In my last Shades of Soul show, I included a few records that I’ve been waiting to share for a while. I thought I’d some additional details on a few choice tracks. Here’s the show again:
3:50 Michigan & Smiley: Tom’s Diner
From Reality Must Rule Again (VP, 1991?)
Cool Chris had this one waiting in the wings the last time I was up in the Bay; he knows my penchant for strange covers and a dual-toasting dancehall group that covers both “Tom’s Diner” and “OPP” has to qualify. I have to guess there are more examples of similar dancehall-fied pop/rap songs out there: school me.
10:50 Port Authority-Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone
From Reflections (US Navy, 1980)
This one came from Andy’s store and holy sh–…a modern soul dance jam inspired by…The Twilight Zone? This is absolutely a WTF moment and it’s really quite awesome.
35:00 3 Peas: The Shadow Of Your Smile
From 3 Pea’s in a Podd (String Bean, 1980s)
Another Record Jungle find; private press jazz album out of Michigan(?). By coincidence, WFMU’s blog has a fairly extensive write-up of this. This is a real amateur effort but I love private press stuff like this, especially the earnest vocals, the slightly-off mixing that puts the cymbals up front, giving this a much bigger, brassy crash that you might expect.
49:00 Ella Fitzgerald: These Boots Are Made For Walking
From 7″ (Salle, 1966)
Another Groove Merchant find. Ella is one of my all-time faves (I did, after all, name my daughter after her!) but I had no idea this existed. And damn, she kills this cover. I don’t normally think of Ella as having cuts I can spin out for parties but this is absolutely fills the bill.
59:00 Sensualities Unlimited: Sweet Blow
From 7″ (Timmion, 2013)
In case you wanted to know where today’s outro music is from: new 7″ from our friends out at Timmion in Finland.
Let’s keep this going, shall we?
In episode 1.3, I had my soul jazz special, which was really an excuse to pull out songs that have been haunting me since I first got into buying records in the 1990s. Very little on that show was anything my long-time readers – or people older than 30 – haven’t heard at some point but who cares? There’s a reason a few of these songs are unqualifiedly “timeless” in their beauty and charm, from Andy Bey’s mesmerizing vocals on Gary Bartz’s “Celestial Blues” (10:14) to Archie Whitewater’s haunting, melancholy “Cross Country” (7:00) to the majestic journey (46:38) of “Smilin’ Billy” from its original 1973 version through the four-part suite that appeared on Strata-East.
I don’t have a ton to add to that; not to be a jerk but these songs are so classic that if you’re not already up on ’em, spend a few extra minutes following those links above and learn you something. One thing I will extend on (since I’ve never written about this album before):
31:14 Denis King: Mr. Beretta
From Pop/Rock Sounds / Multi-Keyboard Sounds (Standard Music Library, 1971) One of the better titles on this British library series, this volume contains the lovely slice of mod/synth funk of "Mr. Beretta" but the A-side also features the quite tasty "Viva (Bass and Drums)" by Max Middleton.
As I’ve sometimes heard said, a song like this practically predicted hip-hop’s later sampling aesthetic, just 15 years ahead of the curve (though, as far as I know, this hasn’t been sampled). There’s a few other cuts off this same LP but those are the two best.