Desert Island Discs with Little Shalimar

Little Shalimar is a man of many hats-some of which are metaphorical, all of which are stylish. He’s a singer, a songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, a filmmaker, a producer, a DJ and a collaborator. He’s produced records for El-P and played with Elvis Costello and Mike Doughty. He is also the drummer of the funk band Chin Chin, who have released a couple of albums on the legendary Def Jux label.

Shalimar’s latest project is The New Pneumonia Blues, an EP that’s available for free download on his Bandcamp site and features a groovy melange of pop, rock, funk and soul-completely performed one-man band style by Shalimar himself. Check out which titles the Brooklynite would choose to have with him in the event he ever got stranded on a desert island-where he’d probably figure out a way to make a portable studio out of coconut shells and continue jammin’ until the rescue mission showed up.

Shalimar himself says: These lists are always hard for me. As an avid record collector, I’m an obscurist (yeah, I know it’s not a real word) by nature. The weirder and rarer the record, the more satisfying the find. That attitude doesn’t work here. If I’m actually going to pick five albums that I’ll listen to  exclusively for the remainder of my days, the private pressing of the North Carolina soul band with the blown out drums and out of tune horns ain’t gonna make the cut. These, however will:

De La Soul- Three Feet High And Rising

I could just as easily pick their 2nd or 3rd albums, but what can I say? This is my Jam. It’s smart, funky, innovative “golden era” hip hop at it’s best. No one had approached MC’ing like this before. Rhythmically varied and lyrically abstract (Come on! “Potholes In My Lawn”?), De La still hasn’t really gotten their due. Plus, Prince Paul’s concept driven production is simply genius.

Sly and the Family Stone -There’s A Riot Going On

I think Sylvester Stewart was, in his prime, as great a pop music writer as has ever existed. His interesting, funky, feel-good grooves, and witty, honest lyrics made him a huge star (with all the usual trappings and excesses). By the time he made this album, things were just starting to get out of control. He would literally put down an organ part in a studio in Chicago, smoke some dust, then decide he wanted to add a bass guitar part in San Francisco, then a clavinet part in NYC. There’s something about the haphazard production of this album that makes it incredibly visceral to me. “Just Like A Baby” kills me every time, but every tune here is a masterpiece.

Jimi Hendrix- Axis: Bold As Love

Jimi is the primary reason I became a musician. It’s hard for me to pick one album of his, but  “Little Miss Lover”, “One Rainy Wish”, and the title cut seal the deal for this one.

Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace

If I’m going to be on a desert island, I better have some gospel. As hard as it is not to bring some Rance Allen, Myrna Summers, or T.L. Barrett, I gotta go with “Amazing Grace”. Aretha at her strongest, James Cleveland’s Southern California Community Choir, and the Kingpins as a backing band? I dare you to sit still through “Old Landmark”.

The Beatles- Abbey Road

OK, I guess I gotta do it. Thank god this is hypothetical because I don’t know how I could go on with out some Bach, Coltrane, Miles, Funkadelic, James Brown, Neil Young etc., but my earliest musical memories revolve around, what I believe, to be these fellas’ magnum opus. “Come Together” “She’s So Heavy”, “Something”, “Sun King”, and that whole insane medley on the second side. How could I leave this behind?