Roy Meriwether: Nubian Lady
From Nubian Lady/Live at the Magic Carpet (Stinger, 1973)
Just read the other day that Nature Sounds is reissuing Roy Meriwether’s 1973 private press jazz LP, Nubian Lady. I assumed I probably posted about this at some point but as it turns out…nope.
Nubian Lady sits somewhere in the pantheon of soul-jazz recordings alongside Nathan Davis’s If and The Overton Berry Ensemble’s live album. I have a very soft spot for acoustic soul-jazz – which it a slight breed apart from the more electronic-laden fusion jazz sound – and Meriwether is doing some killer work on the piano here. But hey, for a 20 minute beast of a track, you’ll need some added incentive and that would be drummer Billy Jackson who gets a mother of a solo that’s well worth waiting for.
Last summer, I posted about the white whale Syliphone comp I got in Paris in August and now I just read that nearly the entirety of the Guinea’s Syliphone catalog has been digitized and is now being shared by the British Library. We’re talking over 7500 songs, in dozens of languages. This is an incredible resource for Afropop fans/scholars now. I’m already sampling through the various boogaloo songs in the catalog!
I’ve spent this past week dipping, heavy, into Soul Sides’ past (you can read why below)
It’s been both a sobering and humbling experience. In those early years of the site – beginning around 2004 – I was posting more or less daily; there was a visible hunger I had to write about records all the time. I could get into why the ardor has cooled over the years but it’s nothing particularly new – age, the rise of social media, blah blah blah – but the point here is that I forgot how many things I had to write about when I first started.
For example, I forgot, in those early days, how many thematic posts and cross-site collaborations I pursued. There was the Blunts vs. Soul series between myself and Cocaine Blunts. And there was my Beat Week series, of songs with, well, really good drums. These were, if I may say, good ideas! I don’t know why I forgot them to begin with. I should do more of them.
The other thing I’m reminded of is that, when I started, my philosophy was to only keep up sound files for a set period of time. Partly, that was designed to keep me off the radar of, say, the RIAA but partly, it was because this was in the era before every single song was on Youtube anyway. I still believe in the utility of the MP3 – it’s nice to be able to take songs with you – but I’ve very slowly begun to revise older posts and either repost songs to them via Youtube files or actual MP3s again. If you have requests, ask it in the comments and if I can repost, I will.
Meanwhile, Soul Sides is still here. It ain’t going nowhere. Thanks to those who’ve been with me for the last dozen+ years. I’ve never stopped being thankful for you.
By the way, be sure to keep track of the mixes I put up on Mixcloud
. I’ve slowly been releasing some of my old mixes back into the wild, including the first two Deep Covers
First things first: Mathew Warren’s We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo is finally available for home download. I’m biased – since I’m in it – but as the first documentary to really plumb the history of the music, I think it’s absolutely worth checking out.
Second, I had been meaning to post this for a while anyway, so what better timing than now?
Les Play-Boys: Play-Boys Boogaloo (Aux Ondes, 196?, S/T)
The group hails from the French Antilles, having recorded on Aux Ondex/Disque Cellini which had offices in both Martinique and Guadeloupe. Boogaloo, as I’ve written about in the past on the site, spread in popularity all throughout North and South America as well the Caribbean, so it’s not at all surprising to see a West Indian band tackling the genre.
What I love about this is how it captures the classic essence of the boogaloo but filters it through a smoky, Afro-tinged surf rock vibe (I’m sure there’s some Peruvian boogaloo that likely sounds very similar). The use of organ on here, especially, is killer and not something that many groups in East Harlem would have done. Viva la boogaloo!
“El Flaco” Freddy y su Orquesta: El Pito/Humo/Lluvia Con Nieve (From Latin Fiesta, Vol. VII, FTA, 1970s)
After a strong purge of hip-hop records last year, I’ve been starting to sift through my Latin records to get rid of doubles and the like. One record – that I had all but forgotten about – is part of Freddy “El Flaco” Roland’s series of party records he put out in the 1970s. Best I can tell, Roland and his orquestra would play covers of the leading Latin hits of the day, often in medley fashion. The one above is one of my favorite: combining three killer Latin jams into one. “El Pito,” of course, comes from NYC’s Joe Cuba. “Humo,” I believe, was by Lucho Macedo originally and then Roland and his crew clean up with “Lluvia Con Nieve,” by Mon Rivera. All around, excellent work here. If you’re interested in a copy of the LP, peep what I have here.
I’ll be spinning Latin sides at Barrio Funky this Saturday in Chinatown.
Got to review the new anthology of Gloria Ann Taylor’s Selector Sound catalog. As folks here know; I love her work.
Karriem: I Love You (Pashlo, 1979, 12″)
It’s cliche to suggest that all you need with disco is a good, repetitive groove but that doesn’t mean it’s untrue. This obscure-ish disco single out of Oakland is barely more than Karriem singing “I love you” over and over and that’s all you need. Actually, if you tried to put more on it, maybe it wouldn’t be nearly as endearing.
By the way, far as I can tell, this single was the only 12″ that Oakland’s Pashlo imprint ever released. They only had about half a dozen records to their name which isn’t surprising given that they were so local, their original address was a literally a house in deep East Oakland. I couldn’t find much on Karriem himself; he’s not even in the credits! The most notable talent on the song might be producer (and elsewhere, writer/arranger) Gerald Robinson who, among many other works, produced another Bay Area boogie classic, the Numonics’ “You Lied.”
Update: Len Romano on Facebook pointed out that Karriem, aka Dr. Karriem Muhammad , is still recording and actually re-recorded “I Love You” in 2008.
I’m finishing up the 7 days of soul challenge (thanks again to Michael Barnes) with my favorite soul track of the last couple of months:
The Equatics: Merry Go-Round (Now-Again, 2010, Doin’ It!!!)
I feel rather stupid since I slept on “Merry-Go-Round” specifically by 1) totally missing when Now-Again reissued this most obscure of Virginia soul LPs in 2010 and also failing to listen to it when Now-Again put it onto their excellent Loving On The Flipside compilation in 2012. ,It took until this fall for me to finally give the song the notice it deserved…and even then, only because I heard it used during the opening credits to the third episode of Master of None. Better late than never and all that.
I’m not suggesting this is all about the hook but…this is kind of all about the hook. Even if they borrow heavily from the Persuaders’ “Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” the sing-a-long infectiousness is irresistible. And all that from a high school band?!
Zilla Mayes: All I Want Is You (Tou-Sea, 1968, 7″) (Available on The Lost Sessions)
Even if this song screams “NOLA” thanks to the touch of writer/arranger/co-producer Allen Toussaint, Zilla Mayes/Mays herself was far more of a fixture in Atlanta. As a recording artist, she primarily cut blues tunes; there’s a phenomenal series of photos killer photo of her recording “Come Back to Me” for RCA’s Groove subsidiary in 1955. However, Mayes was best known as a pioneering radio DJ, the first Black woman to grace a booth in Georgia when she first began broadcasting as “The Mystery Lady” in 1954 for WAOK in Atlanta.
I couldn’t find any info on how/why she ended up recording this single on Toussaint’s Tou-Sea subsidiary in the late 1960s. By this point, she wasn’t recording much at all; she only has three credited releases in the entire decade (this being the last and musically, it’s quite unlike any of her previous sides). Regardless, I think “All I Want Is You” is one of the finest female funk/soul recordings to come out of NOLA – which is saying a lot – especially with that passion that Mays brings to the track (and that rolling piano does amazing work too).