Saturday, September 17, 2005

Musica Obscuria*

Ok, Senior Tortuga, the gloves are off. I'll see your 5 desert island CD's, and raise you this. What 5 musical groups and/or albums that only you, and maybe 3 other people in the world, know about and love, should everyone be made aware of. Allow me to fire the first salvo.

Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Warren Zevon This album has the classic Werewolves of London on it, but also the equally classic Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, and the title song Lawyers, Guns, and Money. This is Zevon at his weirdly political best. And who else could make the phrase 'the shit has hit the fan' sound so lyrical?

Brontosaurus: DaVinci's Notebook This mostly acappella quartet is a favorite on the Bob and Tom show with such brilliant songs as Internet Porn, and Heather Graham, but their Irish Drinking Song is something best listened to when not drinking to avoid a beer cleansing of the nasal passages. And, of course, Enormous Penis speaks for itself.

From Dublin to Dakar: Various Artists If someone said to you 'you know what would sound great together? Bagpipes and African tribal drums' you'd probably think they were waaaayyy too friendly with the hooka, but this fusion of Celtic and Middle Eastern music is incredible. Very little of the album is in English, but Arabic and Gaelic blend beautifully to create a tapestry of unintelligibility that is the musical equivalent of listening to the waves at night: you haven't a clue what the meaning is, but it is still a pleasing sound.

Imaginos: Blue Oyster Cult This was BOC's only concept album, and I think one of their best albums, period. It's creepy in that Lovecraftian, I-think-I-just-missed-something way that BOC has, as well as being almost operatic in its score. Not every song is a gem, but with titles like I Am The One You Warned Me Of, and Les Invisibles, and the explosive The Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle at Wasseria there is a track for nearly every mood on this disc. It is my all time favorite BOC album, yet it languishes in out-of-print obscurity.

Kiss: Alive This is Kiss's first, and best live album. It comes from the time before the lads began to believe their own press, and The Show became more important than the music. This double disc set totally kicks ass, with a 10 minute long Peter Chris drum solo in the middle of it that makes your arms ache just listening. It pre-dates Destroyer, so no Detroit Rock City, but they more than make up for that with 100,000 Years, Rock Bottom, Hotter Than Hell, Strutter, and that quintessential anthem, Rock and Roll All Night, and Party Every Day. If you want to hear what Kiss sounded like before they became more side show than rock show this is the album to get.

Ok, that's 5. I could go on with bands like Luscious Jackson, and Off Kilter(Tom Sawyer played on a bagpipe), but I'll obey my own restrictions. There is, however, one honorable mention. The Buggles: The Age of Plastic. Most of the album is like Thomas Dolby Lite, but Video Killed the Radio Star is such a classic that it's worth the rest of the disc.

Tag! You're it!


*I don't know if that's real Latin, but it sounds good.


justin said...

Sarah Shannon, self-titled:
The early 90's were very nearly the half-decade of Velocity Girl - one of the best selling and most loved unknown alternative Seattle bands. Unfortunately, Kurt Cobain was too charismatic, and grunge overshadowed Seattle for far longer than any rainclouds ever did. Now the singer of Velocity Girl has gone solo, producing an obscure retro-funk pop ten song collection with which to get down. Lyrics without pretention and articulate melodies make this one a must-hear.

Frogpad, Scheme:
I had to order from a German website to get this album, because apparently no one in America has it for sale. It was worth it though; Frogpad are a french group which have combined the sultry drawling vocals of Portishead with startling yet beautiful electronic music. Though quite obscure, I believe a section of one song is being used as the background music for the dish explanations in Iron Chef America.

Capercaillie, Nadurra:
Traditional and modern Irish pop music, beautiful singing, unintelligible gaelic, dulcimers and more!

Balligomingo, Beneath the Surface:
Several vocalists lend their talents to this collection of groove-soaked tunes which can only be described as urban-tribal. Would be groundbreaking if not for the existence of bands like Delerium.

Autumn, The Hating Tree:
Powerful vocals and clear guitar twangs; if I had to introduce real goth rock to someone who associates the genre with Marilyn Manson and similar crap, this is the album I'd give them. Pretentious, self-obsessed over dramatic rock, but wonderful nonetheless.

Turtle said...

Okay, I'll pick up that gauntlet.

Tyr: "Eric the Red"
Heavy metal band from Scandinavia. You've got to go to their website to listen, or order CD's, but well worth it.

The Pixies: "Surfer Rosa"
Alternative, Indie rock band from the late 80's.

Rich Hardesty: "Hard Boilered Alive"
Catchy tunes, often funny, about life, relationships, having fun. Very hard to nail his style down. A blend of rock, pop, reggae...

Minstrels of Mayhem: "Blind Man's Bluff"
The mostly do the Renn/Med Faire circuit, but are absolutely fantastic. BMB has some awesome songs, combining a variety of Medieval flair and modern stuff. "Into the Blue" is a fantastic song, sounding like an old sea shanty, but is about the Columbia Shuttle.

Clam Chowder: "Salvaged"
A very eclectic group that plays American, British and Australian folk songs, shanties, and a variety of random stuff. "Salvaged" is, basically, everything they could rescue from old tapes, essentially their "best of" album.

How'd I do? BTW, I must be "one of the 3", as I knew every one on your list....