Out of the Past

  1. Ossman-Dudley Trio, “St. Louis Tickle” (Columbia/Legacy; 1906).
  2. Charlie Parker & Mack Woolbright, “Ticklish Reuben” (Old Hat; 1927).
  3. Alfred Lewis, “Mississippi Swamp Moan” (Revenant; 1930).
  4. Flatt & Scruggs, “Mother Prays Loud in Her Sleep” (Proper; 1953).
  5. Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker, “Teach Me to Twist” (ABKCO; 1961).
  6. Rod Rogers, “Don’t Be a Dope” (Roaratorio; c. 1963–74).
  7. The Chiffons, “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On (In My Mind but Me)” (Rhino; 1965).
  8. Thelonious Monk Quartet ft. John Coltrane, “Epistrophy (Live at Carnegie Hall, November 29, 1957)” (Blue Note).
  9. Johnny Griffith Trio, “I’mi See You Later” (Hip-O Select/Motown; 1963).
  10. Booker Ervin, “Den Tex” (Blue Note; 1968).
  11. Jackie McLean, “Bluesanova” (Blue Note; 1965).
  12. Andrew Hill, “Le Serpent Qui Danse” (Blue Note; 1964).
  13. Robert Jay, “Alcohol Pt. 1” (Ubiquity; c. early 1970s).
  14. T. Rex, “Cadilac” (Rhino; 1972).
  15. Children From the School of Santa Isabel with Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles, “De Colores” (Smithsonian Folkways; 1977).
  16. Omara Portuondo, “Nada Para Ti” (EMI; 1983).
  17. Real Sounds, “Tornados vs. Dynamos” (World Music Network; mid-’80s).
  18. Reynolds Girls, “I’d Rather Jack” (EMI; 1989).

The annual avalanche of reissues is every bit as daunting as the new stuff. This mix, arranged in very rough chronological order, rounds up some especially enticing cuts that were new to me, if not the world, in 2005.

“St. Louis Tickle” leads off Legacy’s Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar box, despite predating recorded jazz by a decade. “Ticklish Reuben” and “Mississippi Swamp Moan” work here as variations on its cockeyed spirit, the former deliberately goofy, the latter too eerie to quite get there. That’s true also of Flatt & Scruggs, who quiet their instrumental dynamism to wax mournful. We next 180 into pure shamelessness with a blatant dance-craze cash in. Rod Rogers, aka Rodd Keith, cashed in in a different way, making “song-poem” records for hapless amateur songwriters who wanted their words put to music. Here he decries LSD—the drug he was on when he later fell off a bridge to his death. Speaking of psychedelics, the girl-group record that follows features orchestral swells that sound like the blueprint for “Good Vibrations”; it comes from Rhino’s exemplary One Kiss Can Lead to Another box.

The much-feted Monk/Coltrane live disc yields “Epistrophy,” a model of group interaction. Griffith’s frisky post-bop piano-trio cut comes from the third Complete Motown Singles box, while Ervin, McLean, and Hill are all from recent Blue Note reissues of long-forgotten and out-of-print albums. The grinding funk obscurity “Alcohol” and the slinky T. Rex B-side give the brain a rest and go straight for the hips.

“De Colores” is a bunch of kids singing along to music provided by the band who’d later shorten their name to Los Lobos. Portuondo is a Brazilian star whose selection sounds more like a mid-’50s TV ad than a mid-’80s hit. And the Real Sounds, from Zimbabwe, sing about a soccer game before providing extended play-by-play: “It’s a goooaaalll!” Naturally, the mix ends with the outlandish “I’d Rather Jack,” amazingly dated late-’80s synth-pop that explicitly rejects the nostalgia this mix indulges, dissing Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, and Fleetwood Mac by name in the process. Needless to say, the Girls have a point.


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