Derek Bailey, Carpal Tunnel
(Tzadik Records, 2005)
Skip the first track, where Bailey sums up his condition. The next five tracks are 6 to 9 minutes long and have strange “personal-diary” or “medical records” types of titles: After 3 Weeks, After 5 Weeks, After 7 Weeks... And it is actually something halfway between a diary and a medical record: the tracks consist in the guitarist turning on and off the recorder, strumming and checking his own improvements.
For the record, the diagnosis was wrong: Derek Bailey was actually suffering from Gehrig's disease and passes away at the end of that year. In a sense, it is the motivational disc par excellence.
David Bowie, Earthling
The result is nine storms in a glass, explosions of restrained energy, masterpieces of control and discipline. Nervous tracks, but of a twilight nervousness dressed in tweed. Like Dead Man Walking, a techno gallop (you should try it on the treadmill) with bittersweet lyrics dedicated to Neil Young and perhaps even to Bowie himself, stars "older than movies". The critics underestimated the record, accusing it of being juvenile; but just a couple of years later those very same critics applaud Blackstar, the farewell record, of which Earthling is the closest relative.
The Residents, Diskomo
(Ralph Records, 1980)
We can’t ignore that a workout sound track must contain at least a minimum of rhythm. Therefore, to you on the bike we propose Diskomo, a mad self-parody that takes Eskimo and remixes it in a synthetic-dance key, halfway between Kraftwerk and a Black Mirror episode. The fury with which the Residents scribble a moustache on one of their own cult discs should not come as a surprise: if you listen well to the original track, you will discover that at a certain point the chanting eskimos, pronounce the slogan Coca Cola is Life.
St. Vincent, Masseduction
(Loma Vista, 2017)
St. Vincent is putting the body back into the centre of the music scene, after the body – both feminine and masculine - had lost itself in a thousand trickles between one streaming platform and another. She does it by warning people about the excesses of hedonism (take a look at the video of the single Los Ageless) and she does it with all the irony that it takes today to wrap a sincere gesture. In the same way, Masseduction is a physical and carnal synthpop disc that invites movement. Filtered and deconstructed certainly, with authentically clever texts full of nuances. But still, Annie Clark is one of the best contemporary pop artists: so oblique, so literal.
Frank Zappa, Uncle Meat
Uncle Meat is probably the summa of the “Zappa-philosophy”. A collage of cracking marches on the cover shows the number 1349, the year of the black plague in Europe: some people have even sensed a sort of skeleton dance in the marimba and wood beats that are the base of most of the songs. We think it’s a nice cheeky sound (that seems tailor-made to accompany you during your spinning class) and surreal mini-tracks here and there, that, coincidentally, seem to deal with the theme of nutrition.
In their own way, of course. Eat your vegetables / Don't forget peas and celery / Don't forget to bring your fake ID, (for some mysterious reason) are sung for some strange motive in Mr. Green Genes. There’s plenty of notes to take, for a nice post-workout smoothie.