Nick recently showed me a dope mix that mastermind Mad Decent had constructed, Me So Corny, which is a bunch of goofy sounding songs all mashed together in a cheesy twice-baked gagger. Anyways, this song was not featured in the mix, but it reminded me of the songs he did use that are silly, but not always necessarily intended to be.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m sure the Bollywood film this is from is bananas and this scene was hilarious on an internationally accessible level. But it’s silly to me because I can’t understand it… but in a safe way (see also Nick’s post below about racism).
(Because the artist I’m posting is Syrian, I felt like I should write something meaningful about the repression that’s going on in Syria right now. This isn’t a political blog, and I’m not a Middle Eastern scholar, so I don’t have much to say other than my heart goes out to the people fighting for freedom in that country. If you didn’t know, 900 people have been killed by the government since protests started. Oh, and FUCK Bashar al-Asad and all other tyrants. May they all be swiftly ousted.)
When I was in college and first started discovering music from parts of the world that are not the U.S. or the U.K., (I still doggedly refuse to use the term “world music”) I often questioned my own motivations. Am I exotifying cultures that aren’t my own? Is my appreciation for, say, 1970s Ethiopian pop or Cambodian funk somehow racist?
A large part of what draws me to music from unfamiliar cultures is my love of unintelligible lyrics. When I was a lil’ punker, for example, I usually wouldn’t be able to hear what the lead singer was sing-shouting, but it was the energy and cadence of the words coming out that was most attractive. I’m a word guy, so I appreciate good lyrics, too. But when I can’t necessarily understand the vocalist but appreciate his/her delivery, it often works out perfectly.
Enter Omar Souleyman, Syrian superstar. My old roommate had his album “Highway to Hasake” (Sublime Frequencies) and often played it. I had never heard anything like it. There’s something about the beats alongside Souleyman’s vocal delivery that just puts me into an instant trance. I almost ran off the road listening to this song in my car the other day.
Souleyman is coming to Portland this summer, and I’m really excited to see him.
Here’s one from New Orleans’ Lloyd Price (nicknamed Mr. Personality) that seriously moves it. This is one of those songs that are just on continuous internal loop during my summers. Though it sounds mad calypso-y, Lloyd was mostly an R&B jamster who had over 30 chart toppers.
Ladies - have you been looking for a fun new hobby that not only gets your ass into shape, but pleases your man at the very same time?! Well look no further, because Azel Turkvas is here from Turkey to teach you the exotic art of belly-dancing for your bologna scented vodka stained pipe-smoking-man. These moves are easy and fun, and (as a woman) you will have plenty of time to practice:
in your bedroom while hubby’s winning bread
in the kitchen while the kids are at school
in the living room when the vacuum is on the fritz
when you should be plotting the destruction of the 50’s patriarchy
From the instruction manual included with this LP:
“Aside from the fun and pleasure you will derive from learning this ancient dance you will also slenderize your figure by trimming your waistline and hips. It will make you a different person — both physically and mentally, in a very short time. It will do wonders for you, not to mention what it will do to your husband…
You can obtain your finger cymbals from your nearest music store.
(If you are a male — sorry, these instructions will not work for you, sir.)”
This is one of those weird records from the 50s/60s that tried hard to resuscitate waning marriages through ‘exotic’ Eastern music and dance. Very weird stuff, but the music…well, it’s pretty damn catchy. I was talking to Angela (owner of Weirdo Records in Cambridge, MA) about this after I found it, and apparently there is a whole ton of this shit. ‘How To Make Your Husband A Prince’, ‘How To Be A Geisha For Your Husband’, ‘How To Make Your Husband Feel Like He’s Sleeping With An 8th Century Balkan Concubine When It’s Really His Wife Still’, etc. Ohhh, but times were simpler back then.
This song is a godang rollercoaster! Between the manic yodeling (boy, that is work) and the silly voice changes this song amounts to one of my favorite rockabilly goofers. It’s a variation on a classic, but before I knew that and heard my grandpa singing the chorus I almost had kittens.
“Papa, why you singing that song so slow?”
“…Well it’s a sad song, isn’t it?”
Never really took it seriously because the lyrics are kind of overshadowed by the silliness, but at heart it really is. Heard it off of Desperate Rock’N’Roll Vol 3, great compilation of rare dirty garage and rockabilly jams.
You Thought You Married a Woman; You Married a Big Black Bird
Some musicians will never gain mainstream recognition largely because they’re impossible to categorize. The Bahamian Tony McKay, who recorded and performed as Exuma, is one of those artists.
Exuma moved from the Bahamas to New York City when he was 17, and hung out with the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 60s. He played with the people like Bob Dylan and Richie Havens, but didn’t get a record deal until 1970.
The first two Exuma albums (self-titled 1 and 2) are, in a word, fuckin’ bananas. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
McKay draws heavily from the traditional junkanoo and calypso percussion of his home country, which he blends with traditional American folk and rock elements. He has an incredible vocal range, from screaming soul to menacing growls, with lyrics often dealing with black magic and sorcery.
In one song he dubs himself “Exuma the Obeah Man” who came to earth on a lightning bolt, born with fire and brimstone coming out of his mouth.
“I got the voices of many in my throat/the teeth of a frog, and the tail of a goat.”
I submit to you that the almost untraceable band Klubs should have been as big as the Move, the Move should have received as much potential attention as The Creation, The Creation should have in fact been as successful as The Kinks, and indeed Ray Davies should have been as recognizable as Mick Jagger.
This song is an acoustic version of a much more rockin version. Most of the other stuff I’ve heard from them is a lot more raucous.
I just wrote a big long post that got deleted. I don’t feel like typing it back up, but it was probably completely masturbatory and boring and you’d rather listen to Big Daddy Kane anyway so here’s a stone cold classic.
If I still drove, this would be the jam blaring out the windows as I traveled to my vacation destination. This is another one from the digital vaults of WFMU The Hound, found in a cluster of randomly snagged MP3s from ye auld college days. Awesome summertime rockabilly bopper.
Sidenote: This is basically the way I wish my voice sounds when I sing. But alas.