Rating Carolina CD Review : Carolina Chocolate Drops LEAVING EDEN

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Picture is copyright Jim Brock Photography

With 2013 still early in its run, an early contender for my favorite CD of the year is Carolina Chocolate Drops LEAVING EDEN (and yes I know it came out in 2012). It has been a while since I was so thoroughly in love with a CD from first song to last (Terry Callier’s opus SPEAK YOUR PEACE comes to mind, and that is high praise indeed).

I like their 2006 debut cd, DONA GOT A RAMBLIN MIND, but I don’t love it. The same can be said for their 2009 concert CD entitled CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS & JOE THOMPSON. However their latest LEAVING EDEN is another story. It is an album that is not only listenable from first song to last, it is immediately re-listenable. An album that can be on rotation in your cd player often without wearing out its welcome; no small feat in this day and age of too much, too fast, too poorly done.

What really endears me to this CD is how these young children of the Diaspora, these four children of the atom, of the early 21st century, are so thoroughly channeling and keeping alive this quintessential music of the early 20th century. What endears is how these young men and women of the race: Human, of the ethnic group: Nubian/Black, of the Nation: American and of the tribe: Artist; are creating music that incorporates the width and breath of all of the above.

LEAVING EDEN is at once joyous and jubilant and haunting and innovative, and sublime. The spirit of Robert Johnson moves strongly here, and well. ‘Howls in the bones of her face’ to borrow from Dylan, the cd LEAVING EDEN howls in the bones of your face.

Not only do I have a new favorite CD, I have a new favorite band. And luckily they are touring this year so if coming to a city anywhere close to you I highly recommend checking them out in person. I had the chance to see them in concert last year and missed it. I won’t miss them this year, and if you are smart neither will you.

Their touring schedule is here.

And their CD LEAVING EDEN? In an age of digital and Itunes do CDs still have a place? That appears to be the question of the moment. My answer? When they are this good, hell yeah CDs have a place. Owning just an mp3 sample would just be a crime. This is a work of art in the listening, and should be a work of art in the displaying. Grade: A+.

You can buy cds here:

Leaving Eden

And Don’t fail to also check out the following essential CDs:

Speak Your Peace

The Complete Recordings (The Centennial Collection)

And for more Carolina Chocolate Drops albums go here:

CDs available

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Picture is copyright Jim Brock Photography

ESSENTIAL CDs in the Age of ITunes #15-10 – Under Construction

In the age of ITunes, easy and user tailored content of individual songs at whim, is there a place for CDs?

For great ones, I would say yes.

MP3 is a great sampling medium, a very good compression medium, but it should not be considered an end onto itself, especially where music is concerned.

There is some value in the physical medium, when it comes to a great album. A great CD that stands up from first song to last, is worthy of the process.Of listening to that music in high-fidelity without the compression of MP3. Is worthy of the cover art and liner notes, and more is worthy of the tangible, tactile experience of engaging with that physical medium as a touchstone to the process and enjoyment of the physical medium.

From LPs to CDs, their is something as vital in the form of the medium as well as the function, something in the beauty of interacting with a great LP presentation or a great CD presentation in a physical space, that is not replicated in a digital download.

But it has to be a CD/Album worthy of putting on and listening and enjoying from first song to last. Something with sporadic good songs isn’t going to cut it. For that you might as well stick with the Itunes model of downloading random songs.

But for those CD and LP releases of music as functional and vital novel, as compelling art, the medium matters, has value.

Without further ado, here is a list of 5 essential CDs and/or LPs worth owning in the age of Itunes, where increasingly we own nothing:

incoldbloodIN COLD BLOOD – One of the seminal and ground-breaking movie soundtracks of all time. Quincy Jones’ finest work. Last I looked only available on LP.IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

BACH THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS:GLENN GOULD – This album began my love and appreciation for the piano and remains one of the great classical recordings.

JIMI HENDRIX:THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE- Lives up to its name. One of the pivotal and formative icons of modern Rock and Roll.

speakyourpeaceSPEAK YOUR PEACE:TERRY CALLIER- Overlooked during the heyday of Soul, Terry Callier was rediscovered by a British promoter in the early days of the 21st century, which lead to his old albums being reissued, and Terry Callier producing new albums. SPEAK YOUR PEACE is one of those albums, and more it is one of the great Albums of all time. Terry Callier being a devastatingly beautiful and poetic songwriter, easily on par with the best of Dylan, with a voice far superior to just about anyone’s.Speak Your Peace

SNAKES AND LADDERS- This Alan Moore and Tim Perkin’s helmed spoken word CD in many ways is a reworking of an earlier and no less mind-blowing Alan Moore CD, THE MOON AND SERPENT GRAND EGYPTIAN THEATRE OF MARVELS. However SNAKES AND LADDERS manages not only to be its own thing, but manages to be a great and compulsively listenable experience in its own right.Alan Moore and Tim Perkins – Snakes and Ladders

Well that’s this installment’s picks. Come back next time for five more. And if you are moved to buy the CDs and add them to your collection, please you the supplied links to do so. Thanks and go out there and hug somebody today. (but ask first :))

CD of the Day Review! Alan Moore’s MOON AND SERPENT!

Review Alan Moore’s MOON AND SERPENT: It starts off with roller-coasters and rain, and there’s something fitting about that. That Moore’s finest, most all-encompassing work should start off with roller coasters and rain. Highlighted tracks are highly recommended listening.

Track 1 roller-coaster/carnival barker-“tell all your friends, tell all your enemies, tell all the people you do not know.” Goes to about the 5:30 mark. From the start, his most sonically, and stereoscopically mesmerizing CD.

Track 2 rain, a tour of London- Moore’s voice at once longing and hungry and haunted and stark. A dreamer two days dead, speaking of dreams. Speaking of London, all Londons. “hallucinated rain in a mirage of gutter… a phantom, speculated city, somewhere else… where do the Yarmouth breakers detonate, a distant semtex when we are away from yarmouth… these are the towns of light, built from remembered brick… where thought is form…locations we shall never visit that yet have their hearsay substance in our lives, and so are never far from us… metropolis erected out of nothing, only metaphor, and ringed with slums of dreams… a shadow London, our idea of London” Goes to about the 8:44 mark. 9/10.

Track3 a tour of London- “Move on to the city hypothetical… his Tesla grid of terror and magnificence…streets filthy with mythology… “ till about 13:20 mark

Track 4 Cray Twins/Double trouble – Brilliant use of stereo! Love listening to this. “two sides to every story, two doors to every cell” till 15:31 10/10

Track 5 St.Pauls/Diana -The heart of the City – Let us pay attention to St. Paul himself, a Proto-Mason , there in 1st Corinthians 3:10 he states “As a Master-builder I have laid foundations and another builds there on.” , “here is Diana chained, the soul of woman-kind bound in a web of ancient signs that women might abandon useless dreams of liberty” “be careful here” till 19:45

Track 6 Fleet and Bride Street –“they are the engineers of our exhaustion” “If this room is mirrored in idea space, what of we?” “…monologues we have mistaken for the world” “stay close together, these are stairways beyond substance, things get slippery here.” Till 24:50

Track 7 Into the Abyss – “Theory and belief are all we have to walk upon” A walk through idea spaces, through landscapes/mythologies… eclectic. Till 32:15.

Track 8 Spectre Garden- Angel Baeletic- “I am the daughter of fortitude, and ravished every hour of my youth” Haunting and beautiful. Till 35:24

Track 9 Demon Asmodeus- Sumptuous, disturbing use of sound. Till 40:02

Track 10 Deity/Glycon last created of the roman gods- “Proceed with caution, this is old power. And the idea of a god, a real idea” Till 44:10

Track 11 Tundra Absolute/The Final wasteland- “if we observe it, we affect it” He is dropping knowledge, no, not knowledge… wisdom… wisdom beyond the paltry dreams of science. Brilliance! Brilliance! Reaches a stunning conclusion, with a truly compelling performance by Alan Moore. A+. till 59:35

Track 12 End Music/Denouement- Don’t care for this folksy/wood nymph song, or the delivery. But not enough to mar this excellent CD. Till 63.07.

Overall grade: A+. Best of breed. Essential CD.

Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

Alan Moore UNEARTHING CD, LP, Spoken Word Review Pt 2 of 2

UNEARTHING The Review!

Now getting past the packaging and into the audio itself, it consists of 2 cds that comprise the audio book/audio odyssey proper and one CD filled with instrumental tracks (pretty catchy, a trance, hypno vibe, definitely of the school of sound created by the Dynamite Brothers. It works better as stand-alone ep, than as an accompaniment to Moore’s lyrics. More on this in a bit).

Ostensibly a biography on Steve Moore, supposedly a friend of Alan Moore for 40 years who taught him to write, am I the only one who has figured out Steven Moore is just a pseudonym for Alan Moore? What Stephen King would refer to as his Dark Half, his Richard Bachman, and UNEARTHING is him putting to rest, finally, this old friend of the id.

What’s that you say? “Steve Moore is a real person, has a page on the Internet and everything”. Well then he has to be real, hasn’t he?

UNEARTHING is Moore at what Poitier would call “The Summing up place” in his life, and it’s him putting his house in order. Using a pseudo biography to speak on larger themes of loneliness, loss, creation, mortality and magic. It takes a few listens to make out his journey, and when Moore deals most clearly with battles of the id the work is compelling.

However, unlike his collaboration with Bauhaus front man David J, here the music works against Moore’s monologue rather than with it. Quiet when it should be loud, and loud when it should be quiet.

So we’re left primarily with Moore’s voice to carry us through. And while Moore has an astounding voice, the subject matter is not as engaging.

It’s an interesting listen but ultimately one that tends to wear out its welcome relatively quickly.

So while I love the audacity of the packing, the actual content fails to live up to it. For those interested in seeing Moore’s
“A+” game when it comes to spoken word, try the brilliant MOON AND SERPENT, followed relatively closely by the almost as brilliant SNAKES AND LADDERS. I would also recommend BIRTH CAUL, HIGHBURY WORKING, and ANGEL PASSAGE, all before I would recommend UNEARTHING.

But for Alan Moore Completionists like myself, it will look pretty on your shelf. B+ for the packaging, B- for the content, earns it an average grade of B.

Alan Moore UNEARTHING CD, LP, Spoken Word Review Pt 1 of 2


UNEARTHING is Alan Moore’s 6th Spoken Word Album (not counting those he just lends his voice to, but only those that are him in mass), Aural Odyssey, and is easily his most lavishly packaged.

Arriving on one’s doorstep in a box big enough to bludgeon the unsuspecting, UNEARTHING is an elaborate slipcase that includes a more elaborate jacket, beautifully adorned with photographs by Mitch Jenkins of Alan Moore and company. The jacket includes a poster, a transcript of the lyrics, a photograph, 3 lps, and 3 cds.

Feel free to gasp, I did upon receiving it.

It is just an amazing tome, and hearkens back to old world concepts of form as part and parcel of function, and the packaging as part of the experience. An idea that is being lost, or buried, in today’s download, digitization, miniaturization age. But a download can’t grasp the child-like joy of receiving a package like this and the experience of leafing through its lavish contents. Nothing like having that CD or LP staring up at you, and that anticipation of voices from the ether, that you are about to discover.

Moore’s UNEARTHING in packaging alone dazzles and ingratiates and seduces and tells a story, and is art in and of itself. Like LPs of old,

And I am of that not yet extinct clan, who appreciates the journey, who appreciates a thing as a work of art onto itself, and as the first, inaudible part, of the process of embracing the world the artist is crafting.

To be continued

Today’s Recommended Music: Quincy Jones THE SOUNDTRACK YEARS! 60s & 70s

When not… raging against the dying of the light, I enjoy the simple pleasures… like any other son of Africa.

One of those pleasures of late… is music, specifically instrumental soundtracks with a heavy funk/jazz vibe… and even more specifically, the early soundtracks of Quincy Jones.

QJ-MellowMadness
I mentioned the IN COLD BLOOD album a few posts back. Well since then I have managed to get my hands on that 1967 record (My criticisms of Ebay aside, it can at times come in handy for buyers. Particularly for items like IN COLD BLOOD which are not available on CD) and the kindest and most succinct way to summarize my reaction to that 40 year old album is… it blew my mind.

I mean the sample of the IN COLD BLOOD title track, that I had heard on a music podcast (that started this whole soundtrack obsession. Thank you Ratso for making me broke! Proof positive that letting people share music actually HELPS sales!) had prepped me for the album to be good, but I didn’t dare to hope the whole thing would be great.

And it is. The IN COLD BLOOD soundtrack is a remarkable achievement that sounds devastating, inventive, original and ahead of its time today, so I can’t quite put in perspective what it must have been like hearing this score for the first time in 1967.

I can’t imagine it, back then, not winning Quincy Jones a nomination (which it did), and more deservedly the Academy award.

It is a brief album, I forgot the tight and effective pacing of LPs in the days before CDs. The score comes in at well under 36 minutes total.

But what a half hour.

All I can say is… once the album was done, I immediately had to listen to it again, and again. That is the sign of a masterfully constructed album.

Now those praises heaped on this album, there are some downsides. While I have a very pristine album copy and the sound is great, this soundtrack is too important and too good not to get remastered and made available on CD; because while I respect and admire Mr. Jones’ staggering accomplishments and body of work to date, for me… these early instrumental soundtracks are (excuse my slide into 70s speak) where it’s at. :)

I mean I will not be surprised if my greatest audio discovery of 2009 turns out to be a 40+ year old record called IN COLD BLOOD. It is that brilliant.

However that raises other problems. Jazzed by the BLOOD score, I went looking for other early Quincy Jones scores. Let me tell you right now… a cheap past-time that is not.

QJ-HeatNight
And so far what I’m finding is the other scores while good, and in places brilliant can not hold a candle to IN COLD BLOOD. Now I say that having only tried DOLLARS and THE LOST MAN. A lot of people praise those two scores, but I was underwhelmed, particularly by DOLLARS. Your mileage may vary.

But as I said, I’m still waiting to receive THE PAWNBROKER, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, THE SPLIT, and THEY CALL ME MR. TIBBS soundtracks (CD when available, LP when not).

I’ve sampled online some of his THE SPLIT soundtrack and that one I think may be up there with IN COLD BLOOD, also i’m hearing good things about the THEY CALL ME MR. TIBBS score. So I’ll offer my take on those scores when they come in.

In addition researching Quincy Jones’ early soundtrack work has also put on my radar some of his early jazz albums as well as soundtrack albums by other composers. What can I say… I’m a compulsive dude, I can latch onto a few passions to the exclusion of pretty much all else. I can go years without watching tv or reading comics, and then something will launch itself on my radar and suddenly I’m consuming years worth of DVDs and Comics in weeks.

Currently I’m in my music phase, with a side compulsion in books. And boy is my wallet not happy with me. :)

Anyhow to help you also get in on this soundtrack kick (hey why should I be the only one going broke) I’m going to direct you to a few nifty links:

So who is this Quincy Jones cat?

Well for those of you asking that question, or for those just seeking more info, SOUL WALKING has put together a pretty darn comprehensive page, on the living legend that is Quincy Jones. Check it out here!

Now that you know who the man is, I guess you want to hear a little bit of what he brings to the table.

Well it just so happens that DJ Spinnas has put together a pretty awesome tribute/mashup to the work of Quincy Jones. You can check it out here!

It’s exceptionally well put together, though if I had to fault it for anything it is a little too heavy into Quincy’s later vocal collaborations, which is really not my cup of tea. Just stick to the crazy instrumentals and I’m there. But my personal bias aside, it is brilliantly done… and definitely recommended!

Moving on, here are two places that review soundtracks and records, I generally think their reviews are whacked :) (I’m joking– not!), but both are expansive sites and quite informative, so check it out for yourself:

BLAXPLOITATION

WARR

If you can’t find the CD/record you are looking for through the usual suspects, you may want to give the following sites a look. I have not done business with them yet, so can’t speak on that, but what I can say is the below sites are a joy to browse though and offer detailed info on the products, and include sound clips. They had me at hello. :)

The sites are:

MOVIE GROOVES

and

BUY SOUNDTRAX

and

DUSTY GROOVE (doesn’t offer sound-clips unfortunately, but their excellent reviews help make up for it)

Well that’s it folks, you’ve been turned onto IN COLD BLOOD and been given places to learn, hear, and ultimately purchase more. So without further ado kiddies go out there and… listen.

Till next time… be safe, be free. And if you can’t be both, choose the latter. :) .


LAST MINUTE EDIT: Wanted to give some love to another Soundtrack Review site, perhaps “THE” Soundtrack Review Site, SCORE BABY! Just a stellar site from bottom to top, and if it doesn’t spur you to purchase copious amounts of soundtracks, than you have more willpower than I do. :) Swing by here to take a look!.

And tell them HT sent you!

Forgotten Soundtracks! The brilliant, the demented and the obscure! QUINCY JONES: IN COLD BLOOD!

Today’s INTERESTING soundtracks!

Most disturbing thing I heard today:

“The young Japanese girl can go to the same place she might have gone to to have her eyelids westernised or her breasts enlarged and here she can have herself surgically… reflowered.” Man that just made me queezy and not in a good way. That sentence is wrong on so many levels. That line comes from the soundtrack TEENAGE REBELLION.

Most brilliant thing I heard today:

Quincy Jones’ soundtrack to IN COLD BLOOD is my discovery of the day.

I was never that taken with Truman Capote or the film made from his award winning book… IN COLD BLOOD, but I listened to a track from the soundtrack today and was BLOWN AWAY!

incoldblood

I immediately went looking for it on CD, and you know what… IT IS NOT AVAILABLE!! Has never been issued on CD!!! That is a crime, because as RATSO RUSSO, the mastermind behind the GROOVY SOUNDTRACKS radio show and podcast where I listened to these tracks stated, this is Quincy Jones at his darkest.

And from what I heard, I would argue at his most brilliant. A masterpiece.

It is a crime, A CRIME I SAY that this soundtrack was never made available on CD. If you’re lucky you may come across the original 1968 LP, but cheap it is not. LP ranges from $50 to $250.

But to get a sampling of these tracks (try before you buy) and many more check out Ratso’s great GROOVY MOVIES PODCAST here, and tell Ratso that HT sent ya!

Check the below link for availability of the LP:

IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

Thanks and good listening!

incoldblood