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Maxwell – Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996)

Learning to be anti-racist

“We can change this. We can change the action, which changes the story, which changes the system.” – Baratunde Rafiq Thurston

For years, I have been mistakenly under the impression that ‘racist’ and ‘not racist’ were opposites. I’ve since realized that ‘anti-racism’ is actually the opposite or ‘racism’ & I need to do a better job of being actively anti-racist.

As a starting point, I want to commit to doing two small things every week:

  1. Listen & Learn. Share resources that I’ve found helpful.
  2. Amplify Black Voices. Each Wednesday, feature a Black Artist from the 1001 list.

 

So far, I’ve looked at Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today, The Crusaders’ Street Life, Cypress Hill’s Cypress Hill, and Cee-Lo Green’s Cee-Lo Green…Is the Soul Machine. 

This week, the debut album by Maxwell, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996).

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[Album 783/1001]

The name ‘Maxwell’ and the year 1996.

At the time, for me that meant one thing: my go-to brand of cassettes, ideal for making mix-tapes!

As an avid mix-tape compiler, I was often faced with a tricky decision – do I go with the 60-minute or the 90-minute tape?

Do you cut out anything that could potentially be deemed unnecessary, trimming all but the essential to fit within the hour limit?

Or do you let it sprawl to the roomier hour and a half running time?

Decisions, decisions.

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FA6C6843-FA7D-4969-8E4B-333B527C0215

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Fast-forward (pun initially unintended, but then once noticed, kept intentionally) 24 years, I was delighted to find that I still have a couple of blank Maxwell tapes.

And as someone who likes the idea of listening to something in the appropriate context (e.g. listening to Solsbury Hill while actually climbing up on Solsbury Hill), I thought it would be fun to listen to Maxwell’s album on a Maxwell cassette.220px-Muhspic

However, the album running time is listed as 64:47 – if I wanted the whole album, can it be trimmed to fit the 60-minute cassette length?

Some of the standout tracks, such as Sumthin’ Sumthin’ and …Til the Cops Come Knockin‘, would work really well in the mix-tape format. So I suppose one ‘could’ trim to 60, as the singles do work as stand-alones.

But then again, the album flows so effectively as a whole, it would be a shame to disrupt the running order. So even though one ‘could’ trim, that doesn’t mean you ‘should’ trim.

Therefore with Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, it’s an easy call: if you’ve got the budget for an obsolete 90-minute storage medium, it’s well worth it here!

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Helpful Resources

I’ve become hooked on the Ted Talk format.

And my favourite talk that I’ve seen so far is likely this one delivered by Baratunde Rafiq Thurston.

Artist of the Week IV – Quiz #26

ArtistoftheweekIV

Exceptional Artist of the Week IV Series logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

2020 Artists of the Week (so far):

The CurePublic Enemy, Steely Dan, Taylor Swift, Venom, Chuck Berry, Dixie Chicks, Billy Idol, Randy Newman, Jay-Z, Alanis Morissette, Pulp, The Byrds, Love, Queen Latifah, Muddy Waters, Robbie Williams, Rage Against the Machine, The Cars, Janet Jackson, King Crimson, Arcade Fire, James Brown, Daft Punk, PJ Harvey

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My thanks to all who have participated in the “Artist of the Week” quizzes so far.

Congrats to all those who correctly identified PJ Harvey last week.

The results after 25 weeks (as of Tuesday morning – results submitted after that time will be added to next week’s spreadsheet):

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after week 25

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Ready for Quiz #26?

It’s an all Math Equation Week (ain’t no week like a math equation week?)!

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Quiz Rules/Format
(Same as last year, feel free to skip to the quiz if you know the rules already)

Your Task: Name the mystery Artist, ideally with as few clues as possible.

Correctly guess the artist on the first clue? 500 points.

After scrolling down to the second clue? 400 points.

Still don’t know after the fifth clue? 0 points, but a crisp high-five for participating.

I’ll use google translate to put the correct answer at the bottom in Arabic (if you read Arabic, that’s fantastic, but no cheating by reading ahead!) and you can translate it back to the language of your choice to confirm your answer.

In the comments, please enter your POINTS earned (not the artist name) and I’ll keep track of the running totals in a spreadsheet.

In addition to eternal bragging rights, the winner at the end of the year may even get something as prestigious as a digital certificate.

Here goes!

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Artist of the Week #26
Record POINTS Earned (Not Artist Name) in the comments
(scroll down for additional clues)

For:

500 points…………………American band, one of many groups formed in Seattle that reached their commercial peak in the 1990s. One of the songs from this group’s 1991 album, Badmotorfinger, is pictured below:

quiz (3)

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400 points……………….The track below (whose main riff is played in a 7/4 time signature) was written by the group’s lead singer / rhythm guitarist, the late / great Chris Cornell

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300 points……………………Another of their hits, also in hastily assembled visual arts form:

quiz (1)

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200 points………………..One-word, two-part band name:

The first part* : Simon & Garfunkel’s, The _______ of Silence (or the missing word in the Ontario City below)
The second part: GNR’s (or I suppose, The Bible’s) _________ of Eden

quiz (4)

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100 points………………..The artist is S______g__________

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Answer: ساوند جاردن

(Please post your points earned in the comments section)

Thanks for playing!

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Verbalize the Positive

*The part about the first part, reminds me of one of the many classic Marx Brothers scenes from A Night at the Opera!

Cee-Lo Green – Cee-Lo Green… Is the Soul Machine (2004)

Learning to be anti-racist

“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis

For years, I have been mistakenly under the impression that ‘racist’ and ‘not racist’ were opposites. I’ve since realized that ‘anti-racism’ is actually the opposite or ‘racism’ & I need to do a better job of being actively anti-racist.

As a starting point, I want to commit to doing two small things every week:

  1. Listen & Learn. Share resources that I’ve found helpful.
  2. Amplify Black Voices. Each Wednesday, feature a Black Artist from the 1001 list.

 

So far, I’ve looked at Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today, The Crusaders’ Street Life, and Cypress Hill’s Cypress Hill.

This week, Cee-Lo Green & his 2004 album, Cee-Lo Green… Is the Soul Machine.

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[Album 782/1001]

“Yes I can sing, and I can rap
And I can act, and I can dance
And I can dress, sign of the best220px-Cee-Lo.IsTheSoulMachineCover
So is my guest, man I’m impressed”
Cee-Lo Green (featuring Ludacris), Childz Play

As someone who likes to try to do a little bit of a lot of things, I admire artists that seem to do a bit of everything.

As emphasized by the brief closing track (What Don’t You Do?), that seems to be the case with Cee-Lo Green… Is the Soul Machine.

Better yet, the album is also what it sounds like when someone does a lot of those things well!

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Helpful Resources

Best-sellers are often best-sellers for a reason.

I’m about a quarter of the way through Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How To Be An Antiracist, and it is a compelling read.

In the interview below, his comparison of identifying racism (before healing can begin) to a cancer diagnosis & its necessary ongoing treatment is a powerful conclusion.


(starting at about 14:45)

Artist of the Week IV – Quiz #25

ArtistoftheweekIV

Exceptional Artist of the Week IV Series logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

2020 Artists of the Week (so far):

The CurePublic Enemy, Steely Dan, Taylor Swift, Venom, Chuck Berry, Dixie Chicks, Billy Idol, Randy Newman, Jay-Z, Alanis Morissette, Pulp, The Byrds, Love, Queen Latifah, Muddy Waters, Robbie Williams, Rage Against the Machine, The Cars, Janet Jackson, King Crimson, Arcade Fire, James Brown, Daft Punk

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My thanks to all who have participated in the “Artist of the Week” quizzes so far.

Congrats to all those who correctly identified Daft Punk last week.

The results after 24 weeks (as of Thursday evening – results submitted after that time will be added to next week’s spreadsheet):

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after week 24

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Ready for Quiz #25?

Victory shall be yours!

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Quiz Rules/Format
(Same as last year, feel free to skip to the quiz if you know the rules already)

Your Task: Name the mystery Artist, ideally with as few clues as possible.

Correctly guess the artist on the first clue? 500 points.

After scrolling down to the second clue? 400 points.

Still don’t know after the fifth clue? 0 points, but a crisp high-five for participating.

I’ll use google translate to put the correct answer at the bottom in Arabic (if you read Arabic, that’s fantastic, but no cheating by reading ahead!) and you can translate it back to the language of your choice to confirm your answer.

In the comments, please enter your POINTS earned (not the artist name) and I’ll keep track of the running totals in a spreadsheet.

In addition to eternal bragging rights, the winner at the end of the year may even get something as prestigious as a digital certificate.

Here goes!

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Artist of the Week #25
Record POINTS Earned (Not Artist Name) in the comments
(scroll down for additional clues)

For:

500 points…………………English artist, born in Bridport, Dorset, England in 1969. She has a hat trick of albums on the 1001 list: a pair of albums that were recorded with her trio, Dry (1992) and Rid of Me (1993), as well as…

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400 points……………….Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000), which featured Thom Yorke on a handful of tracks. Although she goes by her first two initials + her last name, her full name would be as shown below:

Untitled presentation (23)

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300 points……………………Alternatively, her first two initials + her last name, as shown by the clues below:

Presentation10

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200 points………………..or as shown by these other clues below:

Presentation11

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100 points………………..The artist is (16th letter of the alphabet) . (10th letter).  H___________

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Answer: بي جيه هارفي

(Please post your points earned in the comments section)

Thanks for playing!

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Verbalize the Positive

So far, I only know her 3 albums that made the 1001 list & she definitely went 3 for 3 on those, all keepers!

Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill (1991)

Learning to be anti-racist

“In order to stand with us, and people that look like me, you have to be educated on issues that pertain to me. Fully educated, so that you can feel the full level of pain, so that you can have full understanding.”
– Emmanuel Acho, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Episode 1

For years, I have been mistakenly under the impression that ‘racist’ and ‘not racist’ were opposites. I’ve since realized that ‘anti-racism’ is actually the opposite or ‘racism’ & I need to do a better job of being actively anti-racist.

As a starting point, I want to commit to doing two small things every week:

  1. Listen & Learn. Share resources that I’ve found helpful.
  2. Amplify Black Voices. Each Wednesday, feature a Black Artist (or a group featuring Black Musicians) from the 1001 list.

 

So far, I’ve looked at Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today and The Crusaders’ Street Life.

This week, Cypress Hill & their eponymous 1991 debut album.

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[Album 781/1001]

“How do you know where I’m at when you haven’t been where I’ve been…Here is something you can’t understand”
– Cypress Hill, How I Could Just Kill a Man

When I looked at the albums remaining on the 1001 list, I noticed a bit of an unsettling pattern: there were still a lot of hip hop artists that I hadn’t even listened to, let alone reviewed, yet. Many, like Cypress Hill, featured a Black MC (or MCs) & Black band members.220px-Cypress_Hill_Self-Titled

I don’t think I was consciously avoiding them at all…but why had I put so many of them off until now?

I’m wondering if, given my childhood as a privileged suburban kid, I felt I just couldn’t relate. There wouldn’t be many common experiences and I wouldn’t know what to say.

So when a Cypress Hill song says, “And any hour of the day ya know I might be, Harassed by a pig real fast, They wanna Rodney King me,” no comparable personal memories come to mind.

Or, as in the quote above, when the lyrics state, “Here is something you can’t understand,” they’re absolutely right. I won’t ever fully understand, as like they said, I’ve never been where they’ve been.

Which is why, as Emmanuel Acho pointed out, if I want to fully understand, I have to become fully educated.

And albums like this one are helping me start to understand, a little bit at a time.

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Helpful Resources

I’ve really appreciated the first two episodes of Emmanuel Acho’s, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.

The first episode is an excellent introduction…

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…and the second is a dialogue with Matthew McConaughey.

Both episodes left me feeling hopeful & both are highly recommended.

Artist of the Week IV – Quiz #24

ArtistoftheweekIV

Exceptional Artist of the Week IV Series logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

2020 Artists of the Week (so far):

The CurePublic Enemy, Steely Dan, Taylor Swift, Venom, Chuck Berry, Dixie Chicks, Billy Idol, Randy Newman, Jay-Z, Alanis Morissette, Pulp, The Byrds, Love, Queen Latifah, Muddy Waters, Robbie Williams, Rage Against the Machine, The Cars, Janet Jackson, King Crimson, Arcade Fire, James Brown

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My thanks to all who have participated in the “Artist of the Week” quizzes so far.

Congrats to all those who correctly identified James Brown last week.

The results after 23 weeks (as of Tuesday evening – results submitted after that time will be added to next week’s spreadsheet):

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after week 23

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Ready for Quiz #24?

Best of luck with this week’s artist, hope you Get Lucky!

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Quiz Rules/Format
(Same as last year, feel free to skip to the quiz if you know the rules already)

Your Task: Name the mystery Artist, ideally with as few clues as possible.

Correctly guess the artist on the first clue? 500 points.

After scrolling down to the second clue? 400 points.

Still don’t know after the fifth clue? 0 points, but a crisp high-five for participating.

I’ll use google translate to put the correct answer at the bottom in Arabic (if you read Arabic, that’s fantastic, but no cheating by reading ahead!) and you can translate it back to the language of your choice to confirm your answer.

In the comments, please enter your POINTS earned (not the artist name) and I’ll keep track of the running totals in a spreadsheet.

In addition to eternal bragging rights, the winner at the end of the year may even get something as prestigious as a digital certificate.

Here goes!

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Artist of the Week #24
Record POINTS Earned (Not Artist Name) in the comments
(scroll down for additional clues)

For:

500 points…………………French duo, formed in Paris in 1993. Their debut album, Homework (1997), was a pretty big hit Around the World & is also on the 1001 list.

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400 points……………….The electronic duo also got quite fortunate in 2013, with their hit album, Random Access Memories (whose cover font & overall design didn’t appear to be randomly chosen)

Presentation7

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300 points……………………Among his many memorable videos, Spike Jonze directed the video for this duo’s 1997 instrumental track, as pictured below:

Presentation8

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200 points………………..Two-word name: the first word is a British term for ‘silly’ or ‘foolish’ & the second word is the music genre popularized by groups like the Sex Pistols (or the missing word in the Clint Eastwood quote below)

Presentation9

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100 points………………..The artist is D____ P____

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Answer: So…my usual (English – Arabic) google translate system produced a comically vulgar result for today’s artist (Denis Leary’s hit song x 2).

So instead, perhaps I’ll skip the translation for this week & ask you to confirm your answers by searching for the ‘Random Access Memories‘ duo!

(Please post your points earned in the comments section)

Thanks for playing!

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Verbalize the Positive

I appreciate it when artists put effort into their music videos, as this duo definitely did!

The Crusaders – Street Life (1979)

Learning to be anti-racist

“The common idea of claiming ‘color blindness’ is akin to the notion of being ‘not racist’ – as with the ‘not racist,’ the color-blind individual, by ostensibly failing to see race, fails to see racism and falls into racist passivity.” – Ibram X. Kendi

For years, I have been mistakenly under the impression that ‘racist’ and ‘not racist’ were opposites. I’ve since realized that ‘anti-racism’ is actually the opposite or ‘racism’ & I need to do a better job of being actively anti-racist.

As a starting point, I want to commit to doing two small things every week:

  1. Listen & Learn. Share resources that I’ve found helpful.
  2. Amplify Black Voices. Each Wednesday, feature a Black Artist from the 1001 list.

 

Last week, I looked at Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today.

This week, The Crusaders’ Street Life.

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[Album 780/1001]

How do you know when you’re listening to a really solid group of musicians?

When each track of an album features a different standout instrument.

With The Crusaders & Street Life, that would include:220px-Street_Life (1)

Guest vocalist Randy Crawford’s performance on the opening title track

My Lady‘s bassline

Rodeo Drive (High Steppin’)‘s mid-song guitar

The keyboard-driven chord progression on Carnival of the Night

The Hustler‘s anticipating cymbal hits (on the 4 +, rather than waiting for the downbeat)

The smooth saxomophone on Night Faces

I suppose there’s also another correct answer to the question, how can you tell when you’re listening to a really solid group of musicians?

When the band is listed as having been active during 7 (!) decades, as the Crusaders were from 1952-2010.

One would think that hitting a commercial peak 27 years after forming would be a late-career triumph – but it appears with Street Life in 1979, the Crusaders weren’t even at their halfway point yet!

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Helpful Resources

As a longtime fan of Top 5 lists, I really appreciated Franchesca Ramsey (Chescaleigh)’s video, “5 Tips for being an Ally.”

There are some excellent analogies (wanting to help build a house but lacking any training, wearing horse blinders, different roles in Destiny’s Child) & I quite like the closing message of ‘ally’ being an ongoing verb, rather than a one-time statement.

Artist of the Week IV – Quiz #23

ArtistoftheweekIV

Exceptional Artist of the Week IV Series logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

2020 Artists of the Week (so far):

The CurePublic Enemy, Steely Dan, Taylor Swift, Venom, Chuck Berry, Dixie Chicks, Billy Idol, Randy Newman, Jay-Z, Alanis Morissette, Pulp, The Byrds, Love, Queen Latifah, Muddy Waters, Robbie Williams, Rage Against the Machine, The Cars, Janet Jackson, King Crimson, Arcade Fire

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My thanks to all who have participated in the “Artist of the Week” quizzes so far.

Congrats to all those who correctly identified Arcade Fire last week.

The results after 22 weeks (as of Monday evening – results submitted after that time will be added to next week’s spreadsheet):

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after week 22

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Ready for Quiz #23?

Say it Loud !

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Quiz Rules/Format
(Same as last year, feel free to skip to the quiz if you know the rules already)

Your Task: Name the mystery Artist, ideally with as few clues as possible.

Correctly guess the artist on the first clue? 500 points.

After scrolling down to the second clue? 400 points.

Still don’t know after the fifth clue? 0 points, but a crisp high-five for participating.

I’ll use google translate to put the correct answer at the bottom in Arabic (if you read Arabic, that’s fantastic, but no cheating by reading ahead!) and you can translate it back to the language of your choice to confirm your answer.

In the comments, please enter your POINTS earned (not the artist name) and I’ll keep track of the running totals in a spreadsheet.

In addition to eternal bragging rights, the winner at the end of the year may even get something as prestigious as a digital certificate.

Here goes!

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Artist of the Week #23
Record POINTS Earned (Not Artist Name) in the comments
(scroll down for additional clues)

For:

500 points…………………American artist, born in South Carolina in 1933 (he died on Christmas day in 2006), his album, Live at the Apollo* (1963) is on the 1001 list

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400 points……………….He was a singer/bandleader with many nicknames: The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother No. 1, and The Hardest Working Man in Show Business (to name but a few)…

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300 points……………………Surprisingly, his highest charting single is actually called I Got You (with the memorable “I Feel Good” lyric included in parentheses)

 

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200 points………………..This week’s artist, as himself, appearing on The Simpsons:

Presentation6

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100 points………………..The artist is J_______ B________

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Answer: جيمس براون

(Please post your points earned in the comments section)

Thanks for playing!

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Verbalize the Positive

*If I ever have to appear on stage somewhere, I would like someone like Fats Gonder to introduce me to the audience.

His Live at the Apollo introduction for this artist is something else!

The Gun Club – Fire of Love (1981) & Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club (1981)

[Albums 778 & 779 / 1001]

“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”
– Groucho Marx

Did you ever read the Berenstain Bears books?

More specifically, No Girls Allowed?

In the book, Brother Bear starts a Boys-Only club, Sister Bear retaliates with an All-Girls club, before *spoiler alert* they realize the folly of their ways and decide to welcome all members, regardless of gender identity.

First published in 1986, next year it will be due for a 35th Anniversary extended edition.

And I’m hoping there will be a few additional bonus pages, featuring some extra lessons based in music group settings, in which Papa Bear & Mama Bear reference The Gun Club & Tom Tom Club.

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Untitled presentation (22)

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Papa Bear: I see that you and Cousin Fred are starting a Boy Band, Brother Bear?
Brother Bear: That’s right, Papa. No Girls Allowed!
Papa Bear: Wouldn’t you rather play in a band like The Gun Club?220px-GC_Fire_of_Love
Brother Bear (examining the Fire of Love tracklist): You mean, we should add some violent imagery to our name –
Papa Bear: Well, not exactl-
Brother Bear: Of course, I get it now, you think we should cover their song, Sex Beat?

Papa Bear (tugging at shirt collar):  Actually, I was meaning that they were a punk blues band that often featured female members. Lois Graham, for example, provided backup vocals here on Jack on Fire, an album highlight…what I’m trying to say is, “is it so important that he and she bands aren’t the same?”
Brother Bear: Oh, I see. But what do they mean when they say She’s Like Heroin to Me?
Papa Bear: Umm…

(Mama Bear & Sister Bear arrive in the room)

Mama Bear: Papa Bear, Maybe sit the next couple of plays out. Now, Sister Bear.
Sister Bear: Yes, Mama?
Mama Bear: Now you Could form a ‘Girl Group,’ where each member had a nickname to describe their personality & have a wildly successful run in the second half of the ’90s before Lizzy Bruin inevitably leaves the group to pursue a solo career-220px-Tom_Tom_Club_-_Tom_Tom_Club_CD_album_cover
Sister Bear: But mama-

Mama Bear: And furthermore, Brother you Could form a ‘Boy Band,’ where each member portrayed a specific character type. You know, where Too Tall would be the Bad Boy? Cousin Fred would be the one that doesn’t sing all that often but conveniently rounds out the act to fit the 5-singer format?Brother Bear: But mama-
Papa Bear: Never mind the buts, Brother!

Mama Bear: You Could do those things and enjoy largely unprecedented levels of commercial success. But Sister Bear, wouldn’t you rather play in a multi-gender group like Tom Tom Club, writing & singing quirky yet irresistibly catchy tunes?
Sister Bear: I suppose.
Papa Bear: And if you write a song with a hook that’s half as good as Genius of Love, I bet that a highly influential Hip Hop group &/or a singer with a 5-Octave range will sample it some day & you’ll enjoy a steady royalty stream, to go along with your enduring critical acclaim.

(Sister Bear & Brother Bear nod in unison while processing the new information)

Mama Bear (relieved that Papa has rebounded from his earlier gaffes): Besides, wouldn’t you want to be part of a co-ed group & get to join the most exclusive club of all – membership on the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die List?
(Sister Bear & Brother Bear continue nodding, recognizing the rhetorical nature of the question) 
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Verbalize the Positive

There was a funny early Family Guy Scene, where after being at home for an extended period of time, Peter complained of TV shows starting to run together (followed by the clip, Homicide, Life on Sesame Street)

It appears, given the above conflation of my sources of entertainment (Groucho Marx, The Gun Club, Tom Tom Club) & my kids’ favourite books (Berenstain Bears), we’re starting to reach that point ’round here!

Curtis Mayfield – There’s No Place Like America Today (1975)

[Album 777/1001]

After a lot of reflection during yesterday’s #BlackOutTuesday, I’m beginning to understand that I have a lot of listening & learning to do.

Being ‘not racist’ is insufficient & I need to do a better job at being actively anti-racist.

Rather than adding my unneeded commentary to areas in which I have absolutely no 220px-There's_No_Place_Like_America_Today_coverexperience, as a small starting point, I can help amplify the voices of people that do.

In this case, by encouraging my friends / family / fellow bloggers to check out Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today.

The album cover juxtaposition between the background and the foreground is jarring; the contrast between the promotional promise and the actual experience is stark.

And the music on the album itself is equally powerful.

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Verbalize the Positive

Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly soundtrack is also on the 1001 list.

Even though I haven’t seen the movie, I was really impressed with that one as well, as Mayfield was able to create such vivid scenes in each of the tracks.