Friday, March 17, 2006

1. Louis Armstrong: Best of the Hot Sevens and Hot Fives
2. Duke Ellington: Live at the Fargo
3. Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy and Dial Recordings
4. John Coltrane: Ascension
5. Ornette Coleman: Dancing In Your Head
6. The Velvet Underground: White Light White Heat
7. Jackie McLean: Freedom Ring
8. Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy
9. Captain Beefheart: Shiny Beast
10. John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band
11. Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
12. Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners
13. Richard Hell & the Voidoids: Blank Generation
14. Jelly Roll Morton: 1923 - 1924
15. Can: Tago Mago
16. Charles Mingus: Black Saint and Sinner Lady
17. Derek Bailey: Solo Guitar Volume One
18. Anthology of American Folk Music
19. Bill Dixon: Opium/For Franz
20. Otis Redding: Dictionary of Soul
21. Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures
22. Television: Adventure
23. Chet Baker: Lonely Star
24. Lewis & Gilbert: Dome
25. Leonard Cohen: Songs of Love & Hate
26. The Kinks: Something Else
27. Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers (Columbia, 1961)
28. Sun Ra: Nothing Is
29. Sounds of New Music (Folkways 1958) with John Cage, Henry Cowell, Alexander Mossolov, Edgard Varese, etc
30. Sly & the Family Stone: There’s A Riot Going On
31. The Band: Music From Big Pink
32. Love: Forever Changes
33. Artie Shaw: 1939
34. No New York with DNA, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, the Contortions & Mars
35. Nico: Marble Index
36. The Beach Boys: Smiley Smile
37. Bob Dylan: Basement Tapes
38. Doc Watson: Doc Watson (Vanguard, 1964)
39. Al Green: Belle
40. New Sounds in Electronic Music (Odyssey, 1969) with Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, & Richard Maxfield
41. Pere Ubu: New Picnic Time
42. Wire: Pink Flag
43. The Stooges: Funhouse
44. Gram Parson: Grievous Angels
45. The Temptations: Anthology 1964-73 (Motown, 1973)
46. Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto
47. Frank Sinatra: Portrait of Sinatra – Columbia Classics
48. Albert Ayler Trio: Spiritual Unity
49. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street
50. Frank Wright: Trio
51. Ella Fitzgerald: The Cole Porter Songbook
52. The Beatles: Second Album
53. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
54. Ann Peebles: Greatest Hits
55. The Fall: Hex Enduction Hour
56. Einsturzende Neubauten: Kollapse
57. Patti Smith: Horses
58. Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced?
59. Gil Evans Orchestra: Into the Hot
60. Syd Barrett: The Madcap Laughs
61. Stephane Grappelli: Grappelli Story
62. Talking Heads: Talking Heads 77
63. Howlin’ Wolf: Moanin’ in the Moonlight
64. Count Basie: The Original American Decca Recordings
65. Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth
66. David Bowie: Hunky Dory
67. Django Reinhardt: Classic Early Recordings
68. Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus
69. Hank Williams: I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But Time
70. Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombone
71. Joe Tex: I Believe I’m Gonna Make It – The Best of Joe Tex, 1964-1972 (Rhino, 1988)
72. The Byrds: Fifth Dimension
73. Big Star: 3rd
74. The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers
75. Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
76. The Clash: The Clash
77. Leadbelly: Leadbelly’s Last Sessions Vol. 2 (Folkways, 1953)
78. Swell Maps: A Trip to Marineville
79. Cat Power: The Covers Record
80. Rocket from the Tombs: The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs
81. Glenn Branca: The Ascension
82. The Ramones: Leave Home
83. Willie Nelson: Yesterday’s Wine
84. Buffalo Springfield: Again
85. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks
86. Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul
87. Jerry Lee Lewis: Original Golden Hits – Volume One
88. The Birthday Party: Prayers On Fire
89. Them: Them
90. Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sins
91. The Scene Is Now: Total Jive
92. Pink Floyd: Saucerful of Secrets
93. Mekons: Quality of Mercy is not Strnen
94. Sonic Youth: Confusion is Sex
95. Grateful Dead: Workingman’s Dead
96. Oscar Peterson Trio: West Side Story
97. Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure
98. The Doors: L.A. Woman
99. Tom T. Hall: Greatest Hits Volume III
John Sinclair: ”Guitar Army”. John Sinclair is one of those peripheral intellectual figures lingering near a raw, maybe not so bright bunch of rock 'n' rollers, infusing the band with style and rhetoric. The Stones had Andrew Oldham. The Beatles had Brian Epstein. The Sex Pistols had Malcolm McLaren. Detroit's loud, jazz-bent MC5 had John Sinclair. He was a fiery, brazenly radical figure who scared the hell out of the boring silent majority types, and Sinclair paid the price: "ten for two." That's ten years for two joints. This is a collection of his Lenny Bruce/Kerouac/Marx inspired writings from before and during his stint in prison. Printed on a rainbow array of stocks, illustrated with great cartoons, photos and posters, "Guitar Army" captures the Detroit proto-punk era of the Stooges, the White Panther Party and “Creem” magazine like nothing else can or could. "Play loud!"

Monday, March 06, 2006

"50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed To Know": Mickey Z. Mickey Z is a self-taught, blog-made historian of the new terrible America of the 21st century. Osama’s favorite historian William Blum says Mickey writes history for “Americans who have lots of holes in the head about their country’s behavior”. This latest book should appeal to a quite different group of Americans, those with the spirit of revolution upon which this country was founded, who don’t quite know what to do with that spirit. To cut and run, as president W would say, though not from Iraq, but from the United States itself, is not the answer. To stay and do something about it, that is the answer Mickey proposes. Cobbled together from the day to day dialogue of Mickey’s own weblog this small, handsome book is an inspiring collection of short essays from America’s social, political and artistic history, little big moments that make this country great despite the enormous amount of evidence you can read elsewhere in other books by Blum, Howard Zinn, and Ramsey Clark. This is the America we want to believe in and love and pass on to our children, the America of Daniel Ellsberg’s leak, of Lenny Bruce’s foul mouth, of Rachel Carson groundbreaking book, of Patti Smith’s rock n roll nigger, of Charles Bukowski’s job at the Post Office, of Thomas Paine and the Bill of Rights, that America, the real America.

"The War on Truth: 9-11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism": Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. This latest book by Ahmed is both a follow-up and expansion upon his 2002 work, “The War on Freedom: How & Why America Was Attacked, September 11, 2001.” It is part of and benefits from a small cottage industry of similar works by David Ray Griffin, Jim Marrs, Michel Chossudovsky and Thierry Meyssan. He is both the first and latest author to challenge the mainstream account of what happened on that horrible day and what events led to the attacks. Ahmed finds numerous holes in the standard account and offers an alternative narrative. Conspiracy theory? Perhaps. Pray that is all this story is because it rings true more often than not. If you have your own doubts or you love this country enough to want to save it or hate this country enough to laugh at it duplicitous fall, read Ahmed’s terrifying book.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

1. "Dylan’s Vision of Sin": Christopher Ricks. As soon as critics began to take rock music seriously, critics began calling Bob Dylan a poet, and critics started taking rock music seriously at about the same moment that critics first heard Bob Dylan. Problem is or was it always seemed like kind of a bad joke. Dylan was just a rock n roll guy, right? He was a guitar slinger, a streetwise songster with the voice from hell that could take you to heaven. Not so fast. Christopher Ricks is one of our most learned men of letters, a true critic of the stature of Kermode or Kenner or Harold Bloom, an impeccable scholar. In this 500-page masterwork Ricks brings to the works and words of Dylan all the gravity he has previously employed to bring light upon such masters as Keats, Beckett, Tennyson, Eliot and Milton. In so doing, he puts an end to the argument about whether or not Dylan is a poet and simultaneously brings Dylan closer to being a poet of the status of Keats etc. How can there be any doubt?

2. "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens": Ward Churchill. Churchill rips into American history with the passion of an avant-garde artist or a punk rock guitarist. He tells the story of an America most Americans have not heard. Certainly they did not read about it in school. The United States he writes about is a corrupt cannibalistic empire of greed without end. His work is carefully researched and endlessly referenced but never dull. This recent title is one of dozens of his anti-colonial histories; yet it is the one that contains the essay that resulted in his name being tossed to the dogs of the demagogic right, that ugly vast conspiracy that becomes so obviously real everyday to those of us who worry about such things. This book is also perhaps not coincidentally one of his best collections yet. Read it while you still can.

3."What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States": Dave Zirin. In the America of today sports and sports reporting has become the narcotic of the masses, the barbiturate of middle class America that keeps most of us from thinking about, well, much of anything. Under the pen of Dave Zirin sports becomes something quite different. He writes regularly in places such as Alexander Cockburn’s Counterpunch website, about sports from a decidedly radical point of view. In this new collection of essays, Zirin finds the great moments in the history of 20th century sport, moments when someone stood up and mattered, most picturesquely when Tommie Smith and John Carlos lowered their eyes and raised their black gloved fists during the national anthem at the 1968 summer Olympics in Mexico City. As a nine year old I remember two things when this event made the newspapers the next day. I remember my Republican parents saying it was shameful and un-American and worse. And I remember thinking how very cool that picture looked. I cared nothing for Olympic sports. I knew nothing of the civil rights movement or the anti-war protests then sweeping the country and the globe, but I recognized something important and exciting in that image, something that stuck. Zirin looks for such moments, and finds them in such places and people as Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball and Muhammad Ali doing just about anything when he was young and exciting and “the greatest”, not the readily acceptable and pitiable figure he has become. This is the sports book everyone should read if they only read one sports book or if they’ve read hundreds.

4. Encyclopoaedia Anatomica. These disturbing images are the art of the pathological, forensic sexuality, plastic erotica, sick shit. The boy next door, serial killer to be, at the breaking point, on the way to his first capital crime might well see these pictures flash before his eyes. Beyond hope, past redemption, our boy on the brink perhaps finds comfort in these tasty freeze frames. The rest of us can only wonder at their strange horrible beauty, their graceful perversity.

5. Losing Moses on the Freeway: Chris Hedges. Hedges writes about the 10 Commandments of Moses in a way that makes them vital and necessary, not as the fodder for the rightwing war against the secular left, not as a weapon in the leftwing fight for the separation of church and state, but as something real and moral in the best sense of the word. Even for someone not the least interested in organized religion or spirituality, Hedges strikes a chord. His sense of “moral values” is more than the cliché of a media campaign. For Hedges moral values are as real as war is ugly and politicians are corrupt. He shows how these ancient laws that exist in one form or another in all the major world religions, should and do remain a part of everyday life in this seemingly amoral contemporary moment that we are living.