Thursday playlist: Detouring America with horns

1. Arbos — Arvo Paart
2. Underground — Hungry March Band
3. Soul Bowl — Memphis Horns
4. Cold Sweat – I Can’t Stand It — James Brown
5. Funkin Fever — The Delta Rhythm Section
6. Fidel Castro — The Skatalites
7. Contrasong — Egg
8. Send in the Clowns — Lorez Alexandria
9. Elephant Gun — Beirut

Hmm, what theme will let me put a few songs together that I’ve been listening to lately?

I’ve got it. The Great Whatsit-esque confessional angle: When I was a young geek, I was briefly enamored of the theme song to Dallas. Because of the trumpets. I tried to record it from the TV using the tape recorder I got for Christmas and its built-in mic, but it sounded like crap. So! In fourth grade, the first year you could sign up for band, I decided I would play the trumpet. The thing in its case weighed nearly as much as I did soaking wet, it seemed, but I lugged it to school several days a week, practiced more-or-less diligently, and battled for first chair of the beginning band with a fifth grader who’d been held back (in band! I know!). But our band teacher was an asshole, a real reactionary, the first teacher I’d ever had a true personality conflict with, so I didn’t go back the next year. No trumpet for me.

What is it about horns? One alone will cut through noise. Put enough of them together and they create almost a white noise of their own. They’re percussive enough that, as demonstrated in this mix, they can make your ass shake whether you like it or not. A vibrating column of air, channeled through brass tubes. And then Beirut goes and makes them the most melancholy sound you’ve ever heard.

Files here.

14 responses to “Thursday playlist: Detouring America with horns”

  1. Yep, horns are a beautiful thing. I’ve been listening a lot to Apo’s latest mix tape this past week, and wishing more rock and rockabilly musicians would include trumpets and/or trombones in their bands. Look forward to listening to this mix later on.

    one alone will cut through noise

    True; but besides its stridency the trumpet has a really mellow quality. Can sound like a human voice.

    Want to watch a nice performance on trumpet? Here is Kermit Ruffins playing St. James Infirmary.

  2. Dave says:

    Yeah, the Delta Rhythm Section track is from Apo’s mix. It’s an amazing thing.

  3. lane says:

    (in band! I know!)

    great one.

    it really brings your living presence to mind, as if you were telling this live. very funny.

    and i say here publicly, i have next thursdays play list.

  4. Tim says:

    Hey Dave,

    Nice rubric! I, too, played the trumpet for a little while in elementary and middle school. Also, I left it behind because I could no longer deal with the sadistic band teacher. What is it with some band teachers? I guess they just feel compelled to take out their frustrations on their students.

    One of my favorite horn parts is the opening to Mahler’s 5th Symphony. It’s not like I know much about “classical,” but I know I like this.

  5. Tim says:

    Also, nice Yo La Tengo reference in the title!

  6. brooke says:

    Love that Skatalites track…

  7. rm says:

    Tim, if you like Mahler you might also try Bruckner, who was an acknowledged master at writing for brass.

    They’re both somewhat derivative of Wagner, of course, but Bruckner’s 4th, 7th, and 8th symphonies pack a mean punch of horns.

    Bruckner’s 5th also has a fantastic slow movement but we’re talking brass not strings…

  8. Tim says:

    Thanks for the recs, Ruben! The only Bruckner I have is the 6th. I’ll have to check out those others.

  9. Jenomnibus says:

    Tim, I didn’t know you played trumpet in school! Geez.

  10. Yeah, this mix is very nice. I have heard some of it before other not, but I’m liking all of it. (Well except the first song, that didn’t really ring my bell.)

    Who are the Skatalites? I hear their name every so often when people are talking about music they like, I’ve probably heard one or more songs of theirs before, but I’ve got no clue what they are.

  11. ben wolfson says:

    Wow, unexpected place for some Egg love. That track rules.

  12. Dave says:

    Wolfson! Yeah, I love that track. I had downloaded it for some reason or other a couple of years ago, then you put it on a mix and brought it to my attention, so now there are two copies in my iTunes, one from Ben.

    Modesto: The Skatalites are an amazing, amazing ska band. I saw them play in Salt Lake City once; Wikipedia says that was the group’s second incarnation. That’s all I know. I’m sure Brooke can fill you in on their cultural significance, etc.

  13. Inspired by Dave I have spent last night and this morning creating a mix of my own, one with a fairly lot of horns relative to the amount of horns in my music collection. It’s uploading now, I will link it from my blog later on today. (Possibly this evening, since I have to go do some stuff in a couple of minutes.)