It's crisp and clear down here post-Labor Day, no traffic and no crowds. When you walk the beach you're not distracted by rolls of pallid blubber or errant rubber horseshoes flung at your kneecap. You're alone with yourself, or whomever you choose to be with; you get the time and place to process thoughts big and bigger. There's the enormity of the ocean and all the drifting sands of time metaphors to contemplate. Philadelphians have always considered going to the shore in the fall peculiar. Fine. That just allows us a greater selection of rental bargains on craigslist. Autumn at the shore. The province of the few and the meditative.
In the '80s, Saadaq led the Oakland-based retro combo Tony! Toni! Tone! so the cat's been around some. Now, though, he's making a hard right turn into the soul music of the '60s, and this disc is flashback squared. Oddly, with the glasses and skinny frame, he looks like David Ruffin, but sounds like Eddie Kendricks, those two guys being the engines that powered the Temptations at the height of the Motown era. There's lots of retro soul filling air these days, much of it cheesy, but Saadiq seriously nails it. When I sent a link to his MySpace page to Bruce Buschel, a Philly native and longtime writer (see, Walking Broad), he sent back this reply: "Uptown. Peg pants. Pink shirt. Hard dick." (Saadiq will be appearing at World Caf� Live, Sept. 23.)
Lange's short stories bring to mind writers like Richard Price, George Pelacanos, Dennis Lehane and others who roam hard streets to mine and unearth outlawed and flawed characters to enrich their stories. Lange carves out his own turf--seedy semi-suburban L.A., where the lonely are your neighbors and the California sun scorches your eyes. The characters that populate Lange's stories are multi-dimensional, so much so that often, despite their criminal intent, we root for them. In "Bank of America," the showcase piece of Dead Boys, a house painter plots one final bank heist so he can enough cash to move his family to better digs: "The gun I carry helps. A big, ugly, silver thing, it's fairly undeniable. I'm careful not to abuse the upper hand it gives me, though. You see psychos playing those games in movies, and you're always glad when they get theirs." Yes, we want the house painter to pull off the heist and score the loot. Redemption can wait. (Dead Boys will be out in paperback in October, and Lange's first novel--This Wicked World--in 2009.)
You've seen her mixing it up all political season with the Matthews, Broder, Buchanan and all the other white guys. She always seems to score more rhetorical points than they do, maybe because she's funny, opinionated and prepared. She earned her chops on Air America, the liberal radio network nobody listens to (though it's nice that it's there and after all it did land her this TV gig). Maddow, 35, is a Rhodes Scholar, has a doctorate in political science and worked as an AIDS and prison reform activist. Yay. A pundit we can believe in.
Back in '56, the King drove the teen queens to utter madness snarling and thrusting his hips on this two-minute-and-four-second bad boy. Lost in time, though, is this hip sashaying slow down version by Texan Barbara Lynn, recorded in 1963 on Philly's Jamie records (and included on this recently-released double-disc). Forgive thyself for not knowing her. Even among the soul cognesceti, Lynn is a relatively obscure guitarist and singer, remembered (if at all) for "You'll Lose A Good Thing," her first recording and her only true hit. She deserves rediscovery, and kudos to Jonathan Takiff at the Daily News for being the first in our zip code with the props by name-dropping Lynn's sensual "Don't Be Cruel in his always enlightening roundup of new releases.
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