Saturday, April 26, 2008

Buck 65 Toronto ON Danforth Music Hall 2008-04-25

This guy is one of the best Canadian wordsmiths out there today. If these were different times, in an alternate universe, he might be called "The Next Dylan."

First let's get by the part that pigeon-holes him:
He's a hip-hop artist. Self-confessed even. But he's much more than that. A few years ago he had a falling out with his musical 'community' because he spoke negatively about the direction of hip-hop. He even went so far as to abandon the 'movement'. (remind you of anyone?)
Still, there's no getting around the sound, it's hip-hop. He stands onstage accompanied only by his DJ, Skratch Bastid. The canned music and the rap-cadence definitely fits the narrow definition of 'hip-hop'. If you let that stop you, you're really missing something special.

There are two reasons why he's worth a listen:

1) It's about the words, man (remind you of anyone?)

2) To paraphrase Jack White: He respects the art of the show

I would use a different set of words to characterize this artist: street-poet, folkie, beat poet, roots music...and the inevitable, rapper.

His stage prescence is really captivating. He loves to dance...and not like Michael Jackson, more like Charlie Chaplin (remind you of anyone?)
He's an 'anyman', a geek from a remote rural outpost at the far reach of his country (remind you of anyone?). He's got a great eye for the peculiar in everyday life. He has little time for fakery or hypocrisy. He chronicles his times with non-blinking eyes and shines a light on the injustices of the empowered while not moralizing about the plight of the disposessed. (remind you of anyone?)

But it's really about the words and the art of the show.

His writing strength comes from the use of short phrases or couplets that evoke so much more than a few words should. (remind you of anyone?) Images are tossed out, sometimes they seem unrelated, they hit the canvass of your ears and meld into a tangible, if elusive, picture. You can't listen without a phrase or passage or verse reaching out to tap your consciousness. (remind you of anyone?)

I've pasted random lyrics under some of the songs below for reference.

Full lyrics for the songs from Situation.

This album is worth checking out if you're into historical themed music...and, hey, who isn't? A fun and eye-opening look at a watershed year.

More lyrics here.

Great show last night. Sandwiched in between the "Situation" songs was a good representation of Buck's career. So many 'samples' I don't think I got them all. Mighta heard Grand Master Flashs' "White Lines", we got a snippet of the Fresh Prince theme, terrific use of The Cure's "Close to Me", a couple covers tossed into the dub (Fine Young Cannibals "Blue", Louvin Bros. "Satan/Kingdom" and the "Coo Coo song" version of Wicked and Weird), a 'good-guy/bad-guy' medley from the new record and some great versions of Fifty Seven, Indestructible Sam, Roses and Blue Jays and 4-6-3.

From start to finish Buck and Skratch didn't miss a beat...if you can excuse the pun.

Buck 65 (w/ Skratch Bastid)
Danforth Music Hall

Track 01 I'm Buck 65 (intro)
Track 02 Dang

If you can't move to this can't move.

Track 03 Lipstick

A song about making money by making porn: The girls side.

"The camera loves me more than the typewriter or drink tray...
It’s necessary. Better than being a secretary.
Oddly assuming there’s nothing wrong with the human body.
But this month there’s a witch hunt. They chase me today.
I wish a flying saucer would take me away sometimes..."

Track 04 Shutterbuggin'

A song about making money by making porn: The guys side.

"He wants to be a cowboy and she wants to be an actress.
I just want to stash some money under my mattress...
Fifty thousand names on the mailing list estimated.
Under attack, being tested and investigated.
Juvenile delinquency my ass! What is this shit?!
Fought by some of the same men that I do business with...
Leaves a bad taste in some peoples mouths, maybe bitter.
Don’t want your manure, I’m an entrepreneur not a babysitter..."

Track 05 Hot Lunch
Track 06 Driftwood
Track 07 Fifty Seven

This one is so good I've pasted the complete lyrics:
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed.
Devoid of conviction, conflicted, annoyed.
Kicked at and worn down. 6 6 6.
Beat. Looking for the next quick fix.
Unpopular prophets with problems
Up against angels in disguise who want to rob them;
Who didn’t want to end up crushed by god’s embrace
In the age of the cold wind blowing and dogs in space;
Who’s faces are fading. They’re the loneliest drunk.
In empty rooms haunted by Thelonious Monk.
Felonious punks and plate glass squares
That see empty eyes that look straight past theirs.
Street walking cheetahs with a gun in each hand
Who are lost at sea and are desperate to reach land.
Orpheus descending. Swimming in the crooked waters.
Hello Sid Vicious, goodbye Brooklyn Dodgers...
No joke. Hit the low note.
We all go to heaven in a little row boat.
1957 Chevy Bel Air. Interior velvet especially.
Bloody probably. Stereo: Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley.
Black Flame Trilogy. Quadruple louder bass.
Battle sites. Little Rock. Satellites in outer space
Words won’t help but a few bucks can.
Crew cuts and black leather. Ku Klux Klan.
Men wear hats. In fact, harems are shared.
Opiates addicted to and parents scared.
The underground is real. Delivered greens to river queens.
Perpetual motion of free-thinkers and libertines.
Who suffer alone all night with pains
Hooked on drums and who fight with chains.
It’s Faulkner and Baldwin. Insult and curse reality.
Spy vs. spy and the cult of personality.
What can the numbers and the words in my head mean?
Killroy was here and so was Buster Crab and Ed Gein.
No joke. Hit the low note.
We all go to heaven in a little row boat.
The pen keeps moving in attempt to sink the jingoes.
Fight ‘em with hula hoops, frisbees and pink flamingoes.
Up running all night. Late sleep ordered.
‘Have gun will travel’. Great leap forward.
Man on the corner with dark glasses free and preaching.
Appetite is monstrous. Diet is Dionysian.
All over the world, so much peril in one show.
Playwright Arthur Miller marries Marilyn Monroe.
Hard rain falling. Babies sleeping in God’s palms.
Alarm clocks ringing. Warrior monks and bomb squads.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Clairvoyants and mediums.
Believers in nothing. Speed freaks and bohemians.
Red is the new black. Identity files.
Rebels and grand dragons. Obscenity trials.
Lolita and Bobby Fisher country. No part is red,
Just black and white. Humphrey Bogart is dead.
No joke. Hit the low note.
We all go to heaven in a little row boat."

Track 08 Break Chains
Track 09 talk - Skratch Test
Track 10 Rough House Blues (Close to Me dub)

Woody Guthrie meets Robert Smith!
" I'm going down the road feeling bad, bye and bye
Deep fried blues but I'd rather die than cry
Gas station food bound to go stale soon
There's a curse in the air and a toe-nail moon..."

Track 11 Kennedy Killed the Hat

Check this out! Video and lyrics to "Kennedy"

Track 12 The Rebel

50's style, like Eddie Cochrane, James Dean and the like.
"Johnny Guitar. Scarred quicker. Part time card flicker.
Bootlegger. Roustabout. Douse the flames with hard liquor.
Hair pins and wide turns. Do things on my terms.
Cuffs in my jeans, leather jacket and sideburns -
That’s class. At last, slowpokes I blast past.
Cold war brewing? I don’t give a rat’s ass.
Miserable fights for civil rights. Bag faces,
Pinball, pretty girl in bondage and drag races..."

Track 13 The Outskirts
Track 14 Cop Shades/Heat Wave/Spread 'Em
Track 15 Indestructible Sam

You don't get many songs about post-civil war grave diggers. This one evokes the ballads of Johnny Horton in some ways.
"The other gravediggers lamented their blown chance
Decided to take matters into their own hands
Thoughts full of poison and making a trap
They blew up the shed where Sam was taking a nap
The others were astonished and totally annoyed
Cause Sam walked away while the shed was destroyed..."

Track 16 Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down/Coo Coo Song/Wicked and Weird
Track 17 Way Back When

"Men of the rodeo and women of burlesque.
Epic battles and apples on the teachers desk."

Track 18 Leftfielder
Track 19 Roses and Bluejays/Blue

Track 20 The Centaur
Track 21 Benz (w/ Cadence Weapon)
Track 22 4-6-3