Shot Of Rhythm

[ Saturday, October 21, 2006 ]


The man behind the curtain

Timbaland's had a helluva year, even considered among his decade-long run of artistic and commercial success. He produced two of 2006's best pop albums - Nelly Furtado's LOOSE and Justin Timberlake's FUTURESEX/LOVESOUNDS - off of which came, respectively, one of the summer's biggest singles (Furtado's "Promiscuous Girl") and fall's hottest tracks (JT's "Sexyback"). It comes as no surprise to me that, on each of these songs, Timbaland's rumbling, insistent vocals help complement his lead singer's theatrics. I've long felt that Tim is an underrated singer/rapper, particularly since his own solo records are polluted by the absurd wack-ery of Magoo, one of the weakest MCs to appear on major-label rap records in recent years. Timbaland's seductive growl and surprisingly nimble flow, characterizes much of his most popular work, yet he himself has yet to get significant performance props.

And that's too bad, since - as the tracks below hopefully demonstrate - he's worth the praise. His early work with Missy Elliot sometimes took the form of Otis-and-Carla-style duets between the two, on which the funky/freaky MCs from both sides of the gender line traded verses over the skittering beats. This strong, sexy tag-team of eccentrics should make a duet record together; think what they could do with a hip-hop version of the "Hound Dog"/"Bear Cat" debate...

"I'll Be Around," which Tim produced for Cee-Lo (himself having a banner year, and it's about damn time), is another playful demonstration of the producer's percolating artwork. Tim's verse is about his best rhyme yet laid on wax, and it's another reason why the track should've been a huge hit. Ah, well; they'll get 'em next time. (Or, maybe, they got 'em this time...)

Then, of course, there's Ms. Furtado's recent hit. It makes sense that Timbaland's next project is producing a new Duran Duran album, since - as both Furtado and Timberlake show - Tim's brand of pop/R&B music sounds so much like the future because of its creative reclamation of the synth-pop and Minneapolis sound of the "Me Decade" within a post-hip-hop alchemy. Even more than the previous cuts, Tim's vocals on this song's hook - to me - are a major reason why this was a hit, and one of its best elements.

Somebody get this guy a solo deal, tell Magoo to stay home (or at least off the tracks), and let one of music's most creative minds fully explore his many stylistic interests.

Missy Elliott (feat. Timbaland) - "Whatcha Gon Do"

Cee-Lo (feat. Timbaland) - "I'll Be Around"

Nelly Furtado (feat. Timbaland) - "Promiscuous Girl"

On the box right now: Hi-Tek, HI-TEKNOLOGY 2.


Dove With Claws [11:30 AM]

[ Wednesday, October 18, 2006 ]


For he's a jolly good fellow...

As those of y'all who've been checking out Living In Stereo are well aware, today is Chuck Berry's 80th birthday. While David Cantwell and company (including yours truly) have been giving you an industrial-size dose of Mr. Berry's life and art, I figured I couldn't let the occasion pass without throwing in some tracks.

I figured I'd spotlight one of the least appreciated moments in Berry's career, 1979's ROCKIT album, which - just re-released - is wearing very well with age. Awash in country textures, and with Berry's verbal wit as keen as ever, the songs on ROCKIT are a surprisingly vital bunch. I include "Move It," "Wuden't Me" and "I Never Thought" because (apart from being great tracks), they display Berry's continuing interest in issues of race and power. "Oh What A Thrill" is simply a great track, later covered by Berry disciple Dave Edmunds on Rockpile's only band album.

Happy birthday, sir...many more...

"Move It"

"Oh What A Thrill"

"I Never Thought"

"Wuden't Me"

On the box right now: Vince Gill, THESE DAYS, Disc 1.


Dove With Claws [5:06 PM]

[ Sunday, October 15, 2006 ]


We tip our hat

Freddy Fender died today. One of the great, unique American singing voices, with a career that stretched from the rockabilly/conjunto days, right up until only a few years ago. Here's two of his big hits, plus one of my absolute favorite Fender vocals, from his time with Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornadoes.

Adios, Senor Huerta...

"Before The Next Teardrop Falls"

"Wasted Days And Wasted Nights"

"In My Mind" (w/Texas Tornadoes)

On the box right now: John Legend, ONCE AGAIN.


Dove With Claws [8:50 PM]