Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Masta Ace Inc.: Welcome to the Slaughtahouse
posted by O.W.

Masta Ace Inc.: Slaughtahouse (Murder + Death Edit)
From 12" (Delicious Vinyl, 1993)

Masta Ace Inc.: Saturday Night (L.A. Jay Remix)
From "Summa' Madness '93 Remixes" (Delicious Vinyl, 1993)

Both available on Grand Masta: The Remix and Rarity Collection.

With the possible exception of De La Soul, no other hip-hop artist has aged out of the '80s as gracefully and impressively as Masta Ace. He's like rap's Sixth Man, never quite a superstar but while bigger acts flamed out years ago (hint: everyone else in the Juice Crew), Ace has stuck in there, carved out a career that's featured its share of ups and downs but after nearly twenty years, he's still making quality music and has become a veteran that you can cheer on without being patronizing about it.

Back in 1993, it was hard to initially gauge where Ace was going to fall. The rest of the Juice Crew was barely limping by, a faint memory about to get further crushed by the impending Wu-Tang stomp. And in the midst of this, Ace reinvents himself, eschews the House of Hits formulas and begins producing his own stuff (remember his cameo on Gang Starr's "Aight, Chill" skit?) and drops what was one of the first, major backlash rap albums before the indie hip-hoppers picked up the baton (and then promptly wore it to a dull nub). Sure, maybe Ace and company just sounded mad in a post-Chronic era but to me, Slaughtahouse was on the better side of the divide between critical and must plain bitter.

The song itself was a compelling blend of two different tracks - the first parodied the gangsta rap movement, clearly taking aim at N.W.A. ("strictly Raiders and Kings gear" and of course, sampling Eazy E's "what the f--- are they yelling?" off of "Gangsta, Gangsta") and dropping one of the funniest set of verses this side of Black Sheep's "U Mean I'm Not." Then the song transforms midway, bringing in Ace who just crushes the rest of track over the classic Baby Huey "Hard Times" bassline. Here's the original song off Youtube.

The remix versions of "Slaughtahouse" originally appeared on a Delicious Vinyl 12" - each half of the original is separated and extended with extra verses added. Tasty. I went through and mixed the two halves back together (and shortened it to boot).

I've always liked the L.A. Jay remix of "Saturday Night" (which brings on the entire Inc. for a posse cut) which appeared on DV's promo-only "Summa' Madness" remix EP. I was never a huge fan of the original and even though Gang Starr had already put the same loop to work a few years earlier, it's never a bad look to flip "Les Fleur" as L.A. Jay does for the remix. (I will say, for the life of me, I've always had a tricky time mixing it. (I want to say it jumps half a bar at the beginning).

The Grand Masta collection is great in assembling a solid set of rarities (including the infamous "Top 10 List" plus two remixes of "Jeep Ass N****," two of of "Saturday Night Live" and both "Slaughtahouse" mixes). (I sure hope this is legit and Ace is getting paid off it).


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ricardo Ray: Back to the Boogaloo
posted by O.W.

Ricardo Ray: Danzon Bugaloo + Lookie Lookie
From Se Soltó/On the Loose (Alegre, 1966)

It's been a while since I wrote anything about the boogaloo but I've recently been researching it again for a paper I'm presenting in April. In the process of doing that, I realized that I had totally slept on one of the best resources ever written in regards to boogaloo history: Juan Flores' "Cha Cha With a Backbeat" which appears in his 2000 book on Puerto Rican American culture, From Bomba to Hip-Hop. I cannot overstate this: the essay is excellent and is a must-read for anyone with an abiding interest in the history of boogaloo.

What's funny is that, in doing my own research, I ended up simply duplicating the work Flores had already done (just goes to show - it pays to read up on other people's work before embarking on your own sometimes), namely in identifying the "first" boogaloo song as coming off this Ricardo Ray album from 1966.

Technically speaking, this is probably the first song labeled as a boogaloo but that doesn't mean that it's the first boogaloo song in terms of style. As Flores also notes, there's no shortage of antecedents to the boogaloo from the worlds of cha cha and guajiras and other proto-Latin soul styles. However, Ray was the first artist - it seems - to have consciously labeled what he was doing as a new Latin dance/rhythm known as "bugaloo" (interestingly, some people would go on to spell it "bugalu" or "boogaloo" but Ray's contraction of the two seems relatively unique.

What's interesting about "Danzon Bugaloo" is how it doesn't quite conform to the musical "norms" we associate with boogaloo but perhaps that's the "danzon" influence. It may also be the fact that the song is a cover of "Whipped Cream" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. You have to admit there is a deep, rich web of connections when a White musician trying to capture the sound of Mexico at the border would get covered by a Nuyorican, fusing Cuban dance with Black R&B lyrics and rhythms.

However, though "Danzon Bugaloo" has its own eccentricities, there's no denying that "Lookie Lookie" lays down what would become a classic template for the boogaloo: a repeating piano muntono riff, English lyrics, an anchored, measured sense of percussion plus an added bonus of having the song swing into a higher tempo mid-way through. It's not the most scintillating boogaloo ever recorded but for the first attempt, it's more than laudable.

Se Soltó, overall, is a great Latin album. I'm a little surprised if only because I didn't find Ray's next album, the better known Jala Jala Boogaloo to be quite as interesting or adventurous as Se Soltó.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Donny Hathaway: Live and Love
posted by O.W.

Donny Hathaway: Lord Help Me
Previously unreleased, bonus track from Extension of a Man (Atlantic/Rhino, 1973).

I have a secret dream that somewhere, in the vaults of Atlantic, sits dozens of unreleased Donny Hathaway songs like "Lord Help Me" and "What a Woman Really Means."

It's a good dream.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Aretha + Dusty: Face Off
posted by O.W.

Aretha Franklin: I Can't Wait (Until I See My Baby's Face)
From Runnin Out of Fools (Columbia, 1964)

Dusty Springfield: I Can't Wait (Until I See My Baby's Face)
From Where Am I Going? (Philips, 1967)

First off, thanks to Hua for introducing me to Sonji Clay's version of the song (which started the ball rolling on all this).

Far as I can tell, "I Can't Wait" was originally a song written for Aretha Franklin recorded first by Baby Washington and then covered by Aretha back during her Columbia years. It appeared on Runnin Out of Fools but also became a highly sought-after 7" single (with the infamous "One Step Ahead" on the flip). Strangely though (especially given how many times the song's been covered), it doesn't seem to have ended up on any Aretha CD. Curious if there's a reason for that, especially given 1) how great the song is and 2) the surge in interest in Aretha's Columbia catalog over the last few years. (SSV3 to fix that situation? We'll see). What I love about this song is that vocal arrangement - it peaks and swerves unexpectedly. In fact, I was so taken with it, I didn't actually even listen to what the lyrics were saying. I thought this was a love song vs. a break-up song. Oops.

Apparently, the song wasn't a big hit for her but it ended up becoming popular in other people's hands, ended up covered by Justine "Baby" Washington, Sonji Clay, Dionne Warwick, Dee Dee Warwick, etc. The Sonji Clay is excellent but so is the Dusty Springfield version above, originally only available on the UK release, Where Am I Going? (the U.S. "version" of that album, the best-selling Look of Love, left it off). Personally, I'd love to hear a collection of songs sung by both Aretha and Dusty...Springfield does a great job with this; she has such a fantastic sounding voice that isn't big on power but the subtle finesse and sultriness is what sells it.

(Thanks to Soulstrut for the Aretha soundfile).

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Deep Covers CD: Back in Stock (Finally)
posted by O.W.

Young Holt Unlimited/Erma Franklin/Jackie Wilson: Light My Fire

Eddy Senay: Ain't No Sunshine
Both available on Deep Covers (F.O.S.S.I.L., 2003)

I know it's been a minute since I had any of my older mix-CDs back in stock. Especially with SSV2: The Covers on its way out in mid-Spring, I wanted to bring back Deep Covers back for all those folks who never heard (or knew about) it to begin with. Deep Covers was the first time I tried tackling a mix of covers and SSV2 was obviously inspired by that and I hope to put out another covers mix this year as well. (Speaking of which, be sure to check out Chairman Mao's excellent Run For Cover for more cover flavor).

Here are the liner notes to the CD and I've included two snippets from the 21 song playlist.

The above version of "Light My Fire" is actually three different songs-in-one. From best I can tell, Young Holt Unlimited covered the Doors' hit as an instrumental and then Erma Franklin and Jackie Wilson both used that backing track for their own vocal versions. As you can hear ­ all three are completely identical musically speaking though I have to give a slight nod to Franklin for being the better vocalist in this pairing over Wilson.

Finding the right cover to include for Bill Withers' "AIN'T NO SUNSHINE" was another tough one, since there are so many great ones. I decided to go with Eddy Senay's because it's just so damn laid-back.

Ordering info.
If anyone's looking for enough copies to sell wholesale, holler.

I'll also try to restock these at Turntable Lab and Amoeba Music in Los Angeles, possibly the Reed Space in NYC too.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 19, 2007

For the Listener: Next Level Audiobloggery
posted by O.W.

Caught this off of Stereogum: an MP3-reading software program (for Macs only) called Peel. (PC people, look below).

The interface is very, very simple: put in your favorite MP3 blog URls and its iTunes-styled window will automatically list (and download if you so chose) all the available MP3s for each site. I played around with this tonight and was pretty impressed at the simplicity and ease of the program. The fact that you instantly see what new songs have been listed, plus stream a full-length preview (or DL) is very intuitive as are most of the other features (for example, you can easily open any blog into a web browser - though not by clicking on it - and adding or deleting blogs is quite easy too.

The program also doubles as a browser (you just have to tab over) so you can still read liner notes and the like (though I suspect, many will be tempted just to grab the music and run).

However, before ya'll rush out to peep, a few caveats:

1) If songs aren't properly formatted, then they won't list correctly in Peel. (This may not matter to people who listen first, ask questions later).

2) Peel can only work with blogs that host their songs on a direct server. It will not work with blogs that use,,, etc. That's not a shortcoming of the programming - but it does mean that many audioblogs (for example, all album-based blogs) won't work with how Peel is set up.

3) Peel does make it easier for people to strip music from context and personally, I think the context is actually pretty important. Of course, if you're really into a song, it's easy enough to tab over into the browser display and read whatever there is to read. However, if you'd likely go to the blog to see what's up but posts that contain no music - even if it's a major announcement - won't be reflected in Peel's "playlist" listing.

(This is a subtle way of encouraging people to please actually read Soul Sides now and then).

4) Small nitpicky things: if you close the window in Peel, you can't re-open it again. And the space bar doesn't work to either pause or play a song. I'm sure these are bugs that will get fixed in a future update.

For PC and Mac Users:

Peel doesn't seem to be coming to the PC any time soon but there is a "similar" program that runs on both Windows and Macs called Songbird.

I hesitate to call it the same kind of program since Songbird actually has far, far more features built into it compared to Peel but this is both a strength and weakness. Personally, I found Songbird overly complicated (not to mention slow), with a poor interface and lack of intuitive design. In other words, it felt like a program designed to run on Windows.

This might appeal to some of you. Songbird can certainly do a lot more than Peel can right now, with at least a dozen or so add-ons for those who like to customize. If you want simplicity, elegance and efficiency however - Peel's the better program for what it does. I'd suggest downloading both and seeing which fits your personality better.

Small note: The one thing about Songbird that I did like is how it integrates the browser and playlist displays (something that Peel tab-separates) so that you while you're reading the page, a small playlist pops up underneath and starts listing what songs are available. With Peel's iTunes-esque display, I don't think this is functionality they could easily build-in but it is something about Songbird which I personally think is kind of cool. That said, for ease and efficiency, I plan on sticking with Peel for the time being.
And speaking of next level... A reader sent in this recommendation: forget Zshare and check out Divshare.

What makes this even better is the embedded player option (a function that exists many other places, but this is one of the first places I've seen where this is added for free rather than as a paid option).

Peep, here's that same Lil Wayne/Devin/Bun B song from the other day, done up Divshare style:

My pet peeve is that you'd have to rename the .mp3 file to something more intuitive (but I suspect this is a functionality they might build in later).

All said, a streaming player that reduces bandwidth and allows for download? It's enough to make me consider a permanent switch. Hmm...


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Devin the Dude, Lil Wayne, Bun B: Gone Good
posted by O.W.

Devin The Dude feat. Lil Wayne, Bun B: Gone Bad(Lil Girl Gone) (Mr. JPatt Remix)
From We Got the Remix Special Edition (forthcoming, 2007)

DJ Benzi shot this through - a new remix for Devin The Dude's "Lil Girl Gone" feat. Weezy and Bun B. I thought the original was cool but this remix really takes tings far, far forward with a beaut of a soul loop. Weezy, especially, benefits from the new groove as his lead-off verses just float into the new track. Not sure who Mr. J Pat is but hey, nice work.


The 50 Cent and Cam'ron Tango
posted by O.W.

Whatever happened to the days when rappers dissed each others on albums? Heck, what happened to the days when rappers dissed each other on album covers?

As my man over at The Rap Up would say, "beef has evolved." It wasn't enough for Cam and 50 to get into it on Hot 97. It wasn't enough for both men to record what ordinarily would have been some kind of mixtape cut. In a Youtube age, both 50 and Cam went out and recorded instant videos for their new songs.

Diss videos. It's come to this.

Mind you, I'm not complaining per se even though neither man really does himself huge favors with some hastily assembled shots and scenes. 50's faux-Cribs+F.E.D.S. scenes goes up against Cam ghostriding a Camry but no question, 50 Cent wins in the flosstacular category. I suspect he's been taking tips from the White Rapper Show's video contest.

Anyways, welcome to the next level of the game.

50 Cent: Funeral Music

Cam'ron: Curtis!

(Psss...50's got money long as train smoke but Cam wins this round).

Instant Message received from friend after watching Cam's video: "I wonder if 50 has beef with the UPS guy now too."


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

David Sea: Down With B'Ham
posted by O.W.

David Sea: Let's Just Get Together
From The Birmingham Sound: The Soul of Neal Hemphill Vol. 1 (Rabbit Factory, 2007)

B'Ham Rhythm Section: I've Been Lonely For So Long
From 7" (Black Kat, 1977)

For the life of me, I don't know why I wasn't writing about this weeks ago but hey, better late than never (and in any case, the album just dropped a week back).

A few months ago, I received an email from a Chicago DJ named John Ciba, basically telling me that he was starting up his own label to anthologize/reissue a selection of rare soul singles produced by Birmingham local Neal Hemphill back in the '70s. I, of course, replied: "hell yeah."

Hemphill is one of those amazing stories from soul's past yet languished in obscurity for years. The Chicago Reader had a nice profile of Hemphill (and Ciba) last summer if you want more background but the gist of it was that Hemphill ran a plumbing company as his day gig but owned and operated the Sound of Birmingham studio in his spare time, helping to develop and support local talent. To be sure, Hemphill Studios never became a powerhouse in the way that, say, Fame, across the way in Muscle Shoals, did but his prolificness was remarkable (the fact that this is Vol. 1 and has 23 songs should tell you something).

To make a long story short: if you're a fan of Southern soul, you need to check out this anthology. I think it's great that folks like Ciba and the Numero Group guys are putting in so much work to unearth these lost sides.

The David Sea song was the stand-out on the CD for me, not the least of which is Sea's strong vocals. He's an interesting artist himself - never really hit in the '70s but he's since had a stronger career since the '80s. (Read more on him here). However, what works best on this song is what, in a sense, doesn't really work: the competition between Sea's vocals and the guitar which is either mixed too high, slightly out of key with Sea or something else - bottomline, the two clash just enough that your ear hones in on the song, trying to figure out what's going on there. Yet, instead of it diminishing the tune, I actually think it enhances it.

When Ciba sent me the CD, he also very generously included half a dozen Hemphill-produced 7"s, all on different labels (Hemphill had at least three imprints of his own, plus worked with Los Angeles' Goodie Train and others). Out of that batch came the B'Ham Rhythm Section's "I've Been Lonely For So Long," a remake of Frederick Knight's 1972 chart-topper (the biggest hit ever to come out of Sound of Birmingham) that came out on one of Hemphill's aforementioned imprints, Black Kat.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Frank Cardona + The Impossibles: Quirky Covers
posted by O.W.

Frank Cardona y sus Alegres Tejanos: Funky Nassau
From S/T (Diamante, 197?)

The Impossibles: Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)
From Stage Show (SSP, 197?)

In honor of the forthcoming Soul Sides Vol 2: The Covers CD, I've been pulling out some of the quirkier cover songs I've come upon in the last few. I wish I could brag about putting the Cardona out there first but the guys at Waxidermy got me beat by a few months. As they note, the Cardona is this random Tex Mex album that's mostly a bunch of Tejano songs (few of them very remarkable) but then they drop in "Funky Nassau" (by Beginning of the End) out of nowhere. It's a cool, almost-garage-y version of the tune, especially with that tinny organ wheezing throughout. Like Nassau though, it got soul.

The Impossibles cover of B.T. Express' classic '70s jam, "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)" is even stranger. They were a Thai band (though they recorded their best known album, Hot Pepper in GermanySweden) that specialized in playing Western pop songs (along with native language tunes) and though they may seem uber-obscure, the band actually had quite the following, especially given that they toured Europe. Even The Nation knows the deal.[1]

This album sounds clearly recorded live since you can hear the audience that the Impossibles interacting with them (plus the fidelity is hardly studio quality). It's not a remarkable cover...except that it's by a bunch of English-speaking Thai guys and sometimes, that kind of backstory alone is enough (see Please's cover of "Sing a Simple Song" too, for example).

[1] Albeit, we're talking about The Nation in Thailand, not the American publication as a friend pointed out to me.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 10, 2007

J-Dilla: Still Dunking Donuts
posted by O.W.

J-Dilla: This is Dilla's World + 5/8
From ???

I don't have a fancier post to commemorate Jay Dee's death (though I hope to god, one day, my NPR piece on Jay Dee will see the light, or, er, radio waves of day) most, I've just been listening to his legacy constantly since he passed a year ago (it really doesn't feel that long ago). In that sense, it's like he never left so though I mourn his far too untimely passing, the distance hasn't felt as real yet given all the various music he left behind to keep us company.

These two are taken from a slew of instrumental tracks, some presumably from the Donuts sessions given the similarities in style. Namely, these songs have that, "I'm just playing with ideas" feeling to them, what I described as capturing Jay's ideas in mid-motion. I loved that quality of Donuts, that they weren't incomplete but they weren't polished either; it really gave you a sense of how Dilla thought about sound and rhythm.

The "names" on these are purely arbitrary...though, in the case of "5/8" it's possible that was Jay Dee's owning choice of title but who really knows? "This is Dilla's World" is my own invention (title-wise) given that it flips James Brown's "This Is a Man's World" and does so quite lovely. "5/8" derives its name from the beat signature and it's one of those beats that repeatedly smashes you on the crown and you love every instant, especially when he chops up the guitar and horns.

Anyways, there's so many great Dilla songs for ya'll to appreciate this week. Wind up a few, sit back, absorb and pour some out for him.

James Yancey - 1974/2006. R.I.P.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Soul Sides Vol. 2 - Cover and Tracklisting
posted by O.W.

Release date: May 22, 2007

Track Listing:
1. "Fever" Sharon Cash
2. "Feelin' Alright" West Coast Revival
3. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" Al Green
4. "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" Esther Phillips
5. "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)" Marcia Griffiths
6. "Che Che Cole" Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
7. "Kissing My Love" Spanky Wilson
8. "Let's Straighten It Out" O.V. Wright
9. "It's Your Thing" Cold Grits
10. "Express Yourself" Byron Lee and the Dragonaires
11. "Walk On By" El Michaels Affair
12. "Viva Tirado" Los Mozambiques
13. "Be Thankful For What You Got" Donovan Carless
Bonus Track
"What A Man" Laura Lee

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Happy Birthday Jay
posted by O.W.

Memorial post coming this weekend...

Songs of Obsession: The Brothers of Soul
posted by O.W.

Brothers of Soul: A Lifetime
From 7" (Boo, 1968). Also on I Guess That Don't Make Me a Loser.

I don't use the word "perfect" very often (well, actually, ok, I probably do) but if ever there were a song that should inspire such an honorific - here it is.

I discovered this 45 a few weeks ago, along with my friend Hua - it was some crappy lo-digi-fi copy of the tune but it was still promising enough that we both went out and hunted out the original that evening. Hua got his earlier, digitized that sucker and sent it over. Suffice to say, within minutes, the song quickly became an instant classic in my personal catalog.[1]

Every single part of this song just works: that anchoring piano melody, the background vocals, the rich voice of Fred Bridges singing, "...but I have no regrets" to begin his verses and the changes in the arrangement. The first minute of the song alone makes me want to crawl inside it and live there forever but make sure you get to the end where the sweet soul harmonies of Ben Knight and Robert Eaton come flying in unexpectedly. I tend to throw around terms like "sublime" a bit loosely at times but this song resets the bar and then some. I can't say enough about it.

Soul Sides' readers have heard the group before - in a manner of speaking - on my Ruby Andrews post from October. The BKE collaboration of Bridges, Knight and Eaton were discovered by Zodiac Records' Ric Williams and they ended up one of Andrews' main producers/composers/arrangers for her first album (Everybody Saw You) while Eaton and Williams produced most of her Black Ruby LP. Unfortunately, though the BoS had a few decent hits on 45, they never became major stars on their own and instead, were more successful working with other artists (a pity). That I Guess That Don't Make Me a Loser is the definitive (by virtue of being the only) anthology of their 7"s and is well worth checking out just to hear their slim but grand catalog of music. (It includes their $200+ Northern Soul track, "I'd Be Grateful" which is also amazing). Also, please see Soulful Detroit's long profile of Fred Bridges and the Brothers of Soul, a fantastic resource of information on BKE and their work.

[1] I must give ample credit to Hua here since the version of "A Lifetime" I'm using here was the one he digitized. I had a copy of the song from CD which played "cleaner" in terms of crackle and dust but the fidelity felt muddled and muted whereas the analog brightness of Hua's version captured the song's essence much better I thought. Alas, I'm still waiting for my copy of the 45 to arrive in the mail and I just hope it plays this clean.

By the way, Hua's blog has turned into an informal audioblog, with a ton of goodies (two words: Donovan Carless. Two more: Blvd Mosse). Be sure to check out his cell-phone-vids of Egyptian Lover rocking Brooklyn, platinum pyramid style.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Never on schedule, but always on time...
posted by O.W.

One of my favorite songs of the last few months gets a video:

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Jerry Butler + Duke of Burlington: 2nd Set
posted by O.W.

Jerry Butler: Never Give You Up
From The Iceman Cometh (Mercury, 1968). Also on The Philadelphia Sessions.

Duke of Burlington: Hammer Strokes
From A Revolution in Sound (Joker, 197?)

This post follows up on two previous, revisiting the work of Jerry Butler as well as the Duke of Burlington.

Thanks again for all the suggestions people had in regards to Butler's larger catalog - I'm still trying to move through it. I had forgotten about one of his biggest hits - "Never Give You Up" and it was a real pleasure getting reacquainted with it. I have to say: my favorite part of the song is simply how it opens - that melody is fantastic and I wish the entire song had been built around it through I am at least glad they bring it back at the bridge.

I also am always amused by soul songs where the basic moral is: "you can treat me like sh--, but I'm still gonna love you," which is either incredibly romantic or rather desperate depending on your level of cynicism. I mean, Jerry, she's cheating on you. Keeping the candle lit just doesn't sound so wise but hey.

As for the Duke of Burlington, this is another one of those uncredited covers: "Hammer Strokes" is obviously "Groove Me" by King Floyd. If you liked that last track by them, I suspect you'll dig this too. If you thought it was a bit clunky, you'll probably think the same here.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 02, 2007

William Bell/Mavis Staples, James Brown/Marva Whitney, Arlean Brown/Lee Williams: Boys Meet Girls
posted by O.W.

William Bell + Mavis Staples: Strung Out
From 7" + Boy Meets Girl (Stax, 1969)

James Brown + Marva Whitney: Sunny
From Gettin' Down To It (King, 1969)

Arlean Brown + Lee Williams: Impeach Me Baby
From 7" (LaNoRmAyA, 197?)

First of all, no one's gonna make a run at the David Axelrod contest? Really? C'mon, just give it a shot.

Onto the real post:

I'm not an automatic fan of duet songs - it's always risky trying to put two people together on a song and still make it work; not everyone's lucky enough to be Roberta and Donny or Marvin and Tammi. When this William Bell and Mavis Staples song crossed my path though, it had it, whatever that elusive quality is to make two singers find the right vibe together.

On a separate note, I realize, more and more, that I seriously need to beef up my '70s Stax knowledge. I've had, for many years, their first boxset that covers up through the late '60s but I'm constantly being surprised and pleased by what lay into the '70s. This track, in particular, is fantastic (just ask Kanye!), especially the musical arrangement. Plus William and Mavis together? On point.

Same goes for James Brown and Marva Whitney in their duet for Gettin' Down To It, one of my favorite Brown LPs, even though it's off the beaten path compared to his funkier fare. They just sound good singing "Sunny" together and it reminds one that Brown's first hits were as a vocalist, with that distinctive, rich and impassioned delivery of his.

Last, but not least, one of my favorite funky blues cuts - "Impeach Me Baby" by Arlean Brown, featuring an uncredited Lee Williams, playing Otis to Arlean's Carla except that this is far dirtier and grimier than "Tramp." This song is one of those where I forget it's one of my favorites until I hear it again and remember, "oh yeah, this sh-- rocks!"

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Nas: All In Together
posted by O.W.

Nas: Where Are They Now? (The Mega-Mega Mix)

Featuring (in order...we think): Grandmaster Caz, MC Shan, Raheem, Doctor Ice, Kangol, Kool Moe Dee, Sha Rock, Tito, Linque, Dana Dane, Pebblee Poo, Just Ice...
...Redhead Kingpin, The Original Spinderella, Rob Base, Father MC, Monie Love, Mike G, EST, Positive K, Das EFX, Lords of the Underground, Dres...
...Breeze, Kam, King Tee, Candyman, Threat, Ice T, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Conscious Daughters (with Bobcat on the cut).

At this point, anyone who reads any of the usual suspects for rap blogs have already caught one, two or all three of these incredible remixes of Nas' "Where Are They Now?" Whatever you think of the quality of the cameos themselves, what makes them incredible is simply the coordination involved in getting everyone together to make these. (Of course, it's not like most of them were busy with their defunct rap careers but still...)

Nonetheless, for an old rap dude like me, this kind of thing brings a tear to my nostalgic eye. Seriously, it's bonkers, especially the West Coast remix which is probably the best executed in the bunch.

In any case, you can find the original songs on those other sites but I went and did a simple edit to put all three together into one long mega-mix. 25+ years of hip-hop history distilled into 15 minutes.


Speaking of hip-hop matters, ya'll need to hear 50 Cent chat with Styles P and Cam'ron on Hot 97. The Cam portion is golden.