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Best of Patron Requests: Music (May 2012 Edition)


This list is a monthly compilation of my own personal favorite patron requests for music. I hope you will check out some of the great music that Library users have suggested we acquire!

Provided are some great preview tracks for each. Just click on the titles to be taken to the catalog.

Best of Hooker N' Heat by John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat

It might not be common knowledge, maybe because the blues ain't supposed to spring forth from a nerdy white guy from the suburbs of Boston who wore thick glasses, read books on ecology, and had the voice of a shy little school girl, but Alan Wilson of Canned Heat may have been the greatest blues harmonica player to ever live.  The often hard to follow John Lee Hooker (due to his common disregard for known song structures) agreed, saying after the sessions, "you must have been listening to my records your whole life." Wilson penned the Canned Heat classic, "On the Road Again", which was considered by many to be the theme song, of sorts, to Woodstock. From the tambura drone to the undeniably legit blues roots, it seemed to encompass many of the musical influences of hippy culture.  Now connoisseurs may note that it was not Wilson who played harmonica on this song at Woodstock, but Canned Heat's other founder, Bob Hite. That was merely to free up Wilson to sing and play guitar, a necessity of live performance, but on the studio version it's all Wilson! Both Hite and Wilson play duelling harmonicas on these sessions with the great John Lee Hooker, but Wilson pretty much takes the lead. From impressive overblowing techniques, to actually modifying reeds here and there, he got notes out of that harmonica other people just couldn't get. He's just freaking all over it! Unfortunately, Wilson died soon after these recordings. They were the last he ever made. There is such a great chemistry between "Hooker N Heat;" made more interesting by the different ways they came to the blues. Among other between-take comments on the recording, Hooker can be heard saying "I dig this kid's harmonica playin'...I don't know how you follow me but he see, I can't lose you!" (PREVIEW)


Tago Mago (40th Anniversary ed.) by Can

Can are among the founders of what would become known as Krautrock, which would add, among other things, a considerable amount of psychedelic improvisation to the rock and rollers' bag of tricks. Can seemed to bring in all kinds of influences, just start playing and see where the groove took them. Sometimes it's almost straight ahead psych rock, more often even more experimental, but always letting things develop organically out of the collective noise. An alien race visiting earth could fully understand the entire psychedelic movement by listening to this 2-CD reissue. The 40th Anniversary edition, which has been tastefully remastered, includes a bonus disc of live performances not to be missed, including a 29-minute live version of "Spoon"! (PREVIEW)


Guitars from Agadez by Group Inerane

 I love this term "ethnomusicology". It sounds so academic and smart and stuff...way too many syllables not to sound just a little pretentious, no? But don't let that scare you because when it's done right it's a beautiful thing, and folks over at Sublime Frequencies are showing us what it's all about. This is ethnomusicology at it's finest, most practical form: scouring the deep recesses of world for music both old and new that would not have made to "the west" were it not for some good old-fashioned exploring.

They've given us so much music nobody else could, or would, unearthing field recordings, old cassette tapes, and archived radio shows from past decades, to bring us some of the most original and unique, cross-cultural hybrids the world has ever seen: Princess Nicotine, Shadow Music of Thailand, and Harmika Yab-Yum: Folk Sounds from Nepal, just to name a few of my personal favorites. If you've never heard of the Tuareg Guitar Revolution (or, actually, even if you have), do yourself a favor and pick this one up. (PREVIEW)

Ssss by VCMG

Anyone remember Depeche Mode? Well here they are! Yes, at least two of them: Vince Clarke and Martin Gore of the original DM lineup collaborated on this album. And this here is beat-oriented, minimal techno done up proper. It's a voyage through the Kuiper Belt on a spaceship made of synths. I'm very certain with regards to what they are trying to do this album is as close to perfect as you can get, in this dimension anyway. (PREVIEW)


H-P1 by White Hills

OK, I don't know where you people find this stuff, but thanks to whoever just burned my eardrums up with this request! Can would be proud, and so would Hawkwind, Neu!, Helios Creed, and probably their moms. I doubt these guys would mind if I said their sound is reminiscent of that whole Krautrock scene, because there is no doubt this band adds a considerable amount of their own awesomeness to the mix. I quite literally cannot stop listening to this one song. No I mean, I don't know what to do! My ears are in control of my body. You've got to help me! I will not rest until I see these guys live. (PREVIEW)


Sitar Concerto Mangal Dhwani by Hasu Patel

Hasu Patel's solo sitar album, Gayaki Sitar, is so incredibly good that I'm saving it for its own "Great Albums You May Have Missed" post. This Sitar Concerto is equally impressive, though in a somewhat different way. It is Ms. Patel's own composition, and to hear those western instruments fit so seemlessly into very non-western structures, scales, and intonations is quite possibly the most interesting thing I've ever heard orchestral instruments do. Unfortunately I have no Preview track for this one, so you'll just have to take my word for it.


The Wanting by Glenn Jones

I probably make way too many comparisons when trying to describe music, but if you like John Fahey I'm sure you'll appreciate Glenn Jones. Solo guitar on the steel-string played to make you feel like your on the back porch and the days work is done. Also like Fahey, his playing abilities also make one wonder if he ever does anything else besides play guitar. (PREVIEW)


Rhythm-al-ism by dj Quick

Back in 1991, DJ Quick scored himself a record deal by releasing mixtapes of himself rapping over sampled beats. His first outing was Quick is the Name, a strong album well-represented by the title track. Rhythm-al-ism came 7 years later, after years of experience of production in the studio, and it shows! It hits with that same retro-freshness that Dr. Dre's The Chronic, and Snoop's Doggystyle had in the early '90s. Quick carries on that same dedication to revitalizing the grooves of Marvin Gaye, Parliament, Roger and Zapp... all that old-school funk stuff loaded into his drum machine and reworked into new contexts. If you appreciated Zapp's use of the talk box (no that isn't a vocoder!) on smash hits like "More Bounce to the Ounce". Then check this track out! (PREVIEW)

Cyrk by Cate Le Bon

Is this what "outsider" music is? Because Cate Le Bon seems to be doing her own thing, without apology and without pretense. I hear elements here from all kinds of influences, from garage rock to Calliope music; and somehow, so liltingly '60s throughout. An album so diverse in fact that this blogger refuses to supply just one preview. So here then:




American Common - Barn Dance - Horse costume and band, Digital ID 1652413, New York Public Library


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

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