Saturday, February 28, 2009

posted by O.W.

Someone had requested "songs with food themes" and I was in the middle of brainstorming such a post only to realize: Cool Calm Pete beat me too it with his new "The Food Theme" mix. Trust me, his is better than what I was planning to "cook" up (rimshot please!)

(Oh, and by the way, Soul Sides celebrates our 5th birthday this weekend. Guess that means we're ready to enroll in kindergarten, yah!)


Thursday, February 26, 2009

posted by O.W.

Ian Carr's Nucleus: Roots
From Roots (Vertigo, 1973)

RIP to British prog/jazz/rock pioneer Ian Carr. I never did get that deep into his overall catalog (though I hear Belladonna is a must) but "Roots" has always been a favorite in the "heavy, heavy, heavy" category.

And I'm also sad to report on the death of Detroit's Lyman Woodard, who apart from a long career as a consummate organist, also put together one of the best hip-hop-album-covers-before-there-was-hip-hop ever:

Here's one of my favorite songs off that LP:

Lyman Woodard Organization: Belle Isle Daze
From Saturday Night Special (Strata, 1975)

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posted by O.W.

(Originally written for Side Dishes)
I was reminded about composer, arranger and songwriter Jerry Ragovoy when recently writing about Lorraine Ellison (he wrote Ellison's monster ballad, "Stay With Me") and a friend let me know that there was a recent anthology put out by the UK's Ace Records, highlighting his greatest works. (NPR's Fresh Air recently had a piece on him as well.)

It was quite a revelation for me; I knew Ragovoy was an important part of Philadelphia's music history but never knew the extent of his contributions, least of all that he wrote "Time Is On My Side" made most famous by the Rolling Stones but originally written for Kai Winding. That's just the tip of his vast career accomplishments - little did I know that he was behind some of my favorite old songs and listening to this comp, perhaps some of favorite new ones too:

Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters: Cry Baby
From 7" (UA, 1963). Also on The Jerry Ragovoy Story -- Time Is On My Side (Ace, 2008)

One of the biggest hits in either Ragovoy or Mimm's respective catalogs, this searing ballad was originally penned by Ragovoy and another songwriting great, Bert Berns. Though billed to the Enchanters, Mimms' usual group actually doesn't even appear on the record. Instead, the voices backing him up included the power trio of the Warwick sisters (Dee Dee and Dionne), along with Estelle Brown. To add insult to injury, with the success of "Cry Baby," a #1 R&B hit, Mimms left the Enchanters soon after to pursue his own solo career.

The Enchanters: I Wanna Thank You
From 7" (WB, 1964). Also on The Jerry Ragovoy Story -- Time Is On My Side (Ace, 2008)

If the Enchanters missed Mimms, they didn't waste much time in replacing him with William Gilmore and armed with another Ragovoy composition and arrangement, the group struck out with this sublime little, gospel-tinged ballad (check out that ethereal organ in the background). Maybe it's just Gilmore's style or maybe Ragovoy was listening to a lot of Chicago radio at the time but this song has always struck me as being reminiscent of the Impressions' styles from the same era. Great song either way.

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

Co-written with Chip Taylor, "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face" was originally recorded by Justine Washington and also recorded by Pat Thomas with Ragovoy arranging. The song would gain several more covers, including by another Ragovoy collaborator, Dusty Springfield, but personally, I'm most partial to this 1964 version by Aretha Franklin. Check out this rare video footage of Aretha performing the song. What is so impressive about the songwriting here is how that title phrase is turned around in meaning as the song evolves.

Erma Franklin: Piece of My Heart
From 7" (Shout, 1967). Also available on Soul Sides Vol. 1

Janis Joplin may have made the song famous but like many of her best known hits (including several written by Ragovoy), "Piece of My Heart" originated first in the world of R&B, in this case, with Erma Franklin, older sister of Aretha. Erma's performance here is one of the all-time soul-crushers - she unleashes such an unstoppable force of passion and wretched pain. Love the piano on the arrangement too; those keyboard strokes match Franklin's own hammer strokes. (Note: this was another of Ragovoy's songwriting collabos with Bert Berns).

Irma Thomas: The Hurt's All Gone
From 7" (Imperial, 1966). Also on The Jerry Ragovoy Story -- Time Is On My Side (Ace, 2008)

While I consider myself a fan of the "sweet soul queen of New Orleans," I had never heard this 1966 recording of a Ragovoy written and arranged song for Imperial and it absolutely blew me away. It's not just that Thomas' vocals are predictably on fire but the arrangement here is absolutely aces, especially in how it subtly builds to the chorus where Thomas and the backup singers light things up to a whole next level of greatness.

Miriam Makeba: Pata Pata
From Pata Pata (Reprise, 1967). Also on The Jerry Ragovoy Story -- Time Is On My Side (Ace, 2008)

This is perhaps one of the most unlikely of Ragovoy's hits - he had been hired to work with Makeba to singing American/English material but the night before they recorded, he had seen Makeba perform mostly African songs at a gig and was awestruck at the possibilities of having her record something closer to her own roots rather than simply tackling an American songbook. From that, "Pata Pata" was born and Makeba had a signature hit that also became a major smash in the Latin music world.


posted by O.W.

Joe Bataan: Subway Joe
Joe Bataan: The Bottle (snippet)
Joe Bataan: Puerto Rico Me Llama (snippet)
All from King of Latin Soul (Vampisoul, 2009)

A few months back, Joe mentioned that he was working on some new projects, including an album with the Barcelona band, Los Fulanos. The album is finally here - King of Latin Soul and like Joe's last album, Call My Name, it's coming out on the Spanish label, Vampisoul.

(Contrary to rumor, this new album was not recorded with the same folks who worked on Call My Name).

The album are all updated versions of Joe's classic catalog, spanning from his boogaloo years ("Subway Joe", "Gipsy [sic] Woman" and "It's a Good Feeling" to some of his straight up Latin jams ("Puerto Rico Me Llama"), salsoul era material ("The Bottle"), ballads ("The Prayer"), even an update on "Rap-O Clap-O 2008."

Take a peek and let us know what you think.

(By the way, I think it should get American distribution in a matter of weeks).

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

posted by O.W.

Back in 1997, I had the distinct honor of working on a reunion concert for A Grain of Sand, arguably the first self-identified Asian American musical group, a folk trio that originally formed in the early 1970s between Nobuko Miyamoto, William "Charlie" Chin and Chris Iijima.

A Grain of Sand were important beyond just their historical stature - having come out of the Asian American Movement of the late 1960s, the group were tackling any number of critical - and complex - social and racial issues through their music at a time where Asian Americans were still largely invisible in popular media and culture.

All three members went on to continue their careers in the arts and music, especially Chris Iijima who put another album in 1982 with Chin called Back to Back (he was also a law professor outside of his musical life).

Sadly, Chris passed away a little over three years ago, on 12/31/05. A new documentary by Tad Nakamura pays tribute to his life and legacy and it will be premiered in Los Angeles this upcoming Saturday night. I've seen the film and it was wonderful - extremely well-made and powerful in its message and the history is covers.

Accompanying the film will be appearances by Nobuko and Charlie, as well as performances by the Blue Scholars, Kiwi and Bambu. You can find more info on the film here.

Also, DJ Phatrick, formerly DJ for Native Gunz (now hosting the weekly Devil's PIe party), has put together a mixtape in honor of the film's premier: A Song For Ourselves Mixtape which features songs from all of the above artists noted in this post.

Here's one of my favorite songs by Chris, from Back to Back called "Asian Song."

Chris Iijima: Asian Song
From Back to Back (East/West World Records, 1982)


posted by O.W.

This is ridiculously awesome. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings appear on the latest Red Hot compilation, called Dark Was the Night and they are covering...Shuggie motherf---ing Otis and "Inspiration Information," quite possibly one of the greatest songs ever recorded. Ever.

Here's Shuggie's original:

Shuggie Otis: Inspiration Information
From Information Inspiration (Epic, 1974)

(If you don't already own this album, admit this to no one and quickly go out and get it lest you embarrass and your children for having slept).

Here's a snippet from Jones and the DK's version (you can buy the entire song for download or just cop the entire comp).

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: Inspiration Information (snippet)
From Dark Was the Night (4AD, 2009)

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posted by O.W.

My thanks to reader Chris "Zeke" Hand for putting me up on this...

I learned about the old NY public television show Soul! from my friend and colleague Gayle Wald (she of that great Sister Rosetta Tharpe book). Her new book is focused on the history of Soul! which was broadcast beginning in the late 1960s through the early 1970s, first on NY public TV and it had a brief national run too. It was one of the first African American variety shows of its kind, during, arguably, one of the richest eras for Black culture and politics and amazingly, hosted by Ellis Haizlip, an openly gay television and theatre producer.

The performances and interviews from Soul! are incredible; their shows are such a profound archive but for many years, they simply languished in the vaults...until now.

This new site from WNET looks like it's going to start sharing clips and full episodes from the Soul! archive. I can't tell you how incredibly exciting this is (though I did note everything they have up right now is from 1972 and '73...I hope they get permission for stuff from earlier in the show's run. Haizlip has a mind-blowing interview with Louis Farrakhan and asks him, point blank, what the role of gays are in the Black Nationalist movement.

I'm real happy they put up the November 15, 1972 episode, featuring Tito Puente playing salsa and Felipe Luciano breaking down the evolution of Afro-Cuban music in New York City.

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posted by O.W.

If you've been wondering why there hasn't been any new posts since 2/14...well, there have been. Quite a few in fact! However, when I moved Soul Sides over to a new server on 2/14, I forgot to update the RSS information to reflect that new server location.

All of which is to say - things should be up and running fine now but just in case, make sure you go back through the last 10 days worth of posts to see what you may have missed.

If you've never subscribed to Soul Sides, there are two ways:
  • For RSS (aka news) readers: click here.
  • To receive updates via email, click here.

    Do not, I repeat, do not try to subscribe via the browser bar. It will work for "Atom" feeds but the "RSS" feed it has listed there does not work and I'm not even clear where it's deriving that address from.


  • Monday, February 23, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    There's been a huge outpouring of support for Daptone Studios after news broke about them getting robbed. Someone started up a cool site where you can help support Daptone with the cost of a drink (and a pretty cheap drink at that!)

    And the other way to support: buy their music!


    posted by O.W.

    Last night's "Suite for Ma Dukes" performance (part of the Timeless Series) was a really beautiful event. Even though I arrived halfway through the first set (which, I think, was mostly a live performance of what appears on the EP), I could already tell the evening was going to be special.

    What really works about the whole conceit is that part of what made J-Dilla beats so memorable was his understanding of musical and emotional texture. It was never just about a loop or riff or beat (though, of course, he was gifted in working with those); it was about what those sounds could evoke. And in the hands of three dozen musicians, plus the energetic - even theatric - conducting of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson - I think they did a beautiful job of really capturing, expressing and transforming some of the emotional range that Dilla played with in his music. Most of what was played last night were not attempts at recreations, but rather flights of musical imagination inspired by Jay Dee's works and to me, that was all the more meaningful as a tribute.

    And there were many people who loved Dilla in the mix that night - from his mother, Maureen Yancey, to his brother, Illa J, to his former roomie and collaborator Common, to vocalists Bilal, Amp Fiddler and Dwele, to Talib Kweli and De La Soul's Posdnuos (the latter two performed over a recreation of the "Stakes Is High" beat).

    I have to say - there's two more shows in the Timeless series, one with Brazil's Arthur Verocai, the other with LA's own David Axelrod - but somehow, I can't imagine anything really topping tonight...not b/c the other men are incapable of transcendent moments of musical composition or performance but I just think, for the audience that the series is aiming at, for the sheer level of creative challenge that Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Niño rose to to make this music work. to the sheer amount of love reverberating through the room last night...this was something that went beyond the music in honoring and celebrating Dilla.

    And with that, I end with one of my favorite Jay Dee beats, one that will never age or fade.

    Pharcyde: She Said (Jay Dee Remix)
    From 12" (Delicious Vinyl, 1995)

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    Friday, February 20, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    Myron and E w/ the Soul Investigators: I Can't Let You Get Away
    From 7" single (Timmion, 2008)

    Myron and E are vocalists from my old hometown of Oakland, CA and they've somehow connected with the Soul Investigators of Finland (yeah, the same ones who back Nicole Willis). The result is their first 7", an intriguing slice of retro-inspired goodness that highlights the early/mid-60s R&B scene. "Cold Game," the A-side (hear a snippet here) has been getting more blog-play but personally, I really dig the flipside, a striking ballad that balances the Soul Investigators' heavy rhythm section with Myron and E's fragile vocal touches. To be sure, they don't have the strongest voices but there's something about the lo-fi, almost fragile texture of their singing that really works on this song.

    I hear the group is working on their first full-length and if the Soul Investigators track record is any indication, this could definitely be one to watch in 2009. By the way, between these guys and LA's Mayer Hawthorne, looks like Cali's building quite the throwback soul scene.

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    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    Joe Cuba Sextette: A La Seis
    Joe Cuba Sextette: To Be With You
    From Steppin' Out (Seeco, 1963)

    Joe Cuba Sextette: Siempre Sea
    From Diggin' the Most (Seeco, 1964)

    Joe Cuba Sextette: Chichon (Juan Ramon)
    Joe Cuba Sextette: Tremendo Coco
    From Comin' At You (Seeco, 1965)

    First off, be sure to check out my piece on Joe Cuba's musical legacy since there's five other songs to take a listen to there.

    Joe Cuba will forever - and rightfully - be associated as one of the pioneering forefathers of Latin boogaloo. With the remarkable success of his "Bang Bang" in 1966, Cuba helped usher in the incandescent popularity of the boogaloo style in New York's Latin scene first, then watched it go worldwide as the boogaloo caught on with the greater Afro-Cuban community.

    Notably though, Cuba was unusually modest in his total amount of boogaloo recordings - really just two albums worth between Bang! Bang! Push! Push! Push! and My Man Speedy. This stands in contrast to someone like Pete Rodriguez, another one of the main people in the scene, who recorded at least four-five boogaloo albums during the style's 1966-68 reign in NYC. I don't really know why Cuba wasn't recording more, especially since he could capitalize on the immense success of "Bang Bang" (or perhaps that single's success allowed him to be more laid back than his peers).

    This is all the more significant in noting how Cuba's pre and post-boogaloo careers were far more prolific yet their respective legacies are less recognized. Cuba formed his first band in the mid-1950s, when New York was still in the throes of the mambo era and the slower cha-cha-cha was also coming into vogue. Cuba's albums of the Mardi Gras imprint - which I personally haven't heard - seemingly focused heavily on cha-cha-chas (which may explain his comfort with adapting those rhythms into boogaloo a decade later) but by the time he signed with Seeco in the early 1960s, he was also working with the then-popular pachanga style as well as early Latin soul boleros, the best known being "To Be With You," originally written by former Cuba bandmate Willie Torres but sung on Cuba's Steppin' Out album by one of his two main vocal partners, Jimmy Sabater.

    I actually didn't discover Cuba's Seeco output until the last year or so despite having been quite familiar with his boogaloo albums for many years.
    Those early '60s albums of his were a small revelation in showcasing how deep Cuba's career ran and how capable he was as a Latin bandleader. It certainly helped that Cuba's Sextet was one of the best small bands in the business, blessed with serious songwriting talent in the form of Jose "Cheo" Feliciano, Nick Jiminez, Jimmy Sabater, Willie Torres and others. It also helped that all three of his Seeco album were produced by Joe Cain, one of the best Latin producers in the game.

    This post highlights songs from that period, starting with "A La Seis," a fun, catchy little pachanga from Steppin' Out, Cuba's first album on Seeco. I don't know a ton about pachangas...except that I've yet to find one I didn't like. It was a huge hit in the New York Latin scene in the late 1950s through early '60s; it's hard to find many Latin albums of that era without a few pachangas and on Steppin' Out, Cuba balances the album with an equal number of mambos, pachangas, cha-cha-chas and boleros.

    On that note, I had to also post "To Be With You," which would become Jimmy Sabater's signature song throughout his career (including up through his disco era). You can hear how Latin soul got its origins - the subtle blend of Afro-Cuban instrumentation with vocals that wouldn't have been out of place on a Jimmy Hartman or Sinatra LP.

    "Siempre Sea" is from Cuba's second Seeco album, Diggin' the Most and right with how the song opens with what sounds like a I-IV-V progression, you can already make the linkages between this mambo and the future boogaloo sound. What makes that even more striking is the fantastic use of call-and-response on the song here (another staple of the boogaloo sound).

    Lastly, we come to Comin' At You, the best of Cuba's Seeco albums by far (in my opinion). I'm not sure if it's just luck of the draw or if Cain and Cuba just hit a real stride here but song-for-song, Comin' At You is a monster, with some of Cuba's best guaguancos ("Pancho Foo" and "Tremendo Coco"), mambos ("So What?") and cha chas ("Stuff 'N Things"). I was seriously torn as to what to pick off of here and so I just went with two favorites: another pachanga - "Chichon (Juan Ramon)" - and "Tremendo Coco." As I wrote in my piece, the latter song would get remade nearly 10 years later into "Salsa Ahi Na' Ma'" and since I highlight that song for NPR, I thought I'd give Soul Sides' listeners a taste of the original. It is quite interesting that even at this early point (1964), Cuba is deploying "salsa" in a musical context even though it'd still be at least half a decade before the salsa movement swept over NYC.

    As for "Chicon (Juan Ramon)" there's more of that call-and-response that I can't get enough of plus I'm feeling the piano montuno that anchors the song.

    In the next installment, I'll move into Cuba's years with Tico Records and how the blueprint for boogaloo came together.

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    posted by O.W.

    DJ Shadow: This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way)
    From The Outsider (Universal, 2006)

    Joe: Untitled (This Time)
    From studio tape (Music City, 197?)

    Fans of DJ Shadow will likely remember this great single he put out in 2006 (also on his Outsider CD) called "This TIme" which features a male vocalist knocking out a soulful tune about self-realization.

    There's a larger backstory to that song, beginning with a friend of mine in S.F., Justin Torres, who has been a serious record digger in his time and he found a series of enigmatic studio tapes from the vaults of Music City, an old Bay Area studio that had liquidated much of its holdings. On one of those tapes was an untitled song, attributed only to "Joe" and as you can hear above, it's a near-acapella, except for the light acoustic guitar accompaniment that went with the song.

    I'm not quite clear on the process through which that original song made its way over to Shadow (though Justin and Josh are friends so that helps, I'm sure) but the good Mr. Davis took that studio tape and added a full musical arrangement.

    The folks over at (our brothers from another mother) are "sponsoring" an informal remix contest to flip some new tracks to go with the original acapella. I thought that was a great idea and I knew a few of our readers hear at Soul Sides make beats and this could be a fun way for them to do some of that "added value" thing we hear so much about with the Web 2.0. A favor though? Just to save me some bandwidth, if you want to download the original song, do it from here. Danke!

    Email me your finished remixes and I'll try to do a post down the line that has all the best ones include.

    By the way, I was totally derelict in bringing people's attention to this sooner but Justin put together a killer mix called The Break-Up Letters, hosted by Good Records NYC. If you don't love it, there's something wrong with you; I'm just saying.

    Also, the graphic above is taken from the "This Time" video contest winner, aka "Big Pixel."

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    posted by Eric Luecking

    Today, I got the chance to speak with Raphael Saadiq to talk to him about his latest album - the Grammy nominated The Way I See It, his upcoming tour, and some of his influences. OW chimed in with a few questions of his own.

    You can get a glimpse of what his tour will sound like with this excellent video/mini concert from AOL Black Voices of Saadiq and band doing songs from his new album as well as a Shalamar medley!

    EL: You've done a lot to keep the west coast on the map for R&B. You're from the Bay Area originally (and still live out there) and Cali has had legendary acts such as Sly & the FS and Shalamar. What is the most important thing you felt you've contributed for the west coast?

    RS: I follow in the footsteps of those who do what they felt, to do what comes from the heart, and keep 100% true to that belief.

    EL: Name some of your favorite Bay Area or California soul songs and/or albums. You can include your own, we won't hate you for it!

    RS: Tower of Power's “Oakland Stroke;” Sly And The Family Stone's “There's A Riot Goin' On;” the second Carlos Santana album; Digital Underground's “Sex Packets;” 2Pac's “All Eyez One Me:” and Journey's “Lights”

    EL: “Kelly Ray,” the iTunes bonus track, has a very 70s Hi Records sound, especially with the emphatic drum backbeat. The Tony! Tony! Tone! song “Thinking Of You” - it hit me recently how much of a Hi Records sound that record had as well, especially the way you draw out some of the lines and your enunciations – very Al Green-like. What kind of influence does the Hi Records sound have on you making music?

    RS: It was played throughout my house growing up.

    EL: The bonus song “Seven” that was on the FYE version of The Way I See It - some have said it's a reference to Michael Vick. Was that the basis for writing the song? Also, the music is quite reminiscent of the Four Tops “Still Water (Love)” - was that a reference point or inspiration as well?

    RS: Not so much on the Four Tops. Michael Vick was the basis of “Seven.” Once something is done, you can't go back. That's where the line comes in about, “I just want to get my life back,” and back on track. You never know the circumstances behind why people do what they do. We never really know what people are going through and why he smoked before his trial. But the way the media portrayed it.... Sometimes I just base my writing off experiences I see (going on around me).

    EL: You worked with some famous musicians on The Way I See It (such as Paul Riser and Jack Ashford from The Funk Brothers). What kinds of talks with them did you have involving the sound you were going for?

    RS: Paul worked with Motown since he was 18. Jack Ashford did a lot of the percussion such as the bells. I didn't have to really say a whole lot to them. Those guys are legends.

    OW: I don't know if you consider your album to be part of the so-called "retro-soul" movement that other groups, like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings or Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators are a part of, but I am curious to hear any theories you may have about why the vast majority of retro-soul musicians, songwriters and consumers are all White Americans, Europeans and Australians?

    RS: Because they believe in the sound. People have short memories. In America, people tear down the building after they build it; other places, they keep the building up. And in America, people don't take chances. There aren't a lot of pubs or band bars for people to play in. That scene is dead. And the overseas, they admire from afar.

    OW: And a related question: why do you think more African Americans aren't involved - either as musicians or consumers - in retro-soul, considering that the music itself is so deeply tapped into this integral moment of Black music history? Do you think it's more structural - in other words, limitations in distribution and radio play - or more cultural, that is, some have argued that African Americans aren't nostalgic for this kind of sound the same way it seems like White listeners are.

    RS: Black music follows trends. The musicians are trying to feed their families. (And he agreed that African Americans aren't nostalgic for that sound like White listeners are.)

    EL: You've got an upcoming headlining tour coming up after doing some dates following the release of TWISI. What kinds of things can we expect to see on the tour? Any tricks in your hat?

    RS: There will be a full band with a raw show, raw music, and some of the older stuff as well. No tricks involved.

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    SUITE FOR MA DUKES: 2/22/09
    posted by O.W.

    Update (2/19): As promised, we have tickets to give away for the "Suite for Ma Dukes" show, coming up this Sunday night.

    I'll draw three winners at random from those who email me, with the subject line "Ma Dukes Contest". Good luck!

    Next in the Timeless series, following on Mulatu Astake's performance from the other week, is "Suite for Ma Dukes," a four-part suite celebrating the career and life of J-Dilla (whose birthday would have been tomorrow) by Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson.

    I admit, I was a bit skeptical as to what this would sound like - the idea of having a 36 piece orchestra playing compositions inspired by J-Dilla felt like it could be an aesthetic mish-mash, like when bands try to recreate hip-hop beats. But I was very pleasantly moved by the songs I heard from the EP which, far from trying to work in a hip-hop vein, are fully fleshed out jazz compositions that borrow aspects of Dilla's tracks without being strictly beholden to them (or their original samples).

    Here's some streaming audio of one of the Suite's best songs:

    The EP itself is currently available on iTunes and will be released on LP/CD in April (pre-order here).

    The performance will be on February 22nd (Sunday night) at the Luckman Center (Cal State LA campus). I should have some tickets to give away for it as we get closer to the date.

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    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    Just the kind of news to piss one off - some a**holes broke into Daptone Studios over the weekend and wrecked havoc.
      "Friends and associates,

      As you may have heard through the grapevine by now, Daptone was broken into last night. Unfortunately, there was a lot of equipment (mics, pre-amps, monitors, turntables, guitars, amps, computers, etc.) stolen and damaged. It is going to take us a while to go through everything and take full stock of what was stolen, and we are not supposed to touch anything until the cops come back to collect fingerprints so we can only guess what’s missing from some mic drawers and cabinets.
      And, no, we did not have insurance. We had been shopping around with different companies earlier this month but had not signed a check, so nothing was insured. We are working on replacing the gate in front, installing an alarm system, and getting insurance, but it is President’s day so it’s not going as quickly as we would have liked.
      Nydia’s computer was stolen (which wasn’t backed up) and the modems/ phone system was ripped out, so we’ll be relatively out of commission for a few days.

      I would like to ask for everyone’s help first in keeping an eye out for all of our stuff showing up on ebay/craigslist/local music shops, and secondly (and more realistically) keeping an eye out for good deals on headphones, mics, pre-amps, etc. I could really use a heads up on any kind of studio package for sale or studio equipment to be possibly bought or borrowed as soon as possible. We have a session scheduled for Friday to lay down some music for (I know this sounds
      surreal) Rod Stewart, and I’m going to have to get the studio running by then. I know I’m going to need to find headphones, cables, mics, and pre-amps by then. I’m not sure what else yet.

      Upon first glance we are definitely missing:
      Fender Super Guitar Amp in case
      Fender Deluxe Guitar Amp
      A whole bunch of headphones and wires
      Nydia’s HP laptop computer
      One Desktop MacIntosh Computer
      One Purple Audio API style lunchbox with
      four Purple Audio Biz mic pre-amps
      2 Yamaha NS10 monitors
      Vintage Harmony Rocket Guitar
      One steel string acoustic guitar
      Martin Tenor sax in a gig bag
      Technics 1200 turntable
      Ion USB turntable
      Teac Receiver/stereo amp
      Sony dual deck CD burner/player
      All of our modem/phone system stuff was ripped out and taken.
      A whole bunch of condensor and dynamic microphones (I still need to
      figure out exactly what’s missing)
      The power supply for my Trident console was tossed and the board was
      moved (probably not gently) so the status of that is still questionable.
      A baldwin organ was tossed and is probably broken.
      Lacie External hard drive

      Over the next few days, as we sort out the rubble, we are going to
      figure out what else we lost.

      We are putting in a roll down front gate, alarm system, and finally
      getting our insurance happening this week. We are also going to hire
      a security guard to watch the house for tonight as the cops and alarm
      guy seemed pretty confident that they will be back with a truck now
      that they’ve seen what’s in here.

      Thanks for keeping eyes open for us. AND PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE

      Thankfully, we all still have our health, ambition, tape machines, and
      sense of humor in tact. You can slow us down, but you can’t stop
      us. Sleep well knowing we here at Daptone will continue to…

      Keep putting Soul up,

      Gabriel Roth

      P.S. On a lighter note, it seems like the burglars did drop a few
      items in order to lift Alex’s old safe out of here, which was VERY
      heavy, VERY unwieldy, and also VERY EMPTY!"
    If you have any info to help, try contacting Daptone.

    (Thanks Monique and Frank151)


    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    Update (2/17): I wrote a short piece for on Cuba's music, including a five song playlist of some of his key recordings. Check it out here.

    Update (2/17): (from Beto) "Joe Cuba will be viewed at the R&G Ortiz Funeral Home.

    Wednesday & Thursday, February 18th & 19th from 2 to 10 p.m.

    A funeral mass service will be held Friday morning at 11 a.m. at St. Paul's
    Church located @ 213 E. 117th Street, between Park & Lexington."

    This one really hurts; Joe Cuba is one of the main reasons I ever developed an interest in Latin boogaloo and now he's gone.

    Cuba had a tremendous career in the New York Latin scene, easily one of the most important figures in the post-mambo era as both one of the pioneers in Latin soul and boogaloo and then transitioning into the salsa era.

    I had been meaning to do a post on the "best of" Joe Cuba and I'll try to get that in gear sometime this week. In the meantime, enjoy this:

    Joe Cuba: Hey Joe
    From My Man Speedy (Tico, 1967)

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    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    (originally written for Side Dishes)

    Don't say I'm not romantic or anything but as we're about to get buried underneath an avalanche of saccharin lovey-dovey-ness because of Valentine's Day, I thought it was fair to point out that, really, the best love songs are about falling out of love, not into it. New love is great and blah blah blah but nothing says passion and desperation like heartache does. That's why, for V-Day, I threw together a special Tears On Your Pillow set of songs for those who know that no love is so sweet as that which you no longer have.

    William Bell: I Forgot To Be Your Lover
    From Bound to Happen (Stax, 1968).

    I don't know if you can properly call this single "unsung" considering that it appeared on two different William Bell albums and was covered by Jaheim a few years back but to me, it's always a bit of a sleeper song, certainly nowhere near as well-known as Bell's early hit, "You Don't Miss Your Water." Regardless, it has one of the most memorable opening guitar lines I've ever heard, ringing with a melancholy that suffuses the entire song as Bell bemoans his lack of attention and affection.

    Darondo: Didn't I
    From Let My People Go (Ubiquity, 2006)

    An erstwhile singer turned pimp turned talk show host, the Bay Area's Darondo was an enigma until recently, when aficionados of his early '70s sweet soul and funk singles rediscovered him living in Sacramento and helped to resurrect his career. "Didn't I" is the crown jewel of the handful of singles he recorded back in the day, a super-stripped down yet incredibly powerful ballad of wistfulness with just a hint of desperation. Makes you wonder how anyone could have left someone who could sing with that kind of intimacy and intensity.

    Lezli Valentine: Love on a Two Way Street
    From 7" single (All Platinum, 1968).

    Long before Sylvia Robinson put together "Rapper's Delight" in the late 1970s, she was a successful singer and songwriter in the '60s, creating a massive R&B empire in New Jersey. She helped pen "Love on a Two Way Street," a memorable ballad which makes good use of its transportation metaphors (how often does one get to say that?). It was a decent hit for the Moments but originally recorded by Lezli Valentine, a little-known singer signed to Robinson's All Platinum imprint. The two versions are very similar, musically, but while the Moments' falsetto approach works well enough, it's different hearing an actual woman's voice tackle it, especially one as rich and nuanced as Valentine's.

    Binky Griptite: You're Gonna Cry
    From 7" single (Daptone, 2008)

    Just to show you that soul artists today can still knock out a good tearjerker in the tradition of the classic R&B troubadours, the Dap-Kings' guitarist, announcer and emerging vocalist Binky Griptite turns in a beautiful, slow burner of a break-up tune. Make sure to listen to the end as Griptite delivers a coup de grace of a line.'s chilly!

    The Kaldirons: To Love Someone (That Don't Love You)
    From Twinight's Lunar Rotation (Numero Group, 2007)

    One of the rarest singles ever released on Chicago's incredible R&B label Twinight, "To Love Someone" is one of those songs that deserved to have gotten much more shine that it did in its day. It's a masterful, midtempo arrangement of strings and hints of piano, meshing perfectly with the soaring, falsetto voices of the Kaldirons who lament the impossibility of unrequited love. I have to admit - the song feels surprisingly uplifting despite its dour subject matter and it's one of the few "love lost" songs that I can honestly describe as "feel good."

    Nancy Holloway: Hurts So Bad
    From Hello Dolly (Concert Hall, 1967)

    To close out, I went with the hammer blow that French singer Nancy Holloway delivers on her cover of Little Anthony and the Imperials' 1965 hit, "Hurts So Bad." Producer Daniel Janin gives the tune a slight funk makeover with those dramatic basslines and brass section but it's Holloway who is the undeniable force of nature here, pouring what feels like a lifetime of desperation into a little less than four minutes.

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    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    posted by Eric Luecking

    Caroline Peyton: Donkey Blues
    From Intuition (Asterisk, 2009)

    Numero and its subsidiary Asterisk always seem to dig up some fun bits. While primarily known for soul comp reissues, they have also put out several intriguing folk comps. Caroline Peyton made her Numero debut on the Wayfaring Strangers compilation but sees a more expansive treatment on these full lengths, albums originally released in 1972 and 1977, respectively. Fall Out had reissued Intuition in 2007, but Asterisk one ups them with a release that features 7 bonus tracks.

    Whereas Mock Up is more in the traditional folk vein, Intuition has more variegated tones. While the latter has a fleck of country here and a smidgen of blues there – and even a hint of disco, the voice is still the star of the show. The prime example shows up on the bonus video on Mock Up where she sings “Call Of The Wild,” a track that appears on Intuition, at a small nightclub . The album version is a nice piece, but after hearing the live acoustic version, you keep going back to it for more. She's so vocally diverse that she can pull off guttural soul sister sass on “Donkey Blues” while the harmonica wails and not sound like she's overstretching her bounds.

    I was reminded of Carole King (especially on Mock Up), Laura Nyro, and Linda Ronstadt while listening to these albums. Caroline's voice has so many rich, warm tones that can bend to whatever the arrangement calls for, and she sings with such unassuming confidence. It's no wonder that she's remained in the industry, albeit in a place you wouldn't expect – singing for Disney movies.

    Edd Hurt has written excellent liner notes detailing the backstory featuring her roots in the Bloomington, Indiana, scene with musical writing partner Mark Bingham. While she never hit it in the bigs, she shouldn't be relegated to obscurity. Unheralded doesn't have to go hand-in-hand with unappreciated; it just means that we have to dig a little deeper.


    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    My man Beto puts together a small V-Day Latin mix: 8 Canciones Del Amor (songs of love).

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    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    Carolyn Franklin: I Don't Want to Lose You
    From Baby Dynamite (RCA, 1968)

    Carolyn Franklin: You Really Didn't Mean It
    From Chain Reaction (RCA, 1970)

    Both on Sister Soul: The Best of the RCA Years.

    Carolyn Franklin: Deal With It
    From If You Want It (RCA, 1976)

    (Originally written for Side Dishes)

    The fates of the Franklin sisters - Aretha, Erma and Carolyn - comprise a classic American tragedy. One, Aretha, would go onto spectacular fame and worldwide acclaim (big bow and all) while her sisters, Erma and Carolyn, had brief careers as recording artists but never enjoyed anywhere near the same success. Far worse though, both succumbed to cancer - Erma survived into her 60s, but Carolyn passed away at only 43.

    The youngest of the three, Carolyn may have been in her sisters' shadows but she also contributed to both their careers as a songwriter. Especially for Aretha, Carolyn helped co-write her enormously successful "Save Me" and was also behind the mesmerizing torch song, "Ain't No Way." This video (alas, the quality is quite degraded) shows Aretha and Carolyn rehearsing an early version of the song and Aretha makes a special point to big up her little sis.

    Carolyn released a handful of singles in the mid-1960s but it wasn't until 1968, when she signed with RCA, that she had her first major opportunity to make it on her own. What is readily obvious from any of her recordings in that era is that she was not trying to follow Aretha's footsteps in either singing or sound. Carolyn wasn't blessed with the singular voice that her older sister had but she shows the influence of good training and natural ability to project herself with power and clarity.

    "I Don't Want to Lose You" was one of her first singles for RCA and the very beginning reflects Carolyn's deep gospel roots with a slow-building opening of multi-part choral harmonies that then shifts into a slinky mid-tempo funk tune that allows her to demonstrate why her debut LP was called Baby Dynamite.

    "You Didn't Really Mean It" comes from Carolyn's second album, Chain Reaction and this power ballad shows some of the creative production and arrangement details her collaborators Wade Marcus, Jimmy Radcliffe and Buzz Willis (amongst others) put into the effort. Listen to the force of the brass section which is used sparingly but wisely and Carolyn flows into the song with passion and intensity.

    I end with a song off of Carolyn's 1976 album, If You Want Me. With a feel reminiscent of Aretha's "Rocksteady," Carolyn lays down a slice of funky soul that's become a favorite amongst connoisseurs. Alas, this would be one of her last albums; she stopped recording on her own after this point and within 10 years, she was gone, undersung but not unaccomplished.

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    posted by O.W.

    Blossom Dearie: I Like London In the Rain (edit)
    From That's Just the Way I Want To Be (Fontana, 1970)

    Blossom Dearie: Sunday Afternoon
    From Blossom Dearie Sings (Daffodil, 1973)

    Undoubtedly, one of the most unique voices in jazz history - you wouldn't think something so seemingly delicate and girly could hold a tune but year after year, Dearie proved us otherwise. She'll always form an indelible part of my youth thanks to this classic from the Schoolhouse Rock series:

    Rest in peace, Dearie.

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    posted by O.W.

    Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Beams of Heaven + Ain't No Grave Hold My Body Down
    Both available on The Original Soul Sister.

    For your reading pleasure: Shout, Sister, Shout: The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

    Update 2/8/09: Tharpe has a grave marker now! Long overdue but better late than....

    I came from a talk at USC on Friday given by one of my favorite music scholars, Gayle Wald of George Washington Univ. Wald was there to talk about her new book, a biography of gospel/blues/rock n' roll/R&B great Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

    A gospel powerhouse (overshadowed by Mahalia Jackson) and rock n' roll pioneer ("borrowed from" by Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry), Tharpe transcended easy genre categorizations; perhaps one reason why her legacy hasn't been as widely recognized or cherished as other contemporaries. I think she's a fascinating icon of cultural liminality - someone who never fit cleanly in any one category and as a result, was often too ahead of their time to earn the recognition that, in hindsight, we pay people like her, Betty Davis, Joe Bataan, etc. During the talk, Eric Weisbard suggested during the Q&A that perhaps Tharpe could be better understood as a pioneering pop star - not in terms of her musical sound but because she was so literate in different musical styles and this helped propel her to superstardom in both the U.S. and Europe. (Wald talked about Tharpe's third wedding, a huge public event in Washington D.C., held at a baseball stadium. She was doing arena rock before the term became known!)

    There were some interesting parallels between her life and that of blues giant Bessie Smith: both were these larger-than-life musical figures, Black women (and bisexual) who ended up being buried in Philadelphia, in an unmarked grave. Wald is starting to organize a campaign to buy a gravestone for Tharpe; if you're interested in contributing, go here. (See above)

    Of the two songs I included, both are available on one of the recent boxsets that have been devoted to Tharpe. One of the songs is "Beams of Heaven," a song that also features Tharpe's long-time musical partner Marie Knight (and Wald selected this as as one of her two favorite Tharpe songs). As for the other...I figure the title is self-explanatory, a statement on the power of Tharpe's presence and legacy. Can't stop, won't stop.

    For a great bonus, check out this 1960s video of Tharpe performing "Up Above My Head" on a gospel t.v. show. It's one of the few surviving films of her performing. Dig that guitar solo in the middle! You can see how striking a performer she was, especially in an era where most Black women were seen as torch singers or maybe stands Tharpe with an electric guitar, with a raspy, piercing voice, perfectly comfortable seizing center stage.

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    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    I've never tried out the Ion turntable before so I can't speak from direct experience but I'm assuming it's probably a decent, usable portable player. Obviously, not some high-end, audiophile model but if you've been thinking of getting a basic turntable, here's a good opportunity.

    On Woot but only for today.


    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    Huey Lewis and the News: Power of Love (unreleased alternative recording)

    This one's for the guy who keeps requesting Huey Lewis!


    Monday, February 02, 2009

    posted by O.W.

    Wayne Gorbea Y Su Conjunto Salsa: Dejame Un Lado
    Fruko Y Sus Tesos: Fruko A Lo Compadre
    From The Rough Guide to Salsa Gold (World Music Network, 2008)

    Fruko Y Sus Tesos: Fruko Que Banda Tiene Usted
    From Fruko El Bueno (Fuentes, 1975)

    Another We had someone asking for "salsa songs for beginners" and someone else wanted "more Fruko!" and I'm happy to oblige both ways. I should include the disclaimer: given that I've had about one or two salsa lessons, max, in my lifetime, I'm not actually sure what songs are good for beginners but I took my best swing.

    As it happens, I recently received a copy of the Rough Guide to Salsa Gold which is part of the Rough Guide's larger series of salsa-related comps (including decent ones on Salsa Dura and Salsa Colombia)) and the idea behind the Salsa Gold series was songs and artists off the beaten path - in other words, don't expect the Fania All-Stars.

    I picked two cuts to highlight. The first is "Dejame Un Lado" (leave me aside? My Spanish is terrible) by Wayne Gorbea Y Su Conjunto Salsa. Gorbea was one of the many post-war Nuyorican musicians to come of age in New York, coming of age right around the birth of the salsa movement. "Dejame Un Lado" originally came out in 1978 and what I liked about this cut is the dark but slick feel of the piano and horns and a relatively easy rhythm to fall into.

    And since someone wanted to Fruko, this comp actually includes one of this songs, "Fruko A Lo Compadre" (Fruko the Godfather?), which has that classic Fruko/Latin Brothers/Fuentes sound - think prominent piano montunos, a heavy brass section and those shattering timbales. I decided to pair that with another song - coincidentally - off the same original Fuentes LP, Fruko El Bueno - which has an even more infectious piano riff, not to mention those handclaps (which you wish they kept longer into the song). I got to say too - a lot of these Fruko LPs have had songs off of them comped like crazy but strangely, the albums themselves are rarely reissued. Track for track, I'd put El Bueno up there with El Grande in terms of the most consistent of Fruko's 1970s Fuentes albums.