The Band: American Song

The Band (Self Titled – 1969)

With the recent passing of Levon Helm, it’s only right to pay tribute to The Band and their 1969 self-titled release. It was The Bandthat bridged the gap between traditional Americana roots music (Appalachia, folk, country) and soul music (R&B and blues) that African Americans created in the early 20th century. The beauty of The Band was the group’s ability to beautifully, and effortlessly, fuse these different styles of music – illustrating their earnest commonality despite the fact that they were traditionally celebrated and listened to by people from contrasting social and economic classes.
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Soul Sister: Gonna Take a Miracle

Gonna Take a Miracle by Laura Nyro and Labelle (1971)
Laura Nyro is on the Mount Rushmore of female singer/songwriters to emerge from the mid-/late-60’s folk era. While she may remain lesser known than fellow contemporaries Joni Mitchell or Carole King, Nyro actually released nine albums over a strong twenty year career, influencing artists of her time like King, Todd Rundgren, and Elton John, who have all name-checked her in Interviews.
Her songs were hits for artists like Blood, Sweat, & Tears and The 5th Dimension, who covered her song “Stoned Soul Picnic”. On her 1971 album “Gonna Take a Miracle” she teamed up with Labelle (Patti Labelle’s first group) to record and perform covers of the 60’s do-wop and R&B songs that inspired her as a young girl growing up in New York City. The group takes these songs and makes them their own, providing a warmth and approachability that leaves the listener feeling as though Nyro and Labelle are performing in their own living room. The album was produced by the iconic Philadelphia production duo Gamble & Huff who bought in the right players to compliment the songs as only they could. The result: soul music.

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Rap Marathon: Fresh Mode by Ugly Duckling

“Dope beats/Dope rhymes/What more do ya’ll want!”
– “Not Enough” by Little Brother from the album “The Minstrel Show”
Conscious rap. Coke rap. Underground rap. Political rap. Weird rap. Indie rap. Swag Rap. Mainstream rap. Retro rap. etc. etc. All titles and sub genres of rap that fans and writers have created to classify and understand rap. This assigning of style has also been used to separate and divide (East coast rap vs West coast rap). The general idea of the sub-genre is that its a new take on a already established style. As artists do they innovate and take previous ideas further than had been done before thus creating a sub-genre. This progression can look forward or backwards while still creating a new strand of music. In the mid to late 90’s you had Kool Keith with his Dr. Octagon project which had a futuristic twinge to it while other artists like Jurassic 5 reinterpreted late 70’s Hip Hop. Both artists created something new and exciting while going in two different stylist directions. All of these sub-genres have their designated albums that people hold as testament to that particular style. Like I mentioned in my progressive column on Rundgren these albums take the established idea and tweak it just enough that its something new but not too foreign.
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Classics Party #2 Wrap: Take Me Home

Photography: Shannon Sturgis (link

Thanks to everyone that braved the cold winter night to come and rock out with us in honor of No Jacket Required. Much props to Obey City who absolutely KILLED it. He went from Valerie to Bone-Thugs-In-Harmony to random electronic jams to EVERYTHING else that is great. This blend of Tropicalia, Indie, Hip Hop, 80’s and other work inspired by No Jacket Required was seamless and mind blowing to experience in person. The Woods filled up during the second half of the event as everyone mingled and jammed along to hit after hit. Thanks to PBR, everyone who helped with the event, and of course Phil Collins. Continue reading

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Classics Party #2: No Jacket Required Mix

(Artwork: Kenji Enos)

In preparation for Classics Party #2 No Jacket Required by Phil Collins I put together a mix. The mix takes us from Collins prog/pop transition with Genesis to perfecting his sound to a chorus of hundreds of thousands of fans singing along live at the apex of his solo career. The mix also features songs from artists who’s work touch upon the same sonic motifs that Collins established between 80-85 as a solo artist and with Genesis.

Get the mix, track-list, and break down of each song below.
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Classics Party #2: No Jacket Required

Classics Party Presents: A Celebration of No Jacket Required By Phil Collins
DJ Set by Obey City
12/9/10 | Thursday | 8pm – 11pm 

The Woods

48 South 4th Street

Brooklyn, NY
Featuring songs from No Jacket Required along with music from artists that influenced and were influenced by this monumental recording.
Complimentary Pabst Blue Ribbon for the first hour of the event. 21+
Please join us in celebrating “No Jacket Required” by Phil Collins on 12/9/10 at The Woods. This 1985 masterpiece sold millions upon millions of copies and launched Collins into the further realms of superstardom. Obey City will be Dj’ing the event as we’ll be playing the hits, album cuts, and various music that influenced and was influenced by “No Jacket”. We’ll go from his progressive roots and 80’s contemporaries to today’s Hip Hop and Indie artists that further the ideas that Collins created over 30 years ago. We’ll have complimentary Pabst Blue Ribbon for the first hour and great drink specials throughout the night. Take me HOME!!!
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Editorial: Why Collins Matters

I Know what you’re thinking…

Phil Collins???!!! Yes, Phil Collins.
Phil Collins is corny!
Yes this seems to be opinion of most people these days, but this was through no fault of Collins. Understand the context from which your perception of him is derived. Your first exposure to Collins was probably through the prism of the 80’s hate filled era called 1993-2001. The 80’s were pure exuberance and obnoxiousness in terms of sound (synths as trebly as possible and drums as big as possible) and style (Awful loud suits that have no business coming back). There was nothing subtle about music during this era. Hardcore music was at its most feverish pitch. Metal was at its peak with its big hair, outlandish tour riders, and stage shows. Rap was as angry as it ever was going to be. Pop artists became public messiah’s and created as much controversy as art. Video’s from the 80’s exemplified how the music world was influenced by its greater surroundings, a new age of conspicuous consumption as US financial markets were at unprecedented highs. The financial excess and subsequent attitude of displaying status seeped into all facets of life with the mantra being “push it to the limit” (Scarface reference!). Nothing was spared. Drugs (Crack Rock), comedy (Sam Kinison), conservatism (Ronald Regan), wars (Contra and the war on drugs), hair (The Jheri Curl and The Mullet), Saxophone’s, and suits (David Byrne in “Stop Making Sense”) were just a few of the things taken to the extreme (don’t forget about the 80’s group “Extreme” taking ponytails to the extreme). Collins is not taken seriously because he’s been unfairly associated with the obnoxiousness of the 80’s and not the great music of the period.
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