A REVISIT TO MANU’S VOODOO (AND CRATE DIGGING POST-INTERNET)

A few weeks back, I was interview by The Ringer’s Justin Sayles for an article he just published about the last 20 years of crate-digging and sample-based production since the release of DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing. It is a sprawling long-form essay that covers a great deal of territory and I suspect it’d be of great interest to many of the readers of this site.

At the essay’s end, Sayles includes this section based around our convo:

Wang says that the internet has been both an “asset and a liability” for the world of crate digging. Yes, it’s had an effect of diluting hyperspecialized knowledge, making years’ worth of collecting accessible to anyone who can get online, but it has also brought together like-minded music aficionados to share knowledge, and has connected people with, for example, a rare LP a collector in the United Arab Emirates is selling.

That last line is specifically referring to an album I last wrote about in 2008: Manu Dibango’s African Voodoo (I re-upped the sound files for it today). I did, indeed, buy the album from a seller in the UAB that I was connected to via the old GEMM.com. For a long time, it was the closest I came to having anything approaching a “come up” story even though, in the grand scheme of things, “finding a record for cheap on the internet isn’t exactly the stuff of legend.1 In any case, what I had forgotten about was what I wrote in that 2008 post:

Why not post this earlier? I actually had planned to at one point but then noticed it had shown up, in full album form, on other blogs. That took the proverbial wind out of the sails, not just because I’ve been beaten from the punch (which I could care less about) but rather, once a $400 record becomes just another download, part of its unique magic dissipates. Under those circumstances, I’d rather post up something more meaningful to me, personally, than “check out this rare record I have” (especially when it’s not so rare once it becomes more mass available). Ah, but such is the reality of music going online.

Again, I wrote that in ’08 and I suspect many folks would have already begun feeling the same way back in ’98. My point here isn’t to rehash the debate but rather to point out that we’re still having it.

Sayles’s article doesn’t arrive at any clear conclusions and that seems exactly right: the internet is still transforming how we accumulate and disseminate both knowledge about music and the music itself. My own site embraces part of the irreconcilability of it all; it’s a digital space inspired by old analog ephemera and the existence of that site might be helping contribute to both/either the scarcity of that ephemera (as collector’s items) or its greater distribution (via comps, reissues, digital releases, etc.) The only thing I can say is that I should have posted African Voodoo earlier than 2008; I was too self-conscious back then and it is a great album and worthy of notice regards of how many other blogs posted about it back then.

  1. With that said, the greatest come up I ever had did, indeed, involve finding a record for cheap on the internet.

OUR NEW FACEBOOK *GROUP*

In the interests of expanding interaction, I’ve shifted from using a Facebook Page to a Facebook Group. I’ll leave both up for a while but eventually, I’ll only post to the Group as to avoid double-posting in your timelines. Thanks!

PUSHING FORWARD

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Swan Silvertones: If You Believe Your God Is Dead
From 7″ (HOB, 197?).

I received this email, from out of the blue, the other day:

Oliver, the world needs you more than ever now.

Your Soul selections (and general selection) is such an important part of global culture especially Soul & Black culture worldwide.

To DJ’s and Soul collectors you are a hero, and the one thing I know we all need in this world is more Love marinaded with your incredible selection skills.

SoulSides wasn’t just a blog, it was access to catalogues of music that never reached parts of our globe like Africa as an example, obviously because of political issues, but mainly because of limited budget releases of those incredible labels and artists.

It’s hard to describe how much it meant to receive it and not just because it’s highly complementary.

When I started Soul Sides in 2004, I was subconsciously using it to replace my old college radio show. The latter had gotten to be a slog so I was happy to reclaim those 3+ hours a week but I missed having a way of sharing and talking about music so voila!: audioblogging filled that space.

And in the heady days where people still, you know, blogged, it was kind of like doing radio but even better because people would comment and there’d be small convos that’d breakout on account of it. That kind of feedback is vitally important; it lets me know that people are out there listening.

And then Facebook and Twitter arose and I was just as guilty as anyone in shifting my attention and energies – as a reader – over to those platforms. I understand why people stopped commenting here but over time, I just couldn’t tell who was reading/listening anymore. Was I writing these posts to a non-audience? And if so, what was the point of doing that? And so, over time, my posting has slowed to a trickle.

I’m not saying this to guilt anyone out there. I’m totally fine with people hopping on, DLing a few songs, and jumping out. I do/did the same. But what this email reminded me was “oh, people are reading/listening” and it helps me to want to create more for you (the abstract “you”, not just the author of the email).

I’m thinking about this a lot lately because I’ve been in a dark place because of what’s happening in my society and I keep coming back to something my friend Jeff Chang wrote: “don’t despair, create.” I’m really trying to take that to heart because action is a great counter to depression and so I’m more committed, than ever, to want to create things in the world, whatever forms that may take. And so you may see an increase in posting here but here’s my ask: let me know what you think. Again, feedback to a writer/DJ is part of our lifeblood. It helps to know who’s reading/listening out there. I’m not asking for paragraphs – just a sentence will do. And again, my point here isn’t to guilt people. And maybe what I need to do is create  Facebook group or something along those lines (since there’s not a ton of interaction on the FB page). But in any case, it helps to hear from you all, it truly does.

It also seems apropos that in a time where it feels dark, I gravitate towards songs that seem to burst with light and I can’t think of one much better than this Swan Silvertones’ single. I’m not religious so gospel to me is about feeling rather than faith but heck, the insistence they have in saying, “if you believe your god is dead, try mine, he’s still alive” is so powerful, it makes me want to believe. And theology aside, the basic message is: do not despair, hope survives.

 

THE CHAYNS: FORGED IN SAN ANTONIO

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The Chayns: You
From 7″ (Chayn-Reaction, 1968

Another one I picked up during the Numero Group’s Rapp Cats sale: a gem of a garage/psych rock track that originally hails from San Antonio’s “Teen Canteen” scene of mid-60s. The song would be memorable enough if it only kept to the opening, two-note bass line but the way it switches up for the chorus seals the deal.

SIDNEY PINCHBACK: SET STUNNERS TO PHASE

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Sidney Pinchback & The Sisters: This Is The Woman
From 7″ (Nickel, 1969)

Picked this one up from Rob Sevier during the recent Numero sale in L.A. Immediately fell in love with the phased effect that hits you from jump (listen to this on headphones for maximum impact). It’s the instrumental flipside of Lucky Cordell’s “This Is The Woman I Love” which features Cordell…just talking over the instrumental. Believe me when I say, B-side wins this one (again).

Notably, this wasn’t the only time Pinchback went with a phase effect; “Soul Strokes” was the first time I had heard of his name (I thought it was fake!). I only later learned that he was a semi-prolific songwriter in the Chicago R&B scene of the 1960s, including as a co-writer on Billy Stewart’s “Cross My Heart.”

PAUL GRIFFIN: OLD TIME SOUL SAUCE

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Paul Griffin: Yes, Indeed + Wilson, Otis and Aretha
From Paul Griffin Pours On Some Soul Sauce (Somerset, 1968)

A pleasant surprise find at Mono Records. Griffin was a prolific studio session player with over 250 recording credits to his name but only a small handful of solo sides to his name. All featured Griffin on the Hammond and this album, in particular, was obviously inspired by the burgeoning golden era of soul music in the late ’60s.

I initially thought “Wilson, Otis and Aretha” might have been some kind of medley cut but instead, it reminds me more of the gospel standard “Come Out the Wilderness.” Meanwhile, “Yes, Indeed” is a lovely, slow burn of a blues ballad (this could be a cover of Ray Charles’s song by the same name but they don’t sound alike to my ears).

FOR THE BLOG FAITHFUL

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I’m not making mention of this one on social media. It’s just for you, the actual blog reader, for a limited time.

Slum Village’s original A&M advance of what eventually became Fantastic Vol. 2 #digginginthetapes

O’S DUB VOL 4 (1996)

Still digging’ in the tapes…

Side-A: 4×4 Trackin

the professor and primo intro
Group Home: Back to the Wall
crooklyn coolin’
Pharcyde: Y?
back on sugar hill
Erick Sermon w/ Roslyn Noble and Keith Murray: Tell ‘Em
Show and A.G.: Time For… (original mix)
E.C.: Mating Ritual (WICKED)
Q Ball and Curt Cazal: My Kinda Moves (VZQ)
3 Steps From Nowhere: Pass It On (Listen to the Natives remix)
Real Live: Real Live Sh*t
Sunz of Man: No Love Without Hate
Omniscence: Amazin’ (Keepin’ the Faith remix)
sweet as death
KGB: Bless Ya Life (Grim mix)
no cents
Mobb Deep: Temperature’s Rising (original mix)
KRS-One w/ Channel Live: Free Mumia
Ten Thieves: Black Reign
Mad Skillz w/ the Large Professor and Q-Tip: Extra Abstract
Skillz
Kool Keith: Wearing Make Up
wreck on
Hobo Junction: Shot Callin’ (SOUTH PAW)
this sh*t here
All City: Metro Theme

Side B: Points West

home grown m.j. intro
Key Kool & DJ Rhettmatic: Reconcentrated…from Kozmonautz
Chino XL and Ras Kass: Riot…from his upcoming release
Ras Kass and Coolio: Drama…from Soul on Ice (PRIORITY)
Latief and Lyrx Born: Latyrx…from The Wreckoning (SOLESIDES)
Gift of Gab: Paragraph President ’91…from the Radio Sole Vol I
Abstract Rude live on 90.7 Berkeley
The Visionaries: Danu, LMNO, Lord Zen and Key Kool live on 90.7
Berkeley
Eclipse: …from his demo
Mystik Journeymen: Rise Up…from Children of the Night
Aceyalone: How High I Am…unreleased
Peanut Butter Wolf-Chronicles…from Return of the DJ
the o-d.u.b. outro

JEAN-JACQUES PERREY AND DAVID CHAZAM: ECLECTIC TO THE END

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Jean-Jacques Perrey and David Chazam: What’s Up Duck? + An Elephant On the Roof
From Eclektronics (Basenotic, 1998)

I had been meaning to write a post about this Jean-Jacques Perrey/David Chazam LP for a long time and just never got around to it and then JJP passed away earlier this month and that reminded me to get back to it.

This came out in the late ’90s, a collaboration between Perrey – by then, a veritable legend amongst synthesizer aficionados – and Chazam, a younger Gen X-era musician/composer who I presume sought JJP out and convinced him come back into the studio for the first time in 15 years.

As you can hear, Eclektronics was quite the whimsical album. “What’s Up Duck?” initially sounds like a novelty track but Perrey and Chazam are doing more than messing with animal noises off a sampling keyboard. “What’s Up Duck?” brings an instant smile to me but “An Elephant On the Roof” is a more sophisticated and complex composition in terms of how it shifts and transforms along the way. This probably won’t edge out Moog Indigo on anyone’s want list but if you’ve never peeped it, I highly recommend.

ISLEY BROTHERS: IF YOU WANT TO GET INTO SOMETHING

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Isley Brothers: Get Into Something + Take Inventory
From Get Into Something (T-Neck, 1969)

Partly because I’ve always thought of the Isley Brothers as 1970s mega-stars, I forget: 1) that their careers began in 1959 with the original, wedding-rocking “Shout!” and 2) that when the left Tamla to start their own imprint, T-Neck, they recorded and released a full three albums in less than a year.

Get Into Something was the last of that trio and supposedly it’s “the most valuable and highly sought-after Isley Brothers album.” I’m a little on that claim but whatever: it’s a very good album and the title track is a nearly 7.5 minute proto-funk jam that gives drummer George Moreland a 16+ bar break to do his thing. I imagine that the band had a great time taping this in the studio since there seemed to be little urgency in recording a tight, radio-friendly single.

“Take Inventory” was the only song off the LP I was previously familiar with; it feels like it was trying to recapture the same magical groove as “It’s Your Thing” and while it doesn’t quite get there – what could? – it’s still pretty damn good, especially with that quick horn opening (I’m imagining a good DJ routine of just cutting back and forth on those horns).