Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Supergroup, the Power
Trio, and Polly Jean

Dungeon Family, Even in Darkness, Arista [2001]

They don't use our music
to get high / They use
our music to get by.
-- Dungeon Family, "Follow the Light"

Ever wonder what would happen if Outkast joined forces with their Atlanta counterparts, like Goodie Mob? If so, you've probably already given this disc a spin. Well, another chart-topping duo, Gnarls Barkley, has me digging through the Cee-Lo Green archives for more treasures to excavate. (Even in Darkness also pre-dates Outkast's phenomenal Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.)

As with Parliament-Funkadelic, many players make up this supergroup. Fourteen may be a crowd, but the music isn't as messy as that number indicates. There are some great P-Funk-style jams here, like "Trans DF Express" and "Follow the Light." There's also a fair amount of filler, but it all goes down pretty easy.

Since I'm not familiar with the other acts (Organized Noize, et al), I can't say how this one-off compares. All I know is that I like Big Boi, André 3000, and Cee-Lo, and I like Dungeon Family, too.

Sadies, Tales of the Rat Fink, Yep Roc [original soundtrack]

Known to back Neko Case on occasion, Vancouver trio the Sadies bash out the rockin' score for Tales of the Rat Fink, which was released earlier this year. You don't have to be a soundtrack aficionado to dig it, however, as they've designed the disc as a stand-alone effort, with every number named after a venue they've visited: the Borderline, the Bottom of the Hill--even Seattle's own Crocodile. There are 26 zippy tracks all together.

The clubs may have little to do with Ron Mann's Ed "Big Daddy" Roth documentary, but it's still a cool idea. If I didn't know otherwise, I'd swear these instrumentals were recorded in the 1960s. They sound like Link Wray jamming with the Ventures combined with a few hot rod and buzzing fly sound effects.

Please click here for my review of the Tales of the Rat Fink DVD.

PJ Harvey, The Peel Sessions: 1991-2004, Island

John's opinion mattered to me. More than I would ever care
to admit, for fear of embarrassment on both sides, but I sought his approval always. It mattered. Every Peel Session I did,
I did FOR HIM. It is with much love that I chose these songs,
in his memory. A way of saying "Thank you" once more.
-- PJ Harvey's Peel Sessions liner notes

What distinguishes the true artist from the workaday model is that artists take risks. PJ Harvey's debut, Dry, knocked me out, and I secretly hoped she'd make the same album over and over again. That's not what artists do. And I haven't embraced everything she's done, but I always respect the effort, because it comes from the heart. Since Harvey eschews trends, her music will never date, like this 12-track collection, which celebrates her career as much as that of the BBC's John Peel. The late DJ features prominently in the CD packaging. Clearly, the admiration was mutual.

As for the sessions, they stem from 1991, 1993, 1996, 2000, and 2004. The final selection, "You Come Through," was recorded in tribute to Peel, while the only cover is a fiery version of Willie Dixon's "Wang Dang Doodle," which is also the highlight. The Peel Sessions may be less essential than Dry or Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, but it's a fine overview of a remarkable artist.

Please click here for my review of the PJ Harvey DVD,
On Tour: Leave Quietly.

Note: Image from the AMG (Jonnathan Mannion), video from YouTube. Still to come: The Grey Album and Cee-Lo solo.

No comments: