GIVEAWAY: SOUL SURVIVOR, A BIOGRAPHY OF AL GREEN

There’s a brand new biography of Al Green out there: Soul Survivor, written by Jimmy McDonough.

I’m excited for this one, least of all because Green is one of my favorite soul artists and unquestionably one of the most influential R&B artists of all time.

The book’s publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for our readers. (It’s over now, thanks for participating if you did!)

I USED TO MAKE…MIXTAPES

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Back around 1994, I got a Tascam 4-track recorder and started to make mixtapes. At a later point, I upgraded to a digital multitrack (Roland SP-808) but the sensibility was the same on all the tapes I made from 1994 through 2001: pick a selection of indie and major label singles and try to creatively mix them together.

It finally took until today but I now have all of them online via my Mixcloud account. Here’s a mini-history:

These were all the first ones, when I was both learning how to master the Tascam plus playing with format ideas. Without trying to pat myself on my back…I actually was surprised how well some of these held up. They’re not best-of-class or anything but I still enjoy listening to them and while I might quibble with some song selections now, I liked the ideas I was working with back then, especially in finding subtle ways to make use of the multitrack dimension. Of the batch, Vol. 1 and 2 are my sentimental favorites, just because I was so new to the whole thing.

These marked a transition towards more professionally manufactured mixtapes rather than dubbing them at home, by hand (which is how I used to do them). My design skills were…not memorable. Musically too, I feel like I hit a real stride from Vol. 6 and onward in terms of still liking the vast majority of what I put on there. 9/10 would do again. Also, I’m eternally proud that Head Warmers made the LP art for DJ Shadow’s Private Press.

I’m not 100% certain but I think these two marked the point at which I had upgraded from the analog Tascam to the digital Roland SP-808. There isn’t a huge difference that most would notice (though I knew because punching in was less obvious with the Roland). Double Flip was particularly ambitious: a two-cassette mix featuring about two hours of music in total. I think my favorite part of that was figuring out the intros to each of the four sides. Auditory Assault marked my transition away from cassettes towards CDs.

There was supposed to be a Vol. 10, an anniversary-style mixtape that would have spanned the ’90s but alas, I was never able to get to that (maybe one daaaaaay).1

  1. Note: what I have above are only those that were part of the O’s Dubs series. I had other mixtapes – Incognitos for example – that I didn’t include in this post.

RECORD WHEEL #9: WEST COAST HIP-HOP

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Back to hip-hop but this time with a Cali focus.

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Playlist:

  • Sanuhtayshun Duhpartment Muzik: Never Changing (SDM, 1999)
  • RhythmX feat. Grump and Simba: Subliminal Criminals (Sick Kid It, 1993)
  • The Poetess: Making Some Change (Buddha Baker Boyz Mix) (Interscope, 1992)
  • MC Red: I Smoke Mics For a Livin’ (Vibe Time, 1992)
  • Ahmad, Ras Kass and Saafir: Come Widdit (Joe Quixx Remix) (Priority, 1995)
  • Da Lench Mob: Ain’t Got No Class (T-Bone Remix) (Eastwest, 1992)
  • Droop-E feat. Kendrick Lamar: Rossi Wine (Sick Kid It, 2013)
  • Droop Capone: Something About Mary (Black Love, 2000)
  • Exile feat. Blu: So Amazing (Soul Provider Remix) (Sound In Color, 2005)
  • 7A3: Party Time! (City Life Mix) (Geffen, 1988)

LIVING FUNK – THE DOC

What’s extraordinary about this is how, not that long ago, a deep dive history such as this would have amounted to a blog post, at best. But these days, you can go out, shoot and edit a mini-doc about a lost record without having to break the bank.

You can find out more at Living Funk.

DARONDO

I was recently invited to share some thoughts on this “Oral History of Darondo Fandom” piece that the folks at Nerdtorious put together. Bay Area legend.

DEEP/UNDER/COVER WITH MICHAEL BARNES ON DUBLAB

Michael Barnes and I recently got to guest host a show on Dublab. For many years, Dublab’s been one of the premier internet stations but on the day we hosted (6/30), it was their very second day as a terrestrial radio station as well, micro-broadcasting on 99.1 FM in parts of Los Angeles. Michael and I both got our start, many years ago, at KALX 90.7 FM in Berkeley so it was very exciting to get back on the air.

For the occasion, we went with cover songs (you know me!) and it was a great excuse to pull out a slew of recent acquisitions, and my past favorites, to share with everyone.

Here’s the show notes, including a full track listing and here’s the actual show.

RECORD WHEEL #8: SLOW JAMS

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Honestly, I could devote an entire podcast series to only slow jams and firme rolas (hmmmm….) but for now, we’ll start with a single episode.

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Playlist:

  • The Exceptionals: What About Me? (GRT, 1971)
  • Nancy: I Promise I’ll Wait (Mercede, 1971)
  • Natural Four: The Same Thing In Mind (ABC, 1969)
  • Little Joe and the Latinaires: Just Because I Really Love You (Buena Suerte, 1966)
  • Smoke Sugar Company: Save a Little Love For a Rainy Day (Teri De, 1973)
  • Black Heart: So In Love (Guinness, 1977)
  • The Emotions: As Long As I’ve Got You (Stax, 1970s)
  • The Cruisers: I Need You So (Gamble, 1967)
  • Freedom Suite: We Belong Together (Mares, 1971)
  • The Sha-La-Das: Those Years Are Over (Dunham, 2016)

LOOSE CHANGE: JOE CUBA

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The Joe Cuba Sextet: Mañana Te Llevo Niña
From El Alma Del Barrio (Tico, 1964)

Joe Cuba is an interesting figure to me insofar as his career precedes the boogaloo era by over a decade but songs like “El Pito” and “Bang Bang” are what put him and his Sextet on the map in a way that his earlier mambo-era LPs had not. I don’t own any of his pre-Sextet LPs but I did go completionist with everything he released with that configuration.1 I hadn’t listened to El Alma Del Barrio for quite a while and by no means would I consider it the best of their pre-“El Pito” output (I think Comin’ At You would fit that bill). I was on the verge of tossing this into the Latin purge pile but then I came back to “Mañana Te Llevo Niña” which is a lovely little cha-cha-cha with vibraphone and that, alone, makes it worth holding onto.

  1. In the 1950s, it was Cuba and His Orchestra and in the ’60s and ’70s, he released a handful of albums just as “Joe Cuba.”

LOOSE CHANGE: FANIA ALL STARS

Fania All Stars (Joe Bataan and La La): If This World Were Mine
From
 Live at the Red Garter Vol. 2 (Fania, 1972)

There’s something quite enjoyable about finding surprises within your own collection. True, maybe you should have caught them the first time but in the end, you end up with a great new song that you didn’t even need to go track down.

Case in point: I’ve had this Fania All Stars LP for ages but I never realized that Side B had Joe Bataan and La La dueting on the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell classic, “If This World Were Mine.” The cover here isn’t better than the original but it’s still fun as hell to hear Joe singing Marvin.

RECORD WHEEL #7: DISCO FEVER

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Been promising this one for a minute. I am, by no means, a deep disco head (that particular well runs incredibly deep) but I do respect/appreciate it. These aren’t my absolute favorite cuts but randomly selected ones that I think do a good job of showcasing the diversity of the genre.


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Playlist:

  • Charanga 76: Good Times (TR, 1979)
  • Ernie Story: The E Groove (Legend, 1976)
  • Manzel: Space Funk (Fraternity, 1977)
  • Gospel Soul Revivals: If Jesus Came Today (Sonic, 1982)
  • Frankie Gee: Date With the Rain (Claridge, 1975)
  • The Bee-Gee’s: Too Much Heaven (RSO, 1979)
  • Wild Sugar: Bring It Here (TSOB, 1981)
  • Belle Epoque: Miss Broadway (Shadybrook, 1977)
  • T.C. James and the Funk-O-Fist Orchestra: Dance All Over the World (Funk-O-Fist, 1977)
  • B&G Rhythm: Hibaros (Polydor, 1978)