BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD "Kahuna Sunset" Ever peeped the Squires tracks that led off the big Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 box? The Squires were Neil's first real band, when he was like 19 years old, and though the rest of the group never made it out of Canada, they were pretty damn good back then around Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. Check out "I Wonder" (later remade and rocked up for the Zuma LP as "Don't Cry No Tears") and killer surf instrumentals "Aurora," "The Sultan," and "Mustang," dreams of the Pacific Ocean via the north coast of Lake Superior. The table was set for a track like "Kahuna Sunset," an outtake from 3 or 4 years later, another surf exotica Martin Denny-riffic instrumental, recorded by Neil's later and better-known band Buffalo Springfield. Some of his pet 1970s chord changes are sneaking in there if you pay attention.
ROYAL TRUX "Vile Child" Might be my favorite single Royal Trux track. It was recorded during the Twin Infinitives sessions, and sure sounds like it was, harsh and severe rock concrète, with a genuinely unsettling croaking chant for a chorus. Nonetheless, it wasn't intended for Infinitives, but commissioned for a concurrent 7" EP sponsored by and released with the seventh issue of Bananafish magazine, which is where I discovered the track a good 20 years ago, then bearing the extremely improbable title "Theme Elementary School Psycho (Ax in Y Bad Boy BBM)," and sounding particularly terrifying crawling out of those Bananafish-curated grooves, sequenced next to last among recurring excerpts from a "live exorcism" by Bob Larson, glorious shrieking noise by Hijokaidan, possibly even weirder sound collage by Felipe X. Milstein, a distant ringing progressive electric bass guitar solo by Anne Eickelberg of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, and I think even more madness. All on a single 7-inch! Pretty life changing record for me, actually. You can find "Vile Child" there, or on the Singles, Live, Unreleased box set on Drag City.
PRINCE "Witness (4 The Prosecution)" I know he was a super-talented genius who constantly wrote and recorded music, but I still sometimes sacrilegiously suspect that "the vaults" are not quite what they're hyped up to be... my hunch is that the really great non-album tracks from the 80s all ended up on that amazing run of B-sides from roughly 1982 to 1989... "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?," "Irresistible Bitch," "17 Days," "Erotic City" (!!), "God," "Another Lonely Christmas" for chrissakes (no pun intended), "She's Always In My Hair," "Hello," "Girl," "♥ or $," "Alexa De Paris," "La, La, La, He, He, Hee," "Shockadelica," "Scarlet Pussy"... damn. The truth is, his B-sides started falling off around Lovesexy and especially Batman, and honestly I've yet to hear leaked stuff, even the bonus tracks on the recent Purple Rain deluxe reissue, that are necessarily on the level of that original B-side run... but I just came across this unreleased 1986 track "Witness (4 The Prosecution)" and it is a killer, Prince in stripped-down heavy guitar mode, still funky as hell, taking a torch to the already-hot post-Hendrix continuum of high-level heavy black funk rock. (Oops, just found another really good vault song, a short fragile fairytale ballad from 1992 called "Be My Mirror"... and I'm well aware that Prince's vast and disorderly post-namechange work, both released and unreleased, is really begging for a deep dive in general, one that I may never muster the fortitude to undertake...)
SONIC YOUTH "Little Trouble Girl" Another #veryheavy song, which is par for the course when this blog's entire raison d'etre is #heavymusicinallstylesandvolumes. Kim Deal's girl-group double lead vocal is such a good 'indie rock guest appearance' move, while Kim Gordon's lyrics get into some deep fissures of adolescent feeling. She can't help but be a little arch and camp, but that's just one of her primary performance delivery systems, and sure it speaks to how we filter our emotion through pop representation. Either way, the emotion is very much there, and that's what matters."I'm sorry mother, I'd rather fight than have to lie," for example.
TERRY CALLIER "You Don't Care" Beeeeyoooootiful melancholy big city orchestral R&B chant/lament/ballad/interstitial/closer, arranged & conducted by Chicago legend Charles Stepney, the perfect soundtrack for the gauzily lit love scene in a blaxploitation flick from the 70s that you're watching on VHS in the 90s in your mind.
RHYTHM & SOUND "Aerial" and "History Version" The time is always right for a 9-minute Rhythm & Sound track to come up on shuffle...
MILTON NASCIMENTO "Carlos, Lucia, Chico e Tiago" A really lovely dark brooding track from Nascimento's 1973 album Milagre dos Peixes, described by obscure music review site Amazon.com as "one of Milton Nascimento's most experimental albums." This is a haunting wordless falsetto ballad, beautifully sung by Nascimento and played by Brazilian jazz musicians blowing lovely, including the wild percussion of Nana Vasconcelos (who was later to form lowkey blastifave Codona with Don Cherry).
DELMA LACHNEY & BLIND UNCLE GASPARD "La Danseuse" Just as pretty and still-danceably melancholy as an instrumental fiddle tune from 1929 is gonna get.
ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS "Berd Guhrl" Such a great album, holding up heavily twelve years later. Also, here's an exquisite 2006 live version of this song.
LORD FINESSE "Check the Method" Great great track from 1996, I'm listening to the version DJ Premier mixed into his Crooklyn Cuts tape, which is even better than the (linked) original, with that magic Premier dust sprinkled all over it. Man, this is good. "I don't front like a man on a high horse/but yo, I make more noise than July 4th." Also, the way Premier ridiculously cuts up Finesse's "Aw fuck it, my shit be flowin' like springwater" reminds me of this time last summer at the basketball court, during a full-court pickup game... a guy was bringing the ball up court and a pesky defender was pressuring him, so he crossed him up not once, not twice, but THREE times (the third time was just to be hilarious).
JIMMY GIUFFRE "Present Notion" Weird experience to be in the middle of one of my semi-annual AACM-and-related binges and then Free Fall by Jimmy Giuffre comes up on the shuffle, and for a minute I'm like, "Is this Roscoe Mitchell?"
THE GREAT UNWASHED "What Happened Ray?" Was David Kilgour as high when he recorded this track as I feel now listening to it? How does his voice sometimes sound like a guitar played by an e-bow? Or is that indeed a guitar played by an e-bow, overdubbed and blending with his voice? What kind of a chorus refrain is the line "And your world has vanished" over and over? I have no answers for this otherworldly track; there's a reason Flying Nun originals from 1983 are selling for over a hundred bucks.
KEVIN AYERS AND THE WHOLE WORLD "Lunatic's Lament" Always good to go Shooting at the Moon.
J.J. CALE "River Runs Deep" One of the slightly deeper drum machine cuts from J.J.'s masterpiece Naturally. Forecast most definitely calls for breezy.
J.J. CALE "Crying Eyes" A deeper cut still, but a huge hit in this household, this is Naturally's honey-sweet closer.