Random 10 for Nov. 30, 2007
1. Lavender Diamond, “Like a Prayer.” Okay then, three covers straight out of the gate. If you recall, John Wesley Harding did a nice acoustic version of my favorite Madge song (best song she recorded, best production even though it was 1989, best video, best she ever looked in a video, et cetera), but the new version is a little more faithful, and let’s face it: this is a song that demands drama. Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark possesses a perfect soprano, and the band surrounds her with pounding piano, toms and a choir — it sounds big even if it’s really a fairly simple arrangement. It’s certainly not as busy as Stephen Bray’s production on the original, but just a few people are doing a lot here. Superb and immaculate.
2. Tahiti 80, “Happy Together.”
3. Grizzly Bear, “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss).”
4. Patrick Wolf, “The Magic Position.”
5. Minutemen, “Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda, Son.”
6. Kanye West, “Big Brother.” The final song from “Graduation,” this is West discussing his complicated relationship with Jay-Z. The Roc-A-Fella magnate brought West in to produce tracks on 2000′s “Dynasty Roc La Famiglia,” then West was the main beatmaker on 2001′s “The Blueprint” and went on to his current fame as a solo artist on the Roc-A-Fella roster, but West said he’s been kept at a distance and claims that Jay-Z pilfered ideas from him — such as working with Chris Martin on “Kingdom Come.” (For the record, the Coldplay-infused “Homecoming” from “Graduation” is far better than “Beach Chair”) These kind of tracks can be insufferable — check The Game’s whining about his estrangement from Dr. Dre on 2006′s “Doctor’s Advocate,” but this works because of the tangled gratitude and frustration in West’s lyrics and the blaxploitation grooves under them.
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