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Best of 2018: Kelly's Top 5 Picks

Posted by Kells, December 31, 2018 03:35pm | Post a Comment
It's that time of year again—the end! But before I dive into my five faves of 2018, I'd like to briefly salute Destiny's Child Kelly Rowland's new single "Kelly" for adding some much needed beef to the existing "Kelly" songs menu. It's a shameless strut of an anthem that blows the hatches off Air's sweetly space-crafted "Kelly Watch the Stars" and stomps the throat of Woody from Cheers' dopey "The Kelly Song". But for all it's sass (and "ass"), Rowland's "Kelly" can't surpass the scandalous charm of Del Shannon's wistfully two-timing "Kelly", not by my reckoning anyway. That's just this Kelly's opinion though, and, no matter what, it is good to know that that Kelly's "got flex", et cetera. In other words, i.e. her own words, "go Kelly go—go, go Kelly go"! 
 
Read on for more of this Kelly's opinions re: top five records of 2018, it's been one helluva year...


BEST DAMN RECORD
Dick Stusso - In Heaven
(Hardly Art)

I don't know who Dick Stusso is, but I'm convinced he's got it all figured out. His tight yet loose roadhouse-rock sound is so right, with heavenly guitar tones and twangy saloon piano interludes that sway and swagger over close-carpeted rhythms and far away vocals so in your face and from the gut it sometimes feels like an arm creeping 'round your shoulder to give you a sip and questionable life tips. Maybe it's too easy to say Stusso's got a little bit country of a rock'n roll thing going on, but that's a good place to start. Also, I don't really want to get political here, but anyone remember that time before the 2017 inauguration when folks were saying stuff like the incoming administration would make Punk great again? This review has nothing to do with that exactly, but as far as present times fostering better modern music goes, Dick Stusso’s In Heaven achieves the level of excellence I’ve been waiting for in terms of any silly "great again" shorthand beckoning a means to a musical renaissance, or something similar. Cue title and final track on the record for a come down fitting for a new year and a new you; may the things you like always last...






MOST ESSENTIAL COLLECTION
Various Artists
- Technicolor Paradise: Rhum Rhapsodies & Other Exotic Delights
(Numero Group)

Leave it to the tireless diggers at Numero Group to unearth and lovingly compile a buy-or-die collection of musty, dusty,  mid-century musical curios from the tiki craze heyday. This 3LP
 box set of deep Exotica, Jazz, Surf and other tropical novelties is easily the most crucial release of the year by my reckoning. With so many standout tracks and impressive behind-the-music research packed into it, I'd be hard pressed to highlight any way in which this label has not outdone themselves (yet again) with this project. Make mine a triple!




MOST INSPIRED RECORD
Cold Beat
- A Simple Reflection
(Dark Entries)

Sometimes the best obsessions come from flipping through records (an obsession in and of itself). This dreamy 7-song collection of Eurythmics covers began when Cold Beat front-woman Hannah Lew came across the Eurythmics' early works while digging through a bin of 12"s,
sparking an obsession that crystallized into A Simple Reflection. With tracks plucked from the Eurythmics' early b-sides, their In the Garden debut, and Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) follow-up, Cold Beat's reimaginings sound as fresh and organic as they play faithful to the original material, their synths and rhythms seemingly maintaining the bands' overall sonic trajectory while likely informing new directions to come. As always, Lew's high level of aesthetic taste is on display, this time exhibited playfully on the cover in a series of Annie Lennox-inspired looks.

Speaking of inspired looks, and given that songs from A Simple Reflection were featured in Moschino's Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show(!), I was thinking to button up this blurb by including show footage backed by Cold Beat's version of "Love is a Stranger", especially considering its lyric that delivers the word "obsession" so deliciously. However, because 2018 may be remembered as a peak year for RuPaul's Drag Race, what with the debut of season 10, seasons 3 and 4 of All Stars, and the "Holi-Slay Spectacular", I've to go with the show opener video featuring "Never Gonna Cry Again" and champion Ru girl Violet Chachki both on the runway and in the air! Feast your eyes and ears:

The Coral Castle of Love

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 28, 2018 08:36pm | Post a Comment

Coral Castle

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

"Built a moon,
For a rocking chair,
I never guessed it would
Rock her far from here.
Oh, oh, oh..."
~ "Sweet Sixteen," lyrics by Billy idol

In the land of Key lime pies and conch fritters, there is a little plot of land where Edward Leedskalnin Coral Castlewould mysteriously and single-handedly sculpt his rock castle from 1923-1951. Some folks claimed Ed used reverse magnetism and even supernatural mental-powers to move the giant stones...the very same powers that were perhaps used to build the pyramids of Egypt and erect the ancient megaliths of the British Isles (I wish I had these powers just to take out my trash cans Monday nights). Edward's creation would become known to all as the Coral Castle.

It is said that before leaving his home country of Latvia for the Sunshine State, Edward (who was was 26 at the time) was ditched at the alter by Agnes, his 16-year-old fiancée. Ed would reminisce about her for the rest of his life, always referring to her as his "Sweet Sixteen." In 1986, Billy Idol would write his tragic love song, "Sweet Sixteen," inspired after watching "The Castle of Secrets," an episode of Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of, based on Edward and his Coral Castle. If you still do not own the In Search Of DVD box set with all six seasons, then that is a shame. Go forth and invest in that treasure box, for it is pure wisdom!

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Sophisticated Voodoo Jazz of the 50's

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, May 15, 2018 01:25pm | Post a Comment

Mystery Skull

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La ShowRobert Drasnin, Voodoo

So, you just found a Mystic Skull board game with all the pieces at the swap-meet and you are having some friends coming over to play it before watching Val Lewton's 1943 classic, I Walked with a Zombie. You frustratingly find yourself digging through your vinyl vaults and cannot seem to find the right music to set the eerie atmosphere you desire. Let my red chicken foot charm point you the way to the records you seek...some for the music, others for their covers.

Robert Drasnin's 1959 album titled Voodoo, is truly superb. You can easily feel entranced from the music, luring your mind deep into a forbidden jungle while listening to "Chant of the Moon." If the stars are in alignment, you may be lucky enough to find this record on colored vinyl (I recently found a yellow one). Perhaps some of you may have even seen Robert Drasnin when he performed at the Tiki Oasis back in 2008.



Perez Prado's "Voodoo Suite" is the "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" of jungle jazz. From exotic drumming and primitive shouts and grunts to smooth jazz beats, this 23 minute piece makes you wish you were prowling on all fours like a tiger, hunting a scantly clad prey in the Jungle Rock Room at the Madonna Inn. Listen to it in its entirety, and if you stumble across this record in the wild do not hesitate in buying it. Pounce on it! In my humble opinion, this composition is a masterpiece.

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Korla Pandit, the Grand Mogul of Exotica

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 20, 2016 05:59pm | Post a Comment

Korla Pandit

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

Kai and Korla
The author, relaxing.

"For wisdom is better than rubies, and all things to be desired are not to be compared unto it. We bring you musical gems from near and far, blended into a pattern of glorious harmony."
~ Opening monologue of Korla Pandit's Adventures In Music television show

Are you still seeking for that magical present for your favorite Auntie Zuki-Neenee? Well, seek no further, for your quest triumphantly ends here! And the gift you ask? The newly-released documentary Korla on DVD!

Directed by folk art lover John Turner and produced by Eric Christensen, this documentary takes you into the mysterious world and history of Korla Pandit (minus Korla's famous "couch-hopping" that's said he did with female fans in his later years...that ol' moochie suave smoothie). The two filmmakers even got August 20th to be officially recognized as Korla Pandit Day with a proclamation from the City of San Francisco back in 2015.

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The Jungle Echoes of Chaino

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 15, 2016 06:02pm | Post a Comment

Chaino, Jungle EchoesBy Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


Are you planning your next loincloth-clad romping weekend in the Jungle Rock Room at the Madonna Inn but don't feel you have the right tunes for your portable record player? Are Martin Denny and Eden Ahbez just a tad too mellow for the primitive thoughts you have swirling in your mind? You have Frank Hunter’s White Goddess album already, but you need more raw, mating-ritual music? You need Chaino.

As the story goes, long ago in the Congo, there was a hidden tribe that possessed extraordinary mental and physical powers and could even communicate with the wild animals. Then one day, a nearby jealous and hostile tribe attacked the secret tribe’s village, killing everyone but one little boy named Chaino. Found and saved by a passing Chaino, Night of the Spectremissionary, Chaino was brought to the United States to be “educated” and it was discovered that he had percussion talents from beyond this world.

Practicing 17 hours a day, Chaino would soon master 7 drums at a time. Although it was said, that he was quiet and reserved away from his drums, his "savage" beginnings seemed to resurface when he would play his music, allowing his primitive spirit to project through his drums. This, my friends, is the story Omega Records tells you on the back of Chaino’s record.

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