DO YOU LIKE 7″S? (OF COURSE YOU DO)

Diana ross and the supremes hes my sunny boy

My dude Hua Hsu, when he’s not being name-checked in the New Yorker, has a grip of really good condition soul/funk 7″ cheapies for sale. 5-for-$20 is a fantastic deal, especially for titles like that Diana Ross and the Supremes joint or James Gadson’s “Let the Feeling Begin”. (I’d also cop that Jesse Anderson if you don’t already have it).

SHADES OF SOUL: EPISODES 2.15 & 2.16

I’ve been derelict in updating folks (here) on my recent Shades of Soul radio shows. On EP 2.15, I invited DJ Rani D (Soul In the Park) to come talk about his favorite summer songs and he laced us with a sweet mix of Angolan records:

Shades of Soul, EP 2.15: Summer Jams with DJ Rani D by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

And then last Friday, I had on author Amanda Petrusich, whose new book Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records is one of the best books on record collecting ever written. We had a great convo about her book, about the world of collecting, and she prepped four summer 78s for us to listen to.

Shades of Soul, EP 2.16: Summer James feat. author Amanda Petrusich by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

PRESENTING: YOUR LOVE (AKA “THE WEDDING MIX”)

Your Love (aka “The Wedding Mix”) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

I’ve made mixes that I might disavow under pressure. I’ve definitely made mixes where I wish I could go back and revise it (in fact, I’ve done that). But with this, “the wedding mix,” I really feel like I nailed it. That’s not a statement of ego (well, maybe a little) as much of an expression of satisfaction in feeling like I created something that I can’t improve on. It’s great “as is.”

The backstory: I was commissioned to make this mix for a couple (Elizabeth and Jeff) whose wedding I DJed.1 They wanted to press up CDs as a wedding favor and they gave me a want list of different songs and I was allowed to fill in the rest. Their requests made for a useful starting point, creating a basic set of posts upon which I could build everything else.

The concept was simple: put together an hour or so of love songs. They didn’t have to be ballads (which meant I had a range of tempos to play with) and they didn’t have to be necessarily old or new or confined to a single genre, though obviously, soul/funk factored in heavily. The real challenge wasn’t so much in choosing which songs to use but rather, lay in what sequence to put them in. My favorite parts of this mix come with the organic shift from one song that seems perfectly matched to flow into another.

Hope you all enjoy it as much as I still do.


If I’m going to be really honest, the only thing I might change with the song would’ve been this: the first track. Thinking back now, the main reason why I used “Your Love” by The Styles of Bobby Day was because I had just gotten it in and thought it was a great 7″. It is a great 7″ – love how it’s a ballad with a funky breakbeat – but I just don’t think it has the right kind of “first song” impact. C’est la vie.

I have no regrets using Stevie Wonder’s ” Hey Love,” however. If this isn’t my absolutely favorite Wonder song, it’s at least in the top 3 and it’s one of those tunes that I never, ever tired of hearing. Blending it in with De La Soul’s “Bitties In the BK Lounge” may have been a bit off-concept but honestly…I always wanted to put that blend on. So there.

Do I need to really explain why I put on Linda Lyndell’s “What a Man”? Or following that with Freddie Scott’s “Got What I Need”? The Biz Markie/Pharcyde blend of “Just a Friend Passin’ Me By” was something I whipped together on a whim a few years back and it seemed apropos to drop that in too. From there, I came in with “Between the Sheets” by the Isley Bros. (though I realize, now, I could have used Biggie as a bridge, oh well).

From there, things take a left-turn into “Be My Lady” by the Dynamic Tints (Twinight in the hizzouse); I put this mix together around the time that Numero dropped that massive Twinight anthology so I had this song on the brain. The Brothers of Soul’s “A Lifetime” was my intro to the band, a longtime favorite, and it felt great to finally slip it into a mix somewhere. My decision to use “I Choose You” by Willie Hutch was influenced by DJ Phatrick’s wedding, where I heard them play this and it seemed like a great fit for a wedding mix. Teddy Pendergrass’s great “Love TKO” seemed to blend nicely out of that and why not go from there into Ahmad’s “Back In The Day”? The Love Unlimited’s “If You Want Me” is a slept-on Barry White-produced track (though Ras Kass knew what was up) and I feel like I hit a good groove here by stringing both Carl Carlton’s “This Feeling’s Rated X-Tra” and Eddie Kendrick’s “If You Let Me from it.

Another left-field track follows: Marcia Aitken’s cover of Alton Ellis’s “I’m Still In Love With You and I’m not sure what made me think to work in Lauryn Hill’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (might have been my client’s request). The segue into Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes” is a bit forced but as many a DJ has learned, that song blends beautifully with Common’s “The Light.” Latryx’s “Lady Don’t Tek No” was a client request, as was Mayer Hawthorne’s cover of The Festivals’ “You Got The Makings of a Lover.” The arrangement on that song made me think of Theron and Darrell’s rare-as-hen’s-teeth b-side cut, “I Was Made To Love Her” (if I had a spare $800, I’d cop one for sure).

Pamoja’s “Ooh Baby” isn’t a cover of Smokey and the Miracles but a fantastic, sweet soul/crossover track in its own right. Right about here, the mix hits perhaps my favorite point since Ruby Andrews’s “You Made a Believer” drops in perfectly out of Pamoja and I felt the same way about slipping in the Prince of Ballard’s excellent remix of Bobby Reed’s “The Time Is Right For Love.”

Coming out of those three is The Summits’ “It Takes Two” (a Wash. D.C. cut if I recall) and then I dip back to the early ’90s with Zhane’s “Hey Mr. DJ” before blending that with its sample source: Michael Wycoff’s “Looking Up to You.” Don Julian and the Larks’ cover Al Wilson’s “Show and Tell” after that, followed by a stone-cold classic: Doris Troy’s “Just One Look.” Joe Bataan (covering Smokey) croons in after, with his rendition of “More Love,” followed by Wee’s slinky “I Luv You” and then Michael Jackson’s classic “Rock With You.”

From here, the mix drops into the slow jam closing set, beginning with Tammi Terrell’s previously unreleased “All I Do Is Think About You,” followed by a client request: Penny and the Quarters’ “You and Me.” I’ve always loved Margie Joseph’s cover of “Let’s Stay Together,” and staying in that theme, I also dropped in the Emotions’ cover of the Charmels’ “As Long As I Have You.” Everything comes to a close on Bettye Swann’s “Make Me Yours,” a client request that was 110% the perfect song to close with.

  1. This is why I’ve kept this mix under wraps for the last few years; felt like enough time has finally passed for me to share it. But, since it was originally a commission, I don’t plan on every selling it or offering it in any format besides what’s here. The couple gave me a handful of CDs for myself and I gave those to a few select friends and that’s it.

A SIP OF LEMONADE

“Lemonade” (preview for a mix-in-progress) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

It’s a little shocking to me but I haven’t released a full-fledged hip-hop mixtape since Auditory Assault and that came out in 2001. (I guess parenthood and a full-time job slows down the productivity on other fronts).

This summer, I made it a point to start working on mixes again. The first mix (and I’ll tease it later) is a party mix in the vein of Groove Thing and Adventures in Rhythm. The second is what I tease above, working title “Lemonade.” There’s a longer backstory to the specific songs that went into the mix, connected to “the purge” that began three years ago, but I’ll explain all that once I drop the full mix.

SOUL SIDES VOL. 4

Soul Sides Vol. 4 (The Proper Version) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

When I sat down to brainstorm Soul Sides Vol. 3, I actually came up with tentative tracklistings for three future volumes. I didn’t want to drop all three at once since I knew, with the benefit of time and perspective, I would likely make tweaks here and there. So I sat on Vol. 4 and it’s only been over the last month or so that I’ve revisited it and, indeed, ending up making all kinds of changes to my original playlist.

As a reminder, the goal with these new volumes was to try to replicate the flow/feel of Vol. 1. rather than just slapping together 14 good songs at random. As I’ve done with every volume thus far, I’ve always tried to include at least one “echo” back to Vol. 1, whether via a cover song or something that’s very close, thematically (see the Masqueraders, below).

As with last time, the entire “album” is up on Mixcloud. If you like it, I’d be happy to accept a donation to help support the site’s costs. You’re 100% NOT obligated however.





(There is no vinyl. There may be CDs, but I burn them at home so it comes down to just making time to do that. And I do have a lossless version with individual tracks if you’d like one. Just hit me up).

Meanwhile, here are the liners:

1. Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band: Express Yourself (alt. mix)

I mentioned last week that this would be the lead song on Vol. 4 and partially, it’s because the song itself starts off with that lovely, understated lick. I have a hard time imagining they would ever have released this; it’s so much more of a slow burner than the final release but that’s precisely why I love it so.

2. San Francisco TKOs: Herm

Sure, maybe I only just got this at the beginning of the summer but besides the selfish desire to floss a showpiece, it’s another slow-burner but augmented with a heavy funk growl.

3. The T.S.U. Tornadoes: Got To Get Through To You

Over the last year or so, I’ve been totally infatuated with the ill-defined “crossover” soul sound. Like most genres, it’s hard to corral this into a consistent definition but if you want to know what crossover sounds like, this single is about as platonic an ideal as I can imagine.

4. Shirley Nanette: Give and Take

To quote myself (because I’m lazy), choosing this came down to how: “there’s something raw and affecting about Nanette’s performance. These are not hyper-polished songs and for those who can’t take too much “saxy sax,” this may test you at times, but as befits a private issue record, its coarse-ness is also part of its charm. “Give and Take,” especially, floors me everytime; I love the vocal arrangement on here. It swings in all kinds of unexpected directions and drops in background harmonies at perfect moments.”

5. The DeVons: Someone To Treat Me (The Way You Used To)

The rare James Brown-produced Northern Soul song. I adored this enough to highlight it on Jesse Thorn’s Bullseye earlier this year (3 minute mark).

6. Edwin Starr: Running Back and Forth

My man Hua put me up on this crossover song back in 2008 and it’s in my definitive “Top 5 favorite Motown singles.” It moves with such slick grace; I love playing it out for that exact reason. (The version I included here is the 7″; the only difference is that instead of jumping into the sax, it starts with 4 bars of piano instead.)

7. Marva Whitney: Ball of Fire

Another one I need to credit to Hua, only made more embarrassing by the fact that I’ve owned this for years except I never knew it because I didn’t bother to flip to the b-side. Better late than never.

8. Jimmie Raye: Look At Me Girl

A discovery (for me) from 2011 (via Nydia Ines Davila), this is such a perfect, mid-tempo ballad on so many levels: the opening piano, Raye’s melancholy hook, the contrast with the higher-pitched back-up singing (which might just be Raye over-dubbed for all I know), the heavy snare that anchors the rhythm section.

9. Holly Maxwell: Only When You’re Lonely

It’s only when I finalized the tracklisting that I realized how many of the songs on here are in that aforementioned crossover vein. Clearly, it’s invaded my heart’s soft spot but my weakness (hopefully) is your gain, especially with this Chicago single that was the object of my obsessions from two summers ago.

10. The Isley Brothers: You Walk Your Way

Another “hey, what’s on the b-side of this 7″?’ discovery from a couple years back, this song is hardly rare – it’s from a massive best-seller by the Isley Bros. at the height of their success – but you also never see it included on any “best of” comp by the group. In my book, it should’ve been.

11. The Masqueraders: I’m Just An Average Guy

On the original Soul Sides Vol. 1, the #11 spot was filled by Joe Bataan’s “Ordinary Guy” and as I just got this Masqueraders 7″ in earlier this summer, it seemed like the natural “echo” track to sequence in. I certainly wouldn’t have done it if not also for the fact that it’s another fantastic example of a “cheap but good” single that you shouldn’t need to drop more than $10 or so to cop. I go weak in the knees for the doo-wop background singing at at :20.

12. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: If This World Were Mine

I forgot to write about this at the beginning of summer but if there’s one song that I played on repeat (to the point of annoyance of anyone around me), it was this. Props to DJ Phatrick for helping me to it by including it in his great mix, Float. I don’t know how, for a hit Motown single, I managed to never hear it before, but regardless, I am absolutely besotted with where the song goes around 1:30, where the arrangement shifts and Marvin and Tammi ready their “woah hoo hop hooooos.” I know it’s greedy to want them to keep going with it – the song is perfect as is – but would I have liked another 4-8 bars of them doing that? Oh my, my yes.

13. The Festivals: You’ve Got the Makings of a Lover

Somehow, I never wrote about this either despite my deep affections for it. I became acquainted with it thanks to Mayer Hawthorne’s great cover of it and that compelled me to track down the original. Mayer said he was compelled to re-record it because the original was mixed poorly (lacked oomph, basically) and while I hear where he’s coming from, I’ve never found cause to regret spinning this one out. Much like the object of the artists’ eye, I find this “fine, and so sublime.”

14. Lady: Sweet Lady

I’ll always end these volumes with a recent recording and no way would I pass up the opportunity to show love to Lady again. Alas, the group went from a duo to a solo-lead outfit but I still eagerly await their return either later this year or next.

So there you go: Vol. 4. While you all (hopefully) enjoy it, I’ll continue marinating on Vol. 5 and we’ll see what bubbles up by year’s end.