Over the last 20 years, Delicious Vinyl has released some of hip-hop’s best singles, along with a few one hit wonders. From Tone Loc to the Pharcyde, the label has managed to blend catchy beats and complex sonic textures. Whether they’re sensual club-grinding narratives or jazz-flavored socio-philosophizing, Delicious Vinyl has continually shown its knack for releasing tracks that are loaded with head-bobbing hooks and the depth and substance to become timeless. It’s not an easy thing to do, but they did it consistently—if not with full albums, then certainly with singles. The decision to compile the anthology began when Peaches and Tone Loc teamed up to do a live remix of “Wild Thing” in November last year. From there, Delicious Vinyl compiled other hit tracks from its catalogue and handed them over to a handful of artists to take a twist of the knobs and slap a new sonic spin on a classic DV track that inspired them. Listening to the remixes reminds you just how well those songs captured an era when storytelling hip-hop and dance floor grooving converged to create songs packed with simplicity, sensuality, playfulness, and irresistible hooks that pushed hip-hop and electronic dance music even further into the mainstream playlist. [$13.98]
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Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Made in New Orleans: The Hurricane Sessions [$69.98]
The tuneful musical gumbo from national treasure New Orleans is always a splendid gift. City of Dreams is four CDs of funk, blues, piano boogie, and second-line parade inspired songs. Focusing on the R&B side of the Big Easy’s musical heritage, this set is all about booty shaking. For the jazz side of things head on over to the ultra special Made in New Orleans. It’s a two-CD/DVD set from the legendary Preservation Hall band and all manner of unique replica photos, Mardi Gras Doubloons, and archival material hand assembled down in the Big Easy. This literally a one-of-a-kind gift that will appeal to all jazz fans as well as all those smart folks who treasure the spirit and culture of New Orleans.
While their first Christmas album, 1996’s The Darkest Night of the Year, was heavy on standards, Snow Angels relies on mostly original material. That turns out to be a strength, as multi-instrumentalist Linford Detweiler and vocalist Karin Bergquist bring the jazz-and-blues-tinged intimacy of 2007’s The Trumpet Child to these Christmas songs. Songs like “Darlin’ (Christmas is Coming)” and “Snowed in With You” winningly recall the Christmas music of yesteryear, meant to evoke a cozy, snowed-in cabin or townhouse rather than a bustling mega-mall. Only on “White Horse” do Detweiler and Bergquist border on schmaltz. Otherwise, they’re up to the task, with Bergquist sounding like a modern-day Nancy Wilson or Billie Holiday. The pair of standards are given fresh, earthy takes, while “Goodbye Charles” is a fitting Schulz/Guaraldi tribute. Snow Angels exudes the peace and quiet that everyone longs for at Christmastime, and does so with class.
Taking an energetic if cynical approach to the holiday compilation, Yep Roc has assembled a collection of original “holiday-inspired” tunes from its stable of alt-country/indie rock artists. There’s only one carol, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in a growled, dirty rendition by Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers. As for the rest—yeah, you could call it a holiday compilation for people who don’t like holiday music. From the funny, human response to loneliness at Christmas by Jason Brennan to the whiskey dreams of Minus 5, the emphasis is squarely on the outsider’s experience of the holiday season. “Lovely Christmas”, by Jason Ringenberg and Kristi Rose, doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Alternating between Rose’s peaceful acoustic phrasing, Ringenberg stresses out about credit cards and consumerism, eventually drowning out her innocence completely. The compilation manages, too, to accurately represent Yep Roc’s characteristic sound—richly rocking, often dirty, occasionally arresting. And despite all the cynicism, even Yep Roc can’t totally cut: Los Straightjackets’ “Holiday Twist” is indeed a lost Christmas classic, the kind of feel-good song that deserves to be accompanying Louis and Ella through department speakers.
The dizzying maze of Ike and Tina Turner compilations is long and winding. Countless budget packages have flooded the market over the years, reducing the rich Ike and Tina catalog to an impulse purchase at the checkout line. The few quality releases out there often only skim the surface. Except for the single-disc Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner (1991), there really hasn’t been an exhaustive anthology of their entire 15-year career, partly due to licensing music from the numerous record companies that own different parts of the catalog. (Ike was always on the hunt for a more lucrative record deal.) Time-Life has mustered the financial might to compile the definitive collection of Ike and Tina Turner: The Ike and Tina Turner Story 1960-1975 is, essentially, all you’ll ever need to know. Definitive in nearly every possible way, this set is the exclamation point on an act that bridged together rock and soul and black and white audiences. Often overlooked, but not easily forgotten, Ike and Tina Turner represent a time when the spectacle of a stage show and the talent of the performers were of equal magnitude. Colin Escott ends his liner notes with the following analysis: “These are some of the records they made. The ones that matter.” I couldn’t agree more.