The holidays have really backlogged Apple’s iTunes Music Store. First came reports that the massive swell of traffic on Christmas day left iTunes shoppers waiting for up to 20 minutes to download a single song. Next we notice that the store still hasn’t added new releases for this week yet. It’s OK with me, since the “New On iTunes” iMix I submitted for last week (on December 20th) was just approved and added to iTunes today. So let’s take a quick look back at the iTunes additions of a simpler, more wholesome time: The week of December 19, 2006.
It’s an eclectic mix, which I’ve arranged into a nicely flowing playlist. I’ve provided brief notes and descriptions below the iMix:
Judee Sill: Rhino Hi-Five EP. I absolutely adore Judee Sill. I’m not a religious person, but I don’t think you need to be to find meaning in her gentle, folksy mix of sci-fi mysticism and spiritual yearning. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been searching for something just out of your reach, you’ll understand her. He melodies are simple, surprising, and satisfying, delivered with a down-to-earth drawl that utterly lacks pretense. After languishing in obscurity since her premature death, it’s nice to finally see her recordings getting the appreciation they deserve.
The Bridge School Collection, Vol. 2. Neil Young’s annual Bridge School benefit concerts have been among the SF Bay Area’s most highly anticipated music events for two decades. The line-ups include a broad mix of artists performing all-acoustic sets. The song I’ve chosen from this collection is by the criminally under-appreciated Jill Sobule. If you’re only familiar with her hit “I Kissed A Girl,” please do yourself a favor and give some of her more recent music a listen.
Cibo Matto: Viva! La Woman. I bought this CD when it was first released in the mid-nineties, and saw them perform in a small Atlanta club around the time of the 1996 Olympics. Still as fun and funky as ever.
Deerhoof: +81 EP. Deerhoof is a band that I could never quite get my head around. A little too artsy to be much fun, but a little too fun to be taken very seriously. But I’m really digging the title song from their new EP.
Joakim: Drumtrax EP. A straight-forward, mid-tempo workout track. Solid.
Junior Reid: One Blood. One of my favorite dance-hall reggae tracks of all time. Recently popularized by rapper The game in his song It’s OK, which uses a One Blood sample and features Reid in the video. The original version is another great addition to your workout playlist.
Yellowman: Live In San Francisco: Another dance-hall legend. iTunes carries a ton of his albums, but unfortunately none of his great early-eighties recordings. This live album contains my favorite Yellowman song from that early era, “Jamaica Nice”. I’d love for iTunes to add the original version to the store.
Bucovina Club: Mixtape Vol. 1. This is a collection of rhythmic Eastern European music put together by Shantel, a dance music producer whose name I vaguely remember from the late nineties(?). If you’re putting together a Borat playlist, this is the place to start.
Castellina Pasi: La Mia Fisarmonica, Vol.2. I’m a sucker for traditional accordion music. To the point that I bought a European-style chomatic “button” accordion a couple of years ago and have taught myself to play. But when I want to listen to good accordion paying, I need to turn to recordings like this.
Cobla Mediterrania: X Mediterrania: This small ensemble is totally new to me. It’s like discovering some mysterious relic of a time and place that is familiar, yet totally foreign. What is this music? Is is new or old? Where does it come from? It reminds me of the Beau Hunks pitch-perfect reproductions of antique soundtracks. Must download now, investigate later.
Tex Williams: Vintage Collections. Now this is music I know. Twenty toe-tapping recordings from one of the greats of classic Western Swing. For $8.91. It’s a no-brainer.
Booker T & The MGs: Rhino High-Five Vol. 2. This R&B “house band” from Stax Records’ heyday have become legends in their own right. Check out the coolest version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” that you’re ever likely to hear.
Jimmy Scott: Rhino High-Five. Jimmy Scott is a jazz vocalist you have to hear to believe. Once you get used to his broad, slow vibrato and his voice’s feminine timbre, you can’t help but get lost in the world he creates with his perfect timing and unique phrasing. Nobody sings a ballad like this man. An acquired taste, but one worth acquiring.
Bill Conti: Rocky Soundtrack (30th Anniversary Edition). Who needs a ‘workout’ playlist when you have the Rocky soundtrack? The obvious choice for most people’s PowerSong would be “Gonna Fly Now (The Theme From Rocky)”… But me, I prefer “Going The Distance.” There’s something about the build-up from its fugue-like opening though its triumphant horns-and-timpani climax that makes me want to just pound a side of beef. How many songs can you say that about?
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