Classic Melting Pot

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Yesterday’s show featured some new music, but it was really all about the tribute to Jason Molina in the second hour. As I’ve mentioned here, I’ve been a big fan of Molina’s music ever since I first heard him in 1997. His music has been a constant companion on many a road trip and more than perhaps any other musician from the “heroic years” of indie-music the songs Molina crafted stick in your mind and find their way deep down. The hour of music I put together isn’t meant to be a full retrospective or an attempt at a comprehensive look at his career. As fitting the deeply personal nature of the man’s music, it’s simply the songs of Molina’s that I loved the most, heavily tilted towards those early years of Songs: Ohia, but also featuring a few songs that I’ve recently discovered in the time since his passing. Currently virtually of Molina’s music is available on the Magnolia Electric Co. website. He will be truly missed…

Melting Pot on KPFK #119: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #119: Second Hour

Playlist: 03-24-2013
{opening theme} Booker T & the Mgs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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Shuggie Otis – Wings Of Love – Inspiration Information/Wings of Love (Legacy)
Toure Kunda – Amadou Tilo – Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1980-1987 (Strut)
The Heliocentrics – Collateral Damage – 13 Degrees of Reality (Now-Again)

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Billy Bragg – Handyman Blues – Tooth & Nail (Cooking Vinyl)
Lady – Habit – Lady (Truth & Soul)
Philip Owusu – Goodnight – Subs (Self-Released)

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Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge feat. William Hart – Enemies – 12 Reasons To Die (Soul Temple)
Jose James – Bird of Space – No Beginning, No End (Blue Note)
Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – On The East Side – Tortured Soul (Timmion)

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Songs: Ohia – Cabwaylingo – Songs: Ohia (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia – Love & Work – Axxess & Ace (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia – Crab Orchard – Songs: Ohia (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia – Baby Take A Look – The Lioness (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia – Our Republic – Songs: Ohia (Secretly Canadian)

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Amalgamated Sons of Rest – I Will Be Good – Amalgamated Sons of Rest EP (Galaxia)
Songs: Ohia – How To Be Perfect Men – Axxess & Ace (Secretly Canadian)
Magnolia Electric Co. – Farewell Transmission – Magnolia Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia – Gauley Bridge – Songs: Ohia (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia – Soul – Nor Cease Thou Never Now 7” (Palace Records)

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Jason Molina – The Harvest Law – Autumn Bird Songs EP (Graveface)
Songs: Ohia – Blue Factory Flame – Didn’t It Rain (Secretly Canadian)
Songs: Ohia – Goodnight Lover – Axxess & Ace (Secretly Canadian)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

BakerMonroe

Kenny Baker – Mississippi Waltz
Kenny Baker – Wheel Hoss
Kenny Baker – Jerusalem Ridge
Kenny Baker – Lonesome Moonlight Waltz

Since this is my closing theme each time we have an all-vinyl show on Melting Pot, I’m really surprised that I haven’t posted this album before. The story of how I came to find this record, the only bluegrass album I own, and what many consider the best bluegrass record ever recorded, goes back to my time in Wisconsin at WORT-FM. In addition to hosting a jazz program there I was also the volunteer coordinator, which meant I was at the station during the day for long periods of time which means I got to hear most of our weekly programming and meet and talk with most of the people there during the day. The highlight of my week was without a doubt being able to hear what is probably the finest country music program in the entire nation, Back To The Country, with Bill Malone, family and friends. On the show, Malone used a couple of “old-timey” waltzes as bed music, generally for concert calendars. “Mississippi Waltz” was one that stuck in my mind, but for some reason I never thought to ask him what the song and the artist was for the music. Many many years later, far away from Madison, while I lived in California, from time to time the melody from that song would creep back into my mind and I’d kick myself for not figuring it out while I was at the station.

Eventually the misery and mystery got to me. I recorded myself whistling as much as I could remember about the song, which ended up being about 45 seconds of the melody, and sent the recording to Bill Malone. Thankfully my ears held on to just enough of the song to make it easy for him (though he did marvel at my whistlin’ skills and my ability to hold that melody in my mind for what must have been some 6 or 7 years) and finally I was able to track down what is truly one of the most lovely things I’ve ever heard. Kenny Baker is revered as one of the best fiddler players to have ever walked the earth. It doesn’t take long listening to this music to figure out why that was the case.

“Wheel Hoss” is one of the tunes that convinced Baker to give up Western Swing and focus full-time on Bluegrass. “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz” and “Jerusalem Ridge” must have been standards of the Bill Monroe repetoire. I’m still pretty flat out amazed that this recording was the very first one of “Mississippi Waltz.” As I mentioned above, it’s honestly one of the prettiest things I’ve ever heard and likely will ever hear. To think Monroe just had the tune sittin’ on a shelf is just mind boggling, as were the talents of Bill Monroe and the legendary Kenny Baker.

Cheers,

Michael

5 for Jason Molina…R.I.P.

March 24th, 2013

Molina

{Molina’s Label, Secretly Canadian, has chosen to honor his memory by streaming all of his recorded works, take the time to dig in and get lost…}

Word came out and hit like a punch in the gut for a lot of people who care about good music, Jason Molina passed away this past Saturday at the far too young age of 39. For just about the past 20 years Molina has produced some of the most fascinating, frustrating, inscrutable, passionate and soulful music in virtual obscurity. I first came to hear of Molina in 1996 or 1997 when his debut release as Songs: Ohia was released. I wasn’t able to get the record added to our playlist at Album 88, but I sure played the hell out of it when I could and kept on playing Molina’s music wherever else I could on the radio. Songs from that first record were required listening on many a road trip over the years. More than anyone other recent singer/songwriter, besides perhaps Elliot Smith, the music of Jason Molina has a haunting quality that sticks with you. It’s not a sound for everyone, but if it is for you, well I’m sure you’re like me and deeply mourning the loss of a talented though troubled man. I’ll be playing an hour of Molina’s music this Sunday on Melting Pot, here are 5 songs that will definitely be in the playlist.

 

Songs: Ohia – Our Republic

More than any other song “Our Republic” is the one that keeps finding it’s way into my mind. Part of it is in the lyrics, which for the most part are as inscrutable as much of the other songs on the debut, but in what passes for a chorus there is this lovely line that’s always stuck with me, “you should know, trouble comes from a passionate word, you should know passion comes from a troublesome word.” Musically the song is marvel for a particular reason. After all these years of listening to it I still can’t tell if the instrument at the end is a saxophone or violin/viola. Charles Mingus talked about how if he had a group of bass players as talented as him they could mimic a horn section. To my ears it sounds like this might be one of those rare instances. I never heard anything quite like it, so it makes sense that it would pop up here in one of the first songs I’d hear from such a distinctive musician.

Songs: Ohia – How To Be The Perfect Man

Whereas the debut record seemed to be built out of esoteric lyrics put together in ways that didn’t even seem like they were from the 20th century, many later albums mined much more clearly personal territory while retaining Molina’s distinctive sense of phrasing. “Perfect Man” is less a tutorial than a plea from Molina. He knows he’s not the perfect man, he knows he’s never going to be a perfect man, but he’s still hopeful that the woman he loves will “Be mine, til you’re reminded of something better, be mine, til it comes along.”

Songs: Ohia – Baby Take A Look

It wasn’t until Molina’s death that I reaquainted myself with this stunner from the Lionness. In contrast to the pain of love lost that was often in a number of songs from this period of Molina’s writing, “Baby Take A Look” is awfully tender. It strikes me as the kind of thing that might have been written in reply to an argument and as a reminder of the love he had to share.

Songs: Ohia – Goodnight Lover

In a career of fine and distinctive songwriting, in my opinion, this is the best song Molina ever wrote. Such a personal appeal to a former lover that I always felt the performance was almost too intimate for anyone else’s ears than the person it was written for. A true heartbreaker for sure.

Songs: Ohia – Blue Factory Flame

It’s truly astounding looking at the full career output of Jason Molina. Prolific doesn’t even seem like it fits the body of work. I was amazed at how many recordings I’d never even heard and while I can’t say every single song speaks to me in the way his earliest recordings did, “Blue Factory Flame” was one of the tracks that stopped me in my tracks. It’s hard to listen to these lyrics, so focused on his own end of days, a little over a week after his death. While I feel “Goodnight Lover” is the best thing Molina ever wrote, I’m not sure there’s any thing he ever more deeply sung than this track.

Amatorski

Amatorski – Never Told

In a show full of fantastic brand new music last week, I think the biggest revelation was this track from the Belgian group Amatorski. I hadn’t heard anything from the group before, and the first couple of tracks that I heard from this were filled with promise, but didn’t fully grab me. All that changed with “Never Told,” which begins soulful and sparse with piano, drums and bass and continues a nice slow burn when the two vocalists are added. Things open up unexpectedly towards the end as a variety of more post-rock elements enter in giving the whole song a decidely cinematic feel and scope. TBC’s other tracks may be a bit too experimental for this group to find a large audience here in the states, but “Never Told” is easily one of the most marvelous things I’ve heard in 2013, already something I can guarantee will be there at the end of the year when we run down the best music of the year.

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I’d like to say that I waited to post this until today so that Biz Markie’s “Spring Again” would be synched up with the first actual day of spring, but truth is I’ve just been swamped in grading for Long Beach and have only had the chance to edit and upload the show today. Sunday’s show started with the aforementioned classic, our traditional start of spring song, and also paid tribute to St. Patrick’s Day with a couple songs from the Pogues in the second hour. Throughout the rest of the show there is a TON of new music, much of it exceptional soul music of every possibility variety of the word. We got new music from Lady, Ghostface Killah + adrian Younge, Charles Bradley, Nicole Willis, Philip Owusu, Alice Russell, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Amatorski and classic material from Fela, Jimi Hendrix and Richard Hell thrown in for good measure. We’ll dig deeper into some of these new releases this Sunday and see what other goodies I’m able to dig up too.

Melting Pot on KPFK #118: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #118: Second Hour

Heads

The Heads – Digging Your Head
The Heads – Land Of The Stoned Soul
The Heads – Are You Lonely For Me Baby

Don’t really have much to say about this one, I don’t know too much about this band and don’t have the time to do the proper research (swamped in grading right now, maybe I’ll revise this one later). When I ran into this album at Amoeba I had vague recollections of running into it before though I’d never owned it. So many elements on the mental checklist, interesting original titles, choice covers, mentions of “soul” in the liner notes…but really it all came down to the fact that dude on the cover looks just like Mongo from Blazing Saddles. Dropped the needle and the band sounded almost exactly the way I thought they would. Yes indeed, I’m digging the Heads.

Cheers,

Michael

AYDelfonics

Adrian Younge & William Hart – Stand Up

Been sitting on this one for months and months, but finally it has been released! Adrian Younge has been exceptionally busy over the last year, working on three separate records in addition to scoring Cartoon Network’s Black Dynamite. This record is sandwitched in between his own album with his group Venice Dawn and the upcoming collab with Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang. AY and the Delfonics makes a ton of sense stylistically. The Delfonics’ sound, especially in the early period, had a lush, deep and dark quality to it. As such, the distinctive falsetto of William Hart fits perfectly with Adrian’s music. it’s rare that a dream match-up actually sounds exactly how you’d picture it, but here it is…enjoy it to the fullest.

Added bonus, the retro 1990s styled video for the lead single “Stop & Look”:

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First week of fundraising for us during the first fundraiser of 2013 started off a little shaky. I was expecting Sean Osborn of KPFK’s Soundwaves to pitch with me, but he came down with a bout of food poisoning and so it was just me flying solo. We still did pretty good, raising $1300 of a $1500 goal, and might have exceeded it if not for the fact that everybody and their mother (perhaps literally) decided to call in the last 5 minutes of the show! Hopefully next week we’ll be able to get people to spread things out a bit more. We’ll have the same amazing 6 pack of CDs and some new goodies to throw at you as well. Hope you’ll tune in and if you can please do donate to KPFK and support Melting Pot!

Melting Pot on KPFK #117: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #117: Second Hour

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