Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If This Ain't Fresh, Don't Know What Is
posted by O.W.

Sorry, still buried in a ton of work. Another snack to keep ya'll tided over:

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Guess Who's Bizzack?
posted by O.W.

Soul Sides' fave Miles and Egon bring back Funky Sole to Hollywood after losing their last venue:
Funky Sole
Every Saturday
Jimmy’s Lounge (formerly El Centro)
10pm -2am
6202 Santa Monica Blvd @ El Centro Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028

Some upcoming guests:
J.Rocc: August 4th.
Jeremy Sole: August 11th.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Gettin' Busy Like That
posted by O.W.

Ugh - I'm swamped in work again so it might be a few days until a new post. Until then, enjoy this:

(And yeah, I did already post it on my other blog. No, the other other one).

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Plug 2 Like Trugoy
posted by O.W.

Sometimes, as a music writer, you just review what's out there because, well, it's what's out there.

Sometimes, you get to write about something you actually, deeply have affection for. Say...such as reviewing the Nicole Willis/Soul Investigators' album for NPR. Those are the times I love my job.

Also, this is a few weeks after the fact, but my friend Hua wrote a phenomenal essay on the melancholy beauty that is LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends." If you haven't heard the song yet - peep.


Funky Freeport b/w Funk Con Cubano Sabor
posted by O.W.

Jay Mitchell: Mustang Sally
Dry Bread: Words to My Song

Both from Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay (Numero Group, 2007)

Groupo Irakere: Bacalao Con Pan
Orquesta Riverside: En Casa Del Trompo No Bailes

Both from Si, Para Usted (Waxing Deep, 2007)

I've been far overdue writing about Grand Bahama Goombay, the latest edition in Numero Group's "Cult Cargo" series (you might recall my March post on their Belize Boil-Up CD). As it happened though, on PRI's The World the other day, they reviewed both that CD and Si, Para Usted (which I had just gotten in the mail) together and I figured if public radio was ahead of me, I needed to catch up.

The Goombay comp looks at the funk/soul music coming out of Grand Bahama Island, and specifically, the city of Freeport which (from what I can tell) was an alternative center to the better known Nassau. If your main impressions of Bahamanian music is "Yellow Bird" played on steel drums, Goombay destroys that notion in an instant, showcasing a far more diverse fusion of musical styles reflection of the Bahamas location at the center of tourist and shipping trade throughout the Caribbean.

Of those various talents, Jay Mitchell is arguably the best known given his prolific output and high profile. His cover of "Mustang Sally" (also reissued onto 12") takes the Wilson Pickett classic and strips it down even sparser - the signature bassline isn't really even present - and throws in some organ and an enthused drummer. This is easily the best cover of the song I've heard in ages, if not ever. (Mitchell apparently also does a pretty kick ass version of "Ain't No Sunshine" but alas, that cover is far harder to come by).

The other song that really stood out to me on this comp was "Words To My Song" by Dry Bread, aka Cyril Fergunson, a rising talent in the Freeport scene who joined with Frank Penn's GBI (Grand Bahama Island) Recordings and cut this B-Side with the label around 1974. It's a great funky soul song on its own but you can also listen to it and pick up on the subtle blend of different sounds and influences that just barely give away its Caribbean roots (for me, it's the guitar arrangement).

The Si, Para Usted comp is filled with similarly obscure pieces of funk from Cuba, recording post-revolution and thus, not often heard outside the island given trade embargos and anti-Castro bias. As the liner notes, put together by the folks at Waxing Deep, note however, Cuban musicians were exceptionally well-trained (for a time at least) in Cuba given the socialist makeover and this helped fuel inventive styles and blends of music.

The Grupo Irakere track is something I, coincidentally, just got in recently myself - a raucous club track that sounds, at times, like a Cuban funk makeover of a Santana song given its heavy rock influences but undeniable Afro-Cuban rhythms. The song is especially ear-catching given the various shifts it takes in the arrangement, just to drop in a little different flavor, but still comes back to the main rhythm.

The Orquesta Riverside is arguably the least obscure song on this comp given that it was also featured on the Rough Guide volume devoted to Cuba (it also appears of one of my favorite mix-CDs, Gypsy Bogdan's Hot Breath (which, I just remembered, also has that Irakere song. Go figure!). The opening drum break is a thing of beauty and the way the singer chatters over it only makes it funkier. Like the Irakere song, this one takes one a few transformations along the way, speeding up into a quick-tempo dance midway through before slowing back down...then speeding up again (man, I need this on vinyl, bad).

It's good to see all this soul/funk from overseas finally getting some shine in the U.S. In a way, it's like the music comes full circle - many of these artists were heavily inspired by music they heard arriving by radio and ship and plane and in turn, their contributions to the genre, long obscure here, are now traveling back to us after too long a time away.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dorothy Ashby + Melvin Jackson: Straight Out the Chi
posted by O.W.

Dorothy Ashby: The Moving Finger
From The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby (Cadet, 1970)

Melvin Jackson: Funky Skull, Pts 1 & 2
From Funky Skull (Limelight, 1969)

My prior post on Common, with special mention to Cadet/Cadet Concept, reminded me that Chicago's own Dustygroove Records has recently inaugurated what I think(?) is their first ever reissue series and not surprisingly, they started close to home with a few major Chicago albums high on the soul/funk collector lists.

Dorothy Ashby's three song cycle for Cadet in the late '60s, Afro Harping, Dorothy's Harp and especially the last in the trio, The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby all easily are $100+ on original vinyl, a testament to both their desirability as well as relative rarity. For whatever reason though, The Rubaiyat is the toughest to come by. I don't know if that's because it was more rare than the previous two volumes or simply - more sought-after, with less turnover.

In whichever case, if the idea of a "funky harpist" seems antithetical to you, Ashby shuts down any doubt on these three albums though credit for that probably lies more with the production/arrangement genius of Charles Stephney at Cadet than Ashby's inherent gifts (she's cut many jazz albums but her Cadet output was notably different from the rest) but regardless, the funk influence on much of her work is obvious from jump.

The Rubaiyat is, in actuality, the least "funky" of her three albums, though it's also the more adventurous, with excursions in Eastern musical aesthetics and a broader sense of jazz creativity. However, "The Moving Finger" is a stand-out, partially because it is so richly funky, partially because the recitation of the poetry of Omar Khayyam makes for a hazy, trippy experience. It's like a jazzier version of something from a David Axelrod album.

As surreal as Ashby's album can get, it finds equal competition with another one of Dustygroove's "Essential Reissues": the well-named Funky Skull by Chicago bassist Melvin Jackson (who made his name playing with Eddie Harris' band). As the cover suggests, Jackson hooks up his acoustic bass to a Maestro G2 filter box, a Boomerang, an Echo-Plex and an Ampeeg amplifier. I have no idea what most of that means, but that's probably what explains how incredibly spaced out Jackson's bass is on many of these songs. "Funky Skull," the title track, is probably the least eccentric of all the songs on the album (though his cover of Harris' "Cold Duck Time" is at least recognizable) so you can only imagine how experimental much of Funky Skull can get. By the way, that's guitar great Phil Upchurch (another Cadet alum) on here and Morris Jennings bumpin' things out on the drums.

Note: the album wasn't actually on Cadet (though it would have nicely fit on the label), but rather Limelight, a solid jazz imprint (a subsidiary of Mercury) that was better known for its straight ahead jazz albums as well as amazing packaging. Seriously - if you ever get a chance to check out certain gatefold titles on Limelight, you absolutely should. Personally, I recommend Milt Jackon's At the Museum of Modern Art.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Common: For the People
posted by O.W.

Common: Resurrection (Grooveman Spot Remix)
From Grooveman Spot EP (Subcontact, 2004)

Common: Drivin' Me Wild (snippet)
From Finding Forever (Good/Geffen, 2007)

The New Rotary Connection: Love Has Fallen On Me
From Hey Love (Cadet Concept, 1971)

It occurred to me today that, with one or two exceptions, I've probably interviewed Common the most times of any rap artist (three). This actually has less to do with an aesthetic preference - I've been a fan of his work since his first singles but he's not on my Top 10 - and more to do with his longevity; whatever you may think of Common, you can't knock his hustle. 15 years, 8 7 albums. Especially as a "conscious" rapper, he's far outlasted most of his peers AND mentors and by that fact alone, I've had the opportunity to speak to him about a few albums: Like Water for Chocolate, Be and now, Finding Forever.

I reviewed the album as a lead review for this month's Vibe and the gist of that review is this: it's a very good album. In fact, if you thought Be was an instant classic (I did not though I did like the album), then Finding Forever, in my opinion, is a better song-for-song effort.

My interview with Common was also about the album, though this wasn't a straight-up review, but rather an "On the Record" feature for the LA Times (that should run this Sunday). I was fine with doing the interview as a phoner since it wasn't going to be very long but for whatever reason, they preferred to schedule it in person and given that he was in L.A. today to tape a performance on The Tonight Show, it wasn't a real hassle to motor over to Burbank.

Let me make this following, some what tangential observation: the amount of manpower required to keep the culture industry - as an organizational structure and organism - running is mind-blowing if you think about it. Common's on the Tonight Show to promote his new album. Leno wants him on as a way to attract viewers. But of course, in order to make this "simple" arrangement work, there are dozens, if not hundreds of people scurrying around both men to help everything click. It's the kind of web of relations that Howard Becker calls Art Worlds - basically, behind any "artist" is a complicated network of other players who may not "make art" directly but make the creation and dissemination of art possible. Keep in mind - what I'm saying here is hardly extraordinary but I'm one of those guys who doesn't really try to get all behind-the-scenes even though I enjoy the experience on the rare occasions it happens. Especially when "behind the scenes" involves interviewing Common and then having this happen.

Ok, moving on.

For a Common post, I wanted to tag something old and something new even though, in this case, the Grooveman Spot remix (from Japan) is both old and new. I'm not even sure where I got this from (probably another audioblog that I've since forgotten to credit properly, sorry) but what I like about it is how it basically flips on the musical core of the original - a slick piano loop - and manages to offer an alternate look, or, er, sound that's new yet familiar. Even for a remix that arrived nine years after the original, it still makes the song sound fresh.

"Drivin' Me Wild" is my second favorite song off Finding Forever ("Start the Show" being the most) but it is, in my opinion, the one with the most potential to blow up off the album (it also happens to be the next single). It's just incredibly catchy. When I first heard it, I was wondering where Kanye put this together from, especially the hook which, though sung by the UK's Lily Allen, sounded like it came from somewhere else and when I got the official liners, I realized: ah, it's the New Rotary Connection (which is some what embarrassing for me to learn since I've owned the album for years but it was a song I never paid much attention to). I really like how 'Ye uses the loop here - it's so sublime, especially with how the music and vocals (I'm assuming that soprano is none other than Minnie Riperton) meld harmonically on that chorus from the original and how Kanye uses it to good effect here.

Interestingly, this is one of two Cadet albums that Kanye samples from and I'm wondering if that's because Cadet was a Chicago label and that 'Ye's crates are more likely to be stocked with Chicago records. Could just be a coincidence but I do think about how that Archie Whitewater was another Cadet Concept song that ended up on one of Common's albums. Whatever - just idle speculation.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Soul Sides Meets Sureshot This Friday in Los Angeles
posted by O.W.

DJ O-Dub + DJ Sureshot
Friday, July 20
Mandrake Bar
2692 S. La Cienaga (by Washington), Los Angeles
10pm - 1am

Even though it's not official, we've been doing our Friday night thing at the Mandrake for three straight months now. We're back again on this Friday, this time, joining forces with Sureshot from the Sharpshooters, who is a recent L.A. transplant and just put out this double-CD of his beats: Sureshot Symphony.

Sureshot has a sick collection, especially a lot of killer Jamaican tunes plus your assorted goodie bag of funk and soul to boot. This promise to be a great evening of music and I'll be bringing in a slew of records that I didn't get to play the last two times because I was too busy spinning cover joints.

In the meantime, enjoy this track off the Sureshot Symphony:
Pete Rock and CL Smooth: It's a Love Thing (Ragga Remix)
From Sureshot Symphony (Version Int'l, 2007)

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Ozone - July 5, 2000
posted by O.W.

Another retrieval from my radio past at KALX FM in Berkeley, CA. This clip comes from a show that's just a little over seven years back. Yowzers. Apart from the usual mix of styles, I included a short set of "Spinning Wheel" covers.

Here's the playlist:
    Mike Longo: Angel of Love
    Johnny Jenkins: I Walk on Guilded Splinters
    Too Def: I Am Who I Am
    Bizzie Boys: Droppin It
    De La Soul: Ooooh!
    Allen Toussaint: Louie
    Lee Dorsey: Four Corners
    Eddie Bo: Friend and a Lover
    Cannonball Adderley: Capricorn
    Junior Mance: Spinning Wheel
    Peggy Lee: same
    Wade Marcus: same
    Bruce Kelly's New Oregon Singers: same
    Howard Roberts: same
    Joey Chavez: Worldwide II
    Big Dro: Spank
    J. Sands: Won't Stop

JUST ADDED: I've been dealing with computer problems the last few days so that's slowed my output. Just to hold folks over, here's part 2 of that July 5, 2000 radio show:

    John Dankworth: Return From the Ashes
    Michal Urbaniak: Ekim
    Fela Kuti: Fight to Finish
    Public Enemy: Black Steel In the Hour of Chaos
    The Aquarians: Jungle Fever
    BW Souls: Marvin's Groove
    Frank Lucas: Good Time Man
    Betty Everett: I'm a Woman
    The Brothers Two: You Got It
    Calypso King and the Soul: Damper Down Popcorn
    Black Madness: Wild Brooklyn Bandits
    Main Source: The Atom
    Jurassic 5: Quality Control
    Elaine Brown: Child in the World
    Jimmy McGriff: Tiki
    Mangum: It's the Music That Makes Us Do It
    Annette Peacock: Survival
    Cold Blood: When I'm Kissing My Love
    George Shearing: Slippin Into Darkness

Speaking of mixes: DJ Pump's Jeepney Mix Vol. 6 is . Cop this!


Learn Something
posted by O.W.

1) Two giants of the funk/soul/hip-hop collecting/producing/mixtapemaking world have joined the ranks of audiobloggers:

Phil The Soulman aka Phill Most Chill is at: That Real Schitt. He's already got old remixes up, plus some choice old school footage.

Next, we have Kon, of Kon and Amir fame, with Playin' 4 Keeps. He's only on his first post, about keyboardist Matt Cassell.

Kon and Phil join other recent hip-hop heavies in the blogging world including Just Blaze and Stretch Armstrong.

2) Speaking of links - I just updated the Soul Sides blogroll.

I'll be the first to admit: I do a terrible job in keeping my links fresh and I realize, part of the problem is that folks send me links and they get buried in the rest of my email. In order to simplify, I created a new email address strictly for links. Apologies to those who sent me links over the last few months but if you don't see your site in the new blogroll, just hit me again and I'll take a look.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Main Black Guys
posted by O.W.

eBay is generally filled with a lot of questionable auctions but this one deserves Hall of Shame status on several levels, not the least of which is for the stunningly racist stupidity underlying it.
    "We are now certain this is not Marvin Gaye. But we are certain this is a 1970s black singer, actor or music group. The photos are from Hawaii in 1978-1980. If you can identify anyone in these photos please let us know who they are so we can change the description. Once we have identified the main black guys (we think they are the most famous) we can put a realistic price on the photos.

    If you look at the photo below showing the LP cover of "Santified Lady" you can see Marvin's nose is sharper and his nostrils are more flaired than our 1978-79 guy. The 1985 LP cover was taken 4-5 years later and as far as we can tell he did not have plastic surgery so we have dismissed marvin as a canidate. If you have any thoughts or ideas we'd love to hear from you.

    Circa. 1978-79 ~ at first we thought these were photos of the last days of Marvin Gaye hiding out in Hawaii... with Karen Carpenter? ...and many others. Most of the photographs are taken at an undisclosed Honolulu party house and include a backyard pot garden.This album belonged to a girl named anne, annie or anna. The photos tell a story of fame, sex, booze, drug addiction and broken down cars.

    Included are ALL photos relating to the relationship between the white girl and the black guy our possession, at least 70-100 photos showing candid dating, drinking, drugs and bedroom scenes (nothing XXX). The main black guy appears in at least 30 of the photos, Karen Carpenter? is in 10 photos. That might be Tom Burris with Karen (both are dressed in all white) and Honolulu would have been a stopover on their honeymoon trip in Bora Bora. We believe she also did a photo shoot here in 1978 for "Honolulu City Lights".

    The main black guy's life is cleary & personally told through these photos. We've distorted or burred the images to preserve integrity of Ebay listing.

    THE FINAL BLACK & WHITE PHOTO COLLAGE BELOW IS NOT INCLUDED IN THIS AUCTION. And some of those photos are currently up for sale on Ebay. These are the photos "anne" took while she was at work at the Diamond Head Movie Studio. Most are her posing with the Stars. James Stewart, Angie Dickeson, Valerie Bertinilli, James McCarthur, Dinnie and Marie Osmond, Jack Lord and Paul Williams just to name a few... it gives you an idea of why we thought this could have been Marvin Gaye. Almost every photo in the album is of a TV or Movie legend. ALL of the personal black guy photos are included in the above ebay listing as are all of the person we think might be Karen Carpenter. photos (all of the island touring, at home and partying photos)."

(Seen at: Soulstrut.com)


Thursday, July 12, 2007

EXCLUSIVE - Snoop Dogg: It's the D.O.G.
posted by O.W.

Snoop Dogg: It's the D.O.G.
From the forthcoming Step Yo Game Up Mix-CD (BUZ Interactive, 2007)

Soul Sides was invited to host a new Snoop Dogg track from the upcoming Step Yo Game Up mixtape (being done through BUZ Interactive). Get it here until Monday!

Mel & Tim + Rhythm: Cool Out
posted by O.W.

Mel and Tim: Keep The Faith
From Mel and Tim (Stax, 197?). Also available on Soul Gospel.

Rhythm: A World Is a Place
From S/T (RCA, 1976)

Don't have the energy for a long post right now but wanted to hit you with something to ride out to.

Feel these.

(Yes, both have been sampled. That's not why I'm posting them though.).


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ann Sexton + Clarence Reid: Flipping the Record
posted by O.W.

Ann Sexton: You're Losing Me
From 7" (B-side of "(Seventy Seven, 1973). Also on Anthology.

Clarence Reid: Down the Road of Love
From 7" (B-side of "Masterpiece") (Alston, 1972?)

I was idly looking through my 45s, including a few songs that ended up on Soul Sides Vol. 1 and realized: "hey, did I ever bother to listen to what's on the B-side? Much to my embarrassment, I realized I probably needle-dropped on the flips quickly and then promptly forgot about them. Oops, my bad.

The flipside of Sexton's slow burning "You're Gonna Miss Me" is a more uptempo funk track though I've I find it amusing how similar the two titles are...though they should be flipped: "You're Losing Me" should have been the A (the warning), followed by "You're Gonna Miss Me" (the outcome). I still prefer "You're Gonna Miss Me" but all things said, this is one of the rare 7"s where both sides cook.

More intriguing to me was discovering the b-side of Reid's "Masterpiece." "Down the Road of Love" is better associated with Betty Wright (though Reid helped pen it) and as far as I can tell, Reid's take on his own song only appears on this 7". Dare I say: I find it superior to Wright's better-known version; not only does Reid bring a rich, vocal quality to the song but the overall arrangement is stronger here. It's a powerful ballad and especially considering Reid's alter ego as the X-rated Blowfly, this felt wholly heartfelt and poignant as a performance.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Fruko + Wganda Kenya: Uncut Colombian
posted by O.W.

Fruko Y Sus Tesos: Salsa Na Ma
From El Violento (Discos Fuentes, 1973).

Wganda Kenya:Tifit Hayed
From Africa 5000 (Discos Fuentes, 197?)

Both available on: Colombia: The Golden Age of Discos Fuentes. The Powerhouse of Colombian Music 1960-1976.

Finally back in L.A. after a nice 10 day trip up in the Bay. One of the folks I wasn't expecting to run into up there was my man Beto, aka Roberto Ernesto Gyemant. For those not familiar with him, he's turning out to be one of the most accomplished young Latin music scholars I've seen on the scene. He was responsible for researching the liner notes for that excellent Panama comp I wrote about for Soul-Sides.com and NPR. More recently, Beto was behind the liners for the latest Latin music anthology from the Soundways folks: Colombia: The Golden Age of Disco Fuentes.

I've really ramped up my interest in Latin music the last few months and this new comp couldn't have arrived at a better time. I was aware that there was a big Latin scene in Peru thanks to my earlier discovery of Enrique Lynch but I didn't realize, until now, that Colombia's Latin scene, especially around salsa, was massive. Beto's liners help shed light on the birth and evolution of that scene, focusing on Discos Fuentes, which seems to have filled in the role in Colombia that a label like Fania or Tico held in the U.S. Latin scene. Informative and engaging - especially with all the label scans and photos - liner notes like this should push other labels to match or exceed that bar.

Let me put this simpler: anything Beto cosigns on? Pay attention to that. On to the music.

Of the various songs off Colombia, the ones that grabbed me the most were by Fruko y sus Tesos. I was first introduced to Fruko by DJ Murphy's Law from Captain's Crates who dropped a cut on our Mandrake night a few months back. Fruko Y Sus Tesos translates into "Fruko and the Tough Guys" and are described by Beto as comparable to the Colombian equivalent of New York's Willie Colon in terms of projecting this kind of bad boy image except that while Colon did it with a sense of mafioso flair, Fruko looked like he was straight thuggin' it out. Compare:

(Fruko is the guy standing on the right side of the Tesura, wearing revolver bling).

Saying - Colon is slicked out but Fruko looks like he could kill you with a stare. (I love that Colon cover to death though).

In any case though, both men shared a real talent for salsa tunes and to me, Fruko's "Salsa Na Ma" is my favorite track off the comp. For starters, it just opens so dramatically - not what you'd expect from a typical salsa song; it's far more jazz. But then the piano riff kicks in, then the percussion, and the salsa groove just kicks off. I just got a copy of El Violento (big up, Justin T!) and can't wait to drop this and see what happens.

I was debating what to flip for the second cut and I was tempted to roll with "Cumbiamba" by El Sexteto Miramar (great slow cumbia/mambo) but I wanted something that would showcase some of the musical diversity of the comp and that meant going with the Afro-funk groove of "Tifit Hayed" by Wganda Kenya (which features Fruko on bass). Not sure what year this is (yo Beto, let us know!) but it sounds more on the mid-70s tip with its seemingly disco-influenced percussion and synthesizers. Bump bump.

By the way, I had the chance to listen to the new Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings album, 100 Days, 100 Nights. Can't post tunes yet (but once I get the greenlight, you know how we do) but *whistle* it's good. Really good. October can't come soon enough.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

L.A. People: Brasilintime Coming Soon!
posted by O.W.

This promises to be one of the great set of musical events in Los Angeles this year. Brian Cross, aka B+, holds it down like few folks do - hyper-talented photographer, author of one of the definitive books on L.A. hip-hop, and now, two-time documentarian. Brasilintime promises to be another outstanding project. I highly recommend people try to come out for either, but especially the Live show on the 19th.

More info on the events.

Buy the DVD!

Peep the trailer:


Jackson 5 + Inell Young: Olde Soul
posted by O.W.

Jackson 5: Big Boy
From 7" (Steeltown, 1968). Also available on First Recordings.

Inell Young: What Do You See In Her
From 7" (Libra, 196?).

The gig at the Casanova Lounge (aka the Bay Area SSV2 party) was proper. Thanks to my old friends Vinnie Esparza and Josh Bea for the invite.

Turnout was solid and I met quite a few cool Soul Siders, including a DJ from Dalva who walked down the block - during his own gig - to say hi and buy an LP. I'm seriously appreciative of that kind of love and support.

During the course of the evening - during which I dropped all covers, including a few pieces from what I hope to be the Deep Covers sequel, one of the other DJs, Geoff, threw on a few 45s at the end of the evening that had me rapt. Enough so that I compulsively rushed out the next day to track 'em down (not the actual vinyl...not yet anyways).

The Jackson 5's "Big Boy" was their very first single (I think), for a small, local label called Steeltown. This was before they signed to Motown and I don't want to even think about how old MJ was at this time, especially in listening to him croon about how "I'm a big boy." When one thinks about Michael Jackson BITD...and the MJ of today...it's hard to believe we're talking about the same person, you know? That moment of intellectual perturbation aside though, it's definitely a cool little sweet soul single.

The Inell Young is on some whole 'nother level though. I had "heard" this before, meaning that I had given it a passing ear lean and that was about the extent of it, but that night, I really sat there and listened to it, especially as Geoff was breaking down the backstory. (Some of this might be apocryphal but even so it's still a good story).

Apparently, Young was involved with famed NOLA producer Eddie Bo - he produced her first two singles - but for this third recording, which was to be Young's last, she worked with another producer (Gus Lewis). The tale is that the person she's talking about in the song was actually Eddie as she was being two-timed by him for some other woman ("nothing but a playgirl...all the boys know her name").Ok, so Geoff actually wrote in to clear some stuff up:
    "From what people say, Inell, Mary Jane Hooper & ??? were the Explosions, backup singers of Gold Cup fame. Some say they were in high school chorus and Eddie told someone to go down to the school & get some girls for backup on Hip Drop. Anyway, Eddie worked with Inell for a few tracks on Big 9 and Busy B, and sometime around then she fell heavily into drug use (heroin). Her and Eddie weren't lovers (at least to my knowledge, I believe he was still married to Dolores Johnson around that time), but had a working relationship. Inell and Mary were supposedly best friends, but after Inell hit the junk hard, Eddie refused to work with her until she cleaned up her act and continued working with Mary Jane Hooper. From what the people say, "what do you see in her" was her response to this, and reportedly about Eddie and Mary."
Young supposedly died of an overdose soon thereafter, though it's not clear if this was accidental or purposeful.

Again - this might all be mythology but as far as back stories go, it certainly gives what would otherwise be a likable - but not extraordinary - bittersweet love song much added resonance.

Beyond that though, there's a few things, musically, that really stand out here, beginning with how Young introduces herself on the song with that unexpected, four-note whateveryoucallit (I really need to get some basic musicological training at some point); it's almost like bird call and it's definitely attention-getting. From there, I like how the arrangement holds back the guitar accompaniment until after the first A portion of Young's verses (after "I'm lost in misery"). Suddenly, what was a minimalist funk tune stretches into something much more dynamic. And lastly, you have to love how Young sings the chorus, "what do you seeeeeeee, in herrrrrr." It's a good melodic progression, not what you'd necessarily anticipate, and from that point forward, anyone listening will find themselves singing along.

By the way, I'd say "Happy July 4th" or some nonsense like that if there were actually anything to celebrate but not this week. Not this year. (Read: not this president). The real independence day is whenever the long reign of King George ends. You know the anthem:

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Frank Cunimondo + The Silhouettes: Commuversations
posted by O.W.

Frank Cunimondo: Gentle One + Lush Life
From Communication (Mondo, 1968)

The Silhouettes: Norwegian Wood + Lunar Invasion
From Conversations With the Silhouettes (Segue, 1969)

Sorry I've taken a minute for an update. I'm back up in the Bay Area (weather has been amazing so far...damn, I miss this place) for the week and have been running around, seeing friends, eating, etc. On that note, some places I'd recommend checking out for Bay visitors (or locals):

1. Ici in Berkeley. Normally, gourmet ice cream leaves me a little skeptical, especially in an area where you can get this or this with less pretentious surroundings and equally/superior ice cream/gelato. That said, Ici was pretty damn good, especially with the hand-rolled cone. Also, if you have the patience, you can get dinner here first. Black squid ink linguini =

2. Central Park, San Mateo. A rather nice municipal park with a small train for the kiddies. Plus, it's within 2 blocks of here.

3. And of course, no trip to the Bay Area is complete with a visit to the Groove Merchant.

It's been a while since I wrote a GM post but on this trip, I tried to max out on some good Latin records, picked up an interesting Bay Area 45, and, ok, I admit, the completionist in me couldn't pass up this (albeit, my copy lacks the sticker, boo hoo).

In any case, I had been meaning to post about the Silhouettes for a minute (a record I first learned about at the GM years ago, before it got reissued) and the Cunimondo was an album I picked up the last time I was back in the Bay, around March.

Cunimondo is best known, at this point, for his album with Lynn Marino but Communication was actually his first recording, a laid-back set of instrumentals with Cunimondo's piano prominent on most of them. "Gentle One" is the kind of relaxed piano jazz that I can't get enough of - so melancholy yet so sublime in its minimalist vibe and bluesy undertones. (For another favorite, revisit Weldon Irvine's "Here's Where I Came In.")

And as for "Lush Life," ever since I was first introduced to Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," it's one of those covers I always make a point to listen to, just to see what they do with it. Cunimondo's take is a bit more virtuostic, especially in the beginning though he takes it down a notch on the back end of the song.

The Silhouettes album is a favorite amongst soul jazz fans given its notable mesh of bossa nova vocals, jazz and funk tunes. If that sounds a bit strange, well, the album is eclectic to be sure but once you realize Nathan Davis produced it, that blend of styles makes more sense. The cover of "Norwegian Wood" is, well, strange which is why I included it. Frankly, I think every cover of this song I've ever heard has been a little strange which no doubt reflects the nature of the original. However, no less unexpected is the funkiness of "Lunar Invasion" which does resemble some of Davis' If tunes.

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