Wooden Wand's Five Inspiring Songs

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wooden wand, james toth

These five tunes have nothing in common aside from the fact that they are incredibly inspiring to me.

Some of the finest interplay between musicians I have ever heard. I actually started getting into guitarist Grant Green after a Charlie Christian phase led to a Wes Montgomery phase, which then led me to Grant Green, but the star here is pianist Sonny Clark (which, if you consider that Art Blakey is playing drums, speaks volumes). You can hear Green, chorus after chorus, imploring Clark to keep going, taking multiple solos. Dude is on fire. Terrific, terrific rendering of a what is, admittedly, a pretty square tune.

Jhonn Balance is such an influence on me, I wrote a song about him. Like few others, Balance's life and the way he chose to live it inspired me as much as his incredible music. This is my favorite Coil song, but it's really hard to pick just one. Just astonishing.

Liam Hayes is one underrated dude. The song this album comes from – More You Becomes You – came as such a delightful shock to me when I first heard it. The album's gorgeous, 70s style piano ballads were so out of time with everything else going on in the late nineties, the album instantly sounded 'classic' the first time you heard it. Piano-based tunes require a tasteful hand, lest you sound like Ben Folds or something. This album made me want to buy a Wurlitzer.

Otis Taylor is another dude who simply doesn't get his due. His 'trance blues' differs from the one chord vamps of John Lee Hooker and Junior Kimbrough in that Taylor's a restless sort who'd rather present his repetitive, almost Kraut-y blues rhythms via unlikely instruments like banjo and mandolin, making for some of the most original music the tired genre of 'blues' has produced since before English whiteboys ruined everything. Great lyricist, too.

This is my wife's favorite record. It's not easy to pull off blown-out Casio jams, but in the hands of Lungfish's Asa Osbourne, the repeated motifs and inexplicably beautiful progressions on his Earth Grid LP sound, simply, like the best music in the world whenever the record is playing. Like Brian Eno, Neu!, and William Basinski run through a Big Muff pedal. The hypnotic punk-drone album of the decade.