Sven Barth’s “Endless” Vinyl Knowledge: Nightmares on Wax and Marvin Gaye

Nightmares on Wax – Smoker’s Delight – 12″ LP

If you are not sure which way this review is going to go, even after viewing the title of the LP, then continue to read; otherwise, you know the deal – just take this as a sign for you to let it rest on your turntable for a minute. Chances are you’ll probably feel like an idiot for having taken it off in the first place).

OK. Now that I’m writing for those who have never heard this album, listen closely. This album, no matter who you are, regardless of age, sex and so forth, will move you. I got sucked into it through a Quincy Jones whirlwind; remember the song “Summer in the City?” Turns out Quincy had his own arrangement of it, which produced an interesting loop sampled by the Pharcyde on 1992’s unforgettable “Passing Me By.”

If you don’t know that song, stop reading and go ask someone to punch you in the face. Anyway, long story short, Nightmares on Wax sampled that loop too, but way back, well, only a year before – anyway, that’s not the point. The point here is that that one little loop sold hundreds of thousands of records for the Pharcyde, but had already been perfected on “Nights Interlude” by N.O.W. (which is infinitely more complex) a year earlier. Now, not to take anything away from Pharcyde, their LP, Bizarre Ride 2 the Pharcyde, is a masterpiece (check it out), but that just shows the ear that’s producing Nightmares on Wax’s music, one that can pick out loops for everlasting head nodding. I’m writing this review to the beat of my head nods, I shit you not.

So, if you can even remember the tune to “Passing Me By,” buy this record, period. If you are still clueless, still go pick it up. If you don’t like it, come see me for a refund.

PS – it’ll really be hard to pay attention during your third attempt at CIS 120 with a record stuck in your colon.

Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man: Soundtrack – 12″ LP

(Good luck finding this one on vinyl)
You: “I know that guy……”Let’s Get It On,” right?” followed by some slight humming/singing.

If this is what you’re thinking/doing, then you really don’t “know that guy.” Millions of people know your Marvin Gaye. Probably 90 percent of them, however, have never listened to his song “Trouble Man,” and of the remaining 10 percent, maybe one percent actually knows the story behind the song.

As the years press on, and more and more things come in and out of style, to the point that we’ve completely buried the now shriveled, lifeless body of pop music, then, I think, quite a few more of those millions are going to realize something: That, maybe (just maybe) back when pop music was made by musicians, there was something more to it; like, talent and creativity for one. All you need to hear from this soundtrack, (Marvin wrote every note and produced every sound) without knowing that it dropped in 1972, is the song “T Plays it Cool.” Then you’ll realize that everything you’re hearing now isn’t new, it’s all been done, reworked, and ultimately ruined.

The rest of the album is stellar as well, haunting piano, rich strings, beautifully orchestrated melodies plus…Marvin. Goddamn! Find this one if you can.

Sven Barth can be reached by his honeys at all times.

September 27, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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