STEVE JOBS CHANGED MY LIFE

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My parents were PC folks (still are) so I spent most of the 1980s, staring at a profoundly ugly, tan IBM computer and jealous of my cousin who had an Apple IIe. When I went off to college in 1990 though, I broke out and got my first Mac, one of the compact series with its 20MB of hard drive memory 1

In the time since, I’ve owned somewhere around…8 other Macs, to say nothing of iPhones and iPads. And in thinking about how the creations of Jobs and Woz have intersected with […]

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THE SIDEBAR 17: DAN CHARNAS AND THE MANY LIVES OF SYLVIA ROBINSON

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Given the recent passing of Sylvia Robinson, singer/writer/producer extraordinaire, I got on the horn with Dan Charnas, who profiled the late legend in The Big Payback.

Sylvia was best known as the producer behind “Rapper’s Delight” but her career spanned far more than just a hit song in 1979. Our chat covered her early career as Little Sylvia Vanterpool, into her first hits as half of Mickey and Sylvia and then into her rise as one of the most important music figures out of New Jersey, not the least of which was […]

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RIP TO AARON ANDERSON

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Ten years ago, when I first began to get to know folks in my generation of record collectors, we were all mostly in our 20s. One of the nicest, classiest dudes in the game was Aaron Anderson, a DJ/collector out in Detroit. For many years, Aaron had been dealing with a rare form of brain cancer that for a long, blessed while, had gone into remission. However, earlier this year, it returned in an inoperable form and I am extremely saddened to report that Aaron passed away last night.

I didn’t […]

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REMEMBERING WARDELL QUEZERGUE

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Wardell Quezergue died today, at the age of 81. Amongst the giants of NOLA’s R&B/funk community, Wardell wasn’t necessarily as influential as Allen Toussaint nor as prolific as Eddie Bo but he was as quintessential a shaper of NOLA’s R&B sound as anyone, and easily one of the most successful, based on a handful of mega-hits he had his hand in.1

Some of my favorite songs out of NOLA have the Wardell touch upon them, so much so that it was ridiculously easy to just pull them immediately out of my mental […]

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REMEMBERING ASHFORD AND LEIBER

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I can’t do proper justice to the legacy and accomplishments of the late Nickolas Ashford and Jerry Lieber, two of America’s great songwriters, both of whom passed yesterday. Jay Smooth has a great Ashford tribute post up while Funky 16 Corners hooked one up for Leiber, including a few of the songs I was going to include on my site.

I will say this much: the amount that songwriters contribute to the world is almost never, ever repaid back in the recognition we give them. […]

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EUGENE MCDANIELS: DANCE FOR FREEDOM

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Eugene McDaniels passed away this past Saturday, at the age of 72. I can’t do his long and illustrious career proper justice – most of what I know of his catalog constitutes a small fraction of the total number of songs he wrote and recorded. However, the few McDaniels songs I’m most familiar with rank among some of the most interesting and socially relevant I know of.

I’ve written about him in the past and here’s what I had to say:

Eugene McDaniels: Cherrystones
From Outlaw (Atlantic, 1970)

This song is so […]

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AMY WINEHOUSE, RIP

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As I’m sure some corner of the interweb has already informed you, Amy Winehouse is dead. I’m not even sure what to say though I think the spectrum of reactions is somewhere between “damn, that’s sad” and “well, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming.”1 There’s also the grim coincidence that she’s the latest to join the 27 Club.

I’ve written a lot about Amy Winehouse over the years. In fact, I think the most commented post I’ve ever had on Soul SIdes was about her first L.A. performance, at […]

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JERRY RAGOVOY: RIP

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Sad news I just learned about; Jerry Ragovoy has passed away at age 80. I wrote about Ragovoy in 2009, after the release of an anthology of his best-known collaborations; please do check that out since it has more on his background and other songs.

I alluded to this in that post but Ragovoy was an incredibly prolific force in R&B who didn’t always get the recognition he deserved. I was amazed at how many incredible songs he touched, including a few of my all-time favorite soul songs by the likes […]

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FONCE MIZELL: RIP

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Fonce Mizell passed away yesterday. He was one-half of one of the distinctive and beloved production duos of the 1970s (and via sampling, of the 1990s, you might say).

Check out Jeff Chang’s interview with the Mizell Brothers, at the Red Bull Music Academy, from a few years back.

And most definitely check out Matthew Africa’s 2010 tribute to the Mizells.

A POET WITH SOUL: THE BALLADS OF GIL SCOTT-HERON

I wrote a short piece on GSH that I thought hadn’t run yet but, dope as I am, it actually came out on the 2nd. It builds on what I wrote in this post, and tries to go beyond just Scott-Heron’s cultural legacy and get into what he meant as a singer and musician (along with Brian Jackson).

“A poet with soul: The ballads of Gil Scott-Heron” (Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2011)