A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Salem Collo-Julin, Reader listings coordinator
Sarah Vaughan singing “Once in a While” Some called her Sassy and some called her the Divine One. You can understand the dichotomy of Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990) by hearing her rendition of Michael Edwards and Bud Green’s 1937 song “Once in a While.” My favorite version comes from an appearance she made with her trio on The Dick Cavett Show, which I first saw in the 1991 documentary Sarah Vaughan: The Divine One, made for the Masters of American Music series on PBS (frequent collaborator Billy Eckstine praises her at the start of the clip).
The Voice Senior The American version of Dutch-created musical competition show The Voice sometimes fails to push its most unusual contestants to the finals, but other countries’ versions deliver on performers who would definitely get overlooked based on headshots. The Voice Senior (only open to those 60 and older) hasn’t happened here yet, but it’s produced in several other countries—the clips I’ve seen of contestants such as the Netherlands’ Noble and Germany’s Eduardo Villegas have convinced me to start a write-in campaign telling NBC to get on the Senior train.
The Big TEEN manifesto I discovered Chicago’s Big TEEN scene (often styled “big TEEN”) through a press release on allegedly preeminent Big TEEN band Mega Laverne & Shirley (aka composer-performers Andrew Tham and Mabel Kwan). Big TEEN is an aesthetic movement, a way of life, and a cabal of bands, some real, some hyperreal. I don’t know what these people are selling, but I want it.
Salem is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Darrell Gordon, activist, VJ, and Chicago soul aficionado
The Drifters Originally fronted by Clyde McPhatter, the Drifters debuted in 1953 with “Money Honey.” They underwent many personnel changes, mostly due to conflicts with manager George Treadwell. He fired the first set of Drifters in 1958 and turned the Five Crowns (led by Ben E. King) into the “new” Drifters. After Ben’s tenure ended, Treadwell hired Rudy Lewis, who was gay, according to the notes in reissues of the box Rockin’ & Driftin’. Rudy is featured on such songs as “Up on the Roof” and “The Rat Race.” I wish I could see the TV appearances with him.
Kim Weston One of Motown’s most underrated artists of the 60s, Kim is best known for her 1967 duet with Marvin Gaye, “It Takes Two.” My favorite of hers is “Looking for the Right Guy” (1964), a bouncy, gritty tune by Smokey Robinson. It’s too bad she wasn’t on the April anniversary special Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration. Kim was mostly relegated to “C” status at Motown (the “chitlin’ circuit”) while Berry Gordy promoted the Supremes. I recommend her 1965 Hullabaloo appearance.
Jan Bradley Raised in south-suburban Robbins, Jan had a beautiful soprano, and recorded first for Formal, then for Chess. She’s best known for 1962’s “Mama Didn’t Lie,” written by Curtis Mayfield and used in the 1988 movie Hairspray. She recorded other great songs in the 60s, including “I’m Over You” and “It’s Just Your Way.” She even wrote a great song for Billy Stewart, “I’m No Romeo,” for his 1965 album I Do Love You. I wish there were more available TV footage of Jan from the 60s.
Darrell is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Ken Wong, writer, DJ, and member of the Strange Attractor
Jay Mitta, Tatizo Pesa One of the best releases of 2019! An Afrofuturist gabber-grabbing, footwork-kicking, jungle-juggling adrenaline OD! The likes of Konono No. 1 and Crammed Discs’ Congotronics series fused Congolese tradition with ingenious DIY electronics to create the African equivalent of postpunk critique and edgy electronica, and Jay Mitta (and others on Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes) do something similar with overt reference to 200-plus-BPM Western EDM. The speedy, jolly delivery of Tatizo Pesa is needed in these fascist-groove-thang times.
Various artists, Cosmic Collective: A Choir for the Dispossesed This flying international/interdimensional ice cream truck serves a blackened flavor rainbow of RABM (red and anarchist black metal). I recommend Antecantamentum’s “Tonantzin” (epic soundtrack intro to an imaginary movie), Vociferatus’s East Indian classical spice, Uthullun’s Killing Joke-meets-Voivod atmosphere, and Vulbo’s BM/surf/mathcore/theremin gumbo. The compilation is seditious delicious!
YouTube effects-pedals demos I’ll help you move for a MASF Thornoscillator! After a year or so of embracing current and older effects pedals (noise, glitch, modulation, etc) via YouTube demos, I feel extra inspired! Mutant pedals existentially threaten cultural immune systems maintained by blues lawyers/sheepish shredders/tone puritans. Resistance to rejuvenated global reactionaries arrives in the rush of confrontational utopian soundscapes—pedals as weapons of mass seduction! v