Beck and Cage the Elephant

In November 2019 Beck released his fourteenth studio album, Hyperspace. The album was co-produced by Pharrell Williams who shared song writing credits on most of the tracks.   Here is an entertaining rendition of “Uneventful Days” from an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel in December.  Prescient lyrics.  And the set starts out looking like a bad home office fading into one of those Zoom virtual backgrounds.

Earlier in 2019 Cage the Elephant released their fifth album, Social Cues, and took home their second Rock Album of the Year award at the 2020 Grammy’s.  Here’a the psychedelic video for the title track.  I’m not sure what happens if you text the phone number.

Beck appeared as co-lead singer on “Night Running” from Social Cues.   The song gave its name to the 2019 concert tour Beck and Cage the Elephant co-headlined.

If you feel like watching a couple more videos, definitely check out the career-launching songs of Beck, “Loser”, and Cage “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”.  You’ll see why Cage’s lead singer Matt Schultz said, “Beck’s tunes have helped shape my life and musical palette.”

Ocean Bridges

Last month, a fascinating new album, Ocean Bridges, was released on independent label, Redefinition Records.  The album features Raw Poetic (Jason Moore) and his uncle, avant-garde jazz legend Archie Shepp, stitched together by DJ/multi-instrumentalist and Redefinition Records co-founder, Damu the Fudgemunk (Earl Davis).  Thanks for being on the lookout, Helga!

Damu has been incorporating jazz and soul samples into his hip hop recordings for many years, but adding Archie Shepp creates something the likes of which I’ve never heard.   So, check out “Tulip” with open mind and ears.

Shepp, now in his 80’s, played with John Coltrane in the early 1960’s, assembled a catalog of politically focused solo work, performed in sessions with Sun Ra and Fela Kuti, and was a professor of music at U. Mass Amherst for 30 years.   Much of his work is pretty “out there”, but here is one of his more accessible tracks, “You Don’t Know What Love Is”.

Poetic and Damu have collaborated before.  Philadelphia native Poetic, has spent a lot of time in Damu’s hometown of Washington D.C.   Here is “Hole Up” from 2012.

Damu mines his classic hip hop vein with many other collaborators.  Here is “Rather Unique” from 2017’s Ears Hear Spears featuring fellow traditionalist, Insight The Truncator.



We have an awful lot on our minds these days and much work to do, but with summer arriving for the northern end of the globe in just a few days, here’s hoping you can find some moments of fun and comfort during this favorite of seasons.

In the early 70’s, War put out a string of hits ranging from the socially restive – “The World is a Ghetto” and “Slippin’ into Darkness” – to the upbeat – “All Day Music” and “Summer”.

This recording of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess is by Stan Getz from 1964’s Getz au Go Go.  Performing on the track is then 21-year old vibraphonist Gary Burton, already showing his budding virtuoso talent (see this post from 2017 celebrating his retirement).

For songs that evoke the joy of summer, Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” can’t be beat.  Please try to boop boop ba boop boop when you want to this summer.

How Many Times

“Get Up, Stand Up”, written by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, was the first world-charting single by The Wailers.   The song appeared on the 1973 album Burnin’, and was  the last song Marley ever performed on stage, several months before he died in 1981.

In 1989 Public Enemy released “Fight the Power”.  The song was written for Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, backed the film’s opening credits, and played in scenes throughout the movie.  This video was produced and directed by Lee.

Janelle Monae and the Wondaland artist collective wrote “Hell you Talmbout” in 2015, invoking the names of nearly 20 African-Americans killed by police or vigilantes.

This week, Trey Songz released “2020 Riots: How Many Times”.


Have a Great Weekend

It feels a bit odd to end Friday conversations with “Have a great weekend” these days, with no travel, no restaurants, no bars, no concerts, no sports, and not much else brewing to separate weekend from weekday routines. Hopefully it won’t be long before the weekend resumes its rightful place in the rhythms of our lives.

During a conversation this past Friday, lamenting another weekendless weekend, I was introduced to the O’Jays “Living for the Weekend”.  Thanks, Spencer!  The song was released in 1976, in the middle of the group’s run of classics.  Don’t know why I can’t recall it, but maybe clocking in at over six minutes it didn’t get the air play of “Love Train” or “Use ta Be My Girl”.   Let the O’Jays sing you through the entire weekend cycle from Friday pay check to Sunday wind down.

A year after “Living for the Weekend”, Dave Edmunds released “Here Comes the Weekend”.  The song was co-written by Dave’s regular collaborator and sometime bandmate Nick Lowe, and only demands your attention for a radio-friendly two minutes.  Here’s a nice live version.

Among the goofier weekend homages is “Party Weekend” by Joe King Carrasco and the Crowns from 1980.  It has a special place in my heart, though.  On Friday afternoons in the 1980s, Jonathan “Weasel” Gilbert – DJ for Washington D.C.’s progressive rock station WHFS – played “Party Weekend” along with “Here Comes the Weekend” to close his Frantic Friday shows.  Have a great weekend.