Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Back when “world music” was a thing (anybody here old enough to remember that?), the RealWorld label (anybody remember them?) put out a sampler compilation of music from around the globe. My favorite track by far was the one by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It was a 14-minute chanted prayer, repeated over and over at increasing speed. In other words: Awesome.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan


Last night Marcia and I went to a show of Latin/flamenco interpretations of Monk, which was awesome. That prompted me to dig up an old Monk tribute CD, which is also awesome. That CD introduced me to (top 3 all-time favorite, always-awesome) Carla Bley. It also contains tracks by NRBQ. Which is a long way of saying, I don’t know much about NRBQ, but clearly they are awesome.

NRBQ AllMusic page

Notorious B.I.G.

Well, he was certainly big, and I would say that getting shot makes a good case for being notorious. Bonus points for sampling Diana Ross’s unintentional gay anthem “I’m Coming Out” in his biggest (no pun intended) hit.

Notorious B.I.G. AllMusic page

Nineties Female Vocal R&B

While their rock sisters were, uh … angry … female R&B acts in the 90s turned out some of sweetest, silkiest music since the Philly Soul days. While the sound seems best suited for love ballands, many of the songs were, inexplicably, about having a job and/or paying bills. Also: Many acts with three-letter names.

Destiny’s Child AllMusic page

En Vogue AllMusic page

Jade AllMusic page

SWV AllMusic page

TLC AllMusic page

Nineties Alt Rock Women

By the time the 90s rolled around, women in rock had come a long way from “Going to the Chapel” and “Be My Baby.” And, you know—yay for girl power and all that—but on balance, I’d probably rather have lunch with the Chiffons.

Alternative/Indie Rock AllMusic page

Nineties Alt Rock Men

When I first heard that there was a #1 song called “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” I figured it was a novelty tune along the lines of “Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind” or Alvin and the Chipmunks. Then I actually heard the song. Um … wrong.

Alternative/Indie Rock AllMusic page

Nina Simone

“Mississippi Goddam” gets my vote for greatest song of all time. Nina Simone also gets my vote for “person you would not want to cross.”

Nina Simone AllMusic page

New Wave

A brief evolution of white people music as the 70s turned into the 80s:

  • Punk—We only know four notes on our instruments, and we don’t know how to write a tune.
  • New Wave—We only know four notes on our instruments, but we’ve learned how to write a tune.
  • Techno Pop—Thanks to synthesizers, we never had to learn to play any instruments. But boy can we write a tune!

It’s been all downhill from there.

New Wave AllMusic page

New Orleans R&B

This list came about a bit by accident. When I researching New Orleans brass bands for last Friday’s list, I realized that there is a separate, distinct New Orleans R&B genre. So you can indirectly thank Trombone Shorty for this one. (Not that I am trying to earn brownie points. Really.)

New Orleans R&B AllMusic page

New Orleans Brass

This one’s a bit of a cheat, because it includes Trombone Shorty, who’s very much a post-2000 artist. I’m letting him in because 1) Daveon and I saw him in SF on New Year’s Eve, and the show was blow-off-the-roof awesome; 2) the two of them have the same birthday; and 3) he (Trombone Shorty, not Daveon) is carrying on a tradition that dates well back into the 19th century. I am not including him because I hope he will invite me down to New Orleans to hang out with him and his friends. Nope. Not at all.

New Orleans Brass AllMusic page