SINGLE SERVINGS EP2: AMERIE’S “1 THING” (SIIK REMIX)

The newest episode of Single Servings delves into the story behind one of my all-time favorite remixes and summer songs: the Siik remix of Amerie’s “1 Thing.”

As a reminder, this is the Apple Podcasts feed that you can subscribe to for futur episode.

If you prefer to listen to this episode direct, listen here: Single Servings, EP2.

If you find yourself in LA, be sure to try to catch the 143 monthly party that Siik is part of and be still has an archive of his past blends and mixes here.

STACKS OF STAX (PT. 2) (W/ GIVEAWAY)

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(In case you’re curious what “Part 1” is, I wrote that in 2009.)

Stax was the first music label I ever took an active interest in. This was probably back in 1992, when I decided to splurge with some credit I had at Amoeba and I picked up the the Complete Stax/Volt Singles, 1959-68, 9 CD box set. I can’t even recall why I was motivated to cop it except that 1) the cover looked cool and 2) I must have known a bare minimum about Stax/Volt to think “hey, maybe I’d learn something from this.”

That set stayed in heavy rotation for months and clearly, I wasn’t alone in that. One thing that I feel like isn’t acknowledged enough is that its release set off a spate of rap artists sampling from the Stax/Volt catalog. The examples are legion and maybe it’s a coincidence in a few cases but really, is it just convenient timing that this box set drops in ’91 and by ’93, the RZA is minting classics that loop up Wendy Rene and The Charmels (both of whose songs appear on that first volume)? I think not.

Those box sets – there are three of them in total, spanning 1959 through 1975 – were just the beginning. Over the years, the folks who own the Stax back catalog have done a steady job of mining it for different anthologies and just over the past few weeks, two new Stax-related box sets have hit the scene.

First, there’s the new Stax Vinyl 7s set. This is, if I have my count right, their fourth time reissuing singles within a 7″ box set (notably, they were early to the game, with their first set, called the Stax Box coming out in the mid-1980s!). The focus of this latest set, released to commemorate the label’s 60th anniversary, is somewhat surprising: compiler Richard Searling focused on Stax-related releases that gained a cult following in the UK’s Northern Soul and crossover scenes which is stark contrast with the label’s famed Memphis sound roots. It’s not an unwelcome way to explore the Stax catalog, just an unexpected one.

The challenge for Searling was to come up with a new way to repackage old treats and to that, he focused on tracks that have long been difficult – if not impossible – to get on 7″. Let’s cut to the chase: the best thing in this box, in this regard, is Lou Bond’s sublime “Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards” which has never been released on single. I wouldn’t say that it’s worth copping the box just for this single but it’s the first thing that leapt out to me. It’s kind of amazing, really, that no one’s bothered until now to put this out on 45; it’s so frickin’ amazing.

If the Lou Bond was “never before” status, then a slew of singles fall into “you could have bought these once but good luck finding them now” territory. One of them, the Montclairs’ “Hey You!” was previously re-released in 2001 but the original copies on the Stax subsidiary, Arch, easily sell for $1000+ and I can understand why: it’s an incredible crossover tune. I don’t think I’d drop a G on it but if you threw me a copy and asked for a few hundred, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to cop. It’s that good.

Some other gems include J.J. Barnes’ stomper “Sweet Sherry,” as well as the slow-burning “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” by Carla Thomas. As far as I know, neither song received a formal Stax/Volt release back when they were first recorded though both have also been subsequently reissued onto 45 in the years since.

We have a copy of the boxset to giveaway! To enter, 1) name the three songs used in this short snippet mix and then 2) post your answers here. Good luck.

INTRODUCING SINGLE SERVINGS

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I’m 110% invested in making Heat Rocks a success as a podcast but I also want to stay creating other audio stories on the side. As such, I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while: a series devoted to talking about single songs (preferably but not exclusively actual singles). I bring you: Single Servings.

This is a strictly personal passion project, much like The Record Wheel and the Sidebar before it. Episodes probably won’t be updated with any regularity; it’s “do it when I can” but regardless, nothing makes me happier than to talk about a song I love so you can expect a stream of these, even if it won’t always be steady.

In any case, for the first episode, I’m super-psyched to not just (re)introduce you all to one of my favorite Northern Soul singles – “Someone To Treat Me,” the 1969 7″ by the New York girl ground, The De Vons – but I was able to interview lead singer Jimmie Boone Amos whose voice you’ll hear in the episode.

As a reminder, this is the Apple Podcasts feed that you can subscribe to. If you prefer to listen to the episode direct, you can peep it right here:

HEAT ROCKS, EP001: JOI ON BETTY DAVIS’ “THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT”

The first episode of my new Heat Rocks podcast is now live. You can find show notes + some bonus beats material on the official Heat Rocks website.

 

ANNOUNCING THE NEW HEAT ROCKS PODCAST

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I couldn’t be more excited to announce, finally, the public launch of my new podcast: Heat Rocks.

Alongside my co-host, music supervisor extraordinaire Morgan Rhodes, and co-producer/editor Nick Liao, we’ve been plugging away at this all summer long and we now have almost three months of shows in the bank and ready to go.

Morgan and I cooked up the idea for Heat Rocks like this: every episode, we invite a guest to join us to talk about one of their favorite albums. It’s a deep dive approach focused on both music appreciation and discovery and I have to say: it’s been absolutely delightful to hear musicians, writers, scholars, etc. talk about what makes certain albums important to them.

The show officially launches next Tuesday, Oct. 3. You can subscribe to it via Apple Podcasts. We have a trailer episode ready, with a sneak peak at a few of our upcoming shows.

The first month’s slate should include the following:

    Joi on Betty Davis’ They Say I’m Different
    Phonte on Intro’s Intro
    Ann Powers on Madonna’s Like a Prayer
    Dam-Funk on Change’s Miracles

Future episodes will include everyone from L.A. rapper Ill Camille to king of the video essay, Jay Smooth, to TheRinger.com’s Shea Serrano to beat maker Suzi Analogue.

I’ll post up info on each new show here, on Soul Sides, but if you’re so inclined, you can follow Heat Rocks at any of these accounts: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

And there’s our dedicated Heat Rocks site where we’ll post show notes for every episode.

SUNNY AND THE SUNLINERS

I got to review the new Mr. Brown Eyed Soul that came out last week, focusing on the ’60s-’70s slow jams of San Antonio’s Sunny and the Sunliners.

CHARLES BRADLEY EXITS THE STAGE

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Charles Bradley has died at age 68.

Folks here know how much I liked and respected the man and his music. I got to review his album in 2013 and then write about “Things We Do For Love” a few years later. And Tommy Brenneck broke down how he and Bradley came to work together on episode #7 of The Sidebar.

Some of my favorite Bradley songs:

FALL PURGE

The purge never really ends but I have updated my Discogs page with a few dozen new 45s, most of them in the $10 range. One of the most recent bigger ticket items is this original Nigerian pressing of Fela’s Everything Scatter. As with all my record sales, email me direct first with what you want and I can almost always cut you some kind of discount.

I also have a bunch of unplayed CD comps for sale. Just cycle through to see which ones. Email me if you’re interested.

GIVEAWAY: SOUL SURVIVOR, A BIOGRAPHY OF AL GREEN

There’s a brand new biography of Al Green out there: Soul Survivor, written by Jimmy McDonough.

I’m excited for this one, least of all because Green is one of my favorite soul artists and unquestionably one of the most influential R&B artists of all time.

The book’s publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for our readers. (It’s over now, thanks for participating if you did!)

I USED TO MAKE…MIXTAPES

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Back around 1994, I got a Tascam 4-track recorder and started to make mixtapes. At a later point, I upgraded to a digital multitrack (Roland SP-808) but the sensibility was the same on all the tapes I made from 1994 through 2001: pick a selection of indie and major label singles and try to creatively mix them together.

It finally took until today but I now have all of them online via my Mixcloud account. Here’s a mini-history:

These were all the first ones, when I was both learning how to master the Tascam plus playing with format ideas. Without trying to pat myself on my back…I actually was surprised how well some of these held up. They’re not best-of-class or anything but I still enjoy listening to them and while I might quibble with some song selections now, I liked the ideas I was working with back then, especially in finding subtle ways to make use of the multitrack dimension. Of the batch, Vol. 1 and 2 are my sentimental favorites, just because I was so new to the whole thing.

These marked a transition towards more professionally manufactured mixtapes rather than dubbing them at home, by hand (which is how I used to do them). My design skills were…not memorable. Musically too, I feel like I hit a real stride from Vol. 6 and onward in terms of still liking the vast majority of what I put on there. 9/10 would do again. Also, I’m eternally proud that Head Warmers made the LP art for DJ Shadow’s Private Press.

I’m not 100% certain but I think these two marked the point at which I had upgraded from the analog Tascam to the digital Roland SP-808. There isn’t a huge difference that most would notice (though I knew because punching in was less obvious with the Roland). Double Flip was particularly ambitious: a two-cassette mix featuring about two hours of music in total. I think my favorite part of that was figuring out the intros to each of the four sides. Auditory Assault marked my transition away from cassettes towards CDs.

There was supposed to be a Vol. 10, an anniversary-style mixtape that would have spanned the ’90s but alas, I was never able to get to that (maybe one daaaaaay).1

  1. Note: what I have above are only those that were part of the O’s Dubs series. I had other mixtapes – Incognitos for example – that I didn’t include in this post.