Rewind Selector: 20 Earworms From The Last Decade
originally posted at Funk or Die
I don’t do a traditional year end top 10 or 20 anymore. I just don’t gather round the internet water cooler every Tuesday chatting up new releases like I used to, so I don’t think my list for 2010 would mean a whole lot. That is not to say that I don’t listen to new music, I just don’t do it with the kind of urgency I used to. It is also not to say that I don’t look for new (or, especially, new to me) sounds.
(OK, OK here’s my 2010 Top 10, and yes, some of these are reissues and yes, some may have been released in ’09)
- Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
- Syl Johnson-The Complete Mythology
- Various Artists- Next Stop…Soweto
- Mulatu Astatke- Mochilla Presents Timeless
- Various- Black Man’s Cry:The Inspiration Of Fela Kuti
- T.P. Orchestre Poly Rhythmo- Echos Hypnotique
- Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings- I Learned The Hard Way
- Kings Go Forth- The Outsiders Are Back
- Lee Fields & The Expressions- My World
- Staff Benda Bilili- Tres Tres Fort
In the last ten years I’ve probably listened to more new and new-to-me music than any ten year period of my 30+ years of music junkiehood. I also listen differently than I used to. Because of the staggering volume of music that is available, I’m just not able to spend as much time with a new record as I used to, because there is so much at my fingertips. I still buy albums, but they just aren’t the same to me..not because they are any better or worse than they used to be, but because after I spin an LP once, that’s usually it. I may playlist a few songs or include a track on a mix tape or two, but rarely do I return to an entire album. I’m more likely to give certain playlists or mix CD multiple spins, than I am to listen to an album repeatedly (as was my MO in previous years).
So, what I have here are songs that really grabbed me over the last ten years. These are tunes that caused me to back off the internet fueled music gorging I’ve been doing and hit the rewind button…again and again. Some are relatively new, some are ancient. I’m not saying these are the best songs I heard in the last ten years, but, at least for me, these tunes rose above digital din and reminded me why I keep looking for new records.
You can skip around the tracks in this divshare list (you can also hear them in order) or check out the mix at 8tracks (below). If the track has a link, that means I wrote about it in the past and you can click through to those words if you like.
Rumored to be a kiss off tune aimed at Eddie Bo, who produced 4 of the 6 sides she waxed A cool slice of NOLA Soul.
2. On Verra Ça – Orchestra Baobob
Everybody told me Pirates Choice was the Baobob record to get, but this track from their American debut, Specialist in All Styles, was the keeper for me.
I came to this NOLA classic very late via the Los Lobos version. Soundmen may wince when they hear the squeaky hi hat, but that’s just one of the many endearing things about his tune..another being that I’ve got my 9 year old singing it.
4. Gary Song -Alice Smith
I worked as a distributor for this record in 2006. After listening to it once (like I do), I passed it on to my wife. She flipped a gasket over Ms. Smith and reintroduced it to me. Alice can sing, whisper, and belt, often in the same tune and with great authority. Her only album to date, For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me, got caught up in music biz hell and Alice has not gotten the recognition she deserves. A singing specialist in all styles.
5. Hey Ya!- Outkast (Andre 3000)
Nope, I wasn’t immune to the charms of this tune. It kept me from driving off the road on the long trip I used to make from Albany to Brooklyn and back, which I did every couple of weeks for a year or so back in the middle of the decade.
6.God Is A Good God-Campbell Bros. W/Katie Jackson
Burning pedal steel track with booming vocals from the essential Sacred Steel-Live! album on Arhoolie. Religious and Rocking, but this ain’t Stryper.
7. Come Down Now- Passing Strange (Broadway Cast)
I finally got around to liking Stew in 2008. He and his writing partner, Heidi Rodewald had been making music as The Negro Problem for over 10 years, but it was this musical (their first) that opened the door to their music for me. What took me so long? My old boss had been telling me to go there for years and he wasn’t lying. Stew and Heidi, in whatever guise their music appears, are always a revelation.
8. Awufuni Ukulandela Na?- Izintombi Zasi Manje Manje
The whole compilation that this tune appears on, Next Stop…Soweto, is choice South African pop, but the sheer joy of this track (not to mention the guitar and drums), easily crack through the language barrier. The first time I heard this tune I hit rewind at least 10 times.
The compilation, Songs To Sing-The Charlie Whitehead Anthology, houses the output of a journeyman soul singer who worked with legendary, iconclast producer/artist Swamp Dogg (Jerry Williams). Their 1970 album was billed simply as Raw Spitt..need I Say more?
Don’t know if this got so popular that Northern Soul DJ’s leave it alone, but this Georgia based Soul singer cut a heap of sharp tracks for the Note and Tragar labels. Easy to find nowadays thanks to the Numero group’s Eccentric Soul series.
Now, I love Gospel Quartet music from it’s heydey in the 50’s and before, but this 1969 cut from the long running Silvertones is more Godfather of Soul, than God the Father, if you know what I’m sayin’..
I also missed the boat on The Roots until I came across this track from their 2006 Game Theory LP. When I started music blogging in 2006, it was one of the first songs I wrote about (badly,too). Black Thought’s first verse was staggering to me. I’m sure fans of the band were not surprised and going back through their stuff, I can see why.
The incredible Soundway label introduced me to Benin’s T.P. Orchestre Poly Rhythmo back in 2005. The band has released over 50 albums in their home country and the comp, Kings Of Benin Urban Groove 1972-1980, distills it all down to an almost perfect 13 song primer of their intricate,layered,pan-continental Funk.
A New Orleans party on wax, with an excellent back story to boot. Check the link.
Here’s one my six year old (at the time) son and I could agree on. A mix of live instruments, cut and paste tech, and loads of reggae vibes.
16. Another New Day-Jazzanova
A post-2K record, but with a drum and conga break that reminded me of James Brown and Dennis Coffey. I couldn’t get enough of this tune.
A 1976 cut from Ghana’s highlife master finally reached me in 2006. I’ve subsequently searched out everything I could find on Mr. Frimpong, but I never found anything quite this good. The slippery organ is one key, but the 2+ minute intro is what keeps me coming back to this one.
As far as I know the Funkadelic version of this tune from, Cosmic Slop, is the only commercially released cover song P-Funk ever waxed. A sweet late period doo wop cut from the Chess Rhythm and Roll box set.
19. I Can Feel the Ice Melting- The Parliaments
Although it isn’t the most danceable cut in the P-Funk canon, it was the first song my wife and I danced to at our wedding, which was almost 10 years ago. When we first met, I was obsessing over this tune and I brought my wife along for the ride.
20. How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?– Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
After a few years of raw funk from Sharon and the boys, in 2005 they released a record that showcased a more soulful sound…and the rest is neo-retro-soul history. It’s funny that I discovered the Inell Young cut (track 1) around the same time..I find the sound and vibe of the tunes eerily similar.
So there they are, in all their highly subjective, thoroughly un-scientific, glory. After almost 10 years of digital gluttony, I’m still not sold on the way I listen to music these days, but I sure as hell don’t like music any less.