The English Beat's Complete Beat

Peter Margasak, Reader music critic, is obsessed with . . .

Huong Thanh, L’Arbre aux Rêves (Buda) Huong Thanh gained international attention through a series of cross-genre collaborations with jazz guitarist Nguyên Lê, setting traditional melodies of her Vietnamese homeland to slick, thoroughly modern arrangements. In the last few years, however, the Paris-based singer has shifted her attention to more traditional sounds, never more effectively than she does on L’Arbre aux Rêves.

Trypes, Music for Neighbors (Acute) I first discovered the Feelies back in 1983 or so, and I got wind of the Trypes soon after. Over the course of the band’s brief history, the Trypes included all five members of the post-Good Earth Feelies lineup. I spent many years searching for their lone EP to no avail, but this essential reissue, appended by a comp track and six previously unissued songs (and another seven that can be downloaded), triples what was first offered. The music shares similar post-Velvet Underground characteristics with the Feelies, but delivers them with a moodier, more hypnotic energy.

The English Beat, The Complete Beat (Shout Factory!) I don’t think I ever stopped liking the English Beat after I became a fan while I was in high school, but it’s only in the last few years that I listened to them again—and this comprehensive set keeps reminding why I’m glad they’re back in rotation.

He asks . . .

Blues for Sale by Billy EckstineCredit: William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Jeff Parker, jazz guitarist and a member of Tortoise, what he’s obsessed with. His answers are . . .

Aki Tsuyuko, Ongakushitsu (Child Disk) I first discovered Aki Tsuyuko when she and Nobukazu Takemura toured together as the opening act for Tortoise on much of the Standards tour. The album’s qualities are basically what it’s all about for me these days (at least pertaining to what I’ve been striving for in my music making): strikingly minimal, completely original, and blindingly beautiful. I’ve happened upon Ongakushitsu at a few critical junctures over the years, and it always helps to me to find my track.

Billy Eckstine, Blues For Sale (EmArcy, 1954) Joyfully discovered this recently on a visit to the record store Logan Hardware. Eckstine’s bands are crucial to any serious study of the history of jazz. He was a popular bandleader whose ensembles employed progressive young musicians at important phases in their development, including Wardell Gray, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron, Sarah Vaughan, and Dexter Gordon. The LP inspired me to reexamine more music of the bebop era, when there was so much focus on progressive thought—a fruitful time in the development of African-American art and music.

Propellerhead Reason version 6 I’ve rediscovered this popular music software after taking a hiatus from it for a few years. I’ve been working on the music for a couple of shows I have coming up with Beans (formerly of Anti-Pop Consortium), for a collab we’re doing called The Hungry Reapers. It feels great to be making beats again. I was initially intimidated by the changes in the program (the last one I used was version 3), but it is still totally intuitive and I’ve been having loads of fun with it.

He asks . . .

Red Red MeatCredit: Jim Newberry

Ken Brown, Guitarist/DJ/engineer, what he’s obsessed with. His answers are . . .

Mariobatalivoice.blogspot.com Old news unless you have no idea what the Internet is, but I see this as a food analogue to the musical lives Albini and I have led: both parallel and divergent vectors abound. Heck, music and food culture collusion in general gets me open these days, like the surreptitious appearance of the Pupils album cover in the last ish of Lucky Peach.

Cermakk (Cherries Records) Something that would be totally peripheral to my musical life if I didn’t know/respect the people involved. I’m more into the extra-extravagant disco sound right now, but Meaty’s alter ego is bringin’ the boogie funk for the kids who weren’t around to hear it when it was fresh. Plus it’s been a window to good fun like Doug Shorts’s “Changes.”

Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People vinyl reissue (Jealous Butcher) Not out yet, but coming really soon. Twilight-era recordings by Red Red Meat will be featured as bonus tracks. An essential missing piece of Rutili and company’s gypsylike musical trajectory. As above, it’s not just this record but the overarching occurrence of reissues from the salad days of my musical experience that are floating this tired old man’s boat.