Fans of the Grateful Dead feeling bummed about not getting to attend the final Dead series of concerts recently, might consider the alternative of going to check out George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic who are currently on a summer tour that includes some free shows in New York City this week. As anyone like myself who has ever witnessed concerts by both Jerry Garcia's beloved band and by the Godfather of Funk's various funk incarnations (Parliament / Funkadelic / P-Funk All Stars) will attest, both share an approach to concerts that tend towards long extended jams that are related to "the One." So if you were among those Deadheads disappointed to not get to attend either the two anniversary Dead shows last month in Santa Clara, CA or this month's sold-out (and expensive) show series at Chicago's Soldier Field, where the four remaining members of the Grateful Dead - Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann - performed together reportedly for the last time, then I say honor Jerry and the Dead by going to see George and Parliament Funkadelic.
SANDRO PERRI Impossible Spaces (Constellation Records)
Easily the most confounding sound I heard this last year. In all truth, this record was released in late 2011, but I didn't find any indicators pointing towards it until this year. Perri is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer from Toronto, Canada who also creates electronica under the name Polmo Polpo. On Impossible Spaces, Perri presents a light, meandering soul in a voice that sometimes reminds me of Michael Franks, sometimes Antony, sometimes Christopher Cross. It's a strange tone to hear in 2012, but it is all couched and wrapped in, levitated and nudged along by a busy production of electronica, (fretless?) bass, warped keyboards and processed saxophone that keeps pulling my ear deep into its sheer inventiveness. Guaranteed to confuse.
MOUNT EERIE Clear Moon ((P.W.Elverum & Sun)
One of this year's two "sister" releases (with Ocean's Roar), Clear Moon, is issued, as it should be, on clear vinyl. Phil Elverum, the creative force behind Mount Eerie and its former incarnation, Microphones, is a master of mood. His albums are for headphones, for closed eyes, akin to sitting alone (or with silent friends) in the forest or on some chilled rocky outcropping from where you can see no sign of civilization and yet always aware that its there.
Where do I start? At the Hollywood store, the entire soul LP collectible wall is being overhauled and we've got a ton of killer titles. Sealed classics, modern soul rarities, boogie monsters, disco divas, gospel crossovers as well Prince, Michael Jackson & Jackson 5 rarities. It really is sick...
It was 1982. I was on a school bus with my classmates, coming back from a field trip. We went to one of those historical Spanish ranches that were built when California was still Mexico (or Aztlán, if you swing that way). I was in a haze, staring out the window when my classmate, Krystal, yells out to me, “Hey, have you heard the new Prince yet?” She threw me her cassette Walkman and I pressed play.
“Don’t worry, I won't hurt you. I only want you to have some fun…”
I knew "Little Red Corvette;" it was all over the radio. But by the time I got to "Lady Cab Driver" I was a full-blown fan and 1999 was my Sgt. Pepper. It took me months to figure out that this was the same Vato that sang "Wanna Be Your Lover" a few years back.
Orale! I always thought it was a woman who sang that song!
A few weeks later, my cousin Diana had a party in Buena Park. She had a pretty big record collection. I managed to ignore all the other records and went straight to 1999. As soon as the needle hit the wax, Diana’s boyfriend, Larry, was like, “Aw hell no, Prince again?’ At that moment I remember hating Larry. Like most kids, I held every discovery sacred and I thought I knew more than everyone. Larry looked at me like he knew what I was thinking. “You want to hear where Prince got all that from?’ He went to the record collection and pulled out Funkadelic’s One Nation Under A Groove and Uncle Jam Wants You. He played each album consecutively, side a, side b, side a, side b. All those songs, "Who Says A Funk Band Can't Play Rock?!," "Cholly (Funk Gettin' Ready To Roll), "One Nation Under A Groove," "(Not Just) Knee Deep Pt.1," "Freak Of The Week." I stood staring at the speakers, digesting every song, every note, every deep bass note, every keyboard bend, every guitar solo and vocal harmony. It was as if I was trippin', way before I knew how that felt.