Cultural Consumption: 1/4/24

Cultural Consumption: 1/4/24
Many harmonicas

Some days are more conducive than others when it comes to listening to stuff and then writing about it, and today definitely landed on the "less conducive" end of the spectrum. This is a bummer, but on the other hand, I had less time for listening because I had a busier day than usual at work, which means I'm needed at my job, which means I can continue paying my bills or something.

ANYWAY. I didn't sit in silence the entire day — I kicked off my morning with my first trip through Big Walter Horton's The Soul of Blues Harmonica album, which is all kinds of fun if you're like me and you experience joy when you listen to old country blues records full of fat, honking harmonica. I had Mr. Horton on a list of artists I needed to check out, but I was unfamiliar with his story or his sound; without getting into too much detail, because the hour grows late and I have a manuscript to polish so I can hand it in to my publisher, let's just say that Big Walter Horton's life was about as brief and booze-soaked as one might stereotypically assume given his vintage, and his discography is also just as riddled with chintzy-looking compilations as one might expect.

I can't vouch for most of the rest of that stuff, but I can tell you that if you want to hear one of the premier purveyors of vintage blues harp, then you could do a fuck of a lot worse than The Soul of Blues Harmonica. The band is tight, Horton sounds fantastic, and the track listing isn't loaded up with versions of songs you've heard a million times on every other blues record in the world. Start here:

Big Walter "Shakey" Horton, "Groove Walk"

From there, my listening got a little messy today — I'm not sure how it happened, but I ended up stepping away from the computer long enough for the algorithm to start feeding me cuts from downmarket AOR acts like Shooting Star and Y&T, which made me start thinking about Ronnie Montrose, but because I didn't feel like having Sammy Hagar yell at me, I opted for Montrose's post-Montrose band Gamma instead, which hipped me to the fact that Ronnie's unjustly forgotten 1988 solo album The Speed of Sound is now available to stream. Like I said: Messy! But if you're interested in listening to some guitar calisthenics from one of the better records released via Enigma during the period just before the label experienced its last flash of Top 40 glory with David Cassidy's comeback single, then please enjoy:

Ronnie Montrose, "Windshear"

Tomorrow, I'll continue my Friday tradition of forcing myself to go through all 100 tracks of Spotify's New Music Friday playlist, and I feel like that's a great excuse to start a new ongoing series for paid subscribers. I'll sift through all the chaff and bring you however many stalks of wheat I can find; additionally, if I see anything that strikes my fancy over at Pause & Play, I'll write up whatever I have time to get through.

Watching: Moonlighting S5 E3, "The Color of Maddie," in which David and Maddie are hired by a woman who wants to determine whether the prodigal husband who just showed up on her doorstep is actually the guy she married in a blissfully drunken Mardi Gras haze 15 years ago. It gets WAY more convoluted than even that knotted synopsis might suggest, and the final act flails at recapturing the sort of effortlessly entertaining screwball comedy the show nailed in its first few seasons, but all in all, this ain't bad.

Reading: My journey back through William Diehl's Thai Horse continues. We are now past the part where our hero Christian Hatcher has made a Vietnam vet cry and a well-meaning dude named Windy Porter has had the life slashed out of him on a sex worker's boat courtesy of a nefarious character Diehl refers to as "Split-Eye." Intrigue! The Orient! The '80s! They really don't make 'em like this anymore, and I feel like most people probably aren't complaining about that.