Sunday, June 26, 2011

E is for EPMD

My intern Josephina quit a few days ago.  Kind of a misunderstanding... I'll just let her email explain:


See what I mean?! Well, she's a good kid.

So I've been ripping all these damn CDs myself for days!!! What a pain in the ass!!! I'll give her this... she was right about the "20x" importing thing-- it really is a lot faster. When she cools off I'll send her a text.

Speaking of crazy women, it was a real trip to see my copy of The Gasoline Age by East River Pipe again. I first heard this on a cassette my buddy made me when I was going through my divorce way back. Actually, I was going through lots of crazy shit at that point: divorce, major illness, and a bitch of a new job that I was laughably unqualified for. All I ever listened to for a few months was Lucinda's Car Wheels (for the divorce), Murda Musik (for the job), and this cassette, which I guess was for my rapidly deteriorating nervous system.

For some reason, I began to believe that The Gasoline Age starts with "Hell Is An Open Door" and not "Shiny, Shiny Pimpmobile," which actually opens the album. I not only believed this mistruth, but I even went on record declaring "Hell... " to be one of the greatest opening tracks of all time. If you start at track #2 and stop before you get to the awful Atlantic City song, you're looking at an amazing album.

I've chosen to alphabetize "number bands" by their spelling and not their numerical value, so 801 Live belongs in this discussion. You won't find this square peg of a record in many discussions at all, unless you keep very peculiar company. For the unenlightened, 801 was a side project art-prog supergroup featuring Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Brian Eno (band name came from one of his songs), Francis Monkman (ex-Curved Air, future founder of Sky), Bill MacCormick (ex-Crimso Ian MacDonald's brother), Lloyd Watson (prog session guitar guy), and Simon Phillips (drums for Jeff Beck, Judas Priest, Pete Townshend, The Who, Asia, Toto, etc.). Like I said, a supergroup.

The record itself is weird as hell. Supposedly it was one of the first live albums primarily recorded "direct" (not mic'ed or off the board) to tape. That explains a few things, but the song selections are the story here: oddball Eno covers, standards by Kinks & Beatles, and wacko prog-fusion instrumentals. You might say that I found this album to be influential on my own career...

The best part of 801 Live, however, is particular to my very own copy of the E'G Records CD. It shouldn't surprise readers to read that I listened to this recording with friends while drinking cough syrup from time to time. One afternoon years ago I woke up to find this beloved treasure completely soaked in Maximum Strength DM-- the jewel box looked like a melted grape Fla-Vor-Ice sheath. Pictured at right is the actual booklet, complete with tussin discolorations.

I already dragged the Eno reissues through the mud a while back, so I won't do it again. On a positive note, I'll nominate side two of Before and After Science as my favorite flip side of all time.

Everybody loves EPMD for reasons that are obvious to those of us blessed with a pair of functional ears and/or legs. It's the morons that judge rap solely on "importance" that miss out on all the fun. Pretty tough to beat Strictly Business on any level, and I'll throw "So What Cha Sayin'" in with the cream too. Nothing we don't already know...

I will volunteer some new theories regarding the other rap giants of the E section, the Gog and Magog of hip hop... Eric B. & Rakim. I once brilliantly outlined a one-to-one correspondence of the catalog of Wyandanch's finest and another LI/NYC crew called the Velvet Underground. Yes, these two hugely influential musical acts followed dual paths, as demonstrated by their pristine recording tetrads. I can't exactly remember the finer points of my case, but I know that "My Melody" and "Venus in Furs" had something to do with it. Or maybe it was "Lyrics of Fury" and "I Heard Her Call My Name"... not sure. Since I've also famously presented the VU and Uncle Tupelo catalogs as analogs, it follows that Eric B. & Rakim and UT should also correspond. I'll leave that one to the listeners.

5 comments:

Charles Simone said...

"Everybody loves EPMD for reasons that are obvious to those of us blessed with a pair of functional ears and/or legs."

Replace EPMD with ELO in the above statement and I'm on board.

JoJo is hilarious, but her spelling of harassment with two R's is nothing to laugh about.

Lance Manion said...

A to the K? A to the mother fuckin' ESG, bitches...

Lee said...

Very few of us love ELP for reasons that are obvious to those of us blessed with a pair of functional ears and/or testicles.

Charles Simone said...

I said ELO. That's not the same band as ELP, by the way.

Lee said...

Yeah, and I said ELP. I don't even consider ELO a band.