COLLECTION SELECTION: Patrick Sisson
he August initiation of Collection Selection at Trenchermen will be helmed this Monday the 5th by Patrick Sisson, a Wicker Park residing writer whose words have graced the pages of many fine publications, including Wax Poetics, Pitchfork, XLR8R, and more. Considering a decade of work has found him across the table from some seriously iconic artists (his interviewing vitae includes on-the-record conversations with Mavis Staples, Gil Scott-Heron, Portishead, and Diplo), our interrogation of him in his home was in some ways an overdue turning of tables, but in more ways it was a cozy Chicagoan nerd-out over a few records with a few bottles of beer.
Sisson’s first spin was “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Ann Peebles, which he hailed as being one of the best breakup songs ever recorded. Not certain if he was hinting at any contemporary personal significance (I chose not to dig in that direction), but the song did end up having some climatic relevance when it starting pouring outside a few minutes later.
Next we had a quick listen to this whacky-as-hell Incredible Bongo Band single(for the record, pretty much anything by the IBB is whacky-as-hell), a rare 45 that he picked up at Hyde Park Records.
Allen Toussaint made most of his career writing and producing hits for other artists - Southern Nights was one of very few albums that he released under his own name, and coincidentally the only charting it generated was a later-recorded Country version of “Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell.
Another prolific musician who made their name pulling strings behind the scenes was Arthur Verocai, who produced and composed music for Jorge Ben, Gal Costa, Erasmo Carlos, and practically every other internationally known Brazilian musician. Verocai’s self-titled album was originally released in 1972, and like most of Toussaint’s solo efforts, generated little critical and commercial success. Sisson’s copy of the album is a reissue from Ubiquity Records subsidiary Luv N’ Haight.
Luv N’ Haight also recently reissued this Geater Davis record, a lost and found Southern soul singer whose smoky vocals remind Sisson of many songs from one of his favorite records, Pepper’s Jukebox, a compilation of bar Blues from the South Side of Chicago released by the Numero Group in 2009.
Pepper’s Jukebox was released by Numero in conjunction with a book of photographs called Light on the South Side, all in all making for one of the most impressively curated compilations in the history of music history. Sisson told me he wrote a piece for Wax Poetics about the making of this book, and joked that it would have been a bitch to review the accompanying record (or any Numero release) because the liner notes leave so little to be said.
On the subject of Chicago music (and of reissues), Sisson has a nice copy of the Tortoise classic Millions Now Living Will Never Die, as recently reissued on vinyl by Thrill Jockey (vinyl was originally pressed in 1996 by England’s City Slang Records).
The liners aren’t Numero-chocked with historical context, but there is some notable stuff here - included in the “thank you” segment are Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, current comedian/former musician Fred Armisen, and Tortoise’s long-time full-time guitarist Jeff Parker (this album was made when David Pajo, aka Papa M, was the main axe man for the band, shortly before Parker was all in).
Speaking of Jeff Parker - Sisson had a framed poster above his record player from his days as a radio DJ for WNUR, when he curated the first Chicago Sounds Jazz Festival in 2001, which featured Parker’s Chicago Underground Quartet with Rob Mazurek, Noel Kupersmith, and Chad Taylor.
My favorite relic on his wall was this sweet arrangement of vintage tape reel boxes that Sisson inherited from his brother’s wife’s grandfather, looking sharp and reinforcing the breadth and the superiority of mid-century package design.
Sisson’s preferred exit music, “Spottieottiedopaliscious.”