Thursday, December 29, 2005

BEST SONGS OF 2005 (#1-5)
posted by O.W.

5. Legendary K.O.: George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People
From (2005)

Credit Houston's K-Otix (aka the Legendary K.O.) with not only being one of the first to respond to the Katrina/New Orleans debacle with a topical song, but doing one that manages to be humorous, poignant and enjoyable, all at once (if you've heard some of the other songs, you'll know that it's not easy to be even one of the three). Sure, it helps that they simply jacked the beat for "Gold Digger" but that's precisely part of its charm: the song was meant to be something cut dirty and quick but its legacy has become, well, legendary.

4. Three 6 Mafia feat. MJG, 8-Ball and Young Buck: Stay Fly
The Most Known Unknown (Sony, 2005)

Just when you thought everything out of the South was crunk or snap music, Memphis’ Three 6 turn to ‘70s era soul legend Willie Hutch and his song “”Tell Me Why Our Love Turned Cold.” A Southern posse cut for the ages, the song throws on Young Buck and MJG for a cut that seamlessly weaves together ‘70s blaxploitation, ‘80s electro and the fast chatter rapping that’s all the rage throughout the South now. Hands down, this is the best club cut of the year: if you can’t move to this, you just can't move.

3. Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z: Go Crazy Remix
12" (Def Jam, 2005)

This nails the definition of “anthem.” Start with the Curtis Mayfield horns – the song announces itself with such authority from jump that you’re hooked instantly. The album version was tight (though I’m not sure we needed four verses from Jeezy) but the remix dumps the weak Fat Joe verse, gets Jeezy down to two and then gives Jay-Z an extended burst of lines: “I’m an 80s baby/master of Reagonomics/school of hard knocks, everyday college.” I keep jabbing rewind on this.

2. Kanye West: Heard 'Em Say
Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella, 2005)

Ok, even if Kanye is using this song to shill for Pepsi (we don't want to knock the hustle but couldn't he have picked something else? I dunno, "Crack Music" maybe? After all, cola used to contain cocaine...), we still think it's one of the best on the album and just a remarkable song, period. Jon Brion's influence is subtle but that's precisely what makes it outstanding: he gives the track an added depth and nuance which only enhances the striking piano-lead beat. And while it's not a superbly deep song lyrically, the mix of both optimism and realism is poignant; you should see the Michel Gondry-directed video to really appreciate it. Besides, Kanye was, hands-down, the hip-hop artist of the year. He's not perfect but right now, he's good enough.

1. Amerie: I Thing (Siik Remix)
From (2005)

I initially wrote about this as a sublime example of what a summer song should be like but even in the dead of winter (well, dead of a California winter), its charms haven't faded at all. Here's why: this is technically a mash-up since it's Amerie's acapella floated over the song "Arurian Dance" by the Nujabes from the Samurai Champloo soundtrack...however, while some mash-ups work because they take two, relatively incongruent pieces of music and manages to find a synergy between them, this remix by Siik sounds as if Amerie was MEANT to record her song with that music. If you want proof of intelligent design, forget studying flagellum: just play them this.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

BEST SONGS OF 2005 (#6-10)
posted by O.W.

10. The Game feat. 50 Cent: Hate It Or Love It
The Documentary (G-Unit/Interscope, 2005)

Th Game and 50 Cent's duet on “Hate It Or Love It” might seem rather bittersweet now that they, you know, hate each other but that doesn't change the fact that it’s a great song. The musical hook (taken from The Trampps) is rich and soulful, the chorus is clever and catchy and The Game’s underdog-on-top attitude makes this a strong anthem for up-and-comers everywhere. The fact that 50 would remix the song (albeit sans The Game) shows how good it was to begin with despite potentially bad memories of having to work on it with his now-nemesis. If you listen to the soundtrack of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ you’ll notice that many of the tracks on there try to duplicate this formula but none get it down as well as “Hate It Or Love It” does.

9. Lone Catalysts: One's We Miss
Good Music (BUKA, 2005)

If this were just an instrumental, it'd still be one of my favorite tracks of the year; it's one of J-Rawl's best tracks I've ever heard (and he's got a grip of great ones). The soulfulness is perfect. But what makes it such an outstanding song is the pairing between Rawls' beat and J-Sands' lyrics that are part eulogy, part dedication to the memory of some of music and culture's great icons. Rock, rock on, ya'll.

8. UPC All Stars: Don't Get Discouraged
From 12" (Soul Cal, 2005)

This previously unreleased early '70s song comes from the same folks who brought you Omaha's L.A. Carnival. As I noted back in July when I first posted it, it's such an incredible song; it's mind-boggling that no one released it before. The track opens with that gorgeously relaxed keyboard riff before giving way for the brass section's power and then the song becomes this fantastic late-night jam. Plus, the song is so positive, it could be the anthem for a scrappy Little League team.

7. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: All Over Again
Naturally (Daptone, 2005)

This album track lives up to the ideal of being timeless. Whether 1965, 75 or 2005, it manages to be beautiful, melancholy and ultimately uplifting. It’s so good I’m using it on an compilation I’ve curating – also as my closing song. No other track would have fit quite as well. Nuevo-soul? Retro-soul? Who cares - it's just exquisite soul.

6. Common: Be
From Be (Good/MCA, 2005)

People calling the album a 5 star effort seriously need to get their ears checked; some great songs, sure…but end-to-end burner? Far too inconsistent and even a little boring to qualify for classic status. That said, the album opens perfectly with the title track.  It’s as good as anything Kanye produced on his own album and while Common’s constant introspection can border on syrupy at times, this manages to strike exactly the right note of sharing a personal moment on record without sounding like he’s navel-gazing.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

posted by O.W.

(Editor's Note: 'Tis the season to hook back up with Mark Anthony Neal. Some of you might remember his Revolutionary Mixtape from March. This time around, just in time for the holidays, it's the Soul Xmas edition.)
By Mark Anthony Neal

As a child growing up in the "boogie down" Bronx in the early 1970s, there
was very little illusion that Christmas Day would bring the snowy white
scenes that were so often depicted on holiday greeting cards. I always
understood that the toys and things that I peeped in the Sears and Spiegel
catalogs were not gonna make it to my apartment come Christmas morning.
Instead, so much of the joy I took from Christmas came from the music.

Now on the other side of childhood, calls for "joy" and "peace on earth"
ring hollow when coming from some department store chain only a week after
the beginning of autumn. But like my childhood, I never fail to become
overtaken by the Christmas spirit the first time I hear Jermaine Jackson
sing the opening lines of the Jackson 5's version of 'Have Yourself a Merry
Little Christmas.' For those of you also suffering the doldrums of another
disenchanted holiday season, here's a soulful Christmas music roundup to
lift your spirits.

Merry Christmas Baby' -- Otis Redding
From 7" (B-side of "White Christmas") (ATCO, 1968). Also on Soul Christmas.

'Merry Christmas Baby' is a song that is forever linked to legendary
rhythm-and-blues (not R&B) artist Charles Brown, but Otis Redding brought
his own take on "down-home" soul to his 1967 version of the song.

White Christmas' -- The Drifters
From 7" (Atlantic, 1954). Also on Soul Christmas.

Perhaps lead bass Bill Pinkens was signifyin' on Bing Crosby in his opening
verses to The Drifters' 1954 version of 'White Christmas,' but by the time
the incomparable Clyde McPhatter literally soars in with that third verse --
"I, I, I, I, I'm dreamin' of a white Christmas ." -- it's clear The Drifters
had made the song their own. A whole new generation of folk were introduced
to this version of the song when it was featured in the film 'Home Alone.'

Back Door Santa' -- Clarence Carter
From 7" (Atlantic, 1968). Also on Soul Christmas.

Clarence Carter is as nasty as they come -- his chitlin' circuit favorite
'Strokin'' is a great example. With 'Back Door Santa' Carter made Christmas
nasty, too. Years later, Run-DMC would sample the song for 'Christmas in

Gee Whiz It's Christmas' -- Carla Thomas
From 7" (Atlantic, 1963). Also on Soul Christmas.

The daughter of Rufus Thomas (he of 'Funky Chicken' fame), Carla Thomas was
the first lady of the Stax label. 'Gee Whiz It's Christmas,' a sweet little
ditty about running into a long lost love, was co-written by Thomas with
Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MGs. The song was a riff off of Thomas
best-selling 'Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes).'

O Holy Night' -- Vanessa Bell Armstrong
From The Truth About Christmas (Jive, 1990).

Arguably the most talented female gospel vocalist of the past 20 years,
Vanessa Bell Armstrong brought us a sanctified Christmas on her 1990 album
'The Truth About Christmas.' The highlight was a God-fearing, heart-stopping
rendition of 'O Holy Night.'

Silent Night' -- The Temptations
From The Christmas Card (Motown, 1970).

In 1970, the Temptations recorded 'Christmas Card,' which was one of the
last albums that featured the most classic Temptations lineup. A decade
later they recorded 'Give Love on Christmas' with Dennis Edwards, Glenn
Leonard and Melvin Franklin's booming bass giving 'Silent Night' a much
needed Temptations update.

Let It Snow' -- Boyz II Men
From Christmas Interpretations (Motown, 1993).

At the peak of their fame and artistry, Boyz II Men teamed with Brian
McKnight on an original version of 'Let it Snow' that was penned by McKnight
and Wanya Morris. The album it appeared on, 'Christmas Interpretations,' may
be the best holiday album recorded by any contemporary R&B act.

At Christmas Time' -- Luther Vandross
From 12" (Cotillion, 1976). Also on Slow Jams Christmas Vol 1.

Years before Luther Vandross became Luther Vandross, the emerging soul
singer recorded 'At Christmas Time' (1976). Given Vandross' reputation as
the greatest soul vocalist of his generation, that means that 'At Christmas
Time' is indeed something special.

Hallelujah' -- Handel's Messiah
From Handel's Messiah:A Soulful Celebration (Word, 1992)

In 1992, Mervyn Warren and Quincy Jones brought together a veritable who's
who of black music to record 'Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration.'
Included among them were Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, Take 6, Jeffrey Osborne,
Gladys Knight, Andre Crouch, Dianne Reeves, Stevie Wonder, The Boys Choir of
Harlem, Vanessa Williams, as well as actors Clifton Davis, Charles S.
Dutton, Phylicia Rashad and Kim Fields, many of whom appear on the album's
closing rendition of 'The Hallelujah Chorus.' Handel ain't never sound so

The Christmas Song' -- Nat King Cole
From 7" (Capitol, 1946). Also on The Christmas Song.

In all honesty, you haven't really experienced the Christmas season if you
haven't heard Nat King Cole doing his thing. Arguably Cole's version of 'The
Christmas Song' has surpassed even Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' as the
quintessential American Christmas song.

This Christmas' -- Donny Hathaway
From 7" (B-side of Roberta Flack's 25th of Last December) (Atlantic, 1978). Also on Soul Christmas.

Donny Hathaway is so deserving of the tag "genius" that it is somewhat
ironic that 'This Christmas" might be his most well known song. Nevertheless
if black America has a clear-cut holiday anthem, it's this Hathaway
original. Like the man said, "Shake a hand, shake hand."

Monday, December 19, 2005

posted by O.W.

Al Green: Strong As Death (Sweet As Love)
From 7" (B-side of "Oh Me Oh My") (Hi, 1974).

Al Green: Belle
From Belle (Hi, 1977)

Both available on The Immortal Soul of Al Green

Closing out Al Green week, two songs: one an all-time (and rather obscure) favorite; the other a track from one of Green's most contested albums. The first is "Strong as Death (Sweet as Love)". I first heard this on the Green anthology from '89, Love Ritual which was all unreleased or rare (non-LP) songs. Though it was a '74 song, you'd swear it was recorded a few years earlier: it seems to fit perfectly into the sound and vibe of Green during his best Hi Records work. In fact, I'd put it up there with my top 3 Green songs of all-time; it's that good, especially the production (sublime). (Word to KGB's "Bless Ya Life," by the way).

As for "Belle" - at least four people have asked me in the last week what my opinion of Belle album is. For those who don't know the backstory: Belle was Green's first LP on Hi Records after it was sold to Al Bennett (Dot, Liberty) and it's his first album away from Willie Mitchell (and Al Jackson who had tragically died a few years prior). For that reason, a lot of Green purists are not huge fans of Belle (it also doesn't help that Green was already on the fast-track away from secular music towards gospel). Personally, I don't think it's his best work either, though I can't say it's definitively worse than his last few Mitchell-produced albums either. But it's not a bad album and it's an important shift in Green's career, especially since he produced most of the songs and also played acoustic guitar on them, something he didn't do under Mitchell's watch. I like the song "Belle" in any case - it's no "Love and Happiness" but it's still a solid listen.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

posted by O.W.

The Rebirth: Evil Vibrations
Nostalgia 77: 7 Nation Army

All from Rewind 4 (Ubiquity, 2005)

When I posted about Ubiquity Records' Rewind 4 back in February, I assumed it was coming out right around the corner but the comp was delayed for months until recently. This was one of my favorite comps of 2005 and I'm glad it finally got released.

I'm not going to do full posts like last time but here's two teaser clips, including what is arguably the best song on the comp: The Rebirth remaking The Mighty Ryders' disco-soul classic, "Evil Vibrations." As well, I'm a big fan of the Nostalgia 77 version of the White Stripes' "7 Nation Army" (as you can see).

Also, as it turns out, Ubiquity has a holiday sale going on right now but only through noon on Tuesday so jump to it!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

posted by O.W.

Chairman Mao: Run For Cover (Flatrock, 2005)

Quick break from Green Week:

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of cover songs: I made a mix-CD dedicated to them in 2003 (note: it's not in stock right now. I'm working on fixing that). I've also been working (half-assed) on two potential sequels since then. Therefore, it was of considerable interest that a valued and respected colleague/friend, Chairman Mao (Ego Trip fame) just dropped a mix-CD of full of cover songs. If you've ever peeped out Mao's other mix-CDs before, you know he's at the top of the game: it's never strictly about rarity for rarity's sake - Mao values quality too and this CD has an embarrassing wealth of beauts on it (including a few songs I wanted to use on one of the Deep Covers sequels. Oh well).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

posted by O.W.

Margie Joseph: Let's Stay Together
From S/T (Atlantic, 1973)

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

Al Brown: >Here I Am (Come and Take Me)
From 7" (Tit For Tat, 1973)

By the time you're getting to Al Green's 1971-72 output - Let's Stay Together, I'm Still In Love With You and Call Me, you're talking about his most famous, most popular, most reissued material, hands-down. Posting up anything from these three LPs would be like posting up Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On?" If you don't have that by now...well, you should hang your head in shame and pay penance to the Church of Soul and Salvation.

So, instead, I decided to pick out covers of some of the best-known song from each of these three albums, starting with Margie Joseph's sultry version of Green's biggest hit, "Let's Stay Together." It's a loyal cover, doesn't divert in an extreme way but I like hearing a female voice handle Green's classic. The arrangement and orchestration is nicey too.

Not only is this one of my favorite Al Green songs, but the way Monty Alexander (along with Ernest Ranglin) approach it is so amazing in nodding both to the original yet transforming the song. Some hip-hop heads will pick up on the various samples in here but really, the song is so much more than that. Ranglin's guitar work is absolutely gorgeous and Alexander's choice to use an electric piano is perfect, giving the song a vibe and character that couldn't have been possible with an acoustic. This is like joy transmuted into a song.

Last, we have Al Brown giving "Here I Am" a reggae makeover that's loyal to the original but clearly brings in a ska influence to the rhythm section. I dig the guitar especially.

Next Post: We close our week of Green with another 45 rarity by the man, plus a visit to Belle.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

posted by O.W.

Al Green: Tired of Being Alone + Light My Fire
From Gets Next To You (Hi, 1971)

Also available on The Immortal Soul of Al Green

From what I can tell, the consensus "best" Al Green albums are the holy trinity of Let's Stay Together, I'm Still In Love With You, and Call Me which oddly leaves the also-excellent Gets Next To you out in the cold. I always thought of this LP as a sleeper hit: you maybe not notice it at first but once you discover it, you'll wonder how you got by without it.

Apart from being Green's first major success on Hi (the preceding Green Is Blues did modestly well), this also has some of the best Green songs outside of the trinity albums. Green and producer Willie Mitchell were still developing the sound that Green would eventually become known for and you hear the tantalizing early manifestations on "Tired of Being Alone," a slow-tempo groover held down by the incomparable Al Jackson on drums and nicely accented by Chalmers and Rhodes on background vocals. It's like a ballad you can dance to (or a dance cut you can swoon to) and allows Green to explore the full range of his voice.

As for "Light My Fire," Green was apparently reluctant to cover such a well-known song but in tackling the Doors' classic, Green and the Hi Rhythm Section completely transform the tune into their own. The transition between Green's practically talking through the first set of lyrics and crooning his way into the chorus (which he flat out kills) is brilliant. Not to take anything away from Jim Morrison and company but this one of those covers that equals, if not exceeds, the original.

Next Post: Al Green's classics, with a twist.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

posted by O.W.

Al Greene and the Soul Mates: Back Up Train
From 7" (Hot Line, 1967)

Al Green: I Want To Hold Your Hand
From 7" (Hi, 1969)

Both available on The Immortal Soul of Al Green.

Please file this under "better late than never." Last August, as in August of 2004, I promised a forthcoming post on Al Green that never materialized. It's not that I don't like Green; he is, in fact, 1) my favorite male vocalist and 2) responsible for my "desert island" disc, I'm Still In Love With You. I just didn't think I could easily do justice to a talent as significant and influential as Green and moreover: if you've never heard his music (his most famous songs that is), I'd wonder how you even found this site to begin with.

This said, after a year plus change, I'm finally getting around to it, more or less motivated by this new contest that Hi Records is sponsoring (see below) where you can win the impressive Immortal Soul of Al Green anthology as the top prize. Given that this compilation is what initially inspired my desire to post something, seems only fitting to bring it back again. I don't often big-up box sets because I think you learn so much by listening to album-only songs rather than just "greatest hits" but what's impressive by The Immortal Soul is how it plucks not just the songs everyone knows ("Let's Stay Together') but a whole slew of other great Green tunes that not everyone knows by heart. These will be some of the songs I'll be focusing on in the next few posts.

To start..."Back Up Train" was Al Green's first hit (recorded as "Al Greene and the Soul Mates"), recorded back in 1967 when the then-21 year old was one of many fresh-faced soul singers trying to make their way. It is a great song in its own right: slow, bluesy, smoky - reminiscent (to me at least) of something you would have heard on Stax or Volt (despite that Green himself grew up far closer to Motown). It sounds like Al Green yet doesn't sound like him at all: those used to his seductive falsetto will likely be thrown at him crooning in a lower register though you can still hear the expressive quality of his voice.

After failing to capitalize on the success of "Back Up Train," Green had a random run-in with Memphis artist/producer Willie Mitchell in Texas in 1969 and the two agreed to collaborate with each other in what would prove one of the most sublime pairings in soul history - rivaling Aretha with Wexler and Mardin. However, their first try out was a flop: Green covering the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Commercially, the song went nowhere and many people don't even know about it because Hi chose not to release it on any album. Personally, I love this song, even put it on my Deep Covers mix-CD; I dig the funky approach they take and Green sounds great, putting his own, unique spin on such a well-known Fab 4 hit.

Next post, we'll look at Green's evolution at Hi. And eventually, we'll get to his biggest hits but not in the way you might think.

Meanwhile, as noted, Hi is sponsoring a sweepstakes where the grand prize is a free copy of The Immortal Soul of Al Green. Peep:

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

posted by O.W.

Roberta Flack: Roberta Flack: Compared to What + Tryin' Times
From First Take (Atlantic, 1969)

Roberta Flack: Reverend Lee
From Chapter 2 (Atlantic, 1970)

(Ed. Note: The following is from Dave Luxton, a guest poster I plucked out of the submissions box who was interested in a Roberta Flack-themed entry. This is what Dave has to say about Ms. Flack:)

    Roberta Flack! Wow. I have been listening for a couple of months now and I can’t get enough – why? What is it about her early albums that make me want to keep listening? I just recently discovered her music and now I have to share the experience. 

    Some background: I am quite simply, a fan of music. It doesn’t matter if it is hip-hop, metal, soul, classical, whatever. But for me to like it, it has to be REAL. That’s why I find myself listening to jazz most of the time. There is honesty and truth to most jazz music that sits right in front of you. You don’t have to dig deep to find truth in jazz. For the most part, it’s REAL. 

    And then there are artists like Roberta Flack who in my opinion take this idea to the next level. I don’t know the history of the term ‘Soul Music’, but for me she has a way of defining it. When she sings, she speaks the truth – and speaks to your soul. It’s REAL. And you have to listen. It’s addictive.

    Perhaps it’s because we are all getting too used to bullshit. Not that we accept it, we’re just forced to live with it. So, when you hear something that cuts through it with honesty, truth, respect, raw talent, and a great jazz groove, you can’t help but listen. I think that’s what Les McCann experienced when he first saw Roberta Flack in a small club in Washington in 1968. He was blown away. As he put it, “Roberta possesses, both as a singer and a pianist, that rare quality which carries the listener beyond every barrier as though it never existed, to that level at which all humans can truly hear.”  

    Les McCann introduced Roberta Flack to Joel Dorn of Atlantic Records and they recorded her first album – First Take. And what could be more appropriate than the first track on her very first album be ‘Compared to What’ – an anti-war song written by Gene McDaniels – that questions the very idea of what is REAL?  She is accompanied by a top-drawer line-up including Ron Carter on bass, John Pizzarelli on guitar and Ray Lucas on drums. There have been other versions of this song recorded but none speak the truth like Roberta Flack’s.

Monday, December 05, 2005

posted by O.W.

I got a baby with chicken pox at home so this week is probably going to be a bit slow on updates. I hope to have a major set of Al Green posts started by week's end however. In the meanwhile, check out this dope site I just discovered: Oh Word, a collective rap-related site that includes (among other things): a political blog, feature stories that will appeal to all the inner hip-hop geeks out there, and a singles review section which is basically an audioblog.

The site could benefit from better chronological organization (i.e. you don't really know what's new or what's old content easily) but I cannot fault their taste in music. Hell, they got some posts of songs I've wanted to write about. Examples:

  • Stezo's Crazy Noise
  • Krown Rulers' Paper Chase
  • The Future Sound's The Whole Shabang, Vol 1
  • ...and one I'm thankful for, the Large Professor's unreleased LP which includes one of my favorite songs by him: "For My People." Goddamn is that song butter.

    Anyways, Oh Word is solid; check it out.

  • Sunday, December 04, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Sometimes, a good cover is good enough reason to pick up a record. My friend Hua has put together a small Snapfish slideshow of different international albums he's picked up on his travels to South Africa, Peru and elsewhere over the last year or so. Peep game.

    As well, Lou Cash has an extensive gallery of record covers online.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Justin Warfield: Season of the Vic
    From Q.D. III Soundlab (Qwest, 1991)

    Justin Warfield: K Sera Sera
    From My Field Trip to Planet 9 (Qwest, 1993).
    Song also featured on Prince Paul: Hip Hop Gold Dust.

    For those who never heard My Field Trip to Planet 9, you likely wouldn’t even bother looking at it twice if you stumbled upon it at a record store. The cover and title make it sound like some kind of weird cosmic cowboy folk album, certainly not a psychedelic, bohemian hip-hop album but for those who dabble into it, you’ll find a strange yet oddly charming album.

    Warfield was more or less “discovered” by producer QD III (also known as Quincy Jones’ son) and the two collaborated on a 1992 single called “Season of the Vic” which caught some people’s ears since it sounded, dead-on, like a Tribe Called Quest song. From there, Warfield was signed to Jones’ Qwest label and he, QD III and other guest producers like Prince Paul set out to take that trip to Planet 9. ("K Sera Sera" was one of the tunes Paul handled and I dig on its free floating soulfulness.)

    Today, an album like this might have ended up on Rhymesayers or Definitive Jux - there’s more room for wacky – but in 1993, this was a very unique, if not entirely loopy, effort. You can hear all kinds of different influences floating about here: Warfield’s rhymes were never the most mind-blowing, though he sounded decent for a 20 year old. There’s definitely a lot of Native Tongues-influenced abstraction but definitely a lot of Beastie Boys (post-Paul’s Boutique) moxy too. Warfield rhymes like one of the cooler kids from Clerks – a bit of a stoner but smarter than he gives off.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    posted by O.W.

    Eric and the Vikings: Get Off the Streets Ya'll
    From "Vibrations" 7" (Soulhawk, 197?)

    Second Coming: Requiem For a Rainy Day
    From Second Coming (Mercury, 1970)

    Two more cuts from the vaults - almost connected (read to end).

    Eric and the Vikings were lead by Eryke McClinton and had a million-seller with their song, "Vibrations" back in 1970. The single came out on Soulhawk, a Detroit-based label started by Richard "Popcorn" Wylie and I'm assuming that the success of the single lead to the Vikings to get signed to Gordy Records later in the '70s. The flip of "Vibrations" is "Get Off the Streets Ya'll" and honestly, given how popular this 45 was, I'm surprised more folks haven't been rocking this cut out. It's dumb funky with those conga drums then the power drill piano stabs (rather reminiscent of Billy Joel's "Stiletto" no?), then some chicken scratch guitars for good measure. Wicked instrumental. (Thanks to Monkeyfunk for research help).

    Meanwhile, Second Coming was a Bay Area group (by way of Chicago)...somehow connected to the Grateful Dead (though I'm not sure how) who released one album on Mercury, plus a few singles (including this one). The group was lead by keyboardist Dave Miller who wrote the bulk of their songs, notably "Requiem For a Rainy Day" which is one of my favorite recent tracks (thanks to Joel for putting me up on this): not the best vocals ever, but such a wonderfully soulful and funky track, especially when Miller lets loose on the organ.

    Strangely, in the process of doing research, I discovered that Eryke McClinton has a new album out called...Second Coming. For a moment, I thought McClinton had fronted Second Coming back in the day but later realized, ah, just a coincidence.