Soul II Soul: Back To Life (acapella mix)
From 12″ (Virgin, 1989)
Bonnie and Shelia: You Keep Me Hanging On
From 7″ (King, 1971). Also on New Orleans Funk Vol. 2.
Bobby Matos: Nadie Baila Como Yo
From My Latin Soul (Phillips, 1968)
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: If You Can Want
From Special Occasion (Motown, 1968)
Menahan Street Band: Home Again
From Make the Road By Walking (Dunham/Daptone, forthcoming 10/14/08)
Final Solution: I Don’t Care
From Brotherman soundtrack (Numero Group, 2008)
Freeway: Let the Beat Build freestyle
From ? (?, 2008)
Q-Tip: Gettin’ Up
From The Renaissance (Motown, forthcoming 2008)
Black Ivory: You and I
From Don’t Turn Around (Today, 1972)
It’s the end of another summer, alas.
Looking back over the summer songs season, I wanted to do the last post on the songs that ended up forming my personal soundtrack the last few months. To be honest, I thought this list would be a lot longer than it ended up being but I wanted to keep it to songs that I kept returning to over and over rather than something I found merely “good.”
Soul II Soul’s acapella mix of “Back to Life” came at me three different ways: Murphy’s Law dropped it at Boogaloo[la] and reminded me how cotdamn fresh it was, Greg Tate’s Summer Songs post made me revisit the Soul II Soul catalog and I finally saw Belly which makes incredible use of the song to open the movie. Personally, I grew impatient to actually get to where the beat drops so I edited my version down to about a 30 second teaser before the “Impeach the President” drums kick in. As ML showed me, it’s always a fun cut to play out.
The Bonnie and Sheila, I have to admit, I learned about first through a quirky youtube video and I wondered how the hell I didn’t know about this earlier. Great little slice of New Orleans funk produced by the great Wardell Quezergue and released on King (the Cincinnati label most associated with James Brown). Words are insufficient to explain to you how much I love this song.
The Patti Drew I owe to Chairman Mao. When I interviewed him for Asia Pacific Arts, he mentioned “Stop and Listen” as an example of a great soul tune that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg yet sounds like a million bucks (not his exact words but you catch the meaning). I couldn’t agree more. Don’t sleep on the equally excellent ballad, “Tell Him” on the same album.
I had totally forgotten about the Bobby Matos and Combo Conquistadores song, “Nadie Baila Como Yo” (nobody dances like me) off the incredible My Latin Soul album until I heard the Boogaloo Assassins play it at their shows. This may very well elevate itself to my top 10 Latin soul songs given how it changes up chord progressions and tepos not once but twice – it’s like getting three songs in one; one of the marks of a superior son montuno. I can’t believe I slept on this track all these years.
I found the Smokey Robinson and Miracles song during my search through Motown’s catalog to find tracks to play out that wasn’t part of their Big Chill/Greatest Hits collection and I never failed to be amazed at the generosity of greatness that Motown provided over the years. For those who think Smokey is all droopy ballads, “If You Can Want” is a loud, proud wake-up call of funky power. How has no one ever done a 12″ edit of this?
Freeway’s freestyle over “Let the Beat Build” goes well with my official, beginning of the summer post where I nodded at Lil Wayne’s original. Free, who had one of the best albums of last year that few seemed to notice, murders over Kanye’s beat here. After, uh, a million subpar “A Milli” freestyles, I was happy to hear someone pick a different track to rip.
The last song is one I should have started the summer with. Late pass. Q-Tip’s had a rough, um, decade so far in terms of being able to get this music to the masses but I’m hoping “Gettin’ Up” does it right for him in preparation for his Renaissance album. This is, by far, the best thing I’ve heard from ‘Tip since this and without getting all misty-eyed for my halcyon teens and 20s, listening to Tribe, this song just f—ing sounds good in the way the best Tribe songs just sounded f—ing good. (No doubt, it helps that the sample source is also f—ng good: “You and I” by Black Ivory. Read more here.).
By the way, if I had to pick my absolute favorite song of the summer…surprisingly, it’d end up being Solange Knowles’ “I Decided.” Don’t ask me why but this has stuck with me the entire time through without ever ceasing to be pleasurable.
And with that…I bid all you adieu until next May but hope you keep the memory of summer in your mind alive until then.
 Don’t laugh – he dances better than you.
 Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere.