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12/31/21 | 50/52

This email has a lot more links than a normal dispatch but the hope is it can help you waste some time as you’re recovering from a late night NYE celebration. Also consider spending a little time with the Twilight Zone marathon on SYFY. Whatever you decide to so be sure to make the most of this beautiful day.

I'm not certain who the parents are

10 music moments I’ve enjoyed in 2021

The Revolutionaries - Kunta Kinte (Small Axe) – you can watch it if you have Amazon Prime

For some reason it took me a while to start Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe but once I did I was hooked and finished it in a few days. I really enjoyed all 5 episodes. The acting is outstanding. The use of real photographs is impactful. The history I had never heard made me think. The music supervision sent me down rabbit holes listening to record hiss filled versions and obscure dubplates.

The 2nd episode “Lovers Rock” is simply summarized as “Two lovers who meet at a reggae house party in 1980 in West London.” That is absolutely true and it’s beautiful. Most will say the highlight of the episode is “Silly Games” by Janet Kay but I think the best moment comes at 53:05 when The Revolutionaries “Kunta Kinte” drops and the party gets rowdy. The opening notes ignite wall pounding and floor stomping. Filmed with extended long single takes, you feel like you are there moving in and around the dance floor weaving and shaking. You feel the floor bounce. At this point I don’t believe anyone is “acting.” They are just in the moment. Then we get to the rewind. I remember rewinds at warehouse Jungle parties. If the song is making the floor go crazy run it again. The intensity shoots through the ceiling. This is skanking. This is slam dancing. This is jacking your body. This is going dumb. Call and responses rise and fall and by the third rewind the rowdiness is antagonistic and angry and agitated. The dancefloor demands the tune get spun. And then that eerie high frequency whistles in…
Joey Fehrenbach - Behold (Matt Gottwig – Birds – Krooked Part)
Before this I had enjoyed Matt Gotwigs skateboarding. I like that he seems to be on his own mission. Putting together specific video parts with distinct look and feel. The opening line starts with the obvious. You know he’s going to roll down and do a trick on the metal bike rack.  What I didn’t expect was the needle thread between two random tourists and the kickflip into more steepness. Towards the beginning there’s a shot of what appears to be some type of cosplay spectreman. Random but I like it. The song is complimentary and moves along nicely. This is a song you could play over the speakers on a Monorail.
Tracy Chapman – Behind The Wall
When I was 16 I worked at a place in the mall that sold papasan chairs. It was a good job. You’d stock the shelves and ring up the tapestries and vacuum the floor at the end of the night. I think the manager who hired me was named Mark. When he was closing he played either Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime: The Best of the Talking Heads” or Tracy Chapman’s debut album. They became a part of me by simple repetition. I’m grateful for that. Best known for the song “Fast Car,” Chapman’s album includes a number of other exceptional tracks but I wanted to highlight this acapella storytelling masterpiece.
Cyndi Lauper – When You Were Mine
I love Prince. Prince’s version of this song is superior. It’s not even close. With that in mind I put this on the list because I’ve been listening to a fair amount of Cyndi Lauper. “Time After Time,” “Money Changes Everything,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” she’s made a lot of amazing songs. I picked this one because I think it does a good job showcasing her voice. She’s got a wild vocal style. It’s powerful and insistent and forceful. It think they used a theremin or a slide-whistle for part of it which was a bold choice.

Kicked Off The Streets – Rhodiola Rosea
This my “the kids are alright” song for the year. I think Justin suggested them to me. From what I can tell they are some kids from Bill and Ted’s hometown, San Dimas, CA. It’s real simple, fuzzy, surfy, punk.

Brandi Carlile - Right on Time (SNL)
I understand that SNL isn’t what it used to be. I think I might be the only regular viewer out of my friends. It’s a shame because think they’re missing great work like Cecily Strong’s powerhouse performance as “Goober the Clown,” or the escalating oddity of “Del Taco Shoot” that makes me laugh every time. SNL usually has good to great musical guests. I think the artists try to bring their best from Billie Eilish dancing on the ceiling to Kanye’s all white “Runaway,” to Elvis Costello’s midsong changing “Radio Radio.” I especially like when it’s someone I don’t know and that was the case with Brandi Carlile. Her performance won me over with the spontaneous cheers for her singing and her band giving it their all. I would say she reminds of Roy Orbison in the best possible way.
Wings – Let Me Roll It (Live)
This one is from Licorce Pizza and this is two weeks in a row that I’ve mentioned that movie which is odd because I didn’t love it. This song drops into the film like a ton of TNT. It cracks concrete. I think the live version is superior because it doesn’t have the odd stutter. It’s a simple song. You can hear it once and sing it back. I also like the lack of saxophone. It feels like most Wings songs have a sax part and they usually aren't good sax parts.
Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band – Queen of Cheeba
This one is from Jordan Trahan’s part in the new Chocolate video, “Bunnyhop.” His part is crazy good and the Bacao Rhythm Band's steel drum grooves fit perfectly with his flow and power. I gotta admit that I love steel drums. The whole video has terrific music supervision. I thought Silverio Curiel “El Niño Y La Cumbia” in Steve Perez’s part was a brilliant choice.
Jackson Browne – Tender is the Night
This is a real soft, adult contemporary, choice. I don’t know too much about Jackson Browne. I know a few of his songs. The link is the live version which is enjoyable simply for all the blazers and blazers with tshirts and blazers with rolled up sleeves. The crowds game enough. They clap along way longer than I would. Jackson Browne’s got a little bit of a creepy Tom Cruise vibe. He also has an album named “Lawyers in Love.” Both of these things make me think of American Psycho. I think the band has two keyboard players. One of them has a machine that uses floppy disks. It's a well written song tightly performed that sways pretty steady.
Grateful Dead -  4/7/72 -  Wembley Empire Pool, London, England
 I figured I’d just pick a whole show. If you don’t like the Dead that’s absolutely fine I’m not going to be the one who changes your mind. Instead of listening to a new show every day I’ve been trying to treat it like the old tape trading days where you’d get a good show or maybe even just a tape with the second set of a good show and you would just wear it out. You'd listen to it through headphones as you walk over to your friend’s place where it goes in the jambox until you get a call to drive out past Calumet City to pick to pick somebody’s cousin so you bring it along and play it on the tape deck as you drive out. You really get to know the show inside and out.

This is the first show of the Europe 72 tour and it’s been officially released as part of the Europe 72 series. Mikey Hart is not on the tour so it's just Bill Kreutzmann behind the drums. I think it makes the band a little better, more energetic, tighter, a little faster. Everyone’s got an opinion about Donna but I love her unrestrained vocal enthusiasm.

The whole show is 2 hours and 44 minute and you may not have that kind of time so the portion I’ll highlight is at the end where the band plays “Not Fade Away” into “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” back into “Not Fade Away.” Leave aside all the other baggage, the fans, the tie dye, the later years. This is great American music, great American rock and roll music. This is the best version of a jam band. Musicians weaving in and out and improvising and trying their best to keep the train on the tracks. Shout out to Phil Lesh. Never forget about Phil. Turn that bass up. On the back half of GDTRFB I start worrying about Bill’s arms cause we’re about 2 and a half hours into this and he’s driving this beat like a 6 horse team. The guitars are just trying to hang on. Donna’s just wailing. Then the resurrection of NFA devolves into howling and the second set is closed out.  An engaged and energetic Grateful Dead is a miracle and a tornado and an absolute joy.

Friend of the Week

No friend again this week so I'll just say see you next year! (aka tomorrow)

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