CDs worth owning in the age of Itunes! 15 Favorite obscure CDs!


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ALAN MOORE : THE MOON AND SERPENT GRAND EGYPTIAN THEATRE OF MARVELS -A fantastic CD, oral dissection and tour of London of the Id. Alan Moore is analogous to Shakespeare in that like Shakespeare he is one of the greatest writers of a castigated medium (Shakespeare worked in the, during his life, little respected medium of plays, mass entertainment for the mobs; and Moore works in the medium of comic books/graphic novels), and arguably is not fully understood or appreciated out of that medium in his lifetime. His spoken word CDs are some of the most amazing and compelling, combining his love of topics but strange and obscure, married to his voice, which is one of the greatest and most haunting voices of our age. Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

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DEATH : FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE – Rock/Proto-Punk – Turned on to this CD by the wonderful documentary A BAND CALLED DEATH. A great documentary and a great CD. For the Whole World to See

ABRAHAM BURTON QUARTET : CAUSE AND EFFECT – Was turned onto this CD by Amiri Baraka when I met him a few years back and bought his excellent hardcover book DIGGING THE AFRO AMERICAN SOUL OF CLASSICAL AMERICAN MUSIC. Cause and EffectDigging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

CHE : NOT LIKE THEM – Caught this artist live performance years ago, and got this CD direct from him. It still remains one of the best CDs I own. An amazing performer who brings together Neo-soul, R&B, Rock, and some genres not invented yet, in a fun, head bobbing package.

TAALAM ACEY : BLUES RESURGENCE – Another artist I caught live, and got this CD direct from him. One of the greatest spoken word CDs. Blues Resurgence

MARK GROSS : RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX – I heard him play his title track in a dive bar, somewhere on the edge of the world, and purchased. A great purchase as it is one of the best Jazz Cds I’ve ever heard. Riddle of the Sphinx

AWADAGIN PRATT : A LONG WAY FROM NORMAL- My gold standard for classical piano CDs are the great Glenn Gould’s BACH THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS released by CBS Records and this lesser known, but no less great, album by Awadagin Pratt. A must own. Plays Liszt/Franck/Brahms/Bach

PARIS : THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT/SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY – I added these two CDs as one, because even though they are separated by decades, they are linked at the hip, by a fervor that is both mired in specific times, yet oddly time resistant. And a delivery… unequaled. The Devil Made Me Do It

TERRY CALLIER : SPEAK YOUR PEACE – Speak Your Peace

QUINCY JONES : IN COLD BLOOD – Soundtrack. Why on earth would anyone ever want the sound track to a movie? When I was young it made no sense to me. And to be truthful, for most movies and soundtracks I still feel that way. I’ve listened to a lot of not especially interesting soundtrack Records and CDs. And then one day I put on the LP to Cold Blood by Quincy Jones, a young Quincy Jones before he became the manager for the King of Pop, and settled into making pop and r&b albums. This young Quincy Jones was pushing how music could be used to elicit feelings and tell stories, and during the late 60s early 70s created some of the most experimental and haunting music ever conceived. IN COLD BLOOD remains the seminal instrumental work done not just by Quincy Jones, but by anyone. It was the first soundtrack album to open my eyes to the fact that the soundtrack can be a work of art onto itself. IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

JERRY GOLDSMITH : PLANET OF THE APES – Jerry Goldsmith has created mountains of Sound tracks, I don’t know if he has ever been more experimental or better than here. Planet Of The Apes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Also Featuring Music From Escape From The Planet Of The Apes

JIMMY WILSON : FUTURE HISTORY – Future History

DON PEYOTE : BETWEEN WORLDS – A lot of people turn up their nose at the term New Age, rightly or wrongly I don’t know. What I do know is I’m in love with binaural effects, and CDs that, using just a headphone, can recreate a 360 degree environment. BETWEEN WORLDS does that brilliantly. A great CD to read or drift off to. Between Worlds with Hemi-Sync

STEVE USCHER : LA GUITARRA TROPICAL –

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IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE : REVOLUTIONARY VOL 2 – I have oft praised this CD. It should be required listening by people who want to hear what rap can be like… when it is about more than self grandizement and debasement.

Well hope you enjoyed that list of essential obscure CDs. Now I’m sure most of you in this age of Itunes have ditched your walkman, so how, you ask, do you play these cds? Well thankfully there are nice, compact, cost effective devices that allow you to take not only your cds but your dvds and other media with you when on the move. Here’s a link to one:

Sylvania Portable DVD Player SDVD7027-C, 7-Inch, Swivel Screen, Black

Enjoy!


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CD of the Day (and strong contender for CD of the Year) Gregory Porter’s LIQUID SPIRIT


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I’ve been listening to a lot of music recently. Actual cds not mp3s, not rough compressions or rough approximations of the song, but the full CD sound spectrum of the song.

MP3s were never designed as a replacement for musical CDs, it is a sampling medium, great for helping you decide what is worth buying (or even audio books where for the most part all you are reproducing is a person’s limited conversational speaking range) but not suitable as a replacement for a full range music recording. MP3s get rid of extraneous info, the highs and the lows, the extremes, but oft I’ve found it’s those very pauses and extremes… that compression schemes such as MP3 would lose, wherein we are best found.

I’ve listened to everything from Rock to Rap, sampling all those voices from the near and far. And some of those CDs are very good, but only one recently has been inspired, has been revelatory. Revelatory as in revelation. Gregory Porter’s LIQUID SPIRIT is that cd. Not since stumbling upon the works of Terry Callier or Solomon Burke have I been so impressed with a new discovery. It’s not just his voice, or even the lyrics, which as stated are inspired, it is his phrasing, his delivery. Smooth and easy crooning, holding at bay… a night falling into day. It’s a very relaxed delivery, crooning to you, as the stars… dim.

Melancholy. That’s the word, there is a vein of melancholy in Gregory Porter’s Grammy acclaimed vocals, but melancholy that is tempered by a fervent romanticism. This is timeless music, as valid for an audience of 1920 as it will be for an audience of 2020.

This is today’s MUST BUY, not just the CD of the day, but a CD to enjoy from first song to last for far longer than a day. An essential CD.

In an age of Itunes when everyone is satisfied with listening to the distant echoes of music (mp3s) this is a CD that will prompt you to invest in, that nearly extinct device, a portable CD player.

However, it is the 21st century so thankfully we have alternatives to just having a portable CD player. You can, for a little more, buy a simple media tablet about the same size and weight as a portable CD player, but that allows you to play your MP3 cd-rs and cd-rws (as much as I rail against MP3 for music, for audio books or Old Time Radio it works just fine) as well as view DVDs! That folks is what we call… a win/win!

Price both the CD and a good portable media player-tablet, at the links below. You’ll be glad… for both.

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Liquid Spirit CD

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Coby TFDVD7009 7-Inch Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player, Black – nifty portable media tablet… now it appears Coby Electronics has gone the way of the dodo, so you may want to pick up these low cost DVD/CD/media tablets while you can.

Enjoy the links. And if you purchase through the links, I want to let you know it is always appreciated, and helps keep this Blog going. Thanks and enjoy the items!!!

And for those looking to catch Gregory Porter in concert, he has a pretty lively 2014 touring schedule, He’s currently tearing through Europe, but has a few stateside stops as well, to include, PA, New orleans, Colorado, DC, and a few more. View the whole schedule here!

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

Stumbling through the Dark in… Heroic Times!

If you’ve stumbled across this handy dandy blog, it means more than likely you’re a pop culture junkie like myself with more than a passing interest in books and cinema, and aren’t totally adverse to the idea of getting together with a bunch of like minded people and sharing these interests. Yapping a bit on fav music and comics and movies and writers and artists, etc.

Here I’ll try and keep you quickly and concisely informed about some stuff I’ve stumbled over and have loved, liked, or simply believe deserves a larger audience. Some of you are people I know, and I’m using this blog as a way of keeping you conveniently informed without sending out a trillion emails.

And while the gist of this will revolve around pop culture, it will take little segues depending on what’s going on in mi vida loca, my crazy life. Baltimore local here, so a little of this will revolve around this odd port city. Will revolve around landmarks and people; an odd place of power this city is, full of brilliance and banality, beauty and barbarism.

So without further ado:

First a little about me, 30 going on 98, pop culture guy, employed for a major metropolitain newspaper, and in my spare time defend truth,justice and the a… wait that’s that other guy.

But yeah me average dude. Employed here, freelance writer on the side with two pro gigs to my resume( pro as in I actually got paid for the stuff, not pro as they were big time) and a lot of self published and free stuff printed. Looking to do a lot more of that stuff, and actually buckle down and try and submit a piece someplace every week.

(So some of you getting this have volunteered to help me get a new freelance mag/ fanzine off the ground. So really big on that. Those of you serious, let’s get started asap. We meet at my place every Sunday, early, and just start slapping stuff on the page. And either sell it mailorder, or via ebay, or force atomic books to carry it. Think of it as Entertainment Weekly meets Heavy Metal meets Mother Jones. Need writers, artists, photographers, etc. No pay, no glory, outrageous deadlines and fun. Spread the word!)

HOMICIDE was Great, or How I learned to kill my TV

Not a huge TV guy here, most stuff on tv is just…. not good. Last decent TV I watched was like Homicide, lst year NYPD Blue (the year with Carruso, rest of the years were… crap), Babylon 5, Farscape, and generally TCM.

But now, in the last six months I turn on my TV maybe once a week. And the killer part is I paid a paycheck or eight for the darn TV, and basically it’s just a very huge paperweight.
(With the exception to that being… I recently caught a show on AMC I think, called HUSTLE. A brit show, it was very good)

HYENAS whup Sin City

All that said I love movies, DVDs. Dig everything from classics to crime to horror to foreign. Let me rephrase, I love good movies. Which means I HATED Sin City (saw it on the big screen like everybody else, what a waste of money). And I dug the Frank Miller books, but like everything Tarrantino and Rodriguez have done recently, the darn thing had no soul. For more on Sin City, a better analysis and why it’s more programming than movie, go here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401792/usercomments-1000

If you want to see a good movie, and don’t mind subtitles check out the late, great Mambety’s wickedly biting satire HYENAS. Great flick out of Senegal.

WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS

But really I’m not even watching movies, unless I have company over. When in the house by myself,or writing or reading, I’m listing to music or OTR.

OTR? Oh yeah, let me explain. Recently got turned onto Old time radio. What they call the theater of the mind. Radio programs ranging from the 1930s to the 2000s. Stuff like The Shadow and Suspense. Currently listening to a program from nearly 70 years ago called Mysterious Traveler, man that’s some good stuff.

Endlessly listenable.

HATH CHARMS to soothe

As far as the music stuff. Very eclectic here, but some names that rise to the top: Terry Callier (if you have not listened to his African Violet you are missing one of the great songs of all time), Rage against the Machine, Public Enemy, Seal, Bob Dylan, Coltrane, Lenny Kravitz, Solomon Burke, Traci Chapman, Green Day, Everlast, Bob Marley, Awadagin Pratt (great classical pianist),Johnny Cash ( based on one song, his Man in Black),and lots and lots of regional guys the best being Jahiti and Talaam Acey.

Nothing like a screaming crowd

Dig live events. Concerts, plays, openmics, sporting events. I really don’t get into watching sports on tv, with the exception of boxing or mixed martial arts. Some great venues for live music are: 8 by 10 club, Notre Maison, Xando, and An Die Muzik.

Comics Smomics

Comicbook fan from the good old days, before it was cool to like comics. Nowadays every movie is comic based, every hack movie or tv writer or director… wants to write a comic. It’s sickening. That said I still dig the occasional comic book. I’d recommend picking up anything by Kyle Baker, his Nat Turner is getting great buzz),and John Ridley (a true Renaissanse man, director, screenwriter, novelist, writes brilliant pulp fiction in the hard angles of Himes and Thompson) is now doing a comic. But seriously it is good to see comics being seen as a valid form of entertainment for adults. Something other countries have long known.

Pulp Fiction or Literature that Rocks

Currently reading so many books. Ones I’ve finished and highly recommend? Marc Olden’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant, BLACK SAMURAI series from the 70s. Far better than the lackluster, related to the book in name only, Jim Kelly film from the 70s.

Have finished 2 of the eight books in the series, Book 5 The Warlock, and Book 1 Black Samurai. This is a series highly deserving of seeking out. If you’re a fan of other Action books such as THE DESTROYER, MACK BOLAN, etc. you will love Black Samurai. Currently on Book # 3 The Golden Kill. Great stuff.

Marc Olden has done some well known, mainstream novels, and police procedurals since, but nothing comes close to the the kick, fun, pathos, and shear brilliance of his work in this 70s series.

Have just started David Anthony Durham’s PRIDE OF CARTHAGE. The story of Hannibal of Carthage, Hannibal the Great… who took the war to Rome. Just knocked out the first 30 pages, and the language, the descriptions… just lovely, lovely stuff. It puts you there, in an odd removed age, of masterless men.

So that’s a little about me, and the type of things you can be turned onto in these pages. Upcoming entries will bring you info on best podcasts, favorite spoken word artists, my trip to harlem, my first Hot Air Balloon Ride, Spain in summer… during the dying of the light, tales of my ongoing unfinished projects, and interviews with writers and creators I admire.

Have guests coming over so we’ll cut this entry off here.

Want to dedicate this podcast to the great Gordon Parks who recently passed away. The absolute definition of a Renaissance man, writer, director, photographer, painter, poet, cowboy.

May you rest in everlasting peace, but may your energy continue, may it go forth and fill and uplift and inspire a new generation.

If you don’t know the name Gordon Parks, please take the time to learn it (I’ll cover him in more detail in upcoming entries). He has left great, immense shoes to fill, and the world is the poorer for his passing.

Thanks for checking out my site, and talk to you soon.