My name is Rick Saunders. I've operated the Deep Blues blog for fifteen-some years, along with another blog called Rick Saunders World.
I don't believe in Best Of lists, or best of anything when it comes to music. It's not possible. All music is valid. There's no contest. You can't tell me just because you like A that B is not good. Maybe B is not for you. Maybe you aren't ready for B. Whatever. I just figure that whatever music keeps you from stabbing me is fine. You're down with Mike Bolton? Good. Have you heard Otis Redding's Cigarettes and Coffee? Whatever works for you is cool. In music there is space for everyone at the table, and everyone has a place.
Here's what's worked for me this last year, in no particular order:
First off, an essential album this year was Natchez Burnin', by Robert Lee "Lil Poochie" Watson & Hezekiah Early. With this their, if I counted right and including the "Hits" collection and the Christmas single, their twelfth release, Hungry & Hungry Records presents one of it's best recordings yet. Here's my spiel about it on my Deep Blues blog. It might just be what'll get you through the next couple years.
That ODB mix by Audioprophecy was outstanding. It never failed to start a party in my car on the way to work. A real hard futuristic funkass knockout.
The Virtual Reality video for Childish Gambino's Me And Your Mama is amazing, and the song is the best thing on the album. Nothing else on the album comes close.#OnTheP
I rediscovered just how cool MiXendorp's blues remixes can be.
That jam by Dr. Dre and The D.O.C. called Gorilla Pimpin' with its root touched up from B.T. Express's Do It Til You're Satisfied mashed with D.O.C.'s G funk lyrics...is impossible not to let boom.
I've been on a big band kick the last couple years, but it intensified while reading a heartbreaking bio of the late, great, trumpeter Bunny Berigan, followed by a bio of the original King of the Jazz age, Paul Whiteman and his orchestras. This has led me to archive.org and the wealth of public domain WWII Armed Forces Radio V-discs (for victory!) available there for free, public domain (legal) download. Most any jazz sub-genre Big Band, Swing...they seem to have it. I was looking for some Charlie Barnet. I found 206 songs in one collection, and a bunch more as single downloads. It's nuts! Nearly every obscure swing or whatever/whoever I've searched for I've been able to find recordings at Archive.
I particularly got into AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) V-discs for the Jubilee that ran from 1942 -1953, broadcast to service personnel around the world via AFRS, and recorded primarily for African-American members of the military. Per Wikipedia, "Jubilee was conceived at least in part as a morale-building service for African-American troops overseas. The wartime host was Ernie "Bubbles" Whitman."
live radio shows. Imagine a time that the norm was seen a 10 person or more band? One of the best shows was a series called
"Most of the shows were recorded before live audiences in Los Angeles. The series emerged as an important piece of black heritage. Its War Department status exempted the performing artists from the union-mandated recording bans of 1942-43 and 1947–48 and many of the shows contain unique performances." On these shows you'll hear your great host Ernie Bubbles Whitman and his hip syncopated jive patter, so gone it might take a couple listens to catch it, there will be special guest stars like Butterfly McQueen, and Ida James, Louis Jordan, Jimmy Rushing aka Mr. 5 X 5, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Mills Brothers, Fats Waller, Lucky Millinder's Orchestra with Sister Rosetta Tharp, the Delta Rhythm Boys, and many, many more. Truly an outstanding audio/cultural document.
Tony Pastor was another unknown big band treat I discovered this last year from downloading mp3s of V disc recordings. I'm not talking about Tony Pastor, the man who essentially invented Vaudeville, but the big band sax man, entertainer, and singer. Pastor started out on sax, then turned into a singing entertainer who always had a really tight band, with swingin' rhythms and even hotter horns, a fellow who led his own band, from 1939-1959. Tony Pastor passed on to the great nightclub in the sky in 1969.
Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra were a real powerhouse. They must have been something to see live. And Lucky Millinder! Wow! I found Erskine Hawkins via my search for anything by Ida James. She remains a mystery. She came with a unique voice, did some good work with the likes of Nat King Cole and Erskine Hawkins, and then from what I can tell, she disappeared....at least internet-wise. And I reacquainted myself with the joys of Cab Calloway.
The sweetest jazz age etc find this year was a collection of recordings, again from Archive.org, of Willard Robison. I was intrigued because my wife's last name is Robison, and I wondered why no one had mentioned Cousin Willard to me. As far as I know there is no relation, but it was a happy coincidence that led me to one of my favorite things of the year: Willard Robison.
And I got into this album by the band City And Colour called If I Should Go Before You. My wife says they sound like Sting (you just had a shiver go down your spine didn't you?) but I hear more of a Buckley influenced thing. They're extra good loud. In fact I can't get them loud enough. If you liked those two really amazing Talk Talk albums, you'll dig this.
That new Thurston Moore album is good! I haven't been interested in what he's been up to for ages, it just got too wanky, and self-indulgent. Respect...I like to play weird music, too. But. Whatevs. Here, Moore is actually rocking again. Kudos!
I also heard this gorgeous Brinsley Schwartz song called Hymn To Me.
I discovered that, despite their name, I like Yo La Tengo a lot.
I haven't decided how much I like the album, but Danny Brown's single Really Doe ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Earl Sweatshirt is what's going to get me thru the fall. And everybody was reminded this year of the skills of the great Raphael Saadiq via Netflix' Luke Cage. #TopGame
I listened to a lot of Janet Jackson albums and remixes. #MissJackson
I rocked to Bo Diddley's monster of Diddley funk Black Gladiator.
I loved Cheese Finger Brown's debut Low-Down People. It's terrific.
That new Robert Finley album on Big Legal Mess Records is incredible.
I got into a guy named Maverick Sabre because of my family's love of the man known as Plan B. This jam from Ill Al Scratch threw down a tight interpoloation of a Curtis Mayfield jam, the groove of which was made popular by Mary J Blige in her song Happy. Now let it breathe.
I culled Millie Jackson's discography to the essentials and still had probably 70 tracks. What an amazing talent.
My brother Keary turned me onto The Skatalites, who I'd heard, but never really listened to. They play classic ska. I was slain by British jazz saxist Tubby Hayes. I liked Lana Del Ray's Dan Auerbach-produced Ultra-Violence album. Vince Guaraldi, Anderson .Paak, Charles X's jam Can You Do It? and a lot of Death Row Records...The Hon. Dr. Dre, Mr. Snoop D-O-double-G, The DOC! Lady of Rage, Dogg Pound, a lot of Morphine b'cuz I'm in a Morphine cover band. They're amazing, and their songs are really fun and challenging to play
Max Roach and Abby Lincoln's Freedom Now Suite is a brilliant gem of afrolit-nik Black American Music that stands tall to this day. This year, I continued my fascination with Shorty Rogers and his Men via the album Jazz Waltz. Keith Leblanc's album of remixed Chess Records tracks was pretty tight. Thank You, Mona. The Mrs came home from a trip to NYC where she'd heard The Range in a record store. We listened to that album for a while, again an interesting back story.
Let's see, what else, Corinne Bailey Rae's new one is a Yes. And that Adam Levine song from the movie Begin Again is lovely, and if this was 1973 you'd be digging it. I got into It's A Beautiful Day for awhile, too. You know their song White Bird. They have an interesting back story. I went thru their discography and culled it to a dozen terrific songs having very little, and yet everything to do with White Bird.
I listened to a lot of jazz this year. Saxophonist Gil Melle`, more Serge Chaloff, Kamasi Washington (duh) + a lot of the folks in his circle, the new Ray LaMontagne album with the kids from My Morning Jacket is gorgeous, and a haunting listening experience.
The new Tindersticks album is perhaps their best album. They've always attempted albums, but ended up with some good songs- some great, and some brave but perhaps questionable experiments, but their album The Waiting Room is solid throughout, their french-tinged and heartworn, smoothed-out but well-tensioned britsouljazzfolklitrock is at it's most refined, allowing them to go even deeper down into it. Well played, Tindersticks. Indeed.
Books? I've read a few. A bunch of Sinclair Lewis's books, ten I think, with two on deck. A fantastic bio of Zorah Neale Hurston, a couple, three Marjorie Kinan Rawlings books, two on deck, the aforementioned Bunny Berigan and Paul Whiteman books, a couple Steve Canyon comic collections, and I started but haven't finished a bunch more books...A couple Dickens, I've almost finished Oliver, and Martin Chuzzlewit. I finished one and started another book by Irvin S. Cobb, an early-20th century humorist (and don't get me started on my wonder at the fact that we no longer have people credited as humorists) known as the original Duke of Paducah (Kentucky.) I still love Eugene Walter, and I'm really sad that George Michael passed on. That's enough. If you actually read to the end of this post, congratulations! I thank you. XO #Fuck2016