Friday, February 24, 2012

LINER NOTES: Effaman 2

Effaman 2

A.K.A. Return to the House of Flying Daggers? Hardly.

One of our regulars, Sarah K., kept asking for "real songs," like in the first effaman. The first time around tickled me immensely, so I was happy to oblige. Check the above post for a brief backstory, but the long short is it was a response to my friend Karen's mix for me, Girls, Girls, Girls (it's a wonder why we never commiserated over Spector back in the day). Well, maybe response-of-a-response is more accurate? The actual response was boys, boys, boys. But in making that mix, I felt a need for some balance. Hence... you get it.

As much as I liked the concept, I never felt satisfied about the first effaman. Given the strength of the title, songs like Kellee Patterson's "If It Don't Fit, Don't Force It" felt inappropriately gentle and Wendy Rene's "After Laughter" was plain out of place. No pun intended, but the idea needed more teeth.

Not that the second round is a definitive K.O., but it's a step in the right direction. Big Mama Thornton, though she didn't get shine during the session, was central for guiding the tone. Thanks to: "I Smell a Rat" ("You won’t tell me where you been / Whiskey running all down your chin / I smell a rat baby"); "Just Like A Dog (Barking Up The Wrong Tree);" and "You Don't Move Me No More." Those songs contain a balance of hurt and fury that blueprint (see, Maya? Noun becomes verb!) a range of expression, from the uptown cool of ESG's "Erase You" to the poli-angst of Huggy Bear's "Herjazz."

I initially looked for songs with the knives out, but what I found was better: a slowly simmering pot of pathos. Ann Peebles' "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" wins off the strength of the song title's visual alone, but Willie Mitchell's Hi-Rhythm production sounds so fucking cool being recast from Rev. Green coos to Ann Peebles' stern warnings.

Of course, shit-talking is practically a pasttime paradise for me, so Lily Allen's "Knock 'Em Out" ("Nah I've gotta go 'cos my house is on fire / I've hot herpes, no I've got syphilis / AIDS AIDS, I've got AIDS!") is a charm. And didn't every girl and guy know Tyrone's homie?

I'm happiest most about rediscovering the Persuaders' "Thin Line Between Love and Hate." I'd dimly remembered this song as an AM staple/low rider anthem. In other words, I had attached a mood to it -- one I had mistaken for romance. The storytelling is painfully deliberate and, a word I'm loathe to use, "cinematic." Raekwon level, god. The twist is perhaps comic, though, when you think about it, fitting and beautiful. The song also convinced me there had to be other examples of men admitting fault. Guess what? Like Anti-Pop, there weren't many I could find! What I found were gems. Kels' "When A Woman's Fed Up" has a remarkably resigned and humble tone that is so uncharacteristic by late-'00s Kels standards. And Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire's verse on the "Unthinkable" "RemeX" is one for the ages. That part about throwing up in the bathroom of the McDonalds on Delancey?? Whoo... Unfortunately, it makes "Blame Game" sound positively lame and whiney, so I was more than happy to fade that out.


So, I didn't realize until afterwards that we had mostly women in attendance. I do think that was a coincidence as it didn't seem like everyone knew the theme beforehand. I got nervous that the music was too serious, b/c the room was pretty quiet. But Nate noted head-bobbing on his side of the room. And given the amount of newcomers and strangers in attendance, there was a remarkable amount of sharing after the drawing.

All right, we'll be back in mid-March, probably back to a Wednesday. Stay tuned for deets by hitting us up on F-book or get at me to get on the e-list.

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