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Musical Maunderings in Sunni's Salon

July/August 2007

I have been extremely fortunate, in that this little gig here has resulted in a small but steady trickle of music by pro-freedom individuals coming to my attention. I’ve enjoyed it all—in varying ways and to varying degrees, of course; and I expect that will continue. However, I do believe my heart has found a home: Good Intentions Paving Company. With just ten songs, this band has really raised the bar on intelligent ear candy. From the lead vocalist’s smooth yet powerful voice, to catchy musical hooks in every instrument, to well-crafted lyrics, these guys couldn’t have dialed me in better if they had deliberately set out to do so. In fact, I hardly know where to begin with the waxing enthusiastic ... perhaps the professionalism that suffuses the collection is a good place to start. These guys know good music, and they know how to create it: all the arrangements are tight, and have a nice interplay of musical and vocal instruments. And what arrangements! From lazy rockin’ doo-wap (A Rung Up the Ladder) to “LA band” style (La Brea), each song is a tasty hit of pop rock, reminding me of a wonderful era long gone. The mixing (or mastering, or whatever names all that post-production stuff goes by) was similarly attentive; each element has room to breathe, with none of the muddiness nor clipping that infests so much of today’s mass-produced rock. Thus, I find myself queueing up GIPCo nearly every day; and what’s more, I still find myself saying, “Hey, wait ...” and replaying snippets of lyrics. Many are understated gems (“Dumb/Drown in the rain”; “In the light of day we hide away, turn platinum into gold”; “That was then and thus is that”), while others, I am certain, are inside jokes or allusions that I barely grasp. Each of these songs could leave a casual radio listener convinced he or she has heard it on the radio. If forced to single out one or two from these beauties, I’d nod to No Leaf Clover, the ass-kicking It’s a Long Way Down, and Hearts and Minds.

And now, the bad news, after a fashion. GIPCo isn’t a band that’s jonesing for the big hit that will launch its career. In fact, not long after I found the band’s web site, it vanished—deliberately. They decided not to renew the domain. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be more music—and it doesn’t mean that those of you wanting to check them out won’t be able to. I obtained permission to host the MP3 files here for you. So here you go—each song title is a link to the MP3, listed in order the band had ’em: It’s A Long Way Down; Nothing Lasts Forever; Hearts and Minds; A Rung Up the Ladder; The Perfect Crime; All You Know; World Turns On; No Tomorrow; La Brea; No Leaf Clover. More, gentlemen, please!

Nearly every semi-sentient American rock fan over a certain age has heard Godzilla—possibly more times than desired. For the longest time, I thought that—well, that and Don’t Fear the Reaper—was all there was to Blue Öyster Cult. Then someone turned me on to Workshop of the Telescopes, and I was hooked—they’re another hard-rocking band that features interesting lyrics. A tasty blend of hits, covers (Born to be Wild and We Gotta Get Out of This Place), and live music and rarities, it offers something for just about every BÖC fan. With all the science fiction I’ve been reading lately, the songs I’ve been enjoying the most include Workshop of the Telescopes, Astronomy, Flaming Telepaths, and Veteran of the Psychic Wars. I also have a soft spot for In Thee and Dancin’ in the Ruins. When I want to listen to rock, but don’t have a specific band in mind, I almost always turn to BÖC and Workshop of the Telescopes.

For many years, I thought I didn’t like the blues—but then I realized I was enjoying a lot of artists who are generally considered blues acts. So, when fellow pro-freedom music lover Presto introduced me to Koko Taylor, discovering that she’s called “the queen of the blues” didn’t dissuade me from exploring her music more. We have just two discs of her music; but as one is from the 70s and the other the 90s, it’s a satisfactory introduction for now. The Earthshaker opens strongly, with Let the Good Times Roll—a rollicking tune containing a nice little anti-authority dig. Other songs that I really like include Cut You Loose, You Can Have My Husband, and Wang Dang Doodle. Clean, powerful blues riffs, sweet guitar work, and Taylor’s passionate and rich voice blend well across the entire album. Force of Nature extends on that solid foundation, adding a brass section to the mix. The staccato, trumpet-driven Don’t Put Your Hands on Me is the tune that I like best; other tasty tracks include Tit for Tat and two covers I’ll leave as nice surprises. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Koko Taylor’s marvelous music.

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