Experience* (BMG/RCA Victor, 1990)
cirquedusoleil.com, rcavictor.com (latest label is troupe’s own Cirque du Soleil Musique)
Established in 1984 in Canada, Cirque du Soleil is a relatively well-known brand today (the name is French for Circus of the Sun). Of all the early shows staged in the U.S. by the re-imagined circus before they went Vegas, “Nouvelle Experience” (New Experience) was the most spellbinding. And, perhaps not coincidentally, the predominately instrumental soundtrack to the third U.S. tour is more compelling than the vocals-based music of the other shows. If a couple of tracks sound vaguely familiar, that’s because they’d been used in TV ads. It’s too bad the “Nouvelle Experience” video is not available at the official Web site.
Soundtrack [Brian Keane] – The Way West* (Shanachie, 1995)
briankeanemusic.com, shanachie.com, ricburns.com, pbs.org, shoppbs.org
We don’t like to start a sibling rivalry, but the music from this Ric Burns documentary, presented as part of “The American Experience” series on PBS, is better than the soundtrack to older brother Ken’s “The Civil War.” Furthermore, the documentary itself is better than that venerated Civil War documentary (co-written by the two brothers)—and much shorter. One-time jazz recording artist Brian Keane also provided the memorable music for “The Donner Party,” another distinguished documentary directed by Ric Burns. Keane is a prolific composer of TV music; he is sort of the Mike Post of documentaries. You can order “The Way West” video from PBS or wait for your local PBS station to rerun this documentary. Ken Burns or Ric Burns? For some of us, that’s a more interesting debate than Ginger or Mary Ann.
Dwight Yoakam – This Time (Warner/Reprise, 1993)
dwightyoakam.com, repriserecords.com, newwestrecords.com (artist’s latest label), peteanderson.com
Singer and part-time actor Dwight Yoakam reached the height of commercial success and critical acclaim in the early 1990s with his fifth and sixth albums, 1991’s “If There Was a Way” (Warner/Reprise) and this 1993 album. “This Time” may be Yoakam’s biggest seller (certified triple platinum by 1996), but it’s a shame this alternative country artist never really crossed beyond the country fan base. Such songs as “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” and “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” would’ve been top 40 hits if they had been released 15 years earlier or if the adult top 40 format had been around in 1993.
Guitarist/producer Pete Anderson was Yoakam’s longtime collaborator, producing all of his albums between 1986 and 2003. He’s also worked with k.d. lang, Michelle Shocked, Sara Evans, and Meat Puppets. A champion of alternative country and Americana music, Anderson founded Little Dog Records in 1993.
* Currently out of print or hard to find.
Trivia: The word “hymn” appears in song titles from two of the albums on this list (Deep Forest and Moby); both Malcolm McLaren and Moby have a song titled “Anthem.”
More on Havana 3 A.M.
Most music fans are familiar with two of the three founding members of The Clash (the late Joe Strummer and Mick Jones). The third one, bassist Paul Simonon, later formed Havana 3 A.M. with a fellow Brit singer, Nigel Dixon, and Gary Myrick, a guitarist from Texas. After The Clash disbanded, Simonon and Dixon took a motorcycle road trip from El Paso, Texas, to Los Angeles, with stops in Mexico along the way. The journey allowed the two British expats to experience the American Southwest and Mexico. Just as a 1950s road trip served as inspiration for Jack Kerouac, the self-titled album was the fruit of this Tex-Mex-Cal trip (all the songs were written by Simonon, Myrick, and Dixon).
Dixon was the lead singer of Whirlwind, a rockabilly band in the U.K. back in the 1970s. Myrick had a 1980 new wave hit called “She Talks in Stereo.” Despite the fact he didn’t help write any of the songs on “Havana 3 A.M.,” drummer Travis Williams’ contribution to the band’s overall sound is obvious on this self-produced record. After the release of the album and a tour, Simonon left the music business altogether and Dixon died from cancer in 1993. Myrick would release an album under the name Gary Myrick & Havana 3 A.M. on the Burnside label (burnsiderecords.com) three years later.
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