To check out the Muxtape phenomenon, where anyone can upload up to twelve songs for the listening enjoyment of the cyberworld at large, I made a mix of songs by artists who will be performing at Bonnaroo Music Festival. See the complete list of bands from which I chose here.
Listen to the Stella Splice Bonnaroo Muxtape
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Nobody’s Baby 2:28 100 Days, 100 Nights 2007
Little Feat – That’s A Pretty Good Love 4:49 Ain’t Had Enough Fun 1995
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Rich Woman 4:05 Raising Sand 2007
Levon Helm – False Hearted Lover Blues 3:30 Dirt Farmer 2007
Drive-By Truckers – Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife 3:06 Brighter Than Creation’s Dark 2008
My Morning Jacket – Golden 4:58 12.1.06 @ the electric factory, philadelphia 2006
The Swell Season – Into the Mystic (Van Morrison cover) 5:05 NPR 2007
Jack Johnson – Rodeo Clowns 2:52 Live From Bonnaroo 2002
Rogue Wave – Lake Michigan 3:48 Asleep at Heaven’s Gate 2007
Iron and Wine – White Tooth Man 3:57 The Shepard’s Dog 2007
José González – Down the Line 3:11 In Our Nature 2007
CRS (Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Pharrell) – Us Placers 3:54 2007
Filed under Festival, Shows
Last week the Michael Jackson empire rolled out Thriller 25, a remastered anniversary edition of the best selling album EVER. It includes a bonus track recorded with in the original studio sessions but previously unreleased, titled For All Time, plus some songs reworked by artists inlcuding will.i.am, Fergie, Beyonce, Wyclef Jean, Akon, and Pharrell Williams. You can buy it here, if you want to assure yourself the cover art of your choosing, or here where you cans stream clips of the new songs to judge them for yourself.
The video here pimping Thriller 25 features some of the artists and Quincy Jones; it’s fun to watch.
The reviews are mixed, but the general consensus is that the new songs look pretty bad next to the nine tracks that the world knows so well. Gimmicks? Sure. But I’m strangely comfortable with it; I’m just glad they’re reason enough for another generation to get on board.
The best bonus of all on the 25 is hearing Vincent Price’s maniacal laugh: “Michael Jackson is the Thriller. Can you dig it? Ha ha ha….!”
Also, it’s imperative you watch MJ’s 1984 Grammys performance of Billie Jean on YouTube. Rolling Stone hails that song’s influential pop brilliance thus: “Madonna made her own version of ‘Billie Jean,’ retitled ‘Like a Virgin.’ Stevie Nicks called her version ‘Stand Back,’ Pat Benatar called hers ‘Love Is a Battlefield.’ Bob Dylan called his ‘Tight Connection to My Heart.’ Yet none of them could touch the original.”
I nearly purchased the American Gangster soundtrack a couple of times since seeing the Denzel Washington/Russell Crowe flick at the drive-in movie theater, but when I visit InSound to do so, they scare me off with their assessment that the disc is “An entirely fitting companion piece to the movie, but certainly not on the endlessly playable level of the Dead Presidents soundtrack discs.” And I have them, so why would I need this. Well, I’m beginning to make up my own mind on this matter.
The American Gangster soundtrack is not to be confused with Jay-Z’s album with the same title (preview all the songs here) that was inspired by the movie. Jay-Z’s is a concept album, and each track comes directly from a scene. He played the film in the background while recording. There’s also an a cappella version of the Jay-Z album for the DJs to mess around with, as usual. That’s all very interesting, but I’d actually prefer an instrumental-only version. The hooks are what keep me listening to Jay-Z, not his lyrics; for instance, in Soul Sides’ post of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, the Dap-Kings are on the instrumentals, and I wish Jay-Z would just be quiet. Similarly, his business savvy is what keeps me following him in the news, not necessarily his rhymes (as is the case with lots of other rap stars).
Antony Hamilton singing Do You Feel Me (download it at Soul Sides or stream it at Def Jam), the featured song in the movie, is great. It was written by Diane Warren, and also relies on the Dap-Kings for the groove. Sometimes I think I’d like Hamilton’s vocals to be more silky, but it doesn’t stop me from listening. He convicts me with the line: “And you like to keep keepin’ me.” I think I keep him because the vocals sound like a man is singing them. There’s a bit of falsetto, but it’s not gratuitous, not like Pharrell Williams, who’s an interesting cat (The Neptunes) with a nice sound, but it’s certainly not manly when he sings.
The producer of the Hamilton single is Hank Shocklee, and he talks about the process in an interview here. I like that he used the Dap-Kings (of the we-may-have-backed-her-but-we-ain’t-no-Amy-Winehouse ’cause-we-been-doin’-this-for-a-long-time-and-ain’t-nobody-been-listenin’ Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings) as his session band and recorded at Daptone Records with old (“vintage”) equipment. Shocklee, famous at first for his work with Public Enemy, said, “the thing that I thought was most amazing was me actually working with live musicians again. I think that is an art that has been lost. Everybody is more drum machine and sample-oriented now.” I hope it moves Shocklee and the music he influences in a little different direction.
The final assessment is I think I talked myself into the Hamilton solo album rather than the American Gangster soundtrack … review coming soon.