31 March 2015, No. 65, Skull Snaps, ‘It’s a New Day’

I rarely pay much attention to the lyrics of songs unless they really jump out or happen to incorporate the song’s title. I recall melodies accurately but not lyrics. And no one ever pays much attention to the lyrics of the Skull Snaps cut that comes in at No. 65. In fact, people rarely even reference the name of the tune or anything that happens after its sixth second. They just call it “the Skull Snaps break” and move on. In this case it may be because the lyrics are odd. They seem like a tongue-in-cheek exhortation to patience in the face of the Civil Rights Movement…in 1973. “In God we trust / Don’t make a fuss / Just step to the back of the bus.” Actually, I suspect they’re talking to white people who were new to the whole “back of the bus” thing, telling them to chill out, maybe. Doesn’t matter anyway; the drums are what matters. Disregard lyrics; loop drums. Make every hip-hop song ever. “It’s a New Day,” and a better day is coming.

30 March 2015, No. 64, Reverso 68, ‘Piece Together (Todd Terje Spinning Star Mix)’

Have we had Todd Terje’s work on the list yet? No. This is the first one at No. 64, but there will be more. Terje’s Norwegian, and his name is an homage to Todd Terry (whom we’ll hear at No. 76, I think [edit: nope]). Terje makes good music, good edits, and good remixes. This “spinning star mix” of Reverso 68’s tune “Piece Together” does have kind of a cosmic, “spinning star” feel in places, whatever that means. Lots of hissing white noise and gongs and reverb in the background, swelling and dissipating with the changes in the song, like one imagines the burning gases swirl in and around a star. Sometimes I think attempts to describe music are pointless (just go listen to the tune, already), but I suppose other times it’s not so bad. The urge to red-pen all that star stuff is strong, though…so just go listen to the tune already.

29 March 2015, No. 63, Kenny Raw, ‘The Next Hustle’

I didn’t think I’d be able to bring this tune for you, but it looks like the folks over at Myspace have left up all that music we posted pre-2008 or whenever the world switched over. So we’ve got another Kenny Raw jawn coming in at No. 63. I couldn’t spoil this one for you if I wanted to—not without a little research, anyway. No idea what the source track is. The edit is called “The Next Hustle,” though, so maybe there’s a clue there for all you intrepid sample-source sleuths.

The Next Hustle from Kenny Raw

27 March 2015, No. 62, Raggio di Luna (Moon Ray), ‘Comanchero’

If it weren't for the excellent synth work here and the amount of satisfaction one gets from singing the word "comanchero" and rolling the r, this spaghetti disco take on the folks who traded with the Comanche and were (apparently) preoccupied with "pretty squaws" would be pretty lame. As it is, it's worth keeping on the list, plus it's got that little bit of extra campy cache not all italo disco records can claim. Like Silvio "Silver" Pozzoli, Raggio di Luna seems to have Anglicized their name to Moon Ray, and here's a panting, atmospheric, synth-laden, and probably culturally insensitive horse ride called "Comanchero." Coming in at No. 62, it also gets stuck in my head a lot.

25 March 2015, No. 61, William Hart, ‘Time Out for Love’

The Delfonics got name-checked in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, and they have some well-known tunes out there. This one, a joint from their lead singer William Hart called “Time Out for Love,” is not one of those well-known songs, but it does come in as the 61st-slowest song on the list. It’s got a catchy little hook, but my favorite part, of course, is the synth solo at 3:00 or so. I like complicated and weird-sounding synth work, but even better than that stuff most times is just a clear, distinctive lead or bassline played on a simple monosynth like a Minimoog or a Yamaha CS15. Take a little time out for synths and soul with “Time Out for Love.” (Note: I couldn’t find this one streaming easily enough, so I put it on my SoundCloud account; we’ll see how long it stays there before the rights police knock it down…)

24 March 2015, No. 60, The Fatback Band, ‘Keep on Steppin’’

Kenny Raw taught me to juggle the intro and breaks in The Fatback Band’s “Backstrokin’,” and that’s still my favorite song of theirs, but this bouncy little “Keep on Steppin’” at No. 60 is much improved by the 16 bars or so of looped intro DJ Apt One added to the version I have. That version’s not online anymore, so just imagine the intro stretched out (and maybe blended with the fading-out of the steel drums outro from yesterday’s tune). Also, what is it with Fatback and droppin’ all the G’s from the ends of the verbs in their song titles? Just sayin’.

23 March 2015, No. 59, Boy, ‘Little Numbers (Leo Zero Remix)’

Another new(ish) tune. I don't know who Leo Zero is, and I don't know much about Boy except that they're girls and there’s two of them and they're from Europe somewhere. Switzerland and Germany, it seems. Can’t really tell they’re European listening to them, but isn’t that usually the way with European pop acts? Anyway, the first of the last two things we’ll note is that one reason I like this song is the singer sounds reminiscent of Rachel Ries, whom I also like and went to college with. The other thing is that this Leo Zero remix is the second thing on the list that’s ultra-Balearic, and we like that because it’s spring now, and summer is coming, so it’s nice when the music warms us up too. Steel drums and boogie, Leo Zero’s remix of “Little Numbers” by Boy at No. 59.

21 March 2015, No. 58, Hamilton Bohannon, ‘The Beat (Part 2)’

I used to DJ with Chris Carlin a lot, and he had all the Bohannon records, so I never bought them unless they were in the dollar bin. Which means that while there are a lot of Bohannon jawns on this list we’re doing, they’re not records I feel very close to because I rarely if ever played them. I left that to DJ Honkytron. I think Carlin is now DJ Chris Carlin instead of Honkytron, and while that was probably a wise move professionally, I miss the whimsy. No. 58 brings a little of it back, “The Beat (Part 2),” Hamilton Bohannon.

20 March 2015, No. 57, Stone Alliance, ‘Sweetie-Pie’

No. 57 might be the only song the Beastie Boys name-checked but didn't sample. "Like 'Sweetie-Pie' by the Stone Alliance / Everybody knows I'm known for droppin' science." Not sure which one of them said that in "Root Down"...Ad Rock, it sounds like, my favorite Beastie. But I digress. Listen to "Sweetie-Pie" by Stone Alliance, No. 57.

19 March 2015, No. 56, Roy Ayers Ubiquity, ‘The Boogie Back’

"Ubiquity" is such a great name for a musical group, and Roy Ayers is a great bandleader and vibraphonist. And calling his band Ubiquity turned out to be prophetic, as Wikipedia says Ayers has more records that have been sampled by hip-hop artists than anyone else. I find this doubtful, and whosampled.com confirms at least that while an even hundred songs have sampled Ayers, James Brown bits are featured in nearly 5,000. But maybe Ayers has 50 songs that have been sampled and Brown has only 20. I could count them up, but I don't feel like it. The main thing we're here to do is to listen to Roy Ayers Ubiquity bring "The Boogie Back" from 1974's Change up the Groove LP at No. 56.

18 March 2015, No. 55, Dennis Edwards, ‘Don’t Look Any Further’

No. 55 is a total favorite of mine, easy listening smooth jazz pabulum though it seems to be. Maybe go listen to "Paid in Full" by Eric B and Rakim, and then this tune will seem a little cooler afterward. Dennis Edwards' yearning vocals and the recurring "day o umba day o" chants will seem less full of cheese and may even grow on you. So "Don't Look Any Further," or, if it doesn't suit your tastes, disregard Edwards' advice and check back with us tomorrow for No. 56.

17 March 2015, No. 54, Breakbot, ‘Make You Mine’

You may have noticed the few outliers on the list that that were made within the last 25 years (and edits and flips only half count), and here's another one. At five years out, it's not like this is a super fresh cut or anything, but it's one of the newest in the crate. Breakbot brings you a lovely little piano-and-vocoder groover to listen to with your life-automaton while you warm up by the cyber-fire. "Make You Mine" at No. 54.

15 March 2015, No. 53, Tatsuro Yamashita, ‘Windy Lady’

The first cool band I heard out of Japan was Shonen Knife, and ever since then, I've known that Japan can be trusted to adopt basically any musical style and throw their own odd twist on it. Think Yellow Magic Orchestra, Boredoms, 54-71, Deerhoof kinda counts, etc., et al. So I was pleased to find this downtempo piece of boogie awesome from Tatsuro Yamashita, stringy though it is. Actually, though, the strings in "Windy Lady" at No. 53 are unobtrusive and kind of nice.

14 March 2015, No. 52, Monk Higgins, ‘Can’t Stop’

I think it’s the sax solo and the laid-back-but-driving tambourine in No. 52 that does it for me. The little “me oh my” vocal bridge is fun too, and the parts with just sax/voice/drums toward the end. Second tune from Monk Higgins on the list. If I knew much about Monk Higgins, I’ve forgotten it, but Wikipedia tells me his real name was Milton and he was from East Chicago Heights, Illinois. Copies I have are digital, but maybe since he was from around here, I’ll dig up some wax. Get me around a bunch of records to be had and I “Can’t Stop,” kinda like the tune...

13 March 2015, No. 51, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, ‘Wake Up Everybody (DJ Apt One Re-Edit)’

I took the week off posting to celebrate eight years with the lovely Francesca, so it's fitting that we're coming back to hear some more of DJ Apt One's work, as Francesca and I met eight years ago at he and Skinny Friedman's long-running Philadelphyinz party in, of all places, Philadelphia. Medusa Lounge, the party's second location, I think, after it moved out of the Khyber. Anyway, life's never been the same since, and that's probably a good thing.

No. 51, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, "Wake Up Everybody (DJ Apt One Re-Edit)"