Sunday, March 05, 2006

just bein' honest

SF Weekly asked me for my 10 favorite Bay Area albums of all time, which is very hard! Below is the text submitted to the paper, followed by some new honorable mentions. It's funny, cuz it seems as though 1990 and 1996 were my favorite years musically. I'm not stuck in a time warp, though I'm one of those people that roots for groups like Tony! Toni! Tone! to come back . . .

Here’s some of my odd favorites from growing up and marinating in the Yay Area’s funky music stew. While these might not be the meat and potatoes of others, they still stick to my ribs. This isn’t a high-falutin’ music critic chart--as OutKast’s Andre3000 says, I’m just being honest.

1. Digital Underground – Sex Packets (Tommy Boy, 1990)

The debut from the Sons of the P (Funk) still pokes out like nipples for its humorous freakiness. DU opened for Public Enemy at Shoreline Ampitheatre in 1990: Seeing what I’d later learn was Tupac Shakur humping a blow-up doll to the title track really sealed the deal for me.

2. Pointer Sisters – Break Out (RCA, 1984)

Damn, I wish the Pointer Sisters were still busting out electro-jams like “Automatic.” R&B has never been that cool since. These Oakland sisters were really very much quite hyphy back then. I even love the bigger hits like “I’m So Excited,” “Jump (For My Love),” and the “Neutron Dance.”

3. Tipsy – Trip Tease (Asphodel, 1996)

The debut album from a group of San Francisco-based digital knob twiddlers is still the invisible soundtrack to the cutest little cartoon you never did see. It’s so bright and buoyant that it is a sure-fire mood elevator. Elevators should be so lucky to have such cute and bubbly tunes.

4. 2Pac – All Eyez on Me (Death Row, 1996)

Along with solo joints like the passionate, post-prison missive “Ambitions Az a Ridah,” some of our most distinctive underground rappers are featured—not just LA folks like Snoop and Dre. It’s great to hear E-40, B-Legit, Rappin 4-Tay, Richie Rich, Dru Down and C-B0 in one spot, though DU is sorely missed.

5. Sly & The Family Stone – Greatest Hits (1990, Epic)

Yeah, I wasn’t around when Sly originally did his thang and have this current impression of him as a platinum mohawked crazy. But this is one hell of a Greatest Hits. To name a few gems, it’s got “Everyday People,” “Dance To The Music,” “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again),” and “Stand!”

6. Huey Lewis & The News – Sports (Capitol, 1983)

I’d be lying to myself (and to all you fine people) if I didn’t come clean and simply admit that I got a lot of singing practice belting out these tunes along with Huey at age nine. “I Want a New Drug,” y’all. I’m just sayin’ . . .

7. E-40 – In a Major Way (Jive, 1995)

E-40 is pretty consistent to me; I like all of his albums, but this is the one that made me a fan. It’s got several of his most enduring songs (including “Sprinkle Me,” “1 Luv,” and “Sideways”). And, whew, smell what he’s cooking on the cover, too? That shit’s raw.

8. Journey – Escape (Sony, 1981)

Steve Perry had the shiniest hair. I wonder what type of hair products he used? And did you know Randy “American Idol” Jackson used to tour with Journey as a bassist? Journey rocked and did us proud with this masterpiece. I never stopped believing—until I had to, that is.

9. Pete Namlook and Jonah Sharp – Namlook IV (Fax, 1994)

This is a live recording from Germany’s Namlook and SF’s Sharp (known for his ambient-jazz experiments as Spacetime Continuum). I was lucky enough to be in the house (at the old King Street Garage) and it remains a treasured time-capsule of the San Francisco rave scene at its most chill.

10. Jefferson Starship – Red Octopus (RCA, 1975)

My father owned this album as well as Volunteers (back when they were still the Jefferson Airplane). Volunteers had the kick-ass cover art and the gatefold that had all kinds of stuff to look at, but Red Octopus had the fly, textured cover. And “Miracles.” Starship wins.

Honorable mentions:

Digital Underground's Future Rhythm

The Tino's Breaks series

Consolidated's Friendly Fa$cism

Meat Beat Manifesto's Actual Sounds + Voices

The Coup's Party Music and Steal This Album (everything they do really)

Single Cell Orchestra's Dead Vent 7

Too $hort's Life Is

Voice Farm's self-titled album

Hawke's Namaquadisco

Spacetime Continuum's Double Fine Zone

The Twitch remix series (all of 'em)

The Infinite Posse's A Stereo Couple

last (for now)
least . . .

Woody Woodman's Live at the Finger Palace


Blogger Jay Smooth said...

You gotta have at least one from Graham Central Station!

11:16 PM  
Blogger teemoney said...

Wow, I totally forgot about them . . . saw Larry Graham at the Oakland Coliseum with Prince right when I moved back to the Bay. This honorable mention list will probably be a work in progress for a while.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous MissyB said...

That's an amazing Pointer Sisters clip, too.. That was awesome..

3:15 PM  

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