... AND A HAPPY F***IN' NEW YEAR
With the passing of AHMET ERTEGUN, TOWER RECORDS, PETER BOYLE and JAMES BROWN, the world is an immeasurably crappier place than it was just a few weeks ago. Heaven help us all. More on the Godfather of Saul -- er, Soul -- later. But first, here's a little year-end recap of Year I of NYCD: The Office.
NYCD started a new life in 2006, operating from a small office in midtown after shutting its Upper West Side doors on Christmas eve of 2005. Just like everyone else, we had high points and low points. Most of our high points involved our friends and loyal supporters who did not let a week go by without paying respect to our dear, departed brick and mortar. Hearing that the loss of NYCD's retail outlet left a great void in so many lives fueled our fire. We want to come back. AND WE WILL!
Most of low points came in the guise of phone calls from the oblivious, fair-weather friends who failed to notice that our wonderful little shop had gone out of business. "I can't find you. Did you move?" "What time do you close tonight? Really? When did you close? I loved that shop." So many loved us, yet 367 days later, they still didn't notice we weren't there.
2007 must not be a continuation of 2006. Music is on the verge of disappearing. And we strongly suspect that things are going to get worse before they get better. Stores where you can go and buy music will continue to disappear. More CDs will go out of print, and those that are still in print will be harder to find. For real music lovers who want more than compressed MP3 files of this week's hot new releases, or who love shopping for vintage recordings on small labels, it looks like we're entering a new Dark Ages.
Our message to you is, DON'T DESPAIR! Don't decide to stop caring about music! Don't be one of those old curmudgeons who doesn't listen to any music made after 1973 because "Nobody's making good music anymore"! When you do that, the idiots who put the music industry in this mess in the first place win. They don't give a crap what music fans (or indie retailers, for that matter) want, as long as they make a buck. It's up to all of us to be the thorns in their side. If you want to be able to buy CDs as well as download music, then don't stop buying CDs. If you don't want to have to go to Amazon or Wal-Mart to find CDs, then support your local music retailers. But don't stop letting your voices and your wallets be heard!
And if you're looking for some good CDs by a recently deceased artist to buy (because, hey, who doesn't like to buy music by someone who just died?).... here's our little tribute to the Hardest Working Man In The Shoe Business -- er, Show Business!
We're not going to presume that we can add anything substantial to the millions of words that have been written about James Brown over the years, let alone all the boring yakety-yak that untold bloggers have been spewing since they heard the news of his death. But if there's one thing we do know, it's CDs. And here are a few of Mr. Brown's recordings that go beyond the standard hits compilations, and are worth your time and money:
LOVE POWER PEACE - Recorded live at L'Olympia in Paris in 1971 for a proposed live album that never surfaced until 20 years later. This is the only full-length live recording by Brown with the legendary JB's, the backing band that only stayed with him for a year but helped him to create some of his most legendary recordings. Explosive and intense from start to finish.
FOUNDATIONS OF FUNK: 1964-69 - One of a series of double CD sets chronicling the Godfather's entire career. This covers the period when he virtually reinvented soul music, from groundbreakers like "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" through funk workouts like "Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud."
I CAN'T STAND MYSELF - The majority of these tracks have been reissued elsewhere, but in its original running order, this LP is unquestionably some of the funkiest music recorded by Brown. "I Can't Stand Myself When You Touch Me," "There Was a Time," "Get It Together," and the instrumentals "Funky Soul #1," "The Soul of J. B.," are all included.
SOUL PRIDE :THE INSTRUMENTALS (1960-1969) - 36 tracks culled from various singles and albums, these tracks showcase the "Godfather's" backing bands, as well as Brown's organ playing. This stuff is hot stuff, this stuff. (This one is out of print and pretty hard to find, but we'll do a search for it if you're interested enough.)
SOUL ON TOP - Definitely not your typical James Brown album. This 1968 excursion into jazz was recorded with Louie Bellson's orchestra, with arrangements by Oliver Nelson, and features Brown tackling everything from standards like "That's My Desire" to Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart" to a big band workout on his own "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag." The highlight is a bizarre but thrilling version of "September Song." Also recommended: Gettin' Down To It, in which he's backed by a small jazz combo and sings mostly Sinatra classics.
IN CLOSING, WE LEAVE YOU WITH THIS:
Stay tuned next week for our list of OUR FIVE FAVORITE ALBUMS BY GERALD FORD!
Happy New Year from your friends, current and ex,
Tony and Sal
aka Sal and Tony