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  • Guest Collector: James Jackson Toth

    Mon, 21 Jul 2008 13:07:08

    Guest Collector: James Jackson Toth - The freak-folk veteran gives us a cram-course in musicology: from pop to punk, Japanese rock 'n roll and, of course, Neil Young

    James Jackson Toth, the frontman for the experimental freak-folk band of constantly changing members, Wooden Wand, is letting go of his like-minded nomadic members and going solo. His previous work draws on everything from '60s folk, free-jazz, and punk-rock sensibilities—and his new solo effort, Waiting In Vain, follows suit, with a slightly softer side. Peppered with delicate and tender folk ballads, as well as more fierce sentiments, it's obvious that Jim has more than a broad knowledge of musicians who've come before.

    ARTISTdirect caught up with Toth to get schooled on his favorite albums found in his personal collection, and we learned, well, a lot. Check out his copius faves and the reasons he fell in love with them below, and get ready to do some shopping.

    Royal Trux - Thank You
    Along with Souled American, X, and The Handsome Family, Royal Trux are one of the finest bands America has ever produced. Thank You is quite easily my favorite album of all time. Produced by the great David Briggs, Thank You features tunes so inscrutable, so dense, and so rockin' you can't help but spend years inside of them. When I meet other people who feel about this album the way I do, it's like meeting a long lost brother or sister. From Mars. Everyone in the universe who digs this album is on my Christmas card list, or will be eventually.

    The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
    At the risk of being hyperbolic, side two of Tattoo You is the best side of a record ever. I remember being a snotty know-it-all punk rock college freshman and telling my boss at the record store I worked at that I didn't like this album, and he just laughed and said "that's because you've never fucked to it."

    Tetuzi Akiyama - Don't Forget To Boogie
    After I heard this album, I had to re-teach myself to play guitar. Anyone who doesn't dig this is an enemy of rock and roll, plain and simle. Don't Forget To Boogie sounds like someone left Billy Gibbons alone in the studio one night with a bottle of tequila, a headful of bad vibes, and free fucking reign.

    William Basinski - Disintegration Loops
    Experimental music should have probably just died out forever after this masterpiece. This record does for sound what the Planet Earth series does for canyons, water and birds. I try listen to it at least once a month.

    Roxy Music - Avalon
    If there's a more perfect pop album than Avalon, I've never heard it. It's everything I love about pop music in one short dose. Think of it as Spirit of Eden for people who already have their liberal arts degrees. Overwhelming.

    Neil Young - Comes A Time
    If aliens landed tomorrow and asked me, "Tell us, Jim, what is rock and roll?" the only trouble I'd have is deciding which Neil Young album to play them first. I used to make a habit of responding to boring "top 5 desert island discs" interview questions by saying, "On The Beach, After the Goldrush, Rust Never Sleeps, Time Fades Away and Tonight's the Night, and not in that order." But when pushed, Comes A Time will always be my favorite. It's Neil's Desire—perfectly nuanced, joyous, beautiful. Also, [it's] my favorite album to listen to drunk, and not just because I know all the words.

    J.J. Cale - Naturally
    The most stoned record ever. I've sat for hours, flipping this LP over and over again, playing guitar and harmonica along with it. It's an inexpensive record in most places—if you pay more than $6 for it, you're getting ripped off; so buy a copy any time you find it, and give the extra copies away as gifts.

    The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
    I can't even listen to this album anymore. My wife and I (mostly my wife) played this album—often on repeat—in the van on every tour we've ever been on. It is part of my DNA at this point. Sing me any obscuro line from this album and I can finish it. I'd rather listen to this album than anything The Beatles or The Beach Boys ever did.

    Jerry Jeff Walker - Walker's Collectibles
    This album is not unlike a lot of Jerry Jeff's albums from this period, that is: chock full of great songs, great playing, and great singing. Jerry Jeff was born in New York, just like me, and it never stopped him from being the shit-kickin' hellraiser he is. I picked this album in particular because it is home to one of my favorite songs of all time, a song so near and dear to my heart I hardly ever listen to it, "Well of the Blues." I dare anyone to try to cover it.

    And, finally, a 15-way tie:
    Peter Ivers Band - Terminal Love
    Throbbing Gristle - Second Annual Report
    Robyn Hitchcock - Eye
    Donald Fagen - The Nightfly
    Alex Chilton - Like Flies on Sherbert
    George Brigman - Jungle Rot
    Black Flag - My War
    Keef Hartley Band - Lancashire Hustler
    Violent Femmes - Hallowed Ground
    Relatively Clean Rivers - Relatively Clean Rivers
    Fraction - Moon Blood
    Scott Walker - The Drift
    Keith Hudson - Playing It Cool
    Rayne - Rayne
    The Kinks - Something Else

    Today, sell something you don't use anymore—a juicer, a treadmill, a leaf blower—and buy, study, and fall in love with all of these albums. You can thank me later. See you at Christmas.

    —The ARTISTdirect Staff

    Waiting Is Vain will be available July 29th on Rykodisc. Listen to new tracks form the album here.

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