Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy” video
A remarkable song and an even more amazing video, this Rorschach blot of a clip perfectly captures the fluid, elusive soul of the music, melting and changing shape before your eyes, with Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse’s visages forming in and out of the drops on the screen. Irresistibly psychedelic, watching this piece of eye candy is almost like getting high and gazing at that picture which can appear as a skull or two ladies facing each other at a table, depending on your perspective. Does that make me crazy? Possibleee… Check it out here.
Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (Def Jam/IDJ)
If you need any more proof as to how hip-hop has trumped rock & roll as a cultural phenomenon, look no further than this full-length epic by one Dennis Coles, better known as Wu Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah. As Christopher’s movie pal tells Ben Kingsley in The Sopranos, it’s all about the “specificities,” and this densely packed narrative is full of them.
Childhood bed-wetting (“Whip You With a Strap”), watching Larry King Live (“Crack Spot”), male-pattern baldness and the quality of the Knicks’ jump shots (“Barbershop”), Fat Albert (“Big Girl”) and Spongebob Squarepants (“Underwater”) might not seem to fit into the gangsta rap mold, but for Ghostface, it’s all part of a seamless whole with drug dealing and Glocks. Highlights include a Wu Tang reunion on “9 Milli Bros.” and several classic soul samples, including Freda Payne on the Sopranos-meets-Shaft noir “Crack Spot,” Marvin Gaye (“Jellyfish”) and Sly & the Family Stone’s “Family Affair” (“Dogs of War”).
And the Killah is not nearly as misogynist as many of his peers. Though he comes down on his mother for being an alcoholic and beating him on “Whip You With a Strap,” he forgives her on “Momma,” while also singing the praises of women on “Beauty Jackson” and “Big Girl,” pausing long enough to appreciate a beauty mark, the way she smokes a cigarette and her penchant for Louis Vuitton and Versace. And you wonder why rock is dead.
Peggy Lee Sings Leiber & Stoller (Hip-O Select/A&M)
A reworking of the classic songwriting team’s 1975 album Mirrors by sons Jed Leiber and Peter Stoller, this is the belated follow-up to their unlikely 1969 hit with the chanteuse, “Is That All There Is?,” certainly one of the strangest songs ever to crack the Top 40.
And if you thought that tale of ennui shot through with Brecht-Weil irony was weird, wait until you hear this collection, which has the great Miss Lee crooning her way through such unlikely choices as “Kansas City,” along with hard-to-categorize nuggets as “Some Cats Know,” “I’m a Woman” and “Professor Hauptmann’s Performing Dogs,” which has more than a passing resemblance to the under the big top theatricality of Sgt. Pepper’s “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”