Friday, March 03, 2006

He's #1, He's The Turntable King (Slurp Slurp)

We all need gateway albums. Not all of us are born with impeccable musical taste, formed in utero by Pitchfork-engineered developmental genes. Some people discovered the Velvet Underground through Luna; some people arrived at Operation Ivy via Green Day; others bought a Toots & The Maytals record because of The Specials or even No Doubt. And that's ok. Would I have unearthed Huey Lewis & The News without Young Jeezy? Doubtful.

Anyway, one of my favorite albums is DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist's "Brainfreeze," which has endured countless plays. For those of you tragically unfamiliar with the album: it's a practice session for the Future Primitive Soundsession in San Francisco in 1999, consisting almost entirely of hard-to-find soul, funk, and early hip-hop 45s. It was officially released in small quantities, then bootlegged like crazy. And it's fantastic. Equally as good, in my book, is their follow-up album, "Product Placement," featuring the seminal hip-hop track "Rappin' With Gas" by the National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation.

So I've listened to it over & over, always with the assumption that I'd never be able to track down the original cuts. Then, feeling idly curious one day this week, I used a popular search engine called Google. Oboyoboy. These fine obsessive-compulsives managed to enumerate every original 45 on the album, and even scan in images of the discs themselves. It's truly a great work of scholarship. Then, using the magic of file-sharing, I managed to piece together about 95% of all the tracks. God, it's heaven.

Highlights? I don't even know where to begin. Reuben Bell's "Superjock." The Singing Principal's "Woman's Lib." The Nu-Sound Express' "Ain't It Good Enough." Thunder & Lightning's "Bumpin' Bus Stop." And so on... 57 tracks in all. It's my soul gateway album. One day soon I'll try and podcast them, or post them, or somehow make them available.