Shabazz Palaces – “Shabazz Palaces Live at Third Man” (2016)

This album combines two of my favorite things – Seattle-based hip hop collective Shabazz Palaces and Third Man Records live recordings.

In typical Shabazz Palaces fashion, at least in so far as anything that the Palaces ever do can be described as “typical,” Shabazz Palaces Live at Third Man is more a continuous stream of consciousness than a collection of individual songs. One track often flows right into the next and it’s often impossible to tell where one ends and the next starts. Much of the material is drawn from their two LPs, Black Up and Lese Majesty, though “Kill White T…” is off a 2009 EP and I can’t find “Clown Music” on any prior releases. Perhaps the most intriguing track, though, is “Falling Up the Bean Stalk,” a Shabazz-ized cover of “Fell in Love with a Girl” by The White Stripes, a total trip that bears only the slightest traces of the original.

The crew at Third Man Records professed mad love for Shabazz Palaces, noting on the label website that the band’s 2014 LP Lese Majesty was probably the most frequently spun vinyl on the office turntable in the second half of 2014, which is pretty high praise from this group of music junkies and vinyl nerds. Shabazz Palaces Live at Third Man was recorded direct to acetate, and while I recognize that as a bit of a marketing gimmick I’m still a sucker for it and I like the idea that there isn’t any post production – you get what you get. And what you get on this record is near-perfectly recorded Shabazz Palaces at their live grooviest.