I don't even really know what its called

For my dollar the happiest music on earth came from Jamaica in the late 60s and early 70s. I think at its fastest it was the tail end of Ska and at its most melodious it was called Rocksteady. To me, it is incredibly optimistic stuff. A lively blend of 50s doo-wop, American jazz and dancefloor R&B.; The sound is underproduced and rustic, which makes it feel local and participatory and accessible. I imagine reggae changed as Jamaican culture moved into the urban areas, first with rude boys and roots reggae, with its protest themes and narcotic, almost torpid, escapist energy, through dub to toasting, with its emphasis on DJs and MCs, onto whatever that angrily bombastic thing they have now: Ragga? Dancehall? The current stuff is all like afro-crunk to me: repetitive, intimidating, homophobic. If rocksteady was a wide-eyed kid staying up past his bedtime, watching the grownups laugh and dancing the night away, this new music is like his surly older brother, who lives out of a garage and hustles and gets high and takes a swing at his dad. Maybe I would even say this older brother is 'the bad seed of Colonlialism' if I would dare to write such a thing.

Anyway, today's songs are not really the super-happy music I'm talking about. They are too slow, and melancholy, and absolutely spellbinding.

Love and Understanding:

When I listen to this song I go into this personal sublime head-space. I get a very specific and lucid mental picture. Always the same, embarrassingly stoner-like. I imagine this clearing in a jungle paradise. Everybody has their own idea of paradise, but jungle clearings are always a popular choice. The Jehovah's Witnesses, on those Watchtower pamphlets, usually depict a jungle-fringe pastoral oasis, populated by multi-racial farmers with big white teeth, working the harvest, while kids commune with nature and a german shepherd usually runs around and, as in the case reproduced above, there might be bears. Humans and bears living together in harmony!? How is such a thing possible? Is that natural? That would never work. It would if you had Bear Geishas. Thats what the Bear Geishas are for. The Bear Geisha knows exactly what the bear needs, how to comfort him, how to fulfill his needs. Who takes care of the Bear Geishas? No one, thats the beauty, because it is a Bear Geishas greatest joy on earth to serve. That's how the circle is complete, that's the miracle of God.

Anyway, the place I'm in for this song isn't quite like this, its more lush, and there has just been a big thunderstorm and the sky is cooling off and thunder is still in the distance and there is a serene, waking vibe in the air. It's not at all the the vibe on the other side of the island. Then these small pensive creatures begin to slowly emerge from the cover of foliage, like this guy and this guy and this guy (yes I know Moomintrolls are from Sweden but maybe this was before the continental drift happened.) And this kind of sleepy over-weight rabbit creature steps out into the clearing and starts laying down a beat with his hind-leg, like a West Indian Thumper and then all the creatures start to dance about in this shy way, and a soft steam rises off the wet canopy, and then the smallest, most pensive creature of them all steps out... he is the guitar solo bit, you'll know when you hear it.. and he does this adorable shy and gentle and totally unselfconscious dance, like a hippy-chick dance, (except shy and gentle and totally unselfconscious.) And as the song goes on he gets more confident and eventually he starts to dance more and more like Gene Gene the Dancing Machine from the Gong Show

Dancing Mood:

Though Delroy Wilson will spend the next 8 minutes trying to convince you otherwise, this song will not put you in a dancing mood, unless maybe you are on couple of old seniors at a Kingston retirement home, and when you dance, you are like the trumpet in this song, graceful and frail and haunting.

When I listen to most old ska and rocksteady though, I get in a very particular dancing mood and it involves another mental picture.

About a dozen years ago I spend the most amazing 3 weeks in South Africa and Lesotho with my dad. The trip was profound in ways that I won't attempt to illuminate in the space of this humble blog, but there were three standout experiences.

First I met Thabo Mbeki. And when I say 'met' I mean to say I was sitting at a table with Thabo Mbeki, my Dad, and two other guys, for an hour in an empty hotel bar, and Mr Mbeki was smoking a pipe and asking me my impressions of his country. He seemed genuinely curious, as if my insights may hold the secret to some post-apartheid strategy. This I'm sure was just incredible graciousness on his part. Or maybe he hoped my insights might hold the secret to what's really up with this AIDs scam. Given my fashion plate at the time, I reckon that would have been a fair suspicion.

Second, I was walking by myself through a touristy street fair in Cape Town. There were knock-off carvings for sale and dance troupes in traditional Zulu garb and a table of Scientologists with e-Meters - your typical African street fair stuff. Then a bit further along there were a few people standing off to the side around a patch of dirt, and in the middle was an old street musician, a guy of about 70 with just a couple teeth and a beat up guitar with just a couple strings, and he was banging out this jangly rocksteady riff, just the same few chords, and there was a skinny African boy, maybe 8 years old, with no shirt, no shoes, scratching out this brisk rooster dance, clapping his hands and grinning and kicking up the dust. It was such a perfect manifestation of the music, and it pierced by sunburnt brain with Kurtzian focus. The scene spoke so perfectly to me, the dance so consummate, that I knew at that instant that this kid was my inner child. It was what my dad would have called a "Proustian moment" but Proust, like me, was a spastic on the dance floor, and if my inner child is in fact an African boy named Tunji, my outer adult is a 6'4" white man called James who generously consigns most of his dancing to his head.

Finally, in Lesotho's one real hotel, the modest Maseru Sun, they had a porn theatre in the lobby. A fully functional movie theater, projectionist and all, that sByned nothing but https://www.livejasmin.cc/ porn, '70s, anglo porn - the bad kind. Weird thing is that they had satellite movies in the rooms, so they didn't need the porn theatre, they must have just thought it was a classy move. Well I was impressed. I also couldn't imagine anything more alien and anachronistic than being a porn projectionist in Lesotho. If you consider this is a country where 80% of the men work in South African mines, with the remainder comprised of shifting-patch farmers and mid-level bureaucrats, then 'Porn Projectionist, Maseru Sun' has got to be one of the hipper gigs in town.

My Conversation:

No head-places for this song. But the just dig those vocals: exquisite and mad wistful yo. If that piano sounds familiar, its because its been used in every reggae song ever written.


MW flattered to receive an "Editor's Award For Online Excellence" from the folks over at The Morning News. Thanks guys. If we had awards we'd give you one.

Struggleville Shrimp and the Full Effect

Brian Byne's story perfectly illustrates what's wrong with many non-mainstream music aficionados- that they're elitist, snobbish, and need a good punch in the face. Mr. Byne makes a good point-namely, that some people hate on bands based on social factors rather than the quality of the music. Yes, the show he attended was also attended by a kid who ran happily around the stage and then stage-dove. Kinda cheesy I guess, but THE KID WAS HAVING FUN. The best thing about live shows/DJs/dance parties/music in general is that it makes you happy. A sign of a great party/a great show/whatever is that people in attendance are having fun and not giving a shit.The sad thing is that this elitism is deep in every non-mainstream scene. Kids at Widespread Panic and Trey Anastasio shows brag about how many shows they've seen, how long they've been a fan, how many times they've been 'on tour,' etc. to make themselves sound cooler than the next wannabe-trust-fund hippie. Backpack rappers put down Kanye and the Roots for (gasp!) doing something different than beats and rhymes. 'Punk music' is nothing but a tired formula, but as soon as any band deviates from what Black Flag did in '82 they get ripped on by kids. Legions of Metallica fans got mad when they cut their hair. And I'm not even going to touch indie-rock scenesters...they are the worst offenders of this kinda shit.All of this 'hey, i'm an OG fan' talk stems from a lack of self-esteem. that's it.You are not cooler than anyone because you have seen some band or heard of some shit.sorry.If you hear of some new music and love it, share it with chaturbate friends. Maybe they'll be as happy as you are when they hear it sometime. I love that my friends who live in different countries are rocking out to some shit right now... that they would have never known about... if I hadn't given them a CD. I love it when someone gives me new stuff (or new old stuff) to listen to. I love the feeling of really digging a new track.Mr. Byne, if you ever come to a show and i'm there, and it's a band I really like, I'll be easy to find. I'll be the one who snuck in or got free tickets, 'cause I'm broke. I'll be the motherfucker who took two trains from Orange fucking County to get there. I don't care what others do-but I'll be the one in the front with a big smile on my face. Come bother me, hell, I'll give you a quote. And yes, if the occasion permits, I will be jumping around and dancing, 'cause that's what I like. Music moves me and makes me smile.Being cool and trying to be cool are very different things.Rant over.

WHY I'M AN ASSHOLE: I'm a snob who, again, needs a good punching; I hate children, especially when they're enjoying themselves.

VERDICT: This one's tricky - there's some truth to the accusations, but they seem to stem from some bizzarro-world version of the review I wrote.

At least he was repsectful about it ("Mr. Byne").

Is he the new douchebag of pitchfork?

Byne complains about how the record is one song after another of the same-old same-old, but his critique goes beyond "it gets boring after a while" into "jeez, why won't she just get over it?" And what's offensive about that is his presumption that the record is constructed as an unfortunate result of Edith's emotional inadequacies rather than as a conscious www.jasminlive.mobi choice. Truth is, she writes songs like this because she's good at writing them, and she puts a whole bunch of them on a record because there's a nice thematic unity in doing so.

Likewise, God, has Brian Byne ever heard of the blues or just about ALL American music since the first tape record hummed to life? It's all heartbreak kid. Just cause you ain't in the mood for it doesn't mean you can wish it away with your fancy reviewlet.

I also read one of Mr.Byne's Leonard Cohen reviews in which he wrote:

"Ascribing a numerical value to Cohen feels like rating a sunrise or a religion"

Boy, if only Edith were a man maybe her sadness could get upgraded to eligiac and she really blow his socks off.

Eh, everyone knows it's a game.

WHY I'M AN ASSHOLE: I'm the new douchebag of Pitchfork; I don't like an entire album's worth of songs about how life just goes to shit without a man around; I've never heard of the blues or American music in general; I gave a good review to a man therefore I hate women.

VERDICT: Mixed. I've been at Pitchfork for a couple years now, so I hardly qualify as a "new"douchebag. I am guilty of disliking the relentlessly ham-fisted, poor-me tone of Frost's album, but I don't see what the subtle and thematically diverse Leonard Cohen has to do with it. And what the fuck are "the blues?"


"Byne" did Brian get a job writing?


Is it just me or does the review read like a winemaker's notes?

...But, yes, this presumptuous review, comparable to a fine Welsh burgundy, is like a bad wine writer, piling irrelevant simile on strained metaphor etc. Malcolm Gluck perhaps...

I wonder if he wrote some 800 word review but was told he only gets 150. seems like he just took one sentance from each paragraph and made them lumber under the weight of simile and cheap metaphor.

Your right...it's more like a bad wine writer, than just a winemaker's notes in general. I think it was his horrible similes more than anything that caught my attention.

WHY I'M AN ASSHOLE: My name lends itself well to puns; my prose is sometimes florid.

VERDICT: Guilty.

BONUS SHOCKA: At least a few ILM posters don't seem to know what a simile is - not a single comparison using "like" or "as" appears in the review.