Monday, July 17, 2006:

Syl Johnson -- Concrete Reservation

Syl Johnson -- Concrete Reservation
Here's Syl Johnson with a song about living in the ghetto. This isn't the maudlin Mac Davis ghetto, and Syl Johnson isn't most interested in mamas crying because they had a baby; he's more interested in mamas crying because they lost a baby, in couples fighting becaue they're jealous, and in people burning to death because there's no back door on the apartments. The vocals are, appropriately, not mournful but full of a simmering rage; the guitar snaps, the strings stab, the lyrics sting:
Here in the ghetto, it's a bad situation / Call it what you want to; it's just a concrete reservation.

Johnson's also known for his track "Is It Because I'm Black?" which I have by Johnson only in a version that drags on a bit too long for my interest, though Ken Boothe also recorded an impressive version of it.
"Concrete Reservation" is off Is It Because I'm Black?, which is also available in a pricy re-release with Dresses Too Short; or you can pick it up on the greatest hits comp Twilight and Twinight.

More HiFi finds: "I Am a Demon and Will Swallow Your Soul," "Olivia," and "Ocean Bottom," another track from The Scarring Party. It's my favorite song about writer's block at the bottom of the ocean with percussion by a typewriter.

Monday last week I got a promotional email for an indie rock band--not at all uncommon for an mp3blog--but the music was good, which is somewhat less common. Gentleman Caller's track "Bomb the Castle" seemed likely to be an A-B-A-B-C construction with chunky distorted guitar on the bridge, with people screaming into the mic, and it wasn't, and I liked it for it. They have other tracks up, mostly with a dreamy pop-rock vibe with countryish vocal stylings. They self-compare to Okkervil River and Rilo Kiley.

Secretly Canadian sent me an email about a new release from Jason Molina, and I enjoyed the track there for download, and so I'm passing it along.

Vindaloo, the fight song, and the response: a writer's fight song. 99/100 for that, -1 for failure to include "B.I.C."

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I was really disappointed when Concrete Reservation ended -- a sure sign that I was really enjoying it. I don't know anything about Syl Johnson. I have another terrific song by him called "I Hear the Love Chimes, but I have no idea where it came from. I think I must have downloaded it from another mp3 blog but I don't know whose. I see he has a few albums on emusic. I think I know what I'll be checking out tonight.

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