Mar 15

My Own Private Record Club*

FT110 comments • 5,499 views

boredoms vcn This is a post listing the records I’m listening to for my YEAR OF ROCKISM**, as outlined here (cut and pasted from Tumblr):

I’m going to listen to one album on a once-a-day basis for a week, a different one each week. Not in order to write about them or anything, unless I decide I want to. Just a minor attention-span workout, the listening equivalent of that “20 minutes of brisk exercise daily” or “5 a day” advice. I realised now I don’t review albums any more I’ve got out of that habit of intensive listening, except for Popular, which is done very much with writing as the aim. It would be healthy to get it back, I reckon.

The albums will mostly be a) stuff I already own that b) I know I like but c) have never really given the time they deserve. The listening cycle is Friday to Thursday, until such time as I miss a day, at which point it will shift currently Tuesday to Monday. Albums below:

Week 1 – 16/1/15 – 22/1/15: WU-TANG CLAN – “Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers” (Comments 1-13)
Week 2 – 23/1/15 – 29/1/15: BRIAN ENO – “Music For Films” (Comments 14-15)
Week 3 – 30/1/15 – 5/2/15: SKY FERREIRA – “Night Time, My Time” (Comments 16-20, 58)
Week 4 – 6/2/15 – 12/2/15: MILES DAVIS – “Sketches Of Spain” (Comments 21-56)
Week 5 – 13/2/15 – 19/2/15: LIZ PHAIR – “Exile In Guyville” (Comments 57, 59-67, 70)
Week 6 – 20/2/15 – 26/2/15: FKA TWIGS – “LP1” (Comments 68-69, 71-85)
Week 7 – 27/2/15 – 9/3/15: KANYE WEST – “The College Dropout” (Comments 86-100)
Week 8 – 10/2/15 – 16/2/15: THE BOREDOMS – “Vision Creation Newsun”

*You can talk about the records if you want, of course! You don’t have to, though. This is simply bookkeeping.
**I am not using this word seriously.


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  1. 1
    Andrew Farrell on 23 Jan 2015 #

    My impression on listening through Enter The Wu-Tang again is that I actually remember there being more enthusiasm-killing skits – the dull one at the start of 7th Chamber and the vicious one on Method Man must have left quite an impression.

  2. 2
    Tom on 23 Jan 2015 #

    Yeah I can’t say I’ll miss the stories of red hot coathangers inserted into asses, but I was expecting to find them MUCH more annoying over the course of repeated listens than I did. (The torture one ‘works’ better, in fact – it’s a bunch of guys trying to outdo each other with the wildness and gruesomeness of their imaginations, which is a microcosm of the whole record. The 7th Chamber one is just shit improv acting. I love the “introducing the Clan” one though.)

  3. 4
    Tommy Mack on 23 Jan 2015 #

    I’d say 36 Chambers is probably my favourite rap album of all time and sometimes my favourite album of all time*. I literally never get bored of it and the fact much of it sounds like it was recorded on a dictaphone makes its musical and lyrical prowess all the more astonishing.

    #2: I think my brother and I could recount the ‘torture, motherfucker…’ skit word for word…worryingly enough. In our defense, this was the era of Tarantino, rather than Hostel so there was a more tongue-in-cheek attitude to violence.

    #3: That’s absolutely brilliant. I am absolutely rubbish at telling vocalists apart even when it’s really obvious. Obviously even I can tell when it’s ODB on the mic…

    *I can say this since this is about ROCKISM!

  4. 5
    Mark M on 23 Jan 2015 #

    If that chart is right, that’s a lot of Rza rapping. Far more than I think you’d want, I think, considering that that’s taking time from Gza, Raekwon, Ghost, Meth, ODB…

    Anyway, so yes, 36 Chambers, which I, as previously discussed on Freaky Trigger, notoriously gave only three stars to in Select. It should have been four, definitely four. Not five. I still think it’s more a taster than anything else, and the true Wu goodness lies not in the group albums, but in the best of the ‘solo’ albums (and the first Gravediggaz one). ‘Solo’ because most of them include lots of Wu appearances – Ghostface’s debut, Ironman, says ‘featuring Raekwon and Capadonna’ on the cover. I’ve certainly listened to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Liquid Swords, Niggamortis, the two ODB albums,and a number of Ghostface albums more than I’ve listened to official Wu product.

    Like Tom, I love the introducing the Clan bit.

  5. 6
    Tommy Mack on 23 Jan 2015 #

    Yeah, that’s easily the best skit. ‘cookin’ up some marvelous shit to get yo mouf waterin”, ‘he on some now you see me, now you don’t shit’, ‘he a physcopathic thinker’ and ‘always on point’ have entered my friends’ and my lexicon of phrases probably forever.

    RZA and GZA are Clan bosses, right? With GZA leaning a bit more to the production side? So RZA probably got a free pass on whatever verses he wanted. I heard a story that GZA made the others battle each other to earn their cuts, ensuring a suitably tense, confrontational atmosphere in the studio.

  6. 7
    jeff w on 23 Jan 2015 #

    Project needs a ‘guest selection’ week, where we choose the album ;)

    Seriously tho, good luck with this. I know from my 365 Days project from… blimey nearly 10 years ago now… that maintaining a strict album listening schedule can be challenging.

  7. 8
    Mark M on 23 Jan 2015 #

    Re6: It’s the Rza who’s the producer – and on ETWT:36C he’s pretty much the sole producer. He was definitely the boss at that point. What’s interesting on the album credits is how in progress some of the branding stuff is – it says ‘Wu-Tang Clan is: Prince Rakeem “The Rza”, The Method Man, U-God, Rebel Ins, Shallah Raekwon, Ghost Face Killer, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, & The Genius “The Gza” ‘.

    (Prince Rakeem was the name Rza had used during his unsuccessful, very different pre-Wu solo career.)

  8. 9
    Andrew Farrell on 23 Jan 2015 #

    According to Wikipedia (which agrees with the above chart, but may be from the same source), a lot of the RZA listed there is intros and outros, which makes sense – he’s working as a hype-man, most of the work at the front of Clan At The Front is just listing everyone – including the endless list of hangers-on as well.

  9. 10
    Mark M on 23 Jan 2015 #

    Re9: Yeah, that would make sense.

  10. 11
    tm on 24 Jan 2015 #

    Re:5 I never got into the solo stuff back in the day. I was a really late Wu convert and soon after I got into 36 ch, my brother got The W which was decent but very uneven so I kind of assumed 36ch was a brilliant one off from a group that never quite realised their early potential and fragmented into multiple solo projects. Clearly I was mistaken, I bought Raekwon’s second solo album on vinyl about 10 years ago after someone recommended his solo stuff (a real slow burner, disc 2 much more arresting than disc 1) and recently got into Liquid Swords and …Cuban Linx as jogging music of choice which makes for a suitably moody run when It’s raining…

  11. 12
    Mark M on 24 Jan 2015 #

    Re11: The general rule of thumb seems to be that the debuts are the strongest of the solo albums, with the exceptions being Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale, from 2006, which is my favourite album of the 21st century so far, and apparently Cuban Linx II, which I’ve never heard but got reviews saying it’s every bit the equal of the original.

  12. 13
    Mark M on 24 Jan 2015 #

    Re4: When the Rza is actually rapping, you can normally hear it because he has quite pronounced rhotacism – not something I picked on up from his records but from his acting appearances (here with Gza and Bill Murray). Meth has the biggest voice, Ghost’s has the highest and, I think, most musical voice.

  13. 14
    Garry on 29 Jan 2015 #

    I have Music For Films. I bought it on vinyl at a second hand place in Port Macquarie in late 1998. However my history of record players – or more precisely speakers – is rather dismal: in one case I packed the player up for moving house but cut through the speaker cables when unpacking. I could never find compatible speakers again.

    So I have Music For Films but have not heard it in years. The only thing I can remember is being surprised Phil Collins is on it, well before I found out Collins did a fair few guess appearances on drums around the traps back in the days.

    Looking it up now I’d also forgotten, though am not surprised, by the presence of Fripp, but am pleasantly surprised by John Cale and Fred Firth. I must get the record player working again…

  14. 15
    Tom on 29 Jan 2015 #

    I’m just on my final playthrough of MFF now. Not quite as rewarding as Enter The Wu Tang – the main effect it’s had is a shift in my thinking of it as an album that works mostly on a unified level to one where I appreciate the architecture of each of the miniatures more. But the consequence of that is that its 40 minutes seems a lot LONGER at this end of the week.

  15. 16
    weej on 30 Jan 2015 #

    Surprised you hadn’t listened to the Sky Ferreira record before, it was one of my favourites of 2013. And very judicious cropping of nipples!

  16. 17
    Tom on 30 Jan 2015 #

    This project is basically stuff I’ve listened to, know I enjoy, but have never given the time I’d have liked – I’m not (yet, anyway) chancing it with a completely unheard LP.

    The nipple-free cover is also what shows up on my iPhone, so it matches my listening experience. :)

  17. 18
    swanstep on 30 Jan 2015 #

    @16, Weej. Sky F’s album has been one of my recent faves too although it didn’t appear on my radar until early 2014. In fact, ‘I Will’ was my #1 track last year, and I was briefly obsessed with the vids for the title tack and for ‘You’re Not The One’. She did the latter well on Letterman too, looking every inch the rock-star. I thought she’d break-through more than she has. But I also thought, wrongly, that Charli XCX’s ‘Break The Rules’ was going to be a monster and that War on Drugs were going to be big stars so maybe there just isn’t much interest in or pent up demand among tweens and teens for something even slightly more rock-ish (unless you’re Kanye).

  18. 19
    Tom on 1 Feb 2015 #

    “I Will” is a cracker, isn’t it? Very well placed on the album, too – storming along just as momentum was starting to ebb a bit on Side Two.

  19. 20
    Tom on 5 Feb 2015 #

    Well, that was excellent – I was just starting to get a little bored of it as a whole by the end of the week, so 7 days in a row turned out to be just enough. The only individual track I got sick of was “Kristine” though, with the first half of the LP and “I Will” staying basically gold. She’s terrific at hammering home a line – eg on “Nobody Asked Me” and “I Blame Myself” just to the point where you flinch but not to the point where it stops being a pop record. Great sound, too.

    Next, the token jazz record.

  20. 21
    Izzy on 6 Feb 2015 #

    I’ve never really managed to consider Sketches as jazz at all, to be honest. If it wasn’t by Miles I’d have it down as classical, or preambient or something else made-up instead.

  21. 22

    Well, three of the five cuts are basically classical in origin — composed by Rodrigo, de Falla and Villa-Lobos. The “made-up” genre at the time was known as “third stream”: Gunther Schuller’s term for music combined elements of jazz and classical composition.

  22. 23
    Ed on 6 Feb 2015 #

    For that reason, SOS has always struck me as a bit of an odd record to have as your one token jazz album, although I know it is that for a lot of people.

    Coming to Miles Davis for the first time as a pop and rock fan, I found In A Silent Way (ambient) and On The Corner (drum and bass, sort of) much more accessible.

  23. 24
    Jack Feerick on 10 Feb 2015 #

    When we speak of Sketches as a token jazz album in the collection, I think it’s important to note that it acquired that reputation in the early rock era, before the Beatles made rock’n’roll art, when sophisto-pop ruled the day and groups with guitars were widely considered to be on the way out.

    And in that context, it makes sense—its arrangements (and Gil Evans, I would argue, is the real star of the album, moreso than Miles) bridge the gap between “serious” orchestral music and the heavily-orchestrated pop of the ’50s and early ’60s, e.g. Patsy Cline with an 80-piece string section, or Sinatra’s big bands.

    In that context, Miles (and by extension cool jazz in general) was approachable. The tempos were relaxed; the solos weren’t too aggressive or “out.” And the conceptual hook makes it hang together as an album, which was still something of a novelty in 1960.

  24. 25
    Mark M on 10 Feb 2015 #

    Re21/22/23/24: I guess it’s a question of whether you want your token jazz album to be representative in some way of jazz as a concept, or, on the contrary, to count as jazz but lack the qualities that might be considered off-putting about jazz (eg, noodleiness).

  25. 26
    Ed on 10 Feb 2015 #

    @25 Are there no jazz albums that are representative of the genre but lack its off-putting qualities?

    (Rhetorical question, really. I would say 60s Miles Davis, among others, fits that bill.)

  26. 27
    swanstep on 10 Feb 2015 #

    @Ed, 26. In my experience, early-mid Coltrane is the gold standard. Blue Train and Giant Steps, in particular, are so seductive that no one can resist them. Moreover as soon as you have them in your collection you quickly appreciate why jazz had to start flail around a bit after that. That hard bop sound perfected is so attractive to our ears that it takes a conscious effort to listen to anything else, and for players including Coltrane himself who didn’t want to be trapped in the orbit of that beautiful sound concerted efforts to strike out in new directions would be necessary. BT and GS (and surrounding records) are so *representative* and so *un-offputting* – so *ideal*- that they’re almost dangerous.

  27. 28
    wichitalineman on 10 Feb 2015 #

    I’m intrigued as to why the ‘token jazz’ record is always from the modern jazz era. I understand that the long playing album didn’t come into being until the swing era was virtually over, but it strikes me as weird that people ignore the music’s first 20-odd years and go straight to Miles Davis or John Coltrane.

    I get a lot of enjoyment from Benny Goodman Trio/Quartet radio broadcasts (which are available on LPs) – they have melody, incredible musicianship, improvisation and solos, everything I associate with jazz.

    Seriously, why doesn’t this era – or several eras, really – seem to count?

  28. 29
    Mark M on 10 Feb 2015 #

    Re28: It’s a good question. I’m guessing album-ness is a significant part of the answer. For what it’s worth, from a position of relative ignorance, I massively prefer song-based pre-war and just post-war jazz – Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson, Slim Gaillard…

  29. 30
    Tom on 10 Feb 2015 #

    (I should say that “token jazz record” is me being disingenuous – most of the jazz I’ve actually listened to a lot has been – while no less canonical/obvious than Sketches of Spain – from a little bit later (In A Silent Way, On The Corner, A Love Supreme) or quite a lot earlier (Duke Ellington). Jazz is obviously ideal for this sort of listening project – a lot of great, 40-45 minute albums that definitely give you something new listened to on a daily basis.)

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