Sunday, October 31, 2004


Allen Toussaint: Louie
From Toussaint (Scepter, 1971).

Klaus Wunderlich:Summertime
From Hammond Fur Millionen (Helidon, 1973)

It's hard to believe that it took Allen Toussaint until 1971 to record his first solo album but New Orleans #1 musical mastermind was probably too busy producing other NOLA acts to get this own material underway. Alas, his Toussaint LP was considered a failure, at least relative to his massive success with other artists. Forget all that - this LP is a worthy purchase on the strength of "Louie" alone, a piano track is so sizzling in soulful, funky goodness that it's all the proof one needs that Toussaint is godly. Check out the arrangement: this isn't just some pretty loop but a song with some actual thought put into its joyous jumps and turns.

Meanwhile, for an entirely different sound...Wunderlich has been nicknamed "the Super-Organ Wonder". [Insert your own joke here]. His organ playing is damn cheesy by today's standards. No, actually, you'd have to think it was damn cheesy by 1970s standards too. I mean, how can you do a Hammond cover of "Hey Jude" with a straight face? "Summertime" howver, sounds like it was aspiring to some kind of heavy Hammond greatness, slipped and fell into funkiness instead. It's something the Beatnuts would have sampled. Or maybe they actually did? Try it. You'll like it.


I've been quite pleasantly surprised by the positive response to me bringing Deep Covers back in stock. I should have enough copies to accomodate interest: I'll try to make a point to keep a backstock in the house just in case. If you're still interested in getting a copy: Holla.

Friday, October 29, 2004


Oh snap, it's the long-awaited Sticker Shock (we ain't the only "SS" up in hurr), an audioblog run by:That's like a Dream Team of music hounds.

They'll show you how to do this, son.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Dave Grusin: Gasoline Alley
From Winning (Decca, 1969)

Howard Blake: An Elephant Called Slowly (Reprise)
From An Elephant Called Slowly (Bell, 1970)

Some other soundtrackables for ya'll. "Gasoline Alley" from the Paul Newman racing film, Winning is straight fire: fast and funky. I'm surprised more folks haven't really messed with this: either by remaking it or sampling it. It's so ridiculously hot.

The reprise of the main theme from An Elephant Called Slowly goes the other way: laid back, chill and smooooooth. Unlike Winning, which is a one-tracker, this soundtrack is full of nice bits of drums and potential loops, or in this case, just a nice song to throw on for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Sylvia Striplin: You Can't Turn Me Away
From 12" (Uno Melodica, 1980) and Give Me Your Love (Uno Melodica, 1980)

Speaking of sublime, you can't speak badly about this 12" by Sylvia Striplin on Roy Ayers' Uno Melodica label. Notorious B.I.G. fans will chime in, "oh snap, that's the beat from 'Get Money'" and they'd be right but "You Can't Turn Me Away" is so more than that. Especially at a time where disco is supposed to be on the outs, Striplin delivers one of the most memorable and gorgeously soulful dance cuts from the early '80s. That squeegee sound is so distinctive and combined with the strong, mid-tempo rhythm, they add up to a sweet hook that keeps you on the line for the song's six+ minutes.

Seriously, file this under "best thing ever". While never uber-rare, it used to command upwards $50 for a clean copy. Lucky for you, both the 12" and LP it appeared on have been reissued.


  • Home of the Groove. A blog dedicated to NOLA music? Sign me up. This has the makings to be completely, absolutely awesome.

    Aurgasm. Not only does it sport a great, eclectic mix of music but it also has some of the smartest blog design I've seen yet.

    Wanna-be audiobloggers should take note of what both these folks are doing.

  • As always, Cocaine Blunts is on that next level. He just finished up with a week of "cassette only rap rarities". So ill, so ill but NOZ: would it kill you to get an RSS feed for the site? I mean, really?

  • Lastly, Tofuhut has created what seems to me to be one of the most complete MP3 blogrolls out there. John - you scaring me!

  • Saturday, October 23, 2004


    Pi-R-Square: Fantasy Pt. 1 and 2
    From 7" (Wee, 197?). Available on both Bay Area Funk and Jazzman 45.

    I had a minor epiphany the other day. It began with the general and rather obvious observation that I own a lot of records. Too many. What I have just barely fits into my current apartment and frankly, it's not going to sustain itself much longer if I keep bringing in more LPs without thinning the herd a bit.

    The thing is: it's not at all clear if I even need/want most of what I have. In picking out songs for this site, I don't want to just throw up some half-assed songs just because I think they're "ok". I want to share music that demands to be noticed, tunes that will kick your ass and leave you, broken in an alley, songs that take you someplace that you never want to come back from. Forget the merely passable.

    For example, I own at least half a dozen Brian Auger LPs and 'nuff respect to him but I don't know if there's anything on them that's truly amazing. I own almost every album on Bernard Purdie's Encounter label but seriously, I don't know if there's more than one or two songs on that entire imprint that can even ride the same train as with a descriptor like "sublime" Don't even get me started on CTI (why do I own any Deodato LPs on that label? I mean, really?). The list goes on.

    Basically, I need to clean house and start dumping every mediocre or middle-of-the-road piece of vinyl stacked in my apartment. I need to focus on the music that's left, the indispensable records, the albums and singles that I'd protect with a passion that's normally reserved for childhood pets and letters from your first love. In short, I need to just keep the music that's on par with "Fantasy."

    For a long time, "Fantasy" was one of the Bay Area's Holy Grail 7"s - costing well into the hundreds for an elusive copy. One assumes the group was lead by pianist Lonnie Hewitt (one of Cal Tjader's longtime collaborators) since Wee was his label. The song is not longer such a best-kept secret: it's been reissued and comped several times and a local collector turned up a few boxes worth of stone-cold mint copies that the 7" can no longer be considered all that obscure. But who cares - the point is that this song is really stunning. What I love about it is how slow and patient it builds and when the funk hammer drops, it transforms the song and takes it to that proverbial "next level."

    I never get tired of listening to this song and among my various Bay Area-related records, it's top rankin', no doubt. Now if only all my records packed this much quality. Maybe we'll get there one day.

    At least I can have my Fantasy.

    Friday, October 22, 2004


    The Originals: Sunrise
    From Down to Love Town (Motown, 1976)

    The Moonglows: Sincerely
    From Return of the Moonglows (RCA, 1972)

    Though I post up songs that have been sampled, I usually don't try to draw attention to that because I think it's myopic to just rave about a song because some rap producer looped it. That said though, I couldn't help but want to spotlight this innocuous love ballad by Detroit's Originals just to offer more proof that Kanye West is a goddamn genius. Seriously - would it have occured to anyone to take the beginning of this song, with the pinging keys and incoming strings and make a beat out of it? Not just any beat but Scarface's "Guess Who's Back?", one of the best singles of 2002. It's a perfectly fine song on its own but seeing how Kanye transforms it is a marvel.

    I know of Harvey Fuqua because the producer was responsible for some killer albums by the Nite-Liters and New Birth but his background is with the legengary doo-wop group of the '50s, The Moonglows. On their comeback album, Fuqua brings his funky sensibilities to this deceptive cut which begins in classic doo-wop fashion but then Fuqua updates it with a sweet, funky '70s swing. I'm not saying this is the best thing ever but if it doesn't put you in a good mood, I'd be kind of worried about you.

    Thursday, October 21, 2004


    Jimmy Heath: Smilin' Billy
    From Love and Understanding (Muse, 1973)

    Jim Friedman: Aubrey
    From Hungry (Jim Friedman Records, 197?)

    When I originally posted up two parts of the Heath Brothers' "Smilin' Billy Suite," an informed Soul Sides listener wrote in to tell us that the "Suite" was based on a song called "Smilin' Billy," featured on this album. We, of course, rushed right out to find the album and having been successful in our mission, we bring it back to you. The original version isn't quite as sublime as the "Suite" adaptations but you can clearly hear the main motifs being repeated in all the songs. I still like this a lot - that main melody is haunting in whatever version.

    This second song by Jim Friedman is one of those anomalous albums by an anomalous artist that is partly why I love records. Friedman's not much of a warbler and elsewhere on this private press release, his singing is rather terrible but on "Aubrey," it all comes together. It's not like his voice magically turns from schlock to Sinatra but I just kind of feel him on this one, you know? Nice instrumentation too with Tommy Wright on drum taps, Domenick Fiore on bass and Friedman himself manning the piano (elsewhere, he lays down nice Rhodes work).

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    CHECK OUT...

    I need a day off but in the meantime, check out The Naugahyde Life's Ladies Night post from last week. The two versions of "Something Cool," by Rickie Lee Jones and June Christy respectively are so butter I want to spread them on toast.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2004


    Morton Stevens: Blues Trip
    From Hawaii 5-0 (Capitol, 1969)

    Geoff Love and His Orchestra: 3 Days of the Condor
    From Big Terror Movie Themes (Music For Pleasure, 1976)

    For beat-heads, the joy of soundtrack and sound library songs is that, by nature of their function - to set moods, convey particular emotions, etc. - the tend to veer towards repeated phrases, riffs and rhythms. Of course, so does music in other genres, but compared to 12 minute solo noodling you might find on a jazz song, a nice sound track song usually cuts straight to the point (hey, movies and commercials don't have time to spare!)

    This isn't necessarily a theme-week though I pulled about two or three postings worth of material. We start with the soundtrack to Hawaii 5-0 from '69. I don't know about you, but personally, I never thought this OST (Original Sound Track) would have much heat since, well, the theme song everyone and their cousin knows isn't exactly making waves on the funk side. But Morton Stevens comes with it elsewhere, with a lot of choice bits that seem better tailored for a blaxploitation movie. Case in point: "Blues Trip" - such a funky, Hammond-driven piece. If someone had said the Mohawks had recorded this for KPM, I would have believed it.

    Next up is the UK's Geoff Love on one of his several soundtrack inspired albums. This one tackles a range of "terror themes" though the movies he's reinterpreting includes films as far and wide as "The Exorcist" and "Towering Inferno." "3 Days of the Condor" was a spy thriller (starring Robert Redford) and already had one of the best OSTs already before Love got his hands on the main theme and manages to kick out a rendition that's just as tasty as the original.

    Monday, October 18, 2004


    Nina Simone: Backlash Blues
    From Live In Europe (Trip, 1977)

    Nina Simone: To Love Somebody
    From To Love Somebody (RCA, 1969)

    I'm not going to try to sum up the greatness that was is Nina Simone. Let me say this much though: Ella Fitzgerald will always be my favorite jazz singer but even I can't deny the power that is Simone's voice. You can have your Billies and your Sarahs, Dinahs, etc. All respect due to them. But you put Nina up against the whole lot and she'd destroy them with one scratchy note from her most signature of voices.

    "Backlash Blues" comes from what amounts to a bootleg album. Even though Live in Europe appears in 1977, the recording session probably came in France in 1968 (hence explaining her Vietnam references) and it also appears on The Great Show Live in Paris. I love when Simone lays the smack hand down, especially on Nixon. Testify soul sister!

    Simone's cover of "To Love Somebody" is another favorite of mine - a little more contemporary in sound, touch of funk and so powerfully soulful. I also think it demolishes every other cover of this song I've heard.

    links are working now, apologies

    Sunday, October 17, 2004


    After three straight weeks of collaboration fever (Soul Hut, Blunts vs. Soul), we're going to just return to our good 'ol days of solo Soul Sidery for a few (though I still got stuff cooking in the pot involving some great guest editors). I have Nina Simone on tap, a bunch of Eastern European rock and jazz, and more Latin sides to slide your way.

    Just a quick note: I think this began with the Rolling Stone article but I don't specialize in "R&B and soul." Those two terms are redundant. The line between "R&B" and "soul" is as ill-defined as between "rap" and "hip-hop." I know this sounds nit-picky but we do soul here, among other genres, but not soul and R&B.

    More new audioblogs in our midst:

    Of The Mirror Eye. Bob has an eclectic mix of songs up right now, including some Funkadelic, James Brown and a cut off Dante C's Chains and Black Exhaust mix-CD. The Mirror Eye also gets bonus points for not using one of the same four Blogger templates that 90% of other blogs seem stuck with. Don't get me wrong - I'm using one too but it's nice to see a different look for once.

    Copy, Right. How did I not know about this blog? Liza is all about cover songs, which, as the Soul Sides faithful know, is a personal love of my own. Right now, she's got a cover of the Go-Go's "Vacation" done by The Frogs, and Billy Idol doing "Don't You Forget About Me" among others. She also get extra props for having one of the best names for an audioblog.

    Not new but Scissorkick is kicking major ass of late. On the design tip, he's also added new icons to discern between different kinds of postings.

    Last but not least,

    1) Dick B., one of the SS massive, emailed me a song that he's been trying to ID. It's a jazz song he heard on Belgium radio (though the artists involved may not necessariyl even be European). He (and now I) was hoping someone might identify it.

    Artist?: Mystery pracht jazz.
    From ? (?, 19??)

    Know it? Drop a comment.

    2) We have another listener contribution, this time from John S. in NYC. Really excellent Ohio Players' cut - I don't spend nearly enough time listening to these guys.
    Ohio Players: Pride and Vanity
    From Pleasure (Westbound, 1972)

    Friday, October 15, 2004


    Major Stress: A Day In The Stuy
    From 12" (Norfside, 199?)

    Last round. I brought out the Grade A Heat: Mysterme's "Unsolved Mysterme". CB unloaded with Major Stress and their "A Day In the Stuy":
      In between saving the then fledgling Fugees from getting dropped from their label and becoming the choice producer to turn a once Nasty Nas dope again, Saalam Remi started this oft overlooked indie label. This is the B-Side to the "More & More" 12" and features Major Stress (who I guess is just one MC) doing his best ODB impression on the hook with an ill narrative of, you guessed it, just another day in the 'stuy. Remi, who's probably better known for flipping 16 bit Metroid beats and replaying UBB breaks, takes a surprisingly traditional approach here, to much sucess. Norfside released (i think) four other records, ranging from the competent (ras-t's "ill nig") to utter garbage (stay away from that Lyve-N-Direct, which is some r&b lite steez), all produced by Remi. Major Stress also recorded another joint, entitled "Smokin' & Fuckin'", which i haven't heard. But "A Day In The Stuy" is probably the hottest of their output.

    Big shout out to Andrew for being so game to do this the past week. Cocaine Blunts and Soul Sides need to re-collabo in the future with a new "Best DJ Premier Productions With the Weakest Lyrics" or "Peanuts and Corn: The Early Years" or, well, you get the idea.

    Nick Catchdubs gets in on the fun too with a few selections of his own. But yo, Nick - "as a subgenre, that's never really been my thing - partially because I was a little too young to appreciate it during its heyday." Dude, it was the NINETIES. You're making me feel really old when you say you were too young for shit dropping in 1996.

    Thursday, October 14, 2004


    Microphone Terrorists: No Food
    From 12" (Terrorist Entertainment, 1996)

    On the fourth day, SS brought the Perverted Rym Throwwas out the closet with their "MCs Ain't Saying Nothing". CB came back with Microphone Terrorists' "No Food," last seen selling for over $60 (!!!) on eBay. Noz drops the science:
      That's right! More gravely voiced faceless & unknown MCs over hot beats! Not a lot of info about this record, except that MCs C-
      Lowdown and Born Majestic trade verses over a Butta Fingaz (talk about your cliched circa 1996 underground hip hop names!) beat. And it's about the 30th time that someone flipped that Musical Youth hook. But, goddamn, the beat bangs.

    Soul Sides listens, learns, replies:

    I hate that 1) I don't have this and 2) it's going for over $50 (provided, those are eBay prices but it's not likely that I'll stumble on this one randomly in the Bay Area. Good stuff, good stuff.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004


    Scott Lark: The Movie
    From 12" (Contract, 1996).

    Day tres and Cocaine Blunts and I are still slugging it out. I hit CB with the ha ha and the hee hee in the form of Chicago's Mental Giants and the slept-on "AK's Groove." CB's coming with Scott Lark, representing one time for all the heads in NJ:
      You knew I had to represent for Trenton. Scott himself has an bizarre style that sounds a little like he's constantly blowing his nose. It's definitely an acquired taste, but I kinda feel it. It's producer Tony D (who gained fame with late 80s productions by the likes of Poor Righteous Teachers and YZ) who steals the show with his infectious (proto Kanye? post RZA?) vocal loop and smooth as fuck bass line. Check out Scott's Razzle Dazzle EP, for this joint and more of the same.

    The SS reply:

    Wasn't Scott Lark like the only artist on Contract besides Wise Intelligent? What I remember most about him, besides his full artist name (Scott Lark Da Sensei) was dude's voice. Really distinctive and nasal, kind of like Mos Def's but taken to the nth degree. I just couldn't have seen Lark ever breaking into the mainstream but then again, I hate Eminem's voice and look how well he's done.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004


    Kaotic Style: Represent
    From 12" (Beat Scott, 1994)

    Opening round was definitely cool. For the second day, I went to LA and brought back a sack of "Mescaline" from the Ill Brothers Project. Cocaine Blunts did it up NYC style with Kaotic Style and "Represent." Noz sez:
      This is from the (debut) "Diamond In Da Ruff" EP released by later Nervous/Wreck signee Kaotic Style. This has always been one of those mystery records in my collection. For the longest time I thought "A Diamond In Da Ruff" was the artist and not the title, but I obviously got it twisted. Every track on this record features some ridiculous DITC style production, such as super heavy bass line on this, the standout banger. Kaotic spits almost MOP style angry mic swallowing lyrics and is augmented by a scratched in Jeru hook. A web search didn't turn anything up on this dude, except the following bizarre approval courtesy of Heltah Skeltah's Ruck - "all fat people shouldn't rhyme except Kaotic Style".

    The SS reply:

    What's up with Ruck dissing fat rappers? Big Pun and Biggie's ghosts should haunt dude like The Grudge. Cool track - didn't remind me of MOP as much as Naughty By Nature - you can tell this was from 1994...cats aren't trying to sound like Mobb Deep or Nas yet. And the hook? That shit is so early/mid-90s. They might as well be yelling "Catching Wreck!"


    Judy Clay: My Arms Aren't Strong Enough
    From 7" (Scepter, 1964). Also available on New York Soul Serenade

    Eddie Floyd: Raise Your Hand
    From 7" (Stax, 1966) and Knock On Wood (Stax, 1968)

    Bobby Rush: Bowlegged Woman/Knock-Kneed Man
    From 7" (Jewel, 196?). Also available on Absolutely the Best.

    Day Two of Blunts vs. Soul is on hold since Cocaine Blunts got tooken out for exceeding bandwidth. Meanwhile, enjoy the return of the Black Label, getting all up on the body (paging R. Kelley!)

    Judy Clay begins this trio with her "My Arms Aren't Strong Enough" (to box with God?). Clay began her career in gospel with the Drinkard Sisters (that does sound uncomfortable close to "Drunkard Sisters," which, I'm sure you'll agree, would not be an optimal name for a gospel group), a heritage that's easy enough to hear in this particular song. It's clearly gospel-derived but the lyrics sure aren't church-approved - "if her touch thrills you more than mine/and if her kiss tastes as sweet as wine." (Not so) trivial note: Clay has been credited by some as being part of the first interracial recording duo, along with Billy Vera. More on Clay here.

    Eddie Floyd's "Raise Your Hand," was one of this Stax-man's bigger hits (though not quite on par with "Knock On Wood") a rousing, soul slammer that put the power of Stax's studio band in full effect with its bellowing brass and expert rhythm section. Awesome song. More on Floyd here.

    Last, we have bluesman Bobby Rush (aka innovator of "folk funk") with a sweet slice of salaciousness: "Bowlegged Woman/Knock-Kneed Man." If you the title doesn't make immediate sense, consider each affliction and how the two might, um, fit together. The tune is funky, funky, funky 'cause your heard it from me-say, plus, if you need a slick seduction aid, just toss this on, light some candles, and have with it. Rush's official site.

    Monday, October 11, 2004


    Shadez of Brooklyn: Change
    From 12" (Pandemonium, 199?). Also available on New York Reality Check Vol 1

    Goddamn ya'll - shit is real. Cocaine Blunts and Soul Sides have been eyeing each other since this audioblog thing jumped off. Nos would post some hot hip-hop joints, I'd follow, we'd have our little dance but now it's time for the face off. Blunts vs. Soul takes over this week at both CB and SS. Our weapons of choice? Indie rap singles from the 1990s (that don't suck).

    Round One. SS throws a speed-knot, Constant Deviants' "Catch a Speed-Knot". CB comes back with Shadez of Brooklyn's "Change":
      By the mid 90s many of the big name NYC producers were side hustlin' on on the indie tip. This is one of Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz' finest productions, and sadly, remains relegated to decade old Stretch & Bobbito dubs and the few heads who were smart/lucky enough to cop the 12". Like East Flatbush's "Tried By 12", which Biggie made famous, this was one of those inescapable instrumentals - you may not know the song but you've heard the beat. I slept on this when it first dropped and instantaneously recognized the mellow piano loop when i dropped a needle on it in a dollar bin a few years ago. It's interesting how the NYC indie movement put such an emphasis on production rather than lyrics, while, at the time, the East was known as the more "lyrical" coast. Maybe it was a purist/reactionary response towards the perceived focus of the "mainstream" focus on the MC rather than the DJ/production (that concept seems downright stupid these days), but for whatever reason, labels churned out these near perfect productions wasted by very competent but ultimately faceless and unmemorable MCs. I guess that's why 12"s have instrumentals. And that's probably also why you've never heard of Shadez of Brooklyn or so many of their peers since then.

    The SS reply:

    I always liked this single back in the day, putting it on my Headwarmers mixtape from 1996/7. Seriously, what's not to like? Beatminerz production, Ahmad Jamal sample and lyrics about street life that are reflective rather than blindly celebratory. Proper.

    Saturday, October 09, 2004


    Southern Contemporary Rock Assembly: C.C. Rider
    From S.C.R.A. (M7, 1971)

    Afrique: Kissing My Love
    From Soul Makossa (Mainstream, 1973)

    Bill Black's Combo: Tequila
    From Rock N' Roll Forever (Mega, 1973)

    Ken Boothe: Down By the River
    From Everything I Own (Wildflower, 1974)

    Monty Alexander: Love and Happiness
    From Rass (MPS, 1974)

    For a limited time only, I decided to recap the five songs I sent over to Tofu Hut. I won't bother to list all the biographical info since I already did it over at TH (start reading here for the full postings, plus John's replies).


    Charles May and Annette May Thomas: I'll Keep My Baby Warm
    From 7" (Gospel Truth, 1973)

    ?: No One But the Lord
    From LP (197?)

    We admit: Soul Sides is not that up on our gospel but we managed to dig out two favorites that have long been in rotation 'round here. The first comes from Los Angeles' Charles May and Annette May Thomas who recorded for the Stax-subsidary label, Gospel Truth. I can't say enough about "Keep My Baby Warm," which is just so damn soulful that it's easy to forget that the allegory here might well be that "baby = Jesus" (at least that's how I read it). You don't really need to know that context though - like many gospel songs of the '70s, it works in both secular and religious contexts.

    Sorry for the secrecy but the second song, "No One But the Lord," needs to remain in incognito status, at least for now (there's enough heads out there who already know about this Bay Area gospel album in any case). Again, this is so funky that if not for the obvious Christian-inspired hook, this could pass for just a solid soul song. In fact, just change "the Lord" to "my man" and you can see what I mean.

    Friday, October 08, 2004


    It might be autumn here in America but it's springtime for audioblogs. Everytime I turn around, more and more are springing up. Here's a few that are glowing on Soul Sides' radar:

    New on the watch list: whenmadwastallandphatwascold: obscure NY and Chicago hip-hop.

    I have to be honest - god bless Cocaine Blunts and others, but for some reason, I've been more wary about posting up my hip-hop butters. Thankfully, the upcoming "Soul Blunts" battle (act like you knew) has been an incentive for me to be a little less tight-fisted about it. Stay tuned.


    Leon Spencer: Where I'm Coming From
    From Where I'm Coming From (Prestige, 1972)

    Gene Russell: Get Down
    From Talk to My Lady (Black Jazz, 1972)

    Organist Leon Spencer was one of the in-house musicians for the Prestige label which, alongside Blue Note in the 1970s, helped define the "soul jazz" genre. Spencer himself recorded four albums for Prestige, all worth trying to find, though in true Prestige fashion, all had one really hot song but that was usually about it. Of his quartet, this, his last for the imprint, is by far my favorite. The title song is vintage Prestige funkiess: mid-tempo with a strong rhythm anchor, owing no doubt to drummers Idris Muhammed and Grady Tate. Hubert Laws' flute adds a nice lift without getting too cheesy and Spencer's organ work is superb, especially on the chorus where he hits that distinctive vamp. B3 Hammond organs are best when used in moderation: anyone who's suffered through an excessive Hammond solo knows what I'm talking about. Spencer, thankfully, keeps his noodling dialed to moderate and never overstays his welcome despite the song's six minute+ length. Unbelievably, though Spencer enjoyed his own "Legends of Acid Jazz" anthology, they managed to leave this song off. Say what? Are they crazy?

    As for Russell, he headed Black Jazz, a label oft-mentioned in the same breath with Strata East and Tribe insofar as all three were smaller labels, catered to similar kinds of sound, and had more than a few excellent slices of jazz funk to their credit. "Get Down" is one of the best I know of - though Russell's acoustic piano work is meant to be the focus (this a Hammer Drops posting after all), the real hook is Henry Franklin's faaaaat bassline at the very beginning that only gets better once Ndugu kicks the drum kit in. The song swings nicely without having to try too hard - seriously, one of the nicest acoustic soul jazz songs I can think of on short notice.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004


    Johnnie Taylor: Ain't That Loving You & Watermelon Man
    From Wanted One Soul Singer (Stax, 1967)

    Johnnie Taylor's early career - from the early '60s up through early '70s always seemed to find this late, great soulman in the shadow of bigger legends who died long before their time. Taylor was more or else "discovered" by Sam Cooke and eventually replaced Cooke in his gospel group, The Soul Stirrers once Sam decided to make soul records. Taylor followed his mentor to Cooke's SAR label but his career was forestalled with Sam's murder. He then landed over at Stax, racking up enough sales to be that label's best-selling artist but Taylor, while duly respected, never attained the same kind of awe that labelmate Otis Redding inspired. Redding's unfortunate plane crash only further catapulted his status in immortality in a way that Taylor never got to touch. Undeniably though, Taylor was an excellent vocalist - able to hit those deep, bluesy tones yet soar on some funkiness.

    This album was Taylor's first for Stax and holds one of my all-time favorite songs off the imprint (which is saying a lot since Stax is probably my all-time favorite label): "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)". Not only is it just a masterpiece of songwriting but the arrangement and production is incredible, beginning with those shaking horns and guitar. Super solid soul the whole way through, especially with that strong bassline anchoring the song. Pay attention to both the bassist and guitarist - they're also what makes Taylor's cover of "Watermelon Man" so memorable. This is funky without having to advertise: the effect is subtle but definitely groovin'.

    Sample heads: at least two people lifted from "Watermelon Man" - one obvious, one perhaps not quite so.


    The Soul Stirrers: He Knows How Much We Can Bear
    Available on He's My Rock.

    Today brings the end of the Soul Hut collaboration. I graced Tofu Hut with one of my all-time favorite covers: "Love and Happiness" by Monty Alexander. John, in turn, gave us this song by The Soul Stirrers, along with these comments:
      "We end Soul Hut with a track that's near and dear to my heart and one with a message that grants me succor through hard times.

      The Soul Stirrers are best remembered today as being the matrix from which Sam Cooke sprung; this recording presages that development by a good many years. The strong bass is courtesy of J.J. Farley, the honeyed lead by Robert Harris.

      Don't let the surface noise bug you; think of it as a prestigious member of the band that only the grandest and oldest groups can claim.

      Hustle over to Tuwa's Shanty and see if you can find a few more Soul Stirrers tracks.

      Read this bio on the Soul Stirrers."

    Soul Sides replies:

    Alas, the static is pretty damn heavy on this and I found it to be more of a distraction than I would have liked. It's also a rather muted song: I like the harmonizing but I guess after the previous whoomp provided in the other songs, this one was the quiet close instead of a rousing, crashing finish.

    But's not over yet! Wait for the Soul Hut Recap and Bonus Round, coming soon. We're actually backed up over here - Johnnie Taylor, Leon Spencer, Gene Russell and more, all waiting in queue.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004


    Jefferson Airplane: Today
    From Surrealstic Pillow (RCA, 1967)

    Tom Scott: Today
    From Honeysuckle Breeze (Impulse, 1968)

    The original "Today," appeared on Jefferson Airplane's second album and you can hear the crunchy, feel-good, Summer of Love vibe to the ballad - incense and peppermints for real. Clearly, it had an effect on saxophonist Tom Scott who recorded a cover of the song not long after for his debut album. What's interesting about his version is that it manages to sound quite similar to the original in some parts - especially the opening - but Scott's sax wails take the song in directions that the Airplane's vocals don't.

    People tend to be divided over Scott's "Today": some think it's a little cheesball and musically daft. Others find it a great listen, especially as it bridges psych, pop and jazz together. I fall in the latter troupe.

    This is freaky but I was planning on putting up Blackrock's monster of funky rock tunes: "Yeah, Yeah" but as it turns out, Fluxblog beat me too it. Seriously, "Yeah, Yeah" is incredible: visit our esteemed peer and peep that science.


    Monday, October 04, 2004


    Jackson Gospel Singers: Heaven Bound Train
    Available on Heaven Bound Train: Southern Gospel 1949-1950

    It's the penultimate (I've always wanted to use that word) day of the Soul Hut collabo. Tofu Hut has my offering: a spanktacular cover of "Down By the River" done by Ken Boothe.

    John laced us with the Jackson Gospel Singers and this commentary:
      "The Jackson Gospel Singers is an all-female band from New Orleans with just as great a range of sound and fury as any male counterpart.

      I love the old gospel tricks these guys invoke: onomatopoetic train whistles and human orchestra clang on the tracks amidst the singing; the constant and gradual build in pace; the beautifully sustained shouts and cries of glory; unmatched harmony.

      The P-Vine import CDs that many of these tracks hail from are virtually incomparable in terms of quality but they're a bit pricey and a pain in the ass to find. Good luck on the hunt and if anybody finds a reliable online export source other than Amazon, please let me know about them.

      Explore this collection of train songs."
    Our thoughts here at Soul Sides Central:

    Kick ass. Our favorite song from Tofu Hut - this one is just so damn soulful on every level I can imagine: the acapella arrangement recalls the gospel roots of Aretha Franklin, the train-like sounds the Singers dole out are just straight up bonkers, and the sense of rhythm they have is fantastic.

    Sunday, October 03, 2004


    Celio Gonzalez: Arriba!
    From Arriba!/Up! (Tico, 196?)

    When I first started to get into Latin, this is one of the first titles I picked up. Gonzalez is a Cuban artist, recorded a few sides with Tico (this was from his third album) and he has the distinction of looking like Mr. Rogers, only more waxen and a little scary.

    When I first bought this LP, the store owner warned, "the instrumentation is good but his voice kind of ruins it" but I have to disagree. The music is great - swinging and soulful, just the kind of beat to get you twirling a dance partner on the parquet. But Gonzalez' singing fits right in the mix. Sure, he's not the finest Latin troubadour I've ever heard, but he's got verve and the ability to belt out a good one which seems to fit with this cut just fine.


    Saturday, October 02, 2004


    The Brewsteraires of Memphis: So Glad
    Available on It's Amazing: the Glorious Female Gospel 1947-1951

    For Day Three of Soul Hut, I dropped off a copy of "Tequila" as done by Bill Black's Combo. Tofu Hut came with the Brewsteraries of Memphis and John offered the following thoughts:
      I'm sure all the vinyl junkies in the crowd will appreciate the spiderweb of surface noise on this track; it has the dusty sound of authenticity when it surfs underneath sounds as rapturous as these.

      The refrain of "feet been diggin' out the miry clay" is a reference to Psalm 40:2 in which David tells us that the Lord elevates him from mortal chaos and places him on stable ground.

      The other track by the Brewsteraires on this disc is the title cut; it's worth getting this disc for these two songs alone."
    Soul Strut opines:

    First of all, I want to know what a Brewsterary is: I keep thinking of some kind of secret society of beer makers or something of the like. Doesn't quite fit with the gospel motif though. And yeah, this song is recorded off of vinyl so dusted I want to clean out my headphones after a listen. Solid material, especially the cross-gender harmonizing going on behind the lead.