Sunday, July 31, 2005

posted by O.W.

Toddy Tee feat. Mix Master Spade: Gangster Boogie
From 12" (JDC, 1989)

Ice Cube feat. Chuck D: Endangered Species (Remix)
From 12" (Priority, 1990). Also available on AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted CD

Two cuts with a Compton hook this time. First of all, let's take a moment of silence again for the late Mix Master Spade who graces Toddy Tee's "Gangster Boogie." It may not be as politically oriented as "Batterram" but I'm not mad at any old school L.A. rap song that jacks David Bowie. Fonkee. Makes me want to get my pop-lock on.

As for Ice Cube's remix of "Endangered Species," I believe it's Sir Jinx who reworks the Bomb Squad's original track - the drums get fattened up and that new funky loop is wicked. Great to hear Chuck D on this - goddamn that MC was hard with his flow.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

posted by O.W.

Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx: Gold Digger
From Late Registration(forthcoming, August 2005)

I'm sure this has already made its rounds elsewhere, earlier but damn, this is a surprisingly fun, catchy song - just right as we enter the dog days of summer. I shouldn't be surprised - it's not like Kanye is known for morose ballads. Still, let's be honest, there are many among us who wouldn't be that upset if hip-hop's biggest egomaniac took a sophomore schlump for the ages. Alas, it won't be on this song, flipping a colorful Ray Charles loop and those ubiquitous handclaps, with Kanye dropping a hook that's sure to be repeated ad nauseum by cats everywhere.

I'm actually looking forward to Late Registration now. There. I said it.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

posted by O.W.

Teena Marie: Square Biz
From It Must Be Magic (Motown, 1981)

The Go Team!: Ladyflash
From Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Memphis Industries, 2004)

Journey: Don't Stop Believing
From Escape (Sony, 1981)

Editor's Note: The latest in the Soul Sides Summer Songs series is from the my mellow, my man (and fellow new dad), Todd Inoue, music editor for the SJ Metro.
    I think summer songs should be utilitarian - easy to sing, vibe to. Put it on in the car and everyone flips out. During my day, that meant dinosaur rock like the Scorpions, Foghat, Rush, AC/DC or KSOL's regular rotation of Kool and the Gang, Commodores and Manhattans. Not quite cutting edge, but they jog the memory, like the way suntan lotion smells.

    I remember when visiting relatives in Hawaii, my favorite stoner cousin took me out for a night time cruise of early '80s Honolulu with his VW Bug posse. He had huge tower speakers on his backseat. I sat on the speakers as we drove to the meeting spot. We met up with his homeys - all driving tricked out VW bugs. They smoked bud and drank beers, looking at girls and comparing engines. For some reason, the hottest jam at the time was the Motels‚ "Only The Lonely." Whenever I hear that song today, I flash back to that evening and seeing my cousin in his element, and in a whole new light. The summer song has that same effect of freezing a treasured moment in time forever.
    Junichi, come over my house sometime. I have that New Radicals joint on karaoke!

    A song like Teena Marie's "Square Biz" epitomizes choice summer singalongs. Right from the jump, "Everybody get up!" Vanilla Child sells the top-down, breeze everflowing love hard. I pop this in whenever I need a pickup. Honorable mentions also go to Jade's "Don't Walk Away" with its cascading harmonies, cowbell and the "this is what it sounds like when we make love" break with the 'gasmic moans, sums up the ideal song to crush out to. And SWV's "Right Here" remix makes me want to buy a convertible just so I can bump it.

    As for "Ladyflash," everything about this joint reminds me of transitional scenes in uplifting old school kid movies like My Bodyguard. The underdog gets the girl, they run through an amber wheat field and embrace as the song swirls them up where they belong. The drum breaks drive me crazy. This is my jam, relocates my mental state to places I'd rather be.

    Journey takes me back to sitting on a hot vinyl car seat in the 7-11 parking lot, waiting for my older brother to return with cola Slurpees and sunflower seeds before our weekly trip to the record store. Same goes for Foghat's "Slow Ride" (the live version) and the Scorpions' "Only a Man."


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

posted by O.W.

Nas: Don't Body Ya'self
From ? (2005)

This was sent to us from one of our "sources" and it's circulating around the WWW from what I've seen. It's a dis track where Nas goes after QB haters and notably, 50 Cent. It's "cool" but Nas is sometimes too smart to be a good battler. Go after the jugular Nasir! And as Ian points out, a John Legend loop is not gangsta.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

posted by O.W.

Janko Nilovic: Chorus for Leslie
From Supra Pop Impressions (Montparnasse 2000, 197?). Also available on Mood Mosaic 8.

K-Solo: Fugitive (Clark and Cool Jon Love Remix)
From 12" (Atlantic, 1990)

Part three of the Soul Sides blog stalkin' series owes its first burst of copycat inspiration (is that any oxymoron?) to who recently highlighted French library music composer, Janko Nilovic. I own a few library titles but I really don't make it a habit to collect them religiously. Bottomline, I'm not a producer so I'm only interested in LPs that have actual songs that I dig, not just cool snippets to loop. Supra Pop Impressions has at least three or four solid songs, "Chorus for Leslie" being one of my favorites in the bunch - I like the vocal touch, it adds a certain character to the already funky track.

Over at B-Side Wins Again, they gave K-Solo a post. Coincidentally, I recently picked up a second copy of the "Fugitive" 12" that had a remix I hadn't heard before. It uses the same drums as Clark Kent's mix but adds in different samples like the Marvin Gaye that you can hear prominently. I wouldn't call this an "essential" mix by any means but I like the randomness of alternative versions, especially in a day and age where the official label remixes are all but dead and we're only left with mash-ups.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

posted by O.W.

The Electric Prunes: Holy Are You & General Confessional
From Release of an Oath (Reprise, 1968)

David Axelrod: Holy Thursday
From Songs of Innocence (Capitol, 1968)

I've more or less been avoiding writing this post for weeks even though I had the songs ready to go all along. It's not that I have nothing to say about David Axelrod - it's the inverse. He's a musical figure who, once you start with simple platitudes, inspires you to ramble on incessantly about how underrated and truly remarkable a musical mind he is.

Luckily, I realized I had an out: I've already written something more in-depth and articulate about Axelrod back in 2002, when he released his eponymous LP on Mo Wax.

Therefore, rather than run down the esteemed producer/arranger's entire career, here's the shorthand of the songs included here: the late '60s was both Axelrod's breakout point as a solo artist as well as his most, in my opinion, distinctive and moving work. The songs on the Electric Prunes' Release of an Oath as well as Axelrold's own Songs of Innocence possess a quality that I can only describe as cinematic, however hackneyed or obvious that observation is. Especially with "General Confessional," which begins by melting a hole in your head with those swelling organ vamps, I imagine a scene involving a solitary car racing across the Utah desert, a plume of dust rolling behind it. Seriously.

"Holy Are You" and the incomparable "Holy Thursday" (apparently, the funkiest day of the week) are drenched in that similar quality: possessed of a majestic yet solemn quality that manages to be both reverent and imposing, like stepping inside a stately cathedral or mosque. In short, these songs awe you and make you feel like you're in the presence of greatness.

I've been listening to his songs for years. Still get goosebumps.

By the way, I just found out that there will be an impressively researched and executed anthology of Axelrod's Capitol years (this would include Songs of Innocence but not the Electric Prunes), coming out in September from Blue Note Records. This will include alternative tracks and mixes based off the original master tapes. will bring ya'll more information as it becomes public but definitely keep an eye out for that new compilation.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

posted by O.W.

Ninjaman feat. Tinga Stewart: Cover Me & Take Time To Know Her
From Anything Test Dread (VP, 2001)

Heartical Don Bonus: Shabba Ranks:Peeny Peeny
From Caan Dun - The Best of Shabba (VP, 1995)

Editor's Note: The latest in the Soul Sides Summer Songs series is from the erstwhile Warscribe, aka Kris Ex.

Sez Kris:
    "Having grown up and lived my whole life in Brooklyn’s Caribbean hotbeds, summer to me is the season of green bottles and slow grinds in basement parties. So, basically, any song with a bass line that encourages bubbling, wining, or any other form of vertical dry humping fits the bill. I’m not talking about “Welcome to Jamrock,” either—tune dat encourage man fi pose up like dem Chuck Norris nah mek it. Neither does the other big tune ‘pon road right now because, after 48 oz of beer and half a dozen pulls on a Backwood, the last thing my mind is a self-righteous dread screamingcaveat emptor! Fi true, you need songs that make you feel like shorty who was “just okay” 36 ounces ago, but looking might cotdamned good right about is like, The One. Like:

    “Yuh na talk to me before, now you wan’ fi chat?”

    “Nah shorty, I’m just shy. But right now, they’re playing my shit: the Original Front Tooth, Gold Tooth, Gun Pon Tooth Don Gorgon. And when he do what he do with man like Tinga it makes me think that we should sublet some real estate on the wall before it’s all gone, yaoming?”

    “Boy, yuh chat funny.”

    “Yes, daughter, but mi wine serious. So let’s put down first, last and insurance on that spot by the water pipe.”

    P.S. – It’s becoming exponentially harder to come by a good basement party as one grows older, but they’re still worth seeking out."

By the way...

Those copycats My colleagues at NPR have their own summer anthem special.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

posted by O.W.

Orange Krush: Action
From 12" (Mercury, 1982)

I've been reading Ronin Ro's upcoming biography of Run DMC, Raising Hell, which is a great, compelling story of not just the group's rise to fame but an entire era of hip-hop as it bum rushed the world.

Ro writes about Orange Krush's "Action" in some detail since it was not just Russell Simmons first big hit but the drum break for the song found its way into several other important early rap songs including the Treacherous Three's "Action" and Run DMC's "Sucker MCs" (the latter was a drum machine interpolation by Larry Smith, who produced Orange Krush). I didn't realize that at first but then I listened to "Sucker MCs" again and realized - yeah, it is a drum machine replay of "Action's" break.

Basic facts: the drummer on the song is Trevor Gale, the singer is Alyson Williams, and Larry Smith and Russell Simmons produced the single.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

posted by O.W.

Tiger Tunes: Kirsten Is a F***machine
From Forget About the Stupid Rocket Idea! - Up & Out EP (2004)

Big Punisher (feat. Joe):Still Not a Player
From Endangered Species (Loud, 2001)

The New Radicals: You Get What You Give
From Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too (MCA, 1998)

Editor's Note: The latest in the Soul Sides Summer Songs series is from my partner at, Junichi Semitsu.

Q: What does a summer song sound like to you?

A: "I imagine my answer is the same as everybody's. A good summer song has the feel-good lyrics, breezy melody, and carefree beat that inspires you to get a Brazilian, head for the beach, strip down to a thong, flaunt your jewels, and act out scenes from From Here to Eternity with the next septuagenarian who walks by with a metal detector.

The hook of a good summer song uses words or phrases that everyone associates with happiness: summer, sun, love, gravy, helium, Atari, Fundies, "not guilty," "it's not your baby," etc. This explains why songs about genocide, colon cancer, or public restrooms tend to fail as summer songs. The only exception is the Beach Boys' classic ditty, "Help Me, Rhonda, Pt. 2 (It Hurts to Urinate)."

Finally, a good summer song hypnotizes you into humming it, at any time of the day or year, even in inappropriate moments such as a eulogy, a hostage crisis, or a Heaven's Gate departure.

With these criteria in mind, I offer the following three choices for my trio of great summer songs:

First is the new song "Kirsten is a F***machine" by the Danish band Tiger Tunes. Its spasmatic beats, catchy chorus, and inebriated child backup singers compel me to smile, despite the fact that the song is about a woman in a "Holocaust state of mind" who "knocked my teeth out" and "stole my shoes." The first time I heard this, I was merry as a Mardi Gras partygoer and began flashing my inoperative mammary glands to my office mates by the first "Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Yeeah! La la la la la!," which I later learned is not a Danish mating call.

My second cut is "Still Not A Player" by the late Big Punisher. Who can possibly resist Joe's velvet hook, the perfect piano progression, and Pun's invitation to picture him ripping through our hooters and "crushing" us a lot with all 700 pounds of his Puerto Rican self? On a warm summer night, I like bumping this song to remind me the formula to the perfect romantic date: "park the Jeep, pump Mobb Deep, and just spark the leaf." When this summer jam is on Volume 11, I get so blissed out that when my twin brother yells, "You Nasty, Twin!" -- I don't care.

My final choice would be the classic "You Get What You Give" by one-hit wonder The New Radicals. I can't help but sing along to this, starting with the memorable first line: "Wake up kids / We've got the dreamers' disease." When I first heard this song, I was unfamiliar with slang terminology and didn't know what "the dreamers' disease" is. I know the answer now: herpes, which is the only disease that "you get what you give." But despite the infected subject matter and the harsh lyrical threats against Hanson (which bumped up the band's street cred), this guarantees that fresh summer feeling when I'm feeling not-so-fresh."


Monday, July 11, 2005

posted by O.W.

(ugly doo-rag not included)

I saw that Turntable Lab is selling this new device by ADS Tech called Instant Music which is designed to help people transfer from vinyl and cassettes into digital sound formats (i.e. MP3s, etc.)

Personally, as I've written, if you already have a sound input card on your computer, hooking up your existing stereo/turntable system into it shouldn't be that difficult but this kind of device might make it easier for the truly tech inept (but only if you have a PC since this doesn't work with Mac).

Sunday, July 10, 2005

posted by O.W.

Don Blackman: Loving You
From Don Blackman (Arista, 1982)

Spanky Wilson: Sunshine of Your Love
From Doin It (Mother's Records, 1970)

Part two of the Soul Sides blog stalkin' series opens with a cut off the sublime '80s soul album by Don Blackman. The skipper at Captain's Crate put up a pair of modern soul tracks the other week, including another song off the same Blackman LP. "Loving You" should be familiar to hip-hop heads given that it's been popular sample fodder but as is often the case, the original song so much more than just a two bar loop. This song could easily have made my summer song list - it's so damn beautifully. (By the way, Captain's Crate also just put up a song I was planning on posting - Willie Colon's "Che Che Cole." Awesome Latin soul - check it out.)

Diddy Wah recently highlighted Ella Fitzgerald's surprisingly funky version of "Sunshine of Your Love" (from a rare MPS side by her). I've always liked this version but hands-down, the best cover of the song I've ever heard done by a female vocalist is Spanky Wilson's cut from Doin It, a song and album produced by H.B. Barnum. It burns, baby, burns with sizzling heat and verve. (I liked it enough to put it on my Deep Covers CD.)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

posted by O.W.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

posted by O.W.

Saafir feat. Hobo Junction: Rock The Show (I Wanna Know)
From B-side to "Battle Drill" promo 12" (white label, 1994)

Soul Runners: Grits 'N Corn Bread
From 7" (MoSoul, 1968)

Even I run low on ideas now and then but I always can find new inspiration from my colleagues. Like a DJ gig where you get ideas on what to play based on what your partners are spinning, I recently took a tour of the audioblogosphere (yeah, awkward, I know) and came back with tunes in mind that help complement what's already out there. This is not, I repeat NOT, an attempt at one-upmanship. Rather, it's a dialogue of sorts, offering a response in musical form.

We'll first start with our respected colleague Noz over at Cocaine Blunts who recently had a solid post on Saafir.

I was first given a promo cassette (yes, young thundercats, a cassette) of Saafir that had "Battle Drill" on one side and "Rock the Show" on the flip. For real - "Battle Drill" blew my mind. I had heard Saafir already on the Digital Underground and Casual albums but "Battle Drill" was on some other ish: "like Tom/you'll get Brokaw [broke off]." Wicked. "Rock the Show" ended up on the promos of "Battle Drill" but by the time his commercial single and album dropped, the song was MIA. I don't like it as much as "Battle Drill" but it's definitely a cool track, especially since I presume this is the first time the Hobo Junction touched wax. Now if I can only find a copy of "Runnin' From 5-0."

With the Soul Runners, I'm nodding back to the good peeps at Ear Fuzz who recently showed love to Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. The Watts Band's core players traced back to Dyke and the Blazers who, after the death of leader Arlester Christian, briefly formed into the Soul Runners, playing as a pure instrumental funk group until they linked up with vocalist Charles Wright and were reborn as the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.

Ok, I had a potentially erroneous history of the Runners before (look in the comments section). Upon further exploration, it seems that actually, Wright had formed the bulk of the Watts Band back in the '60s, first as the Wright Sounds (ha, clever), then they changed their name to the Soul Runners (but only recorded instrumentals), then eventually became the Watts Band. They also moonlighted for Dyke and the Blazers and at one point, recorded as Bill Cosby's in-house band for a few of his musical albums.

As the Soul Runners, the group released at least 4 45s that I know of - most of them on MoSoul. To me, "Grits 'N Corn Bread" is one of their strongest offerings - not the most dirty funk you've ever heard but it has a nice jingle-jangle groove and some slick guitar work to keep it poppin'.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

posted by O.W.

Asha Puthli: I Dig Love
From Asha Puthli (CBS, 1973)

Asha Puthli: You've Been Loud Too Long
From She Loves To Hear the Music (CBS, 1975)

I knew nothing about Puthli the first time I heard her self-titled album but she instantly made an impression. I couldn't figure out - was she singing jazz? Rock? Soul? Then I realized...who cares? Puthli's songs were so bizarre yet enticing, somewhere between seduction and infliction, with a dash of camp and some genuine pipes. Her albums - the two I know of - are impossible to categorize. There's the loopy blues ballad like "I Dig Love," bubbling up from the surface (actually, now that I think about it, it sounds like a water pipe which might explain why Puthli sounds stoned out of her mind). But she can play it straight too on a funk jammer like "You've Been Loud Too Long." Her voice isn't pure in the way we think of Aretha but it is absolutely distinctive: like Betty Davis, she owns every song she touches.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

posted by O.W.

Soho: Hot Music
From 12" (Kool Groove, 1989). Also available on House Crusher.

Amerie: All I Need
From Touch (Sony, 2005)

The Sugarcubes: Birthday
From Life's Too Good (Elektra, 1988)

As I noted in my first Summer Songs posting, I've invited folks to contribute their own reminisces. Here's the incomparable Julianne Shepherd with her selection.

Q: What does a summer song mean to you?

A: Vaguely perspiratory, or conjuring images of such. Including but not limited to: crescendoing horns, crescendoing synth line, multiple imprints of breakbeats. Gigantic guitars and singalongable choruses. I.e., music that intensifies and creates or implies friction. Music that is airy or transcendent and sounds like the thirty seconds before the kiss. Hooks that seem to promise something. Tracks split wide with possibility. And as Rich Harrison can attest, there's just something about a brass section.

If the song possesses none of the above, it helps if it is pervasive and defines your summer whether you like it or not, i.e. Bobby Valentino's ass-appreciation anthem "Slow Down."

Despite the above criteria, it all depends on the moment. Here is a perfect example: Last night, fitful with 1 am's heat sticking on me, I decided to walk to my friend's house in Ft Greene. When I got there, he and his two roommates were deep into an impromptu dance party, to the classic house track that sounds like it was born in the air of mid-August: Soho's "Hot Music," produced by Pal Joey in '90. It's got the sweaty, echoing vocal sample, the nigh-atonal piano and sax that bump uncomfortably, and the dogpiling snare samples--that's what I mean by increase and friction.

As far as pervasive singles out right now, I would say "Pimpin all over the world" is my favorite summer song, but the above theory is best illustrated by Amerie's "All I Need" (against all odds, I like it better than "1 Thing" at this point). The bassline on the chorus IS summer.

As for songs that CONJURE summer, I would also like to add the song "BIRTHDAY" by The Sugarcubes. It is the sound of Bjork around the time her first baby was born, young and unself-conscious, singing about a five year old and the guitars are all woozy.


Friday, July 01, 2005

posted by O.W.

UPC All-Stars: Don't Get Discouraged
From 12" (Soul Cal, 1971/2005)

Amerie: One Thing (Siik Remix)
From (Siik, 2005)

Shuggie Otis: Inspiration Information
From Inspiration Information (Epic, 1974)

Given that the 4th of July is already upon us, I'm trying to kick off a mini-meme by asking folks the simple(?) question: What does a summer song sound like to you?

I don't mean songs that happen to become popular during summer, though I respect the institution of the summer hit. I'm talking about songs that invoke summer - the type of song where you could be neck-deep in snow, in the middle of February, with the heat broken but once you hear it, you can almost see the sunset or smell the scent of backyard BBQs or feel the hot, humid air of nights where it's 2am and no one's ready to go home yet.

My favorite memories of summer are droplets of reality dissolved into a vat of fantasy. After all, what else is summer if not a delicious swirl of nostalgia and idealism, a lemonade cup filled with what we want summer to be rather than what it is. The perfect summer songs are the ones that invoke a sensation of innocence, optimism, and beauty yet also tinged with the slightest daub of melancholy. For what else is summer if not the feeling of sadness from knowing that summer will eventually pass, consigned into the darkening days of autumn? I guess that's why my favorite summer songs are rarely brash, loud anthems. I prefer tunes with a hint of fragility in their melody, a vulnerability in their sensibility.

The three songs I picked out and not necessarily my all-time favorites but right now, they've managed to capture the anticipation of summer's onset. The first is the UPC All-Stars' "Don't Get Discouraged," a previously unreleased song from the same folks who brought you Omaha's L.A. Carnival (the song even features Leslie Smith from the Carnival). This is an incredible song...I can't believe no one put it out before. It opens with this beautiful, mellow keyboard riff and then the brass section blares in from nowhere and the song ramps up into a funkier jam that sounds perfect for a late-night outdoor party. The song is so positive, like something that should be the anthem for a scrappy Little League team.

As for Siik's remix of Amerie's "One Thing" - I know ya'll are probably sick of the original already but I swear to God/Jah/Allah that hearing this made me think it was a completely new song. Especially compared to the forceful funkiness of Rich Harrison's original, Siik takes it in the other direction with that sublime guitar melody. I can't stop listening to this remix - it is so perfect to me and most definitely on a summer vibe. Makes me want to go trade my Prius in for a drop top just so I can play it out (but alas, foggy as hell right now in S.F.).

Last but least is a song out from the archives - Shuggie Otis' "Inspiration Information." The production on this is simply gorgeous - it's full of life and joy and sparkles in a way that I never tire of. I hate to abuse an oft-used metaphor but the song really does sound like a ray of sunshine. Get lit by it.

I've invited some guests to contributed their own summer songs and I'll put them up as they become available.

Hope everyone enjoys the long weekend.

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