Death - …For The Whole World To See (Drag City)
Chances are if you are dating a single mother, you’re going to have some influence on her kids. That is what happened to Bobby, David & Dannis Hackney. The Hackney brothers’ mom was dating a Detroit area bouncer who worked the rock clubs. He got the young brothers into the clubs and exposed them to the crème de la crème of the Detroit scene of the late 60’s, early 70’s. They saw groups such as The MC5, The Stooges, Funkadelic and Alice Cooper. Soon they started their own band and recorded the best album you've never heard. Recorded in 1974, Death’s …For The Whole World To See finally sees the light of day. Death was one of those bands that no one knew what to do with. They were black teenagers that played Stooges influenced rock and roll. The African American community was into Motown and the Philly sound and Punk rock didn’t even have a name yet. Not having a vehicle to release their album, Death released an independent single from this session, their 1976 single, "Politician In My Eyes," which made it seem like these guys were followers rather than one of the originators of Punk. Nothing against The Ramones, New York Dolls or many of those bands people mention as being a part of the genesis of Punk Rock, but Death should have been mentioned along with those groups as pioneers of Punk. Hopefully now they will get their due.
Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali (Nonesuch)
Things I love about this album: I like that Amadou and Mariam continue to modernize their sound. It would be easy for them to do their Malian style blues in a tradition style much like the great Ali Farka Toure did for many years. It would be easy for them to go the way of the Touaregs and get a cult following who will buy every Touareg rock release. I feel that Amadou & Mariam feel that they are bigger than Mali; I feel like they feel they are bigger than Africa as well. Much like Manu Chao, they want their music to transcend borders and time. They have songs in English. They will tour with Coldplay. This is a group not afraid to collaborate and to try new sounds. If Lil Wayne and Kanye West can have Auto-tune on their tracks, why can't Mariam?!
Some songs on this new record are in collaboration with Mr. Blur himself, Damon Albarn. They also do a song with new PC Superhero/notorious bad tipper K’naan (some inside info for you waiter/waitress types!). Some songs are brilliant and others are misguided, but the album is never boring. I would have to come to the same conclusion as my World Music cohort Viola Galloway on this one: Good, not great.
Chicano Rock! The Sound Of East Los Angeles (DVD)
This film originally aired on PBS. It is an hour history lesson on the music of East L.A. from the 1940’s till present day. Narrated by James Edward Olmos (as in, "he’s in Olmos every Chicano film every made!"), Chicano Rock contains plenty of great interviews, including some of the last interviews ever with the late Lalo Guerrero and Don Tosti. The documentary covers the struggles of Chicano musicians who weren’t accepted by their Mexican counterparts and were mostly ignored by mainstream America. There is classic footage of Cannibal & The Headhunters (and an explanation of how they got their name), Thee Midniters, El Chicano and Ritchie Valens. Also included is some recent footage of 80’s Punk band The Brat and some of Son Jarocho via Quetzal. This is great for a beginner to the Chicano music scene but if you are like me and have read a thousand books on this very subject, you probably will want a little more depth. Still, it is a welcome drink of Chicano knowledge for a thirsty world.