Budos Band III
Disco, Bloody Disco! Every time I play this record I feel like an unshaven vice cop cruising the neon jungle in an undercover Cutlass with questionable intentions and three cigarettes dangling from my clenched teeth. AIDS does not exist, porn stars don't shave their muffs and Brooklyn isn't cool. Every Budos Band recording is a shimmering jewel but Budos Band III slithers and undulates with infectious perfection. They even manage to inject a Beatles cover with the nasty soul of a blaxploitation soundtrack circa 1972, sans filler and unnecessary vocals to maximize the guerrilla percussion attack (they call it "Afro-Soul"). Hypnotic bass lines lock you down in the shadow of the horns while flutes flutter and ominous organ flourishes promise that trouble is brewing in the apartment upstairs. When I was a kid, my step dad used to roll toothpick joints of seedy weed on the cover of his favorite Chuck Mangione record. Chuck Mangione wrote what I can only assume was the first international flugelhorn hit and Feels So Good was in regular rotation when it became the official score for New York State tourism commercials. Ace Frehley later provided the soundtrack for similar New York television spots when he scored an unexpected winner off his first solo record with a sleazy Russ Ballard cover. Maybe that's why playing air horns to Budos Band feels perfectly natural. As natural as a volcano, scorpion, cobra or some other earthbound entity that can fuck you up while looking good. Huey Lewis and the Bad News Bears over here are tougher than nails and heavier than whatever bestial bullshit you read about on facebook this week. I'm back in the New York Groove, pal.
Last Ol' Ministrel Man
Today's honorable mention goes to the new Abner Jay 10" on Mississippi Records which makes available for the first time several unknown recordings from this primitive American folk genius. Abner made it to my best of 2009 list last December and this new one is right up there alongside that LP for pure unabashed soul-wrenching honesty in the blacker than blues tradition. These previously unheard tracks were recorded by a young fan in 1993 when Abner was on death's doorstep and his robust baritone voice had become a frail sliver of quivering emotion. Three months after this session he was gone forever. More songs about cocaine abuse, the extreme outposts of poverty and being cut by a woman with a knife that are almost certainly not metaphorical. "Baby, don't cut me so deep!"