So here we go! Details by track.

  1. The set begins with a song by the Swedish experimental band The Knife. If you’re intrigued, please watch this remarkable interview. The song starts with a simple TR-808 drum beat, but quickly blossoms into a 6/8 groove loaded with Congotronics-style flourishes. A track from the corresponding Konono No 1 Congotronics album bookends the playlist.
  2. From Nordic trendsetters to 50s-era delta blues, the next track is Elmore James’ haunting “Something Inside of Me.” James who died in ’63, was buried in a rural outpost of central Mississippi called Ebenezer. His music had an enormous impact on countless blues and rock and roll musicians.
  3. Then there was British Rock-a-billy. The Cobras may sound like California surfers but they’re actually from Essex.
  4. And just as the Cobras are Brits, The Brazilian Girls are German. The boogaloo beat from guest jazz drummer Kenny Wollesen matches the feel of the track preceding it (even though it’s in 6/4), which is why these two are back-to-back. I ran into Wollesen in a Nashville Tower Records once. He was with Bill Frisell killing time before a show. For some reason I was more impressed seeing the quirky drummer than the headliner. As they walked by, I exclaimed, “Kenny Wollesen!” While we chatted, Frisell went dumpster diving in the country bins. I miss record stores, by the way.wollesen
  5. “Hold On” gets my vote as the Best Song of 2012. From the Bonham-like drum beat to the gravely-voiced vocals, this song is pure Americana. The Alabama Shakes, definitely a band worthy of their hype.
  6. Born in 1900 Willie Brown was a musician who frequently performed with Robert Johnson (Johnson famously called Brown his “friendboy”). Like Elmore James, Brown was also from Mississippi. “Future Blues” is the future and the past and the namesake for this playlist.
  7. The Parisian Arthur H created a hypnotic masterpiece in “Naรฏve Derviche.” The groove, which starts in 7/4 meter, is the centerpiece of this tribute to the Turkish Whirling Dervish. The beat really wakes up on the bridge (if you can call it that) when they switch to 5/4 with the tuba playing a disjointed pattern: 1, 2+, 3+, 5–love the accent on the “and of three.” Once that settles, the horns–muted trumpet, two flutes, and trombone–enter with a suitable Turkish melody. This is another track for my desert island playlist.
  8. Bjork’s “Army Of Me” still sounds modern. And once again, there’s the Bonham-style beat.
  9. Otis. What else is there to say? “You were so far away that an airplane couldn’t reach ya…”
  10. And as promised, Congotronics. Listen to the call-and-response and the powerful groove. And you thought “thumb pianos” were for kids. You need to own this album if you don’t already. #Africa

 

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