Monday, February 21, 2011

The Friends of Distinction!

“Don't tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I'll tell you what they are.” - James W. Frick

It looks tragically as if my hips went away! Don't worry; they're still around.

Name: The Friends of Distinction, Grazin' (RCA Victor, 1969).

Is this acceptable? Yes. The band's name is amazing; friends of distinction are the best kind of friends to have, next to friends who will tell you how smart and funny you are and reassure you that you do not, in fact, emit natural cop-attracting pheromones. The title is in reference to “Grazin' in the Grass,” a silly song that was their biggest hit, and is part of the great canon of one-word album titles (Stankonia, Hell, Promise, Innervisions, Frankenchrist, Damaged, Donuts, Bleach, Ironman, Fishscale, Roots).

Produced by: John Florez, who also produced some Willie Hutch, and the Hughes Corporation’s Freedom for the Stallion, with corny-ass “Don’t Rock the Boat.”

Additional personnel that make me sigh with desire and yet somehow fulfillment of that desire at the same time: Singer Jessica Cleaves was also in Parliament for a while. King Errisson played congas, just like he did on records for Grant Green, Lalo Schifrin, Lamont Dozier, David Axelrod, Eddie Kendricks, just like I mentioned in the Willie Hutch post a while back. Jim Gordon on drums. JIM GORDON, BABYCAKES. I just can’t. I don’t even know. I can’t. I cannot. I don’t know where to begin with Mr. Gordon. Take my class about him at the Learning Annex. Thank you.

Jerry Peters wrote “Going in Circles” and produced Foster Sylvers’ self-titled album with “Misdemeanor” on it, which anyone within a 50-mile radius of apt. 15 will wreckonize as soon as I say “ONE and in comes the TWO to the THREE and FOUR.” (That was my D.O.C. impression).
Peters also produced Jimmy Smith’s Blacksmith, whose “I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Babe” is a big fat beast and was used by Tribe and G Rap (produced by Sir Jinx!) but it's most memorable for Professor, what's another word for pirate treasure?*

* (I think it's booty. Booty. Booty. That's what it is.)

Also on this record: flugelhorns. A human named Garry Nuttycombe. Al Casey on guitar—he also played on Billie Holiday and King Curtis records. Arthur Wright on guitar, too—he also played on Let’s Get It On. Max Bennett on bass, who played on Quincy Jones’ Body Heat, the title song of which was used in that stupid Tupac song where he refers to himself as daddy and that always creeped me out. Gentlemen, no. Please don't do that. Also please don't accelerate super fast and make the tires screech when the light turns green, both because it's a waste of gas and because it makes us think you have a small penis.

It is important and strange to note that heralded running back and wearer of hats Jim Brown gave “The Friends” their first contract. He also scored 21 points in the Cotton Bowl and made out with Raquel Welch in a movie, 2 of my goals in life.

Global events at the time of its release: 1969 equals “Crimson and Clover” riding high on the charts, the end. Bye bye. Nothing more to say about that year. I can't think of anything else that happened that year; did anything else happen that year?

Normally I'd focus on what was on the R&B charts* during a trip back in time in a blog post rather than tripster echo whiteboy yearning jangly rock. However, as great as *Tyrone Davis' “Can I Change My Mind” is, the fact is that it lacks the sex, energy, dirt, guts, and life force present throughout “Crimson.” The “over and oh-verrr at 1:59 alone turns me into a Vivid contract girl who just got back from the monster truck show and is ready for some fun with pills.


Entered my life: December 2008. Amoeba. $10.99.

Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale): 2? 3? Pretty easy. But listen, obscurity is so overrated. It's at a 2 or 3 and that's a great thing; it means you can take your cute self down to the record store right now and get you a copy! You need the whole album for the bassline drama of “Going in Circles” alone. Nothing on the record comes close to that quality, but it's worth the price just for that one.

Lately the battle of the dramatic songs on LA radio that turn the inside of my Civic into an opera has been “All of the Lights” vs. “The Dog Days Are Over” (the feeling of triumph in the latter is what Kanye is trying to recreate on half of Dark Twisted*, I believe), but sometimes Laboe or somebody will throw a slow jam in there and if I'm truly blessed, “Going in Circles” comes on. The degree to which I want drama in my life is inversely proportional to the degree to which I need it in song. Everything around me calm and pleasant, I've made my life that way on purpose--I'm good at picking friends and I don't call boys who don't call me back. I get along fabulously with my mom. And that's why I need a song that makes me want to kill myself, have sex a thousand times a day or jump off a building because it's made me manic and convinced me I can fly.

* “It gives you that dramatic feel that makes you unsure whether you want to laugh or cry. And when i sing this? I have this awkward moment when all the people around me turn to dust” - 11monstermash11

Breaks contained: Shockingly, only 3 as far as I can tell--“And I Love Him” (change-up of the Beatles' “And I Love Her”) was sorrrrta used on Rawss' Maybach Music (ugh), although the producers (J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and now I'm exhausted typing out that whole thing) insisted on changing the lyrics. Right, because “Never ever doubt” would sound ridiculous and not at all cool at the beginning of a song about your wealth. Oh wait, no! It would sound great! Never ever doubt the degree to which I am getting caked! Dope! It's Rawss, though; what you expect. That dude always drops the ball.

The Grouch also used it on “Never Die,” which means he thinks they're singing “Never ever die.” Oh dear, no. That's incorrect, but I don't know how to say that without sounding like a jerk. It's doubt, not die.

The only use of “Going in Circles” I could find was in Crime Mob's “Circles”; however, “Going in Circles” was used in Dead Presidents and it therefore gets some tangential breaks credit because of the movie's beloved place in rapdom. That was a Hughes Brothers film, correct? Pre-Tupac unpleasantness, I believe-? Dead Presidents features creepy face paint, foxy ‘70s dudes sitting around talking shit so you know I love it, and Bokeem Woodbine as crazy, creepy/murderous Cleon, choppin off some Viet Cong heads and then coming back to New York and becoming a minister but still being a bad guy, making the simple act of wearing glasses seem creepy and murderous. I've seen a lot of these movies, the ones focusing on post-Vietnam, pre-Reagan life in America (but usually in LA and NY), and that time period holds great allure for me.

The strings alone on this song spell “tragic, doomed love affair” in big bold letters, but that just means it's good for a bittersweet lovemaking session.

Best YouTube comment:

Is this me? Did I post this comment on YouTube in a dream? It sure sounds like me, all those exclamation points, trying to get all cute with it and say some rhymes, like I'm a DJ and I'm introducing “Going in Circles” on my radio show, finger trembling as I'm about to press play for alllllll you lovers out there.

Reason for this post on today of all days: It's (dead) Presidents Day! And because, not to brag or anything, but ummm I'm still spending money from '88.

Facts of nerdy interest that excite me and might show up on Jeopardy! someday:

- JIM BROWN SIGNED THEM, what the fuck is that all about. It's so strange but I love it. He went to Syracuse, which is where one Carmelo Anthony also matriculated. Hey, have you guys heard anything about the possibility of 'Melo not playing for the Nuggets forever and ever? That would be fun and not at all boring to discuss, like the whereabouts of Obama's birth certificate.

- Further thanks to Conn Musical Instrument Corporation for donating the multi-viders used on “Grazin' in the Grass,” it says on the back cover. So of course I had to look it up (a multi-vider was a voice-splitting device that could “add certain wah-wah like effects”).

Mid-hair-out-of-face-move, without record (L), and with record (R). Note the leg sheen--I don't know how I made that happen but I'm gonna try to do it every day from now on.

Sartorial accompaniment:
Thrift store sweater (yay), mall shorts (ugh), espadrilles because I love things that tie onto and then untie off of the body. I got the Fawcett hair waves and high-waisted stuff flatters my shape, so I am always fond of a ‘70s look and therefore you know I keep that particular game extra tight, world's skinniest legs and all. “No bad habits, Ma,” Anthony (Larenz Tate) says in Dead Presidents upon returning from Vietnam, “except for a little killing.” Mine is “No bad habits, except for never throwing an article of clothing away because you just never know when you'll want to show it off in a blog post.” And my aesthetic is underaged hooker, 1976.” I have a look and I go with it and if it works, why change it. All the girls at Vons wear their Black Flag tees, it's the uniform around here, but that's just not me, man. I'm square? You're the one that's square, man.

Watch out, Gisele has been my mantra, my ridiculous-posing game is super tight, face-pose-body-hands-work-FACE-hips, but that was before I saw these young ladies and it struck me that I should probably focus instead on MPC acrobatics and Doom lyrics, and the history of Stax. And Artest. And sewing.

Life lessons, important messages contained:

- Again, it's really all about “Going in Circles” here.

I'm an ever rollin' wheel, without a destination real.
I'm an ever spinning top, whirling around til I drop.
Oh but what am I to do, my mind is in a whirlpool.
Give me a little hope, one small thing to cling to.
You got me going in circles (oh round and round I go).
You got me going in circles.

OHH bassline, you put the hurt on me! Some boys over the years have made me go in circles. Too many, I'm afraid. How sad. Real dudes, not famous rappers. It's usually been because I've spent time waiting around for them to catch up and realize they need a shy record dork, smoldering and skinny-limbed, with whom to go for sunny-day walks. Give me a little hope, one small thing to cling to. You got me going in circles. Then I realized that's boring, because a circle has no stopping point. What a waste of time! Round and round! It says so in the song. R&B is so great for epiphany moments like that. Similarly, Facebook’s sidebar tells me E-40 is coming to the House of Blues later this month. Mike Tyson loves pigeons, according to Yahoo!, and this news was so pleasing to hear and it crushed me in my heart. You never know from where you’re going to get important messages.

Other notable things about today:

- I’d like Fela’s “Who’re You” to play every time I walk down the street on a day when the weather is between 70 and 78 degrees. I'm wearing a short cotton dress and drinking a Coke from the bottle, walking my black Lab puppy.

I’d also like Ayatollah or Mike Clink to produce my first single. I'd like there to be no more Travis Barker anywhere, but especially no more of him on rap sites. I'd like Ghosty to wear that yellow jacket and do that lazy spin-around dance for me every morning in apt. 15 to give me motivation while I'm getting ready for work, and I’d like a pic of Waka and Wayne standing next to each other—Manute n’ Muggsy, rap edition. If you can get that last thing for me I will act whorish for you in the best possible way. Hi Mom.

- Best song played on LA radio in the last 48 hours: “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” DOG. Time-mar-ches-ON-on-on-on-on. I mean, really. From a melodic standpoint, from an ear-porn standpoint, it's impossible to argue with me here. DRUMS, drama, big dramatic DRUMS and lyrics about GUNS, just like all the best Clipse songs, and the whole section from 3:00-fade out, including the DRUMS at 3:05 and 3:18 and 3:30 and 3:47. For a hill, men would kill--why? They do not know/Stiffened wounds test their pride! Crack of dawn, all is gone except the will to be! Plus it's a BASS Cliff plays at the beginning. I learned that a few years ago; I had a boyfriend who had all the records on vinyl and thus began my obsession with Flemming Rasmussen. That's one Dutchman* who can produce a great record. So in addition to having friends of distinction, it's also nice to have friends with the good sense to pick up a copy of Ride the Lightning on vinyl when they see it. You never know when you'll come across it again.

*He's Danish! Oops.


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