Five Songs, 4/22/2017

The intro to this series has been pushed off the page, so a brief mention might be in order. I'm writing about five random songs from my collection on a daily-ish basis, and giving everybody a link to listen along. Here's the intro to the series, and here's the link to today's songs.

Prefuse 73, "Tel Aviv's Gravel Toothbrush"

Prefuse 73 is one of the names that Scott Herren records under, mixing up hip-hop influences with electronic music. He's at his best when you've got stuttering bits and pieces of recognizable hip-hop running through, but broken up in strange ways. When he wanders too far from that into pure electronic stuff, he gets less interesting to me. This is a short piece from Extinguished, which is outtakes from his excellent One Word Extinguisher album. On the whole, you can see why he left this material off the main album, so this record is for completists only. Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives and One Word Extinguisher remain the pick of the litter for him.

Dam-Funk, "Junie's Transmission"

This is just a little spoken-word piece featuring Junie Morrison, legendary member of the Ohio Players, a meditation on the nature of funk and the intro to the album Invite the Light. Because it's a bit of a throwaway, I've included the following track on the playlist, just to give you a taste of the electro-funk contained on the record. Gotta give up the funk!

The Toasters, "Too Hip to the Cool"

We have our first repeat band! Congratulations to The Toasters! One thing I never quite figured out about Moon Ska was that the label dissolved in pretty serious acrimony. It seemed like bands weren't getting paid, and there was apparently quite a lot of bad blood going on. Because the scene was a bit of a backwater by then, and the internet wasn't really rolling full speed, I only caught bits and pieces of the controversy, but it seemed like things ended on a pretty ugly note. The Toasters themselves kept going, but the label somewhat messily exploded and took down a lot of second- and third-tier bands with it.

This is from New York Fever, which is a predictable, middle-of-the-road effort from the band, although I am entertained by the Evan Dorkin (Milk and Cheese, among other stuff) cover for it. Dorkin's work for several comics was collected in some nice hardcover omnibus editions by Dark Horse, by the way.

The Beastie Boys, "Gratitude"

I assume the Beastie Boys need no introduction, so I'll just tell a super stupid boring story instead. I was a pretty big Usenet user once I got to college, reading and contributing to a bunch of Usenet music groups as well as assorted mailing lists I fell into as a result of my filthy habit. I distinctly recall a while before the release of Check Your Head when someone came onto one of those groups, announced they'd heard advanced stuff from the new record, that the Besties were playing all their own instruments, and it was going to blow people's minds. And the entire group just laughed the guy out of town. I salute you, anonymous internet prophet! You were totally right! It turned out that everything that guy said was true. Although, the album is still not as good as Paul's Boutique.

Look, I never claimed that these entries were all going to be good. Go listen to "Gratitude" again, it's still good, with that fuzzy bass and everything. Also, look at the faces Ad-Rock is pulling while singing!

Melvins, "The Bunk Up"

We have another repeat band. The Melvins are going to show up a lot, what with 22 albums in my collection. This comes from Hold It In, an album where King Buzzo and Dale Crover hooked up with Paul Leary and J.D. Pinkus of the Butthole Surfers for the album. And while the many different people that Buzz and Crover played with haven't really changed the Melvins that much, for this album, you can really hear some Surfers style come through the songs. Leary even gets solo songwriting credit on a few tracks. So, this album is a little unusual for the Melvins, and you can hear those influences on this track.