If you haven't already, go. Just go. FELA! doesn't so much follow a linear story line, but rather, aims, and succeeds, via musical osmosis, in bringing Fela Kuti's story, Lagos, Nigeria, The Shrine and Africa '70 (Antibalas) to life before your eyes. I had the extreme privilege of being seated second row, dead center, where I could feel the sweat of Kuti's Queens flying off their bodies, and feel the magnetism and insane charisma that Kevin Mambo brought to his role as the legendary band leader, activist, multi-instrumentalist and international bad boy. I had been waiting since 2008 to see this show, and man, was it worth the wait. If anybody reading this wants to go, let me know, I would be honored to accompany somebody on their first viewing. I don't even want to give much more away, I wouldn't be able to truly do the show justice; the songs ("Water No Get Enemy" a personal favorite of mine, was exceptionally wonderful), the dances (nothing short of electrifying and bone chilling) the visuals (the tiny theatre was transformed into The Shrine at its height) and the overall ambiance can't even be accurately conveyed via text. GO. NOW.
FELA! on Broadway
The Eugene O'Neill Theatre
230 West 49th Street
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
After succumbing to a battle with colon cancer, soul master and legendary baritone Teddy "Teddy Bear" Pendergrass, died late last night in a hospital outside of his hometown, Philadelphia. He was only 59 and had managed to cheat death once before, surviving a paralyzing car accident in 1982 and successfully rebuilding his career, when people thought he would never sing again. After the jump, my favorite Teddy joint, from his Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes days.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
It's mid January, so I know all of you out there are probably just clamoring for my year end list, right? Sure, we could do this type of thing at the actual end of the year, but we like to keep you on your toes. So here's what I was listening to, in no particular order.
No Kids, Come Into My House: a thousand spins in, I still have no idea what to make of this debut, but it's an interesting, shifty, compelling little record. Our designer and sometime contributor Kyle, who put me on to this LP, came closest to pinning it down: "A little baroque ballad to start, into some slightly spazzy pop, then something with an anemic Biggie beat, to some barbershop quartet and salsa piano later on." So, maybe that helps? Key tracks: "The Beaches Are Closed," "Bluster In The Air"
Oh No, Dr. No's Oxperiment: Turkish garage rock samples are turned into some of the best beats of the year, courtesy of Madlib's little brother. This got a bunch more exposure when Mos Def tapped some of the beats for The Ecstatic. Key tracks: "Heavy," "Come Back," "Ohhhhhh"
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Know Better Learn Faster: Sad people dance, too. Key tracks: "Goodbye, Good Luck," "When We Swam"
Roseanne Cash, The List: straightforward covers album, ranging from the predictable to obscure, all perfectly produced by Cash's husband Jon Leventhal. It has a nice story behind it, to boot. Word is, Vol. 2 is on the way. Key tracks: "Miss the Mississippi and You," "Girl From the North Country," She's Got You"
Monsters of Folk, s/t: Not the all time classic I was hoping for, but put Mike Mogis, Conor Oberst, Yim Yames (f.k.a. Jim James, wtf) and M. Ward in a studio together and something worth listening will probably come out. These guys are the self appointed successors to the throne of Wilbury. Key tracks: "Magic Marker," "Whole Lotta Losin,'" "Losin Yo Head"
Mayer Hawthorne, A Strange Arrangement: He looks like a white boy wannabe, but this LP from Stones Throw has soul for real and it sounds like Hawthorne will be a heavy hitter in the soul revival movement. Key tracks: Key tracks: "Your Easy Lovin Ain't Pleasin Nothin," "The Ills," "Maybe So, Maybe No"
Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: perfect pop tunes from the French outfit. Who doesn't love the satisfaction of a late career breakthrough? Key tracks: "Lisztomania," "Countdown (Sick For The Big Sun)"
Karen O and The Kids, Where The Wild Things Are: this one I had my doubts about, but Karen O and her indie star studded posse crafted a pitch perfect score for Spike Jonze's masterpiece. The cover of Daniel Johnston's "Worried Shoes" will get you every time, unless you have no pulse. Related: I still can't believe they let Jonze make this movie. Key Tracks: "Igloo," "Worried Shoes," "All Is Love"
The xx, xx: just like me in 2009, these kids sound totally bemused by their love lives. Sparse electronic backing (it kind of smacks of Postal Service in a good way, only moodier) and boy girl vocals. Cold weather music, if you ask me. A good counterpoint to the manic breakup rock of Los Campesinos!.
Various Artists, Dark Was the Night compilation: Sure, there's a bunch of skippable filler on this two disc Red Hot compilation helmed by the Dessner brothers (The National), but there's also a few artists quietly contributing some the best songs of their careers. Very heavy on collaborations and fairly obscure covers (Dap Kings play Shuggie Otis? Yes please). And the show at Radio City Music Hall was a highlight of the year if not decade. Key tracks: David Byrne + Dirty Projectors, "Knotty Pine," Feist + Ben Gibbard, "Train Song," The National, "So Far Around the Bend," The New Pornographers, "Hey Snow White," Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, "Inspiration Information"