Back when people were shorter and lived near water and fewer record companies put out a comparatively greater share of releases on the market, it was easier to bag on the suit-approved dreck that made it to the racks. Especially, I should add, when a flagship band in a certain style would hit it big, and record companies would put their substandard sound-alikes in the game. “Ha ha,” a reviewer would say, throwing an affectionate arm around a fellow critic, “I can’t believe anyone put this steaming dump of a record out. Aren’t we just so superior?”
But times have changed, and recording technology is undergoing a process of democratization that presents the circumspect reviewer with an interesting conundrum: more crap out there than ever, and less guilty pleasure to be taken in reviling it. Seriously. With more and more CDs being produced by cottage operations and the bands themselves, it’s just not as much fun to play Charles Whitman from the ivory tower of the effete music reviewer. It’s like, dammit, you can’t feel good about trashing anything when the band puts their phone number right on the CD.
That said, I still don’t jeff for just any ol’ CD that comes across my desk just because it’s got the whiff of DIY (or low-level HIDY—Have It Done Yourself) about it. No sir. Word of mouth is more important than ever, as are props from up top—letters of introduction, after a fashion, of the sort that young men of the provincial bourgeoisie used to present upon arrival in the capital, except in this case it’s the other way around. The new players in the music game are people like Ivory Daniel of Sest Wide Records, the guy who brought us the B-Side Players. I talk to Ivory on a fairly regular basis; if he tells me he likes a record or backs a particular band, it magically floats right to the top of the pile.
“Check it out,” he told me recently, “I got this band Clyde’s Ride that’s going to be up there. They’re a nine-piece from San Diego with two vocalists. I’m going to send you a package.”
As usual, he sent me a red-hot mama: the band’s self-titled debut release from 1997. Kind brothers and hempen sisters, hear me when I tell you I am not usually a funk fan. But Clyde’s Ride have got a lot going for them: The fact that there’s like nine of them for starters. Also this thing about them playing a particularly zippity stripe of SoCal party funk, heavy on the bass acrobatics, with the aforementioned two vocalists coming together like two kinds of water. Full horn section, too. The production is a little too uptight, but it’s one of those deals where you know the band is going to tear it up live. And did I mention there’s nine of them?
I just think how easily this could have slipped past me. Thanks, Ivory, for reminding me to pay better attention.
Clyde’s Ride plays the Ritz this Monday, June 26 at 10 p.m. Cover TBA.