Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: a very special edition featuring a list and PODCAST put together by Excepter.
Excepter is a New York vocal and freestyle electronics band synthesizing live group performance with intuitive sequencing technology. Formed in 2002 by John Fell Ryan and Dan Hougland and featuring Nathan Corbin and Jon Nicholson, Excepter is a constantly changing and self-produced social experiment in the recording arts and public address system engagement. Besides offering several recordings on the independent commercial market, Excepter has also released hours and hours of free music through the internet in the form of their live edit Streams series. Excepter will be performing at next week's CMJ Festival, on November 3 at the Hiro Ballroom. John Fell Ryan put together an exceptional list for us this week, featuring 12 records, and a podcast companion.
One Dozen Desert Island Discs
For this list, I'll stick with the classic Desert Island Discs situation: imagining what I would bring to pass the possibly endless days away washed-up on some uncharted shore, left for dead or worse. Tower Records used to rock this line of thinking back in the days before I could afford music, but I understand they stole it from the British. I wonder if there are indeed any deserts at all on remote islands, even hypothetical ones. Perhaps in isolation, beaches become Saharas, and rocks, Everests. With expansion in mind, I'll extend my count to twelve twelve-inch records. At least they'll form a handy calendar with which to tick off my months and years in Caruso-land. I hope I won't be alone on this island, as I've picked out the records I throw on when company comes over. If my apartment became a sinking ship, I'd have to pack fast, and this dozen are always sitting right by the tables. So for now, imagine you are marooned on some rocky patch of coral with yours truly, while these twelve discs rotate in the distance on a turntable I fashioned from an old palm frond, cactus needle and a few determined tortoises.
I've prepared a special mix of selections from my Desert Island Dozen so you can follow along at home. You can listen here:
1. Bo Diddley's Beach Party (Chess)
Let's kick off our extended stay the right way. No blankets here. After all, all music starts and ends with Bo Diddley. Time spirals around the "Originator." All musicians should feel content only to play variations on one song. The wise know this and everyone else just learns from them. Mark Morgan of Sightings hipped me to this particular platter and it was a damned hard record to find, not to mention afford. Maybe I can use it to bribe a passing sailor into shipping me off this rock. Either way, this disc is its own transport. The cover improbably shows a group of white-bread teenagers reclining on a beach at night with a strange blur of light off on the horizon, which I suppose is supposed to be Bo Diddley, coming to blow these kids away. Bo's in a fighting mood too, with the set-list including songs like "I'm a Gunslinger" and "Custer." Bo literally barks like a dog at one point, and generally keeps everything at all-needles-in-the-red Sister Ray levels all the time, years before Lou found her mainline. Paranoid tracks like "What's Buggin You" (note lack of question mark) find Bo despairing he had to buy a woman shoes. Bo concludes this 'party' with a demonstration of the "Road Runner," no doubt an experimental, low-flying missile craft currently being tested out on White Sands. I'd contest the listed recording location and place this fete somewhere west of Bo-hemian Grove, if you know what I'm saying. A case could be made that a copy of 16 All Time Greastest Hits or Greatest Sides would provide greater happiness with their detailed instructions on proper courtship and ring-giving, but we are far away from polite concerns of romance. Our game here is survival.
2. The Shangri-La's - Greatest Hits (Topline)
Probably the least-accurately-named girl-group band of all time, The Shangri-La's idea of utopia is a violent, mechanized world whose only emotion is heartbreak. Girls only wish to be at the command (their words) of some alpha self-destructive type and he's nowhere to be found, killed in some far-off war or plunged over a cliff on some death trip. Mothers' hearts give out and die at the mere thought of their daughters ever even leaving the house. Everyone loses, but I suppose there is some lesson to be had in remembering what we left behind bringing this, the torture dungeon of youth. Maybe in the same way producer "Shadow" Morton transferred then burgeoning Vietnam anxiety onto adolescent melodrama and nostalgia, so may we pass our current situation onto whatever overwrought Goth shit they play now days. "Suffer little children" says the Man, and so they say, say we. I'll take the remove.
3. Sandy Bull - Demolition Derby (Vanguard)
Clean up time. Sandy Bull arrives with the bulldozers to begin reconstruction. Like Diddley, Bull also outfitted his rig with echo and tremolo effects. This record was even mastered for a quadrophonic edition that was never issued. The record-fair-type tend to sniff at this record for its post-prime drug burnout vibe, and well, maybe the off-key and sleazy attempt at 'song,' but these are not sins in my church. 'Theater Of The Pathetic' country rubs shoulders with junk-y calypso rock and hard-panned bongo ragas. I think we'd pulled through most of the war by this point, but it sounds like Bull barely made it -- a humble work, then. Of course, this is the type of record I consider 'good times.' And of course, thanks to the dumbing-out of 'indie rock,' people think irony means funny moustaches, but actually means not giving a shit what you think, tough guy. This is just what rock 'n' roll just ended up as. (Not rock.) These arguments of crossover legitimacy are among the concerns that evaporate when you're on the beach, jamming with the Bull. My copy is a white label autographed "To Carolina and Rhydher - hope you enjoy - Sandy." I wonder which one sold it. Probably Rhydher. This record is as old as I am.
4. The Upsetters - Return of the Super Ape (VP)
It's no big secret I go through a third of my waking life with the complete works Lee Scratch Perry plugged deep up my eardrums on endless random, but if I had to pick just one LSP record, this would be it. Half the songs are sung in Aramaic, which is hip if you're down with the Coptic Light. Kills it for having both "Dyon Anasawa" and "Bird in Hand" together on a single side. Slam the former bass line into the latter's vocals and you'd have my 'secret formula.' When in Rome, right? Well, the authors of this disc would rather see Rome burnt in a day, night or any other time frame available. I remember back in the tape-trading 90s, watching a dub of a dub of a dub of raw footage VHS tape of an interview with Perry at his Switzerland home that set my brain on fire. Casually, after jiving some serious interstellar birds and the bees talk, Lee cuts loose a drum machine/keyboard toasting program that, if released on record, would chase Suicide back to Zion the right way. I've heard a certain "Boy" act whose records I've bought and whose concerts I've attended shelved the whole project as being too far out, not in line with their alt-Bono antics. Now he wins Grammies releasing triple-tracked psychedelic improv comedy records. Last time I saw him he was dressed head-to-toe in red and mirrors, with the spotlight directly on him.
5. Exuma - II (Mercury)
You put this record on at a party and the girls will ask you "Who is this?" Just your typical West Indian hustler shaman hippie cult leader recording artist in new York City trying to "make it" with some sort of afro carnival voodoo protest theater, but hey, Exuma probably made no friends in the then burgeoning "New Sincerity" movement sweeping the granola underground, with his wild proclamations of supernatural powers, transforming wives into birds and raising the dead, but fuckit, we're lost on a desert island with no one watching, so we might as well form a religion around this guy. He's got a good feel, cares about the poor, preaches Armageddon, etc. More records need to stop dead for Manson Family Christmas Special shit like "Paul Simon Non-Tooth," anyway, it's a class act, appropriate for any good wedding.
6. Silly Sisters - Maddy Prior & June Tabor (Shanachie)
Not sure if I should have brought this one. What would I want from a pair of grotty renaissance faire broads, anyhow? Maybe it's because they're not really sisters, but if you're a fan of female harmony like I am, you'll know it's its own reward, and context, no so much. It's good enough for some records just to exist.
7. David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name (Atlantic)
I guess for most people, David Crosby is some kind of hippie punch line, but not kidding around, this is one of the Greatest Albums Ever Recorded, in the ranks of Neu '75, Beggars Banquet or Mothership Connection, perfect for every occasion. The fact that not only do I not hate this record with a seething passion, but consider it one of my all-time favorites should signal you to its genius. I'd listen to this record all day and all night if I had to, and have as well. It's like good furniture, not a bad thing to have around while lost at sea, meeting heads of state, spooking future in-laws, anything really. This is your ticket in.
8. Jerome Cooper - The Unpredictability of Predictability (About Time)
Side 2 of this record is one of the most uncompromising one-man-band rhythm tracks of all time. Twenty minutes of a simple, steady hi-hat and kick pattern, with JC's free hands busy with a revolving series of wood block wandering and African reed explosions, all punctuated by the most uncannily catchy refrain ever. The liner notes suggest some sort of identity concepts at work through crossover target marketing. Of course, this is one of my favorite records, but would it even be necessary on our desert island? Wouldn't we be satisfied creating our own trance epics on coconuts and the bones of our dead friends? I would think this record would be important so we might be reminded that there was once civilization.
9. James Brown - Get Up Get Into It And Get Involved (Polydor)
Speaking of civilization, it is absolute law to have at least some James Brown vinyl near you at all times, and on a island, no exception. And why not any record with this, the greatest of the "Get" series of songs. (I got this off of the "In a Jungle Groove" comp, but equal versions are available elsewhere.) Multiple schools of science should be devoted to decoding the groove in this jam, it's like another universe, another dimension, no comparison to other music or audible realities. In fact, society dropped the ball on James. He warned us. He told us not to let them turn us into tape machines, say what they want you to say. (Don't let 'em do it.) Look what happened. They did it! So bereft of wonder and ability is modern culture, if you dropped this at a party, it would not only clear the dance floor, but vacate the premises, end friendships, destroy cities, open holes in reality, etc. I'm not exactly sure myself what Mr. Brown has planned for us to get involved in, but it sounds something like dousing ourselves in kerosene, strapping a load of dynamite across our chests and letting her rip. It's not really dancing music, unless the dancing somehow involves severed hands and feet bouncing off the walls. The West puts this kind of activity down, but we desert-dwellers have to get serious if we're going to get off this dump. As quantum physics comics will tell you, if you need to escape imprisonment, you have to go up a level.
10. B-52's - Whammy! (Warner Bros)
OK I know what you're saying. Here's a guy who famously fronts a "no guitars" electronic "noise" band and the first electronic record he's gonna list is the fuckin' B-52's? Now, I may have my conceptual reasons behind things, and while the 52s normally stand for the triumph of form over content, their heads in the sand, on "Whammy" the ideas push the music, and that intent is nothing less but intergalactic genetic transcendence. The method is clear: establish your own currency against government, use voodoo sex magick to open communications with other star systems, birthing through object desire transmission a new nonlinear androgynous life-force in the form of the space faring "Mother Daughter Father Son Captain." Trying to hitch a ride on Sun Ra's Saturn trip by hook or crook? If trickery is the only ticket on the big dish, maybe it's time to face the hard truth: Space is the Place. At least for the first three songs.
11. Holy Ghost - Walk On Air (Sun and Moon Mix)
I don't know anything about this record. It's on the Loft Box Vol. 2, and that's it for information. We'll have to take this title at face value. Space House.
12. Spectrum - True Love Will Find You In The End (Silvertone)
All the Sonic Boom records around this time are peerless objects of the highest order. I picked this one a) because the cover will help our new alien friends understand us and b) because the music will let them know we understand them, floating still and airless, revolving stars and saucers. It's amazing how little sound there is on this record, almost just the idea of music, recorded.
By Dusted Magazine