Welcome to the fourth installment of our bi-weekly Cannabis Cuts commentated playlist, a tribute and appreciation of the symbiotic relationship between music and Mary Jane. Due to the longstanding misrepresentation of women in the music industry, this week we’re highlighting exclusively 20 tracks that we think are exceptional due to the female forces behind them:
“Bam Bam,” One Two, Sister Nancy (1982)
KG: Probably the most iconic song in reggae/dancehall history, “Bam Bam” is the weed-smoking background music you expect to find when clicking on a playlist entitled “Cannabis Cuts.” But you don’t need weed to thrive, you’re here for good music and the opportunity to see me punk on Max in a public setting…and I support that. Regardless, “Bam Bam” has been sampled over 100 times by a variety of different artists in the hip-hop, reggae, and dancehall genres among others. It’s influence on modern music is incalculable.
MC: Didn’t think I’d be leading off with this, but it feels like a good time to mention that after the customary barrage of Kevin Gordon shittalking that preceded our tennis match yesterday, I dusted him 6-1. If anyone has any tennis serving tutorial videos that might aid him, please send a link to the email found on our contact page. On another note, this is one of the most joyous tracks to ever grace the ears of the masses. Most iconic reggae song ever? Highly debatable, but no doubt a feel-good classic.
KG: Okay maybe I overlooked some Marley masterpieces, but the real masterpiece that wouldn’t exist without “Bam Bam” is Sean Paul’s “Temperature.” Dancehall music rejoices!
“Bad Girls,” Bad Girls, Donna Summer (1979)
KG: Donna Summer, the late-great Queen of Disco, had already been a staple of the dance music scene long before she released her magnum opus album Bad Girls in 1979. Beginning her career as the lead vocalist for a psychedelic rock band called Crow during the counterculture era, Summer was able to slowly transition to dance music upon meeting electronic music pioneer and all around badass Giorgio Moroder (Max and I revere him). Following a slew of banger chart-topping disco releases, including one of my mom’s favorite albums, A Love Trilogy, Summer was poised to release Bad Girls to widespread commercial and critical success. And she was right. The title track “Bad Girls” is a timeless disco classic meant to get you off your feet and grooving all night long, highlighted by the glowing horns and hypnotic guitar line that surround Summer’s magnificent voice. You won’t be able to sit down when you listen to this song.
MC: Both an anthem and dancefloor burner of the highest caliber, this duo was disco’s Jordan and Pippen.
“Gonna Get Over You,” 12” Single, France Joli (1981)
MC: After graduating college, striking out on jobs, and then having the job market hit by a pandemic, I’ve assumed the highly-heralded position of Door Dash Driver to maintain some cash flow. One of the personal perks of the job for me is that I perpetually get to listen to music while I deliver people’s Chipotle orders, which leads to me listening to all sorts of albums and SoundCloud mixes. The other day, right in the heat of making sure Noah from Vista received his VeggieGrill order on time, this track careened into my ear drums in the midst of this mix by disco extraordinaire Dimitri From Paris. I was enthralled. I subsequently found out that France Joli was a Montreal disco singer who dropped this gem when she was only 18 years old. The song has all the characteristics of the most timeless disco tracks: downright funky, chicken-scratch guitar riffing, a big-time bassline, soaring strings, triumphant horns, and damn groovy disco break. Joli is the glue that holds it all together, with a soulful and dynamic performance. Anyone who says disco sucks is: 1. Probably a self-serious asshole, and 2. Hasn’t heard this gem.
KG: I really hope Noah got his food on-time because it sounds like you were far more interested in listening to this song than getting the man his VeggieGrill delivery as fast as possible. That’s 3-stars right off the bat. And no napkins, are you serious? I am also a total self-serious asshole, but I really like disco! Anyway, this song is fucking sick and goes to show that there is no age threshold for making great music.
MC: My 5.00 customer rating over the course of 84 deliveries is unfuckwithable despite my 85% on-time rate, sometimes navigating apartment complexes is hard.
“Forget Me Nots,” Straight From The Heart, Patrice Rushen (1982)
KG: I make it a point to note whenever Spotify’s clunky music recommendation algorithm actually gets it right and suggests a gem of a song, and this is one of those instances. Initially labeled as a flop due to the drastic change in style from artist Patrice Rushen’s traditional jazz roots, “Forget Me Nots” is a killer post-disco track showcasing an earworm of a bassline that dances around the beat in memorable fashion. Rushen’s pleasant but powerful voice is captivating throughout the song, moments of soft and sweet projections are juxtaposed with belting high notes that knock your socks off. Also a huge fan of the sparkly synth sound that looms in the background of this track, it reminds me of the glittery jazz tones found on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly many years later.
“Power,” Laila’s Wisdom, Rapsody, (2017)
MC: Over an absolutely hammer beat, North Carolina rapper Rapsody rips off line after line and bar after bar of insight about what tangible and intangible things seem to hold power in modern culture. It’s densely filled to the brim with allusions to OutKast, Jerry Stackhouse, Steph Curry, Eminem and Magic Johnson, with a dead-eyed flow and precision. Kendrick Lamar hops on the track and proceeds to scorch the thing, but doesn’t blow Rapsody out of the water by any means. It’s a true testament to her abilities as an MC to hold her own against rap’s current king, and proves that she should be getting discussed a lot more in rap circles than she has been over the past few years.
KG: Stack has a 50-piece?? This is total news to me. I just looked at his numbers and he averaged near 30 points per game one season taking 24 shots per game and hitting at a 40% clip. That is dog shit levels of efficiency. How many points could I score if I took 24 shots in an NBA game…Over/Under 4 points?
“I’d Rather Go Blind,” Tell Mama, Etta James (1968)
MC: On this ballad for the ages, Etta James melds soul and the blues in a stunning and nuanced vocal performance about the despair of an unrequited love. Musically, the track has a simple arrangement, but the organ and horns that come and go throughout this track give it a mournful and bittersweet quality from a purely instrumental standpoint. James’ vocal is the real star of this show, however, adding layers of emotion with her delivery of each line and lyric, and demonstrating why she’s one of the greatest singers to ever grace the mic.
“Ozma,” Dreams in the Rat House, Shannon and The Clams (2013)
KG: Created as an ode to Shannon’s lovable pup Ozma who had recently passed away, “Ozma” is the perfect encapsulation of the garage-punk-rockabilly-doo wop sound that Shannon and The Clams have wholly embraced over their recording career. “Well I’ve seen, you in my dreams, you’ve regrown all your teeth / You’re sniffing flowers all day long, and laying in the sun” makes my heart melt. I’m gonna go hug my dog.
“Hanging On The Telephone,” Parallel Lines, Blondie (1978)
MC: Blondie’s take on this 1975 power-pop track written by The Nerves is one of those rare covers that manages to surpass the original. It maintains the instant catchiness of the Nerve’s version, but manages to both tighten and bulk-up its sound instrumentally. As the opening track to the new wave classic Parallel Lines, its two-and-a-half minute barnburner where frontwoman Debbie Harry snarls, pouts, and wails while sounding like the most inherently badass figure in the new wave scene. It maintains the edge of Blondie’s CBGB roots while also employing the group’s knack for a perfect pop structure. On a personal note, I went to a Blondie show with my mom and her friend one summer a few years ago, and even well into her 70s Debbie Harry and her band still kick live.
“Tell Me Why,” Pleasure Victim, Berlin (1982)
KG: Now this is podracing (synth-pop)! Berlin’s sultry sophomore album, Pleasure Victim, had heads turning due to its suggestive lyrics and sexual themes that weren’t as prevalent in society as they are now. Despite the critical backlash, Pleasure Victim went certified platinum in sales and exemplified the successful synth-pop formula that would be used by many groups to come. Up-beat electronic programmed drums, Tron-like synthesizers that belong in a video game, and Terri Nunn’s passionate voice come together to create a song that can be seamlessly dropped into the volleyball scene from Top Gun without any hesitation. Seriously, mute the audio on that scene and play this song. Also, the guitar solo at the end is amazing and kinda catches the listener off guard after hearing the first 4 minutes of beep-boops.
“Crazy On You,” Dreamboat Annie, Heart (1975)
KG: A groundbreaking song from American rock band Heart, at its time of release, “Crazy On You” was notable for featuring a female acoustic guitarist, Nancy Wilson, which was incredibly rare in rock music. Finding an ideal balance between the acoustic folk rock introduction and electric guitar driven hard rock core of the song, “Crazy On You” is perfectly fit for FM radio stations wherever you may be. This song was also playable on Guitar Hero 2, but I was never good enough to play it on any difficulty higher than medium. I’m sorry, but the orange button is so hard to reach sometimes!
MC: Classic Kevin “Sausage Fingers” Gordon with the inability to reach the orange. Stick to “Eye of The Tiger,” kid. Leave the more intricate stuff to the rest of us.
“Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige,” Bon Voyage, Melody’s Echo Chamber (2018)
MC: A modern psychedelic rock epic that can stand toe-to-toe with some of Tame Impala’s best, French songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melody Prochet’s track boasts an absolutely dynamic chorus that acts as a launching point for acoustic guitar swirls, demented drum fills, and eventually a little synth and guitar exploration. The breakdown in the middle is undeniably weird and sounds like tape-collage music of the 60s, yet it manages to make the return to the songs chorus all the more exhilarating.
“Turn Into,” Turn Into, Jay Som (2016)
MC: The title track of Jay Som’s debut is a perfect little slice of dream pop bliss. Essentially a home-recorded demo, it’s a modern psychedelic gem, featuring kaleidoscopic guitar work and cooly delivered vocals. Melina Duterte has become a consistently captivating figure in the indie-music scene in her releases since, with her work bringing to mind the spontaneity of Alex G. Toss this one on during a sunny afternoon and all your troubles seem to wash away over the course of its run time.
KG: Wow this was a home-recorded demo? It’s amazing what the advent of modern recording equipment has done for bedroom-pop and the accessibility artists have with software to create and release music. Sort of a renaissance for the everyday musician.
“Let Me Get There,” Until The Hunter, Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (2016)
MC: Hope Sandoval, of Mazzy Star fame, and Kurt Vile complement each other beautifully on this leisurely psych-folk duet. Sandoval’s voice remains otherworldly, both hushed and expressive, and Vile adds a bit of country twang with his own. The track feels like a more hazy take on Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood’s collaborations in the 60s. Sonically, it brings to mind a ride through the desert at dusk, completely spacious as the guitar improvisations and vocal-harmonies fill the sky with blue, purple, and orange hues. Was that utterly pretentious musical imagery? Yes, but dammit that’s how I feel about this track.
KG: The Sandoval-Vile pairing is a match made in heaven, I would love to hear them do an album together. Indie-dream pop is a genre fusion made for the 2020’s.
“Goat Head,” Jaime, Brittany Howard (2019)
KG: Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes released her debut solo album Jaime while on hiatus from the group in the fall of 2019. I will save the lyrical content of the song for your listening experience, but I do want to use this opportunity to plug some organizations that would greatly appreciate your funding right now. The Minnesota Freedom Fund was set up to provide cash-bail, an archaic and discriminatory system used to target low-income minorities, for protestors that are being detained in the Minneapolis protests as we speak. The financial relief they provide citizens in the short term is heroic. The George Floyd Memorial Fund, I Run With Maud Fund, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund are all also worthy of your attention. Black Lives Matter.
MC: Please consider donating if you’re in a position of being privileged enough to do so. More on this coming in the Nina Simone blurb.
“Gonna Love Me,” K.T.S.E., Teyana Taylor (2018)
KG: Multi-talented singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor dropped her second GOOD MUSIC album K.T.S.E. during Kanye West’s (Voldemort) 5 week run of releases during the summer of 2018. Sampling the 70’s soul song “I Gave To You” from The Delfonics and Michael Jackson’s cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” this modern R&B staple is a delight to the ear in due part to the clean production and Taylor’s dynamic vocal range that shines over the entirety of the song. Her sharp interplay with the squeaky “oh you’re gonna love me” sample is entertaining and sets the listener up for her lovely voice to cascade in the moment the sample cuts out.
MC: Teyana Taylor absolutely flexes her R&B vocal chops over one of Kanye’s finest productions of the last five years. If you need a secondary helping of the killer sample that acts as the backbone of this track, Nicolas Jaar takes it in a slightly more abstract, yet also fantastic direction on this Against All Logic track.
“The Look Of Love,” The Look Of Love, Dusty Springfield (1967)
KG: I have vivid childhood memories of sitting in the backseat of my grandpa’s mid-nineties Cadillac driving around the green expanse of up-state New York, where he lived at the time, listening to this song. A beautiful arrangement of swirling violins and a sensual hotel-lobby saxophone, “The Look Of Love” is straight out of a James Bond movie (literally) in terms of aesthetic. Dusty Springfield’s voice is synonymous with intoxicating, lulling the listener into a haze with her gentle, but commanding voice.
MC: My dad had a CD compilation of this track’s songwriter, Burt Bacharach’s, greatest hits and I always dismissed it as schmaltzy old-person music. In hindsight, while it still might be exactly that, it’s impossible to deny the songcraft and arrangement that this song contains. Also Dusty’s voice is just serene, and the song probably slaps twice as hard in any candlelit setting.
“Come Live With Me,” Afro-Harping, Dorothy Ashby (1968)
MC: One of the flat-out most hypnotic songs I’ve ever heard. It’s beautiful, it grooves, and it is damn near guaranteed to throw you in a trance if you listen closely. As one of the rare harpists in the world of jazz, Dorothy Ashby overcame skepticism from those who saw it as a classical-associated instrument and was even able to improvise bebop on it. Coupled with the adversity of being a black female musician in a male-dominated industry, Ashby defied all odds to be the preeminent harpist in jazz. This cut shows her leaning into a more soul and funk influenced sound and the results are absolutely stunning.
“Day Dreaming,” Young, Gifted and Black, Aretha Franklin (1972)
MC: We all know Aretha as the insanely powerful vocalist that solidified herself as the queen of soul, but this tender and psychedelic track shows her incredible range as a vocalist. The trippy intro sounds like you’re being beamed straight up into a daydream where Aretha holds court over a sauntering, jazzy groove. The track features soul legend Donny Hathaway on the keys and some wild flourishes of jazz flute. When the outro of the song beams you right back down to earth, it feels like the end of a blissful daydream that you wish would go on forever.
KG: The intro to this song was totally unexpected from an Aretha Franklin track, but fits the “Day Dreaming” title perfectly. Also I’m sure you’re daydreaming of being able to beat me at 2k20, Max has a losing record against me in all NBA 2k titles available. What is losing you say? 0 wins on the record book, including a 0.5 second remaining buzzer beat LAST NIGHT from the one and only James Harden. Sit down young fella.
“In And Out Of Love,” Reflections, Diana Ross & The Temptations (1968)
KG: A delectable sliver of sunshine pop and Motown grooves, Diana Ross scored a big hit with the easy-listening “In And Out Of Love” off of her 1968 Reflections compilation record. True to its genre, this track is a sunny day bop that actually hints at a bit more psychedelic pop than I had originally accounted for. Sweet and fun, Diana’s voice brings a smile to your face and pep in your step whenever you hear it.
“Strange Fruit,” Pastel Blues, Nina Simone (1965)
MC: I randomly came across this video of Nina Simone discussing what it means to be an artist last week, and in the wake of the horrific George Floyd murder and with the ensuing grief and demand for change that has erupted subsequently, it feels especially pertinent today. Simone was one of the artists on the forefront of the civil rights movement during the 1960s advocating change by any means necessary. She’s also one of the most singularly fascinating and complex figures in the history of modern music, and this cover of Billie Holiday’s 1939 landmark recording “Strange Fruit,” is simply chill-inducing. While the purpose of Cannabis Cuts is to generally produce a playlist of ear-candy that we think you’ll enjoy, this week please take the time to think about how a song written 81 years ago about lynchings could possibly be just as relevant today, just how damn scary that is, and what you personally can do to help change that – please scope the links that Kevin provided in the Brittany Howard write-up and consider donating if you’re in a position where you’re fortunate enough to be able to.