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Emporer Jones

Posted by Amoebite, February 1, 2009 06:16am | Post a Comment
emporer jones

Paul Robeson
(1898-1976) was one of the towering figures of African-American art, culture, and politics in the 20th century. An All-American collegiate athlete and attorney, he becamepaul robeson a star of the dramatic and musical stage, an international concert luminary, recording artist, and the first black leading man on film. But his outspoken opposition to segregation and his support of Russia’s Communist regime made him a pariah during the Cold War ‘50s; the U.S. State Department lifted his passport for nearly a decade, until the Supreme Court overturned its action in 1958. Only near the end of his life did his singular achievements begin to be recognized without the taint of racial or political prejudice.

Robeson’s 1924 appearance in the Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones launched him to stardom. He portrayed Brutus Jones, a Pullman porter turned murderer who becomes the despotic ruler of a Caribbean island. The expressionistic 1933 film production recreated that paul robesonheralded performance, and was expanded to include several musical numbers featuring Robeson’s peerless, profound bass voice. The last 15 minutes of the film is essentially a soliloquy by Jones, who, hunted by rebellious natives, is terrorized by “haints” from his past; it’s an acting tour de force.

Today, The Emperor Jones looks antique, and its liberal use of the n-word and broad racial stereotyping will make contemporary viewers cringe. But there is no denying the enduring power of Robeson’s performance. His great stature, booming voice, theatrical bravado, and magnetic presence amply demonstrate why he bestrode the theatrical and musical worlds like a colossus. A genius? Undoubtedly. (DVD: Criterion)

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Otis Redding, The Big O

Posted by Miss Ess, February 1, 2009 06:11am | Post a Comment
Otis Redding has inarguably one of the most evocative voices in all our country's history, and like so many with such enormous talent, he died too young.

otis redding

I think I first heard Otis in high school when I became obsessed with the Monterey Pop Festival, Otis' first big splash onto the pop scene. I was overwhelmed by his voice and energy during his famous performance there, including and especially a song he cowrote called "I've Been Loving You Too Long." In fact, one of my very first purchases at Amoeba quite a few years ago, and long before I ever worked here was the Reprise release of Redding's Monterey Pop set with Hendrix' on the flip side. I had never been able to find it anywhere else.


Otis came from Georgia, and he wrote and recorded for Stax/Volt, the famous Southern label. Not many people in his day were writing their own songs. Otis would write many with the legendary Steveotis redding Cropper, including "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay." Additionally, the many songs that he chose to cover were infused with a sprit and fortitude that made them all his own. Otis' career gained momentum throughout the 60s due to his incessant touring and massive talent for entertaining and moving crowds. He released a string of essential albums, including Pain in My Heart, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, Otis Blue, The Soul Album, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul and King & Queen.

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INAUGURATION LIKE ROCK CONCERT, REVIVAL, & POLITICAL RALLY

Posted by Billyjam, January 22, 2009 02:00pm | Post a Comment

I'm really not an early riser. I sure don't like the cold. And I certainly don't care for standing around for hours on end in freezing temperatures after getting out of bed really early and without enough sleep. But on Tuesday this week in Washington DC I gladly put aside all of these personal disinclinations to be on the National Mall for the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama

Sure it was uncomfortably cold as I waited, standing in the one spot for five long hours in frigid temperatures after being up since 4AM. Not only that but, like the majority of the other people that crammed all the way from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building on Tuesday, I didn't even catch a firsthand glimpse of the miniature faraway figure of Barack Obama on the steps of the Capitol Building. Instead I only got to see him (and everything else) on one of the many JumboTrons that were set up along the National Mall. But none of these temporary, uncomfortable inconveniences mattered one iota to me or seemingly to anyone else who had gathered in the numbingly cold pre-dawn to late morning hours patiently waiting for the historic ceremony to begin. It was all well worth it.


While varying reports I have read estimated Tuesday's turnout to be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million, all seem to agree that it was a landmark event with a stunning turnout. Consider in comparison that for the last inauguration, George W Bush's second in January 2005, that a mere 100,000 showed up, and many of them were protesters. Meanwhile, for this year's inauguration festivities an estimated 10,000 charter buses, packed with revelers from as far away as Chicago and California, descended upon Washington for Tuesday's events and the couple of days leading up to it. So crazy were the numbers arriving in the nation's capitol that not only were all hotels in the DC area completely booked (many reportedly jacking their rates way up in a direct correlation to demand) but hotels up to a three hour drive in all directions out of DC were also booked up. One guy told me how his friend had rented out his DC apartment for $2000 for a night. In fact, get this, even all the campgrounds in the greater DC area were all booked up, and trust me, this is not camping weather on the East Coast. Many, like me, were lucky to have friends living in the DC/Maryland/Virginia areas who they could stay with.

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Love Story - The Band Love and Arthur Lee's Skewed Genius

Posted by Miss Ess, January 17, 2009 06:15pm | Post a Comment
love with arthur lee

One of my favorite bands from the 60s has to be Love. Their music is so unexpected and so unconventional, both lyrically and sonically. I give Arthur Lee the lion's share of credit for this (slove storyorry Bryan MacLean). Lee was truly one of a kind.

I've just watched the recent documentary about Love, Love Story.

Lee formed the band under various names in Los Angeles in the early 60s. It was one of the very first integrated rock bands to hit the scene and gain popularity -- something that is discussed in the film quite a bit, as band members feel they were arthur lee of loverepresented to the press/public early on by colorful psychedelic drawings as a way for the record company to avoid presenting the potentially "risky" fact that the band was made up of both black and white musicians. 

Love was one of the first rock bands to sign to Jac Holzman's Elektra Records and it was not to be a simple relationship between the band and their label. The band members spend a great deal of time in Love Story accusing Holzman of not promoting their work enough. Holzman counters this by pointing out Lee's aversion to touring outside of California. Regardless, the band made three brilliant albums within a span of a year and a half (!) -- Love, Da Capo and Forever Changes -- and increasingly, Lee's moments of brilliance were aggravated by longer and longer durations of virtual insanity because of his drug use.

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NORCAL RAP PROFILE: BROTHA LYNCH HUNG

Posted by Billyjam, January 7, 2009 07:17am | Post a Comment


Sacramento (aka Sac-Town) CA, born Brotha Lynch Hung is the longtime NorCal producer and rapper who is best known for his unique, unapologetically hardcore, sadistic, self-described "rip-gut cannibal" rap style, often labeled "horrorcore." Brotha Lynch Hung got his rap handle from his younger half brother, rapper Sicx, not long after he first got into rap in the latter half of the 1980's as a battle rapper. Along with Sicx and (the long incarcerated Sac-Town) rapper X-Raided he was a part of early Sacramento rap trio Endangered Species who recorded the local landmark EP NIgga Deep (re-released in the mid nineties). 

In 1991 Brotha Lynch Hung produced X-Raided's solo underground and locally popular debut EP NIggas N Black. The following year he produced all but one track on X-Raided's acclaimed & controversial debut album Psycho Active.

But it was Lynch's 1993 own solo debut, the EP 24 Deep which he wrote, produced, mixed and performed, that firmly cemented him as a rap talent to be reckoned with, and one with a taste for shock-value. On the cover he dramatically appeared stretched out in a casket with a shotgun laying across his stiff chest looking very dead. Of course, he was not deceased but understandably many (especially those outside the immediate Sacramento area who bought the tape) believed him to be indeed dead and the EP a posthumous release. This, like his association with both X-Raided (incarcerated for his alleged part in a murder) and the infamous 24th St. Garden Blocc gang, only helped further fuel a morbid fascination by many with the artist.

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