He’s half of one of the most acclaimed and successful rap duos of all-time, Outkast. And Big Boi has continued to make an impact as a solo artist and guest on many fine records. Antwan Patton met Andre 3000 while in high school in Atlanta. Over the course of six albums, Big Boi and Andre continually expanded the breadth of their music and lyrics, paying off in the amazing commercial success of their dual solo album/Outkast project, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Moreover, Big Boi established himself as a terrific emcee with a distinctive flow, and someone with an eye for talent, as shown by his work with Janelle Monae and Killer Mike. Let’s pay tribute to Big Boi by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
Colin Blunstone – This Is Your Captain Calling (Journey): A rousing piano based song from one of Blunstone’s fine ‘70s solo releases. The Zombies lead singer is pretty adept at a song that sounds like it’s a bit in the vein of Elton John’s work at the time.
Brakes – Crush On You (Touchdown): The best song on this 2009 album from this British band who are known in the States at Brakes Brakes Brakes. This song works one chord pattern over and over, firmly establishing the titular crush, varying it with a melodic guitar breakdown before establishing this crush may be more like stalking.
Madness – Take It Or Leave It (Absolutely): A mid-tempo ska number from Madness’s second album. The song really demonstrates how the Nutty Boys mixed ska with music hall influences, with the creative use of Mike Barson’s percussive piano and vibes.
Craig Finn – Honolulu Blues (Clear Heart Full Eyes): One of the better songs from the first solo album from the current Hold Steady (and former Lifter/Puller) frontman. Obviously, when your vocal style is pretty much talking, it’s hard to differentiate the solo stuff from the band stuff. Finn accomplished this by taking on some different styles, including, on some cuts, country music. This song, true to its title, opts for blues rock, of the mild Rolling Stones circa 1973 variety.
Mickey – Summer Night (Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreamer): This Chicago band trafficks in a swaggering glam rock that suggests T. Rex songs played by Faces. These guys know how to riff and the drumming is really clever, not just opting for a basic 4/4. A really nice debut album.
The Motels – Kix (The Motels): While The Motels ultimately became a vehicle for adult contemporary hits like “Suddenly Last Summer”, their debut album is more of an interesting mix of California ‘70s pop with new wave and post-punk influences. This song showcases singer Martha Davis’s flair for the dramatic and has an arrangement that seems to be, in part, inspired by movie musicals.
The Posies – The Glitter Prize (Blood/Candy): A fine cut from the best Posies’ album since Frosting On The Beater. For whatever reasons, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow had a particularly good batch of songs for this effort. On this song, Auer takes center stage, and this song, for some reason, seems to have a little Electric Light Orchestra (think tunes like “Showdown”) in its DNA. Kay Hanley of Letters To Cleo chips in some backing vocals.
Kevin Tihista’s Red Terror – Godsend (Wake Up Captain): This Chicago product put out a lot of fine material quickly and disappeared. He had a bit of power pop in him (a la The Posies, among others), with a lot of Harry Nilsson, which shows up on this lovely vignette.
The Maytals – Four Seasons (Version 1) (Never Grow Old): Before Toots Hibbert went to prison, he and The Maytals waxed enough sides to fill two albums. This is some of the original ska, with the distinctive rhythms carrying R & B inspired tunes, with really fine vocals.
Buddy Holly – Listen To Me (Gold): Songs like these show that Buddy was the future of rock ‘n’ roll, as one can definitely hear Lennon and McCartney appreciating how Mr. Holly was going beyond the basics of the genre. This is a great melodic pop tune, but it doesn’t fit what was considered pop at the time. This is also structured a great deal like Holly’s “Words Of Love”, which The Beatles recorded back in the day.