Wynne Unit Band: It’s Over (Texas Prison Rodeo, 1980, Behind the Walls)
Part of the appeal of prison soul albums lies in how a narrative of redemption is built into their very existence. They exist, whether intentionally or not, as rehabilitation projects, where inmates use music as a way of reconnecting with “legitimate” society. Whether that’s all a facade or not, it’s how most prison LPs are set up, this exemplary one out of Texas being no exception. The Guardian published a write-up about Wynne Unit and its musicians back in 2013 but this LP had long been on people’s radar for a minute because amidst its country tunes are two unexpectedly great modern soul jams (besides “It’s Over”, there’s also “Come Home,” which is very similar in feel/style).
The same project also released another album a few years earlier, featuring a band out of Eastham prison but from recollection, that one isn’t as good (at least not on the soul front).
Droop-E: I’m Loaded (2010, Blvck Diamond Life)
Late pass. Didn’t realize Droop-E did a mixtape of all Sade samples back in 2010. Lurvin’ this. Feel like he’s been MIA for a minute…what’s Droop been up to?!
Tru Thoughts has exhibited ace taste in their covers compilations. Their newest, Covers 2 came out earlier in the month and the line-up is killer. I’m especially into Quantic and Alice Russell’s take on Leonard Castor’s mid-70s Motown classic:
And the same volume includes this Nirvana cover that my dude Phatrick worked on:
Raymond Guiot: Oriental Vibrato (Tele-Music, 196?, Indicatifs)
Chatelain & Roy: La Parade Du Depart (Tele-Music, 196?, Un Tour De France)
I’ve said this on many occasions (here) but while I definitely don’t go out of my way to collect library records as a genre, I also don’t pass them by when I cross paths with a decent one. These two both came from my recent Paris trip (Tele-Music is a French library series) and while I didn’t score my main Tele-Music white whale, I wasn’t mad at paying relatively little for each of these.
“Oriental Vibrato” is some straight up dusty fingers joint (no, I mean, literally, it was) though I’m surprised that it doesn’t seem to have been sampled by anyone. What’s the squawk made by? Sounds like a horn of some sort but with a weird muted effect.
I’m definitely all about “La Parade Du Depart,” which is the only memorable track off an album inspired by the Tour De France. It’s all about that transition from the flute-y funk it opens with to the MJQ-like piano tinkling. Interestingly, my 10 year old loves this song though when pressed, she can’t articulate why. Like father, like daughter?
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.