Aaron Neville: She Took You For a Ride
From Tell It Like It Is (Par-lo, 1966)

Quantic Soul Orchestra: Tropidelico
From Tropidelico (Tru Thoughts, 2007)

The B.U.M.S.: West Coast Smack
From Lyfe N’ Tyme (1995)

DJ Shadow: Best of the KMEL Mixes Part 1 (snippet)
From The 4-Track Era (DJ Shadow, 2007)

Crystal Mansion: And It Will Take Your Breath Away
From S/T (Rare Earth, 1972)

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these GM posts but I was recently in the Bay Area on a short holiday/family trip and, of course, had to make my pilgrimage. As I’ve written before, the joy in going there is simply the vastness of music I can get acquainted with. Especially in L.A., where the geography isn’t conducive to a similar arrangement, I miss having someplace to just kick back and chew the fat about records. That is, of course, partially why I do this blog.

This time around, I was hanging around when DJ B.Cause slipped on the Aaron Neville LP. You wouldn’t think this album would be such a pricey piece – “Tell It Like It Is” is one of Neville’s biggest hits ever, but the original album is quite the collector’s item but luckily, the excellence of the music helped defray the sticker shock. “She Took You For a Ride” is a magnificent track, with a different soulful feel from “Tell It Like It Is,” especially with the background vocals. I was initially struck by that element since I don’t normally associate it with Neville but it gives this song an added dynamic in this case.

Joining me at the GM was my man Beto, who I last wrote about in July. This was the first time the two of us actually got to sit down and build for a minute…I was bouncing a ton of Latin music (especially boogaloo-related) questions off me and it is downright scary how much knowledge he’s been soaking up for his research on the music scene in the Afro-Antilles. I’m going to say this now: when his book comes out, it has the potential to be a major game-changer. Remember the name: Roberto Gyemant.

In any case, while we were hanging, he hit me off with the new QSO CD – something I had been meaning to check out but still hadn’t gotten around to yet. It’s a great concept: Will Holland (Mr. Quantic himself) decided to record a series of songs inspired by music of the Latin American tropics, basically covering ground throughout the Greater Caribbean Basin; he recorded on location in Panama City, for example.

Beto helped turn Will Holland onto some of the artists that he works with on the Tropidelico CD, including (I presume) the incredible Peruvian pianist Alfredo Linares (I have an upcoming post about Linares and other Peruvian Latin players). That’s Linares you hear at the beginning of “Tropidelico”; he has such a distinct touch on the piano with his chords and tempos. I love that Linares was killing it back in the ’60s and is still holding it down in the ’00s. (Rappers should be so lucky).

Speaking of which, I quietly threw on the B.U.M.S. album at the store, just for kicks, and took the assemblage on a reminisce trip back to the mid-’90s Bay Area hip-hop scene. The B.U.M.S. always makes me nostalgic, partially because I’ve always wondered why the didn’t do better than they did, partially because the album itself was produced by one of my favorite, slept-on producers from that era, Joe Quixxx. B.Cause mentioned he’d actually been giving “West Coast Smack” some spin at his gigs and though my fave cut remains the title cut, it was worth giving some shine to one of the other tracks, especially with this CD long, long out of print.

Sticking to the Bay Area hip-hop tip, the GM had a copy of DJ Shadow’s 4-Track Era CD for sale and I scooped that with a quickness. I actually had some of this on an ancient dub tape I got from the old Solesides crew but it’s great that it’s been compiled onto CD. The back story is this: Shadow first came to prominence on the strength of these crazy mega-mixes he did for KMEL back in the early ’90s (this is back when KMEL was arguably the greatest hip-hop station on FM, west of the Hudson). You young’uns, raised on Pro Tools off your Mac Books, probably can’t even remember the era of Tascam 4-Tracks and what not but sheeyit, I grew up on listening to radio DJs create these insane, multi-layered mixes off them and created most of my early mixtapes (back when they were actually tapes) off analog 4-tracks myself (’tis true: check for Head Warmers on the Private Press inset), following their inspiration. To make a long story short: even in 2007, these kind of mixes are incredible to listen to, without even factoring in the technological acumen that it would have required (f— a mash-up, back then, we called ’em “remixes”). Damn, how old do I sound right now? I need to get out of this “back in the day” mode! Too late.

For real though, I’m still trying to figure out how he remixed that De La song at the end…was there an acapella to “Afro Connections” I didn’t know about?

I’m ending with a song I’ve been meaning to blog about for, oh, at least a few years now but just never got around to it: “And It Will Take Your Breath Away” by Crystal Mansion. I copped this from the GM years ago and I still don’t know a ton about them, apart from the fact they were a blue-eyed funk group, in the vein of Rare Earth, who never hit it crazy big but managed to stick together for about half a decade. I’ve always loved, loved, loved how this song opens, especially with those soulful piano melodies and then the drum drops. If this sounds familiar to anyone, there’s a reason why.