SUMMER SALE

I’ve recently forced myself to start thinning out the collection to make room for new arrivals. You can peep here. Lots of eclectic goodies including dozens of 45s plus a very clean copy of Betty Davis’s awesome second album (pictured above).

If you’re a Soul Sides reader, just mention that in your order and I’ll knock off 10% from the pre-shipping order!

ADVENTURES IN STEREO SEPARATION: THE IMPRESSIONS

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I’ve been listening to The Impressions’ This Is My Country/Young Mod’s Forgotten Story a ton the last few weeks. Though recorded as separate LPs, I always just lump them into one since they’re so similar in theme and feel that they just feel like a single album that happened to be released in two installments. What I especially love about this faux-double album is that my favorite song off of it keeps changing every few weeks. Right now, it’s “My Deceiving Heart,” but at one point, it was “Seven Years.”

First of all, here’s the original version in stereo:

On some level, I must have realized the song was recorded with some purposeful panning but it wasn’t until I was listening to it again recently, with one ear bud out, that I realized how separated the left and right channels were from one another. Here’s the right channel, mixed down into mono:

The most prominent element here are the lead vocals by Mayfield, with the occasional back-up accent (but not the doo-wop vocals which are exclusively in the left channel). I also hear the the piano which I think are mostly in the right as well. What’s also prominently missing: the horns (though you can hear their ghostly presence in the background). Those can all be found in the left channel:

Here are those horns, loud and clear, along with The Impressions’ smooth croons, the rhythm guitar, the vibes, and possibly one or two other elements (tuba?). Musically, this sounds more like the final mix than the right channel version but without Mayfield’s vocals, it feels like an instrumental version…something that you might have found on the flip of the single’s 45 release.

All said, I prefer the final, full stereo version. 😉

PRINCE

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My peoples…I don’t even know how to process everyone we lost this year.

SONGS I/WE LOVE

I’ve been busy the past month with all kinds of writing assignments and that’s slowed me down from posting here but thought I’d share a few pieces I published since it’s all very much Soul Sides-inspired/related:

Songs We Love: Charles Bradley, ‘Things We Do For Love’
For NPR.org (Mar. 17, 2016)

Songs We Love: Million Dollar Ecstacy, ‘Burning Inside’
For NPR.org (Mar. 31, 2016)

We like it like that: the songs that defined New York City’s boogaloo craze
(Annotated Playlist)
For The Guardian (Apr. 5, 2016)

Songs We Love: J Dilla, ‘F*** The Police
For NPR.org (Apr. 7, 2016)

PHIFE DAWG, RIP

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As with many of you, ATCQ meant everything to me. I’m not ready to put Phife in context or nothing like that. Just mourning someone gone far before his time. I’ll let Ted speak my mind:

GET STONED

Do you like Sly? Of course you do.

I put together a 20 song playlist on Sly and the Family Stone’s “essential” records for Rolling Stone’s website.1 Could have probably been twice that.

If I had to pick a favorite song off that list…it’d either be “Rock Dirge” (which is “off-canon” for some folks but f— that. DRUMS) or the so-very-slick-and-fonky “If You Want Me to Stay.”

  1. With research assistance from David Ma. Thanks man!

NUBIAN SMACKERS

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Roy Meriwether: Nubian Lady
From Nubian Lady/Live at the Magic Carpet (Stinger, 1973)

Just read the other day that Nature Sounds is reissuing Roy Meriwether’s 1973 private press jazz LP, Nubian Lady. I assumed I probably posted about this at some point but as it turns out…nope.

Nubian Lady sits somewhere in the pantheon of soul-jazz recordings alongside Nathan Davis’s If and The Overton Berry Ensemble’s live album. I have a very soft spot for acoustic soul-jazz – which it a slight breed apart from the more electronic-laden fusion jazz sound – and Meriwether is doing some killer work on the piano here. But hey, for a 20 minute beast of a track, you’ll need some added incentive and that would be drummer Billy Jackson who gets a mother of a solo that’s well worth waiting for.1

  1. If you’re really lazy, jump ahead to 10:45 and enjoy.

SILLY FOR SYLIPHONE

Last summer, I posted about the white whale Syliphone comp I got in Paris in August and now I just read that nearly the entirety of the Guinea’s Syliphone catalog has been digitized and is now being shared by the British Library. We’re talking over 7500 songs, in dozens of languages. This is an incredible resource for Afropop fans/scholars now. I’m already sampling through the various boogaloo songs in the catalog!

HUSTLING BACKWARDS

 

Tame impala feels like we only go backwards

Hey everyone,

I’ve spent this past week dipping, heavy, into Soul Sides’ past (you can read why below)1

It’s been both a sobering and humbling experience. In those early years of the site – beginning around 2004 – I was posting more or less daily; there was a visible hunger I had to write about records all the time. I could get into why the ardor has cooled over the years but it’s nothing particularly new – age, the rise of social media, blah blah blah – but the point here is that I forgot how many things I had to write about when I first started.2

For example, I forgot, in those early days, how many thematic posts and cross-site collaborations I pursued. There was the Blunts vs. Soul series between myself and Cocaine Blunts. And there was my Beat Week series, of songs with, well, really good drums. These were, if I may say, good ideas! I don’t know why I forgot them to begin with. I should do more of them.

The other thing I’m reminded of is that, when I started, my philosophy was to only keep up sound files for a set period of time. Partly, that was designed to keep me off the radar of, say, the RIAA but partly, it was because this was in the era before every single song was on Youtube anyway. I still believe in the utility of the MP3 – it’s nice to be able to take songs with you – but I’ve very slowly begun to revise older posts and either repost songs to them via Youtube files or actual MP3s again. If you have requests, ask it in the comments and if I can repost, I will.

Meanwhile, Soul Sides is still here. It ain’t going nowhere. Thanks to those who’ve been with me for the last dozen+ years. I’ve never stopped being thankful for you.


By the way, be sure to keep track of the mixes I put up on Mixcloud. I’ve slowly been releasing some of my old mixes back into the wild, including the first two Deep Covers volumes.

  1. Last week, I finally fixed a problem with the site that I had let fester for over five years; I had hundreds of orphaned posts left over from the days when this site was powered by Blogspot. When I migrated over to WordPress, I didn’t bother to futz with the back-end architecture at the time and as a result, I left all posts from 2010 and before in a state of frozen limbo, wholly disconnected from my CMS. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t address any of this sooner but it was one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind things.

    In any case, this past week, I tethered every post – going all the way back to 2006 – to the WordPress CMS. However, in getting rid of all the orphaned posts, I’ve created a smaller problem: “lost” posts that Google thinks exist but don’t line up properly with an existing permalink. I’ve been painstakingly fixing those one by one – in almost all cases, all I need to do is tweak the permalink address on my end. However, if you people notice a missing post (not music file but the post itself), let me know and I should be able to track down the problem.

  2. Writing-wise, not all (most?) of those posts were particularly good. I’ve always treated Soul Sides as a place where I could brain dump entire paragraphs instead of artisanally crafting every sentence. But I’d like to think my goal has always been to try to get at what makes a song/artist/album interesting or important…not necessarily to the world but at least to me.

ISLAND BOOGALOO

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First things first: Mathew Warren’s We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo is finally available for home download. I’m biased – since I’m in it – but as the first documentary to really plumb the history of the music, I think it’s absolutely worth checking out.

Second, I had been meaning to post this for a while anyway, so what better timing than now?

Les Play-Boys: Play-Boys Boogaloo (Aux Ondes, 196?, S/T)

The group hails from the French Antilles, having recorded on Aux Ondex/Disque Cellini which had offices in both Martinique and Guadeloupe. Boogaloo, as I’ve written about in the past on the site, spread in popularity all throughout North and South America as well the Caribbean, so it’s not at all surprising to see a West Indian band tackling the genre.

What I love about this is how it captures the classic essence of the boogaloo but filters it through a smoky, Afro-tinged surf rock vibe (I’m sure there’s some Peruvian boogaloo that likely sounds very similar). The use of organ on here, especially, is killer and not something that many groups in East Harlem would have done. Viva la boogaloo!