Parliament, "(You're a Fish And I'm A) Water Sign"
About time funk legends and intergalactic weirdos Parliament showed up around here. I'm never really sure if it makes sense to do a little potted biography of famous acts here or not. Parliament is one of the names that George Clinton and his ensemble recorded under, Funkadelic being the other primary one. The two names grew out of a legal dispute over the name Parliament, and even after it was settled, Clinton and company continued releasing records under both names. Despite the name, Funkadelic actually concentrated more on psychedelic rock, and Parliament was the outfit that mostly played funk, although there was plenty of crossover in both directions. Mostly, what they were, was restlessly creative, always trying new things.
This song comes from The Motor-Booty Affair, a relatively late album from the group and last great album released as Parliament (Funkadelic still had a couple left in them).
The Specials, "Friday Night, Saturday Morning"
Finally, we get to the central band of the second wave of ska. Jerry Dammers (keyboards and vocals) not only was in the Specials, but founded 2 Tone Records, the central label of that ska revival. As I've mentioned before, the second wave was ska filtered through the lens of punk, which was taking off right around that time as well (the Specials' debut record was 1979). Anybody interested at all in ska should listen to the Skatalites first, and the Specials second, with that self-titled Specials album still being the best single ska album ever made.
This song comes from a singles collection, innovatively titled The Singles Collection, which is outstanding as well.
Vampire Weekend, "Taxi Cab"
There's a notion of the troubled second album, where a band has forever to write their first album, but everybody expects a followup quickly, so second albums are often bad. I mostly don't buy that, but Vampire Weekend's second album did kind of feel that way to me. It just feels really low energy compared to the fantastic first self-titled record. This is a good song, though.
Wu-Tang Clan, "Babies"
This is from the fourth album from the Wu-Tang Clan, probably my second favorite after the immortal debut record. As always, the best asset that the Wu have is the RZA on production.
The Riverdales, "Not Over Me"
A super astute listener might recognize Ben Weasel's nasal tones fronting the Riverdales. That astute listener would be correct! But this time, Ben Weasel (along with two other members of Screeching Weasel) are paying tribute to the Ramones. "Hang on," you say, "how is this different from Screeching Weasel?" It is not.