I've got a ream of bad album covers full of old school racism like this one, but I thought after the uncomfortableness of the Millie Jackson Incident, I'd ease us into this world with Anna Russell's anthropological exploration of deepest, darkest Africa.
You probably can't make this out from the blog photo, but the album is a recording taken from the heart of native African culture -- the Johannesburg Folk Festival -- and made right at the heart of that most authentic of African customs, apartheid! In case you doubt the true African vibes of this album, be sure to check out songs like "How to Enjoy Your Bagpipe" and "Backwards with the Folk Song." Such is the white man's burden, my friends.
Anyway, the appearance of Mrs. Howell in a Lipton's Cup-of-Soup can only mean that once again it's time for the Friday Random Ten. Take out your iTunes or imitationTunes, set it to random, and give us the first ten songs that come out. No cheating -- if it lands on schlock, you've got to take the hit. If you'd like to play the advanced version, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.
1. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, "Handle with Care" -- These ladies are the darlings of the indie pop set right now, but I've never really understood the charm. Perhaps a cover of the Traveling Wilburys isn't the best standard for judgment though. Still, pfffft. 3/10
2. Louis Jordan, "Reet, Petite, and Gone" -- There's something irresistable about Jordan's slick 1940s swing, and this song is certainly no exception. The opening guitar is a classic bit of Decca jazz, and it just builds from there. Reet indeed. 8/10
3. Cat Stevens, "Here Comes My Baby" -- One of my favorite songs from the Jihad Formerly Known as Cat Stevens. Incredibly catchy and upbeat music, with some sweet Eastern guitar sounds, paired with lyrics that seem to be coming from a would-be stalker. 7/10
4. Ike and Tina Turner, "Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter" -- The title pretty much says it all. 9/10
5. Nick Drake, "River Man" -- This song should come with a warning label attached: "Do Not Listen to this Song While Operating Heavy Machinery." I normally like Drake's mellowness, but this one was apparently recorded while he was self-medicating with thorazine. 5/10
6. The Hold Steady, "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" -- Fairly familiar rock from Brooklyn. This is a new acquisition, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. So far, I'm a little unimpressed. 6/10
7. Esquivel, "Mini Skirt" -- Esquivel was the undisputed king of "bachelor pad music," a cheeky combination of sound effects and vibraphone that -- in theory -- would enable even the squarest of early '60s squares to get friendly with the ladies. I'm pretty sure you also needed a state-of-the-art HiFi, a working knowledge of modern art, and some Panther Musk cologne to pull it off, but the music was the key. 7/10
8. The Tragically Hip, "Long Time Running" -- Here's one that should please Malibu Stacy and all her fellow Canucks. A nice spare-sounding tune off Road Apples, with a plaintive alt-country feel to it. Pretty damn nice. 8/10
9. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, "Nansi Imali" -- Oh, the ironies of this coming up with Anna Russell's cover above. While this tune isn't the finest LBM stuff, the compilation series it comes from -- The Indestructible Beat of Soweto -- is well worth your time if you're interested in actual African music. If you want bagpipe songs from the JoBurg Folk Festival, though, you know where to go. Hell. 6/10
10. Cut Chemist, "Bunky's Pick" -- This is a seven-minute feat of DJing strength, one in which the turntablist from Jurassic 5 ratchets up the level of difficulty by working solely with old '60s R&B singles rather than the easier-to-spin long 12" discs that most DJs use. The technical proficiency is amazing, but the music that results is brilliant too. This is available on the Funky 16 Corners compilation, but if you can find it, check out the full-length disc Brainfreeze instead. There, Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow do the same thing, but in longer unbroken 25 minute mixes. Stunning. 10/10
Alright, the strong finish there manages to raise my average slightly, but I still finish with a mediocre 6.9 overall. Once again, I have brought dishonor to this blog.
Let's see what you've got. Throw your own random ten in the comments below, with or without the self audit.