Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stop Smiling Magazine: Stax Special
posted by O.W.

The new issue of Stop Smiling is dedicated to all things Southern, including a massive section on the history of Stax Records (proper!) Also included is an interview with Sharon Jones by yours truly where she speaks on James Brown, wedding bands, and oh yes, Amy Winehouse.

If you have a hard time finding this on your newsstand, order from them directly.


Grand Puba + DeBarge + Henry Mancini: Oooh...and We Like It
posted by O.W.

Grand Puba feat. Sadat X: I Like It (Blend Mix)
Original version from 2000 (Elektra, 1995)
Buckwild Remix from 12" (Elektra, 1995). Also on Diggin' In the Crates: Rare Studio Masters.

DeBarge: I Like It
From All This Love (Gordy, 1982). Also on Ultimate Collection.

Henry Mancini: Here's Looking At You, Kid
From Return of the Pink Panther (RCA 1975)

Strangely, I have never posted up any Grand Puba songs on Soul Sides despite the fact that some of my favorite songs of the '90s bore his name (namely "I Like It" and the insanely dope "360 Degrees" remix) but I was listening to DeBarge's "I Like It" the other day and realized it was time.Ok, so I actually have done a Puba post before but I was listening to DeBarge's "I Like It" and though a revisit was in order.

Puba's "I Like It" saved my life. Sort of. This was back in the mid-90s and I was driving 580 through the Bay Area, tired as hell and nodding off on the freeway. Not good. I decided to flip to the radio and somewhere in the mix, some DJ threw this on and even from the opening cymbal tap, I knew what was coming and I was suddenly invigorated and no longer drowsy. True tales.

He's made far harder songs but I love "I Like It" precisely for its light touch. For goodness sake - it's a rap song built off of a Cal Tjader cover of the Association's "Never My Love." That's like soft-batch twice over (though I love the original "Never My Love") yet the song clicks the same way, say, the best Tribe Called Quest songs did. It's the small things that work best here: the snippet of "and you say New York City," that little "bah baaadah" cry, and of course, the DeBarge sample of "oooooooh, and I like it." Yeah, we do it.

The remix, by Buckwild, is also compelling, not the least of which is because this song reunited Sadat X and Puba together, squashing rumors that the former Brand Nubian bandmates had beef with one another ("the Grand Puba is a great friend of mine" isn't the slickest line but it is direct). It's also classic Buckwild for that era - dude flipped vibes like Pete Rock flipped horns. In this case, Buckwild took a surprisingly mellow and funky cut from Henry Mancini's Return of the Pink Panther soundtrack and puts it to great use. "Here's Looking At You, Kid" is an aberration on that soundtrack - nothing else remotes sounds like it but I'm happy that it's the odd track out given how nice a listen it is.

I did a quick and dirty edit of the original Puba song with the remix (I used to do it a bit more artfully in the mix but it was simpler here to just cut in and out). Both songs are readily "available" in their original forms in case you absolutely need them that way. Otherwise, enjoy this trio.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Read All About It
posted by O.W.

1) There's something like a gazillion blogs being created every day. The vast majority are worthless. Then there's Just Blaze's blog. It is whatever lies at the far, far opposite end of worthless, especially with posts like these.

2) Jay Smooth - a legend in three games: radio, blogs and now - vlogs). What's with the cat though?

3) KRS-One is still going after Can't Stop, Won't Stop. I'd like to take some time out to comment on this further but I'm short on time. Suffice to say, KRS actually has some compelling points to make but alas, along with his rigor comes a decent amount of mortis.

4) Everyone's favorite British soul singer (no, the other one. The brunette with bad teeth.) will be discussed today on WYNC's Soundcheck. Myself and Ann Powers will be weighing in. Should be fun.

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Cut Chemist + DJ Shadow: Hard Sell @ Hollywood Bowl, 6/24/07
posted by O.W.

It's been a long, strange journey.

I've been following the 7" trail left by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist for over seven years now[1]. Brainfreeze was enough of a phenomenon to begin with but it's hard to imagine that some 8 years after that first show at Club 550 in S.F., Cut and Shadow would bring the same concept to the Hollywood Bowl, only this time, in front of a crowd of at least 12,000, under a perfect Los Angeles June night sky. When they first took stage, it was staggering to think about that evolution. It's not like the two haven't played big venues before but if you've never been to the Bowl, the sheer size of it is humbling and again, we're talking about a performance centered around playing 45s.


This thought obviously crossed their minds too since the Hard Sell show opened with a short, humorous "instructional video" as to what people were about to witness during the evening, effectively, "yes, we're playing records" but why such an endeavor would be artistically and musically worthwhile of the Bowl's attention. For DJ-educated types, such an explanation was unnecessary but for those who think, "wait, they still press vinyl?" such an intro was likely quite useful in setting the stage for what was about to happen.

But here's the thing: even for those who cling tightly to their original copies of Brainfreeze and Product Placement, it was clear early on that this was NOT going to be a predictable part tres in that series. Unlike the previous two performances, built specifically around funk 45s, Hard Sell was far more ambitious and eclectic. Now the two DJs split eight turntables between them plus effects processors which allowed them new options in creating and sustaining tones and loops. It was an entirely different kind of performance, less oriented on playing dozens of obscure records in a row and more about building a series of conceptual sets - all made using records, but less about the actual records and more about what one could make with them.

That's why it's a little pointless to run down the playlist for you - it's hard to communicate the overall feel of the night by noting, "oh yeah, and at one point, they went from "Passin' Me By" to "Made U Look"" since that snippet can't represent the whole. Suffice to say though, there were a few sets that were built around records - i.e. identifiable pieces of music - but there were just as many that involved long passages of sound interspersed by drums or scratching, but were more like pieces of musical composition (John Cage meets David Axelrod meets Grandwizard Theodore...). In that respect, Hard Sell seemed closer to DJ Shadow's Private Press shows than what I've seen of Cut Chemist in the past but then again, Cut's recent works have become more compositional and conceptual as well.

So there were a variety of different moments (two of which I discuss in greater detail below), including a short segment of "world percussion" where African drums became blended in with a samba line or these long, almost prog rock-like passages of noise and tone. In the background, a VJ executed a compelling set of background videos and images in synch with the music's rhythms and themes (looks like the same team that worked on Shadow's shows), including a Transformer Jukebox that shoots 7"s (that I'm guessing is not in the upcoming Michael Bay adaptation).

But let's get to the point: Creative? Definitely. Experimental? No doubt. Entertaining? Well...ear of the beholder. Personally, I liked it. I thought the attempt to transcend the themes of Brainfreeze and Product Placement was interesting and daring, I liked the attempt at simply doing "more" with the concept of playing 7"s. But I also think it was fair to say that the overall performance was significantly less coherent and cohesive. It felt more like a scattered set of pieces that hinted at a larger picture but it wasn't clear what that image was meant to be. And maybe that was the whole point but no doubt, folks expecting another session full of funky 45s were left wondering, "wait, what was that?" And maybe that was part of the point too.

By the way, closing the evening was Kim Fowley. Crazy random. I met him at the afterparty and he's a trip. But more on that another time.

One last thing: there were moments where the sets had small glitches - drums doubling up, missed cues - and I actually liked seeing/hearing those, not only because it reminded you "this is live" but it's suggestive of how improvisational and challenging this new set is and frankly, I doubt most in the audience caught them anyways. I do know Shadow was chuckling about it during the afterparty and assuming him and Cut take this on the road (which I think they are), I imagine these will all get ironed out in due time.

Two personal highlights from the show:

The opening set was, from what I could tell, an attempt to speak to the event itself: a summer time concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and what spilled forth was what could be best described as an homage to the days of jukebox joints, East L.A. sweet soul and oldies AM radio. It had some strange moments, including some electro cover of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock Tonight" as well as - I kid you not - another eccentric cover of "Eye of the Tiger" but then they dropped the Flamingos' great romantic ballad, "I Only Have Eyes For You", complete with spinning disco balls when the verse, "are the stars out tonight?" came on.

The next song was this:

Eddie Holman and the Larks: This Can't Be True
From 7" (Parkway, 1965). Also on This Can't Be True.

Sure, Holman wasn't from L.A. and didn't record his single there but this is some straight, East L.A., Impalaville sweet soul. I. Love. This. Song. And it really captured the moment of where everyone was - relaxing in the cool summer air of Hollywood.

However, it didn't give any clues as to what would happen next and that would be par for the course for the evening. The next set was more hip-hop focused, including drops of "Passin' Me By," "Made U Look," "Dwyck" and then...they went into a short mini-set of original De La Soul breaks from the 3 Ft. High and Rising era. My mind was blown for a few reasons, including, 1) this was such "my sh--" and 2) I would have been impressed if even 5% of the crowd had a clue what was going on. Seriously, when they were re-creating "Plug Tunin," who would have followed?

The moment I was waiting for - and which was delivered - was this song:

Maggie Thrett: Soupy
From 7" (Dyno Voice, 1965). Also on The Label That Had to Happen.

For those old enough to even remember "Jenifa," this is the 45 that powered the main loop. I could swear this is a variation on Jr. Walker and the All-Stars' "Shotgun" but regardless, it's a great mid-60s cooker that makes me hungry for more songs in this vein. (Thanks to Jared at Big City for putting me onto this).

As for whether Hard Sell will make it onto CD/ guess (and this is purely a guess) is "yes" though I'd be curious to hear how this plays as purely recorded performance. As for whether or not this is the last chapter in the Cut/Shadow 7" Saga? We'll have to see how that plays out later.

Just for the sake of cataloging: I missed the very first show in San Francisco where Brainfreeze was introduced but I was on-hand to see the last show on the tour, at the El Rey in Los Angeles, having written a preview of it for the LA Weekly (this is still one of my favorite pieces I ever wrote). I also did coverage on Product Placement for the first issue of Waxpoetics and if that wasn't enough, I also interviewed the two DJs for the DVD version of Freeze.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bay Area Soul Sides Party
posted by O.W.

Thursday, June 28 - Casanova Lounge - San Francisco
The Official Bay Area SSV2 Release Party
DJ O-Dub w/ DJs Vinnie Esparza and B.Cause
10pm - 2 am
527 Valencia by 16th

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Mandrake Bar this past Friday. We had a capacity crowd (which surprised even me) and apologies to those forced to queue up outside. I'm already planning the next event there, sometime in July.

Bay Area fam: Don't forget, I'll be back up in San Francisco this upcoming Thursday, spinning with two of my favorite DJs: Vinnie Esparaza and B.Cause. I'll be crashing their Olde Soul night at the Casanova in the Mission District (you know what parking's like so plan accordingly!).


Friday, June 22, 2007

Freddie Scott: RIP
posted by O.W.

Freddie Scott: You Got What I Need
From 7" (Shout, 1968). Also available on UBB 24.


Alas, Freddie Scott has died. The singer behind, "Hey Girl" and "Cry To Me" but the height of his career was in the 1960s and most casual soul fans don't know much about his catalog. However, he achieved a certain kind of immortality within the hip-hop generation when Biz Markie interpolated his 1968 single, "(You) Got What I Need" for "Just a Friend." I can play this song anywhere and people go nuts - it's just that good.

In Dangerous Rhythm has a far more thorough dedication of different Scott songs.

(Thanks to for the sound file)

*DLs no longer avail but streaming audio is.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Songs: Daniel Chamberlin of Uber
posted by O.W.

Editor's note: Today is the first official day of summer. That always makes me sad because it means that from here on out, everything begins to wind down and shorten. But hey, let's not dwell on it. Summer is here and it seemed only right to include a summer songs post to celebrate.

The latest comes from Los Angeles writer Daniel Chamberlin. I've known Dan ever since the days when both of us were at URB Magazine and he was definitely some of the editors I've enjoyed working with the most. In the time since, Dan's written for Arthur Magazine, edits for Flavorpill, and is now the Arts Editor for the new social networking site, Uber.

For his summer songs post, Dan picked out an eclectic selection that covers everything from "juicy psychedelic country vibe" to "heat-induced hallucinations" to music for deaf women. Or something like that. Most of all, he reminds you not to sleep on the Marshall Tucker Band.


    The Grateful Dead: Morning Dew
    From bootleg (Fillmore East, NY, 4/29/71)

    In the late '50s Canadian folk singer Bonnie Dobson was living in Los Angeles playing local clubs. One evening she and some friends watched the grim Stanley Kramer film, On the Beach — it's sort of a Mad Max prequel, a movie about nuclear war wherein the entire planet is wiped out except for Australia, whose population sits and waits for the coming storm of nuclear fallout that will kill them all. She stayed up all night after watching the movie writing "Morning Dew," a spooky-sad song where the one person keeps asking where all the people are, and another responds, "You never see those people anyway." It's been covered by everyone from Fred Neil to Devo, but my favorite version is the Grateful Dead one. The juicy psychedelic country vibe of early '70s Dead obscures the apocalyptic subject matter and leaves me focused on the refrain: instead of thinking about irradiated corpses scattered across the planet, I think about sunrise and the dew that slicks up the grass every morning back home in Indiana, unlike the crispy brown chaparral of my yard here in Los Angeles. This version of "Morning Dew" is one of my favorites, the opening song from set two of their April 29, 1971 show at the Fillmore East in NYC. It's a good year for the Dead; the gooey rootsiness that would take over in the coming years is juxtaposed nicely with the frazzled guitar-crash meltdowns that characterized their late '60s output. Yes I'm kind of a Deadhead, and so are some of my friends.

    Marshall Tucker Band: Fly Eagle Fly
    From A New Life (Capricorn, 1974)

    People sleep on the Marshall Tucker Band. Forget the redneck boogie of Skynyrd or the guitar jams of the Allmans: You want eccentric southern music? You go to Marshall Tucker 'cause they used a flute, prominently, to cook up weird country-jazz fusion (that sounds a whole lot better than "country-jazz fusion" suggests). This is a pretty traditional song, the closing track from their second album, A New Life. It's a sort of pre-apocalyptic lament as Toy Caldwell counts the images that he'd miss if environmental devastation were to take hold, while acknowledging his own futility to stop such devastation by singing "before the world ever got that band I'd be on my knees a-cryin'." Among his prized images are squirrels, cottontail rabbits and -- my favorite -- doves rising up in front of him as he takes a stroll through a cornfield. The house I grew up in rural Indiana was surrounded by fields of corn, peas and soybeans, so any song that uses a cornfield pastoral gets big points in my book. Oh yeah: In case you didn't grow up in the midst of agriculture, corn is a summer thing, so this song feels summery to me. "Knee high by the fourth of July" is a good way to remember that.

    Meat Puppets: Swimming Ground
    From Up on The Sun (SST, 1985)

    One of the best things about summer is swimming outside. Pools and oceans are great, but there's nothing like floating around in the cold fresh water of a lake, river or -- best of all -- swimming hole. Swimming holes are rare and often remote here in the Southwest, even when we're not in the midst of an epic drought. I spent last weekend out in the Angeles National Forest dodging rattlesnakes, wading through stagnant pools thick with algae and climbing rock walls looking for one just this last weekend -- I'm writing about that on my new blog, "On The Natural," later this week.

    My favorite swimming hole is on the edge of the Sespe Condor Preserve, about an hour north of Los Angeles. It's a helluva trek to get there: On foot for several miles of fire road -- flanked by thick vegetation buzzing with bees from the apiary at the trailhead -- to a dry stream bed that offers no suggestion of the Shangri La of terraced sandstone bowls brimming with cool, clear water that exists a mile or two north. Whenever I'm bushwhacking down canyons in search of a dip, "Swimming Ground" is looped in my head. The Meat Puppets hail from Phoenix, Arizona and they write the best songs about heat-induced hallucinations and the real-gone vibes that come about when wandering around under the hot sun.

    OM: Rays of the Sun/To The Shrinebuilder
    From Inerrant Rays of Infallible Sun (Durtro/Jnana, 2006)

    Stars of the Lid: Sun Drugs
    From The Ballasted Orchestra (Kranky, 1997)

    Summer happens for four months here in the Northern Hemisphere because the orbit of the earth has tilted us just a bit, changing the angle at which the rays of the nearest star hit the planet. Stars are hot because of all the nuclear fusion happening inside and radiating out through space, powerful enough to burn my skin if I don't slather on the SPF 40. So here are two songs about the sun that offer more of that kind of perspective on the warm and sunny aspect of summer, as compared to, say "The Warmth of the Sun."

    OM is everybody from stoner rock avatar Sleep that didn't join High on Fire, so that means it's just Al Cisneros on bass and Chris Hakius on drums making mantra-like music that we at Arthur Magazine were calling "life metal" for awhile. I saw them at the Echo here in Los Angeles a couple months back and there were deaf people -- deaf women, actually -- in the audience. They're that loud and heavy with their beautifully rhythmic music. This is a song from a split single with whacked-out Coptic Christian elf David Tibet. It's not entirely clear what it's about, but I really like the part where Cisneros sings about climbing "upon beautified rays." Hot!

    Stars of the Lid's most recent album was great and serious and all Belgian about the orchestral drones, but I like the hazy guitar songs from 1997's Ballasted Orchestra a bit more. The duo is originally from Austin, TX and so they have a pretty good idea about stretching and flexing that high-pitched whiny sound that happens in Spaghetti Westerns when the dude looks up at the sun as he's lost in the desert and it's all "beeeeeeeam" on his sweaty brow. They don't say what their fave sun drugs are though: Beer? PABA? Whatever it is, I'll be looking for some around about August as we Angelenos enter into the height of the fire season. I hope you don't have to light them to use them, these sun drugs!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Soul Sides + The Sound of Young America
posted by O.W.

My interview by Jesse Thorn of the podcast/public radio show, The Sound of Young America, is now available. ITunes Podcast subscribers can find it here.

We talk about SSV2 but also other topics such as hip-hop and sampling, the age differences between professors and students and whether Bill Cosby is a real doctor or not. Good times, good times.

Update: Jesse also interviewed none other than Betty Davis. Interview went live today. Check that out.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summer Songs: Robbie Ettelson from
posted by O.W.

Editor's Note: For a writer who's not even in this hemisphere, Australia's Robbie Ettelson puts a lot of rap journalists in America to shame with his interviews. Maybe it's just that he actually transcribes and publishes what he raps with these rappers about but even that provides some much-needed candor and illumination.

He ran his interview with KRS-One last week and it actually addresses several of the conversations that came up in my recent KRS post. In particular, Robbie asks him if KRS was going at Jeff Chang with "I Was There" and KRS talks a bit about Can't Stop Won't Stop and what he sees as a failing in "doing your homework" (though notably, KRS says Jeff worked at Def Jam which is completely untrue so it looks like lack of homework isn't just limited to hip-hop scholar/writers). By the way, Jeff addresses some of this on his site.

That said though, I was very much impressed by KRS's self-reflexive comments on any number of different topics and think Robbie, in particular, is really distinguishing himself as one of the best interviewers I've seen in the game.

But since it's actually winter in Australia right now, I thought it'd be fun to have him muse on his summer songs while he's freezing his arse off. For Robbie, his post finds himself waiting on that glorious sun:


    It's tough to write about Summer Songs while my fingers are left froze like that "heron[sic] in your nose", and after spending an hour or so flipping through my shelves - all the while trying to punch through the fog of drunken afternoons at the beach with a mini "jam box" - I was still without a definitive collection of wax. Given that I'm less inclined to sentimentality these days anyhow, I decided to flip it into a dissection of four winning selections involving the sun (note to Ghostface fanboys: "The Sun" has already been given ample *cough* shine here at Soul Sides, having appeared at least twice to my knowledge).

    Special K: Sun Is Up
    From the Treacherous Three's
    Old School Flava (Wrap!, 1994)

    As one of the of the very few moments of T3's painful comeback album that didn't induce bile in the back of the throat (the other being LA Sunshine's Last Poet-channeled solo shot), K strolls through brother T La Rock's fractured, hazy backdrop that recalls the way your head might feel after a lazy afternoon spent consuming cheap cask wine while absorbing some blistering rays.

    Pete Rock & CL Smooth: Sun Won't Come Out
    The Main Ingredient (Elektra, 1994)

    Despite being weighed-down by sappy "smoove" jams, the songs from the Vernon duo's second full-length that actually hit the mark proved to be effin' jaw-dropping. To hear the way that Pete combines a Deep Funk vocal hook with ethereal chimes, razor-sharp snares and a cock-sure bassline is to witness a genius at the height of his powers, while Corey Love feeds of the chemistry and delivers one of his better "wise intelligent" performances. To cap things off, the beat skit on the outro is guaranteed to conjure warm-weather flashbacks, as Bob James meets the Fender Rhodes in fine fashion.

    Large Professor feat. Q-Tip: In The Sun
    1st Class (Matador, 2002)

    OK's mans Xtreme laces The Live Guy With Glasses with some Gregorian chant material for this bright spot on his otherwise frustrating solo debut. The Abstract delivers a rambling assessment of societies woes ("little kids are gettin' warped from computer thwarps"?!?), but we appreciate the fact that he actually turned-up to the session if the stories about "The LP" are to be believed. Large offers a little more clarity - bringing a sombre feel to his musings but still managing to keep his chin up - but this is best appreciated on some vibe-out shit. Don't waste too much time trying to analyse this one.

    Organized Konfusion: Walk Into The Sun
    Organized Konfusion (Hollywood BASIC, 1991)

    If you can forgive the borderline corny intro of this joint, there's plenty of "light-hearted" era Pharoahe and Prince Po antics to be enjoyed. While I generally avoided "zany" rap like the plague when this album came out, there was enough mind-boggling lyrics and hardcore breaks to keep me along for the ride, and this song has enough enthusiasm to win over even the most mean-spirited among us, while there's no shortage of vivid imagery covering the humid months. It just goes to shows that in the right hands, a potentially cheesy track can still be a heater.

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David Axelrod: Live In L.A.
posted by O.W.

Had a most excellent time at this event last night. Apart from running into some of my favorite people in Los Angeles, it was just amazing to see David Axelrod, live and in color, out. He's a notorious recluse (not the 1000 cats kind but he's not exactly a club rat, dig?) so the fact that he'd be out in public is rare at best and you could tell from the swarm of folks around him, people in LA were definitely taking advantage.

On that note, I wanted to take another opportunity to plug the David Axelrod: Live at Royal Festival Hall DVD/CD since this was what the event was focusing on and it's a really remarkable document of Axelrod's legacy and importance to multiple generation of music lovers.

Second, during the Q&A, Axelrod let it drop that this compilation is now available - a compilation of his key recordings for the studio bands Electric Prunes and Pride plus instrumentals to many of those songs, itself a pretty smart packaging move. (We'll try to bring out a profile post soon).

Lastly, wanted to plug the silk-screening fiends running Hit and Run who were creating custom t-shirts for the event outside the Egyptian. Great concept, well-executed (and you know I'm gonna rock my shirt this Friday at the Mandrake). Their next event is at the LACMA on Thursday night.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

DJ Rumor: Fania Live 01
posted by O.W.

DJ Rumor: Fania Live 01: From The Meat Market (Fania, 2007)
The beautiful thing about having a love affair with music is that no matter how many good songs you already know, you can always be humbled by the infinite number of great songs you don't know. Case in point: this mix commissioned by Fania (or Emusica), mixed by DJ Rumor includes a bevy of kick ass Latin dance songs, many of which I already knew but a few I had never heard before and a few that I just plain slept on. The Joe Cuba Sextet's "Gimme Some Love" is a perfect example: I never picked up My Man Speedy before so I never heard this tune but once this boogaloo shifts midway through to bring in some classic piano vamps, I was hooked. Likewise, Acid is possibly my favorite Latin album ever...but I usually skipped past "Teacher of Love" and failed to appreciate how it was yet another excellent Latin soul cooker from Barretto (whose catalog only gets better to me with age). And likewise, I had heard "Pata Pata" before but never really listened to it, if you know what I mean.

And just in general, I love the idea behind this mix series especially since it's not purely Fania-oriented but can include many of the other Latin labels that Fania has swallowed up over the years like Tico and Alegre. Definitely looking forward to the next volume.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Renee Geyer: Soul Down Under
posted by O.W.

Renee Geyer: Do Right Man
From Renee Geyer (RCA, 1973)

Renee Geyer: Do Your Thing
From It's a Man's, Man's World (RCA, 1974)

I first came upon Geyer through her 1976 live album, Really Really Love You. I was taken by how this Australian chanteuse would not only cover a lesser-known Johnny "Guitar" Watson song, but would do it convincingly as a blue-eyed soul singer somewhere between the light touch of Dusty Springfield and heavy edge of Janis Joplin. Maybe it's something in the water but Geyer clearly had an affinity for Black soul of the era as she covered any number of R&B songs in her first few albums for RCA. I pulled out a couple for your listening pleasure.

On "Do Right Man," Geyer takes on the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, by covering one of Aretha's first big Atlantic hits, "Do Right Man" and what I like here is how she gives it more of a country feel rather than attempting a straight cover. But regardless of the genre-switching, Geyer's voice proves itself to be an admirable instrument, able to convey a lot of grit and warmth at once.

Word of caution: there's two, eponymous albums by Geyer but for whatever reason, the self-titled album I have is not listed in her discography and even more strange: most of the songs on this album (which includes versions of "Moon Dance," "Lean On Me," and "Them Changes" do not appear anywhere in her own discography (though a couple of songs are on that other self-titled album). Not sure how to explain that though I'm guessing it's some weird RCA thing).

Geyer's version of Isaac Hayes' "Do Your Thing" appears on It's a Man's Man's World (one of the few of the early RCA albums to get reissued, though this comp covers some of that ground. Again, is it better than Hayes? No. Is it a cool cover? Absolutely. (I'm trying to think if any other women have covered this song...I'm only familiar with male versions of it).

At some point, someone really needs to compile Geyer's "best of" soul collection. (Ahem, RCA Victor - holla me!)

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ultimate Force: They're Not Playin
posted by O.W.

Ultimate Force: I'm Not Playin' + Revolution of the Mind
From I'm Not Playin' (Strong City, 1990)

The first time I ever "heard" an Ultimate Force song was when Diamond D, on his debut solo album, "took a breakbeat and broke it," that is - he took a snippet from "I'm Not Playin'" and plugged it into "Check, One Two." That little slice (itself taken from Albert King's funky blues great "Cold Feet") was intriguing just by itself but it wouldn't be until later that I learned: ah, this is from "I'm Not Playin'", one of the only singles Ultimate Force ever put out, back in the day (by the way, there was also a Ultimate Supreme Force that recorded on Nia I believe but that's not the same group).

Spin back 20 years: Ultimate Force was the pairing of MC Master Rob and DJ Diamond D - friends from Forest Projects - and they were down with the great Jazzy Jay who put their song on his Cold Chillin' In the Studio compilation. That lead to an album which, though recorded, never got released - one of the countless victims of poor record label insight and business execution.

Normally, the story would end there. Even "I'm Not Playin'" ending up on the excellent Ego Trip's The Big Playback comp wasn't enough to get things moving but somehow, someway, this year, the Ultimate Force album finally came out. And hey, it only took some 17 years!

What you'll find is that a young Diamond D still knew how to produce his off of (and having Jazzy Jay to help doesn't hurt) and Master Rob is one of those MCs who deserved to have recorded more given his sharp vocal touch and rhyme skills. Would this album have taken its place amongst the classics of the era? Probably not on some AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted level but it would have been up there with, say, Grand Daddy I.U.'s Smooth Assassin or D-Nice's Call Me D-Nice. *sigh* I feel old right now.

I'll say this much: "I'm Not Playin'" is still one of my favorite cuts from the late '90s - the sh-- just hits so hard. Apparently, Rob wasn't a fan of the track at first but clearly, Diamond knew what he was doing in hooking this up. By the way, they also reissued this song on 12" which is cool though if you want to be a real head about it, cop the OG on the blue Strong City label.

As for "Revolution of the Mind" - the song makes me hella nostalgic for the early '90s. Let's be real: that's about the only time a song like this could have gone over with its political/conscious lyrics and a beat that sounds better tied into Kwame than DITC). Ah, takes me back to the days of rap cassettes, Cross Colours tees and trips to Leopold's... (Speaking of which, will someone please reissue this album already?).

P.S. Speaking of The Coup - you read this and 1) you realize why Boots Riley stays as committed as he does and 2) it's just another reminder of why the police's public reputation seems to ever-plunging.

P.P.S. While we're on the hip-hop tip, can I just say something? I like Common. Always have. He's always been a pleasure to interview and is one of the few artists who've shown some maturity, especially in going from a pretty virulent homophobe to someone who seems more at peace with himself and others. I didn't think Be was an instant classic, still don't understand why folks were so enthusiastic about it even though it surely wasn't a bad album. I did have a chance to listen to Finding Forever (read my Vibe review when they drop it, suckas) and thought it was, altogether, a considerably stronger album, song for song. But then I see this and I sigh. I mean...seriously, this is just bad. It makes Lupe Fiasco's cover look like this cover. Also, that hoodie he's rocking (from The Gap?) looks unfortunately like the late Rick James' beaded coif. Altogether, not a good look.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Data Recovery
posted by O.W.

This is a bit of a strange favor to ask but does anyone here recognize this cover from my very first soul/jazz-focused mix-CD?

If you still own a copy that plays, drop me a line. I'll make it worth your while.

My lone copy - stupidly not backed up - is unplayable (damn CD-Rs!) but I'm hoping there's still a salvagable copy out there.

Summer Songs: DJ Little Danny from Office Naps
posted by O.W.

From the editor: No way could we do a new summer songs series and not have DJ Little Danny down for a post. As the creator of Office Naps, Daniel Shiman has put together one of the best audioblogs we know out there - a fantastic mix of obscure music and Shiman's considerable knowledge.

For his summer songs entry, Shiman dips away from his 45-only format on Office Naps and pulls out a few LP cuts that tap into his summer idealism. --O.W.

    Summer is just as much a vessel for our romantic imagination as it is baseball, cars, and youthful indiscretion. Humming within every summer song is always that ideal of our warmest months, some hazy ratio of what our imagination tells us summer should be - the breeze, the swimming hole, the sex, food, booze, and blaring music - and what our memory tells us summer was - usually with greatly exaggerated measures of the same.

    TnT Boys:
    Musical Del Alma
    From Sex Symbols / Simbolos Sexuales (Cotique, 1969).

    We shook, we did the shingaling: the history books tell us that we had fun before 1968’s “Tighten Up” riff, but I’m not so sure. The unstoppable, hypnotic beat of late ‘60s Spanish Harlem is there on “Musica Del Alma,” and, I’ll be damned, so is that riff. The TnT Boys were enthusiastic and impossibly young when they handed us “Musical Del Alma,” all buoyant with piano and pride and hot-fun-in-the-summertime grit.

    Or so I imagine. This is pure Nuyorican soul fantasia to me. “Musica Del Alma” is three minutes of cultural transcendence for someone who grew up in a small tourist town in Pennsylvania, someone now living in the West Texas desert. It’s music and peals of laughter and seared food smells rising from the late ‘60s New York City streets, and the added luxury of complete obliviousness to the inner city's meanness. “Musica Del Alma” is the perhaps the summer song's greatest potential realized: escapism.

    The Jesus and Mary Chain:
    Everything’s Alright When You’re Down
    From Barbed Wire Kisses (B-Sides and More) (Blanco Y Negro/Warner Brothers, 1988).

    For all its droning fuzz and feedback, the song’s got the right AM radio moves. ‘60s pop hooks, surf-ish guitar solos and anthemic choruses: “Everything’s Alright When You’re Down” is a great summer song. Unlike the TnT Boys, however, I hear the song today and I hear the banal, awkward reality of adolescence.

    The Jesus and Mary Chain were both a combination of everything I was between my sophomore and junior years in high school - sullen, greasy-haired, and sixties-fixated - and everything I wasn’t, but desperately wanted to be. I was gawky, with nerd glasses and bushy, uncontrollable red hair. The Jesus and Mary Chain were Scottish and unspeakably cool. Everything I could find by them, I bought and recorded dutifully to TDK 60 minute cassette. I hear “Everything’s Alright When You’re Down” today and, in other words, I’m slumped in the backseat of the family Toyota with some crappy, off-brand Walkman, willfully ignoring my parents and glaring out the window. It’s August. I think we were going to Canada. Somewhere with lakes.

    Years later I still cringe at the pubescent version of myself, and slap my forehead accordingly. Setting aside our embarrassment, though, we must include the awkward, fifteen-year-old reality of the summer song, too. This is only appropriate. This is the flipside to the fantasy of “Musica Del Alma.”

    The Cake:
    Baby That’s Me
    From The Cake (Decca, 1967)

    Other contributors to O-Dub’s summer songs series have noted this gap, this fantasy of summer on one hand and the actual experience of it on the other. Frequently our summer favorites float somewhere in that gulf between imagination and memory, escapism ("Musica Del Alma") and reality ("Everything’s Alright When You’re Down"). Yeah, summer is swell but, dammit, my ass is stuck to the seat again. Summer is constantly belying its own idealism.

    I found the Cake’s debut album several Junes ago. With its Wall of Sound grandeur and psychedelic tinge, "Baby That's Me" was the right song at the right time for someone cultivating a taste for dreamy '60s pop. This song, too, was dutifully recorded. It went everywhere my mp3 player did: job, car, apartment, running. It was infatuation.

    The poignancy and the sweet anticipation have long passed for many of us. We may now strain to remember the month. There are families now, and homes, careers and lives evolving independently of seasonal reverie. Our awareness of summer constantly dims - even as our obsession with music persists. But the shape of summer, though diffuse, still hangs in the air around us, and as long as it does, so does the possibility of the summer song. I hear the Cake’s "Baby That’s Me" today and I remember waking one golden morning in California two summers ago, perfectly content with myself for once and perfectly aware, too, that it was summer.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Ozone, 10/14/03 Pt. 2 and 3
posted by O.W.

First of all, a quick SSV2 update: I finally got in everything: LPs and CDs. LPs all went out over the weekend. CDs are packaged and ready to ship but I'm nursing a stomach flu bug that's kickin' my a-- right now so I wasn't able to take stuff down to the post office today. Hopefully, by tomorrow, I won't be laid out as badly.All CDs went out on 6/13.

Second, congrats to J. Thorton who won the copy of the Mingering Mike book for correctly guessing the eight record label logos in the new banner. They are, in order: Black Jazz, Tommy Boy, Stax, Tico, Prestige, Wackies, Motown and Def Jam. Most people got everything except for Tico and Wackies was especially tough for many.

Lastly, here's parts 2 and 3 from my old radio show.
    RH Factor: Poetry
    Leroy Hutson: As Long As There's Love Around
    Philip Upchurch: Midnight Chile
    Tito Rodriguez: Descarga Malanga
    Ju-Par Universal Orchestra: Funky Music
    Jimi Entley Sound: Charlie's Theme
    Spirit of Atlanta: Buttermilk Bottom
    Carl Davis and the Chi-Sound Orchestra: Windy City Theme
    Frankie Nieves: Ten Cuidado
    Aztec Zodiac: Ain't Nothin' But a Party
    Calbido's Three: El Sonida Azul

    Round Midnight Mix
    High and Mighty: Take It Off
    Krown Rulers: Kick the Ball
    The Roots: Silent Treatment remix
    A Team: GB In Your Life
    Apani B Fly MC: Abracadbra
    Styles of Beyond: Mr. Brown remix
    Kool G Rap: Bout That remix
    Oh No: Chump
    Diverse: Explosive
(Just to note: the mix was done without the benefit of a mixer or crossfader. I had to mix it through the studio board).

Hopefully, I'll feel less like dying tomorrow. Cheers!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nicole Willis + Marc Broussard: More Shades of Soul
posted by O.W.

Nicole Willis: Sunday Nite + You Better Change
From Be It (Sahko/Puu, 2004)

Marc Broussard: Kissing My Love + Come In From the Cold
From S.O.S.: Save Our Soul (Vanguard, 2007)

Given that I'm such a fan of the last Nicole Willis album, I was curious as to what her album before that, released in 2004, sounded like. Those expecting a more proto-version of Keep Reachin' Up will find instead that Be It is far less retro-soul and far more neo-soul. I wouldn't say these two songs from Be It will clarify that difference though "Sunday Nite" certainly fits into this kind of throwback disco vibe that I always associated with folks like the Brand New Heavies and Dee-Lite whereas "You Better Change," the lone cut off this LP recorded with the Soul Investigators definitely has that retro-funk groove going for it, ala Sharon Jones.

At the very least, Be It is an interesting peek into Willis' evolution between the two styles. Personally, while her voice is solid in whatever sub-genre, I definitely think her and the Soul Investigators really made it happen on Keep Reachin' Up in a way merely hinted at on Be It.

As for Broussard, this Louisana singer/songwriter (and son of guitarist Ted Broussard) is now on his third album and though he's always dabbled in R&B/soul influences before, S.O.S. is his most obviously soul-influenced recording to date. I'll say this much, dude looks like a young Dr. John and has some of the best vocals I've heard on a blue-eyed soul artist. As with my chit-chatter regarding Amy Winehouse, I do find it fascinating that it seems like the vanguard of those keeping classic Black soul and funk in rotation are White these days. With Broussard, I'm not familiar with his older albums but in listening to S.O.S., I feel like this is a well-intenioned homage that doesn't quite gel for me. Most of the album are covers - "Yes We Can" by Allen Toussaint/Pointer Sisters, Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," the Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself," etc. and most of them are too loyal to the original that comparisons are impossible to avoid and Broussard and his producers simply don't bring enough to the table to compete.

To rip off American Idol-speak - if you're going to cut a cover, you better find a way to make it your own; fail that and the best you can have is a well-executed revue band tune. It's for that reason, I couldn't really get into "Inner City Blues" or especially Al Green's "Love and Happiness." Both are such signature songs that really, they're best left alone unless you're going to invent them and Broussard doesn't do enough with either to approach that level.

I did like his cover of Bill Withers' "Kissing My Love," but then again, I like almost every cover of "Kissing My Love" I've heard. There's something to Withers' songs that make them easier to remake, probably partially because his voice - while beautiful in its own way - lacked the distinctive, gospel-tinged nuance of other soul vocalists like Green or Retting.

However, I really liked Broussard's "Come In From the Cold" which I initially thought might have been a Joni Mitchell-cover but is, I think, his own composition and it's here, where Broussard isn't trying to live up to anyone else's potential but his own, that he sounds great. So good in fact that John Legend is probably wondering why he didn't cut this song. It's a lovely, lovely ballad.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Summer Songs: Travis Glave From Wake Your Daughter Up
posted by O.W.

From the editor: Travis Glave is the founder of one of my favorite hip-hop blogs, Wake Your Daughter Up, where he writes long, impassioned posts about what he's been buying/listening to/thinking about. Maybe I'm partial also to the fact that we're close to age and thus are nostalgic for the same eras and artists but I like the depth and dedication he brings to site.

For his summer songs entry, Glave plumbs into the memory lanes hitched to his younger days and just what tunes form the soundtrack to those flashbacks. --O.W.*


    From Travis Glave:

    Summers have been the intermissions in the movie of life or at least, they were the celebration scenes. Growing up in a place that consisted of cold winters and wet springs and autumns, summer was the one time of the year you could run around and bask. They conjure memories of simpler times. All we had to worry about was if we were going to have enough kids for that baseball game in the vacant lot or if our parents would let us stay over at a friend's house. As I grew older and became more mischievous, different worries faced us: getting caught sneaking out to meet girls down the street (we eventually got caught) or getting someone to buy us beer for the weekend.

    Sometimes I can't help to wonder if my generation was the last of its kind, the last of the innocent. I came from a fairly white, middle class background. As a young kid, summer for us meant staying out until it was dark and our parents called us inside. It meant riding our bikes a mile or two down to the closest convenience store to buy candy. We didn't have worry about a perverted old man in a van coaxing us with candy. We didn't stay inside unless it was raining. Summer was a time when we could be kids.

    Koolade feat. Masta Ace: Survival
    From 12" (ABB, 2004)

    The first song that I've included is "Survival" by Masta Ace. If you are a regular visitor of my blog, Wake Your Daughter Up, you undoubtedly know that I'm a huge Ace fan. In all honestly, I included this song almost exclusively for the first verse, which I wouldn't do unless it was so relevant to my childhood. It includes references to the ice cream man, dirt "bombs" (we called them dirtclods) and tracking your win-loss record in neighborhood fights. We organized baseball games, had squirt gun fights (a precursor to paint gun wars) or just shot hoops in someone's driveway. We were kids, we had no worries, growing up was fun.

    As I grew older, music began to have more of an importance in my daily life and it was almost always present in some form or another. Although I've always considered hip-hop more of a "winter" type of music, it would be the summer time that I discovered hip-hop. The summer of '86 during a rare time inside, my next door neighbor and at the time best friend and I were watching MTV. It was then they would show a Run DMC video, "Walk This Way", and from there on, I was hooked. As I grew up, hip-hop would be my music of choice. I would have friends that were into as well, but for them, it would be more of a passing fade, for me, I started gobbling up any knowledge I could. In August of '88, "Yo! MTV Raps" debuted, and the rest of that summer I would spend buying everything I saw on that debut episode.

    Beastie Boys: Hey Ladies
    From Paul's Boutique (Def Jam, 1989)

    The summer of '89 would be the summer of the "Paul's Boutique" for me, the Beastie Boys' second album. By this time I was already in high school and although I didn't have a "real" job at the time. I was mowing yards, digging ditches, and cleaning horse stalls. I would always have my Walkman tape player with me and "Paul's Boutique" was in it the majority of the time. "Hey Ladies" was the first single and the song just screams "summer", with its cowbells, funky guitar licks and party vibe. Even the video makes me think of summer with its '70's clothes, skimpily clothed women and swimming pools. In future summers, I've always made sure this gets played at any summer BBQ I have with friends or out on the lake, enjoying the sun.

    Steve Miller: The Joker
    From The Joker (Capitol, 1973)

    While summertime is a great time to be a kid, it's even better as a college student. You might have a summer job, but those usually don't mean much. It's a time when you know you are in the final stages when you can get away without much responsibility. In a few short years, if things go right, you will have get a real job and then the magic that is summer is greatly diminished. I graduated high school in May of '91. I planned on going to college in the fall, but I wanted to get the most out the upcoming summer. I ended up in the mountains at a friend's parent's cabin and while his parents were not rich, there was a pool table, air hockey, and a great sound system, all of which was placed in a converted garage. I spent much of my free time up at this cabin, playing volleyball, water skiing, shooting pool and of course drinking beer. We always had the stereo playing music, non stop. I could make a soundtrack of music just from that summer, but while many of my friends were not into hip hop as much as I was, most of the music we listened to was older classic rock and one such song was "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band. We played Steve Miller's Greatest Hits from ‘74-'78 a lot and while I could go with many songs from this era, this song was the one that would always get us singing along and doing some air guitar solo routines. To this day, when ever I hear this song and the album, I think of that summer up in the mountains.

    Masta Ace Inc.: The INC Ride
    From Sittin' On Chrome (Delicious Vinyl, 1995)

    As I made my way through college and took what would become the "long-term" plan, I always made sure I had fun during the summer season and at times maybe too much fun. My love for hip-hop would also expand during the early '90 as well. One thing I enjoyed as a young man in those summers was jumping in my GMC Jimmy with two 12-inch speakers in the back being pushed by a large amp and cruising around feeling the summer heat rush through the vehicle. There was something great about rolling down the windows and just cruising around with a classic summer song and just letting the system bump. One song that was great for this was "The INC Ride" by Masta Ace Incorporated. Maybe it's the Isley Brothers sample that gives off that mellow and smooth vibe. I imagine being in a convertible blasting this song and having the wind rush through your face and the heat of the sun beating down on you on the way to the park for a BBQ.

    De La Soul: Sunshine
    From Stakes Is High (Tommy Boy, 1996)

    Everyone always has one summer that sticks out more than others and that for me is the summer of 1996. After spending a couple years in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do then switching my major after a couple more years, I had decided that I needed to move from my hometown in order to continue my education. I would move the fall of '96, so I knew that summer was probably "it" in terms of how I knew things. Combine this with a break-up after dating for two years and a falling out with a few life-long friends and this summer was posed to be different in many ways. For one, I was "searching for myself" after having my heart broken and I was branching out and hanging out with different people after being part of the same group of friends since high school.

    I worked a few jobs, one of them as a doorman for a popular downtown bar where I took advantage of the nightlife to its fullest. Music was a HUGE part of that summer, with so many different kinds of styles playing a role; everything from Smashing Pumpkins to Nas. One track that pretty much sums up the great time and the confusion was De La's "Sunshine." The track covered the good times I was experiencing, with its sing-a-long chorus and laid back, warmth yet it had some darker undertones in the lyric. Plus, I found it funny they were rapping about being "high...on sunshine" considering the amount of drinking I did that summer.

    Parliament: Flashlight
    From Gloryhallastoopid (Casablanca, 1979)

    While no other summer has been close in memories and incidents as that summer of '96 (thank god) I've had plenty great memories since then. There are concerts, softball tourneys, baseball games, parties and camping trips. One such camping trip in the summer of '98 led to my best friend and I playing Parliament's Greatest Hits a nauseating amount of times throughout the day and the drunken night. We must have played it 10-15 nights while playing horseshoes or riding jet skis out on the lake.

    Exile: Summertime In LA
    From Dirty Science (Sound In Color, 2006)

    Summers recently have been less and less about fun and more and more about real life things. As the turn of the century came and went and I've become older and have more responsibilities, it's a fact of life. Summer is a season for the youth, but with that being said, us older folks have to enjoy those memorable moments when we can. I ran across a track last year that reminded me of just how wonderful summer can be. It comes from DJ Exile's album, Dirty Science: "Summertime In LA" featuring Miguel Jontel. Even if you haven't experienced a LA summer, you could insert your favorite locale in for LA and still have yourself a great summer jam to throw on. I'm not usually one for the R&B and singing, but this lovely summer jam has a bouncy beat that just embodies a summer, Sunday afternoon. wherever you may be from.

    Summer will always be the season memories are made. It's a season for spending time outside at a picnic or a family reunion with family and friends and like so many activities, music will always provide the soundtrack to the season and to life in general. Enjoy this summer and listen to some good music.

*Glave was kind enough to supply all the files himself but he did them in the zshare format and I just didn't feel like converting them to either direct MP3s or divshare.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Blast from the past
posted by O.W.

The Ozone Show, Tuesday, October 14, 2003
90.7 FM, KALX, Berkeley

It's been a long time coming but I've been meaning to digitize a few of my old radio shows. For those of you who didn't know, I did college radio for over 10 years, all at KALX in Berkeley. This was one of my last shows, in late 2003, before I left radio and - coincidentally - started audioblogging. Seems like a good time to bring it full circle, plus give ya'll some tunes to listen to while I'm busy with some writing work that's keeping me from blogging more. The total show was actually 2.5 hours but I edited out the first hour. I also cut out most of my "radio DJ" dialogue out (save for the first bit) since, really, you don't need to hear me talking about ride share programs and other PSAs. Here's the playlist of what's included:
    Memphix: Keys to Go
    Eugene Blacknell: The Trip
    The Temprees: Explain It To Her Mama
    Fania All Stars: Viva Tirado
    The Politicians: The World We Live In
    Memphix: Comfortable With Failure
    Crystal Mansion: And It Takes My Breath Away
    Abel: Music Maker
    Oliver Sain: Comin Down Soul
    Johnny Pate: Constant Wind
    Chester Thompson: Powerhouse
    Bjarne Rostvold and Perry Knudsen: Magonde
    Joe Cain: Wild Horses
    Dorival Caymmi: Promessa De Pescador
    Caetano Veloso: Trio Electrico
    Roy Ayers: Green and Gold
    Rare Function: Disco Function
    Gary Davis: Got To Get Your Love


Monday, June 04, 2007

Mingering Mike: A Legend From His Own Mind
posted by O.W.

I've taken an inordinate amount of time, getting around to writing this post, but don't confuse my lateness with disinterest. The tale of Mingering Mike is one of the most incredible stories about art, music, records and obsession that I've ever heard about and I'm proud to have been witness to part of it.


Flashback to late 2003 when two Washington D.C. record collectors found a stash of records at a flea market. These were albums they had never seen before and the reason they had never seen them before is because these records - the sleeves, the covers, the actual record themselves - were all made by hand out of cardboard.

Just think on that for a moment. Someone created not one, not two, but an entire record collection, down to the fake, painted on cardboard "vinyl", out of his imagination. We're talking nearly 100 (if not more) LPs, 45s, etc. It seriously boggles the mind. It's also astounding that this cache of art was discovered, relatively intact, before it ended up being dispersed or even worse, destroyed.

One of the first things these collectors did (lead by Dori Hadar) was scan and post images from the collection to Soulstrut which is where I first learned of it and began to put up my own posts (on the now-defunct Poplife blog). Second thing was that Hadar - who, as fate would have it, works as a private investigator - was figure out who the hell "Mingering Mike," the artist on all these records, was...if he was still alive...and what the hell inspired him to do this. Hadar, in short order, found Mike, alive and well, and from there, the journey took a course that's lead to media stories, museum exhibitions, and a book:

I can't do justice to how incredibly amazing this story is but as it is: there's plenty of places that have covered it:
I realize, of late, there have been a few things I've told people to absolutely, positively, pick up:
The Betty Davis albums,
Twinight's Lunar Rotation, my, um, CD...but you have to add the Mingering Mike book to that list too. Essential.

BUT, hey - we got a copy to give away too!

The Betty Davis CD contest fell rather flat so I'll try to simplify things in order to win the Mingering Mike book:

Write down the name of all the record labels represented in the new Soul Sides banner.

Send your reply to The winner will be selected, at random, from all correct entries that get all eight labels correct. You have until the end of next week to get your guesses in.

In the meantime, make sure you check out the Mingering Mike website.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Betty Davis Contest Winner
posted by O.W.

Congrats to Tom M. for winning the Betty Davis CD contest . Andrew and Mike J. were runner-ups.

I'm a little disappointed in the Soul Sides massive for lack of a greater participation but hey, maybe ya'll are camera shy or something.

I was going through my old Betty Davis notes and thought I'd post this up as a bonus:

It's an interview with Betty done by Al Gee, a DJ with an Army Reserves radio program in the mid 1970s. Really great piece of archival recording. Thanks to Joost Burger for digging up this gem.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Summer Songs: Editor's Choice
posted by O.W.

Being that this is the third time I've brought in this series, it's been a challenge for me to find something new to say about summer songs each time out. Personally, I still like what I had down the first year, this idea of summer songs as encapsulating the fragility and idealism and nostalgia of the season. It's not like I'm about to reinvent that.

However, I want to go back to my original question: what does a summer song mean? And for me, I've been realizing that there are at least two kinds:


What songs remind me of summer?

These aren't necessarily songs about summer or that even came out during summer but rather, they're songs that, for me, wiggle out the cork of a memory of summertime - a musical trigger for some time forgotten, then recovered through a song. For example, I'm almost certain that Fela Kuti's "Water No Get Enemy" will always be associated with the summer of 2006, when I moved back to Los Angeles from the Bay Area and this song was on constant repeat through the early days of August.

There are other songs I've probably forgotten, summer songs from my childhood in Massachusetts or San Diego that have long faded into amnesia but might yet resurface in the right moment. However, the one song that always invokes a sensation of summer for me has been...

R.E.M.: Stand
From Green (Warner Bros, 1988)

My birthday is in mid-August (Leos, holla) and I spent the first part of the summer of 1988, practicing driving, trying to earn my learner's permit so that when I turned 16, I could get my license ASAP and join that long parade of teenagers in Los Angeles who conflated their license with a passport to freedom. I had signed up with some random driving school out of the phonebook (no doubt "AAA Driving School" or "ABC School") and on my second lesson, my instructor - who I thought was minorly mad for doing this - told me to get on the freeway and head West. It was my first time driving on the freeway and in L.A. no less and as you can imagine, I was a little shook.

I figured it'd be a quick jaunt down the 10 for a few miles than getting off and driving back home. Nope. He told me to keep driving: past downtown, past La Brea, past the Westside area where I live now, past Santa Monica, all the way from the 10, onto PCH and north towards Malibu. It was, to be sure, an incredible drive - scenic (and harrowing) and patient and what I remember from that drive was what was playing on the radio. Well, I remember "Stand" and that, at this point, might be the only song I can remember (pity too - I'd love to be able to say, "Yeah, I made that drive playing "Route 66" by Depeche! But honestly, I just don't recall) but any time I've heard the song since, I'm taken back nearly 20 years (damn...20 years already?) to that car, to that drive, to that summer where I went from being a mere boy to...a mere boy with a driver's license. Good times, good times.

What songs sound like summer?

This is a more amorphous - though no less valid - kind of summer song. It speaks to this idea that summer itself is all about your ideal of it vs. any actual reality. So these songs are the ones that capture what you think summer should sound like whether it's a lazy Sunday afternoon lounger, a sweaty club night anthem or whatever tempos and attitudes come in between. For me, these songs are always changing, depending on the moment.

As I've written recently, I've really been into sweet soul songs and to me, there's a summer-y quality to a lot of these classic, post-Chi-Lites/Impressions soul tunes. It's not just the fragility of the voices and melodies - though that's part of it - it's also that so many of these songs are less about love and more about loss, about how fleeting infatuations and obsessions and romances are. And as I've said before, the feeling of summer is most powerful when you realize how quickly it passes; that you don't really appreciate the magic of the season until it's on the cusp of fading away.

For me then, the songs that sound like summer are the ones that either/both musically or/and lyrically capture that moment where loss is imminent and the desire to hold on never shines brighter. Lately, one of the songs that's embodied this idea has been this one:

Soul Majestics: I Done Told You Baby
From 7" (Al-Tog, 1971)

I owe a huge thanks to Joshua Alston, who is a reporter for Newsweek as well as the creator of the Joshua's Jukebox blog. At the EMP conference this year, he presented a paper that centered on this song by Chicago's Soul Majestics as an example of an older, now lost, form of Black masculinity - one that was open to embracing and expressing a vulnerability that few artists today are willing to cop to. As an example, he played this song by the Soul Majestics, which I had never heard before, but it quickly became an obsession, especially alongside the equally sublime "Together" by the Intruders. Even though Chicago is a long way from East L.A., there's something about this song that screams lowrider soul to me, a tune made to float out of cars cruising under hot July suns or warm August nights, a soundtrack for falling in (or out of) love with a crush destined to fade by winter but whose memory will haunt ever summer after. So bitter. So sweet.

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