Here’s part one of a journey through the stack of CDs on my desk. Stay tuned for part two, coming early in the week:
Minor 7 Flat 5, that great modern roots reggae label based in Europe, has a new all-on-one rhythm disc out. “Bodo Riddim” has 14 takes on a killer rhythm fueled by the legendary drummer Horsemouth Wallace, percussionist Sticky Thompson and some great wah wah guitar by label boss Brotherman (Andreas Chrisophersen). The standouts are Cocoa Tea’s opener, “Poverty,” and Horace Andy’s “Troddin’,” but there are top cuts from Sizzla, Capleton, Beenie Man and others.
From UK-based Collision comes a new disc by British dub band Dubblestandart. “Immigration Dub” has samples of Prince Far I and Ken Boothe (who are, oddly, both described as “guests singers” despite both being dead … in the former case for no less than 24 years!) and great vocals by The Slits’ Ari Up. But the band is really the star, with its thundering bass and drums and On-U inspired freak-out mixes.
Just like it did for The Cure, Rhino Records is reissuing the discs of Depeche Mode in deluxe double-CD editions. Because they have personal meaning for me, I’m especially interested in the 1981 debut “Speak and Spell” and its 1982 follow-up “A Broken Frame,” which both have DVD material and b-sides (including the brilliant “Ice Machine” added to “Speak”).
“Speak” was a technopop manifesto and helped launch a post-punk movement of a decidedly different flavor; one that later Depeche Mode would move into the stadia of the world thanks to overblown but massively popular records like 1987’s “Music for the Masses” and 1990’s “Violator,” with its massive hit, “Personal Jesus.” Those two discs also get the deluxe treatment with short films about the making of the discs, a half-dozen or so bonus tracks and 5.1 versions of the original tracks, too.
Speaking of post-punk, on the heels of his tribute to that era, “Nineteeneighties,” Grant Lee Phillips returns with a new disc, “Strangelet,” on Zoe/Rounder Records. Phillips has become something of a TV troubadour thanks to his appearances on “The Gilmore Girls,” but don’t let that distract you from his ace songwriting skills and his emotive, instantly recognizable voice. Recorded mostly at home, Phillips called on friends like REM’s Peter Buck to make contributions and the record is a spontaneous-sounding collection of intimate songs that flutter between rock and roll and modern folk.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.