The Three Degrees: Collage
From Maybe (Roulette, 1970). Also on The Roulette Years.

Third Wave: Waves Lament
From Here and Now (MPS, 1970)

Every so often, I’ll get a random email from someone who wants to send me a mix-CD. I’m very appreciative of the consideration but unfortunately, because of all the other stuff I have to juggle, I don’t always get around to listening to stuff and most CDs end up queueing up on my desk.

The other week, I decided to root through the stack and came upon these two CDs that were part of a series called “Nothing Serious,” sent out by a 20-something from San Jose, Veronica V. I had evidently received one in the summer and then another one in October but hadn’t listened to either. I popped in the October edition and it opened with Slum Village’s “Fall In Love” (never a bad way to open) and that got my attention…then a few songs later, “Collage” comes on. At this point, I’m thinking, “who put this out?” so I pull out the liner notes, start reading and I’m floored.

Let me rewind: first of all, as I quickly notice: the liner notes themselves are hand cut and stapled. The CD cover is either made through using some precision glue stick and glitter work or silk screened – either way, it’s clearly hand-made and expertly so. Someone has definitely put some time into this. And then you read the liner notes and each song gets anywhere from a few words to entire paragraphs devoted to them. Did I mention there was a preface? It’s a little like reading a series of MP3 blog entries except, far more interesting and personal than the standard rabble. It’s more like an audio diary, only shared with a larger public, from someone I don’t even know. Altogether, completely remarkable.

Speaking of which, so is “Collage.” I confess, I had never heard this song before and for that alone, I’m graciously thankful to Veronica’s labor of love. The song is really, really, really good. So melancholy but not a quiet song by any means and there’s something about the three-part harmony and the rousing production which makes for a tune that’s hard to compare to anything else out there…

…except maybe for the Third Wave, the 5 Filipino-American sister vocal group that George Duke put together for MPS back in the late 1960s. I’ve featured them on Soul Sides before but it’s been a while and it seemed apropos given the similarities in sound between the Three Degrees and Third Wave. Thanks again to V.V. for her musical generosity.