[ Friday, October 27, 2006 ]
John Phillips' first solo record, THE WOLFKING OF L.A., was recently reissued, and its long-held hype as something of a hidden/forgotten gem seems well justified. Released just after the break-up of The Mamas and Papas, cut with a bunch of LA studio pros at the late-1960s height of their powers, WOLFKING has that woozy, ethereal feel and post-Byrds-and-Beach-Boys "California sound" that had such a brief, wonderful moment at the turn of that decade, before the Laurel Canyon malaise set in and the best parts of the hippie dream gave up, ceding control to the culture's darker, more self-indulgent elements. Phillips himself, while certainly an unqualifiably good-to-great songwriter, also finds himself in fine voice on this collection, finding the best and richest parts of his admittedly limited vocal palette, and weaving those already-wearied tones around a bunch of subtle, intricate songs, character portraits and scene studies that capture the late-60s in all their melancholy bliss, with every fractured angel and each glorious decay. In another universe, WOLFKING could've been held up as part of country-rock's founding canon, thanks in no small part to the unsurprisingly wonderful playing of rock 'n' roll guitar genius James Burton, in between gigs playing with Rick Nelson, Elvis Presley and about 500 other fine folks. While it's probably not a classic on a level with SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO, BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD AGAIN or GILDED PALACE OF SIN, it's only one step down, ranking with the better efforts by Poco, Parsons, early Eagles, or the particularly simpatico solo work of Mike Nesmith.
Another diamond in the rough..."April Ann""Malibu People""Mississippi"
On the box right now: John Legend, ONCE AGAIN. Sounds better with every listen...
Dove With Claws [10:06 PM]
[ Wednesday, October 25, 2006 ]
I'm absolutely loving the new Rhino Records boxed set, WHAT IT IS: FUNKY SOUL AND RARE GROOVES, four discs' worth of prime soul, funk and jazz cuts from the heyday of the pocket. As with most Rhino sets, the entirety of the package is excellent, from the liner notes (some by our friend Oliver Wang, from over at Soul Sides
) to the song selection, which is mainly rare or obscure stuff. Here are four of my favorites, among many potential choices. Particularly noteworthy is "I'm Just Like You," a supple bit of bedroom country-funk from 6ix, AKA Sly Stone in the heart of his isolated-genius period.
Get sanctified...Cold Grits - "It's Your Thing"6ix (Sly Stone) - "I'm Just Like You"King Curtis - "Ridin' Thumb"LaBelle - "Moon Shadow"
On the box right now: John Phillips, THE WOLFKING OF LA. More on this very soon.
Dove With Claws [10:04 PM]