Thursday, September 30, 2004


The Heath Brothers: Smilin' Billy Suite Part 1 and Part 2
From Marchin' On (Strata East, 1976)

Fear not: Soul Hut Day Three is still on its way. Just a bonus post to drop on ya'll today.

The Strata East jazz label used to be one of those imprints that would inspire instant "ooohs" and "aaahs" because people just assumed that anything off it would be 1) rare and 2) good. As it turned out, there are quite a many Strata titles that were neither.

This Heath Bros. release is one notable exception and while there are certainly titles far rarer than this one on Strata, I'd safely wager that most younger collectors go after this first on account of the immense and sublime "Smilin' Billy Suite" that takes up the entire B-side. I included Parts 1 and 2 since they are far and away the best two parts (four total) of the song. Part 1 has some fantastic bassline and flute interplay: moody but not morose, cool but not cold.

The seond part of the Suite is where it's at though: they melodic arrangement is very similar but instead of a flute, they break out a mbira thumb piano which has such a distinctive, glorious tone to it - like a vibraphone almost. It also makes the song sound that much more melancholy yet whatever sadness is implied is equally balanced by how beautiful the song's melody is. This is another one of those definitive "soul jazz" songs because, in my opinion, it so perfectly captures the essence of both genres within it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Mo Ca$h: Ramblin' At the Tip

Our man Milo aka Mo Ca$h drops the wickedness. A Soul Sides exclusive.


The Sensational Nightingales: Guide My Mind
Available on The Lord Will Make a Way: Early Recordings 1947-1951

On the second day of Soul Hut, I gave Tofu my this of thee, Afrique's cover of Bill Withers' "Kissing My Love." Tofu, in turn, hit us with the Sensational Nightingales and their "Guide My Mind," of which John says:
    "A friend mondegreen-ed [interpreted] the chorus of this song (which actually reads "put your bit down into my mouth and bridle down my tongue") as "put your FIST into my mouth". In some way, that interpretation feels just as honest. I have a particular appreciation for good ol' Spirituals that cry out to a god that takes no bullshit. Praying to a god to rein you in and set you on a right path is something different than bitching about not getting a Playstation for Christmas, y'know?

    Of course, it doesn't hurt that "Guide My Mind" is driven by the powerful and moving cries of the Nightingales demanding direction "RIGHT NOW LORD". It is a prayer that sounds desperate, painful and elated all at once.

    Meet the current lineup for the Sensational Nightingales.
The Soul Sides .02:

What I like about this song is its great sense of rhythm and pacing. This is a very fast song, probably over 125 BPM and it just swings. I know John says it's got some heavy content but honestly, I never even get around to listening to what the group's preaching: I just get caught up in that quick-stepping it inspires. The elation I understand but I don't hear the desperation or pain - just the power of testifying fast and furious.

By the way, just to give ample credit where 'tis due, Soul Sides often times finds images for long, lost artists by visiting the well-nigh impressive Soul Generation out of the UK. Kudos to Martin and his team of crack scholars of the soul science. Damn, that's a lot of soul in that sentence. Dig it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Fairfield Four: Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around
From 7" (Dot, 1947). Also available on Standing in the Safety Zone: 1946-1949 (Roots and Rhythm Records).

Intro to the Soul Hut: While I was looking at the sites run by my fellow audiobloggers, it dawned on me that there was no reason why a bunch of us shouldn't put our heads together and start collaborating. Thus was born Soul Sides + Tofu Hut = Soul Hut.

Just to give it up to TH - John's audioblog was one of the first I came upon, alongside Fluxblog, and in no small way, helped spark the lightbulb above my head that said, "duh, dude, you're a DJ and you already blog - start up your own!" John's boundless energy with filling in the Tofu Hut with details-upon-details about the artists he highlights never fails to amaze. He also has a wider scope of musical interests than most other audioblogs I've seen but it never feels random or arbitrary.

This is the way this collab is going to work: I sent John five songs which he'll post up on his site. He sent me five, the first of which appears here. We both gave each other comments on our selections and then were given the opportunity to add a riff of our own.

My theme for Tofu Hut was cover songs, the first of which being "C.C. Rider" done by Australia's Southern Contemporary Rock Assembly. John sent me five gospel songs from years past - a genre that I'm pretty damn thin on. Here's his comments on his first selection, by the Fairfield Four, is:
    This is, quite simply, among the most impressive expressions of
    emotion and art I've ever heard.

    There's a gradual but constant acceleration of tempo in the song; a
    gentle evocation that the further we delve into faith, the more
    buoyant and unstoppable that holy joy becomes.

    The sustained notes on this track are glorious; they dip and bob on
    their ends like loops on a roller coaster. Every twist is a heartbeat
    deeper into awe.

    The P-Vine reissue import is NOT to be confused with the MUCH later release from Warner Bros. from the Fairfield featuring new material but listed under the same name. Nothing wrong with that album, but it ain't quite at this vintage.

    Learn more about the Fairfield.
Soul Sides sez:

The vocal work on this is a kick in the gut - the way that each of the singers just holds onto their notes while the rest of the three harmonize behind it. I don't listen to much gospel but I've never heard anything like it before. It's incredibly powerful; like they're using their very, very last breath to make it happen. Rumor has it that B.B. King used to listen to their music and based his own singing style off theirs.

"Don't Let" was apparently one of the Nashville group's "signature songs" for the Fairfield Four (easy to see why), who were big shots in the gospel scene in the 1940s. What's amazing is that 35 years after disbanding, they got back together and started recording again - that's a hell of a time out.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Nas: It Ain't Hard To Tell (DJ Day Remix)
From "What Planet What Station" 12" (Milk Crate, 2004)

"It Ain't Hard To Tell" was first released in 1993, already had two separate remixes 12"s that came after (one US promo with the Large Professor mix), the other from UK with two new mixes). You'd think, at this point, creating yet another remix would be fruitless but DJ Day deserves full credit for creating an instrumental track so innovative and different from everything that came before that it makes this song sound brand new. The intro alone is brilliant as are the scratches on the chorus. Straight up, one of the coolest pieces of production I've heard in a long time. Cop this (before the 12" is off the market).


Volume 10: Pistol Grip Pump (Baka Boyz Mix) & (UK Jazz Mix)
From 12" (Immortal, 1994)

Before Xzibit hit the scene, I always thought Volume 10 did the best job of straddling the line between LA's gangsta roots and its emergent next school styles. Dude could rhyme but rhyme hard, befitting of his name which conjures images of shaken woofers and blown ear drums. "Pistol Grip Pump" is just such a monstrously dope cut - the original is still unfadeable, especially with its thick "Atomic Dog" basslines but being the remix freak I am, I pulled out this red vinyl promo 12" with the remixes on the flipside.

The Baka Boyz mix sounds straight out of DJ Muggs' playbook which is fine by me: that screeching funk works well with the tenor of the song anyways though I keep waiting for B. Real to deliver a cameo which never happens. The UK Jazz mix is much stranger - it made sense when CJ Macintosh was remixing De La singles but this seems like a less likely fit. The remix actually works and even if smooth vibe melodies isn't what Volume 10 usually inspires thoughts of, his ability to ride the beat with alacrity (Project Blowed/Good Life, what?) is a pleasure to hear in action. Pump! Pump! Blowe!

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Cold Grits: It's Your Thing
From 7" (Atco, 1969). Also available on various compilations.

Beat Week might be a faint memory but I can still add more songs via Beat Suite (yes, we are theme crazy, deal).

The mysterious Cold Grits only ever released this single on promo. It's rare but not impossibly rare - I've turned up a pair on the Internet for about $5 each (noted: not a daily happenstance though). Moreover, its obscurity has been greatly reduced thanks to the zillion and one comps that have included it. Not like I blame them: the drums alone is worth the price of admission but the basslines and organ are like extra-super-duper icing on the cake. We dare you to find a better (instrumental) cover of the Isley Bros. "It's Your Thing" than this.

Friday, September 24, 2004


we build like masons

Soul Sides is making crazy moves while we're still here to make 'em. Don't worry shook ones, this ain't no takeover like Jay and the Roc: we're cooking up collabos.

So far, Cocaine Blunts has agreed to a 5 round, no-holds-barred battle with us, using indie rap 12"s from the '90s (that don't suck). Hua Sulu is about to help us drop knowledge on West Coast random rap. I'm hollerin' at some other folks - cats with so much heat, it'll melt ice caps. Fam, we got so many connects, The Wire should be tapping our lines. Word to Cutty.

BUT, what's on the immediate horizon?

Go ahead and blink: you saw that right. Soul Sides and The Tofu Hut are joining forces with over 10 songs in the offering. Stay tuned - we launch next week (we hope).

heads ain't ready for the stuff we'll drop


The Calbidos: Barrio Bueno
From Crossfire (Vroomm, 197?). Also available on Extended 12" (Kudos, 2003).

Toro: Michaela
From 7" (Scepter, 1975) and Toro (Coco, 1975)

Sophy: Es Lamentable
From Sophy (Velvet, 197?)

"Lados Del Alma" = my weak Spanish translation of "Soul Sides" - if someone can offer a more accurate translation, please feel free to make suggestions. In any case, it's yet another theme to keep track of (we need some SS Score Cards up in hurr), dedicated to Latin-tinged music. Like European jazz, it's a genre that I've only really been learning much about in the last three or four years but despite my relative ignorance, I'm very much a fan. I'm a sucker for a good boogaloo (and I'll have to bring some of those to the fore), but I'm an equal opportunity lover of Latin soul, jazz, rock, (of course funk), bossa novas, batucadas, descargas, mambos, guaranchas, etc., etc., etc. There are many, many Latin sub-genres to memorize, covering an immense gamut of Afro-Latin-Cuban-Brazilian influences.

I launch with "Barrio Bueno," a Latin jazz library record out of Italty. The Cabildos had two albums in the '70s - Crossfire is actually the inferior one compared with Yuxtaposition (recorded under the name, The Cabildo's Three) which has nary a flat track. Crossfire is solid, don't get me wrong, but its "Barrio Bueno" is the main standout. A very laid back, smoky groover, "Barrio Bueno," sounds like it came off a soundtrack for very hip stoners (this would be a good thing). It's so good in fact, Kudos Records extended the song and pressed it up on clear vinyl last year.

With Toro...this was a Groove Merchant find - really nice Latin rock album that bears the obvious influence of Santana but doesn't sound like a clone. Super-producer Harvey Averne (remember Viva Soul?) helms this one (at the Electric Lady Studios no less) and his cross-genre embrace of different styles are well served here and especially for "Michaela," an excellent Latin soul/rock number which is just one of many great songs off the LP.

And also, Toro just has one of the best logos I've ever seen. I want a t-shirt with that on it.

Last, it's Sophy: only one of the biggest singers in Puerto Rican history which is ironic since I find her singing on this album barely tolerable. No disrespect intended but her voice isn't particuarly nuanced or dynamic and it also sounds engineered too loudly over the track. This all said, I'm giving her song "Es Lamentable", off one of her big hit albums on Velvet, a spin because it's a slick, funky dance number and a female vocal track, thus combining two genres that I get weak in the knees for.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Eugene McDaniels: Cherrystones
From Outlaw (Atlantic, 1970)

This song is so excellent on so many levels: the production, McDaniels' singing, the lyrics - absolutely one of my favorite songs ever. You can get all the background info on this album and McDaniels here. For now though, just listen.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Junior Mance:Tin Tin Deo
From The Junior Mance Touch (Polydor, 1973)

Morris Nanton: Soul Fingers
From Soul Fingers (Prestige, 1967)

Yes, we're going theme (and icon) crazy over here at Soul Sides (heads ain't ready for the stuff we got). The latest? Hammer Drops, dedicated to the multiple forms of the keyboard: acoustic, electric, organ, etc.

We like many sounds - the soulful cries of the sax, the boom bap of the drums, the thick richness of a bassline - but the dancing melodies and rhythms of the keys win hands-down (pun intended). I'd try to articulate why but the words elude me at present. Also, maybe it's because we never perfected our Suzuki Method as a child, but we still marvel at those who can sit down in front of a piano and just play.

Junior Mance's "Tin Tin Deo" is simply sublime and thought I tend to toss that term around loosely, in this case, I think it's deserved. This is such a remarkably soulful rendition of Gil Fuller's composition - Mance apparently covered the song earlier, in 1962 and while I haven't heard that rendition, I can't imagine it being superior to the arrangement on this '73 LP. The album, overall, is fantastic - one of my faves by him - but alas, it's not available on reissue as far as I know. Not his hardest album to find OG, but not his easiest either.

Same goes for Morris Nanton - an under-sung pianist who recorded with Warner Bros. and Prestige. His "Soulful Fingers" reminds a lot of some of McCoy Tyner's work, especially in the early '60s but with just a slight, funky edge, like a dash of Bobby Timmons sprinkled on. Love this composition: it just swings with such verve and sparkle and just makes you feel so damn good.

Not to jock my own shit but I'm excited at what future Hammer Drops installments might bring...this whole Soul Sides exercise has been a great excuse to go back and listen to many an album that's been shelved and forgotten. If I don't say this enough, thanks to all the kind comments you guys leave for me on the site and via email. 'Tis a pleasure.

Nick Francis, over at Quiet Music was kind enough to direct me to another cover of "Tin Tin Deo,", done by Japan's Soul Bossa Trio. See? Soul Sides = a family affair.


The Mighty Imperials: Jody's Walk
From the forthcoming Thunder Chicken (Daptones, 2004)

Take a bunch of 16 year olds who are heavy into the real, duurrrty funk of the late 'em in musicianship...and then let them loose: that gets you the Mighty Imperials and their Thunder Chicken. The album was recorded a few years back for the non-defunct Desco label but never saw the light of day. Daptones has managed to step in and make sure the album is able to finally get to market.

What you can expect from it is more cuts like "Judy's Walk" - suffused in a simple but heavy funk style originally mastered by folks like the Meters and Eddie Bo back in Nawlins of the late '60s and early '70s. Massive, pounding drums, southern-fried guitar licks, and organs on stabbing rampages. Some will point out: "hey, why not just go buy the Meters" and that's not a bad argument but then again, they only made three really good albums so why not have more music to jam to?

Look for this to drop in the next few weeks and as always, see what the new joints are over at Daptones if you need to get your funk fix on.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Bettye Swann: Don't Wait Too Long
From 7" (Money, 1964) and Make Me Yours (Money, 1967). Also available on Money Recordings

Bettye Lavette: Outside Woman
From 7" (???, 196?). Also available on Souveniers

Betty Wright: Girls Can't Do What the Guys Can Do
From 7" (Alston, 1968) and My First Time Around (Alston, 1968). Also available on The Very Best Of Betty Wright

Betty Harris: There's a Break in the Road
From 7" (SSS Int'l, 1969). Also available on Soul Perfection Plus.

My high school science teacher, Mr. "I", used to have this phrase he'd use as an exclamation or sign of surprise: helloooooo betty". I didn't make much sense to me but I just liked how it sounded. Try it - stretch out that "helloooooo" and put a little flirtatious curve on "betty". Feels good.

What unifies these three selections from the respective Bettys - Lavette, Harris, Swan and Wright - (besides their name of course) is that all four are dispensing advice to other women on how to keep their man. Keep in mind: this was the mid-60s and their sentiments are not quite proto-feminist. To wit:

Swann's "Don't Wait Too Long": "love is just a merry-go-round/before you know it/your love will be gone." Translation: don't play to hard to get otherwise you might lose your man. But even if you do get your man...

Lavette's "Outside Woman" : "you gotta start acting like a ball of fire/instead of a block of ice/in other words/you got to love him like his outside woman/if you want him to treat you like a wife." Translation: If you want to keep your man and have him treat you right, you need to whore it up. BUT, not too much because...

Wright's "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do": "girls/you can't do what the guys do/no/and still be a lady." Translation: If you whore it up too much, your man won't respect you. Damn, what's a gal to do? Apparently...

Harris' "A Break in the Road": "like the last year's model/you put me down/you handle me like a used car/and when you misuse the one who's been so good to you/I don't believe you'll get far." Translation: Act right or I'm leaving. Which of course, leads us back to the advice: "don't wait too long."

All "Dear Betty" advice dispensing though...Harris cut a series of highly collectible New Orleans' soul/funk sides in the late '60s. "A Break in the Road," was cut with the Meters' backing her, explain the extra-jumbo-funkiness of it. Harris and Allen Toussaint - without a doubt, N.O.'s most important producer of the era - had a productive partnership. Here's a good site on Harris.

Wright is probably the best-known "Betty" in the mix: a singer whose catalog I'm constantly learning more about and becoming more and more enamored with each new single and album (her stuff on Miami's Alston imprint is killer, just killer). For those who think they've heard the name: think "Clean Up Woman" and "Tonight Is the Night," her two best hits (the latter is sultry as hell: primo seduction music).

Lavette hails from Michigan and though she had nearly two dozen singles, dating back to 1962, she only released one album and that wasn't until the early '80s. Strangely, I can't find where this single is from: every discography I could find online doesn't mention "Outside Woman" yet it appears on the Souveniers anthology. Go figure.

Last, but not least is Swann, a Louisana soulstress whose "Don't Wait Too Long" is a cover of a song originally done by Carolyn Franklin (as in Aretha's unsung sister). From what I understand, there is a reissue of her Make Me Yours on CD but the sound quality is terrible which is why I recommended her other anthology (on Kent) instead. has a decent bio on Swann.

P.S. This entire post goes out to Meaghen at Radio KRUD who had very nice things to say about our soul offerings in an interview at The Tofu Hut.

Friday, September 17, 2004


Digital Underground feat. Saafir: Carry the Way
From "The Return of the Crazy One" 12" (Tommy Boy, 1993) and The Body Hat Syndrome (Tommy Boy, 1993)

Original Flavor feat. Jay-Z: Can I Get Open?
From 12" (Atlantic, 1993) and Beyond Flavor (Atlantic, 1993).

Can we get open? I was filing some records the other day and brushed across the 12" for Digital Underground's "The Return of the Crazy One," which probably hasn't seen much sun since '94. What I remembered is that the B-side cut, "Carry the Way" was the first time Saafir ever appeared on wax. Actually, that may not be entirely accurate: he also had a white label cut called "Runnin' From 5-0" that might have predated his D.U. cameo but I'm not positive on that. Anyways, Saafir kills it on this track, dropping that distinctive flow that gained him noteriety to begin with: "I feel like a steel-belted tire/cause I'm wired/when I roll." Nice.

Speaking of flow - doesn't Jay-Z sound like an entirely different MC back in '93 when he got down with Original Flavor (an early Dame Dash project)? This obviously isn't Jay's first appearance: Jaz had already put him on a few years earlier, but this is hot track, one of those momentary club hits that no one remembered six months later since hip-hop was moving towards gun clap anthems rather than peppy dance jams to do the Running Man to. Jay still sounds pretty good though with his quick-spit style and he still has his punchlines (save for two dumb gay/dyke comments): "I killed Chico/and now it's just me/The Man." Who knew this little whipper-snapper would grow up to become hip-hop's playa president?


Jack McDuff: The Electric Surfboard
From Gin and Orange (Cadet, 1969)

Pete Rock and CL Smooth: One In a Million
From Poetic Justice OST (Sony, 1993). Also available on Good Life.

I'm not going to tackle another theme session like Beat Week right now - sorry folks, you'll just have to deal with one-off goodness.

What exactly is an electric surfboard? As it turns out - it's a cocktail (I don't drink so I don't know these things) that includes whiskey, curacao and grenadine. As to why this might need a theme, I'm not sure but considering that this song appears on an album called Gin and Orange perhaps we can assume that organ-master Jack McDuff was friendly on the bar scene, if you know what I mean. The song originally appeared as "The Theme From Electric Surfboard" on McDuff's Blue Note-release, Down Home Style (also from 1969) but that version was always kind of snoozy to me. I think the version that appears on Gin and Orange is so much better: slower but more distinctive and that main horn hook is far better accentuated and left out there to linger. As a ballad, there is something casually cool about the song's feel which makes sense considering how tropical the drink its named after is.

Clearly, others have been a fan too, taking their draught from the song in the form of sampling it. Enter Pete Rock and CL Smooth's "One In a Million," taken from the soundtrack of Poetic Justice. I love this song - wish it had been on a better soundtrack but as a gem amongst the rubble, it shines all the more. I guess Rhino must have agreed since they included it on their Good Life anthology. I like how CL pens words to follow the main melody of the McDuff's original: "one in a million/funk for you, baby/one in a million/listen, it drives you wild..."

Thursday, September 16, 2004


45 King/Take 6: Spread Love
From white label 12" (198?). Also on The Bezo Meko EP

We had a good run with Beat Week, no? Alas, all good things come to an end so here it is - the final installment. It just seemed wrong to have something called "beat week" and not offer some hip-hop in the mix and if there was ever a beat worthy of praise, it's Mark the 45 King and one of his most infamous bootlegs: "Spread Love." The King takes the acapella harmonies of Take 6 and then slaps one of the sickest drum loops in history behind it.

I don't know if Mark was the first to figure out that the intro, one bar drum break from Ike and TIna Turner's "Cussin', Cryin' and Carryin' On" would make a killer beat but as far as I'm concerned, he might as well own the patent. If you've ever heard the original, they're great drums in terms of sound and engineering but it wouldn't necessarily occur to you to loop it up. Luckily Mark saw the potential and pieced together one helluva piece of fatback glory. "Love is all we need"? 45 King is all we need.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


De La Soul: I Can't Call It
From High School High Soundtrack (Atlantic, 1996)

DJ Shadow + Gift of Gab: Count & Estimate
From 12" (Solesides, 1995)

I was looking to see what my peers have going on over at their sites and two posts inspired me to join in the fun.

Over at Moistworks, James has up a trio of songs by one of my favorite groups ever - De La Soul. No "Me, Myself and I," here - strictly off-the-beaten-path selections including "Trouble In the Water" (a collab with Japan's DJ Krush Honda) and the slept-on DJ Spinna remix of "Stakes Is High." I thought back to another De La song I always liked: "I Can't Call It," from the High School High soundtrack (a surprisingly great hip-hop OST). Smooth production, great lyrics - one of those songs that will likely always go underrated simply because it appeared on an unheralded soundtrack (throw in Pete Rock/CL Smooth's "One In a Million" or Jeru's "Frustrated Ni**a" in there too...hey, wait a minute...I'm getting an idea forming...).

Meanwhile, Cocaine Blunts is killing it as usual. Noz has his own trio up: Blackalicious songs off of the Melodica EP, including an all-time fave song of mine: "40 Oz. For Breakfast." CB's getting me all misty-eyed for the heady days of Solesides (yeah, where'd you think my name came from? Act like you knew). That's why I pulled out the first piece of wax that Gift of Gab ever appeared on: DJ Shadow's epic "Entropy" and a sub-cut (you need to hear "Entropy" to understand) called "Count and Estimate". Big up to Uptown.


"Double Time" (1986)

Pulled this out of the mystery's a somewhat bizarre avant garde drum composition named after, well, a vegetable. And not one of my favorite vegetables at that. It appears on a mid-80s college album (local to the Bay Area) which was all experimental and avant garde work. From what I can figure out, the drummer recorded this smashing break and then looped it and then, he replayed them side by side but slightly out of speed-synch with each other so that gradually, as the song unfolds, the beats fall out of phase and begin to clash and create interesting sets of polyrhythms. Mind you - the original song goes on for over five minutes and believe me, it wears thin fast so I just included two minutes off it.

Just to show you that nothing this strange (or good) goes unnoticed - I know about the album because a prominent Bay Area producer (not hard to guess who) looped the drums for one of his compositions. Crazy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Ebony Rhythm Band: Soul Heart Transplant & Light My Fire
From Soul Heart Transplant: The LAMP Sessions (Stonesthrow, 2004)

ED: I posted this a few weeks back and was about to take the link down but I realized it was perfectly apt for Beat Week so I'm bringing it back as a bonus post. Hope you enjoy. And seriously: Buy this album. It kicks major ass.

Step 1: Buy this album.
Step 2: Listen to drummer Matthew "Phatback" Watson.
Step 3: Get mind blown.

The first time I heard Indianapolis' Ebony Rhythm Band on my man Egon's game-changing Funky 16 Corners, then later on the 12" release of "Soul Heart Transplant." At the time, I guess I didn't listen close enough but when I was enjoying their newly released anthology, the drumming jumped off the track, smacked me in the face, and then settled back in the pocket.

I'm not saying Watson was going to put Bernard Purdie or Idris Muhammed out of work back in the day, but you can tell on these songs (especially "Light My Fire"), this young drummer couldn't wait to get his sticks on. Watson had formal marching band training in drum playing and you can hear it in his funk adapations: his breaks are doused in quick fills and rattling rolls. Even when he's not soloing...he's soloing. Egon told me that Watson's drumming was the cause of exasperation for some of the other players since his frenetic polyrhythms made it harder for them to keep in the groove.


Czerwone Gitary: Bylas Mej Pamieci Wierszem
From Rytm Ziemi (Muza, 1974)

In our last Beat Week post, we visited the Danes - this time, it's the Polish. I've always found it amazing that despite being behind the Iron Curtain for the better part of the 1960s and '70s, the output of Polish jazz and rock, especially on the labels Muza and Polskie, was downright stunning.

Muza, in particular, was a wealth of innovative music (hint: potential future theme week) and there is no shortage of interesting music to be found on their imprint. I dipped into their rock records to pull out Rytm Ziemi by Czerwone Gitary, a relatively prolific singer/songwriter who has at least six albums on Muza (probably more). This is less psych (though there is fantastic psych on Muza) and more just hard rock: all guitar tears, heavy drums, and in this case, some violin thrown in (don't laugh - Michal Urbaniak was Polish after all). This cut though stands out for the middle drum solo section which is one long (more than 32 bars!) drum break. I can't say that I'm into Gitary's voice but hey, for beats like this, I can deal.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


Bjarne Rosvold & Perry Knudsen: Magonde
Available on Copenhagen Dancefloor Classics II

European jazz and soul have been a fascination of mine - when the Groove Merchant's Cool Chris first suggested to me that this might be the next big collector's craze, my initial reaction was, "European funk? C'mon - you're kidding right" but in those young, naive days of mine (ok, this was in 2000), I just didn't realize how massively deep the European scene goes. After all, it is, ya know, a continent. One with quite excellent taste in American music at that, better than our own at times.

Case in point - they've managed to put out at least two volumes of just Danish dancefloor jazz/funk/soul. I'm sure that's the tip of the proverbial iceberg and you could churn out countless more anthologies that look at Swedish, or Finnish, or Dutch, etc. goodies too (let's not even get into France, England, Italy and Germany - we'll be here all year). In any case, for Beat Week, I selected this insanely good percussion track from the Danish team of Bjarne Rosvold (the drummer) and Perry Knudsen called "Magonde," taken from the Copenhagen Dancefloor Classics II compilation from a few years back. This is the kind of breakbeat track that DJs usually only dream about - it just keeps going and going and going, but switches up patterns rather than sound like a loop on permanent repeat. Reminds me a little of the Klauss Weiss' "Niagara" track for those who know (maybe a future post) but packed into 3 minutes rather than 30.

By the way, if anyone knows what the original LP this cut is from, I'd love to know. I tried doing some research but turned up nada. Thanks...


Wayne McGhie and the Sounds of Joy: Dirty Funk
From Wayne McGhie & The Sounds of J oy (Birchmount/Light in the Attic, 1970/2004)

Day Four of Beat Week: We take a trip up north to highlight some obscure Toronto funk (is that redundant?), recently resurfacing on Seattle's Light in the Attic imprint. "Dirty Funk" sounds like an A-list Meters cut but from southern Canada rather than the American south.

The rumored backstory on this song and the album it's from is that most copies of the LP were destroyed in a warehouse fire, turning a rare LP into something closer to myth. This is what's great about funk lore: for every King or Josie, there were dozens (hundreds?) of small labels churning out some wicked material. Much of it went forgotten but that only means they're waiting to be rediscovered.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers: Searching For Soul
From 7" (Mutt, 196/7?)

Day Three of Beat Week: A trip to Motown's Mutt Records imprint and "Searching for Soul" by Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers.

When someone talks about "heavy drums" and you're unsure what they mean, just listen to this 7". The kick and snare on this slow and powerful funk bomb couldn't be any heavier if the drummer was using lead sticks. Why these dudes searching for soul - they found it!

Friday, September 10, 2004


Manzel: Midnight Theme (Dopebrother 7" remix)
From 7" and Midnight Theme (Dope Brother, 2004)

Day Two of Beat Week brings us one of the more famed breakbeats out there: Manzel's "Midnight Theme."

Calling someone's drums "crisp" is a total cliche but seriously, listen to this and tell me what other word fits as well? The Kenny Dope remix of this obscure disco single extends the intro drum break and engineers it to such perfection you'd swear the drummer was sitting behind you. And yeah, the drums are crisp! Take your style guides and shove 'em.

Anyways, the drums are great but the whole song is killer. People who say "disco sucks" are just being ignorant, especially when you can point to Manzel's music and say, "see? Stop being a dumb ass hater." Don't sleep on the rest of this album either.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

posted by O.W.

Eugene Blacknell and the New Breed: Gettin' Down
From 7" (Seaside, 196?)

It's Beat Week here at Soul Sides, where every day for the next seven, we'll be posting up a song that's all about smacking you in the head with a percussive blast that rips through your frame and leaves you panting for just one more (snare) hit. In honor of the fact that Soul Sides is probably about to get a ton of traffic courtesy Rolling Stone, I figured I might as well do something special for the occassion.

I have to start local, with a slice of down home Oakland funk, courtesy Eugene Blacknell and the New Breed. His "Gettin' Down" used to be one of those singles that funk fiends would shell out a few Franklins to procure but in more recent times, enough copies have turned up so that the 7" is now "only" around $75-100 (that's a lot cheaper than what it used to go for, believe me). It's easy to believe the hype - to call the intro drum solo "explosive" is an understatement - I'd love to know who the drummer on this joint is (let me get back to ya'll about that). The remainder of the song rocks out just a lil' too much for my taste but that's what the rewind button is for.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


When it rains, it pours: audioblogs are the hot topic in the media right now. Just today, I spoke with a reporter from Newsweek, I think SS might get a mention in an upcoming Spin article and the Rolling Stone article posted on their WWW site today and should be out in this week's print copies.


The Invincibles: Heart Full of Love
From 7" (Loma, 196?) and Heart Full of Love (Stardom, 2000)

Chairmen of the Board: Working On a Building Of Love
From 7" (Invictus, 1972) and Bittersweet (Invictus, 1972)

Wilson Pickett: I'm In Love
From 7" (Atlantic, 1967) and I'm In Love (Atlantic, 1968)

A trio of love-ly songs from the Black Label Collection for ya'll today. We begin with the L.A. trio of the Invincibles - not exactly one-hit wonders since they had two hits to their name, including this 1965 single. Though falsetto was hardly a rare thing to find amongst vocal artists or groups (think Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, etc.), it was the harmonized falsetto by all three members that distinguished the Invicibles' members: Derek Richardson (lead), Lester Johnson and Clifton Knight. This is considered sweet soul by most and certainly, the adjective fits, but there is such subtle depth with the music - the bass guitar tugs with a heavy gravity that's balanced by Richardson's light voice.

Funking it up is Detroit's Charimen of the Board with their rockin' 1972 single "Working on a Building of Love." Provided, the metaphor just seems a lil' awkward here but I'm willing to look past that given the energetic, feel-great vibe of the song. This came out on the group's second LP, Bittersweet - with General Norman Johnson still trying to recapture the magic of their classic 1970 hit, "Give Me Just a Little More Time" but even by '72, the Board and Invictus' zenith had seemingly passed (it's incredible to consider but between 1970 and '71, Invictus put out the first Chairmen album, Parliament's ground-breaking Osmium, Freda Payne's sassy Band of Gold and Ruth Copeland's debut album (rock singer from UK, down with Parliament).

Last but certainly not least is one of the best damn ballads from the late '60s, Wilson "Can you dig it?" Pickett and "I'm In Love." I'm sure many of you have probably heard this song at one time or another but like the Invicibles, this song is both inarguably sweet and heavy. The way Pickett pushes his voice to the edge here is so passionate and affecting - pure Southern soul at its most potent.


I don't know if I should be concerned or flattered but Soul Sides received its very first "cease and desist" from a copyright holder today - from the management company for John Klemmer's catalog. They asked that I either remove or license the copy of Klemmer's "Free Soul" that I had up and as per our personal policy 'round here, down it came. I figured it had to happen eventually though I don't think I would have put money that it'd be Klemmer's people that would come calling first. On the other hand, he's hardly an obscure musician but unlike, say, a more contemporary label/artist, the worth of sharing sound files is likely not perceived as important for them.


  • Moistworks has some tasty treats up right now, including Don Covay's "Overtime Man" and Ray Charles' ever-funky "Booty Butt."

  • Cocaine Blunts has moved over to their own domain name and are currently rocking rare Nas joints. Feel that.

  • Tuesday, September 07, 2004


    I'll try to put up sound files later but in case I don't have the chance...

    On PBS tonight (10pm), they're broadcasting the updated documentary on the 1972 Wattstax concert - held at the LA Coliseum and bringing together the music, politics and culture of the era in front of 100,000 strong. All things considered, it was a remarkable event - not just for the music (though that doesn't hurt) but also for what it signified at that moment in U.S. cultural history, especially in bringing Memphis to Watts: two of the most significant centers of African American cultural attitudes and vision.

    Catch this.

    (Thanks to Honey for emailing me with a reminder about tonight's screening)

    Sunday, September 05, 2004


    Allen Toussaint: Get Out Of My Life, Woman
    From 7" (Bell, 196?). Also on New Orleans Funk

    Joe Williams: Get Out Of My Life, Woman
    From Presenting Joe Williams & Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra (Solid State, 1966)

    Grassella Oliphant: Get Out Of My Life, Woman
    From Grass Is Greener (Atlantic, 1967)

    Hands down, Allen Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" is one of the the most covered soul/funk songs ever: from the Grateful Dead to the Fireballs to Jimmy Smith to Marva Whitney get the idea. You can pick up a cover of it from a mile away thanks to that intro drum break: dum dum bap, dah dum dum bap. I was tempted to offer more covers in this posting but I realize that I'd be going on forever (forever ever? Forever ever.) Instead, I hit you with Toussaint's own version and two of my favorite covers.

    Toussaint's own 7" version isn't even the song's best known - Lee Dorsey's probably is - but I figured we might as well hear the composer/songwriter put his own song to use. From this standard, you can hear how subsequent musicians have reinterpreted "Get Out Of My Life". Joe Williams, with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra, begins with this fantastic brass chorus that blares loud and proud but just as good is Roland Hanna's piano work which gives this song its personality.

    Likewise, organist Big John Patton and Harold Ousley lay it down for drummer Grassella Oliphant's version of "Get Out Of My Life" - not as jazzed up as Williams', but so damn smooth and funky. Heartbreak never sounded so good...except for maybe on the dozens of other covers of this song. Seek and be fruitful.

    Friday, September 03, 2004


    Rachael Yamagata: Collide
    From a self-titled EP (Arista Private Music, 2003)

    Rachael Yamagata: 1963
    From Happenstance (RCA, 2004)

    As a music critic, I joke with my colleagues that I always have one token non-hip-hop artist I rally for every year. In the past, it's been Aimee Mann, then Rufus Wainwright (not for one, but two different years - like whoa). This year, I'm feeling Chicago singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata and not just because she's half-Asian (though given my basic ethnocentricity, it doesn't hurt).

    When listening to Yamagata, one is tempted to think of both Norah Jones and Michelle Branch, coincidentally also hapa (go figure).The Jones comparison is more apt - the two both have similar voices: warm, a little husky, and sexy without being overtly seductive. To be sure, Jones doesn't have the most gilded of throats and neither does Yamagata - on some songs, like "The Reason Why," she strains to achieve the kind of poignant, quiet intensity that someone like Sarah McLaughlin has made a career out of and Yamagata just isn't quite there yet. That said, Yamagata has a compelling character in her nuances and tone. She shares similar qualities as a Melissa Ethridge or Sarah Harmer and I appreciate that grittier edge - like Yamagata's been spending quality time singing in honky tonks.

    As for the Branch comparison, on some tracks, especially "Letter Read," there are these moments of pop shine that seem destined for Radio Alice rotation. I don't remotely mean this to be a criticism - I don't want to hear 14 songs of moody ballads (unless it's Chet Baker but that's another story) - gimme something to smile over, something that makes me want to roll down the window and listen to with the wind in my face. Yamagata's got that quality - I pulled out "1963" off of this year's Happenstance album to make that point. The vocal harmonies on the chorus, combined with the strong piano presence, is clearly soul/gospel influenced and it imbues an uplifting, emotive swing onto the song. I'm not sure what "I feel like I'm loving you in 1963" is supposed to mean, especially since I'm not even sure she alive in 1973, let alone putting flowers in her hair and falling madly in love back in '63. But hey, poetic license right?

    Still, my favorite song by her is from her 2003 EP: "Collide." It that haunting piano melody that keeps rewinding through the song: powerful without being aggressive and it anchors the song solidly, especially when a cello accompanies it midway through. Add in the drum loop that gives the song a touch of funk and finally factor in Yamagata's remorseful lyrics that begin with the enigmatic, "I'll fascinate you...for a while" and this song can do no wrong.

    Last reason I like Yamagata: on Happenstance, she has a song called "Moments With Oliver" - a short, but affecting cello duet. It's like she was chilling with me and I didn't even know it. Holla back hon.

    Thursday, September 02, 2004


    The Fuzz: I Love You For All Seasons & I Love You For All Seasons (instrumental)
    From 7" (Calla, 1970) and The Fuzz (Calla, 1971)
    Also on Art Laboe's Dedicated To You Vol. 2

    This is a joint Black Label and Private Reserve posting since I was initially introduced to the song via the Black Label Collection and then, absolutely coincidentally, found the 45 while record shopping the other day. The Fuzz were a short-lived female vocal group out of Washington D.C. and were initially called the Passionettes (how did they go from that to The Fuzz?) Veritable one-hitters wonders, they scored a top 10 hit with "I Love You For All Seasons" but within three songs, their career was over. Just like that.

    This song opens beautifully: dark and funky but then swings into sweet soul. The Fuzz's vocal harmonies breeze in nicely, especially Seila Young's lead - she's not more distinguished than any number of other female soulsters of the time but nonetheless, her voice is easy on the ears. Songwriting-wise - I did find this song just a little inane. Given: most love songs are incredibly inane but the Fuzz force the whole "seasons" simile just a LITTLE too hard. Perhaps they should be have been more abstract and less literal, especially with lines like, "I love you with the gentleness of a falling lead on an autumn day/but most of all/I love you with the briskness of a winter/when the snow comes out to stay." Not mad corny but still...

    What's interesting is that the flipside of the Calla 45 features an instrumental version of the song - certainly not unheard of in 1970 but at the very least, uncommon.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004


    Gang Starr: Gotta Get Over remix
    From 12" (Chrysalis, 1992)

    Public Enemy: Louder Than a Bomb (JMJ Telephone Tap remix)
    From promo-only 12" (Def Jam, 1992) and Greatest Misses (Def Jam, 1992)

    Queen Latifah: Wrath of My Madness remix
    From white label 12" (Tommy Boy, 1999) and Tommy Boy's Greatest Hits Vol. 5 (Tommy Boy, 1998)

    It's been a long time/I shouldn't have left you/without a dope remix to step to. Or, in this case, a hat trick's worth.

    The Large Professor remix of Gang Starr's soundtrack cut "Gotta Get Over" (from the forgettable Ice Cube/Ice T vehicle Trespass) is one of my favorite Extra P productions just given how damn clean and simple it is. Three bass notes, that's it, but the song doesn't need anything more than that. I also appreciate how completely different the remix is from the original (which was quite good too, don't get me wrong): it's like LP didn't even bother listening to the OG; he just grabbed the acapellas and went to work.

    Greatest misses indeed: I never liked the original version of "Louder Than a Bomb" which sounded like unmastered demo cut. But give Jam Master Jay (rest in peace) a turn at the boards and he reinvents the entire song with this dark and sinister track. It's such a great piece of production, it's always made me wonder why JMJ wasn't getting more work from elsewhere. Alas, he won't get the chance any more.

    Queen Latifah's original version of "Wrath of My Madness" is probably my favorite song by her ("Ladies First" was cool and important but it's no "Wrath") and while no one really needed to remix the 45 King's original, Meters-driven track, I'm not going to be mad at DJ Premier for shouldering the task. If only for the scratching, the remix would be hyphy but Primo laces Latifah with one of the best beats I've heard from his late '90s production bin: dropping in small, but important bits of sound to give the track an intriguing dynamicism. This version originally had Defari rhyming on it but I edited dude out: no offense to Herut but I'm not trying to hear him update a classic when all the rhymes you need on this are Latifah's: "this mic, this mic in my hand, I'm ruling!" All hail.