monkey hips and rice
these days, apple and their itunes have attempted to standardize a new digital distribution model, where it would seem that .99 cents per song ($1.29 if you want it to sound better) and $10 per CD (so funny that we still talk about such things when they're most notable via their disappearance) are the new going rates. however, this model introduces/perpetuates many new/old and pernicious distortions and inefficiencies, not least of all the challenge for new artists to get noticed ($10 is a lot to invest on music to which you may never listen twice) and for all artists to be paid fairly for their music while their distributors (the "suits") and label owners reach in for their pound of flesh.
my best case in point this morning is literally almost 60 years old--"the '5' royales"--and i'm willing to bet you may not have even ever heard of them before. i know i hadn't until relatively recently--a few years back--when i first caught james hunter in concert covering their 1953 "hit", "don't do it". (youtube is one of the greatest things ever invented in the history of the world). here's a guitar player, (first ever to put electric guitar feedback into a recording, among many other amazing innovative and mind-blowing things), lowman pauling, who could write as well as sam cooke, play as well as (better, actually, if you count the fact he was copied by him) eric clapton, and still be cheated by the record companies out of literally everything he earned for them. lowman (has there ever been a better rock and roll name?) wrote songs that made hits for james brown, (think), ray charles, (tell the truth), and the mamas and the papas (dedicated to the one i love). he inspired a generation of gospel-to-soul crossover singers, from sam cooke to otis redding to aretha franklin. he should rightfully be revered as one of the seminal influences to all the music that is popular over the past 60 years and today. (i can think of no more eloquent indictment of the "rock and roll hall of lame", with nods to mojo nixon, than the absence of mr. pauling in their establishment, and don't get me started because then we'll have to talk about warren zevon, and then we won't get anywhere).
what is most remarkable to me, beyond the amazing quality of these recordings, is how difficult they are to come by, despite all these electronic digital download "services" that bombard us daily. if you google "monkey hips and rice", the anthology i'm proud to pay whatever it cost to own, you'll see that if you want to buy a new copy of this double cd set, you'll have to shell out $127 dollars. (on amazon). i'm not kidding. $127 american dollars. yeah, i know, the dollar ain't worth what it used to be, but this is well over ten times the "standard" going amount for music, which is testament to both its rarity, as well as its quality. i'll tell you it's worth every penny, and i'll also recommend buying used for less than $50, as i did, but it's still remarkable to me. (no, i will not pirate these things--these musicians put too much into them for me to ever be able to listen if i knew i'd pinched them). these records are amazing.
about his neighbor's monkey hips and rice, lowman puts it right: "my knife and fork, they really took a beating". your wallet may too, but it'll be the best money you've spent on music in a very, very long time.
or come on over anytime. it's in "heavy rotation" on my itunes. monkey hips and rice.