Jive Time Turntable

Friar Tuck “Friar Tuck & His Psychedelic Guitar” (Mercury, 1967)

Many people’s favorite guitarist from the world-class LA studio band the Wrecking Crew, Mike Deasy is one of the mad geniuses behind the Ceyleib People’s one-off 1968 masterpiece, Tanyet, which I reviewed for this blog in 2018. Deasy’s session credits include a litany popular artists, some of whom made it into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Mike, however, has remained a deeply idiosyncratic cult figure.

Under his goofy Friar Tuck persona, Deasy let his freak flag fly, albeit not as sublimely as he did on Tanyet. Rather, Friar Tuck & His Psychedelic Guitar is a lysergic distortion of ’60s pop and rock that seems as if it were bashed out in a day, with help from some ringers such as bassist Jerry Scheff, drummer Jim Troxel, vibraphonist Toxie French (all from the great, short-lived Goldenrod), vocalist/arranger Curt Boettcher, and many others. Yes, this is a psychsploitation record from the subgenre’s red-hot peak of 1967, but Deasy does it with more inventiveness (and echoplex) than most.

Friar Tuck & His Psychedelic Guitar splits its two sides between covers and originals. The first side hints that the monk outfit Deasy’s wearing on the cover ain’t the only thing kooky about this LP. Tommy Roe’s cutesy 1965 hit “Sweet Pea” abounds with all sorts of flamboyant six-string filigree, negating the corny recitation of banal lyrics and cheesy backing vocals. A bad-trip, FX-laden coda telegraphs Deasy’s subversive motives. “Louis Louis” (aka frat-house garage-rock standard “Louie Louie”) receives a total makeover into a blissed-out psych saunter. EZ-listening female vocals sound absurd amid the increasingly disorienting disintegration of this overfamiliar classic. Mike completely rearranged the song’s DNA into something chaotically beautiful—and barely recognizable. Deasy and his super sessioneers also transform Oscar Brown and Nat Adderley’s “Work Song” into a baroque rave-up. Finally, Hollywood Argyles’ 1960 novelty hit “Alley-Oop” fits right in with Deasy’s loopy irreverence; surely notorious Argyles member Kim Fowley approved.

Deasy’s original songs occupy side 2, and it’s here where he really lets his imagination run riot. The compositions initially seem to have conventional structures, but as they go on, the backing vocals get stacked into infinite halls of mirrors and the guitars (also played by Ben Benay and Jim Helms) color way outside the lines in fluorescent colors. “A Record Hi” psychedelicizes “Louie Louie” even further into United States Of America territory (the band, not the country). “Fendabenda Ha Ha Ha” ingeniously uses extended chants as a foundation for brain-scrambling biker rock. By the time of the closing “Where Did Your Mind Go?” you’ll be laughing at how absurd this album’s journey from chart-fodder spoof to psychedelic excess has been, as well as pondering the question in the song’s title.

(The 2007 CD reissue on UK label Fallout includes four amiable bonus tracks from Deasy singles under the Flower Pot alias.) -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Lee Moses “Time And Place” (Maple, 1971)

It’s damn near impossible to quantify soul with regard to male vocalists, but consensus has built over the decades. Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Bobby Caldwell generally top the lists of singers who can make you break down and cry with a few syllables. Rarely, if ever, though, do you hear Lee Moses’ name among the elites. But if you learn one thing from this review, it’s that Moses—who died in 1997 at age 56—ranks as one of the best excavators of deep emotions in music history. The pain and grain of his pipes were just profoundly wrenching. That he died relatively young and unheralded only adds to the pathos when you listen to his records.

A major figure in Atlanta’s soul scene in the ’60s, Moses played guitar for some live gigs with Gladys Knight & The Pips; they wanted him to become a full-time member, but Moses yearned to make it on his own. He had high hopes for his sole album, Time And Place, but it stiffed in the marketplace upon its 1971 release. Nevertheless, true heads knew it was loaded with specialness. There’s a reason that Light In The Attic subsidiary Future Days Recordings has reissued Time And Place on vinyl four times since 2016, including this year. Once you hear Lee Moses sing, it’s like crack for your soul-starved ears. Plus, the originals and the covers that Moses selected cut you deep. You shall be moved.

The opening 1-2 gut punch of “Time And Place” and “Got That Will” should swiftly convince you that Moses was emoting on a level that few could equal. The former lopes into the frame with some horn-laden, laid-back funk as Moses testifies his obsessive love to an inamorata; it also possesses the greatest “mmm hmmm” ever to kick off a song. The latter finds Lee reeling off names of his fellow musicians who made it, and then proclaims that he’s eventually going to join them in the pantheon. Alas, that didn’t come to pass, but the song sure is soul-funk gold. “Every Boy And Girl” is a doom-laden, church soul belter that exudes “House Of The Rising Sun” vibes while “Would You Give Up Everything” is a momentous funk/soul ballad with a complex, corkscrewing bass line—a pretty rare thing. The buoyant, open-hearted melody of “Free At Last” totally embodies the title. And if you dig heart-shredding ballads, Moses sings the shit out of the staggering “Adorable One.”

The album’s best covers are among the most frequently attempted in pop/rock history. Moses puts his indelible stamp on them and makes you wonder why more people don’t consider them definitive. He slows down “California Dreaming” and alters the arrangement into stormy soul, and gruffs it up on the vocal tip. Moses doesn’t so much blow away the Mamas & The Papas’ original as he does transform it into his own joint. Then there’s one of the greatest “Hey Joe”s I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard over a dozen. In the intro, Moses explains how he was trying to dissuade Joe from going down to shoot his old lady, who was messin’ around with another man. “This is a song about a soul brother named Joe. Joe was a good friend of mine.” Etc. When Moses gets around to singing, he outshines even Tim Rose’s bruised and blustery delivery on this classic. The backing is greasy, Southern blues funk of the highest order.

Time And Place should’ve made Moses a star, with his guitar playing as gritty and expressive as his voice. Plus, he got that will to learn. But all of this somehow wasn’t enough. That the LP’s still in print a quarter century of Moses’ death, though, is a testament of sorts. (Also highly recommended: Future Days’ 2019 comp How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972.) -Buckley Mayfield

Black Sabbath “Vol. 4” (Warner Bros./Vertigo, 1972)

Recorded in LA while immersed in SoCal excess, Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4 nonetheless boasts some of the British heavy-metal innovators’ greatest songs. Yes, it’s brutal to be around people who are high on cocaine, but sometimes the drug can (partially) inspire musicians to create some great, enduring work. Case in point is Black Sabbath’s fourth LP. The Birmingham quartet allegedly had speaker boxes full of Bolivian marching powder delivered to the studio as they were cutting this fab platter. The results are worth whatever nasal and temporary psychic damage the players suffered during the making of it.

“Wheels Of Confusion” bursts in with Sabbath’s trademark behemoth metal riffage of the sort that inspired loads of grunge musicians. Ozzy sings in his best tuneful-anguish tone as guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler turn the screws ever tighter. Acting as a coda, “The Straightener” shifts into a lighter mode, a kind of breezy hard rock with Iommi soloing baroquely in the distance. “Tomorrow’s Dream” purveys staccato, groove-oriented metal and highlights drummer Bill Ward’s surprising funk chops. Iommi and Butler grind in unison density and heavy-osity. So far, so Sabbath-ical.

But the album’s first shocker is “Changes,” a heart-shattering ballad dominated by piano and Mellotron, its lyrics written by Butler and inspired by Ward’s breakup with his wife. One of Sabbath’s most beloved anomalies, the song was covered with astonishing gravity by the late soul vocalist Charles Bradley. Vol. 4‘s second bold tangent is “FX,” whose sparse, echoed bleeps vary in intensity over its 100 seconds. The piece sounds as if it could’ve escaped from the lab of your favorite ’60s academic synth composer, but in actuality, it was triggered by Iommi’s necklace crucifix accidentally hitting his guitar strings and generating cool sounds. The record’s third diversion is “Supernaut.” It begins with the same tension-inducing hi-hat pattern as Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft,” but it soon transforms into one of thee most unstoppable, pile-driving grooves ever to give you whiplash while headbanging. Ward’s dope percussion breakdown could get a room full of breakdancers sweating. “Supernaut” is perhaps the Sabbath song that best conjures the sensation of feeling invulnerable; maybe that’s why it was Frank Zappa’s favorite. (In 1990, an industrial-disco version was cut by the dubiously named 1000 Homo DJs, which featured members of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails.) The fourth and final surprise, “Laguna Sunrise,” delicately sparkles with acoustic guitar and mellotron—just a beautiful, melancholy instrumental, going against the sinister-metal grain.

“Snowblind” is the obvious coke homage here (Ozzy’s stage whisper of “cocaaaiiinnneee” sledgehammers the song’s point home), but the actual music leans more toward pot than blow. This methodical juggernaut of gnarled fuzz is proto-stoner rock. “Cornucopia” is kinetic, doomy metal with punchy beats that give John Bonham a run for his tom-tom thunder. Vol. 4 closes with a couple of speedy, hard-rock heaters: “St. Vitus Dance” and “Under The Sun.” The latter keeps accelerating until you fear Iommi and Butler’s instrument’s strings are going to burst into flames.

With Black Sabbath, it’s always been the outliers that have struck me as the most interesting displays of their talents—which is why “Planet Caravan” is my favorite tune on Paranoid and “Who Are You” my fave on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Vol. 4 features plenty of similar moments that reveal Black Sabbath’s inventive versatility—even as they were blasted out of their minds. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

James Brown “Get Up Offa That Thing” (Polydor, 1976)

It’s doubtful that many fans rank this album among the Godfather Of Soul’s greatest, but four out of its six tracks are certified bangers. Arriving as disco was gaining substantial marketshare in America, Get Up Offa That Thing reasserted James Brown’s dominance in the funk realm while also nodding to disco bandwagon-jumpers. Get Up is part of his last really strong phase in the last half of the ’70s, which includes Mutha’s Nature. If you’re a DJ who needs to fill dance floors, you could do a lot worse than to drop the needle on this somewhat overlooked opus.

The “Get Up Offa That Thing/Release The Pressure” medley begins with one of JB’s most outrageous EEEOOOWWWs before lunging into an unstoppable megaton funk groove laced with Charles Sherrell’s infectiously twitchy clavinet, blaring horns, and Melvin Parker’s clap-happy beats. James exhorts listeners to rise from their damn seats and “dance till you feel better” and, if all goes according to plan, “try to release that pressure.” This sound advice still resonates 47 years later.

The bubbly/silky, string-laden funk ballad “You Took My Heart” is decent for what it is, but generally speaking, ballads by funk artists are momentum-killers with negligible appeal. Too often, a saccharine sentimentality prevails, lyrically and sonically. I’m all for variety, but there has to be a better way. Thankfully, Brown gets back on the good foot with the next two songs. The speedy disco funk of “I Refuse To Lose” is tailor-made for sports anthemhood, and the “sock it in the pocket/let the good times roll” breakdown is a breakdancer’s paradise. (Shout out to Will Lee’s incredible bass line.) My fave cut is “Can’t Take It With You,” whose coiled funk packs a low-slung, Bohannon-like wallop, enhanced by chicken-squawk guitar à la the Meters’ Leo Nocentelli. The song’s nine debauched and mesmerizing minutes somehow aren’t enough.

“Home Again”—a bluesy ballad that harks back to Brown’s ’50s and early-’60s material—hinders the fun, but “This Feeling,” a more stripped-down companion piece to “Can’t Take It With You,” hits hard with a lean, low-key lethalness. Brown rarely does understatement, but “This Feeling” proved he could excel in that mode, too.

While the title track reached #45 in the Billboard Hot 100 chartt, it’s the deep cuts that make Get Up Offa That Thing a candidate for the ultimate James Brown sleeper LP. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Brightblack Morning Light “Motion To Rejoin” (Matador, 2008)

Brightblack Morning Light essentially have one song—but lord have mercy, what a wondrous song it is. Their third album, Motion To Rejoin, finds singers/multi-instrumentalists Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes continuing to hone their slow-music formula to a sublime burnish.

Generally speaking, the nine songs here creep in on worn-out moccasins, emit a holy glow, and slouch into a groove akin to Dr. John’s “Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya” on Quaaludes. Nay and Ray croon as if trying not to wake a baby in the next room—a vocal style that perfectly melts into the molasses-y ASMR-rock they summon.

As with Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock, faint glimmers of cool jazz seep into BML’s hazy, nocturnal soundworld; the bass part in “Oppressions Each” even recalls Cecil McBee’s resonant, majestic motif on Alice Coltrane’s “Journey In Satchidananda.” Yeah, that’s the kind of hallowed ground upon which BML tread.

Ultimately, Motion To Rejoin ranks as one of the greatest records to play first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It’s at once one of the most calming LPs in rock—and one of its most sensual. It didn’t get much better than this in 2008. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Keith Papworth “Hard Hitter” (Music De Wolfe, 1975)

Subtitled with typical Music De Wolfe functionality “Percussive rhythm tracks with a minimum of orchestration,” UK composer Keith Papworth’s Hard Hitter is one of the funkiest specimens in the wonderful world of library music, which has enjoyed a bonanza of key reissues over the last decade. (Blessedly, US label Fat Beats re-released Hard Hitter in 2022. The lone original copy on Discogs is going for €219—plus shipping from Italy! I mean, it’s probably worth that kind of money, but few mortals can afford it.)

Why has Hard Hitter become such a coveted artifact in the rarefied realm of library music? Because nearly all of its 15 tracks are sample gold mines (see this review’s first sentence). Opening track “Speed Trap” immediately lets you know you’re in for a drum orgy, with a busy, robust opening break over which savvy hip-hop producers will salivate. That foundation’s soon joined by a suspense-building bass line and swashbuckling wah-wah guitar action. Music De Wolfe’s terse description on the back cover—“fast, driving, racy”—is on point.

“Track Record” captures Hard Hitter‘s dominant mode: slower-tempo’d funk with bongos and flute, always a lethal combo in this genre. It’s a serious head-nodder, with bonus fuzzed psych guitar. Akin to “Track Record,” “Fun Seeker” purveys methodical funk with more bongos and flute, a groovy, laid-back acoustic-guitar riff that you can imagine Beck sampling, and a slightly fried psychedelic electric-guitar solo. As it turns out, I just played “Track Record” in a DJ set last week at my Obscenely Obscure event in Seattle—the only such night in town dedicated to library music.

“Hair Raiser” follows in Papworth and crew’s deep, sexy, and slow funk style, which is very ripe for sampling. Eventually, the track accelerates into a beat frenzy that UK electronic artists such as Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and Propellerheads took to the bank in the ’90s. “Big Dipper” and “Decisive Action” offer yet more variations on Keith’s purposeful, penetrating funk theme, providing a full menu of tasty samples. “Hard Hitter” is perhaps the platonic ideal of the momentous, car-chase-scene soundtrack, with a bass line that’s deeper than Larry Graham’s voice. You can hear its influence on Propellerheads’ 1997 Big Beat club smash, “Take California.”

Some deviations from the prevailing downtempo grooves include “No Way”’s oddly stilted, military funk that’s somehow an earworm; “Stay With It”’s brisk martial rhythm on snare and cymbal; the bongo-powered jazz stepper in 6/8, “Three’s A Crowd”; and the debonair bossa nova of “Challenger.”

Papworth is best known for music that appears in Monty Python skits and movies, but Hard Hitter is no joke among crate-diggers, DJs, and sample-reliant producers. (On a side note, it’s scandalous that the label listed no credits, as the musicians here just kill.) -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Rodriguez “Cold Fact” (Sussex 1970)

As you probably know by now, Detroit troubadour Sixto Rodriguez passed away on August 8 at age 81 (cause of death has not been reported). Heads around the world have been mourning and eulogizing this Mexican-American cult hero’s art and humanity with an intensity, if my social-media feeds are any indication.

After decades of obscurity in the US, the trenchant singer-songwriter finally began to get the recognition and accolades he deserved when Light In The Attic reissued his 1970 debut LP Cold Fact in 2008. Director Malik Bendjelloul’s 2012 documentary Searching For Sugar Man further elevated Rodriguez’s profile and sales figures while revealing that he’d achieved shocking commercial success in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand in the ’70s.

Produced by legendary Motown session guitarist Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore and featuring Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbitt and drummer Andrew Smith, the 12 songs on Cold Fact should be granted the lofty regard those on Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home and Phil Ochs’ All The News That’s Fit To Sing have earned.

Like Dylan and Ochs’, Rodriguez’s voice isn’t technically “good,” but it’s idiosyncratic enough to slice through pop culture’s innocuous glut and command your attention. It’s a cold fact that the content of Rodriguez’s songs—gripping conflicts stemming from drug abuse, inequality, sexual promiscuity, street hassles, etc.—would sound absurd if expressed by someone with perfect pitch and chart-friendly timbre.

Cold Fact begins with its most famous song (nearly 63 million streams on $p0tify), “Sugar Man,” a phantasmal folk-soul ballad enhanced by a poignantly descending bass line and psychedelic effects (echoed backward violin, Mort Garson-esque analog-synth bleeps, delayed vocals as it fades out) from the Theo-Coff production unit. (I discovered the song on David Holmes’ 2002 DJ mix album Come Get It, I Got It, and was instantly hooked.) The album’s next track, “Only Good For Conversation,” bursts in on a cantankerous fuzz-toned bass riff and Coffey’s monumental electric guitar pyrotechnics.

After this potent one-two punch, Cold Fact eases into more conventional singer/songwriter moves, but gritty Detroit funk still runs through these lyrically compelling compositions. An eloquent voice for the underdog and the poor, Rodriguez came out of the gate on fire musically and lyrically. Cold Fact still sounds vital and essential 53 years after its release. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

The Funkees “Now I’m A Man” (EMI, 1976)

Their name may be slightly cringe, but the Funkees rank as one of the best Nigerian groups from that Western African country’s 1970s musical heyday. Formed by guitarist Harry Mosco at the conclusion of Nigeria’s 1969 civil war, the Funkees initially were a cover band, interpreting songs by artists such as the Beatles, Fela Kuti, Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley. In 1973, the Funnkees moved to London and used that opportunity to open for popular groups such as Kool & The Gang, Osibisa, and Fatback Band.

The Funkees’ 1974 debut album, Point Of No Return, abounds with gritty Afrobeat cuts animated by Mosco and Jake Sollo’s flinty guitar riffs and the robust polyrhythmic attack by drummer Chyke Madu and percussionist Sonny Akpabio that surely made Fela sweat in approval. (Trivia: Akpabio later played in Eddie Grant’s post-Equals 1980s band.)

With 1976’s Now I’m A Man, the Funkees leaned more heavily into their funk-rock inclinations. You can hear this shift toward a sound more friendly to Western ears with the opening title track. It begins in mellow, Latin shuffle mode, like a blissed-out Santana, but Sollo’s (or Mosco’s) wah-wah guitar squelches increase the funkadelic factor. Mohammed Ahidjo’s warm, proud vocals really draw you in to this self-empowerment jam. I love to open DJ sets with this song, as it instantly conjures positive vibes.

The humid afro-funk trudge of “Korfisa” is sexy as hell while the slinky, self-explanatory “Dance With Me” is the sort of nonchalantly funky entreaty to get on the good foot on which !!! have based a large chunk of their output. “Mimbo” features the sort of sparse, percussion-heavy groove that would segue well into undulant cuts by Konk or Liquid Liquid—a very good thing. With its refrain of “everybody get together,” infectious call-and-response vocals, and fiery guitar/organ interplay, “Salam” is a buoyant, optimistic dance track that rolls and roils with an unstoppable force. This could still work on 2023 dance floors.

“Time” acts as sort of a reprise of “Now I’m A Man,” but with different lyrics and lighter overall feel. The instrumental “303” ventures into prog territory, with its circuitous piano motifs, surprising tempo changes, complex counterpoint between the curlicuing bass and pointillistic guitar calligraphy. It’s the Funkees at their most mind-bendingly virtuosic. The album’s only dud is the unengaging ballad, “Patience.”

In 2016, the Austrian label Presch Media GmbH reissued Now I’m A Man—albeit with no liner notes or any credits whatsoever, which is scandalous. Unfortunately, prices on Discogs for this edition have skyrocketed to as high as $100. Perhaps another reissue done with more care for historical context is in order. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Look Blue Go Purple “Still Bewitched” (2017, Captured Tracks/Flying Nun)

The all-woman group Look Blue Go Purple burned briefly but brightly in the mid 1980s. Recording for the fantastic Flying Nun Records, Look Blue Go Purple rank among the very best of that revered New Zealand label’s roster. (Here’s where I suggest you read Matthew Goody’s Needles & Plastic, a maniacally thorough history of Flying Nun during its peak period: 1981-1988. Goody rightly devotes many glowing words to LBGP.)

As LBGP’s Flying Nun catalog is oop and spendy on the resell market, New York company Captured Tracks did us a solid by releasing Still Bewitched, a comp of the group’s three killer EPs, plus bonus live tracks from 1983 and 1987. Those EPs—Bewitched (1985), LBGPEP2 (1986), and This Is This (1988)—abound with that special Kiwi-flavored rock that makes a guy want to write a maniacally thorough history about it.

If you listen to enough Flying Nun-affiliated music, you begin to ascertain common threads running through it: gorgeously jangling guitars; understated vocals (the dudes from Straitjacket Fits and the Gordons are exceptions); an air of melodic melancholy and resignation that resonates on a frequency unattainable by 99.9% of American rock bands (Salem 66 might be the closest US comparison); a knack for concision and hooks that burrow in your brain without grating on your nerves. Look Blue Go Purple embody all of these traits with lovely nonchalance. And the eight bonus live tracks prove that LBGP could rock hard when they so desired.

LBGP stand out further by being the rare all-female group in New Zealand’s male-dominated scene—plus, they had the advantage of possessing a flute player in Norma O’Malley. They also had four vocalists (everyone except drummer Lesley Paris sang) and skillfully arranged their voices to emphasize their airy lushness and sage gentleness.

The great songs on Still Bewitched carry no traces of the annoying production values that marred much music in the ’80s. Rather, they exist in a hermetic bubble of unassuming Flying Nun brilliance. Low-key thrills for high-IQ folks. To paraphrase Hot Chocolate, every song’s a winner on this collection. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Tony Williams “The Joy Of Flying” (CBS, 1979)

Jazz-fusion drummer/composer Anthony Tillmon Williams crammed a lot of amazing music into his 51 years on the planet. Most heads favor his records with his world-class fusion group Lifetime, which boasted lineups featuring the incomparable likes of Larry Young, John McLaughlin, and Jack Bruce. Albums such as Emergency!, (Turn It Over), and Ego sizzle with virtuosity and compositional invention. The short-lived Trio Of Doom with McLaughlin and Jaco Pastorius also has its fervid advocates.

However, like much fusion released in the late ’70s, Williams’ 1979 LP, The Joy Of Flying, has received less enthusiastic critical reactions compared to the raves of his ’60s and early-’70s output as a bandleader—and of course his tenure with Miles Davis’ legendary Second Great Quintet, which Williams joined at age 17.

But The Joy Of Flying has a host of formidable players on board, ranging from Cecil Taylor to Ronnie fuggin’ Montrose, from Herbie Hancock to Jan Hammer, from Paul Jackson to Stanley Clarke, etc. etc. Produced by Williams himself, The Joy Of Flying is the last true fusion LP he made and it sounds absolutely vital.

The Hammer-penned opener “Going Far” finds Williams in flamboyant, tom-thumping form for this rollicking jazz-rocker. The strutting jazz funk of “Hip Skip” is tailor-made for TV sports-highlight shows. Smooth-as-hell guitarist George Benson and Hammer peel off solos that’ll make your third eye roll around in its forehead socket. Written by saxophonist Tom Scott (who plays a mean Lyricon here), “Hittin’ On 6” sees Hancock letting off some spacey synth oscillations as Clarke and Williams churn and burn with frictional funk. Tony’s drum sound is just so lip-smackingly vibrant. As the record’s producer, he deserves all of the credit for this remarkable punchiness.

“Open Fire” was written by those hard-rockin’ muthas Montrose and Edgar Winter, and it’s as bombastic a specimen of jazz rock as the title and presence of brash virtuosi Montrose and keyboardist Brian Auger would lead you to expect. It pairs well with Billy Cobham’s Tommy Bolin-enhanced “Quadrant 4.” Another Hammer composition, “Eris” was sampled by UK drum & bass producer Plug (aka Luke Vibert), so you know it’s fire. This exemplar of gutsy, rhythmically combustible fusion is animated by Hammer’s seething synth throbs, which recall those of Heldon. “Coming Back Home” is a showcase for master guitarist Benson to flex his liquid-gold chops, but Tony’s on fire, too, hitting skins in a complex time signature with his patented power and finesse. The album’s anomaly, “Morgan’s Motion” features avant-garde piano genius Cecil Taylor sparring with Williams in a highly evolved duet of stealth, speed, and inventiveness. A tumultuous summit meeting of jazz gods, “Morgan’s Motion” is a one-off for the ages.

The Joy Of Flying is one of those rare, high-quality fusion albums you can still find for under $10 in used bins. Get into it before the gatekeepers read this review and jack up the price accordingly. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Brian Eno “The Shutov Assembly” (Opal, 1992)

Everybody and their sister rave about Brian Eno’s ’70s and ’80s ambient releases, and rightly so. They influenced many essential chillout specialists and became crucial soundtracks for meditation, deep-tissue massage sessions, and childbirth, among other things. But it would be a grievous mistake to overlook his ’90s output in that genre. :Neroli: from 1993 is another Eno ambient gem that often gets lost in the gush of praise that’s bestowed upon, say, Music For Airports, Ambient 4 (On Land), and the highly overrated Discreet Music. Unquestionably, The Shutov Assembly belongs in any serious discussion about mid-period Eno’s most interesting work.

By the ’90s, Eno was a rich man thanks to his production work for U2, Talking Heads, and James, so he basically could do anything he wanted in the studio and get it released. On The Shutov Assembly, Eno delves into atonality and eschews scales and pitch, which lend the 10 tracks a peculiar liminal quality. Everything sounds unresolved and mysterious. Recorded from 1985 to 1990, these pieces previously appeared in art gallery and museum installations.

“Triennale” opens the album with a paradise of twinkling synths undergirded by serene droning and that enlightening beam of clearlight keening last heard on Tonto’s Expanding Head Band‘s “Riversong.” If you’re not immediately lured into Eno’s enigmatic cathedral of sound, you have some explaining to do. “Alhondiga” presents a fragrant whorl of suspenseful and somewhat sinister drone poems while “Markgraph” offers effortless entry into a strange sonic (sur)reality, in the process creating a new genre: New Age horror.

The alienating and metallic oscillations of “Francisco” make it perhaps the album’s weirdest cut. “Innocenti” renders a gorgeous evocation of stasis; think of it as eternity’s on-hold music. The longest track by far at 16:08, “Ikebukuro” is a languorous depiction of desolation, all long bell tolls, lassoing rope whooshes, and velvety drones.

You may get the sense that this music is “going nowhere.” (I hate this line of thinking. Why do you presume that music must have a destination?) Maybe that’s true from a conventional standpoint, but the suspended-in-mid-air feeling Eno manifests here results in subtly gripping ambient excursions that seemingly emanate from machines, with minimal human input. The Shutov Assembly actually sounds like A.I.-generated music, three decades before the fact. But it’s good—very good.

All Saints finally reissued the album on vinyl in 2014 and again in 2020, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. I also recommend the CD, a format ideally suited for longform ambient releases. A digital version found on streaming services contains seven bonus tracks. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

The Police “Zenyatta Mondatta” (A&M, 1980)

This great Police album contains two songs that I can no longer bear to hear: the smash hits “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “ De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.” The latter is Sting and company’s “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and thus is major cringe. The former’s a decent quasi-reggae-pop tune, but overexposure and creepy, Lolita-esque undertones have ruined it for me. And “Man In A Suitcase” is the sort of inane reggae-rock that gives reggae-rock a bad name. So it goes.

The remaining eight tracks on their third album, however, represent some of the Police’s most challenging and danceable work in which they leave behind any traces of their punk-rock roots while maintaining their B-minus political-rocker commentary. One might say that Zenyatta Mondatta is the British-American trio’s Remain In Light, albeit without the extended lineup that helped to transform Talking Heads in that heady year of 1980. You can hear similar African musical elements in songs such as “Canary In A Coalmine,” a quicksilver, pseudo-Afro-rock burner that, by the way, segues well into Paul McCartney’s “Temporary Secretary.” Freewheeling fun and then some. The hypnotic groove, mesmerizing guitar arpeggios, and shocking monkey chants of “Voices Inside My Head” translate into King Sunny Adé-inflected house music. It’s dance-floor gold.

“Driven To Tears” ranks high in the Police’s canon thanks to Sting’s momentous bass line, Andy Summers’ aerated klang and Frippian guitar solo, and Stewart Copeland’s immaculate rimshots and bongo fills. The poised rave-up in the song’s last minute really lifts this song to an exalted level. The way “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around” kicks into high gear while “Tears” is fading out is brilliant, a hip DJ-like move that was rare in new-wave-era rock circles. Summers’ flanged guitar punctuation sprays like a fountain of cool water over Sting and Copeland’s humid, fleet disco-funk rhythm.

The Summers composition “Behind My Camel” won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance—which is strange, as it would’ve fit seamlessly into those uncommercial albums he did with King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. Ominous and rhythmically stodgy, the track was boycotted by a petty Sting, so Andy dubbed in the bass parts.

Zenyatta Mondatta‘s last two tracks stand as anomalies in the Police’s catalog. Remove Sting’s vocals from the stark dub workout of “Shadows In The Rain” and you basically have an On-U Sound joint. Finale “The Other Way Of Stopping” is a skewed Copeland instrumental that’s full of the drummer’s usual nervy energy and exciting ebbing and flowing dynamics. It’s a weird way to end an album, but by this point in the Police’s wildly popular career, they could pretty much do whatever they wanted. So they did, and good on ’em. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.