Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Christmas Presents to YOU!

OK, here are two criminally-out-of-print-in-the-states records that you would do well to seek out, because they are both classics.

First, Gwen Guthrie's Padlock EP. Guthrie was an R&B backup singer with a fairly undistinguished career when she somehow got a chance in the early 80's to record an EP at Chris Blackwell's famous Compass Point Studios. Reggae superstars Sly & Robbie, who were then at the top of their game, played on and produced the initial recording sessions. At the time, they were the darling of the rock world, producing records for everyone from Bob Dylan to Mick Jagger. (It doesn't get much better than their version of "Baltimore".) After Gurthrie recorded her vocals with Sly & Robbie in Jamaica, the resulting tracks were sent to NYC to be mixed by Larry Levan, who was then also at the top of his game. Levan was the most prominent DJ and producer in NYC's garage music scene, producing dance records for NYC labels West End and Prestige. (His classic songs include the dub version of NYC Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait" (which, strangely, isn't on YouTube), Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat" (sampled by many, including De La Soul and Ini Kamoze), as well as his remix of Arthur Russell's "Is it all over my face".) Between Guthrie's vocals, Sly & Robbie's playing and production, and Levan's mixing, the Padlock EP is a fairly unique combination of 80's R&B, dub reggae, and proto-house.

Second, Lefty Frizzell's Songs of Jimmie Rodgers. After recording a series of hit singles, Frizzell was given the chance to record an album, which was a new idea at the time (the LP being a new technology). He chose to record a tribute to his childhood idol, the great Jimmie Rodgers. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the record executives didn't like this idea, since they thought of Rodgers as passé. But the resulting record proved them wrong. Frizzell's versions channel the essence of Rodgers' style to an amazing degree. Some of them, in particular, Frizzell's version of "California Blues", seem to distill the essence of Rodgers' own songs, even moreso than Rodgers' own versions. And I think Frizzell's version of "Treasure Untold" is probably one of the most beautiful love songs of all time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Documentaries About Los Angeles

Blue Neon Light: Michael Connelly's Los Angeles (2004)
Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East Los Angeles (2009)
East LA Interchange
Great Streets: Sunset Blvd (PBS) (2000)
Inventing LA: The Chandlers & Their Times (2009)
James Ellroy: American Dog (2006)
James Ellroy's Feast of Death (2001)
Laura McKenzie's Travel Tips: Los Angeles
Los Angeles Now (2004)
Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)
Los Angeles Street Cars: The Final Years (1992)
Los Angeles: The Early Days
Los Angeles: Video Postcard (VPI) (1989)
Los Angeles: Video Visits (1989)
Modern Marvels: Los Angeles (2006)
The New Los Angeles (2005)
Pacific Electric Vol. 2: Remembering The Red Cars (1998)
Rescue Me: Los Angeles' Skid Row
Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles (BBC) (1972)
Shotgun Freeway: Drives Through Lost L.A. (1995)
The Towers (1957)
Video Visits: Lights, Cameras, Los Angeles
Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman (2009)
Wonderland (1977)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Marina Car Wash

I love this painting. It is hanging on the wall of the "viewing platform" of the Marina Car Wash, on Lincoln Blvd. in Venice.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Greenbrier Bunker

When trying to imagine what underground bunkers are like, these are the sorts of pictures that I like looking at the most.