BERLIN TOWNSHIP ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BAND: KID BOP

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Berlin Township Elementary School Stage Band: Salsoul Hustle (private, 1977, A Rhythm Fiesta)

Private press elementary school stage band album out of Camden, New Jersey.

I don’t know about the bands at your elementary school, but these NJ kids were kind of killing it. At this point in the ’70s, stage bands everywhere were playing with funky/fusion tunes but I’m most impressed at the mature sense of polyrhythm this group already had at an early age.

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PRIVATE PILE: SNOW TO RAIN

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BJ Coulson: Squib Cakes + When I’m Kissin’ My Love
From Live at the Elkhorn (Edgar, 197?)

So I was hanging out with my friend Andy last night and he and his partner Lisa spend a lot up of time up in Idaho (long story). Anyways, Andy is a consummate digger, especially with thrift stores and he was saying, “hey, I have this LP for you that I always see in the thrift stores up there. It’s this really bad, private press lounge album.”

(Note: in most cases, all you […]

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PRIVATE PILE: BOB ZELLIN TAKES US FOR A WHIRL

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Bob Zellin: Sunny + The Shadow Of Your Smile
From In a Whirl (Di No, 196?)

Sometimes, all it takes is a good cover. Add to that a 20-something organ prodigy, stroking the B-3, H-100 and a harpsichord, recording for a custom label, and covering a slew of jazz standards. This may border on lounge kitschy (not an unfair characterization) but a B-3 has such a distinctive, playful character that I’m willing to forgive a lot to hear someone who knows what they’re doing. Both of these covers are […]

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PRIVATE PILE: TEXAS PRISON MUSIC

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There’s albums recorded in prisons – think Johnny Cash’s famous At Folsom Prison or Eddie Palmieri’s Live at Sing Sing albums – but then there are prison albums recorded by prisoners. These seem to coincide with the heyday of custom album-making (since most of them were recorded remotely, at prison) as well as, perhaps, pre-“War on Crime” era prison policies were music was seen as one pathway to rehabilitation.

That was certainly the idea behind this prison LP issued in 1965 by the Texas Department of Corrections, with help from […]

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HOLY GHOST POSTS: APOCRYPHAL HYMNS

Numero’s latest in the Good God! series of gospel soul/funk albums might be my favorite yet. I’m, of course, slightly biased by the fact that they ended up using a song from an album that, years ago, I had suggested they reissue and I ended up helping them with the album scan that’s in the comp (Religious Souls). But really, this is absolutely up my alley in terms of gospel’s dip into deep soul. The fact that I even owned one (let alone three) of the albums/singles featured on here is partial evidence of that (on the […]

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THE SOUL OF DRUM MACHINES: THE PERSONAL SPACE ANTHOLOGY

(Editor’s Note: James Cavicchia last contributed to us in ’09, writing about MJ, and I’m delighted to have him as a regular contributor now, beginning with this review of the new “Personal Space” compilation, curated by Dante Carfagna and released jointly by Chocolate Industries and the Numero Group. I have a review of this same album coming out on NPR in a week or so. –O.W.)

All selections below from Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984.

“Shouldn’t real freedom include freedom from memory?” – Geoffrey O’Brien

Shouldn’t the personal be able to exist outside of the historical? Shouldn’t the individual expression be allowed to be truly the work of the individual? Why should the actualization of a singular vision require so many others? Why should sonic mass and its legitimizing effect upon the occupation of the popular ear be denied the single musician? Why must “full-sounding” music come with the expense of strings, horns, choruses? Why must the black musician in particular be required to ensure that his work leaves at least a breadcrumb trail between it and The Blues, or The Church, or Jazz, or The Cause? Must there always be all these walls to get around, all these people to pay, all these ghosts to answer to?

At the spine of this astounding collection is the ostensibly unburdening effect of affordable studio technology—synthesizers, drum machines, high-quality recording—as manifested in private soul music from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties. The irony is that while the empowerment provided by these machines of ahistorical and unindebted process does indeed allow for the expression of a more truly individual sensibility and the creation of a more intimate atmosphere, from this reduced reliance on humans comes also a reduced invocation of them. There is the inescapable sense that without the technology we would never have been able to hear such personal work, but that this same hand of technology has created within the work an alienating distance.

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PRIVATE PILE: SHIRLEY NANETTE’S STYLES UPON STYLES

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Shirley Nanette: Give and Take
Sometimes
Heaven on Earth
From Never Coming Back (Satara, 1973)

Nanette is a jazz vocalist, originally from Portland, OR, and though her own bio says she got her start in 1981, this album would seem to suggest otherwise. It is a most extraordinary LP, one that’s recently been getting heavier mention in select circles after a cache of sealed copies turned up and were quickly sold off (I received mine probably 3rd hand, via my last trip to the Groove Merchant). I’ll just say: […]

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PRIVATE PILE: ERNIE STORY, AN UNLIKELY DISCOTEER


Ernie Story: Chain Gang/Disco City
From Meditation Blue (Legend, 1977)

This strange, private press album out of Minnesota came via the Groove Merchant earlier in the year. It was one of those cases where I had credit to burn so I took a chance on an eclectic LP and once I really sat with it, I’m glad I did.

From the title and look of the album, you’d think Ernie Story was some kind of Christian/New Age folk singer but on the LP, it boasts that Story was a songwriter for mostly R&B groups […]

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Learning To Boogie: Dance Instruction Records Pt. 1


Johnny Frigo: Do Whatever Sets You Free
From Collected Works (Ubiquity, 2002)

Luigi: Kick & Luigi Strut
From Jazz Class With Luigi (Hoctor, 196/7?)

Artist Unknown: Scorpio
From 7″ (Hoctor, 197?)

Artist Unknown: Swahili Boogie
From Dance Bandstand (Statler, 197?)

Dance instruction records are like the poor man’s library records (except that some of them are not that cheap) but they share some important similarities. For one, they were targeted at a specialized audience and though some dance records might have been sold to the general public, most of them were marketed directly to dance schools […]

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