Saturday, July 31, 2004


The Bizzie Boys: Droppin' It
On 12" (Payroll, 1990). Also on Ego Trip Presents The Big Playback

Supreme Nyborn: Versatile Extension
On 12" (Payroll, 1988)

Ok...was it truly necessary to "invent" a Soul Sides Private Reserve? Not really but 1) I wanted something to complement the generous donation of the Black Label Collection, but drawn from my own library and 2) I was hella bored. There you have it. Soul Sides got more spin-offs than Law and Order - can we live?

Anyways, for the inauguration of the Private Reserve, I digitized a cassette tape (remember those?) I bought at The Sound Library in NYC (big up to Jared) when I was out there in June. It's entitled Payroll Vol. 1 and was a compilation of late '80s rap tunes from the indie label Payroll. Best-known (and I use that term generously) for being the original homes of Supreme Nyborn and The Bizzie Boys (read up on your Ego Trip if you need some schooling), the label wasn't exactly extra-prolific, but what little they did manage to release (appx. half a dozen 12"s, mostly by Supreme Nyborn aka Supreme DJ Nyborn) was pretty damn good, especially for the era.

Out of the 8 songs on the tape, I'm starting with two of the biggest hits: The Bizzie Boys' 'Droppin' It" and Supreme Nyborn's "Versatile Extension". There are actually two copies of "Droppin' It" out there - one on Payroll, the other on the Texas indie label, Yo. Each features a different B-side and the Yo version has a slight remix not found on Payroll. Great song in whatever form you get it: simple, funky, fly. I love "Versatile Extension," just for the way that Nyborn and company kick the song off with a long monologue that ends in "you want to remix it?" "Let's remix it" "Boom!" There is an edit of this song on Nyborn's one and only album, Style (on Next Plateau) but alas, they cut out the bulk of the intro chatter. Mega-hot joint though, either way.

Friday, July 30, 2004


Chris Miguel and Dino Rivera: Mix Part 1 & Mix Part 2.
Recorded for Imagine 8, S.F. 1987

Recognize ya'll - Spintronix have been running the Bay Area mobile DJ scene since their inception in the mid-1980s. Among their alum include radio DJs like Scotty Fox and Chris the Rebel, not to mention founder of Classified Records, Kormann Roque. These two segments come courtesy of DJ Dino Rivera, who, along with Chris Miguel, were some of the illest mixers on four turntables back in the proverbial day. (Yeah folks, this is back when DJs mixed...rather than shouting their names over sloppy segues.)

This was originally recorded for Imagine 8, one of the Mark Bradford's (in)famous DJ showcases that were THE event in the 1980s to attend. Act like you knew.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


The Lost Generation: Sly, Slick and Wicked
From 7" (Brunswick, 1970) and The Sly, The Slick and the Wicked (Brunswick, 1970)

Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band: A Dance, A Kiss and A Song
From 7" (Warner Bros., 1968) and Together (Warner Bros., 1968)

O.V. Wright: I'd Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy
From Memphis Underground (Back Beat, 1973). Also available on The Soul of O.V. Wright.

By sheer coincidence, I just bought that Lost Generation album in NYC recently but haven't had a chance to even sit with it. Their "Sly, Slick and Wicked" is one of the most mezmerizing, incredibly produced soul songs I've heard in ages: it just saunters in on those melancholy strings, offering a "wall of sound" production that drapes you in velvet moods. Throw in the Lost Generations' harmonizing and vocals plus an echo box and this song simply can do no wrong. Best thing ever.

Meanwhile, we have a song from one of my all-time favorite groups: Charles Wright and his Watts 103rd Stret Rhythm Band, off my all-time favorite album of theirs: Together (seriously, if you ever see this - and the album has two entirely diff. covers - COP IT. You won't be sorry). I can't get enough of the swing on this cut: it's not in-your-face funky, but the rhythm is infectious and Wright's vocals and songwriting have rarely been better as he pens a letter to a missing lover. We'll definitely revisit more songs from the Watts 103rd St. Band in the future.

Last but not least is Memphis soulster O.V. Wright: a largely unsung talent whose due has only come posthumously. This is off his Memphis Unlimited album, with production by Willie Mitchell (Al Green's long-time musical partner) and even though the album appears on Back Beat, you can easily imagine this as part of Hi Records' '70s output. I don't know if Al Jackson is on drums here, but it certainly has his fatback sound. Nice, soulful/funky sound on this and Wright's rough-hewn vocals stick to you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Johnny Talbot: Git Sum & Pickin' Cotton
From 7" (Jasman, 1970). "Pickin' Cotton" also available on Bay Area Funk.

Ya'll are in for a treat. My man Tommy Tompkins at Extreme Measures is such a fan of Soul Sides that he recently laced us with 250 soul/funk songs from the mid 1960s through early 1970s for the expressed purpose of eventually seeing them shepherded onto our site. These aren't your same ol' Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, etc. soul tunes but many lesser known and obscure hits. We're not talking about $1,000 45s or anything crazy like that, but really great singles that most casual soul fans have probably not heard in a long time - or at all. Hence, we're calling this Soul Sides' Black Label Collection. (Look for the Black Label logo on future postings to indicate that those will be using selections from the collection.) With 250 songs to choose from, we'll have many future Black Label songs to bring you, each posting organized a particular theme, i.e. artists, labels, song titles, etc.

To kick it off, we're going local, starting with Oakland's very own Jasman Records, best known for being the home of singer Sugar Pie DeSanto. The first release on the Jasman imprint was Johnny Talbot's "Git Sum" (a song later covered to greater success by DeSanto) b/w a slinky funk number "Pickin' Cotton." The first song is solid soul groover - very Sly Stone influenced in its sound. I'm sure Talbot's Bay Area roots, alongside Sly and the Family Stone, didn't hurt here. "Pickin' Cotton," sparks off with this fluttering jazz break and launches into a horn-heavy arrangement that bears more than a passing resemblance to Gershwin's "Summertime" on the chorus (get it? "Pickin' Cotton"? "Summertime"? Ya'll get it). I've been a huge fan of this song since I first heard my fellow KALX DJ Matthew Africa play it on his show years ago.


Illicit Vibe: Jack Move

My man Milo From Illicit Vibe is some kind of rap prodigy: dude is like, 16, kicking it over in Amsterdam (though he's American) and possibly the most hip-hop savvy teen I've ever met (peep his Mo Ca$h blog for the science). In any case, here's a new cut he just put together and I figured I'd share it with the Soul Sides audience to see what ya'll think. Should J-Kwon be watching his back as the Teen King? Holla.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


Dennis Brown: Things In Life

From Hold Tight (Live & Learn, 1986). Also available on Money In My Pocket.

Faye Wong: Dream Person

From Random Thinking (?, 1994). Also available on Chungking Express Soundtrack (?, 2003)

For as much praise as Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai gets for his visual imagination, WKW also showcases a superb taste in music. I was tempted to combine today's post with music from In the Mood For Love but I'm just going to stick to this pair from his Chungking Express. If you've never seen it - dudes and dudettes: walk thee to a video store (or Netflix) and rent that shit. You won't be sorry (though you may never want to eat a can of pineapples again).

For those who haven't seen it, the film is split into two distinct vignettes, the first involving Takeshi Kaneshiro and Brigette Lin...and at least two, three times, there is a bar scene where Dennis Brown's "Things in Life" is playing on the jukebox. This song is so damn infectious: after I played it once, my g.f. Sharon began to singing the first line over and over, almost unconsciously. One of the best songs ever.

In the second vignette, Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Faye Wong's lives intersect and at the very end of the film, Wong's "Dream Person," a cover of the Cranberries' big hit, "Dreams," comes on. The moment where it drops in is perfect: there is something so ebullient about this song - even if you don't understand Wong's lyrics in Chinese, the feel and spirit just nails down the emotion invoked at the film's end.

(This goes to out HH, the biggest WKW fan I know)

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Soul Sides has moved (just a lil bit). Reset your bookmarks to:


Ronnie Foster: Mystic Brew
From Two Headed Freap (Blue Note, 1972)

A Tribe Called Quest: Electric Relaxation
From 12" (Jive, 1994). Also available on Midnight Marauders (Jive, 1993)

Freeway: Alright (Blackbeard remix)
From 12" (white label, 2003). Original version available on Freeway's Philadelphia Freeway (Roc-A-Fella, 2003)
Sound file courtesy Hua Hsu

Madlib: Mystic Bounce
From Shades of Blue (Blue Note, 2004)

Rell feat. Kanye West and Consequence: Real Love
Forthcoming (Roc-A-Fella, 2004)

The irony of Ronnie Foster's "Mystic Brew" is that it has become his best known song but more for Gordon Edward's bass work than Foster's own keyboard tinklings. Recorded for his then-underrated Two Headed Freap album on Blue Note, the song gained new life in 1993 when A Tribe Called Quest looped it up for their fan favorite "Electric Relaxation." For the next ten years, the song lay low until producer Just Blaze revisted it for Allen Anthony's (and then Freeway's) versions of "Alright." The UK's Blackbeard remixed that, bringing the bassline into even higher relief and leteting the instrumental play for nearly half the song before Freeway jumps in.

This year, Madlib remixed the song for his Shades of Blue project, adding new drums and other elements and calling his version "Mystic Bounce." Last but not least (but somewhat strangely), Roc-A-Fella's vocalist Rell, joined by Kanye West and Consequence, flips "Mystic Brew" again for his new "Real Love." It's gets more convoluted since Kanye and Cons recorded "Electric Relaxation '03" for several mix-CDs that came out last year but you'd figure someone at Roc-A-Fella would have noticed that Freeway already used the sample not that long ago but hey, I'm not complaining since I never get tired of listening to Foster's song in whatever form it comes in.

(Shout out to Different Kitchen for giving me the idea for this posting.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Hiero vs. Hobo Battle (KMEL, 1994)

First of all, great minds think alike. The folks at Cocaine Blunts had the same idea I had - spurred on by Casual's recent comments to Okayplayer (see reprint here), they posted up the first 12 minutes of the infamous Hiero vs. Hobo battle, held on KMEL's Wake-Up Show back in 1994.

Since they took care of the beginning of the battle, I'm filling in blanks from the latter half. Cocaine Blunts had it right: this battle descended into tedious rhymes and for all the energy that the MCs display, their actual rhymes are rather snoozy. I pulled out some of the more interesting moments (which doesn't = good, just interesting).

We start with one of Saafir's best moments, who comes back and lays waste to Tajai. Of course, Tajai does himself in and on the next clip, we hear just how incredibly wack he was that evening. I mean, I really liked the Souls of Mischief back in that era, but his verses during this battle, with the possible exception of the first one, are embarassingly terrible.

The Hieros get back some lost honor when Opio jumps on for his only verse, but it's a memorable one as he lays into Saafir. The last two clips comprise the final exchange between Saafir and Casual. It's actually one of the better skirmishes they share, buried towards the end of the affair.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Third Wave: Waves Lament
From Here and Now (MPS, 1970/Crippled Dick, 1999)
Third Wave: Love Train
From 7" (MPS, 196?) Also on Dancefloor Jazz Vol. 9 (Motor Mouth, 2000)

One of these days, I'll do some proper research on this group. Five Filipino sisters from Stockton, all who happen to be the niece of singer Ruby Tenio, are discovered by jazz composer George Duke. He promptly whisks them off to Europe where they record for Germany's MPS under the name the Third Wave. They are a jazz vocal group, compared by some to the Mamas and Papas or King Sisters. They record one album, Here and Now, and a single 7" with two songs, neither of us are on the LP.

"Waves Lament" begins the album and also happens to be my favorite song off the LP: it begins with a swinging pace but quickly eases down into a melancholy, smooth lope that invokes the image of a smoky lounge full of hard-drinking, chain-smoking types. Meanwhile, "Love Train," is a driving jazz dance number complete with a breakdown in the middle. Third Wave keeps on rolling! (Shout out to "Cool" Chris Veltri at S.F.'s Groove Merchant for putting me up on this beaut of a 7")

By the way, I need an OG copy of Here and Now. If you got one for sale or trade, holla.


Friday, July 16, 2004


Blossom Dearie: I Like London in the Rain
From That's Just the Way I Want To Be (Fontana, 1970)

I was originally turned onto this incredibly funky jazz song by DJ Monk One's Monk's Dream from last year. It's such an aberration: a breakbeat laced production on an otherwise decent but not all that remarkable vocal album by the high-pitched Dearie. Did the rhythm section just decide between themselves, "screw this loungey stuff, let's kick it funky?" This isn't about to make Marva Whitney seem tame or anything but hey, apparently even Blossom Dearie can bloom into a soul sister for a song.


One word: Grover. Music For Robots done did it again!

Cocaine Blunts wrapped up a week-long special on Rap-A-Lot songs. Get them while they're hot! I need that Odd Squad LP now...damn! OG Style too!

Thursday, July 15, 2004


I got another one Pha' Real!

Jamie Cullum: Frontin
From single (?, 2004)

Most people I know are not feeling this song - a remake of the Neptunes' produced hit from last summer. Ya'll know that here at Soul Sides, we're suckers for covers, but besides that, I really kind of LIKE this. It doesn't come off as campy, even though you might expect it, and while I'm not big on the UK's Cullum in general, I think he puts in a fine vocal performance here.

What say you?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


1) a thief's theme
2) spy hard

The first song comes to us from one of James Brown's gazillion productions. This was for one of his B-stable artists who never found rousing success as a singer (unlike, say, Bobby Byrd) but it does hold the distinction of reusing (with slight modification) JB's "Nose Job" track from Ain't It Funky. Swinging soul at its finest (though, to be honest, the singing could have been better but...)
(Props to Chairman Mao who hipped me to this song two years ago)

The second clip is taken from an infamous Downbeat Magazine flexi-disc (hence the poor record quality), as part of a demonstration of the Rhodes piano done by you-know-who with the theme song from you-know-what. Or do you?


Monday, July 12, 2004


More reportage on audioblogs, this time from the UK. Soul Sides, what?!


The Ahmad Jamal Trio: Dolphin Dance
The Ahmad Jamal Trio: Stolen Moments
From The Awakening (Impulse!, 1970)

Hands down, one of the finest jazz piano albums for its era and certainly the best of his Jamal's Impulse! years. There is something so subtle and understated yet soulful about Jamal's playing here. Practically every song off this LP is rich beyond words, but I'm partial to these two: the first a cover of Herbie Hancock, the latter of Oliver Nelson's best-known composition. Both are beautiful.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

posted by O.W.

I figure I might as well take advantage of all this new traffic we've been getting lately. For those of you interested in starting your own music log, here is the Soul Sides Bare Bones Guide To Audioblogging (all rights reserved. no biting allowed, herbs)

Philosophical Considerations (aka Some B.S. You Might Want to Think About).

The point of an audioblog is to provide edutaintment. Make it fun, make it instructive, but either way, make sure you're taking into consideration both you and your subscribers. These blogs, by nature, are a practice in narcissism but it's self-aggrandizing, hey-look-at-all-the-cool-shit-I-know-about narcissism that actually might benefit people who are willing to put up with your preening for the sake of hearing what music you put up. THEREFORE, make sure they're getting something out of it and not just you.

Personally, I think audioblogs help service musical areas that most people don't know about. Posting up Nirvana songs - unless it's some bootleg of a concert from 1989 - is not exactly spreading the word on the obscure. Aim for songs or artists or genres that are off-the-radar. It's not about obscurity as it is about exposure. There's nothing wrong with posting up a popular song, but ideally, your blog shouldn't resemble the Billboard Hot 100 or a mixtape only a hardcore trainspotter can appreciate.

Also, I'd also recommend keeping your audioblog separate from any other blogs you have. That's just my own philosophy; it makes it easier for subscribers to find the content they want. That doesn't mean you shouldn't include personal experiences about the music you're posting up: of course you should, but people don't need to read about what you ate for breakfast or how work is going interspersed with your audio offerings.

How To...
1) Pick Your Songs. In any single post, aim for 1-3 songs only. I could explain the rationale behind this, but really, it's just a good idea to emphasize quality over quantity as well as selectiveness over inclusiveness. Also, don't pick the song you thought was "ok," hit folks with that crazydumbhotness.

2) Convert and Upload Your Songs. If you want simplicity and efficiency, I'd recommend creating sound files or ripping CD tracks as 128 MP3s. It's not CD quality but it's still quite listenable and more importantly, it keeps the file small(er) which is good for you and your subscriber.

New: How does one convert vinyl into a sound file? I should have included something about this the first time: basically, you need to find a way to connect your turntable to your computer and there are many ways to do this, depending on what your audio and computer set-up allow. For me, I have a portable turntable with stereo RCA outputs and I use a simple RCA-to-mini-jack Y-adapter to plug that into my microphoine input on my Macintosh computer.

Once there, I use an audio program known as Sound Studio but there are dozens of similar programs you can use that will allow you to record sound to your computer and then edit it.

Most programs will tend to save sound files as WAV or AIFF files which will need to get converted to MP3. Apple users can just use iTunes. PC users - you're on your own but I can't imagine it being very hard. Like I said, I recommend MP3s at a 128 bit rate which is good enough to listen to but isn't CD quality sound, and therefore, is smaller.

Many free WWW hoster/servers will have storage limitations that you will likely fill up quickly if you store too many files at one time. Keep in mind that there is roughly a 1 minute = 1 MB ratio. Think ahead to how many sound files you want to keep up at any one time, calcuate how much time that will take and then you'll know how much storage you'll need. If you're posting up a few songs everyday, even if you only keep them up for 1-2 weeks, that will add up very quickly. Storage is cheap but if you have a free server, it may not give you that much to work with. Just keep that in mind.

3) Create an Audioblog. There's no shortage of ways to do this but for simplicity's sake, I'd recommend It's basic but easy to navigate and if you know any HTML, it's not hard to adapt to your own design visions.

Eric suggests:
    "There's also, which allows for direct upload and compression of mp3/wav, plus a higher quality method of recording from the browser, in addition to the standard phone posting capabilities for up to 60 minutes. The basic service is 4.95, which may or may not be good, depending on your trust/value of 'free' services."

4) Design Your Audioblog. Ok, this is pet peeve of mine. The whole point of an audioblog is to draw attention to your songs. Therefore, you should make it as easy as possible for someone to identify the songs without confusing it with other text on the screen. Examples of design triumphs and gaffes:
Great: super simple and clean.
Good: even though there's more information given, Fluxblog uses the same format for every post and separates it from any other links that might cause confusion.
Not so good: The design is a clutter of text and with so many hyperlinks, it's hard to tell, at first glance, what's the song and what's something else. Use of bolding for the songs would help, but so would creating a format that starts off each new post with the song first and then everything after.

From Kojack:
    Get Your Tags/Filenames Right. Proper tags on your mp3s and a filename following the conventional "artist - song name" format make for easier enjoyment of the music you're taking the time to highlight. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's hit "Save Target As" on a whim one too many times, only to end up with a couple of dozen mystery mp3s taking up space on my machine.

5) Launch!. Getting people to find your site comes down to creating links with other audioblogs. You highlight their blog, they'll highlight yours. Just remember that no one is obligated to link you, even if you're linking them and that you should be polite when requesting a link from someone else. In general, the better the songs you post, the more attention your blog will receive but "better" is in the eye of the beholder. If you specialize in Japanese death metal, you may not get a zillion people trying to find you, but you'll probably be big in Japanese death metal circles.

6) How long should you keep songs up for?. This is pseudo-philosophical/legal question of sorts. The thinking being: if you keep your sound files up indefinitely and eventually amass 10,000 songs for free download, RIAA might come knocking on your door and you don't want that. There's also just the idea that your audioblog rewards subscribers who check every day or two for new songs rather than some lucky newbie who randomly stumbles on, downloads everything, and then never returns. It's on you though. Most audioblogs seem to leave material up for 1-2 weeks and that sounds about right to me.

For future reference: Please do not hit me with technical questions, i.e. "what kind of software should I use to convert my sound files" or "where can I find a free server." I'll just ignore them. However, if you have comments or questions of a more general nature, try emailing me. Good luck and have fun.

Need more resources? Read Tofu Hut's Guide.


Saturday, July 10, 2004


Rakim: Freestyle
From Vlad the Butcher + Don Diva: Old Gangsters, Young Gunz (2004)

I first met Vlad when he was still living out in the Bay Area, about 10 years ago. Nice guy, way into hip-hop which is how we met...and a decade later, dude is like NYC mixtape royalty. Amazing. I always like seeing local boy made good and Vlad's shown some skills in negotiating his status as a NY outsider with the tightly competitive tape scene there and still coming out on top.

This Rakim freestyle is off Vlad's latest mix-CD: Old Gangsters, Young Gunz and it features the God Allah jumping on Ghostface's "Run" instrumental. The R is still the microphone fiend.


Common: The Food
From the forthcoming Be (Geffen, 2004)

This is already everywhere but hell, why not put it up on more spot? I thought this song was great when it was debuted on Chappelle's Show and now that it's studio-clean (i.e. sans audience noise), it still sounds good. Common + Kanye = good times.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Soul Sides in the news.

PS: 5000 hits in the last 24 hours! Thank you Reuters!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Emotions: Blind Alley
From Untouched (Stax, 1972)

Big Daddy Kane: Ain't No Half Steppin
From 12" (Cold Chillin', 1988). Also on It's a Big Daddy Thing (Cold Chillin', 1988)

The Pharcyde: 4 Better or 4 Worse
From promo-only 12" (Delicious Vinyl, 1993). Also on Bizarre Ryde II the Pharcyde (Delicious Vinyl, 1992)

The Emotion's "Blind Alley" was the first break I ever heard: I remember that DJ Joe Quixxx and Beni B played it once on KALX (this was back in 1993 or so) and I recognized it as the sample behind AMG's "Jiggable Pie," (yeah, I was Kane ignorant at that point) and I thought: "wow, this is what an original sample sounds like." As such, the song and album it comes from was the first I ever bought strictly to find a sample and I was lucky to have come upon it way back then - it is, by far, the hardest Emotions' LP to locate and I don't know if that's because everybody wants it for the song or that the LP was never a big hit to begin with but either way, if you chance upon this, consider yourself fortunate.

What makes the song (and thus sample) so memorable is the intro melody with its distinctive electric piano(?) and bass accompaniment - soulful, funky and indelible. It's no wonder the song has been used by so many producers. I'm assuming Marley Marl was the first, flipping the song for Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half Steppin'" which remains as one of Kane's best songs ever. So arrogant yet so smooth - the perfect braggadocio blend.

There's no shortage of options for another example of "Blind Alley" in action but I went with Pharcyde's "4 Better or 4 Worse" one of the stranger songs on an album soaked in strangeness. It's not like no rappers before the Pharcyde had ever thought of comparing the mic to a woman but their invention of "Rhymalinda" is one for the ages as the various quartet members bemoan their complex, co-dependent relationship. If "Passin' Me By," was the angsty teenage love song that everybody could identify with, "4 Better," was at the other end of the spectrum: it's so outlandish the song is either inspired or insane or possibly, both. I'm still trying to figure out that bridge in the middle with the crazed phone stalker, talking about nibbling on homegirl's fingers and other unmentionables