Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas: The Youtube Essentials

I've been usually wrapped up in holiday spirit this year. In keeping with this anomaly, I've been listening to quite a lot of Christmas tunes, admitting to myself that yes, even the super-sentimental ones (as if any weren't) have that special charm that wears out just as the 25th comes to a close. Since my (and probably   your) desire for such celebratory, sticky-sweet numbers has such a short shelf-life, I didn't go through the trouble of making an actual mixed file. Instead, I chose a more disposable medium - the youtube channel. Here's the track listing for the channel, which you can find here:

1. Paul McCartney - "Wonderful Christmas Time"

How could I not start off with this energetic number by Sir Paul? Some of my readers probably know how I carry a candle for this often maligned Beatle, so here it is: the man can write a hook. That synth line!

2. Donny Hathaway - "This Christmas"

The man with the golden voice (Sorry, Sinatra). 

3. The Ramones - "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)

Love this video. This track got the edge on that Kinks song, I just feel like soul, not snottiness.

4. The Drifters - "White Christmas" 

Recently watched "Home Alone" for the first time since childhood. What's the deal with that aftershave scene? Did Kevin actually shave and get razorburn or what? The furnace scene wasn't as scary as when I was a kid.

(Two I almost forgot!!!!)

5. Clarence Carter - "Back Door Santa"

6. James Brown - "Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto" 

7. Louis Armstrong - "Zat You, Santa Claus?"

Honorable mention: that song about "all that meat and no potatoes".

8. Run-DMC - "Christmas in Hollis"

This is a new one for me this year. Great video, signature sound. Pretty sure that's the Clarence Carter song in the sample, too.

9. Ray Charles - "Merry Christmas, Baby" (Live in a German Monastery)

Oh yeah.

10. Stevie Wonder - "I Wish"

So this isn't a christmas song by genre - but he mentions it in the first verse, and it's all about growing-pains nostalgia, certainly a part of the holiday experience... plus this is way better than anything on "Someday at Christmas".

11. Jacob Miller and Ray I - "Natty No Santa Claus"

Because if there was ever a time for feeling irie, it's the holidays.

12. Bruce Springsteen - "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

I don't even like this guy that much (Sorry, Tim!), but this song rules.

13. Tchaikovsky - "The Nutcracker Suite"

Jammed to this last night in "Fantasia". Something that lines the floor of my subconscious and that will never be removed :) ... but what better way to close this list out? This is actually a shorter version, you can the Op 71a version here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Nahawa Doumbia - Didadi (Shanachie, 1989)

Been wanting to put this up for all of you since I found it, I was so excited! Like many, I bet, I was turned on to this beautiful voice via Awesome Tapes' (re-?) release of "La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 3", which you can check out and buy here (see the left side of the page). 

I've already posted a video floating around youtube of Doumbia singing "Banani", just her vocals and a guitar accompanying... I love that version, but you've got to hear how it was recorded on Didadi. Floors me.

Although some of the soukhous recordings I hear from Earthworks/other labels from around the same time are somewhat off-putting in their super-clean production values, for my taste, this album hits the sweet spot. I love those drums! Nice guitar work throughout. 

Enjoy, and here's hoping Doumbia and her loved ones are safe during this very dangerous time in Northern Mali.

Another gem, "Mogoya (Generosity)": 

BTW, that's not Nahawa on the youtube still, here's a sassy shot:

Get "Didadi" here 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

David Byrne - The Catherine Wheel (Sire, 1981)

For the past week, I've been pretty locked into individuals on the fringe of rock, people whose work I've loved and respected for years, but who I never sought out apart from their well-known stuff...Robert Wyatt, Scott Walker...but my fascination with David Byrne has been going on for a while now. And there's so much to love right now! I'm afraid to post his new album with St. Vincent, for fear that some nebulous internet overseer will have my head, but here's the first song from it, which I can't get out of my head: 

The video's not too shabby, neither. So, there's his great new album with St. Vincent, the tracks he did a few years ago with the Dirty Projectors, this recent TED talk that takes up an egalitarian approach to music and its production/use, his label and all the great stuff they put out...

The man's a fine wine, people. What he's doing is the proof! But hey, what more do you expect from someone who spent their formative years around Baltimore?

So, instead of that new release, I've got "The Catherine Wheel", a series of songs DB was commissioned to do for a dance performance in the early 80's. Sounds very close to the stuff he was doing with Eno on "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" around the same time. Really tight, funky studio band, this is my favorite moment of the Talking Heads years.

P.S. From some inexplicable reason, the song "Ade" is missing on my copy of this album. As I listen to it now, I realize what a shame that is! Oh well, I'm having trouble finding the track anywhere else but youtube, and since these links are for preview purposes only (riiiight?), if you love it, go find it and support your local record store. A used vinyl copy'll run you 2.99. 

The missing link:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pyrolator - Pyrolator's Wunderland (Ata Tak, 1984)

From what I've heard so far, a uniquely silly (in the best possible sense) album from this German synth whiz, still active and formerly of Der Plan. Expect lots of off-putting tropical bird and monkey noises, other humorous sound effects, and super crisp synth arpeggios. This is way cleaner than "Ausland", production-wise (make of that what you will)... For fans of Ray Lynch, J-M Jarre, Suzanne Ciani...

Here's the highlight track for me, to get you started:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Soft Machine - Third (Columbia, 1970)

Maybe you already have this one...but if not, you should. There's a lot more room here than on "Vol. 2" (not a preference, "Vol. 2" is great) - but just when you are lulled into what the band is doing, they change up the tempo, or there's a cut in tape and something else happens...moving between jazz moments, crescendos, organ-led riffs, atonal passages...

My favorite on this second go-around (I lost my first copy a while back) is "Out-Bloody-Rageous", segueing from some oscillating-time organ loops (read: Terry Riley) to the band rocking at its best.

Thanks Robert Wyatt and Co.!

(Here's a video of that song that I can't watch now because I don't have an extra 15 minutes...lemme know if it's good ;))

Friday, December 7, 2012

This Mortal Coil - It'll End in Tears (4AD, 1984)

So, this seems appropriate, considering this has been playing all night on repeat on my iPod. I've been on a dreamy 80's kick for a little while (never knew how good Roxy Music's "Avalon" was! Maybe I'll put that one up too). Don't know all the guests on this first TMC album, but the songs really hit home. Liz Fraser's vocals on "Another Day" knock me out. Here it is: 

(Disclaimer: this is not my rip, and it definitely sounds sped-up on a few tracks...I can tell the difference on "Another Day"...still sounds good to me)

Relax and enjoy

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An old mix...

From my days at

Thwarted for tonight...

And I was so excited to share a record I found tonight...oh well, when I ripped it to my computer, something went wrong in the process and two tracks sound awful.

Watching this didn't do much to help my spirits. Important stuff...

I'll try again tomorrow. I've been lagging on the site lately, but I have a lot to share coming up!
Here's a taste of something that will be coming very soon...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Co La - Love Nest (from "Soft Power Memento," NNA Tapes/Hands in the Dark)

(I wouldn't feel right posting this album, as it's relatively new and the artist should be able to profit from his work. But, to get the word out, an amazing track that shows how far this project has come and is going... Fans of his former project Ecstatic Sunshine take note!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Seefeel - Quique (Too Pure, 1993)

So, there I was, looking in google images for a cover shot of this album, and whose copy should I stumble upon but Tim's over at the excellent Invisible Arteries blog... So, this post might be a little redundant, but, I really love this album and want to tell you about it. Make sure to follow the link at the bottom to check out his original post and get it there if you want. Look around too! Plenty to be found.

So, this is a kind of guitar album I'd like to make one day - where the guitars, for the most part, don't sound like guitars, like rather like e-bow tones, effect-ed loops, phasing in and out around nice bass hooks reminiscent of everything I like in early '90's British alternative - Slowdive, Primal Scream, Cocteau Twins... Add to that some breathy female vocals and pleasantly simple drum machine beats, and you've got yourself a record!

Here's a link to their wiki - Seefeel's still putting out music, pretty solid stuff, too. And a sample video:

Enjoy here, or at...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jean-Michel Jarre - Zoolook (Disques Dreyfus, 1984)

I found out about this choice album via the choice blog of former Baltimore-on Jason Urick, quite the significant electronic musician in his own right. Here's the video that turned me on, because I can only hope you love it as much as I do: 

So, as you could tell from that tasty tidbit, this album is about vocal samples, serious vocal samples. I'm talking keyboard transposition, people! That amazing feature we all loved to utilize after recording ourselves saying "hello" on our Casio SK-1's. 

Not knowing too much about Jean-Michel, I am thoroughly impressed that he and inimitable French-English actress Charlotte Rampling are married! She seems so somber; I hope she likes watching his ethnicolor (whatever that means) music videos.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Eddie Palmieri - Justicia (Tico, 1969)

Because we're all in a festive mood right now, at the end of Election Day...

A beautiful album that just may get me started on a love for Latin jazz one of these days. Thank you for the recommendation back in the day, Dr. Jazz @ Sound Garden Baltimore! As I listen to the lyrics of "Everything is Everything" right after hearing Obama's victory speech, here's hoping for the next four years...

Here's a youtube preview of one of my favorite cuts from the album, "My Spiritual Indian":

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kenji Omura - Spring is Nearly Here (Alfa, 1981)

A day late, but if you stuck around for the second post, hopefully it's worth the wait.

A record that sounds effortless, as if the synth tones, beats and guitar lines stretched themselves across the mix of their own accord. Really, who records albums like this? So crisp. Definitely the right album to play in these first autumn breezes, windows down a crack, cruising the streets of LA. Sure makes that stop-and-go a lot less noticeable. 

YMO-related post no. 1, look for more ahead.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited - Mabasa (Earthworks, 1984)

In the spirit of eclecticism, I'll make posts today (as in more than one) (I hope), of music from two parts of the world that come together in that they often are very close to each other in playlists of mine. Especially in this never-ending summertime of la-la-land that is only now giving signs of autumn temperatures... 

From the first notes of this one, you're dancing. But Mapfumo and Co. know how to slow it down, there are some great ballads here, too. I really enjoy the mix of mbira and guitar you find on "Chemera Chaunoda," where Mapfumo sounds a lot like the singers on the Nonesuch Explorer album "Africa: Shona Mbira Music," my first African music purchase (besides Fela Kuti, maybe). Which makes sense, as Mapfumo and his group are from Zimbabwe, still known as Rhodesia when Paul Berliner recorded the music for the Nonesuch album. Given the lyrical content, it would seem that in 1984, all was not well with the people of post-independence Zimbabwe...a call to learn more. 

Here's a picture of the back cover, which gives you track titles and convenient English translations of lyrics:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wobbly - Live 99 > 01 ("MP3 only," 2002)

(In lieu of cover art, the man himself, doing what he does on this collection)

Wobbly, pseudonym of Jon Liedecker. I found out about him through his collaborations with Matmos. The latter were playing in Baltimore a lot when I lived there, and Wobbly would come to town to perform with them or by himself. Always great stuff, a master of doing only what he does, I think. I got this CD-R from him after one of his solo performances at Floristree in B-more, after asking if he "had anything to sell me." $5 CD-R with hand-written title and no liner-notes: totally worth it.


1 - 11: Untitled, as far as I know... 

Highlights: Track 3 for sure. Take the journey!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

King Crimson - Red (1974)

I'll start by saying that I recently upgraded my iPod in a big way. My portable music device went from a borrowed 8 GB Touch (Thanks, Lorraine!) to my very own 160 GB Classic; in short, from a listening range that only allowed a sampling of very current interests to a veritable hard drive in my pocket! All to say that the process of uploading all this music has given me quite a purchase on my listening patterns over the past few years. 

Conclusion: I don't listen to rock music.

I mean, this isn't entirely true, as I certainly listen to all that spills over into and communicates with the world of "rock" (whatever that means): the genealogy from African to blues to jazz, pop, dance, electronic, reggae, the wonderful world of krautrock... and yes, of course rock. 

But I guess what I'm saying is that, as opposed to my middle/high school/college years, I do very little rocking-out to distorted guitars, bass and drums in the tradition format/timbre/etc... This gap, now apparent to me, leaves me wanting something, but what? 

So I'm going down somewhat familiar roads, checking out things that I missed the first time around. Red by King Crimson might not be the most representative "rock" record, and, breaking the unspoken rules I internally mumbled to myself while restarting this blog, it's not a vinyl rip... oh well. It does rock. The first notes of the title track should convince you of that if you haven't heard it before.

I've been falling in love with Mr. Fripp's guitar again, be it those smooth solo runs on "Golden Hours" off  Another Green World or his layers on Evening Star. He'll be popping up here again, no doubt.


1. Red
2. Fallen Angel
3. One More Red Nightmare
4. Providence
5. Starless

More info here

Listen here

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Various - Soweto Never Sleeps: Classic Female Zulu Jive (Shanachie, 1986)

A beautiful selection of "mbaqanga" music from South Africa. These ladies really know how to jive. I won't recreate the track listing as some eBay seller was kind enough to upload the back cover, my (Sotho? Zulu?) is a little rusty. I like the English translations, esp.


a.k.a. the mantra for this blog.

Two tracks I particularly love are "Wozani Mahipi" and "Akulaiwa Esoweto", both of which are on the excellent Next Stop...Soweto collection. That's a must buy right there, which I originally discovered on the superb and now sadly link-defunct Big Head Stevenson blog. Go there anyway and get inspired before it's gone for good.

And, as Irene and the Sweet Melodians say best, "LET THE WEEKEND COME"...


Friday, September 28, 2012


Yes, the blog, which used to be called something else, is now redubbed "Imaginary Radio Station." Allow me to be your multimedia Chris Stevens, without all the notable quotes from Jung, Nietzsche, and Bertrand Russell.

I'm hoping that I'll continue to work on this project for a while. I plan to post rips of the vinyl that I find around town, as well as the occasional mix and video I find worthwhile viewing. Please enjoy and let me know what you want to hear...

Penguin Café Orchestra - The Penguin Café Orchestra Mini Album

"This album consists of six pieces of music, two from our previous albums, two from our previous albums, two recorded live in Toyko last year, and two new pieces: PIANO MUSIC, recorded in a basement whilst I was staying in Tokyo after our tour, and THE TOY which we recorded today." - Simon Jeffes, 23/3/83

I luckily happened upon this one in Amoeba Music the other day and decided it would be the first vinyl rip to inaugurate the phoenix-like rebirth of my old blog from its ashes of neglect (...).

I also discovered that, in a felicitous crossing, Nana Vasconcelos, someone who I've been interested in quite a bit lately and who will surely appear on this blog in the future, was a sometime member of PCO (not on this release, though).

My favorite here is the new track "The Toy," I love the little arpeggio melody that carries the tune. This gang was on to something.

Here's some trusted wiki-info on how the band got started, from a bad meal dans le Sud de France...

1. The Penguin Café Single (Music from the Penguin Café)
2. Air À Danser (Penguin Café Orchestra)
3. The Toy (Previously unreleased)
4. Numbers 1-4 (Live in Tokyo)
5. Salty Bean Fumble (Live in Toyko)
6. Piano Music

Get it here

(For the click-squeamish: I've felt pretty safe about downloading with ADrive, no weird malware here as of yet, better than mediafire in my opinion)