I think I'm going to try this experiment out in a couple of parts, so here goes Numero Uno. There's a ton of great music out in the world, and most of it you'll never hear on the radio or SiriusXM, but it's important that it gets heard. This first collection of tunes is eclectic if nothing else, and is a good starting point for my musical ramblings. Some of these tunes you may have heard, some may even seem familiar, and some you won't have a clue about. But really, that is the point. So, open up your mind, sit back and throw on your favorite headphones, and get ready for some new music...
"...let there be songs to fill the air..." - Robert Hunter, 'Ripple'
1. Blue Sparkle Fade by Freshwater Collins
Now, these fellas hail from the great state of Wisconsin, and were a huge fixture on the Milwaukee music scene during the late '90's and early-to-mid 2000's. Their funky-rock style provided much entertainment for folks all over the country as they became increasingly popular, but alas, they are no more, like many bands in my collection. Here's a tune from their sophomore effort 'The Portable Atmosphere'. (and check out lead singer Chris Vos' new band The Record Company)
Blue Sparkle Fade
2. A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays" by De La Soul
Definitely one of the most underrated hip-hop groups of all time, De La Soul had a sound and lyrics like no one else. This track, from the band's 2nd release 'De La Soul Is Dead', and featuring Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, is a funky, danceable tune taking us all back to when hip-hop was hip-hop.
A Roller Skating Jam Named ''Saturdays''
3. Discovering Japan by Graham Parker
I had never heard Graham Parker until about 6 months ago, when I inquired about who was playing over the speakers at my local record shop, The Record Exchange. Turns out, this tune from the 1979 album 'Squeezing Out Sparks' is awesome. It sure sounds like it's from 1979, but don't let that frighten you. Lots of good music came from the '70's, you can admit it, it's OK, you're among friends...
4. When Vegans Attack by Clutch
This band has been pumping out riff-heavy rock for a couple of decades now, and this track from their 2007 album 'From Beale Street To Oblivion' is no exception. Great guitars, pounding drums and Neil Fallon's signature growl make this band one of the best-kept secrets in the land.
When Vegans Attack
5. Nappy Heads by The Fugees
Everyone knows 'The Score' was a fantastic album from this fantastic hip-hop Haitian trio. What a lot of people don't realize is that that was their SECOND album...no, it's true, I promise. The writing on my copy of 'Blunted On Reality' got so faded in high school, no one but me could recognize it. One of the most explosive, creative, important and overlooked albums of the mid-nineties, this is one song that will get you bouncing around the room.
6. El Caminos In The West by Grandaddy
This California-based American indie-rock band never really got the recognition they deserved before breaking up around 2006. While rumors of a reunion are abound, for now we'll just have to listen to this jam from their 2003 album 'Sumday'.
El Caminos In The West
7. Stew by Azz Kitchen
What can I tell you about this band...nothing legal. The 'Summer of '98' was a wild one, and these boys provided much of the musical backdrop. Another Milwaukee band, I was also the lucky one to grace the cover of their only album, 'The Liquid Pocket'. This tune has great instruments, lyrics and attitude. We miss you, fellas... (also check out the Kris Crow Band and Jimmy At The Prom)
8. Milquetoast by Helmet
After almost 20 years of waiting, I recently got a chance to see Helmet, and they did not disappoint. Sure, it wasn't the same lineup from the early days, but they still brought the thunder. 'Betty' always seemed to be downplayed a bit to me, especially after the mainstream success they enjoyed with 'Meantime' in the early 1990's, but this record is at least up to par with that one, if not a wee bit better. This song was one of 2 encores they played a few weeks ago, and it was worth the wait. Enjoy.
9. Gazzelloni by Eric Dolphy
Mr. Dolphy seems to get overlooked by the Miles Davis' and the John Coltranes' as far as jazz is concerned, but he could hold his own, and how. On his only recording for Blue Note Records, 'Out To Lunch!', his saxophone skills shine, and this piece is a prime example.
10. Plow by Dag
For the last track in this first installment of not-well-known songs/bands, we're going to take a look at Dag. Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, Dag created a mix of soul, funk, jazz and whatever else they wanted to throw in the mix. 'Righteous' was their debut album in 1994, and was well-received, but the band broke up around 1999. They left us with a great collection of music, as is exemplified here.
Now, like I said before, some of these tunes may not be new to you, some may be gems you haven't heard in a while, and some (most, hopefully) will be new jams you can add to your collection. Either way, I hope you enjoy all of these rad tracks, and stay "tuned" (hehe) for my next installment, coming soon...