Cultural Consumption: 1/15/24

Cultural Consumption: 1/15/24
Hanging guitar garden

When you're creeping up on 50 and you have a family and a house to take care of, "three-day weekend" doesn't necessarily mean "a lot of extra time to loaf around writing Jefitoblog posts"; often, instead it means "now there's one less excuse to take care of lingering chores." All of which is to say that it's coming up on 7pm as I write this, and my day leading up to this point has included a generous amount of spackle. I think Martin Luther King Jr. would approve, but either way, I can sleep tonight with a few less nagging pains in the ass on my mental list of stuff I need to do.

Of course, when one door opens, another door closes, and in this case, that means I've had a lot less time for listening today, so I'm going to fall back on a couple of records that I might not have decided to write about on a different kind of day, starting with Danny Gatton's 1993 LP Cruisin' Deuces — the title of which reminds me of a story that Dave Lifton's mom once told me about something she did on Thin Lizzy's tour bus, but that's another topic for another time.

If you play or deeply care about the guitar, you're probably at least familiar with Gatton's name. Famously praised by Steve Vai, Gatton spent a lot of his too-brief career in the less-than-lucrative "players' player" bracket, often heralded by his peers and just as frequently ignored by record buyers. His instrumental 1991 album 88 Elmira St. was probably his first, best, and last shot at anything approaching mainstream stardom; after that failed to move the needle in terms of sales, he recruited a passel of guest vocalists for Cruisin' Deuces.

Once, when interviewing the mighty Sonny Landreth, I had the audacity to tell him that when listening to recordings that included him singing as well as playing, I often just wanted to get the vocals out of the way so I could hear his incredible guitar. That's basically the case with Cruisin' Deuces; there isn't anything wrong with the vocal numbers on this record, but you don't come to a Danny Gatton album because you want to hear a human being sing. You come because you want to hear Gatton make his guitar sing, and in comparison, the tracks that make room for lyrics just feel like padding. Again, it isn't a bad album, but 88 Elmira St. gets my vote for your best entry point into the Gatton catalog. That being said, here's the leadoff track from Cruisin' Deuces:

Danny Gatton, "Funhouse"

From there, it was on to Synthetic Hearts from Msaki and Tubatsi Mpho Moloi. Msaki is a South African singer-songwriter whose work I first encountered through her collaboration with Beatenberg, a band I wrote about in last week's New Music Friday column; on this album, she collaborated with Tubatsi Mpho Moloi, a multi-instrumentalist from Soweto, and Parisian cellist Clément Petit. The Guardian called Msaki and Tubatsi's duet vocals an update on Marvin and Tammi, and while I don't know about that, there's a lot of lovely stuff on this record. My favorite track is the stunningly beautiful "Come In":

Msaki x Tubatsi, "Come In"

Watching: Moonlighting S5 E7, "I See England, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld." In this one, David and Maddie enter her office to meet with a client who turns out to be dead... and then turns out to have been holding half of a winning lottery ticket when he died... and then turns out to have been engaged in industrial espionage instead of being any kind of lottery winner at all. Along the way, there are some light Weekend at Bernie's-style antics, along with an extended set piece in which Maddie hallucinates going to hell after taking a whack on the noggin. It's super goofy and definitely an episode that works hard instead of smart, but again, I'd describe it as coasting rather than taking a dive.

Reading: Nearing the final stretch with William Diehl's Thai Horse. In a potentially lethal attempt to determine whether our hero is a danger to them, some of the folks he's investigating have just invited him to help them hunt a tiger who's been killing nearby villagers. Meanwhile, the guy who got him into this whole mess is busy smoking opium and colluding with the enemy. The plot, it thickens!

Elsewhere: We dropped a new episode of the Record Player over the weekend. Our first of the year, it finds Matt and me talkin' Dylan's Planet Waves LP with the ever-awesome Allison Rapp. Listen here: