Friday, May 27, 2011

Ronnie Foster, Two Headed Freap.

“Take away love and our earth is a tomb.”

- Robert Browning, regarding my emotional ties to apt. 680's record collection.

“Starin at your domepiece very strong.”

(that's what me and Ronnie are doing here, in tandem)

Name: Ronnie Foster, Two Headed Freap (Blue Note, 1972).

Is this title acceptable? No, because I don’t get it. I mean, really. What in the hell?

“Fusion,” an unacceptable musical term, surfaces whenever I do a post about a '60s/'70s jazz record because if it was at all popular in its day, it'll be categorized as fusion jazz by Amazon and/or Oliver Wang. Stay away from fusion when it comes to restaurant food and when it comes to music in general, that's my advice - unless it's 2005 and you're in the Gobi Tent and Z-Trip's doing that Outkast x Tool thing he used to do, everyone screaming and happy in their sweaty skin. Thick-basslined songs with southernplayalistic MCs laid on top will change the world! was the entire audience's one collective thought that glorious night. We were synched-up, linked-up, and ready to impeach the president. ANYWAY, Two Headed Freap is a bad title. You know what a good title is? Damn Right I Am Somebody. Everybody Loves the Sunshine. In the Court of the Crimson King. An Arrow Through the Bitch. Rust Never Sleeps. Maggot Brain. Supreme Clientele (sentimental pick). Teflon Don. HAR. J/K.

As always, I come up and say I don’t wanna talk about Rawss and then all I do is talk about Rawss. Ronnie Foster was frequently dismissed by jazz purists during the peak of his career in the first half of the '70's. Translated to more modern terms, this is the same relationship I have with 60% of present-day rappers. So maybe in a couple decades I’ll look back and realize I was too hard on World’s Most Competent Rapper and Not-At-All-Poacher-of-Identities, Rick Ross? Not that there’s such a thing as a “rap purist” anymore. I mean, there’s me, but I’m the only one who bothers to attend the monthly meetings. There are always snacks, plus we save a little time at the end of each session to discuss beat biters and swag jackers! You should come!

Produced by: George Butler, your go-to guy on the boards in the '60s and '70s if you really loved the craft of jazz that you had tirelessly practiced, but you were also aware that hardly anybody bought jazz records and this fact worried you. Butler merged traditional jazz - diluting it, say annoying purists - with popular stuff at the time. This behavior does not make him one of my favorites but my parents didn't raise a hater, you know? Far be it from me to criticize. Everybody gotta eat. Make moneymoney make moneymoneymon-ayyyy, George.

Additional personnel who make me sigh with desire and yet somehow fulfillment of desire at the same time:

Mr. Foster himself played the synth on the second/last Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway album, and organ for George Benson and Stevie Wonder. He also played on Grant Green’s Alive!, which contains “Down Here on the Ground.” Hey, I know that one! So do you!


Arranger Wade Marcus played horns plus did some arranging for The Blackbyrds. Bassist Gordon Edwards shows up on albums by Rufus Thomas, JB, Weldon Irvine, John Lennon. He's also on a bunch of Galt Macdermot’s records, including The Nucleus (with “Bedroom,” as heard on The Beatnuts' “Uncivilized”). George Duvivier was also on bass (“double bass,” says the Internet - when everybody knows you're supposed to say it the way my dad and Mingus say it - “upright” or “stand-up”). Duvivier played on everybody’s records, most importantly for this post, however, is his presence on Wade Marcus’ A New Era - the drums on "Spinning Wheel" have been used in rap, but nothing related is YouTube-link-able. Gene Bertoncini, on guitar, also played on Hubert Laws’ Afro Classic; “Passacaglia in C Minor” –> Goodie Mob’s “Dirty South” (video filled with stereotypes; you have been warned). He also played Grover Washington’s All the King’s Horses. Great album title.

And in the category of photography we have

Al Vandenberg! How come nobody told me about him before?

Entered my life: May 1 (?), 2011. Amoeba. $10.98. I had been looking for a while. I'm grateful, like Oprah says I'm supposed to be. I'm working on finding my spirit and feeling the blessings. I can't seem to shake my anger over the fact that I still can’t find that stupid Jaggerz album, though.

Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale): 3.7. It's not difficult at all, I just discovered! “In a world where carpenters get resurrected,” said Lenny Bruce, “anything is fucking possible.”

If you had asked me a month ago I would've rated it an 8. As of May 2011, Amoeba's buyer stopped playing games with me and added like 10 copies to the store's inventory. After a hundred tries, it was just there one day. Christians, I want to believe you when you say there is some meaning to life, some Big Plan, but my record-searching adventures in the big city tell me otherwise. I looked for Two Headed Freap for yearrrrssss, I swear, and then one day it appears in the bin, no fanfare or confetti? Complete randomness, that's all life is. Why bother. Luckily there are things like joy, basslines, hugs, kittens, Mitch Hedburg footage and ice cream to convince me to stay in the game. Reading David Foster Wallace* helps a whole hell of a lot and that's been true for me since around the time my hips started coming in. He is a proven mood-lifter if you are a sensitive, dreamy and awkward individual prone to bouts of fuck this. Ah but that's all of us; I just remembered.

*“I like the fans’ sound at night. Do you? It’s like somebody big far away goes like: it’sOKit’sOKit’sOKit’sOK, over and over. From very far away.”
Infinite Jest)

Breaks contained:

Ooh doggie, I am so glad you asked—when I say “Electric,” you say “Relaxation.”

Real quick:
Midnight Marauders was mastered by Tom Coyne. (Researching who mastered what, album-wise, is my new thing. Mastererers add depth and punch. I love em. I'm kind of over producers at the moment). Coyne mastered every rap album in the '90s and, more importantly in the current world of popular song, Adele's 21 with super Civic banger “Rolling in the Deep.” That one, like “Still Not a Player,” (c'mon, click! It's been a while since you let some Pun into your brain) is something Clear Channel plays pretty frequently while I'm out driving in order to remind me that it controls my emotional landscape. Goddamn you, pop radio.

Stretch out your legs, lemme make you bawl. “Electric” was a song from the ‘90s - an obvious fact because it mentions ladies of color, who do not find themselves mentioned so much in present-day rap songs (unless they're yellow-bones, which I'm hoping I can get away with saying). It's hard to imagine 50 or Gucci (or even Pusha, sadly) saying I like em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian. Well, maybe the yellow part. Obviously white ladies dominate current rap music as accessories du jour, at least the songs with tinny video-game effects, but every time I start to get a big head about that I remember that we're held in high regard not for our character or beauty but for our willingness to let our apartments be stash spots. This would provide a great segue if I were hoping to open a discussion about standards of feminine beauty, gender politics, and the female body as commodity, but word to god, hon, I don't get down like that. That's why dream hampton exists.

The line “See, I'm not the type to kid to have my biz in the streets” is also a dead giveaway that the song comes from an historic time—because of course nowadays, everybody’s got their goddamn biz in the streets (Twitter being the new Streets), and I don’t care for that. Also I'm not sure how confident I am in Phife's claim that he's from the Zulu Nation - just 'cause you hang out with em doesn't make you one of em. (Like me with Rollin 60s last summer)

Best YouTube comment:


- Young Jeezy OOPS, “zoisgoulandris.”

Reason for this post on today of all days: I found it at the store, completely randomly (my speech to Christians to start this post, remember?) and realized it was on my Intended Posts Lists. I do too many about '90s rap breaks. I'm getting sick of myself and the categories to which I confine my work. Reign in Blood's up next just to throw people off.

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

- Foster recorded Live at Montreux for Blue Note in July of 1973, OH WHUT, now would be a perfect time to sit here and swoon over Curren$y’s “Montreux.”

a) “The Montreux Jazz Festival was originally held at the old Montreux Casino, which burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa's performance. ('Smoke on the Water' by Deep Purple tells that story).” - Wiki

b) “Real songs are about deals with the devil, far-off lands, and where you'd find smoke in relation to water.” - Otto Mann, The Simpsons

c) “I'd never heard the song before. Everything I want to use, I just use. Either I try to get it cleared or get sued later. Rock artists should have no beef if we sample them, 'cause they stole all our fathers' shit.” - Curmudgeonly forefather KRS-One, regarding the use of “Smoke on the Water” in “Ya Slippin.” He catches a lot of heat for being an old grouch, but he happens to be right about things 90% of the time, especially when wielding an unstoppable emotion-based argument like this one. I also happen to love grouches so I'll always be his cheerleader.

Sartorial accompaniment:

Boots, jeans, cropped shirt. My aesthetic is “songstress who's the next big thing in country music,” or maybe “an extra in The Devil’s Rejects or if I were more annoying and covered in polo field grime, “Coachella escapee.” Put me in whichever category you like, just don't forget to have “Rumble” playing when I put on this getup and walk down the street. It's perfect.

The white-balance problem, I know. My hair looks red and it's not in real life; my jeans look Matisse blue here, but really they're not. Not sure what I did wrong. I had my camera settings on SATURATE!! for some reason…although secretly I believe that because I am so full of life force and spirit that photos of me automatically come out extra-vivid. I can explain the shirt too - it's got a generic picture of a headdress because I enjoy cultural appropriation. It’s also a tribute to the cranial adornments of the prophet RAMMELZZEE, who, I don’t know if you heard or not, is currently directing his spaceship toward apt. 680's launching pad, coming for me in what will surely be my own personal Rapture. See you chumps later. Enjoy Earth.

Bonus headwear:

Gulf-area parade headdress wearer in that new Bonnie Prince video (“There is No God”),
which contains funny anatomy words! Just watch it; trust me.

Life lessons, important messages contained:

- You got your “I love you; do you love me” fare, standard; song titles include “Drowning In The Sea Of Love,” “Let's Stay Together,” “Don't Knock My Love.” Then there are the titles that sound delicious - “Chunky,” “Mystic Brew,” and, um, “Kentucky Fried Chicken”? These titles are all ironic and that's disappointing. There's no guts in Two Headed Freap, no spice, no taste, really. I'm glad I own it now because of the Tribe connection of course, but I need meat and this thing's mostly gristle. Actual KFC, on the other hand, is like heaven. I know they're mean to the chickens; I was a vegetarian for 8 or 9 years so I paid some dues. Now please leave me alone with my bucket. KFC is like heaven in my mouth....crispy, fatty heavennnnnnllllllhhhhmmmmnom nomnomnom.

- If you are going to plead with someone Don't Knock My Love, your name should be Wilson Pickett. If you are going to Drown in the Sea of Love, it should probably be Joe Simon's sea, because Premo will take his skiff out into those waters and scoop some into his bucket and bring it back to D&D to flip it and bounce it into some steezy goodness. You'll realize that the wackness is, in fact, spreadin like the plague (Rawss, Wiz, everyone in YMCMB not named Wayne or Baby or Nicki) and tonight you'll write in your diary Guru is the only one who understands meeeee.

Suitable activities while listening:

There's a lot of Rawss in this post for whatever reason. So I'm taking all the images of that awful Hangover movie and imagining a Zach-Rawss hybrid. That could be funny, right? Somebody do that, please. After all, Rawss is an actor just like Zach! Tryin to be fly, ridin high on the jet-set/With juvenile rhymes makin fake-ass death threats.

Other notable things about today:

- I walk around the club, fuck everybody/And all my n---s got that Heat; I feel like Pat Riley. Another day, another Little Wheezy big fat hit song. They play him so much on Power 106 I think he's dead 2 or 3 times a week. An MC should write a bar or two about that to illustrate his ubiquity. Hear me so much on the radio you'd think I died.

I WALK AROUND THE CLUB, he says, FUCK EVERYBODY. Worth repeating; I love it. Dr. Carter and I have similar frustration-tolerance levels. (Dear Weez, try reading some DF Wallace; it helps during the sad times). Anyway, the line is no “cousin of death” (Nas) or “real Gs move in silence” (Weezy) or “punchline punchline sex act blah blah” (Weezy again) but it sure makes me smile, its minimalist angry beauty comforting me as I make my way around the metropolis. I'm waiting for the remix in which Dwayne voices my frustration at the DMV, the line at Walgreens, dudes who street-harass on Sunset (honking then bravely driving away like real men). Fuck everybody, he'll say over a tinny video-game beat. I can't get away with such language in real life because I am boring and proper, so once again, a Louisiana MC acts as my mouthpiece. Thanks, whoadie.

- Dennis Coffey mix over at Hit It and Quit It! “Cloud Nine” into “Sugar Man” into “I Want You” into “Garden of the Moon” into “It's a Shame,” into me collapsing into a puddle of exhausted sweet lustful good feeling on the couch in apt. 680.

- Cobain almost played Rocky Dennis Lance the Jesus-haired, bathrobed pharmacist in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino is an idea-stealer almost at the level of Rawss, but it is his childlike enthusiasm for cinema that makes me not hate him. I like people who are excited about stuff. The 3 minutes of heaven known as the “Little Green Bag” scene makes him epically non-hateworthy, too.

- Jen Brill is a jerk because she is rich (parental-rich, not hard-work-rich) and has this photograph in her NYC apartment that only a jerk could afford. I'm guessing this is the original photo because she was/is(?) having intercourse with Uncle Terry. I can soothe myself over the lack of this photo in apt. 680, however, by reminding myself that at least I do not have to have intercourse with Uncle Terry. ADVANTAGE: LOGAN.

- People keep drinking the Wiz Kool-Aid, a disgusting substance that tastes like swishers, unsubstantiated hype, and sweaty gross Chuck Taylors. And I just discovered that now, for the low low price of $30, you can become a Taylor Gang member! Join the movement, yall! Wiz Khalifa: shattering my notions of all that wackness could possibly be since 2009.

- Bob Dylan was born 70 years ago this week and that means everyone’s been digging around for some new piece of information about him. Why hello there, heroin! Bout time you showed up in his story! 15-year-old me would have been fascinated by the drug news, but as a grown-up I am strangely non-opinionated about this. It does kind of make me want to have sex with Bob a tiny bit, though, I think? That’s bad, right? (I throb for the self-destructive rather than the “upstanding who drive sensible Japanese sedans and pay their bills on time” and those who “call me when they say they will.” Sorry, Mom).

- Rolling Stone has decided that these are the best 10 Dylan songs, which on the Meaningless Scale is exactly like stopping me on the street and saying Hey Logan! Did you hear the checkout lady at Vons says she knows the 10 best Dylan songs? Anyway, this list contains no “Love Minus Zero” and no “Positively 4th St,” so pay it no mind.

- Syd, my beatmaking girlfriend in that group of rowdy Fairfax boys, started making beats after her dad gave her a laptop with GarageBand on it (no link because I couldn't find one, but believe me when I tell you I read this in Nylon mag at lunch today). Man I love her. I just really do. She might not be like some raven at my window with a broken wing, but I still love her so much. My dad gave me about a thousand records but all I did was grow up and become a music blogger and part-time Internet bikini model. Didn't John Mayer write a song about this exact thing?

- I'd like to see this No Wave doc, then go to tea with the young lady who made it so we can discuss whether John Lurie or Richard Edson would be the fastest at getting us out of our dresses. The contest takes place in 1983-5, of course, when they both were in their prime tortured/beautiful years. The checkout lady at Vons picked Lurie, for the record.

- Rock Paper Photo. Go there, please. They have lovely Al Green, Billy Preston, and Peter Tosh photos that greedy old photographers have been tight-fisted with until now. Now they're free for viewing, although I'm sure the photographers are hoping you'll purchase rather than ogle. You got Muddy Waters showing some lapels under a white vest (those are the only clothes he owned), Miles at the gym, Herbie under an umbrella, Richard Hell and Elvis Costello backstage doing the closest thing to broing down before the term bro came to be, and oh look, there's Chet Baker looking dopesick of course. The site also has the long-sought-after photographic series from the “I Get Around” video shoot - Tupac, Highly Amused in Hanes (Also Please Take Note of the Beck's, Smile, Blunt, and Girbaud and Fila tees as Accessories), 1993, by Chi Modu.

Plus here's Marvin lookin out the back window, making eye contact with all the people trying to breathe in the exhaust fumes of the Detroit Swagger Express.


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