Monday, January 31, 2005

posted by exo

Al Green: Belle
From The Belle Album (Capitol, 1977). Also on Greatest Hits.

Isaac Hayes: Tough Guys
From Tough Guys (Enterprise, 1974).

I don’t know what the Ying Tang Twins have to “offer the game.” The fact that they seem contractually obligated to showcase their gold dentalwork in all promotional and publicity related photos notwithstanding, I don’t think of them much. Hell, I reviewed their album and I didn’t think about them much. But now I hear that they’re remaking one of my favorite Al Green songs. Exo is not amused. Not at fuckin’ all.

Songs from these albums are somewhere in this post. Really.

Anyway, when the G-O-Dizzle offered me this opportunity to prove that I basically have very little knowledge of music, I was a bit perplexed. Surely, I have been able to fool editors for years with shibboleths and pleonasm—mainly through my bromidic use of platitudinous truisms. These are the types of tricks you learn when you get paid by the word and your boss is a socially inept academic trying to make the Dean’s list (shoutout to Bob Xgau). But O-Dizzle? O-Dizzle is a thinking man. Did I manage to pull the extra-virgin lambswool over his four astute eyes as well? Did he think that I actually knew anything regarding writing about music? At first I was like, “Nah. Holmes has to be wrong.” But he was like, “Sun, you promised. Pulling out’s really no fun.” So I asked, “Can I use Jay-Z?” He said, “You can use Jay-Z.”

At this point, exo was perplexed. I mean, should I use this opportunity to plug my own never-launched MP3 blog? Should I tell you that the dream is over has evolved? Or should I just prove to you ungrateful free music-seeking urchins that I, too, have stacks o’ Stax? That my Ubiquity is ubiquitous? That I can get my N’Awlins shine on like I was the numba one stunna? Oh yeah, trust the kid got iTunes for days—78 and counting. That’s not even taking into account the joints I got on stash waiting for the terabyte to come thru. (Feel free to step your game up.)

So what was I to do? Get random like Lady Ess-Oh-Vee? No, I have my own blog to do that. And, besides, if I tried to get obscure, you’d probably realize that I get most of my facts from Allmusic and liner notes. So I’ma keep it simple for now: The new Geto Boys album dropped last week and your Pushermania, Matt Sonzala has been chronicling the foundation of da good, da bad and da ugly while grippin’ it hard on a whole ‘nother level, so I thought I’d revisit a classic.( Who knew that there were reasons to admire Chef aside from his libidionus attitude towards pinktoes?)

Well, either my mind is playing tricks on me or beguiling you with specious fanfaronade was easier than I thought. (Would it be redundant to point out my pleonastic repetition at this point?) I may have let on that I know absolutely nothing about the history surrounding this post's Easter-egged musical offerings, yet you've learned so much, haven't you? Now, if you would tap that snowflake on her shoulder for me . . .

[GunYoga: And for the right price, I can make your shit tighter.]

posted by O.W.

the number one team in your area

Here's the deal: some day, very soon, I'll be off for a few weeks to handle some family biz. Rather then leave ya'll hanging, I invited some colleagues to be guest editors - it's like party line up in here.

The task of this newly formed Soul Sides Squad: each were asked to post around once a week, anything they like, any way they like. Allow me to briefly introduce them:
  • Hua Hsu from Sticker Shock. Crates so deep, even Adidas is jocking.
  • Jazzbo, MTV's #1 stunna. No truth to the rumors that he's the reason Jessica and Nick are on the rocks.
  • Jon Caramanica of Broken Language. Every desperate housewife's dream.
  • Kris Ex, aka gunyoga, aka the Blogga With Attitude.
  • G-Dilla, about to blow things up with his forthcoming "What the Blog Clot" audioblog (early 2005 nominee for "best blog title")
  • ...and last but certainly not least, Noz from Cocaine Blunts. Don't give him no bama weed.
Kris Ex will be up first, with a string of remixes of John Cage's "4'33." The Just Blaze remix is particularly off the meter.

I'll be peeking in on occasion, when I'm not busy cleaning spit-up off me or mastering the art of the "poop pocket." I'll try to resume semi-regular posting once my sanity returns.



posted by O.W.

I'm glad that my colleagues at Fluxblog and Music For Robots got dominated for "Best Music/Entertainment Blogs" for 2004. They are holding it down for all of us. I was wondering where all the noms for Soul Sides went off to - maybe that same twilight zone where Gore's Florida votes and Kerry's Ohio votes vanished into but hey, Soul Sides glows red with love, not green with envy.

But just because we're not up for a Bloggie doesn't mean Soul Sides can't get in on handing out our personal awards. So here it is: The First Ever Soul Sides Audioblog Awards!

Winners receive...nothing! (Props is a true thug's wife, ya'll)

Best Hip-Hop Blog: No contest - it's Cocaine Blunts. N.O.Z. isn't D.O.C. but similar to the letters, no one can do it better. Not only does he come with laser-sharp thematic focus but he digs deep to pull out songs that most of you have never heard - demos, tape-only, promo, etc. At the same time, he's not going obscure simply for the sake of - he often highlights rare songs by big artists.

Honorable Mention: The competition out there is heating up and there are some newbies worth keeping an eye on. In the lead is Freemotion: good design, great selections. Their tastes run a bit Hip-Hop 101 though - if they expand into lesser known territory - watch out.

Best Regional Blog (tie): Home of the Groove. True, Dan Phillips decided to dedicate his blog to one of the richest musical centers in's not like he managed to pull off a kick ass site dedicated to the sonic tradition of Peoria, but that said, Dan really is holding it down great for Nola's rich heritage.

Outside of the U.S., Benn Loxo Du Taccu has been schooling everyone on the amazing musical output from West Africa and beyond. They're a living example of what makes audioblogs a fantastic resource for learning about music you otherwise wouldn't cross by.

Best Soul/Funk Blog (other than, you know, us): If anyone's got me peeking over my shoulder, it's Evigan Funk. Great selections every time and I see a lot of potential lurking at this new site.

Best Writing: Let's be honest - most blog writing sucks (including here) but Comboplates is a genuine pleasure to peruse - not simply for the musical content, but to see what the site's author has to muse on that particular day. I'm not saying this should be a model for every site (lest the audioblogosphere become too Xanga-fied) but it works well for Comboplates.

Honorable Mention: We Eat So Many Shrimp. If Lester Bangs were reborn today as a rap fiend, he might take the form of Serg Dun over at the 'Shrimp. Acerbically funny yet passionate about what they like (and dislike). They've recently slimmed down and now it's Serg and David holding it down as the diabolical duo for arrogant musical truth (apologies to Ego Trip).

Best Content: No contest here - Tofu Hut. I tend to write a lot but John makes me look downright miserly in comparison to everything he includes with every post: interviews, reviews, audience reactions, etc. It boggles the's like he publishes a mini-magazine with every post. If I have one complaint...and I say this with love in my heart...

Worst Design By a Good Blog: Tofu Hut.
I'm sorry, but seriously, that Blogger "Sand Dollar" template is so...2003. It's hard to read and just to be really blunt: shit is ugly. A site this good should look as good as it sounds. Tofu Hut undoubtedly has a gazillion readers and I beseech one of the TH loyal with some design skillz to volunteer to help the 'Hut get an extreme makeover. Hell, I'd do it myself except that TH would probably end up looking suspiciously like Soul Sides. We're kind of one-trick pony up in hurr.

Honorable Mention: Anybody using any of Blogger's built-in templates without doing a little tweaking of their own. You don't want to post the same music as everyone else, right? Then why would you want to look like everyone else? Scissorkick knows the deal: they took the basic template and then stylized it to help personalize. Take notes on what they did.

Best Design: This is a tough category to call because good design (unlike bad design) is really in the eye of the beholder and it depends on what you're looking for. This said, for sheer simple, clean design, it's hard to top Fluxblog. No pictures but you'll never get a headache trying to navigate through.

Personally, I always point to Aurgasm as a site that is very graphically driven and catches the eye but some find it a bit too busy. Perhaps the solution is to find something in between, such as what Diddy Wah does - it's amazing what a simple font can do to help make your site stand out.

Best Team Blog: On a professional tip, this is Music For Robots, all the way. These guys (gals?) put in work like few other sites I know and they well deserve the props they get.

Honorable Mention: Considering that Sticker Shock is run by a quartet - two of whom are my closest friends and two of whom are among my most valued colleagues, I didn't want to seem too nepotistic by highlighting them...and their posts aren't nearly as consistent/frequent as the above two sites, but talent-for-talent, you can't really hope for too much better than the four-man squad over there.

Best Overall Blog: *laugh* Soul Sides, suckas! The only way you'll take my spot is with a shot.

Honorable Mention: In all seriousness, and despite just dogging their design, I'm constantly in awe of Tofu Hut. Respect, as always, due.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

posted by O.W.

Walt Dickerson: Death and Taxes
From This is Walt Dickerson (New Jazz, 1961).

Bill Mason: Stone
From Gettin' Off (Eastbound, 1972)

When Bob Weinstock first started a record label in the late 1940s, he didn't call it Prestige: he called it New Jazz. After changing the name over, he eventually brought back New Jazz as an off-shoot label (which would produce some high-demand jazz albums in its time). This Is Walt Dickerson is one of the better titles I've heard - Dickerson's such a master of the vibes on every shimmering track.

My man Cool Chris describes Eastbound as "the rich man's Prestige" since the personnel that recorded on both labels were often shared. This Bill Mason LP, shares several of the same personnel as Rusty Bryant's Fire Eater, including Idris Muhammed, Wilbert Longmire and Mason himself. The songs sound remarkably similar too - "Stone" could just as easily been on a Prestige album. The difference is that Eastbound titles usually cost up to twice as much as Prestige LPs - not because of quality, but they're more obscure. And that's about the only reason. (Just to be clear about this, I'm largely underwhelmed by Eastbound's LPs - though their 45s are a different story altogether - with the exception of Donald Austin's funkadocious Crazy Legs.)
Hope everyone enjoyed Prestige week. Somewhere down the line, I'd like to do the same thing for Blue Note. If anyone wants to collabo on that, holler.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

posted by O.W.

Bernard Purdie: Way Back Home
From Shaft (Prestige, 1971).

After the hyperactive hypeness of "Fire Eater," we needed something a lil more laid back to close out Prestige Week. "Way Back Home," is a cover of a Crusaders' song featured on Bernard Purdie's Shaft LP, one of several albums he recorded for Prestige (and in my opinion, the best. The cover of "Them Changes" on here is smokin'.) There is something so '70s about this song - like it could have been the theme song to Barney Miller or Welcome Back, Kotter. There's a soothing charm to the composition - as the name suggests, it sounds like something you could throw in the ride for a weekend drive.

Coming soon: A Prestige bonus post.

Friday, January 28, 2005

posted by O.W.

Rusty Bryant: Fire Eater
From Fire Eater (Prestige, 1971). Also on Best of Pulp Fusion

Ah, "Fire Eater." This hellafied monster jam is perhaps the consensus favorite of all the funky Prestige cuts (though, "Kool is Back," by Funk Inc. is pretty kick ass too). Hard, hard, driving rhythms brought to you by Bill Mason on organ, Wilbert Longmire on guitar, Bryant himself on sax and the incomporable Idris Muhammed (who recorded a few titles on Prestige) on drums. The whole song cooks as hot as the title suggests but the real money shot comes at the end when Idris busts out a blistering 16 (or is it 24?) bar drum solo that closes with an 8 bar killer break. Top 10 all-time funky drum solos, evah.

Tomorrow: Bernard Purdie takes us down the way back home.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

posted by O.W.

Charles Kynard: Winter's Child
From Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Prestige, 1971)

I first discovered keyboardist Charles Kynard through his trio of albums on Mainstream - slick n' funky tunes all around. I gradually moved backwards and then began to listen to his Prestige titles. Which is better is subjective...there's not a huge difference between the two - though his very first Prestige titles, recorded in the mid/late '60s are more straight-ahead than soul-jazzy.

Labels aside though, "Winter's Child" is my favorite Kynard song off of any album by him. He's playing, I believe, a Wurlitzer electric piano (I favor Rhodes myself but I'm not too picky here) and there's something about its soft touch and tones that helps make this song incredibly soulful to me. Moreover, the interplay between bassline, brass and keys at the beginning and the end seal the deal.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

posted by O.W.

Sonny Stitt: Turn It On
From Turn It On (Prestige, 1971). Also on Legends of Acid Jazz

Stitt is a Prestige veteran since Day One - having recorded almost a dozen albums for them during the label's first years. He then took a decade off and return to Prestige in the early 1960s and began recording for them regularly after that point.

This 1971 date features Idris Muhammed on drums which explains why the rhythm section is so firmly in the pocket. Compared to yesterday's Billy Butler cut, "Turn It On" isn't quite as overtly funky but this song is unquestionably anchored in a firm, catchy rhythm. Stitt blows nicely here too - nowhere near as cheesy as a lot of Hosuton Person's albums from the same era. If I had to pick a definitive Prestige soul-jazz sound - this comes as close as anything else I can pick out.

Tomorrow: Charles Kynard raises a winter's child.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

posted by O.W.

Billy Butler: Blow For the Crossing
From Guitar Soul (Prestige, 1969)

I've featured Billy Butler before on Soul Sides - taking a cut from one of his other Prestige albums, This Is Billy Butler. He recorded a total of four albums with the label but played on many others, including with King Curtis, Gene Ammons and especially Houston Person.

"A Blow For The Crossing," catches your attention the instant it opens with Butler's distinctive guitar licks and then it shifts into Specs Powell's building drum break. The song moves with grace and patience, building steam so to say (the fake train whistle is a nice effect), and it's able to maintain that rich groove the whole way through. Butler's playing blends a more classical guitar-playing approach but with definite influences from the world of rock. And that effect Butler achieves - is it steel-pedel guitar? A bottleneck style? - is so distinctive and mesmerizing.

Tomorrow: Sonny Stitt turns it on.

Monday, January 24, 2005

posted by O.W.

Soul Sides Podcast #5 - Sharon Jones Special
Selections from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: Naturally (Daptones, 2005).

Bonus track: DJ Greyboy with Quantic feat. Sharon Jones: Got To Be Love (Paul Nice Remix)
From 12" (Ubiquity, 2004). Original version on Soul Mosaic (Ubiquity, 2004)

I'm such a fan of this new album by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. I sing more thorough praises on the Podcast but the gist of it is this: this band makes incredible soul and funk music and this is, by far, not only the best thing I've heard from Daptone Records, but probably one of the best "retro-soul" albums I've heard from any group or artist. Her high-powered funk blasts are great but the ballads and mid-tempo groovers are even better.

As a bonus, I'm including the sold out, 12"-only Paul Nice remix of "Got To Be Love," a song by Greyboy and Quantic, featuring Jones. Nice does a great job with the remix here - super-snappy, soulful and funky to the bone.


  • Diddy Wah brings the rock n' funk on a new audioblog.


  • Sunday, January 23, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers: Heat!
    From Heat! (Prestige, 1968)

    In the 1960s, Prestige also dabbled into the growing Latin jazz scene. They weren't major players per se - not as prolific as Fantasy which had Cal Tjader and Mongo Santamaria on their roster - but Prestige's secret weapon was Pucho and His Latin Soul Brothers. Regarded as one of the most important Latin/soul/jazz/funk fusionists of his time, Pucho recorded seven albums for Prestige from the mid-to-late '70s, Heat! being one of the best in the bunch.

    What I love about the title track is how smooth it moves. Pucho's timbales lay down an irresistable groove and the horn section snakes in with what sounds to me to be some heavy Ethopian jazz influences but once the sax comes in, the sound is undeniably soulful. Delicious.

    Tomorrow: The guitar soul of Billy Butler.


  • Cosmo Baker has scanned all his old "Diggin' in the Crates" columns from On the Go.

  • Frequent Soul Sides' reader T. Havas is on his own audioblog jump-off.

  • Another new audioblog: Eclectic Boogaloo. Every Tuesday, he posts a cover song - I can feel that.

  • Nina Gordon (of Veruca Salt) does a cover of "Straight Outta Compton." It's no "Gin and Juice" by the Gourds but truly, it does make you pause for a second.

  • Saturday, January 22, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Bobby Timmons: Tom Thumb
    From Soul Man (Prestige, 1966)

    n. widely recognized prominence, distinction, or importance

    Begun in 1949, Bob Weinstock's Prestige Records would become one of the most influential independent jazz labels of the next 20+ years. Especially in the 1950s and '60s, Prestige was seen as more adventurous than Blue Note, more high-spirited than Verve and many major artists, from John Coltrane to Miles Davis to Sonny Rollins recorded significant work for Prestige before moving on to become even bigger icons.

    This is all lovingly compiled onto the 4-CD Prestige Records Story anthology but what I'm interested in focusing on is Prestige's lesser-known legacy in the world of soul-jazz. From the late '60s through early '70s, Prestige and Blue Note were producing some of the best soul/funk-influenced jazz out there. The Blue Note catalog runs arguably larger, especially thanks to voluminous output from folks like Lou Donaldson, Reuben Wilson, Grant Green and others but Prestige was nothing to sniff at either. Their studio players included some of the best in the business, including drummers Idris Muhammed and Bernard Purdie (both of whom recorded solo albums for the imprint), guitarists Ivan "Boogaloo Joe" Jones and billy Butler, keyboardists Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Charles Kynard and Leon Spencer, saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Rusty Bryant, etc. etc. Straight up heavyweights.

    Oh, and Prestige also has one of the all-time great logos for a record label.

    For the next seven days, I'm highlighting one offering from Prestige's sprawling catalog a day. I'm running it chronologically so we start in 1966 with Bobby Timmons' "Tom Thumb," a jazz-dance classic that predates the more formal soul-jazz era but you can clearly draw a connection between Timmons' swinging sound on this cut and where Prestige would eventually end up.

    Timmons made a name for himself more as a songwriter ("Dat There", "This Here,") but he also had an impressive career as a bandleader too, recording extensively for Blue Note, World Pacific, and Riverside, among other labels. His first album with Prestige was in 1960 and between 1965 to '67, he recorded seven albums for them. Soul Man was never one of his bigger hits but "Tom Thumb," has since been "discovered" by jazz dance freaks and its easy to hear why: the track just moves beautifully. I wrote about it back in March of '04 (and this is the only "repeat" song from Prestige I'll run this week). I had this to say about it then:
      "This is a smooth, slick dance number - nothing you'd mash out to but super slinky and sexy (lot of "s" words come to mind for some reason). It's a longer song - about six minutes - but I never get bored for an instant, grooving through it. It's like the best Saturday afternoon in the park you can remember."

    Tomorrow: The latin soul sound of Pucho.

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Massive Attack: Be Thankful For What You Got
    From Blue Lines (Virgin, 1992)

    Spearhead: The Joker
    From Hempilation 2 (Volcano, 1998)

    Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Ruler of My Heart
    From Medicated Magic (Rope a Dope, 2002)

    Someone out in Soul Sides land was very, very kind enough to send me a two-CD set of cover songs and in my frayed state of mind, I managed to misplace who this generous soul was (holla at me - there's a mix-CD package waiting for you). The least I can do is share some of the best selections from them.

    I was recently telling someone how William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful For What You Got" is one of the most perfectly crafted soul songs I know - it has such an amazing, melancholy quality to it: a dose of instant nostalgia, a soundtrack for some endless summer filled with sunshine and the wafting smell of BBQ and where everything moves in slow motion just so you can capture the beauty of small moments. Massive Attack's version of it is lovingly loyal - the production approach is obviously more contemporary but it keeps true to DeVaughn's original composition (though it is, perhaps preferably, substantially shorter than DeVaughn's 10+ minute original.)

    Steve Miller's "The Joker" is one of those signature songs that I think are extremely difficult to cover simply because no one can really make it sound better than the original and any attempt, short of something of parodic, just tends to fall short (note to all American Idol hopefuls: Etta James' "At Last" should be similarly off-hands). That said, I have to give Michael Franti 'nuff credit for trying to field a hip-hop-ified version and he does a decent job with that.

    "Ruler of My Heart" has a fascinating history - composed by Allen Toussaint for Irma Thomas, but under a Toussaint pseudonym (Naomi Neville). The song gained much bigger prominence when Otis Redding hijacked it, rewrote the lyrics and named it "Pain In My Heart" which went on to become a major hit for Stax. Apparently, Redding and Toussaint had to scuffle (legally speaking) over the song-writing credits (with Toussaint eventually winning). "Ruler of My Heart" returns to its Nola roots via The Dirty Dozen Brass Band who have singer Norah Jones guesting for the cut. I usually find Jones' voice lukewarm but it seems to fit the song well here, giving it just a touch of sultriness.

    I'm going to kick off Prestige Week soon and that Sharon Jones podcast is due up by Jan 25th, the day her album becomes available. More surprises on tap in the next week or so - stay tuned.

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Lyn Collins: Do Your Thing
    From Kings of Funk (BBE, 2005) Forthcoming, March 8.

    M.F.S.B.: Family Affair 1973
    From M.F.S.B. (Philadelphia Int'l, 1973). Also on Kings of Funk.

    The Kings of Funk = Keb Darge and...the Rza? I'm not arguing with the pairing, it's just a little unexpected since I've never seen the Rza take charge of a funk compilation but Darge's BBE series has also brought aboard Josh Davis and Kenny Dope in the past. Bobby Digi and Darge put together an interesting selection for this upcoming 2xCD compilation. Neither is going for braggin' rights by calling up their most obscure selections - instead, what you find on here is a solid collection of good songs whose main criteria is that...they're good. It's kind of refreshing actually.

    Rza gets the first disc and highlights Lyn Collins' sizzling "Do Your Thing." This song was originally unreleased until it appeared on the Funky People Part 2 compilation that Polydor dropped in '88. You have to wonder why no one bothered to put this out the first time: it's one of the best covers of Issac Hayes' classic that I've heard and opens with such an incredible brass hammer blow. Groove on!

    On Darge's disc, he puts on M.F.S.B.'s cover of Sly Stone's "Family Affair," one of the album cuts from the Philly group's first album. I never paid much attention to the song before but this time around, I really felt the blend between the thick funk of the rhythm section and the light, sweet touch of the electric piano.

    By the way - big up to Music For Robots, highlighted on today's You Heard It Here First segment on MTV (which my man Jazzbo produced).

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Check this gallery.
    (credit: Different Kitchen)

    Saturday, January 15, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Junior Parker: Just Like a Fish
    From 7" (Mercury, 1969). Compiled on I'm So Satisfied.

    Joe Tex: One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
    From Hold What You've Got (Dial/Atlantic, 1965)

    Rodger Collins: Foxy Girls in Oakland
    From 7" (Galaxy, 1970). Also compiled on Bay Area Funk.

    The Ikettes: Camel Walk
    From 7" (Modern, 1964) and Fine Fine Fine (Modern, 1965).

    It's been a minute since we've visited the Black Label collection and I'm coming with a quartet of zoologically themed tracks. Starting on the blues side is the sound of legend Junior Parker and his "Just Like a Fish," - a clever metaphor for how he keeps "goin' for your line."

    Joe Tex blends together some talk-story blues with flashes of vocal soul for "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show." Tasty stuff. Even better is Rodger Collins' local Bay Area hit, "Foxy Girls in Oakland," which finds Collins shouting out the hot femmes of my old hometown. By sheer coincidence (or not), Collins talks about the "camel walk" towards the end of the song which leads us into...

    Ike Turner's 1960s female group, The Ikettes, and their uptempo dance anthem, "Camel Walk." Shimmy shimmy ya, shimmy yam, shimmy yay. Burn a rug to this one.

    Upcoming at Soul Sides:
      -A podcast dedicated to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and their new album, Naturally.
      -A whole week (that's seven posts, suckas) dedicated to the soul jazz sides of Prestige Records. Can Blue Note be too far behind?
      -An expanded Black Label collection with newly included 7"s.
      -A quartet of special guest editors joining the Soul Sides collective.

      I thought I told you that we won't stop...

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    DJ Ayres: Get It Twisted/Ghostbusters
    From The Rub's It's the Motherf***ing Remix

    DJ Eleven: Kiss You Back/She Wants to Move/The Creator/What U Waitin' 4
    From The Rub's It's the Motherf***ing Remix

    Cormega: 62' Pick Up
    From The Testament

    I don't want to sound like a hater (but hey, I get labeled it anyways) but I really hope 2004 proved to be the year of the mash-up and that in 2005, we find some new ground to move to. It's not like I think mash-ups are inherently wack but jesus, once you have The Grey Album on top of everyone's "best of" lists for the year, once you have The New Yorker talking about "Frontin' On Debra" - people: this has officially transformed from trend to fad and that usually means its time to retire it like Von Dutch caps and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

    But goddamnit, something like The Rub's It's the Motherf***ing Remix comes out and try as I might to resist, I always seem to make room for just one or two more cuts to enjoy. I highlighted two of the better remixes off the CD (just for the record, many of the remixes on here are cute but forgettable - such is the nature of the mash-up).

    DJ Ayres tackles Mobb Deep's "Get It Twisted," itself a mash-up-influenced cut (using Thomas Dolby's cult hit, "She Blinded Me With Science"). Ayres stays in an '80s mode, flipping Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters Theme" behind QBs infamous duo. This works, I mean, really works. How come no one ever thought to flip this before? (Prediction: I see a Killa Kam mixtape in '05 that uses this instrumental again).

    DJ Eleven has his numbers down - juggling no less than four songs at once, working with the acapellas of Digital Underground's "Kiss You Back," and the Jungle Bros.' "What U Waitin' 4" and the instrumentals of N.E.R.D.'s "She Wants To Move" and Pete Rock's "The Creator." Personally, I wasn't all that into the N.E.R.D. splicing but when the bassline bounce of "The Creator" kicks in, I started grinning like a fool. Good times, good times.

    Here's my thing with mash-ups - sometimes, they feel too forced, like the DJ is trying to jam it down our throats, i.e. "hey, listen to me, dude! I'm putting Biggie's lyrics over Yaz! I'm dope!" Sometimes, it's just better to be laid back about it and let the track do the talking. That's why I'm feeling Cormega's "62' Pick Up," a song off his buried late '90s CD, The Testament (which is about to get released, finally, in February). Anyone old enough to remember the '80s will pick up on the loop: it's the Hill Street Blues theme, one of the all-time GREAT t.v. themes. You really can't go wrong with it. Cormega's not a great MC - he lacks a commanding voice and his flow is awkward but with the right production, he can still come off compelling.

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    (painting from

    Eric B. and Rakim: Microphone Fiend (Remix)
    From 12" (MCA, 1989)

    Originally was going to pair this with Too $hort's "In the Trunk" remix but those clever bastards at Can I Bring My Gat? beat me to it. So f- it: Rakim stands alone.

    I'm not saying this remix is better than the O.G. - you can't possibly improve on the original version - but as far as remixes go, I like the different flavor it lends. 45 King does a nice job here - digging the scratch intro (even if it's not as clean as say, Roc Raida would have busted out. The bassline is simple and effective, just like the original beat. And regardless, the God Allah is at his finest with a song full of notable quotables.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    A-KO: Soul '69
    From 45 (Melting Pot, 2005).

    Damn!: Got To Go
    Available on CD 5" (Raw Fusion, 2004).

    Both also available on Loose Joints (Carhartt, 2004).

    This mix-CD crossed my path recently and hey, I love being put up on new music from noteworthy artists (duh). Just thought I'd share two of my fave tracks from it.

    A-Ko is scary. I mean, dude is like...11? Ok, he's really 17 but does it really matter? When I was 17, I was working food service at Magic Mountain, ok? I was driving a busted ass Chevy Citation, rocking an AM car radio with only one speaker, which was blown out anyways. I was not making ill funk-collage tracks in my bedroom and then pressing them on 7". I think I might hate him. Just a little bit.

    I first saw Damn! at an Ikea grand opening in Emeryville where they played their fusion of Latin/Afro-Beat/Hip-Hop/Psych grooves next to the hot dog and soft serve stand. Ok, that's not really true but Damn! is from the land o' Ikea (Sweden) and their grooves are just as tasty (if not more so) than $1 cinammon buns. I should really stop with this whole Sweden/Ikea thing because it truly makes me seem like the only thing I know about the country is its mass-produced-yet-stylishly-designed-furniture. There's much more to Sweden than that - like their awesome jazz tradition that's one of the best in Europe. Or their porn. Stuff like that. I'll stop now. All you really need to know is that "Got To Go" kicks serious ass - has that same, feel good, rockin' appeal as The Roots' and Cody Chestnutt's "The Seed 2.0." This is the kind of music that N.E.R.D. should have been making instead of that wack second album.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Funk Inc: Kool Is Back
    From Funk Inc (Prestige, 1971)

    Hardhouse: 11:55
    From 12" (Easy Street, 198?)

    De La Soul: Saturdays (6:00am)
    From 12" (Tommy Boy, 1991)

    For funk fiends, "Kool Is Back" by the aptly-named Funk Inc. is unbelievably perfect. From the opening guitar licks to the percussive build-up to the organ vamps and brass section, the first minute and a half is already stone solid but then you come to the second chorus and WHAM, one of the all-time classic, monster breakbeats (not to mention a sick ass bridge). Brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it?

    The break's been sampled a zillion times but I wanted to highlight one track in particular: the Toddy Terry-produced "11:55." It opens with dialogue from the Hustler's Convention album and then slams straight into one baaaadass cut n' paste dance jam that lives up to the name "hard house."

    If "11:55" is designed to amp you up, it's up to De La Soul and the
    6:00am" mix of "Saturdays" to cool you down. This is, by far, my favorite hip house song, so laid back and patient (the drums don't kick in for at least 32 bars!) That chill vibe is just right to help you slide out of your evening and into the new day.

    posted by O.W.

    The audioblog competition is red hot right now - not only are new ones being created everyday but in general, the quality of posts out there is likely going to force everyone to step up their game a notch.

    A couple of sites worth mentioning at the moment:
  • Steady Bootleggin', from the same folks who brought you A Tribute To Ignorance. Obscure hip-hop.
  • Home of the Groove is doing it up for Mardi Gras.
  • Freemotion is on a Cold Chillin tear with songs by Biz and Big Daddy Kane, plus some old MOP. Salute!
  • I was getting ready to do a podcast about Shuggie Otis but then, wouldn't you know it, Evigan Funk beat me to it. "Inspiration Information" = one of the best songs ever.
  • The Rookie has some cool '90s random rap.
  • Speaking of more thunder-stealing, I was about to post up Too $hort's "In the Trunk" (DJ Premier remix) but them darn fools at Can I Bring My Gat? beat me to that too.
  • And as usual, Tofu Hut is running tings with another set of number-themed songs and commentary.

  • Friday, January 07, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    You all should have noticed - Soul Sides has its own domain name now: If you can, please update your bookmarks and blog rolls when you have a chance.

    And tell a friend...



    posted by O.W.

    Teedra Moses: Be Your Girl & No More Tears
    From Complex Simplicity

    Adriana Evans: Reality & In the Sun
    From Adriana Evans (RCA, 1997)

    My man Hua was the first to put me up on Teedra Moses when he played me her song, "Be Your Girl." I couldn't quite put my finger on what I liked about the song...Teedra's a decent singer certainly, has a Mary J. Blige-esque quality to her voice (you can definitely hear this on "No More Tears"), but it wasn't really her vocals that drew my interest. Then it dawned on me - the production of "Be Your Love," reminded me of something that Adriana Evans might have done.

    I've always been a fan of Evans and her debut album from '97. I understand why her career never took off - compared to other neo-soul artists breaking out at the time, most notably Erykah Badu - Evans' vocal presence was a bit too bright, lacking the gravitas that fans gravitate towards in singers like Badu or Jill Scott or Angie Stone, etc. But Evans' voice had a light, pretty quality all its own and what she really had going for her was an ex-boyfriend, Dred Scott(1), who was able to lace her with these beautiful productions (just listen to "In the Sun" - so fantastic). Scott's tracks that were undeniably hip-hop in their heritage (his sampling aesthetic for example) but angled for sou and manages the weave the two together seamlessly. Compare that with what we've come to expect: take a famous hip-hop beat and then put an R&B singer over it, finis. Scott's production finds that elusive middle-ground and I think, on some of Moses' songs, she's able to find that same groove too.

    1. Scott had a brief career as a rapper, starting with a cut off the Deep Cover soundtrack, then in '94 with Breakin' Combs, his one and only album.

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Ben E. King: Don't Let Me Down
    From Rough Talk (Maxwell, 1970)

    Con Los Carrion: Y La Amo
    From Exitos De Los Beatles (Orfeon, 196?)

    Given that the Beatles are like, you know, the most famous band in history, the list of artists who've covered their songs go on and on and on. Hell, I could do a month's worth of posts on "Eleanor Rigby" covers alone (and believe me, you wouldn't want that). I plucked two off of some recent arrivals instead.

    Ben E. King's "Don't Let Me Down," comes off a 1970 album that would prove to be King's last for several years - after blowing up on the strength of "Stand By Me," in the early '60s, his career waned and Rough Edges was his last LP until a brief revival in the mid-70s. The whole album is well worth hunting down (it's not ubër-rare) - there's quite a few covers and medleys on here, but as he does on "Don't Let Me Down," King transforms the arrangements and puts his own signature on it. Due credit goes to the rhythm section, they nail a fantastic groove the whole way through, especially the pianist.

    The Spanish-language version of "I Love Her" aka "Y La Amo," comes from a Mexican rock band, Con Los Carrion ("with carriage"?) who cut an entire album of Beatles' covers. I wish the album had better fidelity - most of the arrangements are overly loyal and the sound of the album is flat - but "Y La Amo," comes through better, perhaps because the guitar melody is so prominent (and pretty). What's funny about this group and album is that they sing each song exactly like the Beatles, with every accent and inflection following John and Paul's, even though they're still singing in Spanish. If the song was more listenable, I would have included "Nina (Girl)" as an example.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    DJ Day: Track 2
    From Credit Is Due (2002/2004)

    Act like you already knew that DJ Day's "What Planet, What Station" was one of the year's best singles. In the meantime, if you already have that 12" and wanted to know more - or - if you want an introduction to this So Cal's musical alchemy, pick up this re-release of his 2002 mix-CD. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a mix-CD this seamless and intricate – if you appreciated all the twists and turns Day took in his 12”, you can see how he’s developed that style here. Take Track 2 for example – Day goes from dropping a flurry of scratches over a funk break, then slides into “Blow Your Top” by the Soul Destroyers, then blends into an instrumental by the Poets of Rhythm for more scratch exercises and out of nowhere, he closes with a self-done remix of Big Daddy Kane’s lines from“Just Rhymin’ With Biz.” So sick the CDC is investigating.

    You can find the CD and the 12" both at TTL. (One of these days, TTL really needs to design a permalink system to their merchandise. I'm just saying).

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Soul Sides Podcast #4: January 3, 2005
    Assorted Aretha Franklin songs from Jazz to Soul and Queen In Waiting.

    Aretha Franklin: One Step Ahead
    From 7" (Columbia, 1964)

    Aretha Franklin's early career - on Columbia Records - is highlighted in the first Soul Sides Podcast for 2005. The voice quality is a little worse than normal (sorry, technical limitations and all) but lots of good songs here, including a full version of the elusive "One Step Ahead."

    If people don't mind dropping some feedback in the comments section: let me know if the Podcast site feed function is working properly. Thanks - O.W.

    By the way, Home of the Groove has one of the best songs ever up right now: "A Lover and a Friend" by Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham.

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