Thursday, December 30, 2004

posted by O.W.

Sorry folks - no song files this time, just some wicked covers I wanted to share. Hell, I could probably create a blog of just album covers. Hey now, there's an idea... (I'm kidding. But don't let that stop someone else out there from pursuing).

Thanks to Joel Wing for the Rampage and Liquidators covers.

By the way - with the holiday weekend upon us, I probably won't have a new update until next week. Happy holidays to everyone. - O.W.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

posted by O.W.

The Association: Never My Love & Wantin' Ain't Gettin'
From Insight Out (WB, 1967)

I grew up listening to the "oldies" because my dad always had the car radio tuned into one of L.A.'s big oldies stations. The great thing about classic oldies rock n' roll is that if you listen for about a year, you pretty much will hear the playlist that every similar station around the country plays. Over that time, there were some songs I always looked forward to hearing and I knew if I just listened long enough, it was bound to roll through again.

"Never My Love," by the Association ranks high on that list. Their best known hit was "Windy," (which also appears on this LP) but I just gravitated to how goddamn soulful this song is (especially for a bunch of blue-eyed singers). It's also a quintessentially late '60s pop song (my girlfriend said, "you can tell it's from the '60s because of the organ) and you can easily hear the vocal influences of the Beach Boys all over the song. It also boasts one of the greatest opening bassline riffs I know. Beautiful tune.

"Wantin' Ain't Gettin'" did not, however, appear on those oldies stations, maybe because it's not nearly as mellow as "Never My Love," maybe because funky sitar tracks weren't really in top rotation on a station like K-Earth 101. If the last song was all about the Beach Boys' touch, this is clearly a post-Beatles move with its Eastern influences, plus the vocal approach. Love how psyche-light and funk-driven this manages to be.

Big up to Adam Mansbach for putting me up on the LP.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

posted by O.W.

Eddie Palmieri: Condiciones Que Existen & Chocolate Ice Cream
From Salsa-Jazz-Descarga: Exploration (Coco, 1978)

Eddie (along with brother Charlie) Palmieri's career spans several key transformations in the history of Latin music - soul, jazz, salsa, etc. In the late '70s, producer Harvey Averne (yeah, that dude gets around) helped compile some of Palmieri's more intriguing excursions into this album.

"Condiciones Que Existen" (Existing Conditions) comes off of Palmier's 19T3 album Sentido and it's one of the funkiest numbers he ever put together. It's got this wicked squeegee sound to thanks to Harry Viggiano's chicken scratch guitars. Slick as baby oil wrestling.

"Chocolate Ice Cream" (Helado De Chocolate) is one of Palmimri's many jazz compositions, appearing (I think) on either his Superimposition album from '71, or maybe from At the University of Puerto Rico (it's a little unclear since this version is 4 minutes longer than the versions on those two albums). If "Condiciones Que Existen," was brisk, "Chocolate," takes its time to unwind, spiralling through a 10.5 minute blend of Charlie's organ noodlings, Eddie's electronic piano, plus some soulful sax wails by Ronnie Cuber. The rhythm section is top-notch on this, holding down a smooth groove the whole way through (big up Chuckie Lopez Jr. on bongos and Nicky Marrero on the timbales). I don't smoke out but damn, this sounds like the perfect kind of tune to just light up a fatty too and chill out with.


Monday, December 27, 2004

posted by O.W.

Ralfi Pagan
    Make It With You
    Stray Woman
    I Never Thought You'd Leave Me
From With Love (Fania, 1972)

This is an album I've spent about two years looking for and had I really remembered how good Ralfi Pagan's songs were, I probably would have just broken down and bought this LP at whatever price. Pagan doesn't have the best damn voice ever handed down by the Almighty, but there's just something about the combination of his vocals with Harvey Averne's production that is sublime.

Take, "Make It With You," a cover of Bread's smash ballad. It begins with this tremendous wall of sound, very reminiscent of the opening of Buddy Miles' version of "Down By the River." Even when Averne and co-producer Jerry Masucci pull back, easing into a more mellow tone, it has just the right touch for Pagan's soft, dulcet vocals. He reminds me of what one of the Gibbs brothers (i.e. the Bee-Gees) would have sounded like - a clean falsetto that isn't as rich as say, Marvin Gaye, but his voice goes down real easy regardless.

"Stray Woman," features more excellent production by Masucci and Averne, more reminiscent of a mid-60s soul tune. And since Pagan was a Latin artist (there's a song on here called "Latin Soul") and Fania was a huge label in that genre, I wanted to include one of the more Latin-fied cuts off the album: "I Never Thought You'd Leave Me." It sounds like a mega-slow mambo, especially with those vibes - something sultry for a dim parquet.

Ah, this is such awesome album, one of my favorite recent arrivals.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

posted by O.W.

Hope folks like the new look of Soul Sides. It's not like I hated the previous incarnation but I wanted to switch things up a touch. More to the point, I just completed graduate school (Soul Sides is academically certified now - wrecknoize, suckas). Meaning = I have a LOT of time on my hands (until late January).

Having a lot of time on my hands, I've finally caught up with about 6 weeks worth of audioblog updates that I had to put on hold to finish my dissertation. One thing I want to get out of the way is this:

Soul Sides' Links Policy: I'm not trying to be a tight-ass about sharing links but here's the deal: I only link to sites that I actually visit. Otherwise, I end up with a blog roll that just runs on and on and on and frankly, I'm not a fan of those. For example, the good folks at Music For Robots have a blog roll that's eight sites long. That's it. This tells me that whatever sites these dudes like, must be pretty damn good if they're that select (either that or they're getting paid under the table. Check's in the mail, fellas).

However, I really do make it a point to visit all the sites who email me, asking to share links. This is my criteria as to whether or not I'm hip to the idea.
    1) The Music (duh). You could theoretically violate every rule that follows this one and I'd still be into your site if you're hepping me with some great tunes or putting me up on artists I didn't know before but damn well should. Obviously, my favorite genres tend to mirror what you see at Soul Sides: soul, funk, hip-hop, jazz, Latin, with sprinklings of pop, rock, world and "other." I try to keep an open mind though and if you have a great site in other ways, I'm definitely into swapping links even if the music you deal in isn't my particular brand of tea. Yaoming?

    2) Do you have a site feed Atom, RSS, otherwise)? This might seem highly technical but seriously, if you're not rocking a site feed that I can easily subscribe to via Bloglines or a similar program, I probably will only visit your site once in a blue moon. Any blog created through Blogger or Movable Type or otherwise should have a setting where you can turn your site feed on - you don't have to know jack about HTML or scripting to do this. Ok?

    3) Content. I've said this before, but how you present the music on your site is as relevant as what you present. Well-written sites that are informative, funny, provocative, etc., get people's attention and help distinguish your material above the pale.

    4) Design. Personally, it's tiring looking at dozens of sites that all use the same three blog templates. Don't get me wrong: I can appreciate that non-web designers like the ease of using one of Blogger's many templates. I've used their "Dots" one for a long time (and my current template design is still based on that model even though I've modified most of it beyond recognition). So frankly, I'm not that mad at people who don't have the time or interest in playing around with their template design but those who do, definitely get my attention.

Speaking of design... There's some basic aesthetic suggestions I have.
    A) If I never see anyone using Blogger's Herbert, Sand Dollar or Split Pea designs, it will be too soon. They're uglier than Reebok Ice Creams (and that's pretty damn ugly). Also, I don't know why anyone likes the "Dots - Blue" template in Blogger. The blue on blue type is hard to read and there's something about it that feels cluttered and claustraphobic about it to me. I think the "Dots - White" design is far cleaner. Actually, I find sites with white backgrounds, on the whole, to be cleaner and easier to read. Purely a personal preference.

    B) However, if you have a white background, make sure all your text - including links - are readable. For example, flourescent green on white is kind of cool for sneakers but it's straining to read off a computer screen. Likewise, if you have an all-black background, white and yellow text is actually a little glaring, red is hard to read. Go with a light blue or orange.

    C) target=_new. Learn to love that HTML tag like family. You add it to the end of one of those A HREF= tags and what it will do is open your link (i.e. soundfile) in a new window. For multi-taskers like me, that means I can click on a soundfile, listen to it but still surf your site. Otherwise, I have to wait for the song to play through (or else close it early) in order to go back to your site. Some folks, who use Real audiofiles or similar formats, don't have this problem but if you're using MP3s, you can definitely incorporate this tag into your sites. Just think about it?
    (Note: users can also do the same thing through a keyboard/mouse button combo but I think it's more considerate to do it for them).

    D) This is a personal preference, but I like it when people put the song/artist info up FRONT, rather than buried into the middle of text or at the end. Again, that's just a personal preference but I think it's better organized that way.

    E) If you know someone with just some basic artistic/graphic skills, ask them to make you a custom banner. It doesn't have to be tricked out, but it gives your site an identity, you know? Here are a few examples of what I mean.
Actually, here are a few sites whose overall designs I think are simple, clean and effective, making them a pleasure (or at least, not taxing) to look at.
  • Of the Mirror Eye. Super clean, uncomplicated. It wouldn't kill him to ease up off the e.e. cummings lower case type though.
  • Royal Music. The green gives it a nice splash of color and the way everything's organized into boxes helps organize the content.
  • Funk You. This uses a triple column design but it's done effectively, maximizing content without feeling too cluttered. I'm not a big fan, however, of his "listen to it here" style of linking (see D) but he does put the artist and title at the beginning of every post.
  • Number One Songs in Heaven. Super, duper clean.
  • Aurgasm. Hands-down, one of the best designed sites out there.
Most of you probably could care less about all this but for those who are serious about making their sites matter, I think it matters. After all, it's not like musicians put out their albums with generic sleeves, right? (Ok, not excepting those who recorded with Century).

In any case, getting back to the point: I've reorganized my blog roll (now on the right). If I didn't include yours, don't take it personal and feel free to hit me up a few months down the road for a reconsideration if you want.

Some new blogs I'm feeling:

By the way, having a lot of time on my hands. I'd like to punch out a few Soul Sides mix-CDs for everyone before things get crazy in a month or so. Be on the look-out. I know I'll have at least two CDs rolling out: one will be the resurrection of an old hip-hop mixtape from 1997, the other will be a new dance mix, similar to my Adventures in Rhythm for those who have that. For doz who slept, no worries, in about a week or so, I'll have my mixtapes site all reorganized.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby
From 7" (RCA Victor, 1954). Also on Purr-Fect.

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
From A Christmas Album (Ze, 1981). Also on Best of the Waitresses.

In general, I hate Christmas songs, mostly because you have to hear the same tunes over and over and over again. That one song, where the chorus goes, "it's the most...wonderful time...of the year"? I'm ready to do violence if I'm forced to hear it one more time. Seriously, Santa's about to get shanked and the reindeer BBQed into venison if I have to hear that crap piped through some store's speakers again.

But hey, I figured I'd get into the spirit with a pair of Xmas songs I actually like. For starters, it's hard not to get seduced by Eartha Kitt's "Santa, Baby," which sounds positively naughty in the most delicious way. So much so that I'd make sure no small children are in the room when this is playing.

As for the Waitresses big early '80s hit, "Christmas Wrapping," this just brings back great memories of growing up in L.A., listening to KROQ and getting to hear the song every December. Maybe I'm a sucker for the narrative - girl meets boy, boy and girl miss each other for every holiday during the next year, only to reconnect at Christmas time. It's not Shakespeare or anything but it's grand pop. And personally, it beats listening to "Square Peg."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

posted by O.W.

Badfoot Brown and Bunions Funeral Marching Band: Martin's Funeral
From Bill Cosby Presents The Badfoot Brown and Bunions Funeral Marching Band (Uni, 1970)

Badfoot Brown and Bunions Funeral Marching Band: The Mouth of Fish
From Bill Cosby Presents The Badfoot Brown and Bunions Funeral Marching Band (Sussex, 1971)

Moistworks recent postings on their favorite Tribe Called Quest samples made me think of "Martin's Funeral," a song by Bill Cosby's Badfoot Brown and Bunions Funeral Marching Band. People forget that besides becoming the posterboy for the Black bourgoise in the 1980s, Jello spokesperson and the guy who helped rescue Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baaadassss Song, Cosby recorded a modest amount of music in the 1970s. This site does a great job of tracking much of Cosby's output.

What's strange about his two Badfoot LPs is that they have the identical name - the only difference between them (besides the songs) is what label each appeared on. Makes talking about the LP a little tricky but most folks I know just either refer to them as either "the brown cover" or "the blue cover." Simple enough.

"Martin's Funeral," (one assumes he's talking about MLK) is a mezmerizing song that builds along slowly, working in that main motif throughout. I really appreciate that patience - 3 minute funk bombs are great, but sometimes, it's nice to just to chill to a 15 minute song. Of course, if you do want things a bit snappier, you can turn on "The Mouth of Fish," which is a 1/3rd shorter, kicks off with a slick break and is one mean ass funk tune with a nice jazzed up outro.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Dutchmin: Get Your Swerve On
From 12" (Dolo, 1997)

Blahzay Blahzay: Danger Pt. II
From 12" (Fader, 1996)

I know I said I don't take requests but Mike Nice suggested that I take us back to '97 with Dutchmin's one-hit wonder jam: "Get Your Swerve On" and I wasn't mad at that. I first heard this on Beni B's old KALX show and undeniably, the song was catchy with its simple beats and easy to chant hook. Love that line: "when I'm in your tape deck/expect/wreck/mic check." Ah, when MCs could spit.

Speaking of which, kickin' spit was all that Blahzay Blahzay were about. They blew the F up on the strength of "Danger," one of the East Coast anthems that took its place besides Jeru and O.C. in the mid-90s. I assume folks have already heard "Danger" though (and if not, shame on you) so I'm rolling with the sequel, "Danger Pt. II," which features more head-splittin' lyrics from Outloud and guests Trigga tha Gambler AND Smooth Da Hustler drop their own custom brands of broken language. (Good enuff for ya Exo? O-Dub ain't no half-ounce. Just forgetful).

Friday, December 17, 2004


Emotions: Take Me Back
From Untouched (Stax, 1972)

Little Sonny: Memphis BK
From Black and Blue (Enterprise, 1971)

I had so much fun with the last post, I decided to keep things in Memphis, highlighting just a couple more songs. Both of these are Stax-related (told you I had stacks o' Stax) and reflective the label's broad styles and appeal. First up is the girl group, The Emotions, with a song from their surprisingly scarce Untouched album. I've highlighted this album before, hitting ya'll with "Blind Alley," last time. Now, it's "Take Me Back," a sweetly soulful tune that's as light and airy as a wisp of cotton candy (just a lil more wholesome). Lovely, just lovely.

Technically, Little Sonny (aka "the new king of the blues harmonica") wasn't from Memphis (born in Alabama, came up in the Detroit blues scene) but he recorded three albums for Stax, beginning in 1970. And hell, the funky harmonica man cut this wicked instrumental called "Memphis BK" so clearly, he's got love for the town too. One of these days, I'm going to put together a mix-CD of funky blues cuts and this one's destined to play a starring role.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


The Mar-Keys: Plantation Inn & Grab This Thing Pt. 1
From The Great Memphis Sound (Stax, 1966)

One of Soul Sides' listeners wrote in to audaciously suggest that I wasn't that into Memphis. Hold thy tongue! You don't see my stacks of Stax? How I get high on Hi? O-Dub loves Memphis like a fat kid loves cake. Don't get it twizzled.

Just to prove the point, I pulled out one of my favorite albums off of Stax, the definitive Memphis soul label (no disrespect to Willie Mitchell but no one's really touching Stax's volume and influence). The Mar-Keys were Stax's first in-house studio band, laying down rhythm tracks for most of the label's early roster (they're not to be confused with the Bar-Kays, also on Stax, who were the backing band for Otis Redding until most of them died in the same plane crash that claimed Redding's life). As instrumentalists, it's hard to find another squad at the time that could mess with 'em: when two of your founding members go on to form Booker T. and the MGs, you're pretty much talking about the best o' the best.

Their 1966 album, The Great Memphis Sound is at the front-era of the funk era (though it's unlikely anyone actually would have named it as such then). You can hear how solid the rhythm section is on this with the holy triumphirate of Dunn, Cropper and Jackson laying down a mean groove on "Plantation Inn," (who's touching Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass? No one, that's who). The real heat though is "Grab This Thing," which, in my book, is the best goddamn instrumental burner I've heard off of Stax (though I'm open to competitors). I've heard this cut compared to something Sam and Dave might have cooked up but while the heavy brass sections might share some similarities, "Grab This Thing," is so deep in the pocket, it can reach down and tie your shoelaces.

By the way, "Grab This Thing," is on 45 - it used to be easier to come by but then Shadow and Cut Chemist used "Pt. 2" of the song for Brainfreeze and suddenly, the single became far scarcer.

Monday, December 13, 2004


24 Carat Black: Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth & 24 Carat Black Theme
From Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth (Enterprise, 1973)

Speaking of "Holy Grail" albums...there are some albums that are elevated among digging circles because they are rare and they contain some cool sample that they can play out among other diggers who will "oooh" and "aaah" and be like, "oh snap, he's got the [fill in your favorite hip-hop song] sample!" I mean, that's great if you like preaching to the choir but as any more seasoned digger can tell you, the charm fades fast. If you don't believe that, I got a Vic Juris LP to sell ya.

Now...the 24 Carat Black album has been sampled, extensively, but it is so much more than that. Their sole album, Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth is an extraordinary soul album - so diverse in sound that you'd swear it was two or three LPs combined into one. I could have selected practically the entire album - there's so many outstanding compositions on here, from the horn-filled flair of "Mother's Day," to the sparse, funky kick of "Foodstamps," to these two beauties: the title cut and the "24 Carat Theme" (doesn't the latter sound like something you'd expect from Can? Seriously). And more than just their musical majesty, this album actually incorporates themes and ideas; it's a concept album, with each song introducing additional commentary on the state of Black life in the ghetto. Truly, an awesome album whose greatness goes far beyond just its value to funk fiends.

Sunday, December 12, 2004


The D.O.C.: The D.O.C. and the Doctor (Noisy Mix)
From 12" (Ruthless, 1989)

Above the Law: Murder Rap
From 12" (Epic, 1990). Also on Livin' Like Hustlers (Epic, 1990)

Breeze: L.A. Posse
From 12" (Atlantic, 1989). Also on The Young Son of No One (Atlantic, 1989)

Bonus-D.O.C.: Portrait of a Masterpiece (Remix)
From "Mind Blowin'" 12" (Ruthless, 1990)

"KDAY...1580...AM STEREO!" I'm sad to say, I discovered KDAY late in its life, maybe about a year or so before it got sold off and turned into a Spanish-language station. Before that though, KDAY was THE rap radio station - not just on the West Coast, but the only 24-hour hip-hop presence on the AM waves anywhere in the nation.

The great thing about KDAY - apart from the talent that passed through their hallways (Dr. Dre was an early KDAY Mixmaster, among many, many others) - was that, as an L.A. station, it helped relay all the hot hip-hop pumping out of NYC but it wasn't about to neglect its home turf in So Cal either. Especially for anyone who's ever remotely appreciated L.A. hip-hop pre-Chronic, you'll realize that gangsta rap aesthetics were hardly that far from all the new school jams coming from the East. If anything, what folks like Dr. Dre, DJ Pooh, Sir Jinx (just to name the most obvious cats) were putting together was as hard-edged as anything you'd hear from the five boroughs.

For me, all of 17, just coming into hip-hop awareness, KDAY was like a godsend for opening my ears to all sorts of artists. I know, for a fact, that the station (along with Dee Barnes, as it were) was my first exposure to:Boogie Down Productions, X-Clan, Public Enemy, Ice Cube and a host of other, now-legendary artists who would help form my initial personal canon. I was so enamored with the music that KDAY was introducing me too that even Professor Griff's "Pawns in the Game" sounded hot.

So I'm throwing a small little shout-out to KDAY through this post, highlighting a few songs that I grew up listening on their station, including some of my all-time favorite L.A. songs of all time. The first is from one arguably one of the most talented rappers to ever pass through the West: The D.O.C. Before a car accident destroyed his vocal chords and ended what would have been a career that could have made Snoop seem like a little doggy dogg, D.O.C. was THE Man. Powerful voice, untouchable flow, and just a presence on the mic that towered over the entire NWA posse. "The D.O.C. and the Doctor," was my first introduction to him and it remains my favorite song by him even though he's had bigger hits ("Funky Enough"). It's just how ill the song opens - the thrash guitar, the convo b/t him and Dre, and the explosive: "I'm the diggy-diggy-Doc-ya'll" which is only outdone by the opening to the 2nd verse: "When I hear a BASS drum/I gotta get dumb."


Keep in mind: the version here was also what they used for the video but the "Noisy Mix" was not on the D.O.C.'s No One Can Do It Better album - that version was less punchy. You gotta roll with the 12" if you want the Noisy Mix and believe me, you want to roll with it.

No less ass-kicking is Above the Law's "Murder Rap," whose klaxon sample rang loud and true for months on KDAY. I'm probably wrong about this, but ATL's Livin' Like Hustlers album was the first that I recalled Dr. Dre handling that was outside of the WWC and NWA camps and Dr. is simply killing it on the entire LP with cut after cut of the sickest funk breaks you could imagine. "Murder Rap," isn't the only explosive track on that album but to me, it's always hit the hardest - a sledgehammer to the dome.

Breeze's "L.A. Posse," is closer to the Cali sound that most expecct: some fat-clap P-Funk grooves. Breeze, aka The Young Son of No One, busted out with this one in 1989 and while I never remember his actual lyrics, that hook stays with you: "whoo! L.A.! Cali-for-nigh-aaaaay!" Twist up the W.

I included another D.O.C. cut as a bonus track: the hip-house remix of "Portrait of a Masterpiece." The LP version is on some fast n' furious steez but Dre dips back to his WWC days me thinks for this version. I'm sorry but while I like some hip-house (Mr. Lee!), this just doesn't quite work for me. Someone as rough n' rugged as D.O.C. just doesn't sound right over these cheap basslines and four-on-the-floor beat. Cheesier than fondue.

Friday, December 10, 2004


RAMP: Everybody Loves the Sunshine & Daylight
From Come Into Knowledge (Blue Thumb, 1977)

This is REALLY strange. Lately, I've been subconsciously sharing ideas with other audioblogs that I haven't even visited in weeks. For example, We Eat So Many Shrimp had already highlighted the Jaz EP that I posted up last week. And then I was preparing to put up this post, on R.A.M.P. and while doing some background research, I found out that Moistworks posted up "Daylight" a week ago! Seriously, WTF? I'd chalk this up to some "great minds think alike," but I'm telling ya'll - it's a lil weird.

I proceed undaunted but please do check out Moistworks' post which pairs "Daylight" with some excellent other fare as part of an ongoing "Tribe Called Quest" source works series. Damn, MW might force me to have to jump in the ring with some of my favorite Tribe samples. Billy Brooks, what? Paul Humphrey, who?

RAMP stood for the Roy Ayers Music Project but you didn't have to know the name was an acronym to suss out Ayers' touch. The musical style - lush, dripping in vibes - is all Ayers with the sound falling somewhere between his early '70s Polydor classics with Ubiquity (He's Coming, Red, Black and Green, etc.) and his own Uno Melodica imprint of the early '80s (Sylvia Striplin, Ayers' Lots of Lovin). RAMP was a short-lived though - just this one album...and it became, in the early and mid-90s, one of the so-called beat-digger Holy Grail LPs. Since then, the market has cooled off considerably now that kids are chasing after Indiana funk 45s and random fast rap singles. It's still a great album to find - definitely one of the most obscure of Ayers' titles - and while I don't think it's as beginning-to-end consistent as some of his other albums (Vibrations is solid and far more common for example), it still has some great selections. "Daylight," - the cut that most know (because of the Tribe sample) is an obvious stand-out but I'd also draw attention to the group's version of Ayers' classic, "Everybody Loves the Sunshine." While this version isn't a dramatic difference, it feels a little slower, even more laid back (if that's even possible).

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Jimi Hendrix: On the Killin' Floor
From: What I'd Say (MFP, 197?)

Jimi Hendrix: Suspicious
From: Rare Hendrix (Trip, 197?)

Curtis Knight: Hi-Low
From Down In the Village (Paramount, 1970)

I admit: I'm no Hendrix expert, not remotely. He's got so many bootleg recordings floating out there that it's a miracle to me that anyone can even get a bead on how many songs can be attributed to him. One thing I can say though is that early in his career (mid-1960s), Hendrix knew how to throw down with some ultra-funky rock tunes that are lo-fi in engineering but still jump off the track with a sucker punch to the grill.

The first track comse from 1965, recorded live in New Jersey when Hendrix was a member in Curtis Knight's band. To be sure, the guitar isn't as prominent on this blues cut but goddamn, who's on the drums? Even though the album apologizes that "the sound of these recordings cannot be compared with the sound obtained in a studio nowadays," those drums are mic-ed well, nudged over into the right channel.

"Suspicious" originated in a 1966 studio, alongside Lonnie Youngblood, Herman Hitson and soul guitarist Lee Moses. Dark and smoky, the blues influence on here is obvious but Hendrix's guitar lends an edge that makes the song even more sinister than it already sounds.

Jimi doesn't appear on "Hi Low," a song off of Curtis Knight's Down in the Village album, but his influence is plainly felt all over this track, suggesting that the one-time bandleader was now following the protégé (their cover art is strangely similar). Heavy, heavy track.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Johnny "Guitar" Watson:
    You've Got a Hard Head
    Loving You
    It's All About You
From Listen (Fantasy, 1973)

Renee Geyer Band: Hard Head
From Really Really Love You (RCA, 1976)

I've always liked the grain of Watson's voice ­ a tinge of nasal but very distinctive ­ and he gets to work it out on this deeply soulful LP. Unlike his funkier fare from the later '70s ("A Bad Mutha For Ya," "Superman Lover," etc.), this album is strictly on the bluesy ballad tip and it's some of the best slow-cooked soul albums I know of. His accompaniement is lush but not as syrupy as say, Gamble and Huff. Maybe it's the blues influence, which helps keep the music on the sparser side (well, sparse + an orchestral string section.

It's always hard for me to pick a favorite song off this album since, frankly, I really love the whole thing, especially the first side which has nary a bad moment. That's why I decided to pluck three from Side A alone. Normally, I'd keep it to two, but I can't bear having to choose "It's All About You" over "Loving You" or vice versa. Unfortunately, this album is only available on import CD ($$$) but now that Fantasy has gotten bought out by Concord, perhaps there will be a push to reconsider their reissue priorities.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who's a fan of this album since Australian vocalist Renee Geyer covered Watson's "Hard Head" for a concert album recorded in 1976. I like how she keeps true the original arrangement but her vocals are a nice contrast in style and sound.

Sunday, December 05, 2004


Jaz: Hypocritters & It's Just That Simple
From To Your Soul EP (EMI, 1990)

These days, Jaz-O is best known as the guy who put Jay-Z on and then started beefing with his former protogé but long, long before Jay was J-Hova, he was just this young kid lucky enough to be in the same orbit as Jaz (no "O"), a rapper who wielded a bad ass rhyme flow that could've gone head-to-head with Big Daddy Kane. He's best known, strangely, for "Hawaiian Sophie," which wasn't really a gag song (though it should have been) but if you need to be down with any one release, track down Jaz's 1990 EP.

How are you going to go wrong with a six song EP that has DJ Mark the 45 King doing two tracks, Large Professor handling another pair and Prince Paul with the closer? I'm lacing ya'll with two off this - the first is an Extra P production, "Hypocritters" (also released as its own single), one of those classic early '90s fast rap joints. LP's beat is definitely Breakin Atoms era - sly, slick and funky. As good as it is though, I've always been all about "It's Just That Simple," a song feat. Jay-Z on the cameo tip and Prince Paul on the boards. I love this track - its playfulness and charm speaks for itself - and Jaz and Jay-Z have such great chemistry on the track, tag-teaming lines with quick-witted skill. I wish they had put this out on 12" - would have loved to have an instrumental version of the track.

By the way: I have a podcast in the works but just haven't had the time to sit down and work it out. Fear not though - the next one will be highlighting some excellent new music coming our way in January, including material by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and selections from Ubiquity's outstanding Rewind series, now entering its fourth installment.

Friday, December 03, 2004


No sound files, no podcasts, just wanted to pause for a moment and philosophize (hark - it is the sound of 1,000 mouse buttons clicking to another site).

Sometime this month, Soul Sides is going to pass my original blog, Pop Life. For a long time, SS was just the baby brother but since the end of summer (hello Rolling Stone and Newsweek), the stats have inverted themselves and these days, SS leads PL by almost 2-to-1 (both have around a quarter-million page loads since their respective inceptions).

I have to admit, part of me is sad to see this happen: it's not that I don't want to see SS blow up, it's just that I wanted to see the two at least keep par with one another. But it's not like PL is lagging, it's just that the interest in SS and audioblogs like it is so overwhelming that it's hard for a more conventional weblog to hang.

This has truly been an extraordinary year, not just for SS but for the whole community of audiobloggers out there. I've never been very good at forecasting - my vision is strictly 20/20 hindsight - so things only seem obvious in retrospect. I suppose no one should be surprised that these sound sites have taken off so breathtakingly fast, with what seems like a dozen new ones popping up everyday. As someone who's been involved in broadcasting (college radio) since the first President Bush was in office, I've seen the expansion of community-driven broadcasting take off over the last 15 years: pirate radio, then web radio, now satellite, but I don't know if there's any easy comparison with the phenomenon you see unfolding before you.

The growth of audioblogs has meant an explosion in overnight DJ/music journalists/archivists. While there's a minor technical learning curve involved, for the most part, the only thing that people have to commit themselves to do is find music they like and share it with others. To that extent, audioblogging isn't that different from other forms of DIY publishing that has come before it - from zines to mixtapes - but the seamless integration of print and sound media is unlike anything I've really seen before. Most days, it still leaves me a little stunned and I'm not saying that to be self-aggrandizing. Even if SS didn't exist, I'd still look around the internet and be amazed at the scope of passion, depth and diversity that's floating out there.

I'm not writing this for any particular reason except to say that I'm just humbly appreciative at this all. People write me very kind comments and emails to say how much to appreciate my site and I realize that I don't nearly do that enough in the other direction. Thanks deserve to be given out. By the bushel. Yeah, I'm a little late - Thanksgiving was last week - but hey, I have a dissertation to finish and I haven't been feeling nearly as sentimental of late. But here we go - the Soul Sides shout-outs.

1) This site wouldn't be possible without the generous hosting of Ed Wong over at Sandbox Automatic. He's hosted my web sites (all twenty gazillion of them) for years now, simply out of friendship and largesse and it's a tremendous act of charity on his part to support my lil endeavours even though I'm probably not generating a red cent for his business (I try though, really I do). I think I'm passionate about music but this dude left college to start a record business that he continues to pour proverbial blood, sweat and tears into. We are not worthy.

2) I cannot imagine a greater ambassador for the audioblogging world than John at Tofu Hut. Never mind that his musical breadth and depth puts most of us to shame. He's taken it upon himself to actually document and interact with all the fools like us out there with him, giving all of us shine through his own site. I'm sure one day, when audioblogging gets co-opted by the industry, we'll all be back-stabbing each other to make a buck but for now, John is like the mayor of our little neighborhood and he's doing an amazing job of looking out for all of us while still getting his own work done.

3) There are far, far, far too many quality audioblogs out there (see my links at left to visit a few of them) for me to thank everyone. Suffice to say, I am in awe of this whole community and what people bring out every day. It certainly has helped expand my musical horizons and put my raging ego in check, presuming I know every good song, artist and album out there.

People often ask me what my favorite audioblog is and that changes with the week - certainly, Flux Blog was an early inspiration, my friends at Sticker Shock offer me daily delights, as does the incredible team over at Music-For-Robots. However, if you twist my arm, I have to say that in the last few months, the most consistent audioblog I know is Noz' Cocaine Blunts.

Newbies - take notes. Noz has concept, content and, of course, solid songs, but his dedication to fully exploring a theme over the course of a week is a marvel and even if you don't like hip-hop (shame on you), there's much to learn from him (dude even has message boards now. So next level). He'll show you how to do this, son.

4) Lastly, thanks to all of you for visiting the site, enjoying the music and sharing your thoughts. People who don't actually run a site don't realize this but we really like getting feedback because it tells us that A) you're listening and B) that the music we share is sparking a reaction. Ask any radio DJ who's ever had a show run for three hours without a single call-in, sometimes you wonder if you're just broadcasting into a vacuum but your feedback is part of what helps fuel our own interest in staying with this.

My best to all of you,


Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Eddie Kendricks: If You Let Me
From People...Hold On (Tamla, 1972)

Eddie Holman: This Can't Be True
From 7" (Parkway, 1966). Also available on This Can't Be True.

I know I just featured another song off of this same Eddie Kendricks album recently but I swear, it's just a coincidence. I hadn't done a Black Label update in a long time and I had been meaning to play out some more Kendricks and the only material by him in the Black Label happens to be off People...Hold On. And why not? As I said before: one of the best soul albums ever. If you still don't believe, listen to how sublime "If You Let Me" is. I'd offer up another song but those who don't already own this album now have two incentives to get it. If you still ain't feeling my man, there's no hope.

Same goes for the incredible sweet soul of Eddie Holman with "This Can't Be True." He's best known for his late '60s hit for ABC: "Hey There, Lonely Girl," a solid tune, no question but "This Can't Be True," recorded a few years earlier for Parkway is pretty incredible. Heavy blues-style production tugs you down to the earth while Holman's angelic falsetto pulls heavenward: a devestating combo, especially on the chorus.