Friday, October 31, 2008

posted by O.W.

Whatever you may think of Barack Obama as a potential president, it's undeniable that his candidacy has spurred a reaction from the hip-hop community the likes that I haven't seen in a generation. I don't want to go off on the typical "rap these days is so apolitical, blah blah" routine but let's be honest about this - for the last eight years, in one of the most divisive political climates we've seen since the Vietnam War era, the amount of political content in hip-hop has been stagnant at best, regressive at worst. You can blame that on apathy (or equally/more likely - media consolidation that's cut off avenues of dissent in mainstream music) but whatever the case, it's only in the last few months that I've really seen a major change and that's largely because of Obama.

The symbolic import of potentially seeing a Black person become president cannot be understated. Pundits joke about Obama being treated as a Messiah and while there is certainly a significant amount of facile hype, for several generations of Americans, the prospect of seeing our national leader finally be someone other than another White guy justifiably fills folks with sense of giddy excitement. Heck, I'm not even sure I like a lot of Obama's policies but even I can feel the power of the moment. Symbolism may not translate into material improvement but symbolism is important, especially in a society through which so many mythologies are woven.

This, I'm suggesting, explains why there's been so many "Obama mixes" created over the last few weeks, now circulating through the interweb. And I, for one, am genuinely impressed by these acts of inspiration. Here's a Side Dishes pick through some of the better ones:

  • King Most: The Obamix

    King Most is a Bay Area DJ who first released this about a month ago. Most's mix is built around a series of songs that, thematically, match up with what he sees as the spirit of the candidate. The track selection begins excellently with with Smoked Sugar's "I'm a Winner" and from there, Most crafts a party mix that jumps from contemporary soul remixes (Erykah Badu's "Soldier") to some classic, dusty crate funk (Skull Snaps' "It's a New Day") to politicized hip-hop (Pitbull's "American War"). The mixing is smooth and consistent with a little flavor thrown on top but not too much. At various points, Most mixes in speeches and other spoken word bits to remind you that's there's a message behind the music.

  • DJ Z-Trip: Party For Change

    Z-Trip's known for his eclectic mixes and this one is no different. Like King Most, Z's set is based off of thematic resonance with the election season - songs meant to inspire, uplift, outrage, etc. Keeping things on the hush, there's no tracklisting but from my ears, I caught some Last Poets, Public Enemy's "Black Steel In the Hour of Chaos," a Bob Marley cover, Arrested Development's "Everyday People," and...NuShooz's "I Can't Wait." Throughout, Z-Trip also sprinkles in bits from Obama's speeches, using them to play against the songs (as he does with that NuShooz track). His penultimate song? Sam Cooke's "A Change Gonna Come" - somewhat predictable but its impact is felt all the same.

  • DJ Premier: Time 4 Change

    Ok, technically, this isn't really an Obama mix since the bulk of it is like any other DJ Premier mixtape you'd hear - joints he produced, lots of mixing and cutting, etc. The main difference is the intro where Premier goes mad DJ on folks (as only Primo can). Here's the highlight: "if you want change, it's up to you motherf*ckers! Everywhere I go, across the world, people fight for their rights! Here in America, motherf*ckers is p*ssy, acting like they can't do sh*t, start doing some sh*t, otherwise you ain't doing sh*t! Make sense? It does now, because I said so!"

    That alone is worth the time to download.

    By the way, there was one other prominent mix:
  • DJ Green Lantern: Yes We Can, which I left out of this since...well...I found it rather unlistenable despite all the high-powered cameos they have on there (Nas, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, Oprah). Just goes to show that, in art, as with politics, good intentions doesn't always make for great results.

    And oh yeah: go vote on November 4th. You can't hope for change and not play your part by at least taking yourself to vote.

    (Cross-posted from Side Dishes).

    Bonus round:

    Dres remakes "The Choice Is Yours"

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  • Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    posted by O.W.

    John Legend: I'm Your Puppet
    From Soul Men Soundtrack (Stax, 2008)

    Seal: Change Gonna Come
    From Soul (Warner Bros, 2008)

    Soul Men has a dubious history behind it considering that it stars both Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes. Plus, judging from the trailer, it looks like the Black version of Blues Brothers...but not necessarily destined to be a classic. For the film, Stax commissioned a slew of folks to record both new songs and covers of classic soul tunes, including "I'm Your Puppet" by the Purify brothers.

    And coincidentally, Seal is currently touting the lead video to his new album of soul covers: a cover of Sam Cooke's "Change Gonna Come." (You'll have to pardon the thin, mono mix but that's all that's available for it right now).

    So what's the verdict?

    I'm on the fence with Seal's song. It begins fairly close to Cooke's original but then shifts towards the end but either way, this comes up a bit short for me. I can't really pinpoint to anything technically wrong - Seal has a great voice and he executes this well - but with a song like "Change Gonna Come"; it is such a definitive song in the soul canon that it's very hard to effectively cover without simply reminding people how good the original was. There are very few artists who have managed to even approach the power of the original - that includes Aretha Franklin's take - but we're talking rarefied company and while I think Seal has the vocal chops, the song still doesn't achieve that transcendent moment you're hoping for. I'd rather hear him tackle something a bit more obscure. I'll reserve final judgment until I hear the album; I'm curious to hear him do "I Can't Stand the Rain" (Ann Peebles).

    As for John Legend taking on the Purifys...I was more open to this, partially because it doesn't hide that it's a contemporary cover - this was clearly recorded now and not back in the '60s. Also, "I'm Your Puppet" is a more forgiving song to cover - what makes it such a classic has more to do with its signature melody than the Purifys' original vocals. So in essence, as long as you keep that melody intact, you can come at this song any number of ways and generally, it'll sound good (check out Jimmy London's reggae version for example. There's also Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's duet version.) My point being: I think Legend does a fine job here - he puts his own vocal spin on it but sustains the main musical appeal of the composition.

    Elsewhere, if you haven't checked in on Side Dishes lately, here's what you've missed:
  • My take on the new Menahan Street Band album.
  • A longer tribute to Alton Ellis.
  • Reviews of new albums by Robin Thicke and Solange Knowles.

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    posted by Eric Luecking

    Menahan Street Band: Montego Sunset + Going The Distance
    Make The Road By Walking (Dunham/Daptone, 2008)

    While instrumental soul isn't typically my favorite sub-genre of soul, MSB's 35-minute album Make The Road By Walking is a consistent effort, with Daptone continuing to pump out solid full lengths to extend their reign on the retrosoul scene.

    Jay-Z and his musical team found the sounds of MSB to be soulful enough to sample for the hit “Roc Boys.” On the album the original is presented with a slower tempo. Following is “Tired Of Fighting” where the horns take a back seat. If crooning is your thing, this song can be heard with vocals on the 45 with Charles Bradley in a renamed form called “The Telephone Song.” I really dig the congas on this track... they're not overt but add a nice complement to the thump of the rest of the percussion.

    “Home Again,” reminds me of Young Holt Unlimited's breezy groove. With its intro guitar lick, I can hear The Avalanches using it for a future mix. Throughout the album, MSB sprinkles in different rhythms: on “Birds,” with its pulsating bass, where they switch to 6/8. The reggae rhythms of “Montego Sunset” making me think back to a beach party I attended in Jamaica a couple years ago. Drinks were abound during this great feast and the band just partied on late into the night. I didn't even care that my flight left early the next morning; I was too busy enjoying the music and the mood it put me in.

    My personal favorite on the album is their spin on the Bill Conti classic “Going The Distance” from Rocky. Call it nostalgia if you will, but it takes me back to being 12 and catching the movie on cable on a Saturday afternoon. While it foregoes the dramatic strings, the layered horns give it a regal tone showcasing what they do best in triumph.

    Here is O-Dub's take on the Menahan album.

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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    posted by O.W.

    The Donays: Devil In His Heart
    From 7" (Ace, 1961). Also on Kiss N' Tell.

    My man Dave Ma hit me with this song - a early '60s girl pop/R&B single by the Donays. I loved this song from jump - the way the piano comes slamming in, with the guitar overlaid - and then the multi-part harmony? Ridiculously hot. And the lyrics are great - certainly "of the time" but I like the interplay between the back-up singers and lead, arguing over whether her new lover is a devil or angel.

    Like many aspiring R&B hits, this flopped and likely would have been resigned to being more obscure than it already is if it weren't for the fact that the single caught the ear of a certain Liverpool quartet. I hold the Beatles in as high regard as the next guy but their take on the Donays' song is really anemic. They totally suck out the power and verve and replace it with a rather tepid cover. Even the Fab Four can't outdo the Donays.

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    posted by O.W.

    Dee Dee Warwick: Foolish Fool
    From Foolish Fool (Mercury, 1969). Also on Best Of.

    Damn, so many legends are passing (Dolemite, RIP!) right now.

    Dee Dee Warwick's one of those soul singers who had this incredible voice but never really got her due (unlike her more famous, younger sister Dionne). There's actually interesting parallels (however loose) between Dee Dee/Dionne and Erma/Aretha Franklin. In any case though, soul music has lost yet another great one. You'll be missed.

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    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    posted by O.W.

    I was watching Almost Famous on HBO the other night (again) and it has two of the best "use of songs in a movie" examples I can think of and that got me to thinking about other moments like that. I threw together a list of what immediately popped into mind though there were some stuff I left off for just being too obvious (basically, any Scorsese film and Pulp Fiction too).

    End scene, Almost Famous.
    Led Zeppelin's "Tangerine."
    Tough to choose between this and the "Tiny Dancer" scene but I'm a sucker for the "what do you love about music?" bit.

    End scene, Fight Club.
    Pixies' "Where Is My Mind."
    Totally unexpected and the timing with the drums and explosions is fantastic.

    Hawaii scene, Punch-Drunk Love.
    Shelly Duvall's "He Needs Me."
    Best use of a song from Popeye, ever. P.T. Anderson, like Tarantino and Scorsese, is pretty genius with his song selections but this was, by far, one of the quirkiest I had ever seen and I thought it worked perfectly.

    "Be a man" scene, Wild Style.
    DJ Grand Wizard Theodore's "Subway Theme".
    No explanation necessary.

    Pre-assassination scene, X.
    Sam Cooke's "Change Gonna Come."
    Even though the patented Spike Lee tracking shot at the end mars the overall flow of the scene, the synergy between the power of the song and the unfolding of the scene - and what it's about to lead to - is of incredible poignance. I still get a lump every time I watch this.

    What are your suggestions? Drop links in the comments.


    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    posted by O.W.

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    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    YEARS TO YEARS: 1972/75
    posted by Benge

    The Dells: I'll Never Fall in Love Again
    The Dells: Trains and Boats and Planes
    From The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke's Greatest Hits (Cadet, 1972)

    David Axelrod: One
    David Axelrod: Go For It
    From Seriously Deep (Polydor 1975)

    1975 was a funky year for music, and not in a good way. It was after the last true r&b records were released, before disco, and in the midst of jazz being lost in fusion. Digging through records from that year, I wonder what happened to the soul. But in this darkness there are some lights, the occasional find that shows there were grooves to be played that could bring someone deep. David Axelrod's Seriously Deep was released on Polydor that year, the only of his albums to come out on that label. It kicks off with open drums in "Miles Away" that let you know there will be some true funk goings on here. Recorded with a full array of Los Angeles studio musicians, it veers away from his early work for Reprise and Capitol, being less orchestral in nature and more straight jazz-funk. There are the tangents that stray a little too far into fusion (I wish that Joe Sample had been asked to lay off the spacy "Odyessy Keyboard" a bit more), but there is a lovely, warm feeling throughout with horns, congas, and guitars keeping a solid groove that would've made for standout blaxploitation-style funk just a couple of years earlier. "One" is lovely and makes me want to go for a drive in L.A. with "Go For It" could've been playing in a particularly sweet dream I had the other night.

    1972 on the other hand seemed to be a year where soul and funk filled the air in a way that artist after artist could grab at it and come up with something good, deep, soulful, and meaningful. That was the year that the vocal quintet The Dells, with the help of Charles Stepney, recorded and released The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke's Greatest Hits for Chess Records. Featuring a thick roster of great Chicago soul men, including Phil Upchurch and Derf Reklaw, the Dells dived head-first into records -- all written by Burt Bacharach -- that had already been hits in softer and sweeter versions by the to-be host of Solid Gold. However, Stepney and the Dells are able to keep them sweet while also making them gritty. Unfortunately, since we are looking back at this record from today, we have to deal with the fact that a bunch of these Bacharach tunes have gotten stuck in our heads through popular versions by the likes of BJ Thomas and The Carpenters. It's hard to hear even this team try their hands at "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "Close to You." But the burners are here, too. The opener "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself "are so worth the price of admission, that the failures can be overlooked and the other sweet tunes feel like icing on the cake. "I'll Never..." opens the album with a bass/piano/singing moment that will stop you from being able to do whatever you may be doing and drop you right into some deeper part of your being. "I Just Don't..." starts off with a bassline that lets you know something explosive is about to pop and picks up from there, going full-tilt congo wah-wah funk. Stepney throws in strings and all sorts of sweet sounds throughout creating an album that would be suitable for both a late Saturday evening/mid-morning Sunday groove.

    Benge is the urban music director at WRUV-FM in Burlington, Vt. where he's spun every funky thing under the sun on his show, Sex Fly, since 1991. He also happens to be an Archetypal Dream Worker for North of Eden. Somehow the two are connected.

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    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    posted by Captain Planet

    Lancelot Layne  Yo Tink It Sorf? 
    Biosis Now : Independent Bahamas
    both taken from the compilation
    Calypsoul 70 on Strut (2008)

    Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou : Iya Me Dji Ki Bi Ni
    & Mi Homlan Dadale

    taken from the compilation
    The Vodoun Effect on Analog Africa (2008)

    Here's a few picks from recent compilations that I've had in heavy rotation. I figure we must be approaching the tipping point where nearly all the good forgotten 70's funky stuff from around the world has been unearthed and re-issued and then what will be left but to turn to the 80's! I'm picturing comps of drum machine & casio weirdness from Syria- wait a minute,
    someone's already released that record (and it's actualy pretty good)! But perhaps I'm wrong and more bounty like this will continue surfacing for as long as my hearing is good.

    Lancelot Layne is a track that I already had in my collection from the great Jeff Recordings compilation that came out a few years ago (is this recycling the sign that we're nearing the end?), but I'm glad that I was reminded of it again on this new comp from Strut. What a certified banger! Still will kill a dancefloor to be sure- and I'm scheming a remix. The rest of this compilation maintains a similar level of caribbean heat with plenty of disco, funk and reggae in the mix. The track from Biosis Now is something I heard when my good friend Busquelo picked this LP out of a Brooklyn thrift store.

    And big shout Samy at
    Analog Africa for putting together this latest collection of lo-fi, syncopated (and sometimes perfectly out-of-tune) Beninese rarities. When he lacks frequent updates to his website, it must be because he's busy putting out another solid and legit release like this one.

    Sad update: on my way to host my weekly radio show, I absent-mindedly left my bag full of all my latest and greatest CDs on the subway (to be fair, I was perhaps awestruck by the beautiful young lady sitting accross from me, but still, I'm stupid). So I've now lost both of these albums as well as about 50 others- most I hadn't even ripped to digital yet. Thanks to the almighty that it wasn't my VINYL!!!

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    posted by O.W.

    1944 - 2008

    Sad news: rocksteady great (and one of the finest crafters of reggae soul) Alton Ellis passed away recently. I was a late-comer to his magic but I've been beguiled by it ever since. His catalog is massive but I've always had an ear for his stuff from the late '60s and early '70s. Here's three of my favorite. Jah bless.

    Alton Ellis: I'm Still In Love With You
    From I'm Still In Love With You (Trojan, 196?)

    Alton Ellis: What Does It Take To Win Your Love
    Alton Ellis: It's Gonna Take a Miracle
    From Sunday Coming (Trojan, 1970)

    This dude is back, recognizing the real:

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    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    posted by O.W.

    I recorded this mix for back in June and is now available on their website archive. I originally created it as a promo mix for Deep Covers 2 (though the timing was off since Dublab was back-logged over the summer). Still, I put in a nice selection of different cover songs here - some you've heard, some you haven't. Here's the tracklisting:
      Simply Red - I Know You Got Soul - You’ve Got It - WEA

      James Brown: Your Cheatin’ Heart - Soul On Top - King

      Jimmy McGriff - Ain’t It Funky Now - SOul Sugar - Groove Merchant

      Bo Diddley - Bad Side of the Moon - Another Dimension - Chess

      The Gimmicks - California Soul - Em Las Brisas - Swedisc

      Klaus Wunderlich - Summertime - Hammond Fur Millionen - Telefunken

      The Professionals - Theme From Godfather - On Tour - CES

      Dutch Rhythm Steel and Show Band - Down By the River - Soul, Steel and Show - Negram

      Byron Lee and the Dragonaires - Express Yourself - Reggay Splashdown! - Dynamic

      Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - Movin’ On Up - Live at the Haunted House - Rhino Handmade

      Hielo Ardiente - Mensaje (The Message) - Ritmo Ardiente - Dicesa

      Al Escobar - Tighten Up - The Modern SOunds of Al Escobar - Tico

      El Freddy Flaco - K-Jee - La Fiesta Vol. 2 - FTA

      Manny Bolone and His Latin Boys - Micaela - Boogaloo - Boogaloo

      Conjunto Universal - Que Se Sepa - Que Se Sepa - Velvet

      Enrique Lynch - Viva Tirado - Sexympacto - Sono Radio

      Wganda Kenya - El Abanico - COmo Se Hace Ah - Fuentes

      Alton Ellis - What Does It Take To Win Your Love - Sunday Coming - Coxsone

      Sparrow’s Troubadours - Soulful Strut - Hot and Sweet - Hilary

      Joe Bataan - More Love - Singin’ Some Soul - Fania

      Margie Joseph - Let’s Stay Together - S/T - Atlantic

      Rhetta Hughes - Light My Fire - Re-Light My Fire - Tetragammon

      West Coast Revival - Feelin’ Alright - S/T - LAX

      Hodges, James, Smith and Crawford - Nobody - 7″ - Mpingo

      El Alamo - Candy - Malos Pensamientos - Decibel

      Donovan Carless - Be Thankful FOr What You Got - 7″ - Impact

      Nancy Holloway - Never Can Say GOodbye - 7″ - N/A

      Mark Holder - Sweet Caroline - Where THere’s a Will, There’s a Way - Deriva
    And just because I wanted to be a good egg - I created a downloadable version of the mix, split into individual tracks (but no IDs written; I'm lazy - deal).

    Enjoy! Hopefully I'll be rolling back to Dublab to do another mix soon.

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    Monday, October 06, 2008

    posted by O.W.

    I was on WNYC's Soundcheck earlier today, talking about boogaloo since my essay on it for The Nation was included in this year's Best Music Writing 2008. Peep.

    For those in Los Angeles, I'll be reading from the essay this Friday, at Skylight Books in Los Feliz.


    posted by O.W.

    People Under the Stairs just put out their latest album, Fun DMC last week and also dropped the first video off that LP:

    The album's 20 tracks deep; out of that, I'm especially feeling "Gamin' On Ya" (more video game beats!).

    And here's a special mix by Thes One, based on the tracks on the album.

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    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    posted by O.W.

    Someone recently wrote to ask: "You've eluded[sic] to a few of your [Latin music] favourites a couple of times, I was hoping you'd share more of your all time best with us."

    That seemed like a perfectly fair request so I set out to think how I'd approach answering it. For one thing, I've actually posted up a few of them over the years and I went back to a few old posts and reattached missing sound files. That will get you these three basic - but essential - Latin dance tunes:

  • Joe Cuba: Bang Bang
  • Ray Barretto: Acid
  • Willie Colon: La Murga

    As noted - these are basic insofar as they're well-known but not having them in your crate is like professing a love for funk and having no James Brown.

    I had also written about these next two songs in the past but by past, I mean as far back as four, even five years ago and I thought it was worth coming back to them here, just to refresh people's memories.

    Roberto Roena y su Apollo Sound: Que Se Sepa
    From 5 (Fania, 1975)

    Quite possibly my favorite Latin track ever. It's such an amazing mix of styles here, opening with that fantastically funky rhythm before shifting into a stripped down rumba which then turns into an incredible guaguanco section. This is as pure a dancefloor track as you could wish for. Not surprisingly, of all of Roena's many songs (and he has a ton), this is probably his best known by far.

    Mauricio Smith: Viva Guajira
    From Bitter Acid (Mainstream, 1967)

    I'd put this up as one of the best produced Latin albums Joe Cain ever laid hands on (and that's saying a lot given Cain's track record). It's not often you see a saxophonist heading up a Latin album but Mauricio Smith does excellent work here, especially on "Viva Guajira" which is one of the more upbeat and joyful guajiras you're likely to lay ears on. The way this song opens - with the piano progression and antiphonal chicken-scratch guitars - never grows old for me.

    Ok, onward to songs not previously spoken about...

    Monguito Santamaria: Groovetime
    From Hey Sister (Fania, 1968)

    I'm genuinely amazed I never put this on Soul Sides before; must have been my oversight in thinking I already had. This was probably the song that got me interested in boogaloo and hence, Latin music writ large. It's that bassline - it'd catch your attention in any genre - and the the swing and swagger of Monguito on here sells how deliciously groovy and funky the whole affair is. Monguito was Mongo's son though he never came close to enjoying the same popularity. He could, at least, lay claim to being one of Fania's best boogaloo artists during the era and the way he pulls "Groovetime" together suggests why.

    One more boogaloo banger:

    Orchestra Harlow: Freak Off
    From El Exigente (Fania, 1967)

    Larry Harlow has to be one of the most interesting players in the New York Latin scene. He was hardly the only Jewish player in the mix but he was the most visible bandleader and overall talent. Heck, his nickname was "El Judio Maravilloso," (the marvelous Jew). Harlow's catalog in the '60s/'70s era runs deep but despite an impressive catalog of songs, you'd be hard pressed to find one more incredible than "Freak Off." I was trying to think of boogaloo songs with this level of energy and outside of some of Ray Barretto's material, I'm not sure there is one.

    Fruko Y Sus Tesos: Confundido
    From El Grande (Fuentes, 1975). Also on Grandes Exitos de Salsa Vol. 2

    My fondness for Fruko's Colombian take on salsa is well-known and there's no way I could come up with a list of my favorite Latin tracks and not have him on here at least once. I cycle through which song of his I'm into the most at any given time and this isn't necessarily the best song in terms of the vocals but for musical content, "Confundido" kills with that powerful, rolling piano riff that opens the song (that and the brass section which lights up the track too).

    Pedro Miguel y sus Maracaibos: Descarga Maracaibo
    From La Paila (Lider, 196?)

    The last track I'll include here is from one of the bigger names in Peruvian Latin music and while this more of a "listening" cut than something to blow up the dancefloor, I'm feeling how it begins with its folksy vocals that then give into this nimble guitar treatment that's brisk without being overpowering. These days, this is the kind of Latin that I've found most appealing. Hope you do too.

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  • Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Psyching Myself Up
    posted by murphyslaw

    count five.jpeg


    The Bee Gees: Holiday
    Taken from the LP Bee Gee's 1st on Atco (1968)

    Count Five: She's Fine
    Taken from the LP Psychotic Reaction on Double Shot (1968)

    The Zombies: Leave Me Be
    Taken from the 7" on Decca (1964)

    Arthur Brown: I Put a Spell On You
    Taken from the LP Crazy World Of Arthur Brown on Atlantic (1968)


    The Id: Short Circuit and Butterfly Kiss
    Taken from the LP The Inner Sound Of The Id on World In Sound (1967)

    I was shocked when I realized recently--somewhere in between my not writing entries for this blog and wishing that I was writing entries for this blog--that for several weeks now, I have possessed exactly zero desire to listen to music. Sure, I would muster the goods for my weekly DJ throwdown, and occasionally I'd put something on, albeit noncommitally, while I made my breakfast or cleaned my house... but the sad, simple truth is that I just wasn't feeling it.

    Hip Hop, for a little beat-y satisfaction? No thanks. Brazilian, for some tropical transportation? Maybe another time. Reggae, to reach higher heights? Feel too low. Jazz? Nope. Salsa? Nah. And horror of horrors: even the trusted sanctity of Soul music offered me no reprieve.

    The doldrums, friends. Angsty music-less doldrums.

    So this morning, I got desperate. And searching through my ill-organized quasi-by-genre clusters of LP's I fell into that heady mess of late 60's rock and roll nestled somewhere at the base of my IKEA Expedit shelving unit. And surprise, surprise: I GOT SAVED!

    There it is: the twang of angst! There it is: the bassy rumble of discontent! There it is: the strained melody that I CAN SING ALONG TO!

    And just in case I felt I needed a reminder of to the baffling nature of redemption, who should provide that first enticing morsel to refuel my malnurished soul... THE BEE GEES!

    Being that this particular era of rock and roll was what ushered me from mush-brained childhood into music loving adolescence, it's only appropriate that it took a return to my roots to find solace again. That said, things being what they are, I thought I'd keep the selections in minor-key melancholy because, well, I still feel like Soul music should have saved me from this funk, so in it's place I found some soulfully infused white dudes who get the job D.O.N.E.

    I'll update with a little more band information later on, but for now I have to take my new puppy to the vet and you have some music to listen to.


    Though hard to imagine now, those sequined goofs who once crooned "Night Fever" for ol' Johnny Travolta's dancing pleasure were once a prolific and widely respected ROCK GROUP. Yep. Initially heralded as the second-coming of the Beatles, they produced an impressive ten plus albums worth of material, before hitting a creative and commercial rut. At which point, at the advice of the late great Ahmet Ertegun, they repositioned themselves as an R&B-cum-disco outfit and changed the world of wedding parties forever. (Regardless of the sequins, I stand by the assertion that "Staying Alive" is actually one of the great disco tracks ever recored. Check the video to be reminded.)

    Count Five: San Jose-based high school-aged shredders who, with their single "Psychotic Reaction", would lay the double time percussive foundation of punk many years in advance. And they had ILL music videos.

    Pete Townshend from a band called The Who (maybe you've heard of them), produced this record of amazingness. Arthur Brown, who was a notoriously extravagant performer (Jimi Hendrix kicked him off his tour when his pyrotechnics on stage became a liability), would later be cited as a major influence on Kiss and Alice Cooper. This cover of one of my absolute favorite tunes EV-AR pretty much rules.

    And do yourself a favor: If you're not very familiar with The Zombies or their music, remedy that. This is one of the absolute cornerstone bands of 60's psych. As good or better than Nutella. And that's saying a lot.