Wednesday, May 5, 2021

K-Solo - Times Up LP

Untitled

Music On Vinyl (2020, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

After I heard the fourth EPMD album, Business Never Personal, I became a huge fan of theirs and their Hit Squad crew.  This was mostly cemented by the fact that I already liked Das Efx and how incredibly amazing the "Headbanger" posse cut on this album was.  That song was the first time I heard Redman and was also the my introduction to K-Solo.  I had picked up Times Up when it came out in 1992.  I liked it, but compared to the EPMD, Das Efx and Redman albums that came out in 1991 and 1992, K-Solo was a distant fourth place for me.  As a result, I didn't really listen to the record all that much, to be honest.

This became another example of the record growing on me more and more over time.  When you drop an album smack dab into the middle of a golden era of music, where some of the best hip hop albums in the history of the earth are coming out, you're going to get lost in the shuffle.  But if you start listening to that album again a few years (or decades) later, you might start to realize you overlooked something pretty great.

That's what happened with K-Solo.  Going through this album you have some killer beats courtesy of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith from EPMD, along with a cut from Pete Rock.  But the bulk of the album is held down by Sam "Sneed" Anderson, who would go on to work with Dr. Dre on Death Row releases.  I can't say I'm a fan of that sort of thing, but he sure understood the Hit Squad sound of the early 90s.  Mixing grimy funk beats with atmospheric flourishes, he laid out an impressive canvas for K-Solo to work with on his rhymes.

And solo performs admirably on this record.  It's easy to be overshadowed by EPMD or Das Efx or Redman.  You are talking about some of the most charismatic MCs to ever touch a microphone.  K-Solo is not at that level, but he solidly occupies a space right underneath.  His flow is straightforward, but fierce, tackling stories and rapid firing out rhyme structures.  The K-Solo debut album Tell The World My Name is also pretty rad, but I prefer Times Up of the two and was pretty psyched when Music On Vinyl rereleased it last year.

K-Solo - Times Up (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lm6e5DyQ90je8ZY8CxpslGqo1vPTvSka4


Monday, May 3, 2021

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange LP

Untitled

Shove (2011, Reissue)

Orange is a really important record to me.  When I started listening to Beck in 1994, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was one of the first bands I found that had some sort of relationship with him.  I picked up Orange and was just blown away and completely in love with the album.  I know every second of this record by heart and I just love the music.  The vinyl version that I've had was the one Matador put out in 1994 that was a picture disc that was silver sparkled.  It was and is very cool looking, but picture discs don't sound that great and I decided I needed to pick up a normal copy on vinyl that I could just play.  I think I picked the wrong one.

I am not sure what is up with this pressing on Shove, but it's pretty bad.  I ordered one from Amazon, played it once and they returned it, thinking I got a bum record.  I replaced it with another copy and this one sounds just as bad.  The pressing is so noisy, with loud crackling and surface noise throughout.  I've given it a deep clean and played it on multiple record players but any way you slice it, it still sounds bad.  If it hadn't happened on two different copies, I'd probably just dismiss it as bad luck, but I'm pretty convinced that something is wrong with this pressing.

So, now I am hunting around on Discogs to try to find another version of this that I can pick up.  Orange is such a full sounding, warm record with lots of pauses and sections of silence in the middle of songs.  You really need a top notch pressing to enjoy it and this one just isn't it.  But the music, well that's just out of this world.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mYhqeq9YyjZFO1hIfdKwtRdRxyY6EK5-s