Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Lyrics Born feat. E-40 and Casual: Callin' Out Remix
From the upcoming Later That Day remix album (Quanum Projects, 2004)

Quannum bestowed upon us the honor of introducing this new remix of "Callin' Out" to the world. Feat. E-40 and Casual, the song brings together three of the Bay's leading ballerticians over the original song's disco bounce. It's that hotness - tell a friend.

Alas, Lyrics Born decided that the song was getting a little TOO much out there so he requested Quannum and us to take down the soundfile. Don't say we're not receptive to the artists 'round here. Sorry to those who didn't get to listen sooner though but the song should be out soon regardless.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Al Hirt: Harlem Hendoo
From Soul in the Horn (RCA, 1967)

De La Soul: Ego Trippin' Pt. 2
From Buhloone Mindstate (Tommy Boy, 1993) (Also on Tommy Boy 12")

The Roots: Stay Cool
From The Tipping Point (Geffen, 2004)

"Harlem Hendoo" is one of those songs that appears out of nowhere - no one would really expect Mr. Honey in the Horn Al Hirt to generate such a magical, mystical soul tune but there it is, on his Soul of the Horn (by the way, this album is extraordinarily hard to find for a Hirt LP). It is such a curious composition - playing Hirt's trumpet off a harpsichord of all things and there's that tinkling bell that sounds off at key moments. I find this tune absolutely sublime but it might have languished in complete obscurity had it not been for Prince Paul and De La Soul who lifted its beguiling melody for their "Ego Trippin' Pt. 2". They speed it up a bit, make the song feel faster but there's no mistaking the horns and the jangling 'chord in the background. Most recently, The Roots' resurrect "Harlem Hendoo" for "Stay Cool" off their upcoming Tipping Point album. Clearly a nod to their De La mentors but also just a sign of good taste as they give a great song some further mileage

Monday, June 21, 2004


KRS-One: Outta Here
From Return of the Boom Bap (Jive, 1993) (also on Jive/Zomba 12", 1993)

Gang Starr: The Planet
From Hard to Earn (Chrysalis, 1994)

These are two of my favorite songs by both artists. There is something powerful and inspiring about hip-hop coming of age narratives - probably the same reason why such bildungsroman tales are recurrent throughout literature and cinema. It's all about overcoming adversity, turning nothing into something, blah blah - you know the MFin' deal. Of the two, "Outta Here" is definitely more self-congratulatory, but hey, it's KRS-One, right? The power in the song is KRS' rail against inevitability, the awareness that all the great ones fall off but that he won't join that parade of has-beens. The chorus is the hotness: "No doubt BDP is old school/but we ain't going out!"

As for "The Planet," it's one of the greatest moments in Gang Starr's long history. Guru's journey from Boston to Brooklyn isn't epic but instead, it's just real: talking about hugging his father before leaving home, about the world of Bed-Stuy around him, about how he used to "lay up in the crib/listening to Red and Marley/wishing I was on, kid" is the stuff of hip-hop dreams that almost anyone can relate to. It's about wanting something more and Guru doesn't have to brag that he's made it: we already know it. The point here is to credit the dream, as embodied by Brooklyn itself, a city of working-class idealism and hope manifested into The Planet. (And Primo's minimalist track is a thing of wonder too).

Thursday, June 17, 2004


De La Soul: Buddy (Native Tongues Decision)
From 12" (Tommy Boy, 1989)
Also featured on Timeless: The Singles Collection.

Public Enemy: Shut 'Em Down (Pete Rock Remix)
Fom 12" (Def Jam, 1991)

These two remixes were part of a trend in the late '80s and early '90s where the remixes were so damn good, you forgot what the originals were. Seriously - I don't even remember what the album version of "Shut 'Em Down" sounds like...Pete Rock's remix is both one of his earliest and still, one of his best. So full of life with the horns and just this infectious energy that makes Public Enemy sound uplifting in a way that we don't typically equate with the Bomb Squad's order ex chaos.

As for "Buddy," I never liked the album version of this Native Tongues posse cut - not exactly sure why since the song was perfectly acceptable in its OG form but the remix improves on a good thing. It's a great party song with its Tanaa Gardner "Heartbeat" beat and the biggest round of the Native Tongues this side of the JBs' "We're Doing Our Own Thang." Where's Chi Ali?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


The Sylvers: We Can Make It If We Try
The Sylvers: I Remember
From Sylvers II (Pride 1973)

One of the more amazing soul albums I know of. I LOVE this LP. While Jerry Butler and Keg Johnson did a good job on the first Sylvers LP, Johnson and Jerry Peters find a whole new level on this LP. The arrangements on here are great - soothing, soulful but with strong, underlying rhythms. This is obvious from the very start with "We Can Make It If We Try" where the two producers blend chicken scratch guitars, a flutter of horns and an anchoring breakbeat. Plus, the Sylvers sound fantastic on the cut - a great tune that makes them sound much more than just a Jackson 5 rip-off. And then there's the smoky "I Remember" with its dark basslines and crunchy snares plus alluring vocals. Have I sung enough praises? Someone needs to reissue this.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


Ray Charles: You Don't Know Me
From The Complete Country & Western Recordings 1959-1986

Ray Charles and Betty Carter: Everytime We Say Goodbye
From Ray Charles and Betty Carter/Dedicated to You

I was listening to Fresh Air today and they had a special show dedicated to Ray Charles. One of the observations that Terry Gross made immediately resonated with me: Charles didn't simply cross genres - blues, soul, country, rock, jazz, etc. - but transcended them. We don't think so much of Charles' country songs or his soul songs - we think of his songs as Ray Charles songs. Case in point: "You Don't Know Me." Technically, it's a country song, a cover of Eddy Arnold's hit, but all the times I've listened to it, I have never once thought of the song as a country song or any genre. It was just, you know, a Ray Charles song. That, more than anything, says everything about his importance and singular impact on popular music. Such an incredible talent and now that he's gone, rather than mourn his passing, I want to celebrate what he left behind. In his words: "I never wanted to be famous; I only wanted to be great."

Done and done.

(Also, this song will be played a zillion times but it's still a classic. Ray Charles' rendition of Georgia On My Mind (Live).)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


In an effort to corral the seemingly endless stream of records now literring my apartment, I just created the The Soul Sides Speed Reviews. In the first installment: 28 albums discussed (albeit briefly...and no sound clips or cover scans. It's about speed people!)

Sunday, June 06, 2004


LL Cool J: Jingling Baby (Remixed but Still Jingling)
From 12" (Def Jam, 1990)

3rd Bass: Product of the Environment (Remix)
From 12" (Def Jam, 1990)

Even if Cold Chillin wasn't the powerhouse label it once was by the early '90s, Marley Marl was still the go-to remix guy in this era before Pete Rock, Large Professor and the Beatnuts really hit the scene. His remix for LL Cool J's "Jingling Baby," practically resurrected his career as LL was on the verge of falling off thanks to the underwhelming response to his Walking With a Panther album. The original "Jingling Baby," was hardly crap or anything but this remix, while still nodding to the OG, is such an incredible re-envisioning of the song that you're tempted to call the original an early draft that accidentally made it onto the album. With the remix, Marley is deftly weaving together a ice cool vamp from Larry Levan's edit of Central Line's "Walking on Sunshine," an incredibly funky bassline and breakbeat from folkies The Grassroots, and then a loop off Dennis Coffey's classic "Scorpio." Genius.

Marley's remix of 3rd Bass' "Product of the Environment," isn't as influential but it's still a damn good remix, especially for that siiiiick scratch (I presume by DJ Daddy Rich) that kicks in about four bars into the beat. The whole track is great - a definite improvement over the original - but seriously, the first eight bars alone is enough to get your heart rate up.

Friday, June 04, 2004


Laura Lee: Since I Fell For You
From Women's Love Rights (Hot Wax, 197?) (also available on Women's Love Rights: The Hot Wax Anthology)

Johnny "Hammond" Smith: Soul Talk
From Soul Talk (Prestige, 1969) (also available on Legends of Acid Jazz)

I had been planning to post up "Soul Talk" last week but didn't have the chance and in the meantime, I was doing some research that involved Laura Lee's "Since I Feel For You," and decided to pair them together. Like most raised on the short single format, I like my songs around 3-4 minutes but I've been trying to listen to longer compositions to appreciate how they let the music unfold and evolve rather than trying to cram everything into a tight arrangement.

With Laura Lee - this is like no version of Lenny Welch's hit ballad, "Since I Fell For You," I've ever heard. The song begins with a classically '70s soul monologue about meeting a man that would spin her world around (see, Alicia Keyes wasn't the first to do this. Thankfully, there's no talk about cell phones here.) Then she slides slowly into the song and it takes on more of its familiarity but Lee puts her own twist on this but musically, they only retain the barest of traces of the original and add in flourishes that neither Welch nor songwriter Buddy Johnson would have imagined. The instrumental bit at the end, right when you think the song has ended, is 100% buttercream. Let the song get there though - don't try to beat the clock.

As for "Soul Talk," given Smith's bounty of funky soul jazz material this isn't necessarily as wicked as he gets but it hardly matters considering the monsters of talent he has on this: saxophinist Rusty Bryant, guitarist Wally Richardson and drummer Bernard Purdie - it doesn't get much better than that (though I guess they could have had Carol Kaye on bass instead of Bob Bushnell, but I don't think she ever recorded for Prestige). Two things intrigue me. The first is rather trivial, but don't people think the song bears a familiarity with "Unpack Your Adjectives" from Schoolhouse Rock? Seriously!

The other thing is Purdie's solo at the end. Purdie is one of the kings of the funky drum solo - there's an entire catalog of hip-hop songs that attest to his greatness in this regard - but what's interesting about this solo is that it's not open: Bushnell and Richardson help provide a backing groove which Smith later accents with some organ stabs. The thing is: this would be a killer drum break if it were open but somehow, having the band play underneath detracts from it. Mind you, I'm saying this from the perspective of someone who's used to drum solos being open and clean (think Idris Muhammed's solo on Rustry Bryant's "Fireeater" for example) so it's a different experience hearing someone like Purdie smash the sticks but with the band still playing beneath him. Great solo either way though - no one can rock a set like Pretty Purdie.


  • Nina Simone: Feelin' Good. From the good folks at Music (For Robots).

  • Tuesday, June 01, 2004

    posted by O.W.

    Mixed by DJ O-Dub

    01 Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud) - James Brown
    02 Black is Black - The Jungle Brothers feat. Q-Tip
    03 You Must Learn - Boogie Down Productions
    04 Ease Back - Ultramagnetic MC's
    05 AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted - Ice Cube
    06 Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos - Public Enemy
    07 Shakilya - Poor Righteous Teachers
    08 Soul Controller - Grand Puba
    09 Freedom or Death - Stetsasonic
    10 When the Revolution Comes - The Last Poets
    11 The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - Gil Scott-Heron
    12 Ain't The Devil Happy - Jeru tha Damaja
    13 New York State of Mind - Nas
    14 King of Rock - Run DMC
    15 Paid in Full - Eric B & Rakim
    16 Fuck The Polic - NWA
    17 Nitty Gritty - KMD feat. Brand Nubian & Busta Rhymes
    18 Drop the Bomb - Brand Nubian
    19 Days of Outrage, Operation Snatchback - X-Clan
    20 Wu-Gambinos - Wu-Tang Clan
    21 The White Man's Got a God Complex - The Last Poets
    22 Bo Bo Bo - Boogie Down Productions
    23 Ah Yeah - KRS-ONE
    24 Wake Up - Brand Nubian
    25 Letter from a Birmingham Bus (The Prologue) - Macon Detornay