The Wailers- African Herbsman: A fantastic reggae record evoking the rhythms and chest clinching emotion that made The Wailers a crossover over sensation.The addition of the studio brilliance of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and The Upsetters’ to the music on this disc is a blessing, highlighting the strength of The Wailer’s songwriting and sense of melody with a deep and darker sense of rhythm that The Upsetters would later explore on their dub classic Super Ape. If you like this record give a listen to Catch A Fire or Burnin’ also by The Wailers. And if you like Super Ape give a listen to Who Say Jah No Dread? by Jacob Miller or, of course, almost anything with King Tubby.
The Mermen- Krill Slippin’: Fusing the 80’s California punk sound with the ever present yet dormant vitality of instrumental surf rock The Mermen’s first record is a real fucking gem. Reminiscent of Songs the Lord Taught Us and Fresh Fruit… just as heavily as classics by the Lively Ones or The Ventures this record rocks brilliantly. The use of guitar reverb thunder makes particularly pleasant driving music. Check out The Ventures Knock Me Out or Yuzo Kayama’s Black Sand Beach to get another thrill if you dig this one. For something a little more autumn menacing try their 1995 record A Glorious Lethal Euphoria.
Various Artists- The Essential George Gershwin: The king of American Pop Music is presented here in some of the most definitive renditions of best work.This two disc collection is perfect to sit down, drink a lemonade or beer (or shandy if you can’t make up your mind), and listen to the lust driven versions of ‘ Do It Again’ or ‘S’wonderful’. Or roll up a bone and contemplate the majestic dance of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ or his Concerto in F. The fine pop tunes ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’, ‘They Can’t Take that Away From Me’ are here in particularly nice versions and the jazz era classics ‘Swanee’ and ‘I Got Rhythm’ are fantastic summer listening as well. For fans of his bluesier numbers on these discs check out the classic 1957 version of Porgy & Bess by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong or the amazing 1958 Gil Evans and Miles Davis version. On a similar tip there’s The Complete Verve Sessions a monolithic 7 disc set for wonderfully understated jazz guitarist Tal Farlow. His less exhaustive 1957 album The Swinging Guitar of… makes for wonderful evening music as well.
Tortoise- Millions Now Living Will Never Die: The first two Tortoise albums, Millions… and its predecessor Tortoise, are superb examples of the brilliance of studio based music in the ’90’s. The infamous 20+ minute opener of this album, ‘Djed’, actually makes sense on a cloudless summer night while you’re trying to count stars, I promise. Though their many Thrill Jockey side bands and counterparts often attempted to reach the brilliance of either of these records no one ever could, they still stand in a class all their own. If ya dig this jazz, try listening to it over and over again, nothing quite compares.