Wow, what a treat this is! Singer, songwriter, comic-book maker and generally nice guy Jeffrey Lewis has made us an extra special It’s Nice That Friday mixtape! He’s even kindly told us a little about each song that he’s chosen. Turns out Jeffrey’s taste in music reflects his own, something that I really love in a mixtape. From Gravediggaz, Lou Reed and spoken word to psychedelic Christian music from the 70s and more, this mix is Jeff through and through and is the perfect accompaniment to your Friday, nay your entire weekend. Let’s all take a minute to be thankful that we’re all on the planet at the same time as this guy.
If you’re in London, catch him at this year’s Camden Crawl on Saturday 21 June.
Kool Keith: Intro
It’s nice to start a mix with an intro sort of song and this is a good one.
WITCH: Like a Chicken
Ever since I got that great Chrissy Zebby Tembo album My Ancestors I’ve been hoping to find other 70s African rock albums that are as awesome, and I had high hopes for this band WITCH (their name is an acronym for something cool, I forget what). Mostly their first two albums were a little bit of a let-down compared to the hype about them that I’d read, but this track is one of the ones I like best. It’s no Chrissy Zebby Tembo but if WITCH had ten songs as good as Like a Chicken they’d really be worth the hype.
Aaron Freeman: Marvelous Clouds
Aaron Freeman was once known as Gene Ween, wait no, Dean Ween, argh, whichever one he was he’s now quit Ween and released a great solo album of covers of obscure Rod McKuen songs. I love Rod McKuen’s Beatsville album (also known as Rod McKuen Takes a San Francisco Hippie Trip) and I love Ween (particularly the first four albums) so this recent Aaron Freeman project really appealed to me and this is one of my favorite tracks on it.
Box Elders: Cougars
My ex-bassist Isabel hooked me up with this great Box Elders album; I can only imagine they have a lot of fun playing this song live! I’ve never seen them play but I think they tour a lot, hopefully I’ll get to catch them some time.
Silmaril is one of those rare obscure 70s Christian psychedelic-folk albums that people like me are oddly attracted to, a friend of mine in Germany turned me on to this one, which does have a number of lovely atmospheric folk songs and then this one wonderfully twisted and creepy spoken-word Revelation track, complete with weird moog sounds at the outro.
Carol-Leigh & Hank Mindlin: Inquire Within
The recent book Enjoy The Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 is a giant document of album covers of self-released records, and a few nice essays on the subject, and a download code for a whole pile of interesting tracks from some of the albums mentioned in the book. This track is the title track from a self-released album that I’d never heard of, and I love this song very much and you will too.
Gravediggaz: 1-800 Suicide
Gravediggaz took the “horror rap” genre direction that had sort of been started by The Geto Boys and went a little further into playing up the horror aspects, I wish this “horror rap” genre had continued a bit more but it was a short-lived mid-90s thing mostly I guess. This first Gravediggaz album was supposed to be titled Niggamortis, a genius title! But they were dissuaded and released it under the store-friendlier title 6 Feet Deep. I actually originally had this album on a cassette that was given to me by a student I was tutoring in the late 90s, and just recently bought a download of the album because it had been too long just owning it on a crummy old tape.
Paul Ngozi: Suicide
Paul Ngozi is another one of those 70s African rock artists whose album I picked up hoping to find another “Zam-Rock” treasure as cool as the Chrissy Zebby Tembo album… and another semi-disappointment, though oddly Tembo is actually the drummer on this Ngozi album, and this song in particular is pretty great. Also a good back-to-back with the Gravediggaz track.
David Yaya Herman Dune: In The House
From the absolutely classic mid-2000s solo album from David Yaya, of the band Herman Dune, “Demented Abduction: Nova Scotia Runs For Gold.” his whole album is pure magic to me, perfect combination of home-made indie-rock spirit and the kind of funny/sad/true songwriting personality that cuts right to the core and makes most other modern bands seem foolishly pretentious. Of the zillion albums released by Herman Dune, Black Yaya, Stanley Brinks, and all the other associated Herman Dune projects, this one is in my personal top three.
Circle Jerks: Deny Everything
I could probably pick anything from the Circle Jerks’ Group Sex album and be equally happy with my selection… in fact I think the whole Group Sex album is something like 17 minutes long from top to bottom, so you might as well get the whole record, definitely one of the highlights of all the late 70s/early 80s American hardcore punk LPs. Always easy to put one of these sorts of old punk tracks on a mix because they take up very little time!
Lou Reed: What’s Good
Another killer track from Lou, the master. To me, a track like this represents the apex of what a songwriter can be, hitting hard without even seeming to try too hard, Piscasso-style almost. Very few artists have ever released an album as powerful as Magic & Loss, just a brutal collection of thoughts about death and loss. Lou is such a perfect example of how to grow old as a rock and roller, always using the advantages of age and experience to make his rock and roll more edgy rather than less. It’s a trick that most of his 60s classic rock contemporaries never managed; they either try too hard to hold on to the perspectives of their youth or they leave rock behind altogether in favor of making more “mature” sorts of music. Lou usually acted like having it both ways was a foregone assumption; why shouldn’t a rock and roller get better and smarter and more open and raw with age?