Let me count the ways: Brought to you by the numbers 47-80

Posted: August 31, 2013 in music, Record reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Today was Day 1 of the Labor Day three-day weekend. I’m explaining that for the benefit of my readers residing outside the USA, particularly the person who dropped by yesterday from Hungary. (Sorry, you don’t get your money back.) So although I did a lot today, most of it was in the categories of walking, observing nature, watering various leafy objects in the garden, and napping. That explains why tonight’s entry is shorter than recent entries.

No disqualifications this evening. Let’s go 47!

Black 47
I don’t know where Level 42 got their name from, but I do know that Black 47 comes from the worst year of the Irish potato famine. These boyos are Irishmen living in New York. They play Celtic folk (interest dropping), rock, rap, and reggae (interest back up). I listened to Fire of Freedom (1993). I liked “Rockin’ the Bronx,” which really does mix up all these genres – imagine The Beastie Boys transplanted to Dublin – but overall this music is firmly in Thistle & Shamrock territory and I didn’t make it through all 14 tracks.

50 Cent
The first thing to know about 50 Cent is that, given his early years, it’s a miracle he’s still alive and getting ready to turn 40. Like Alex Alexakis of Everclear, Curtis James Jackson III actually lived the gangsta life he writes about. The second thing to know is that for years, 50 Cent was an unstoppable money machine, vacuuming in the cash for his own albums and for the ones he produced for his buddies (collectively known as the G-Unit). The third thing to know, although this one means nothing, is that I will never take gangsta rap seriously.

I listened to his breakout record, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003). This one produced two songs that invaded the mainstream and became huge hits, “Wanksta” and “In da Club.” I realize now I’ve heard “In da Club” or variations of it for years, especially during the run-up to battle or chase scenes in less-cerebral science-fiction movies. I also admit that it gets under your skin. Get Rich also gave us “P.I.M.P.,” a topic that never grows old, although this one has a calypso chassis that almost makes it palatable.

The only thing I really like about 50 Cent is his name, which I think was a fantastic choice. I enjoyed calling my Boise friend John “35 Cent,” but he got tired of it.

50 Foot Wave
This is rock that looks back at punk and looks forward to kicking you in the head. Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) runs this project. I’ve only heard the 50 Foot Wave EP (2004), but it’s obvious that 50 Foot Wave could run rings around The Ramones, stand toe-to-toe with Foo Fighters (though they’re nowhere near as melodic), and scare the pants off Coldplay. Recommended if you need to knock everything out of your brain.

The B-52s
I can’t write objectively about my favorites. Check the tag cloud or go here.

Experimental music from the 1970s and ’80s with punk tendencies and much dry humor. The production is not very clear, though it is clear that MX-80 is playing music strictly for MX-80. If you like it too, so what.

“Someday You’ll Be King” from Out of the Tunnel (1980) has a punchy, uncontrolled quality to it and gives you a taste of some late-’70s punk. “It’s Not My Fault” sounds like Talking Heads and Devo went through the transporter at the same time and came out the same band. I haven’t heard any of their other albums, but I’ll bet Out of the Tunnel was the closest MX-80 came to commercial appeal. (Out of the Tunnel and their next album, Crowd Control, are available on the same CD.)

Thirteen bands to go. Tomorrow we’ll start with M83 and see if we can reach 101 Strings.


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