Friday, March 28, 2008

Dionne Farris - Signs of Life

If I were picking my top ten albums of the 90s, 1994's Wild Seed - Wild Flower by Dionne Farris would place high on that list. The solo debut for the former Arrested Development singer opens with "I Know," the massive hit single that spent seven months in the top ten. Then it's one great song after another right to the end, spanning pop, rock, soul, funk and folk. Fourteen years after it's release I still listen to this album all the time, and her tender acoustic version of "Blackbird" is still my all-time favorite Beatles cover. Farris had a had another hit a few years later with "Hopeless," which appeared on the Love Jones soundtrack. Then she did a bit of a disappearing act. I have been dying to hear what was coming next from this engaging artist, but as the years passed a follow-up album was looking less and less likely.

Dionne Farris was on my mind today after I read a review for Randy Jackson's Music Club. (I know, as if I'd ever buy that!) Turns out the American Idol judge played bass for Farris on Wild Seed - Wild Flower and here he is looking goofy as all hell in her Hopeless video. I hadn't googled her in a while and wondered what she was up to. First Wikipedia told me she's working on a new album and is currently under the expert management of Matthew Knowles, Beyoncé's Svengali/father. Yikes, hope that works out okay! Then I find her blog and whaddaya know, she just released an album!!! It's called Signs of Life.
I am beside myself with anticipation. I paid for it, then got an email saying I'd receive a download link when my payment was processed- in about four days! I used PayPal, for crying out loud, why do I have to wait that long?

Oh well. Meanwhile I'll listen to the new tracks steaming on her MySpace and enjoy the video for "Baggage," also new to me though it came out in December.

Listening to: Dionne Farris - Now or Later

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Few Old Memories

The theme for this month's FTOTZ mix is nostalgia.

1. Bent - Memories
2. Sam Phillips - Taking Pictures
3. High Contrast - The Ghost of Jungle Past
4. Elton and Betty White - Climaxation is a Sweet Sensation
5. Dolly Parton - A Few Old Memories
6. Erykah Badu - That Hump
7. Shelby Lynne - Just A Little Lovin'
8. George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars - Butt-a-Butt
9. Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman - I Dream of a Past Love
10. Elton and Betty White - The Little Dicks Fit Me Best
11. The 13th Floor Elevators - Splash 1
12. Wagon Christ - Memory Towel
13. Minnie Riperton - Memory Band
14. Sheila E. - Faded Photographs
15. The Shangri-Las - Past, Present and Future
16. Armand Van Helden - I Want Your Soul ft. Siedah Garrett
17. Millie Jackson - The Memory of a Wife
18. Nu:Tone - All Over the World ft. Rose Windross
19. Elton and Betty White - I'd Really Rather Not Have Oral Sex
20. Fred Wolff Combo - Somebody Else Was Suckin' My Dick Last Night
21. Dolly Parton - 9 To 5 (Thee Werq'n B!tches Happy Hour At Charlie's Mix)

Whimsical electronic duo Bent hail from Nottingham, UK. "Memories" appeared on their acclaimed 2000 debut Programmed to Love.

When I first read about this month's theme I immediately thought of Sam Phillips' "Taking Pictures" and its lyric, "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." From her 2001 album Fan Dance.

Cardiff, UK-based drum & bass wunderkind Lincoln Barrett a.k.a. High Contrast is a DJ, producer and label owner. "The Ghost of Jungle Past" can be found on 2007's Tough Guys Don't Dance.

Homeless couple Elton and Betty White honed their singular brand of sexually explicit outsider funk performing as street musicians in Little Rock, AR. They later moved to Venice Beach, CA, starred in their own award-winning cable access hit and made several TV talk show appearances. The tracks included here appear on their album Sex Beyond the Door, date unknown. RIP Betty, and may all the men in heaven have little dicks.

Dolly Parton covered the Hazel Dickens tearjerker "A Few Old Memories" on her 1999 bluegrass revival album The Grass is Blue.

"That Hump" appears on Erykah Badu's amazing new release, New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War. I have played this album on endless repeat ever since it has been out.

"Just A Little Lovin'" is the title track from Shelby Lynne's new Dusty Springfield tribute album. Not to be missed.

What is a booty, and how would I know if I'm shaking it? It's a musical question that perhaps only George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars could answer. "Butt-a-butt" is from their 2005 disc How Late Do U Have 2 B B 4 U R Absent?

Child violin prodigy Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman was mild-mannered podiatrist by day and thereminist by night. He brought an instrument known mainly among classical music circles into the mainstream, working with Les Baxter and on the soundtrack to Hitchcock's Spellbound. "I Dream of a Past Love" can be found on the Hoffman retrospective Waves in the Ether: The Magical World of the Theremin.

The term psychedelic rock may have been coined to describe The 13th Floor Elevators, a Texas garage rock band who moved to San Francisco and became one of the first proponents of the sound. Their more tender, ballad-oriented side is in evidence on "Splash 1," from The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators.

Wagon Christ a.k.a. Luke Vibert is a British producer of genre-hopping electronica. "Memory Towel" is from his 1998 album Tally Ho!

Best known for her hit "Loving You," Minnie Riperton was also the lead singer for Rotary Connection, one of my favorite psychedelic soul acts. "Memory Band" is from her 1970 solo debut Come to my Garden and pairs the sort of trippy-dippy lyrics I can't get enough of with some Bacharach-on-ecstasy production that must be heard to be believed.

"Faded Photographs" is one of a handful of tracks not produced by Prince on Sheila E.'s epononymous third album and it sounds roughly like someone plugged every bad eighties rock cliché they could think of into ProTools and pressed play. But it's Sheila, it has a nice melody and it takes me right back to summer 1987, so I still love it.

"Past, Present and Future" proves that once a group has racked up enough hits, they can record themselves reading bad teenage poetry over a timeworn classical chestnut and people will still buy it. From The Best Of The Shangri-Las.

Armand Van Helden's freestyle flashback "I Want Your Soul" samples Siedah Garrett and appeared on his 2007 album Ghettoblaster.

"The Memory of a Wife" has all the hallmarks of a great Millie Jackson tune: dramatic spoken word passages, scorching soul vocals and biting humor. From her second adultery-themed concept album, Still Caught Up.

Nu:Tone is Dan Gresham, a UK drum'n'bass artist. "All Over the World" features the vocal stylings of Rose Windross and can be heard on his 2005 debut Brave Nu World.

There's not much info on the web about the mysterious Fred Wolff Combo, but Brownsville Station's Cub Koda is rumored to be involved. "Somebody Else Was Suckin' My Dick Last Night" is a perennial favorite on raunchy blues comps. I heard it first on If It Ain't A Hit, I'll Eat My... The Dirtiest Of Them Dirty Blues.

We close with another gratuitous Dolly inclusion, "9 To 5 (Thee Werq'n B!tches Happy Hour At Charlie's Mix)." Wait, did I say gratuitous? Silly me. One can never get too much Dolly! If you agree, head over to Thee Werq'n B!tches and you'll hear his remix of "You Drive Me Crazy," Dolly's new Fine Young Cannibals cover.

Thanks to Annabelle at Pastoral Dreams for graciously allowing me to use her lovely mosaic for my cover art, and to all the included photographers. Photo credits: - Old Gothic Mansion, Sepia Slumber - Artwork of Old Roses in Sepia - German Glass Glitter, Sparkles Like Diamonds Cherubs in Czech Republic - key - Forget - window project, window crystals - Arret Sur Image, Retro rose - Vintage Freebie 10, Sanctuary Fatbook

download A Few Old Memories

Listening to: Minnie Riperton - Memory Band