Album Reviews and some house cleaning

The Renaissance
Universal Motown

Would it be wrong of me to say that Q-Tip probably saved my life a little bit? Here’s the thing, I once dated a girl. We went to a mall because I had a gift certificate to a record store. I bought a copy of A Tribe Called Quest’s The Love Movement. The guy behind the counter, I went to college with him, he recommended Echo and the Bunnymen. In the end, he got the girl. But I got Q-Tip. That album, The Love Movement, that shit is strong. And I tell you what, it really made me fall in love with Hip Hop. I was a novice hip hop fan at the time. I honestly couldn’t tell you what Hip Hop I owned at the time. But for me, that album, that really started it all. It was such a raw, but uplifting album. It was like demo’s of your favorite band, before the internet ruined music. There was something just so complete about that album and it being A Tribe Called Quest’s swan song.

Q-TIP since then has had a really odd career. He dropped Amplified on the public shortly after he said good bye to Phife Dog and Ali Shaheed. It was a fairly successful album for the Queen’s rapper. And then he sorta disappeared. He recorded two more albums that never hit the shelves and in large existed as sort of a mythical figure of hip hop. But alas, he is back and The Renaissance lives up to it’s title, but leaves just a bit of sadness in my ears. For me Q-Tip is the essence and spirit of what hip hop should be. He has a unique voice and a great tongue to lip ratio and over the years he has not lost a beat. The all important flow is there on this album. Furthermore the music itself is funky, airy and totally uplifting. From the opening track “Johnny is Dead” which has just a nice swanky guitar groove to “We Fight, We Love” which has just the ass shaking smooth jazz bass line Q-Tip hath provided the jams in which to get down.

But man I need Phife Dog. Tracks like “Manwomanboogie” could so benefit from a Phife verse on there. Just to give that all important extra perspective that Hip Hop is so good at giving us. Q-Tip carries almost all of the vocal responsibilities on this record and while those skills are still in tact, hip hop’s glory is so much in it’s communal approach to song that you just want that extra taste in your mouth sometimes. By the time I hit track 12, I’m drifting off a bit. Another voice in there would be so sweet. Norah Jones just doesn’t do it for me and in the end, I’m thinking about all those great Tribe tracks. Which isn’t all bad, because this does just feel like the natural evolution, so much more then Amplified did when it followed the wake of Tribe’s demise.

It’s good though to see Q-Tip back in the game. Posi-Hip Hop has needed a strong outing from one of it’s heads of state and Kaamal The Abstract brings something that is actually quite the opposite. It’s not so much a reinvention or even a invigorating revisiting of old, but a testament to how truly outstanding of an artists Q-Tip is.

Mr. Machinery Operator

This is the third fIREHOSE album I have purchased this year and it is by far the most outstanding album they have done, which says quite a bit if you ask me. I know you didn’t, but it’s my blog so I am going to tell you anyway. The 90’s were a cruel and unfortunate time in so many ways and fIREHOSE is just proof of how truly unfortunate they were because this album, which came out in 1993 should have pretty much been on every one’s top ten and certainly I should have owned it back then. I have a feeling though this sonic masterpiece was fairly under represented by the major label that funded it. And that’s a shame because, despite evidence to the contrary this is some of Mike Watt and George Hurly’s finest work together.

Though it doesn’t quite hold up for 14 songs and has a very unfortunate guest appearances, fIREHOSE graduated into such a tight rocking band that was really getting their shit together. ed fROMOHIO is no longer the unsure outsider, but a sonic force holding his own with one of the greatest rhythm sections to ever play music together. J Mascis put some stench and power to his guitar and they even sound like some of the best parts of Fugazi on this album. Just absolute rock perfection and anthmatic riffage and post punk break down jams. George Hurly really slams the shit out of the drums and hits a peak not really seen since the Minutemen. And least we forget that Mike Watt just delivers some of the most endearing vocal lines of his carer. This album was a pure unknown gem and I just want to thank the tool fuck that sold this to the used store, because had you not I may have never come across it in this precious life journey I am on.

How this band is not more imitated or praised I will never know. The Minutemen were fantastic, there is no doubt in my mind about that. But for fIREHOSE to have to exist in that shadow is just vile. If ever a 90’s band should reunite to show the kids how it was done it is this awesome trio. This is three masters mastering music together. It’s a shame this was where they put it to rest.

Wow, so it’s the end of the year pretty much. It’s been a bit of an odd one for myself and for music. I bought a lot of used albums this year and not that much in the way of new stuff. I have two of my top five picked out, but the rest are going to be hard. There were some disappointments there to be sure but there were some serious surprises too. I also compiled my top ten all time records and am working on the write ups for those. So expect that to drop soon. After next weekend I will probably drop some more science on you about the records that fucked my shit up.

Also, man next year the month of January is sick. Matt and Kim, Dalek, John Frusciante and Mastadon all have albums kicking off the year. I hope to have a job or at least 40 bucks to pick all of these up. My iPOD is also giving me fits and is about out of room so I might be taking up a donation here for help. Yea I know some charity case. But if it isn’t apparent already, music is about the only thing that keep the nuts and bolts tightened in this fragile little mind of mine. That was a terrible sentence. Whatever, it’s Thanksgiving. Hope yr world is okay. Please be peaceful. I send my love.


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