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The Dustbin Of History: A New Monthly Column By The Owner Of Don Giovanni Records

(From the Drexel University website: “Joe Steinhardt is the owner of Don Giovanni Records, a label that he co-founded in 2003 with Zach Gajewski. Initially, their intent was to document the independent music scene then emerging from New Brunswick, New Jersey. However, the label’s focus has since broadened to include a geographically diverse community of artists, including Screaming Females, Moor Mother, Mal Blum, Native American Music Award “Best Artist” winner Keith Secola, and Holy Modal Rounders founder, Peter Stampfel. It has also released formative works by nationally recognized groups like Waxahatchee, Priests, and Downtown Boys, as well as the comedian Chris Gethard.

Steinhardt studied at Boston University and earned a Ph.D. in communication at Cornell. He currently resides in Philadelphia, where he is an Assistant Teaching Professor at Drexel University’s Music Industry Program.”

rock nyc is proud to have Joe join our roster of writers: proof that the always industrious Mr. Steinhardt is bored as we wait for the curve to flatten!)


Welcome to the first edition of my column where I explore great albums that are either deep out of the album cycle, or maybe never even had a formal album cycle to begin with.


XIT – Plight Of The Redman (Rare Earth)

Released in 1972 on Rare Earth, a short-lived subsidiary of Motown Records, a case could be made for Plight Of The Redman being the greatest album of all time and that is not hyperbole. Like most great records, this one is really hard to experience on your computer. I say this not as a format purist, but rather this is on that demands your full attention to really appreciate and I find it nearly impossible to provide that context on youtube or a streaming service. From the opening line “Little is really known about the American Indian or what links our human soul with the earth” to the closing “Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, whatever necessary we must now manage our own affairs and control our own lives and through it all remain to be The True American!” the record tells the story of Native American life in America since 1492. The music is breathtaking, a fusion of indigenous drum sounds and psychedelic rock. It really must be experienced as an album, start to finish. XIT, which stands for “crossing of Indian Tribes” went on to release 5 more albums in the 70s and 80s and another 7 in the 2000s, all of which are worth listening to but none of which come close to the magic achieved on Plight Of The Redman.


Swamp Dogg – Surfin’ In Harlem (Volt)

Jerry Williams starting releasing albums as Swamp Dogg in 1970 and most people are familiar with him through his debut Total Destruction To Your Mind, a counter-culture soul masterpiece which belongs in every collection. Since Total Destruction, Swamp has released 22 proper albums, and a few improper ones. In 1991 Swamp recorded Surfin’ In Harlem for Volt, the sister label of the better known Stax. Surfin’ has always been one of my favorite Swamp records to listen to from this era and bridges a gap between his prolific 70s and 80s period and his equally prolific 2000s/2010s. While the title track is fantastic, the highlight is the politically charged 8-minute “Apelle-Moi Noir.” His wit and humor along with his talent at writing memorable soul and R+B hooks make this record a great listen from start to finish and a major highlight of an impressive career.


Jeffrey Frederick & The Clamtones – Spiders In The Moonlight (Rounder)

Jeffrey Frederick was one of the best songwriters of his scene and his era and most familiar with him know him from his contributions to Have Moicy alongside The Unholy Modal Rounders and Michael Hurley. Spiders was Frederick’s major work, showcasing both his ability as a songwriter and the Clamtones ability to blend folk, country, and rock seamlessly. Perhaps best showcased on the opener “Rotten Lettuce” and the classic “Stolen Guitar.” This is one of those records that personally has been with me for most of my adult life and I continuously find myself discovering new things in it or appreciating elements as I grow older.

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