steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

ten crucial records
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michael rault's ten crucial records

If Indieville's Matt Shimmer has it right, Michael Rault "lives in a quaint and simple world where songs are short and catchy, and music is created to make you feel good." With that in mind, his hand-selected ten crucial records list reveals a remarkably refined musical knowledge, meshing recent gems with classic releases and a healthy dose of the obscure. Read on, explore, and seek out Rault's latest release, Crash! Boom! Bang!, one of the most infectious records to pass through Indieville's mailbox in awhile.



(In no particular order)

1. Little Walter - Hate To See You Go - Little Walter is one of my all time favourite songwriters, soloists and singers, of any genre, not just the blues. This album kicks off with two of his best songs in my opinion, one after another. This album straddles the line between soul, blues and jazz, and does it all really well. Plus it has a great album cover.

2. The Staple Singers - Great Day - I would probably recommend getting any best-of package of the Staple Singers early stuff, where they are mainly just stripped down to the family singing, and Pops Roebuck Staples playing his tremolo guitar, but the one my family has is a two LP set called "Great Day". The Staples are pretty much the definitive southern gospel group, and it is easy to get into the spirit of it when it sounds this cool. Two of my favourites are their version of Dylan's "Masters of War" and "I Can't Help From Crying Sometimes."

3. Betty Harris - Stay in The Saddle - Betty Harris was one of the only real challengers to Irma Thomas's title of "Soul Queen of New Orleans." This compilation of her early works (which I think is the majority of her recordings), is made up of mostly Allen Toussaint productions and compositions. The album name is taken from a line in her Lee Dorsey cover "Ride Your Pony," but the real gems on this record are things like "Mean Man," "Break in the Road," "Trouble with my Lover" and "Show It." It's a great example of Toussaint's genius as a songwriter and producer, and most of it is backed by a band that would eventually branch off and become The Meters, one of the great prototypical funk bands.

4. Lee Dorsey - Gonh Be Funky - Another Allen Toussaint produced artist, and another artist being backed by a band that would eventually transform into the Meters. Lee had R&B hits with songs like "Ride Your Pony" in the earlier 60's, but later into the decade he wasn't making a national impact as much anymore, but the stuff he and his crew were doing was ground breaking. "Give it Up" is a great song. Another great one, "Love Lot of Lovin'" features fellow top ten album artist Betty Harris and Lee splitting up the lead vocal duties. Also, on the back of this particular LP collection, there's a freeform letter of recommendation from Joe Strummer talking about how cool Lee Dorsey is, in an off the wall Joe Strummer-y way.

5. Arthur Alexander - A Shot of Rhythm and Blues - One of the Biggest influences on the Beatles, Arthur Alexander was once of the first recording projects that the Muscle Shoals record company worked on. Arthur and Hank Williams may be the only two artists I can think of who can generate this much sadness with a song, but it's still fun to listen to.

6. Black Lips - Let it Bloom - I wanted to prove that I don't only listen to music that was recorded before 1970, so I included this album on this list. Well, that's one of the reasons; the other is that I've had it on my turntable just about non-stop since I bought it a couple months ago. I actually listen to a fair amount of garage rock and punk (more than this list indicates really), but this is one of the only albums I own of those genres that I can put on and listen to from start to finish without having to get up and skip songs.

7. Bo Diddley - Best of - Bo Diddley is underrated! He didn't just play one beat. He wasn't just a golden oldie rock and roller. He was the most primal music coming out of the late 1950's original rock and roll era. It's not like people don't know and like his music, but I think very few understand that he was more than a novelty. This kind of music makes me question why I ever wanted to play songs with chord changes, as it has more in common with African tribal drumming or a Native American powwow than it does with guitar driven folk blues. My Dad actually got a chance to play with Bo three times, and my favourite of many stories that resulted from their gigs together was when Bo showed my Dad a picture of an alligator he killed because it was trying to eat his grandkids.

8. Beck - ODELAY! - This album just makes me wish I knew more about sampling and the more computer driven side of record producing. Beck manages to combine the elements I love about old soul, folk and garage with hip hop, then he mixes in his own weird personality and flair for lyrical and melodic ideas, in turn creating one of the most entrancing albums I own. I won't go on at great lengths about it, because it's a pretty obvious and popular album, but I had to put it on my list, since I've been listening to it a lot lately.

9. Bob Dylan - Self Titled - This is Bob Dylan's first album and it's made up of all covers except for two songs. It's a great opportunity to catch up on a bunch of traditional folk songs, and it's cool to hear them filtered through Dylan's unmistakable sound.

10. Rev. Cleophus Robinson - Best of - Here's a random obscurity. I found this album at Freecloud Records in Edmonton. I went in and found out that a personal collector had just come in the day before and dropped off a bunch of records he didn't want anymore. So, I ended up having to drop about $200 on records that day, because a lot of the stuff that this collector had sold off was the kind of stuff you might never see or hear of again. Of the ten records or so that I bought, this one has proven to be my favourite. It's another example of really dirty sounding southern gospel, generally featuring the voices of Rev. Robinson, and an unnamed female vocalist. Almost every second song on the album is a sermon put to music, which I don't generally listen to, but every actual song on the album is flat out amazing. Check out "I'm Not Tired Yet" and/or "I Can See So Much" if you can find them. I'm not sure exactly how rare this guy is, but I haven't talked to any other R&B enthusiasts who have heard of him, yet.

-- Published March 13, 2009


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