If you consider yourself a bass player and you don’t hold Jaco Pastorius in the highest esteem, then we can only presume you’ve never really listened to the man, because he’s one of those guys whose work with the instrument was so unique and groundbreaking that it’s hard to hear it without wanting to drop to your knees and begin recitation of the phrase, “I’m not worthy!”
Since we doubt if you thought for a moment that we’d suddenly started talking about him by coincidence, it probably won’t come as any sort of surprise to you that, yes, we’ve got a brand new anthology which provides both new and old fans with the opportunity to explore Pastorius’s work during his tenure with Warner Brothers Records.
On October 5, 1993, the band Afghan Whigs, who’d self-released their debut album, 1988’s Big Top Halloween, and then came of age with a pair of albums on Sub Pop Records (1990’s Up in It and 1992’s Congregation), finally made the jump to the big leagues – and a major label – with the release of Gentlemen on Elektra Records. Most bands would’ve used the 20th anniversary of an album as an opportunity to celebrate its legacy, but not Afghan Whigs: they waited a year, hence the October 28 release of Gentlemen at 21, an expanded reissue of Gentlemen which will feature the original album as you remember it on Disc One, along with a second disc filled with demos, B-sides, and live performances.
Greg Dulli, Afghan Whigs’ frontman, kindly agreed to hop on the phone and chat about the original album, although he gave fair warning that his contributions to the reissue were somewhat minimal. “I just nodded, said, ‘Yes,’ ‘Cool,’ or, ‘I wouldn’t do that,’” admitted Dulli, laughing. “That was the extent of my involvement.” Having said that, however, Dulli was quite happy to wrack his brain and reminisce about how they came to Elektra, the process of putting together their major label debut, the opportunity to record in one of the most famous studios in rock ‘n’ roll history, the clause in the band’s contract that could’ve made a filmmaker out of him, and whose contract he copied to get that particular deal.
Rhino: Gentlemen was your debut album for Elektra. What was the band’s path from Sub Pop to the label? Did Elektra pursue the band, or did the band start looking for a major-label deal on their own?
When O.G. Original Gangster celebrated its anniversary back in May, we kidded about how some folks out there only know Ice-T for his work as a thespian, but it’s definitely one of those jokes that’s funny because it’s kind of true: although old school rap aficionados remember the impact his music made when he first started dropping records in the mid-1980s, his material isn’t exactly the sort of thing you hear in regular rotation on your local radio station, so it’s actually all too easy to imagine a Law & Order: Special Victims fan who’s never heard a single Ice-T song.
Fortunately, we may have the gateway drug into Ice-T’s career than you’ve been looking for: a 15-track greatest-hits collection which proves a solid introduction to his back catalog by way of material taken predominantly from his first four albums…which, if you need a quick musical history lesson, are Rhyme Pays (1987), Power (1988), The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say (1989), and the aforementioned O. G. Original Gangster (1991).
Late last year, we released a box set featuring Ry Cooder’s studio albums from 1970 through 1987, but those of you who know his catalog inside and out no doubt noticed the omission of his soundtrack work, which – not counting his handful of contributions to Nicolas Roeg’s Performance in 1970 – kicked off with The Long Riders in 1980. If you’re one of those individuals, you’ll be pleased to discover that, as of today, there’s now a companion piece to 1970 – 1987: the appropriately-named Soundtracks.
First, the bad news: although it starts with The Long Riders and continues chronologically through 1993’s Trespass, it’s not completely all inclusive of Cooder’s soundtrack work through those years.
This week’s Mono Monday release is the debut album from an R&B belter who effectively made his entire career possible with the first song he recorded for his first full-length album, which – given that the album in question was initially released 48 years ago – is a pretty impressive accomplishment by anyone’s standards.
Percy Sledge’s story is one of those that you’d write off as fiction if you didn’t know it was true: he was working as an orderly in an Alabama hospital during the week, touring the southeast with a group called the Esquires Combo on Saturdays and Sundays, when a former patient introduced Sledge to record producer Quin Ivy, which led to an audition and a recording contract with Atlantic Records. The next thing you know, Sledge is in the studio, recording “When a Man Loves a Woman,” crooning along with Spooner Oldham’s unforgettable organ playing behind him.