Okay, so I’m sitting in a Hawthorne Suites in Dayton, Ohio (Dayton!!!) and it’s the first time I’ve had any real internet access since I’ve come back to the Midwest for a two week sabbatical that includes: a 13-year in the making reunion show for my old band The Schlitz Family Robinson; a long-awaited wedding reception for dear friends at the Polish Club in Dayton; as many Italian Beef Sandwiches with natural gravy and hot giardiniera* as humanly possible; drinking mammoth quantities of Goose Island Beer.
Well, maybe not just Goose Island, but mostly – can’t get it in LA.
Anyway, as usual I bring a small CD wallet with me containing approximately twenty of my most important albums of the moment** for the various road-trip portions of the holiday. However, and this is a BIG however, the CD player in the loaner doesn’t work so as my wife and I left Chi town for the greener pastures of Ohio I cheerfully resorted to a bunch of cassette tapes I’d hardly even thought about since the late 90’s in order to provide music for our trip. The ‘Tape Sessions’ moniker is something that, based on the stuff I rediscover/re-evaluate on this trip, will be a running commentary I’ll probably, realistically, be jotting down on my phone in massive, drunken chunks and posting after the fact. This first one is ‘Live’ simply because I’ve the ‘net before me, a six-pack of Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA in front of me and a chance to roam for a while… Others may be immediate or well after-the-fact, we’ll see.
Stuck with only a tape player in the ride seemed an unexpected but alluring situation. Before we hit the road for Ohio I grabbed a literal shoe box+ of tapes from back in the day. We’re talking 1996, ’97… a lot of great stuff, a lot of questionable stuff and a lot of… surprises. Here’s the first noteworthy item folks – The Geto Boys’, specifically several tracks from their 1990, eponymous album.
First the good: if there’s one thing I can thank the Geto Boys for it’s introducing me to James Brown’s Funky People albums, as the Boy’s sample liberally from the record.
The Geto Boys is not a good album. But after not hearing it for well over ten years (or at least the three songs I deemed worthy of dubbing onto a cassette at the time) it definitely has a certain… well, savior faire is most definitely the wrong word in any normal, rational context, but seriously, the fact that the opening song contains, with Scarface samples, possibly upwards of 50 instances of the word fuck, well it’s something, to say the least. The marketing for the album is obvious – as with all other rap albums at the time it was directed at white suburban douche bags and apparently they found a ripe one in me because although I didn’t buy the album here I am writing about it twenty years after its release. And why am I writing about the album if it’s not very good? We circle back to that over-the-top element.
‘Peeping through her window…’ this is the beginning of a line in Mind of a Lunatic, rapped by Bushwick Bill, the glass-eye-wearin’, three-foot-two-standing member of the group who has since found god and become a ‘positive role model’. Well, judging by what comes after the above-quoted line he’d better be doing something to try and atone because this is seriously the most twisted, disgusting rap that has ever existed (or at least up to that point). The first time I heard Mind of a Lunatic I wanted nothing to do with it, regardless of the fact that it was so gratuitous as to be cartoon-like, thus rendering itself from anyone with half a brain ever taking it seriously. And yet the music… again I would later find the source material as ‘Giving Up Food For Funk’ by the JB’s but at the time I simply had to own that music. Revulsion or not for the lyrics I dubbed Lunatic and a couple of other songs and listened to them just the right amount of times for someone to hear it and tell me what it was, thus rendering the tape a position in the aforementioned shoebox in which it has sat since. Sandwiched between some Beastie Boys B-sides I’d all but forgotten about and a Fugazi assortment on a C-90 Maxell Cassette tape, The Geto Boys rear their ugly heads once again as a ridiculous if not entertaining relic of my musical past.
Luckily, I’ve a great deal of James Brown in the box too, so now that my appetite has been moistened I can hit it and quit it. Yow! Now here’s a treat:
* And maybe more; I’m pretty sure I’ve moved myself considerably closer to heart attack status these last couple of days.
** If you’re curious, some of those are: Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane, King Khan and the Shrines, Tobacco, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, Sunn 0)))’s Monoliths and Dimensions and then my Chicago standards: Chris Connelly’s The Night of Your Life; my Greg Duli triple feature Powder Burns (Twilight Singers), 1965 (Afghan Whigs) and Saturnalia (The Gutter Twins) and pretty much every old school Underworld album.
And last, fascinating beyond belief: