Jack's Picks: Music 2003
by Jack Tieleman
In a year where the record industry spent most of it's time singing
the blues it managed to still find plenty to smile about. Great records
abounded from surprising places and by surprising people. Plenty of
timely and deserved re-issues over the past year as well. The Beatles
managed to straddle both categories with their Let It Be - Naked. Leave
it to McCartney to pull off that feat. Speaking of straddling categories
and genres a big tip of the hat to the White Stripes for being excessively
popular and making the record they wanted. Elephant was a logical progression
from White Blood Cells. It is steeped with loads of hooks and blues
baked riffs that hipsters and squares can dig alike.
If the crossover appeal of the White Stripes is amazing then the
continued re-birth of Johnny Cash was nothing short of miraculous.
drew much deserved attention but for the last few years Cash made
some of the most poignant and important records of his career. The
Around was his fourth record in a series for American Recordings
and was as chill inducing and hauntingly beautiful as he has ever recorded.
It is simply one of the best records of the year.
Just as Cash was able to attract a new and different audience, so
have the OutKast. These southern hiphop groundbreakers manage to forge
and break new ground with every release. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
continues to stretch the definition of what hiphop is. This funk
driven party is the kind of record people who hate hiphop will like
trying not to. Hey Ya for single of the year. Not far behind the
OutKast are the Black Eyed Peas. Their third album Elephunk is solid,
with head nodding beats and ingenious samples.
As bep and OutKast stretch hiphop Emmy Lou Harris continues to push
the boundaries of country. On Stumble Into Grace Harris continues to
solidify her place in the pantheons of country. Her ability to craft
seamless and virtually perfect albums demonstrates that country music
can go beyond the hat and endless pandering that "new country" often
bows to. While Ms Harris has been gracing us with her music for going
on 5 decades, Ontario native Kathleen Edwards is just beginning. Edwards
debut release Failer has all the earmarks of an Emmy Lou classic. Great
songs and production that allows the listener to play the album over
and over, liking it more every time.
If repeated listens are your thing you might want to check out some
of Trojan Records series of box sets. Trojan is as important to reggae
as Sun Records was to rock. These sets take on themes and explore them
over 3 cd's. This year they released a 35th Anniversary set and
a collection of 12" mixes. The artists that have recorded for
Trojan read like a who's who of reggae, from Bob Marley and Jimmy
Cliff to U Roy and the Skatalites.
Every year a few gems manage to escape the critics and consumers
alike. Portishead singer Beth Gibbons gives us one the most woefully
records, Out Of Season. It is an album that should be heralded as
a candidate for record of the year. Her voice is in perfect form and
the songs show us that she can stretch beyond Portishead with relevance
Re-mastering and re-packaging is a two headed demon the record industry
unleashes with reckless abandon. It's either the umpteenth "Best
Of Cream" or something as important as fresh air. This is the
case of N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton, technically released
in its re-mastered form in late 2002 most of the world didn't
know it was available till 2003. It is one of the greatest records
ever. It swaggers with power and aggression. It makes you want jump
around and wreck stuff. It can take you out of your brain in a way
that only a very few records can. Fifteen years later this record is
as timely and sonically charged as the day it came out. When you've
picked up the debris from Straight Outta Compton, try on Jackie Mittoo's
Champion In The Arena. It is an absolutely astounding reggae and r&b
instrumental crossover. Imagine Booker T and The MG's if they
were Jamaican. Grooved and chilled!
Jack Tieleman grew up in Tofino with his brother Ralph, with whom
he started Tofino's first and only record store at Long Beach
Surf. Reach him at (250) 725-3800.
Tofino music: Jack Tieleman from the Tofino record store at Long Beach Surf presents his favourite music picks of 2003.