GRAB BAG: JULY 2014

DopeSlim

DuraOnes

A FB commentator (uncharitably) suggested that I should post more music to the site…as if I had been withholding out of malice or ignorance. While I may question the spirit of the comment, I at least received the message component, loud and clear. Here, my dears

Kenny Dope Unreleased Project: Comin’ Inside
From: The Pushin Dope EP (TNT, 1994)

Back when I posted this Brass Construction song, I thought Kenny Dope had looped it but I was too lazy to actually confirm this. As it was, I was going through my library and remembered to pull out this EP from ’94 and as it turns out…I was totally wrong. “Comin’ Inside” isn’t built from the Brass Construction but from the Fresh Band. Oops. Still, a dope party/breaks cut from Mr. Dopeman.

Fresh Finesse: You Ain’t Sayin’ Nothing
From 12″ (Valley, 1989)

This came to me via a trade with my dude Hua; a late ’80s random rap record from an artist I know nearly nothing about (only had two recordings, both in a post-Run DMC but pre-Rakim rhyme flow style). Nice flip of Gaz’s “Sing Sing” though.

Radiance feat. DJ R.C.: The Micstro
From 12″ (Ware, 1980)

This also came via Hua; a classic 1980 disco rap jam. You know, back when a rap song was at least 10 minutes…with no choruses.

Louie Rankin feat. Red Hot Lover Tone: Typewriter
From 12″ (Mesa, 1992). Also on Showdown

I recently met up with my friend Adam in S.F. to go record shopping and handed this one over to me. The whole ragga-rap sound was definitely big when I was a DJ greenback in the Bay Area back in the ’90s but while I dabbled in a few releases here and there, it was never “my sound” so there was a slew of records that completely missed my radar, “Typewriter” included. This one strikes a great balance between boom bap drums and the famous “Stalag” riddim. I also like that it’s produced by Tone and the Trackmasterz (even if, back in ’92, that might have been a minus given how much I disliked their work on It Was Written). I always thought Tone was a decent MC even if, in the end, his production work was the bigger success.

Los Disco Duro: Te Lo Creo
From 7″ (Disco Mas, 2014)

Brand new single from some Bay Area homies. Disco-synth-cumbia? Hell yeah.

Baby Jaymes: 21 Questions
From: 7″ (Ghettro, 2014)

Another new single, this time by Cali’s Baby Jaymes covering…50 Cent?! I gotta say, I don’t know if I would have liked this idea on paper but it totally works.

Underground Vegetables: Melting Pot
From 7″ (Ximeno, 2014)

Speaking of new singles and cover songs (albeit a reissue), the folks at Long Beach’s Ximeno just dropped a 7″, with two Jamaican-influenced cuts on it, including this slick cover of the Booker T. classic. Seems like “Melting Pot” had its moment in Jamtown; Boris Gardner also covered it.

Slim Smith: My Conversation
From 7″ (Clocktower, 1975). Also on Conversation Stylee

Staying on the Jamaican tip; I’m pretty sure I heard this via Reggae Central’s Chuck Foster on KPFK. It had that ’60s roots sound that I go weak in the knees for. Took a minute but I finally tracked down a ’70s issue of it. All about those piano plinks.

The Peacemakers: Don’t Push Your Luck
From Funk Spectrum II (BBE, 2004)

I’ve been going through my boxed records to find stuff to purge and that included a few volumes from the Funk Spectrum series. I did digitize a few tracks though, including this rare-as-f— single that Keb Darge brought to the table. “Don’t Push Your Luck’s” baselines reminds me a bit of “Papa Was Too” but this cut is even more stripped down to the bare basics.

Lavell Kamma and his Afro Soul Review: Soft Soul
From 7″ (Tupelo Sound, 1972)

“Soft Soul” is one of those cheap-but-great funk cuts that sound like 10x as good as what you’d pay for it. The drummer is crazy in the pocket and the whole arrangement explodes around it beautifully.

Fuller Bros.: Stranger At My Door
From 7″ (Soul Clock, 1970)

I’ve been trying to remember where the hell I first heard this…I thought it was on that Ruben Molina guest spot on Melting Pot but it’s not on his playlist. In any case, “Stranger At My Door” is a great crossover cut and this Soul Clock version has, in my opinion, a stronger arrangement than the smooth version this Bay Area duo previously recorded for GD&L (both are good, don’t get me wrong).

The Jewels: Opportunity
From 7″ (Dimension, 1964). Also on One Kiss Can Lead To Another

I definitely know I heard this Jewels track via Soulera 5150. I was instantly smitten with the chorus…something about the D.C. girl group’s voices over that snappy Northern beat is so damn enjoyable.

Sly, Slick and Wicked: Tonite’s the Night
From 7″ (Bad Boys, 1981)

Keeping it left coast…L.A.’s Slick, Slick and Wicked managed to follow their successes in the ’70s with a string of strong releases in the early ’80s, dropping tracks with firme rola roots but modern soul production. Shout out to Record Jungle for the hook-up!

Let’s close out with the customary slow jams, beginning with…

The Masqueraders: I’m Just an Average Guy
From 7″ (AGP, 1968)

The first national hit by this Texas group, “I’m Just an Average Guy,” is a delicious blend of deep soul lead vocals, sweet soul/doo-wop back-up vocals and simple but impactful instrumentation. I think this track had been recommended to me as a “common core” selection.

The Ones: You Haven’t Seen My Love
From 7″ (Motown, 1967)

I assumed this was a blue-eyed soul single released by Motown in the early ’70s but I was mostly wrong: the Ones were fronted by Danny Hernandez, a Latino musician from Lansing, MI and this single had already been out on its own independent label in ’67 before Motown ended up buying and re-releasing it (apparently, the first time Motown had purchased a single from outside its own camp). Heavy, heavy tune.

Mary Wells: I Want You ‘Round
From Something New (Motown, 2012)

Most probably associate this song with the Gaye/Terrell version but Wells recorded it as well, only to see it languish in the vaults for years. This has such an eastside sound, as if it were engineered to be bumped in Montebello parks. How is this not booted on 7″ already?!

Leroy Hutson: When You Smile
From Love Oh Love (Curtom, 1973)

You gotta love an artist who used to room with Donny Hathaway, only to replace Curtis Mayfield in the Impressions when he was barely out of college. He had a string of fantastic solo albums in the mid-1970s and I’ve been revisiting them, LP by LP. “When You Smile” is a deeply melancholy ballad from the first of those solo efforts, Love Oh Love, and while Hutson produced it, you can definitely hear the influence of Mayfield and Hathaway on the composition.

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