Old School

  1. DangerDoom, “Mince Meat” (Epitaph).
  2. Roy Ayers, “Funk in the Hole” (BBE; originally recorded © 1976–81). iTunes
  3. The Juan MacLean, “Tito’s Way” (DFA/ Astralwerks). iTunes
  4. Crissy D & Lady G, “Girls Like Us (B-15 Remix)” (Select Cuts; originally released 2000).
  5. Ada, “Livedriver (Sascha Funke Mix)” (Areal). Kompakt
  6. Duoteque, “Lola” (Boxer). Kompakt
  7. Studio Pankow, “Zitadelle” (City Centre Offices). iTunes
  8. Al Green, “You Are So Beautiful” (Blue Note). iTunes
  9. Carolyn Mark ft. NQ Arbuckle, “Fireworks” (Mint). iTunes
  10. Slim Gaillard, “Atomic Cocktail” (Buzzola; originally released 1945).
  11. Young John Watson, “Space Guitar” (Boulevard Vintage; originally released 1954).
  12. The “5” Royales, “The Slummer the Slum” (Ace; originally released 1958).
  13. The Go-Betweens, “This Night’s for You” (Yep Roc). iTunes
  14. Fellini, “Rock Europeu” (Soul Jazz; originally released © 1980–88).
  15. Mercenarias, “Policia” (Man; originally released 1986).
  16. Hot Snakes, “Braintrust (Peel Session)” (Swami). iTunes
  17. Pelican, “Sirius” (Hydra Head). iTunes
  18. Scharpling & Wurster, “Timmy von Trimble” (Stereolaffs).

Lots of old favorites on this one, in a very literal sense. For years, I have loved “Space Guitar,” the zooming, demented debut single by an artist who would, in the ’70s, redub himself Johnny “Guitar” Watson, adopt a persona that seemed less like a pimp (which he was obviously going for) than a flat-out con artist, write songs with titles like “Superman Lover” that managed, somehow, to live up to them, and work his way into the heart of funk cosmology while altering the basic playing style of this song not a whit. (It’s taken from a recently issued four-disc set on a French label, titled The R&B Years 1954.)

I’ve loved the “5” Royales even longer, having from junior high onward geeked on the 1979 book Stranded, in which editor Greil Marcus asked 20 writers to choose their desert-island album. Ed Ward chose the Royales’ perfect self-titled album, and made up a history of the group to go along with it. Later, Ward would recount the real history in the liner notes of a definitive two-CD Rhino collection that’s criminally out of print. But Ace’s new It’s Hard but It’s Fair compilation—featuring this sharp-lined strut, which sounds to the normal ear like “the stompity-stomp”—helps rectify things a little.

If you read this section five years ago, you may recall me choosing “Girls Like Us” as the second-best single of 2000. With two-step garage having mutated into grime, a track this impishly joyous seems almost quaint, but along with the rest of the Select Cuts for Oracabessa compilation from which I nabbed it, “Girls” is the best kind of nostalgia, sumptuous and every bit as fun as I remembered.

Roy Ayers has never been an especial fave, but this cut from a surprisingly solid collection of previously unreleased stuff makes me wonder if I’m missing something. The pair of Brazilian post-punk collections that sired the Fellini and Mercenarias tracks make me realize what I did miss and am thrilled not to anymore. DangerDoom, Al Green, Slim Gaillard, and the Go-Betweens are all reliable pleasures offering new surprises, even if the Gaillard song is 60 years old. (First time I’ve heard it, at least). Ditto Scharpling & Wurster, with a 15-minute comedy sketch about a 2-inch human who turns out to be something slightly less. Like much else here, I can’t wait to hear what they do next.