Friday, March 18, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Funny

Words By Andy DeVilbiss

Quick strikes like a ninja this week. And as the ninjas say... "Ching-chong. Ling-long. Ting-tong." Just keep reading before you get offended.

Good... Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears' second full-length album, "Scandalous," avoids the dreaded sophomore jinx, and it further solidifies the band's musical recipe of James Brown soul, gutbucket blues, and Texas jookhouse sweat. It opens with a scorcher in "Livin' in the Jungle," which features sections that smack of a funked up version of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter," and closes with the dark bluesy stomp of "Jesus Took My Hand." In between there's songs about hard situations("I'm Gonna Leave You"), evil women ("You Been Lyin'"), and sexcapades ("Mustang Ranch"). All delivered by Black Joe Lewis' plaintive, raw howl. He's backed by the improved chops of the Honeybears, who hit their high point with the gritty swagger and jagged breakdowns in the will-get-stuck-in-your-head track "Booty City."

. o O (Right on everybody. Won't you take me to Booty City.)

Bad... Another musical legend gone. The brilliant guitarist and acid jazz legend Melvin Sparks passed on earlier this week and added his talents to the heavenly band (which sadly seems to be expanding its funkateer division lately). I was musically unfamiliar with Melvin before Karl Denson's album "Dance Lesson #2." I quickly got familiar with him. I highly recommend checking out anything Melvin has done as either leader or sideman, but his Legends of Acid Jazz anthology disc provides a good overview of his early career. Until the end his skills were sublime. As stated best by the folks from Deep Banana Blackout upon news of his passing, "Long live Melvin's Chank! Ain't nobody have the chank like Melvin! Nobody!" Sad to see you leave us, Melvin, but I guess the great gig in the sky needed more chank.

Funny... If you're wondering (or got angry) about the "Ching-chong" thing-thong, then you haven't been caught up in the viral video firestorm surrounding UCLA student Alexandra Wallace, who videotaped herself complaining about people who talk on the phone in the library and posted it to YouTube. Sadly it was not the expected normal OMG LULZ you'd expect from such a hilarious set-up because Ms. Wallace made some pretty racist comments about Asians and took a shot at Japanese tsunami victims. Good show, Alexandra. That tact will come in handy as you apply your political science knowledge in the professional world. Bet mom and dad are glad they spent all that money on tuition AND that flip-cam they bought you for Christmas.

No need to post her video because, as is de rigeur in the YouTube world, her unfortunate choice inspired a slew of responses by other people who also like to post videos of themselves on the interwebz. But this one is the best. It proves that sometimes the best thing to do is just point and laugh at ignorance and hate, especially if you can do it through catchy music. The tune may not be funky, but the attitude sure is.

One more thing... You know what else is funky? Charitable giving. Donate to the Japan relief efforts. The Japanese not only share a love of music as all people do, they share a love of OUR music, welcoming bands like Soulive, The Slip, and many more of our favorite acts with open arms and ears. Their main island, Honshu, was moved eight feet by the quake. Try to fathom the havoc caused by an entire portion of globe shifting eight feet in a matter of minutes. If you need a visual aid to wrap your brain around the devastation, check the link below which contains before and after satellite photos that you can slide yourself. Earthquake. Tsunami. Potential nuclear meltdown. Even Godzilla would be an improvement now, folks, and every penny can help.


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