Ben Westbeech: So Good Today
From Welcome to the Best Days Of Your Life (Brownswood, 2007)

Candi Staton: I’m Just a Prisoner
From I’m Just a Prisoner (Fame, 1970). Also on Candi Staton: The Early Years.

Timmy NcNealy: I Am So Glad You’re Mine (snippet)
From 7″ (Shawn/Truth and Soul, 1972/2007)

Hank Ballard: With Your Sweet, Lovin’ Self
From 7″ (King, 1969)

Bronx River Parkway and Candela All-Stars: Aqua Con Sal (snippet)
From 7″ (From Truth and Soul, 2007)

The Three Souls: Herby’s Tune
From 7″ (All-Indy, 196?)

Donny Hathaway: Lord Help Me
From 7″ (ATCO, 1972) Also on Extension of a Man.

UGK: One Day
From Ridin’ Dirty (Jive, 199)

Here’s an irony for you: I switched to audioblogging after doing 10 years of radio because, frankly, I found radio a bit exhausting. But nowadays, with teaching and family, blogging (at times mind you, only at times) feels like the burden. So instead of doing a few mini-posts, I’m back to cooking up mini-sets. I’d appreciate any feedback people have, namely over whether or not these 20+ minute mixes are more to their liking than single-song files. Personally, I like it better since I think music should be listened to in a sequence rather than bits of free-floating atomic units (I’m old school like that).

Anyway – here’s the latest mega-post.

I have to thank Soul Sides reader, Ronnie Reese, who put me up on my current heavy-rotation player – “So Good Today” by the UK’s Ben Westbeech. I’m a little surprised I didn’t catch wind of this sooner, only because Westbeech is signed to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label and I tend to follow Peterson’s music. In any case, Reese was trying to put me up on the Dap-Kings mix of the song but I have to say: I rather prefer the original version. Sure, it’s sugary sweet and probably only a touch less hippy-happy than, say, “Young Folks ,” but to me, this is the perfect “start-your-day” song. Much better than waking up to that “ENH! ENH! ENH! ENH!” of the typical clock-radio. Dig the video too.

The Candi Staton is very, very overdue. I should have blogged about this a couple years ago, when Astralwerks put out that amazing Candi Staton: The Early Years anthology, featuring some of her best songs with Rick Hall’s famous Fame studio in Muscle Shoals. I was reminded of this, pulling out songs for that recent Sharon Jones gig, and reminded about how insanely awesome “I’m Just a Prisoner” is. Seriously, it’s G.O.A.T. status and I don’t mean Capra aegagrus hircus. You gotta love how the song builds in intensity; it’s not far past 3 minutes yet it sounds absolutely epic.

I follow that with one of the best reissues I’ve heard in a while; a cover of Al Green’s “I’m So Glad You’re Mine” done by the great Timothy McNealy, and re-released by our valued colleagues over at Truth and South in Brooklyn. This one is mega-mega rare, originally appearing on Shawn and what I appreciate about it is how McNealy strips down an already stripped-down song…it’s lo-fi but in this affecting, acoustic, intimate way. I only hooked up a snippet: cop the entire thing (hopefully, T&S will get a digital sales system set up soon).

The Hank Ballard side comes from a stack of 45s my man Justin Torres broke me off with a few years back but I had misfiled a bunch of them and only recently rediscovered them. This was part of a batch of James Brown-produced singles and the deeper I get with that catalog, the more impressed you get at just how many songs from the ’60s, including a song like this Ballard cut, managed to carry that signature JB sound without having to smash you ever the head with it, ala “Think” or “More Peas” (so we’re clear: I like being smashed in the head by JB-production). Sweet funk like this makes my day.

Back to Truth and Soul, just wanted to hit ya’ll with a quick blast of Latin funk from their Bronx River Parkway recordings (I believe a full-length is imminent). As usual, a solid dancefloor cooker that’s a good transition song for the Latin newcomers but doesn’t dumb it down for the real heads either.

The Three Souls jazz tune is off another 45 I re-discovered from Torres’ batch. This is an interesting single out of Indianapolis, given that the A-side, recorded with a vocalist named Aretta is a soul cut whereas this, the flipside, is obviously a straight-ahead jazz track and my, my, my…what a nice one at that. Much as I appreciate the soul jazz era of the late ’60s/early ’70s, it’s “soulful” straight-ahead jazz like this which I never get tired of listening to. If anyone else has recommendations for albums in a similar sounding vein, let me know.

The Donny Hathaway is something I originally posted back in February and I was under the mistaken impression that it had been a previously unreleased cut, put onto the Extension of a Man CD. As it turns out, it had come out…but only on 45. Given that I just reacquired the single, I wanted to put it up again especially since it is, hands-down, one of my favorite Hathaway songs (which is saying a lot). So sublime and socially conscious to boot.

Lastly, I end with a song that was suggested to me by Soul Sides reader Laughlin Siceloff as part as a two-song, Pimp C dedication. I thought it’d actually work nicely as a coda here, in the memory of a rapper who passed far, far before his time. R.I.P.