BAY AREA STATE OF MIND


I’m a fucking mess of tangled emotions right now and most of the epicenter is located in the Bay. On the plus side, there was the Giants’ winning the World Series, but on the flip, there’s the rage I feel towards the Johannes Mehserle verdict and subsequent, bullshit sentence. Both SF and Oakland saw some rioting this past week, for completely different reasons, but you can just imagine the general air of volatility there right now.

I was watching this earlier, mostly as a way to cool my anger, and it just struck me how heartsick, for a moment, I felt for The City (yes, nothing like a Steve Perry tune to get one all sentimental). And while I know romantic metaphors are corny, a thought went through my mind that I feel married to L.A. (and I mean that in all the best ways) but the Bay Area is like a former lover that I’ll never truly be over even if I don’t have any insistent desire on reconciling with (i.e. moving back to).

My first post-adolescent visit to the Bay came in the spring of 1990; I was visiting UC Berkeley to see if I wanted to attend and my cousin, who was already there, took me to the city on the first full day and it really was love at first sight. I didn’t even bother to look at another school. I spent the next 16 years there, more than I’ve lived in any other place, and I have the feeling that no matter how long I’ll be gone from it, it’ll always be part of who I was/am (cue Tony!)[1]

Anyways, a few weeks back, I was digging through a box of old 45s, looking for stuff to sell, and came upon two Bay Area 7″s that I had totally forgotten about and was quite happy to rediscover:

Chocolate Chips: There You Are
From 7″ (Balance, 196/7?)

Marvin Holmes and Justice: Tell the Truth
From 7″ (Brown Door, 1973)

I’ve had the Chocolate Chips all the way back in 2000 but haven’t played it in years. Great guitar riffs but what nails this is the chorus which has that weird harmony between the falsetto and bass leads. All that and a beautiful, swinging rhythm.

The Marvin Holmes opens with that whimsical, muted trumpet but the tone shifts towards a much darker edge once the full rhythm section jumps in. The arrangement reminds me of something Eugene McDaniels might have cooked up in the early ’70s, but with a little Sly Stone thrown in. The more I listen to this, the more I love how everything comes together on it (especially the subtle power of the Latin percussion). The ace? The “doo-doo-doo” vocals at the end.

One more Bay Area single for you, this one being a much more recent acquisition:

Sugar Pie DeSanto: I Don’t Want to Fuss
From 7″ (Chess, 1964)

DeSanto may have been born in Brooklyn and much of her initial recording career happened in Chicago but she’s a Bay Area hometowner at heart (Oakland, represent). “I Don’t Want to Fuss” was part of her early wave of singles recorded for Chess and I’ve really been digging on R&B stompers in this vein. This has a wholly infectious backbeat and DeSanto is killing it on the vocals – she even makes singing a word like “should” sound good.

[1] No offense to Randy Newman, but one of the things L.A. severely lacks is a good ballad dedicated to it.

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1 comment to BAY AREA STATE OF MIND

  • intransit

    The “volatility” you describe also extends to last week’s election. Here in Oakland, because of the bizarre instant run-off system, we don’t even know the results of our mayoral election. Somehow the last week or so seems like an important moment in history but it also feels like limbo.

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