October 4, 2005

maa-iii trooo lava would be!

I'm really not listening to that much semi-ersatz reggae. (Today I spent a while with a mid-'70s album on Studio One by Jennifer Lara, which I might write about here later if I can get deep enough into it--a quick Google reveals that she died just a few months ago and that she was the singer on Rhythm & Sound's "Queen In My Empire"--knew I recognized that voice from somewhere. Incidentally, my copy of the album looks like the one on that link, except that the blue plate is about a million times more photo-degraded, which oddly makes it even a little sexier.) But the album I've played most today does have a slightly questionable pedigree, which is to say that if somebody told you "hey, you have to check out this dancehall album by this German newspaper heiress--there's a little bit of punk rock in there too," and didn't explain that it was Ari Up's Dread More Dan Dead (Collision), you'd be totally justified in suddenly remembering that you had an urgent appointment to get your ears temporarily removed.

I admire Ari for being such a total charismatic freak, and it's not like her weirdness makes her stand out in reggae--Yellowman, anyone? And yes, she's got the background (she's a TV regular in Kingston, apparently), and she's been doing Jamaican music almost exclusively for 25 years (somewhere I've got a record of her with the New Age Steppers doing a solid version of Junior Byles' "Fade Away"--wow, two Junior Byles mentions in two days), and as she knows well enough to include an a cappella version of "Me Done," she's a mighty good toaster. She's been playing these songs live for years--and not many others, although I did once see her attempt to get away with singing along with her old Slits record on stage. Looking at the song titles, I remembered how almost all of their hooks went. They're really good hooks. The occasional problem is what's between them--it sometimes seems like she's just filling in the space between choruses. I love the chorus of "Can't Share," but the verses elaborate on its words in the bluntest, most obvious way. (I've seen her play better versions of a lot of these songs live, too, especially "Bashment," which I was convinced a few years ago was going to be her dance breakthrough record & is now just another song.) Also, is it me, or are the sentiments of "Can't Trust the Majority Mass" taking an anti-herd-mentality grudge a little too far?

Hey, does anybody reading this have any interest in my organizing NaSoAlMo (National Solo Album Month) again for next month? I've got the domain name now; it's just a question of putting it into action.

Posted by Douglas at October 4, 2005 11:30 PM | TrackBack
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