FALLING STONES: SURINAM SOUL

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Falling Stones: Come Back To Your Lover (Suriname, 196?, S/T)

Of all the records I brought back from Paris, the Falling Stones LP ranks high simply because I marvel at how well this famed group from Surinam nailed the Stax sound. In particular, lead singer Louis Windzak does a mean Otis Redding, especially on this song, an original by the group that easily sounds like it could have been a cover of some Memphis single. Thanks to Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven, I learned that the reason there’s such a heavy Southern soul influence in Surinam had to do with the importation of Atlantic Records into Surinam in that era. Moreover, as Surinam DJs began to make their way over to Holland (their country was colonized by the Dutch), their mainstay was…ballads. You gotta love that.

By the way, this whole LP is great and it’s not that expensive. Definitely worth seeking/copping.

MYRIAM’S QUINTETTE: MERCY/MERCI

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Myriam’s Quintette: Solo Quintette (Syliphone, 1971, Discotheque ’71)

I just got back from my first ever trip to Paris (which was a blast) and while out there, I stopped by two stores: Superfly and Betino’s (both of which are highly recommended). Over the next few posts, I’ll be talking about records brought back from both but I had to start with this song in particular.

I first wrote about this here, back in 2004. It’s from a compilation produced out of Guinea though not all the artists are themselves from Guinea. Case in point, Myriam Mekeba, who is South African by birth but lived in Guinea during the era this was recorded, along with her then-husband Stokely Carmichael. While the cover of the LP credits the group as “Myryam’s Quintette,” that was almost certainly a typo. “Solo Quintette,” best as I can figure, is an instrumental track by Makeba’s band (there’s no singing on it).

As I wrote in 2004, “I appreciate how funky “Solo Quintette” is but not in a really obvious or force manner – that string melody doubles as a rhythm track too and the lo-fi drums give the song a sharp kick.” However, what’s also haunted me about this song, ever since I first heard it back in 1999 when the compilation was first reissued onto CD, is that it bears a striking resemblance to at least two American pop songs.

First, and perhaps most obviously, is The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen” (based on the intros to both).1 However, Makeb released another version of this song as “Myriam’s Quintette Song,” and that song clearly is a riff on Cannonball Adderley’s “Mercy Mercy Mercy” and you can hear the same interpolation of one of its melodic passages in both “Solo Quintette” and “Myriam’s Quintette Song.”

No matter what though, “Solo Quintette” stands on its own for just sounding cool as hell.

(Shout out to Superfly for digging in their basement to find a copy of the Discotheque 71 LP for me).



P.S. I’m sure it’s already quite evident but I pulled the plug on 365 Days of Soul: I just didn’t have the energy to pull it off the way I wanted but the upside is that I’ll be doing longer, more informative (I hope!) posts instead of the quick strikes that dominated the first half of the year.

  1. What’s funny about “Soul Kitchen” is that it got sampled by Motion Man but was also covered by Buddy Rich for a version that was sampled by Showbiz and AG.

THE STORY BEHIND N.W.A.’S FIRST RECORD COVER

The Story Behind N.W.A.'s First Record Cover from Oliver Wang on Vimeo.

I originally researched most of this story in 2012 for Artbound but I just revisited it for the Leimert Park Book Fair and decided to record the update as a narrated slideshow. It tells a serendipitous set of stories behind where N.W.A. shot the cover photo for their first release and how it plugs into a longer history of music in Los Angeles.

UPDATE: I should have caught this before, but in the LA Weekly piece from 2010, Sir Jinx shares this important detail: “”All that writing on the picture? I did all that,” Jinx tells me. “Eric went and bought a bunch of neon spray cans. He knew I did graffiti, so I did as much as I could. If you look at the picture, and you look at me, my name is right next to me, you see ‘J-I-N.’ Everybody then kinda grabbed a spray can and the neon cans and wrote on the wall behind us.” (I wonder what the folks at Drum City thought about that! Or maybe the store had closed by then? Still more questions that need answering).

UPDATE #2: Sam Sweet (of All Night Menu) was bewildered by the cover of Dr. Dre’s “Compton” album. He assumed – like I did – that it was supposed to be from the actual vantage point of Compton, south of downtown. But Sam knows L.A. well enough to quickly realize that the layout was all wrong and sure enough, he went and found the correct vantage point: Hollywood Bowl. As he notes, they had to airbrush out the Capitol Records building and perhaps a few others so clearly, someone spent some time to try to “pass” the photo as if it were coming from some place other than the Hollywood Hills.

DEAR FRENCH FAM…

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I’m going to be out in Paris for about 8 days in early August. Any recommendations for either 1) places to eat (on a relative budget) and 2) record stores where my utter lack of French skills won’t get me thrown out?

PRESENTING “COOL”: A HIP HOP MIX FOR SUMMER

Cool (2015) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

I finished most of this last summer; it was meant to be a summery vibe mix but by the time I actually had the finishing touches applied…it was close to winter and I figured, heck, I’ll just wait until things thaw out again. I hadn’t made a purely hip-hop-centric mix in years and I don’t know why I don’t do this more. I had so much fun picking through songs and putting this together and more importantly, that aforementioned vibe is something I never get tired of listening to.

Many of the songs on here were from singles that have survived my slow purge of several thousand hip-hop 12″s and as such, I opted to go with songs that were on the path less taken, as much as possible. A few cuts on here – like The Nonce – aren’t obscure but for everyone of those, you have tracks like Paul Ray’s “More Emotion” or one of my all-time personal random favorites, “Seven Steps” by Novacaine or the unreleased “We Came Here” by the Beatnuts.

If you want a higher quality version, individually tracked, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up for whatever you care to donate.

Tracklisting:

    DJ O-Dub-Intro
    Kid Abstrakt/Revolutionary Rhythm-Jazz and Coffee Pt. 2
    Paul Ray-More Emotion
    Lord Finesse-Down For the Underground
    The Nonce-Mixtapes
    Mood-Hustle On the Side
    Maspyke-Spirit of ’92
    J-Treds-Praise Due
    Novacain-Seven Steps
    The Beatnuts-We Came Here
    InI-Grown Man Sport
    Encore-It’s Time
    45 King + Lati-Brainstorm
    45 King + Lati-Lati Rocks the Bells
    K-Otix-Metamorphasis
    Mos Def-Hip-Hop (Original Mix)
    Group Home feat. Brainsick Mob-East NY Theory
    JS-1 feat. O.C.-Beyond
    Lone Catalysts-Destiny
    Apani B. Fly-Abracadabra
    Hi-Fidel and DJ Crucial -Madeira II
    DJ Yoda feat. PUTS-Quid Control
    Brother Arthur-Whatcha Gonna Do?
    Ron Henderson & Choice Of Color-No Justice, No Peace
    Odd Squad-Here To Say
    Masta Ace-Nostalgia
    Lords of the Underground-Lord Jazz Remix
    The A-Team-G.B. In Your Life
    Public Enemy-Louder Than a Bomb JMJ Remix
    Jaz feat. Jay-Z-Just That Simple
    DJ Day-What Planet, What Station