Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bold As Love: Best Black Rock Releases 2007?

Rob Fields/Bold As Love has got a little "Best of" list-mania going, and has decided to make it a community event:

"I was planning my roundup of what I thought some of the great Black rock /Afropunk/Ghetto Metal/urban alternative /progressive black music releases were this year, but then I remembered that this isn't really about me. Rather, I think it will be much more interesting to find out what you've been wearing out on your MP3 players. So, here's the deal:

"Tell me what you thought a few of your favorite releases were this year. The catch is they need to be by an artist or artists of color who fit somewhere in the above categories. As I get responses, I'll post them on here on the blog."

He's listed some of his already.

This year I haven't listened to a lot of releases from this year. I started off listening to James Brown's 40th Anniversary compilation (out-of-print), and am ending it listening to Roberta Flack's Chapter Two and Marian Anderson's Rare and Unpublished Recordings, 1936 - 1952 along with the offerings detailed below. I still haven't listened to the entirety of Faith's A Place Where Love Can Grow or Game Rebellion's Searching for Rick Ruben (which has an official release date of February 5, 2008 but is available now directly from the band) or Apollo Heights', White Music for Black People. Or even the singular Otto Fischer's Songs which might be a 2006 release (it was among the last recordings legendary free improvisation guitarist Derek Bailey agreed to before his death in 2005). But whatever, it's only available directly from INCUS Records in the UK, and I didn't hear about it until 2007...*

So my list is unofficial (hence its not being forwarded to Bold As Love), and short:

Mavis Staples, We'll Never Turn Back - This was quite a moving journey to take with Ms. Staples. Something of an autobiographical snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement, lived on the ground, through music--folk, R&B, gospel, blues, it has it all. I wrote about it here.

• Pattie Blingh (aka Georgia Anne Muldrow), Sagala - I had to hunt this down based on the track REALLYTHO which used to be on Muldrow's the worthnothings crew MySpace page. Wrote briefly about the joy of getting in the mail, and my plans to write about it in the future(oops!) here.

Nina Simone, Live at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 1977 - Yes, it's from 30 years ago, but just became somewhat available in 2007. This is an amazing release, after hearing Simone's arrangements and piano-work from this concert you can't help but be undone. You can read New Orleans natives and music-heads Kalamu ya Salaam and Mtume ya Salaam of Breath of Life riffing on this release here.

Brandon Ross, Puppet - This was released in Japan on Intoxicate Records at the very end of 2006. Japan remains the easiest place to purchase it, as US distributors still haven't been able to comprehend the viable market for this work (in the words of Spike Lee: WAKE UP!!). Thus, I'm fortunate to have heard it myself before year 2007 ended. You can hear some of the album tracks on his MySpace page. You can hear Ross talk about this release, and other work, in an interview with David Garland on WNYC earlier this year here.

The Family Stand, Super Sol Nova. Only available as an import. My favorite track on this is, "Undiscovered Country." It's one of those mini-epic perfect pop/rock/R&B storytelling tunes you hardly ever get to hear anymore. Wrote about their Bold As Live interview & concert here.

Promo Single from 2007 that kept coming back to me after the first listen: Tenderhead's multi-genre "Goes 2 Show" which features the following sounds: unsettling ambient groove, guitar-driven acid-blues, soulful balladry, and makes the mix work. Oh, yeah, I wrote about it here.

Short Film Soundtrack from 2007 that got under my skin: Melvin Gibbs' (as yet uncredited) polyrhythmic-marrow-twisting rumbles for the Malik Hassan Sayeed/Arthur Jafa directed film She Walked Calmly Disappearing Into The Darkness.

Endnote I:
*...or Bettye LaVette's Scene of the Crime; or Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings' 100 Days, 100 Nights; or Marva Whitney's I Am What I Am; or Otis Taylor's Definition of A Circle; or The Carolina Chocolate Drops' Dona Got A Ramblin' Mind; or The Smyrk's New Fiction; or The Noisettes' What's the Time Mr. Wolf (despite having seen them live this year); etc., etc., etc...all from 2007, so I've got a lot of catching up to do...

Endnote II:
Notable year-end lists from elsewhere:
Mark Anthony Neal's Vibe.com Critical Noir Blog: The 2007 Playlist (ver. 1.0)


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