Thursday, February 10, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: BUCK 65 - 20 ODD YEARS
Mr. Terfry celebrates his 20th anniversary of recording not with a best-of, but rather a wrap-up job of the three E.P.'s he released in 2010. Most of the tracks from those are here (but not all, collectors) plus some new ones. Buck had some fun last year, largely using the studio to collaborate with music pals, getting a few nice voices on the tracks to contrast his rap. They include surprises (Gord Downie), newcomers (Hannah Georgas), a cool French-Canadian combo (Marie-Pierre Arthur) and several tracks with Halifax homegirl Jenn Grant.
As always, Buck lays down a mean bed, full of solid beats and interesting add-ons. He can work it both ways: either he'll take a hip-hop track and incorporate a guest singer's lead vocal, or take a basic song, and stick his rap onto it. Paper Airplanes with Grant is a great example of the latter, with its sweet chorus of "How we missed that love" contrasting against Buck's spoken story, smoothly sent along by a delicately plucked banjo. Zombie Delight is a hoot, with a hair metal guitar line as he spoofs our continued fascination with the undead. These zombies are excellent dancers, of course.
Of course, what we really want from a Buck 65 disc is his unique phrases and ability to skewer pop culture. Terfry soaks up mainstream media and spits it back at us in a torrent of observations, our hip hop everything, rap's Springsteen. In his best songs, such as Superstars Don't Love, everything's distilled down to two-and-three word phrases, with a juxtaposed rhyme flowing next: "A lot of noise, little peace. Circumstance: Middle East. Woody Guthrie. Would he trust me?". Another highlight is his almost straight take on the ultra-hot Leonard Cohen, on a duet with Grant of Who By Fire. With Grant's beautiful harmony, it's the surprise of the disc. The silliest song, apart from the cool zombies track, is BCC, with John Southworth, which is just a glorified child's story, without any real humour. That failure aside, it's a surprisingly cohesive and enjoyable collection, one of his best, despite being an odds-and-sods set. Here's to Buck's 20th birthday, rap and broadcast on, East Coast king of the mic.