When I was in graduate school, Check The Technique was one of the guiding books for my thesis. It not only served the assignment well, but was also every bit as entertaining as its predecessor, Rakim Told Me. I nerded out over specific tracks and their backstories and always thought Brian’s approach and clean presentation really did the subjects justice.
Brian Coleman’s new book, Check the Technique Volume 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies (Wax Facts Press) is more of the same, a wonderfully written celebration of all these songs and artists we grew up loving. Who knew MF Doom’s initial moniker, Zev Love X, was “X Evolvez” spelled backwards? Mindblown! For info and ordering links, visit: www.WaxFactsPress.com.
It’s completely gratifying and an obvious honor to have Brian stop by with a guest post. With the highly anticipated Check The Technique Vol.2 out now, here’s a snapshot on Mr. Coleman’s mantra when it comes to digging for vinyl. Many thanks sir! – DM
I am a digger. Some of my best friends are diggers. And I love hanging with them and shooting the shit. But when it comes to music, I get frustrated at times because they go for obscurity at most costs, and don’t smell the roses in front of their faces. And by roses, I mean records we can all find every day in broad daylight (vs. dank basements of shady record stores).
So here are some records I randomly grabbed from my collection in a matter of 15 minutes (dig-free), records that should be readily available if you choose to seek them out. These are jams that, for the most part, I have loved since high school– which wasn’t exactly yesterday– and I still love as much today as I did then. Support your local record store!!!!! Buy vinyl!!!! FUCK CDs!!!!!
The Young Adults – “Complex World” – Helping Others (Heartbreak Hits, 1989)
Okay, I guess this is a little obscure, but it’s still a dollar record if/when you see it. Goofy drunk-rock from a band I first learned about in the amazing flick of the same name (“Complex World”), based around the debauchery at Providence, RI rock fleabag venue Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel.
Bad Brains – “Re-Ignition” – I Against I – (SST Records, 1986)
H.R. is listed as “throat” in the liners, but he was heart and soul, too. This was later in the group’s career (at least their career making great records), but proved they still had it. One of the greatest live bands I have ever seen.
The Carpenters – “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” – Passage (A&M Records, 1977)
If you can think of something cooler than Karen Carpenter summoning space aliens, please let me know.
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band “Dropout Boogie” – Safe as Milk (Buddah Records, 1970)
Off-kilter, raspy, drug-inspired (I can only assume) and actually somewhat sensible, lyrically. Desert heatstroke rock. Fucking excellent.
T. Rex – “Spaceball Ricochet” – Slider (Reprise, 1972)
Marc Bolan was an amazingly talented and complicated dude and this song can make you cry. He died way too soon. Amazing lines in this one.
Professor Longhair – “Tipitina” (too many recordings of this song to count) – 45 RPM (Atlantic, 1953)
As wobbly a song as his girlfriend purportedly was. Like Theolonious Monk, ‘Fess could play it straight and beautiful, but rarely did. It tilts your ears sideways.
Alice Cooper – “Blue Turk” – School’s Out (Warner Bros., 1972)
Beyond the shock-rock he mastered, Mr. Cooper had plenty of depth. School’s Out is hella underrated. And the title track is awesome too, no matter how many times I have heard it.
Godley & Crème “Cry” – 12″ Single (Polydor, 1985)
My wife can’t stand this song, but I still love her. Maybe the video creeped her out, which would be fair.
Ozzy Osbourne – “You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll” – Diary Of A Madman (CBS Records, 1983)
This is very true. A rallying cry and great rock song if I ever heard one.
Gary Glitter – “I Love You Love Me Love” – The Leader [Compilation] (Epic/CBS, 1984)
Yes, he’s a sick bastard and world-class weirdo, but this song is excellent. Dude had crooner skills, beyond the football stadium.
Fishbone – “Modern Industry” – 12″ Single (CBS / Columbia, 1985)
One of my favorite songs of all time, ever since I first heard it. Took me months to find out even what it was after taping it on a random video show. Wikipedia, YouTube and Shazam didn’t always exist. “These are the voices behind the machine, these are the voices…”
Frank Zappa (featuring Johnny “Guitar” Watson – “San Ber’dino” – One Size Fits All (DiscReet, 1975)
A soulful rock love story by my favorite rock composer and performer of all time. Off what may be his most underrated LP.
Lard (featuring Jello Biafra) – “The Power of Lard” – The Power of Lard EP (Alternative Tentacles, 1989)
Dead Kennedys rule. And Jello didn’t stop flexing after they broke up in the mid-‘80s, teaming up here with Ministry’s Al Jourgenson. This shit will wake you up faster than a quad-expresso. “Who’s gonna babysit the babysitter?”
Meat Beat Manifesto “Radio Babylon” – B-side to “Helter Skelter” 12” (Inch Play it Again Sam / Waxtrax Records, 1988?)
Seeing these guys live in 1989 fucked me up, in a good way. Industrial hip-hop funk and dancers dressed up like plushies from Where The Wild Things Are. Goddamn.
Paul Simon – “The Boy in the Bubble” – 12″ Single (Warner Bros., 1986)
Harmonium soul from a whimpy rocker. Didn’t really love this song properly until it came floating back to me earlier this year. I regret those years without it.
David Byrne & Brian Eno – “America is Waiting” – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (Sire, 1981)
Hip-hop owes a lot to this record even if it doesn’t realize it.
Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra featuring Mayra Vega – “Che Che Cole” – 12″ Inch (Daptone, Year ?)
Early Daptone wax, one of the best songs they ever put out – and that’s saying a lot since it’s one of the world’s great labels. This song always makes my hips move, and lord knows I can’t dance.
***BONUS : Our buds at The Rub just put together an accompanying mix for Check The Technique Volume 2, featuring music covered in the book. Like the book itself, nothing but solid selections here. TAKE A LISTEN.