It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. And now I understand what they meant. Here are the things that brought a smile to my face in an often tumultuous 2016.
Earth Disciples “Peace, Love and Harmony” In February, I went to Jamaica. Most of the trip was spent in Port Antonio (Piggy’s forever), but one day, my friend Corey and I did a trip to Kingston to dig for records and check out the Trenchtown Culture Yard. As we walked through the yard, we saw a group of guys sitting in a window across the way. When we got close, our guide walked us into the room behind them, where there was a little studio, with a man named Ziggy at the controls. He played us a couple solo pieces from an album he’d done recently, and then he called in the guys from the window. Turns out that the three of them were Earth Disciples, the first band Marley recorded in Tuff Gong other than his own. (I did a little internet sleuthing and found this article about them pasted into a message board.) Over thirty years later, they’ve still got it. (If you wanna hear the original tune, this is it.)
Every week of this outdoor Mister Sunday season, Eamon and Justin start things off by playing an entire album. This week it’s Justin’s turn. He’s chosen Reg King by Reg King. This is what he has to say about it.
I’m starting things off this Sunday with a relatively unknown but unequivocally brilliant English rock album from 1971. It’s the self-titled album from Reg King, the former lead singer of The Action, a mod group once tapped by George Martin (the Beatles’ producer extraordinaire) as the next big thing. After the mod movement fizzled, Martin moved on, but King, not losing hope, hunkered down for a few years and wrote and recorded this masterpiece. It’s largely overlooked, but it stands among the best English rock recorded in the early 70s, and that’s no small feat when you think about the titans recording then: Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Yes, etc. I’m looking forward to hearing it on the big system Sunday!
Every week of this outdoor Mister Sunday season, we’ll be asking Eamon or Justin to highlight an album that they’ll be playing in full at the beginning of the day. This week, it’s Eamon’s turn. He’s chosen MetaL MetaL by the Brazilian band Meta Meta. This is what he has to say about it.
Last year I took a trip to Brazil. One evening in Rio, I met up with my friend Millos Kaiser from Selvagem, and he took us to a favela to see a band I’d never heard of. The favelas in Rio are slowly becoming safer places, and quite a few now see a regular trade in tourism from more adventurous travelers. Heading into one for the first time with a Rio native who has impeccable music taste was a real treat.
The band we saw was called Meta Meta. They were playing in a fairly nondescript warehouse space with pretty bad acoustics, but the night was a special one because they had such an incredible sound, and the crowd watching them was a really great combination of kids from the favela and people from the creative and artistic communities in Rio.
Meta Meta’s music is heavily influenced by a Bahia-based Afro-Brazilian religion that has links back to west Africa and the slavery days. You can hear religious wailing throughout the record underpinned by moments of afro-beat, free jazz and punk. It’s a truly remarkable fusion. (And Tony Allen makes an appearance behind the drum set on a few of the tracks, to boot.)
The record I’ll be playing at 3pm on Sunday was the last LP they had for sale after the gig. I bought it directly from Juçara Marçal the lead singer, a very charismatic and talented lady.
Every week of this outdoor Mister Sunday season, we’ll be asking Eamon or Justin to highlight an album that they’ll be playing in full at the beginning of the day. This week, it’s Justin’s turn. He’s chosen Salvatore’s Tempo album. This is what he has to say about it.
When I got out of college in 2003, I dabbled in music journalism. Those were the days when PR companies would still send out CDs to writers, and it didn’t take long before I would get overwhelmed by piles of CDs. Luckily this album was one of the first I got, when it still felt really special to get new music in the mail for free.
What made it all the more special is how psyched I was on the music. (I quickly discovered that most promos were mediocre, so finding one I loved in the early stages was like hitting a home run at my first at-bat.) Tempo became a staple album for me. It still reminds me of that time in my life, riding back from Beach Five at Robert Moses State Park in my friend Vance’s Jetta with the window open and my best friends in the back seat.
The music is expansive, with large debts to krautrock and post-punk (when I interviewed them, the Salvatore guys told me that they loved Liquid Liquid; it recently dawned on me that they probably named the band after the Liquids’ lead singer and percussionist Salvatore Principato). Beyond the homages to the past, the record also felt very contemporary. You could tell they listened to a lot of sample-based electronic music. I don’t think sampling was involved in the records, but the drummer played repetitive breaks as if they’d been sampled. They were clearly also shoegaze fans. Guitar lines would only be a few notes long, but they’d hang in the air for ages.
I recently pulled the album out, and it sounds as good as ever. I’m really excited to play it for you Sunday.