I am so glad you started this thread Michael. Excellent title, by the way.
Here is a good chunk-o-stuff for you guys to chew on...
First off:The BEATLES
Best birthday present I ever got. At 8 or 10 years old this album truly opened my ears and then opened my mind... Still one of my absolute favorites.
Back in Detroit (my home town) in the early-mid 80's there was a DJ that was know as The Electrifying Mojo
. He ran a night time radio show on WJLB called The Midnight Funk Association
. Thanks to him (seriously thank you Mojo, wherever that Mothership has taken you) and his series of broadcasts I was introduced to an entire new world of music. Many new worlds actually. He played a consistently good and eclectic mix of songs and not just the singles, he would play tracks from the albums that no one else would touch. I still remember laying in bed with the lights out, watching the lights of my old Technics receiver bounce back and forth, and thinking this is some really good $hit! He played Head
and my teenage mind snapped, I couldn't believe that I was hearing this on the radio!
Rocker by day, Funkatier by night.
By the time I graduated high school I was a full fledged music junky and was heavily into both the Rock and Roll, and Punk scenes. Listening to Led Zeppelin, the Clash, Billy Idol, the Sex Pistols, Adam Ant, Ratt, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Pink Floyd, the Ramones, Dead Kenedys, the Doors, Danzig, Dead Milkmen, Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Blondie, Talking Heads, the Police, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Stray Cats
... and I had begun to develop a very deep appreciation for the F U N K... Parlament/Funkadelic, Gap Band, Kool and the Gang, Prince, Rick James, Earth Wind and Fire...
Even some early Rap had caught my ear with Run DMC, Fat Boys, Doug E. Fresh, Curtis Blow, Beastie Boys, Rob Base
(my first 12" single), Ice-T...
Off to college and I met a whole bunch of people with new (to me) music: Elvis Costello, the Cure, Steely Dan, Bob Marley, REM, Sonic Youth
... filled in some holes in my all ready fairly solid musical base. Not too much changed that first year, nor the second, but the summer after my second year at school I got a job at a record store. A fairly lame chain store that usually existed in a mall, though the location I worked at was a freestanding building in a quaint "town" area. A high-school buddy worked there already and he got me in the door. I think I only worked there for two weeks before I went back to school, but promised to help out during the christmas rush. Back at school, I found I wanted a bit of extra cash, so I bugged the manager at a much hipper record shop just off campus until he hired me. I immediately began to spend my entire paychecks on new music. Over the next couple of months I had been hearing some Jazz in the store that wasn't the cheezy late 80's "smooth jazz" stuff they played on the radio, and i found myself really liking some of it. I asked my Manager to recommend something for me, to get me started. Man, that guy hit the nail on the head! This is the album that he suggested:
WOW!!!!!!! I had to listen to it a few times before I "got" it, but when I did I was hooked. Awesome album. Should be in every collection.
Pretty soon I had turned into a full fledged record store/music snob. If you've ever seen or read the book High Fidelity
you will know what I mean. The author, Nick Hornby, got it spot on.
Somewhere in there I tripped some acid and Jimi Hendrix
took on a whole new meaning, and I became obsessed, buying up everything I could find from him. So too, did the Beatles
, especially their later work from say, Rubber Soul on.
I remember putting a CD out in the rack for the first time that caught my eye. I took about a week before I bought it to take home for a listen and it turned out to be a really good one, that I pushed repeatedly into the hands of the other college kids that wandered into the shop...
I worked there for the rest of the year, and left that school but continued to work at the shop back in the Detroit area.
I think it was that summer (could have been the one before 1988 or 89) that I went to see the band Love and Rockets
perform and saw them get completely blown away by their opening band! I walked in on several thousand heads bobbing in unison to some catchy, aggressive, and haunting punk rock being pumped out by three guys and a girl from Boston. I was immediately sucked in, and went out the very next day to buy their CD. It remains one of my all time favorites.The Pixies - Surfer Rossa
Definitely one of the most influential bands on the sound of Rock and Roll. I was right there for the Grunge of the 90's. Connecting with Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Mudhoney
. But there was something that was missing in Grunge for me. No Funk. I really only realized this right now, but it explains why I found myself listening to a little band from Amsterdam called Urban Dance Squad
, and one from San Francisco called Primus
. And a third band, this one from L.A.
The cover scared the hell out of me, but hinted at the intensity contained within. Another kind of scary CD was introduced to me around the same time that spun me off in a new musical direction... This music had a serious edge that I liked, it also was strongly influenced by Jazz, which continued to take a larger chunk of the shelf space I had for CD's. It had influences from hip-hop, and funk, and poetry? Making it very hard to classify indeed. That disk was this one:
I was now in art school teaching myself how to weld, and helping other students pour molten metal in the university foundry. So all this heavy music made a great soundtrack to that lifestyle.
About this same time I found myself digging deeper and deeper into the James Brown
was releasing some outstanding collections of his music around then, and I was snapping them up as soon as they were released.
About this time I quit the record shop and thought I would see if I could make the music that I loved so much, bought an electric Bass, jammed with friends, got involved in a couple of bands along the way, but nothing really took off. "Life got in the way" as they say.
My CD habit certainly declined through the mid 90's, except for a year or two that I got wrapped up in the emergence of "electronica". First with ambient collections and bands like the Orb
, and then as Trip-Hop, and acid-Jazz evolved I was on board. Most of that stuff is in compilation form, as I would buy "samplers" from the various record labels, like Mo Wax
, and Pussyfoot
. Artists like DJ Shadow, Greyboy, Howie B, Portisehead, The Grassy Knoll
, and The Prunes
were some favorites. The only real standout for me, from this era of my musical evolution, would have to be a laid back, atmospheric, jazz hazzy guy from Japan by the name of DJ Krush
. This CD, his second, is the one that caught my attention:
He remains one of my favorites for just chillin'
I really liked the whole intelligent hip-hop & Jazz fusion that began around this time as well with guys like Guru, MC Solar, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul
(I still like all those guys). The one that I thought did it the best was probably the most short lived, producing only two albums. This is their first:
I think there was some kind of lull in quality of more mainstream music during the late 90's early 00's. While Britney was shakin' her (not so) little butt; making teenie bopper music, and making a killing, my attention turned more heavily toward Jazz. Specifically a particular brand of Jazz/Funk fusion that emerged as "Acid-jazz" became more true Jazz, and a harder edge was put back into the mix, along with the Hard-Bop roots of improvisation. Enter Medeski, Martin, & Wood
. I own the entire catalogue from these guys. They have been around since the early 90's but really hit stride in the middle of them. They have been going strong ever since. They are all really good, so I am not going to highlight one.
They have done numerous side projects, including a couple of albums with John Scofield
. This is where my musical soul survived the somewhat otherwise lean years (of course this is only my opinion).
I really have to mention another outstanding band that shares some similarities with MMW. I only discovered these guys about 4 or 5 years ago, but they have been around since the mid 90's as well: Galactic
. I own their whole catalog as well. Funny thing is I had picked up the first solo release from their drummer Stanton Moore
when it had only been out for a month or so, but it took me a few more years to discover the New Orleans infused jazz/rock/funk/hip-hop/soul of his main gig! As a drummer he is outstanding. The albums under his name are outstanding as well and lean more toward the Jazz/funk side than the stuff with Galactic. Again, all good
so I am not going to single one out.
This is taking a lot longer than I expected... whewww!
Just a couple of years ago a two piece band emerged from my hometown, that you may have heard of: the White Stripes
. I do like them, and used to go see the band the Jack White used to be part of, a Cow-Punk band called Goober and the Peas
. Their shows were a blast by the way. the only reason I mentioned the white stripes is because they opened the doors for some other bands that were ready to burst on the scene with their own form of motor city brewed, low-fi, garage infused, punked up R&B. The most successful of which is the Detroit Cobras
who have a bit of a country twang to their sound. Then there is The Come Ons
, who favor a more danceable sound, and cover obscure old R&B tracks in an infectious way. But my personal favorite to emerge from this scene is The Dirtbombs
. A buddy of mine burned a copy of this album for me, so I could give it a listen (I have since purchased my own copy, plus a few other CDs by all three bands I mentioned here) and that one remains my favorite out of this crop:
Last but not least, I have been delving back into the Funk again, and digging up some roots. This is a "greatest hits" collection that I recently purchased because the band came up as a recommendation on Pandora, or Last.fm while I was listening to my Transporter. I have to say this is an excellent collection of songs, if you like that 70's funk thang. It is so good that it makes me wish I would have just bought the albums instead.
Of course there is a lot more music that I have gone through, and listen to but this is a basic sketch of my musical evolution.
Thats it for now, but I am thinking I may have to post an "album of the day/week" or something. Can't wait to see what you guys come up with.