Saturday, May 30, 2009

posted by O.W.

Kings of Swing: Nod Your Head To This + Go Cocoa
From 12" (Virgin, 1990)

Doo Wop and Da Bounce Squad: Da Bounce Master
From Noo Trybe Bootleg Summer Sampler EP (Noo Trybe, 1993)

Most Wanted: Calm Down
From 12" (Fever, 1990)

Spike VST: Shut Up and Dance
From 12" (Street Art, 1988)

I don't know what it was about today but I was feeling slightly melancholy and decided to start, finally, pulling out some older hip-hop 12"s to digitize.

The first two songs were pieces I had been meaning to post up a while back, after hearing Funkmaster Flex play them on his now infamous July 4, 2007 show. The Kings of Swing is one of those 12"s I've had so long...I forgot I even owned it and hell if I can even remember when I actually copped it. What can I say? Great use of the "Sexy Coffee Pot" bassline even if it's not as grimy as when Cypress flipped it. I had to throw on "Go Cocoa" too - it's not too often you hear 1) cuts devoted to DJs and 2) female DJs at that (I can only think of two others, off the top of my head, from Salt N Pepa and The Coup) and c'mon, how you gonna pass up any song dedicated to a DJ named "Cocoa Channelle"? I didn't realize they were down with First Priority but I guess that makes sense since Audio Two remixed "Nod Your Head" on the 12".

The Doo Wop/Bounce Squad joint was something I don't think I ever remember hearing back in the day, likely because it was a rather mega-local 12" (first released independently) before coming out on a promo-only Noo Trybe 12". Two things you can say about this tune: 1) nice use of Allen Toussaint's "Louie" and 2) Da Bounce Squad wasn't boasting the illest line-up of MCs - vaguely competent, sure, but not really memorable (except for maybe Snaggle Puss, who was memorable for arguably the wrong reasons). That said, this is a fun track to, er, bounce to.

The next two singles are probably tracks either my friend Hua or Dave put me up on (their random rap collection >>>>>> mine). "Calm Down" is a fiery fast rap number - four sets of verses, barely much of a song structure, but one hot beat (dig those 808 booms) and a few hungry MCs. Strangely, I can't seem to find much info on the group though I'm assuming they're out of NY.

Similar, I'm not sure if Spike VST hail from Florida (where their label is based) or Philly (where the song was actually recorded). Regardless, what struck me about this single is that I'm assuming there's a live drummer working the sticks on here and maybe even a bassist, interpolating Cymande's "Bra" though it could also be a sample. Nothing spectacular but certainly a good representation of hip-hop in that moment.


Friday, May 29, 2009

posted by O.W.

Peter Ivers Group feat. Asha Puthli: Ain't That Peculiar
From 7" (Epic, 1971)

Asha Puthli: You've Been Loud Too Long
From She Loves to Hear the Music (CBS, 1974)

Asha Puthli: Space Talk + LP sampler
From The Devil Is Loose (CBS Germany, 1976). Also on vinyl LP.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I had the immense pleasure to meet Asha Puthli and hopefully will be working with her on a future project. That encounter encouraged me to revisit her substantial catalog and that's been such a fun, revelatory experience.

It starts with a song by her I had never heard before but Asha was kind enough to burn a copy for me - her singing with the Peter Ivers Group back in the early 1970s, covering Marvin Gaye's big Motown classic, "Ain't That Peculiar." This wasn't her first recording but it was (I believe) her first US release, recorded for a full album that was meant to be Ivers' follow-up to his well-regarded 1969 LP, Knight of the Blue Communion (I'll have to post up about that LP at some point too). For reasons I'm not clear about, the album feat. Asha, entitled Take It Out On Me was never released by Epic but the single did make its way out. It's definitely not something that will remind people instantly of Gaye's iconic version - Ivers adds a strong funk element to the rhythm section and it's actually quite a sparse song in many ways (despite the surprise harmonica) and Asha's voice - light but distinct - works nicely here, especially as she plays with the arrangement most of know through Marvin. I like this one a lot - it reminds me of Smith's "Baby, It's You" in terms of how a rock band interprets an R&B tune.

Asha's second full-length solo album was She Loves to Hear the Music, released in 1974, with production principally from disco master Teo Macero and Paul Phillips (I'm assuming he of later Hi Tension fame?). I'm not 100% clear who produces "You've Been Loud Too Long," but I've loved this song for years - it's a spunky bit of Southern fried funk that seems to mesh Wardell Quezergue with Van McCoy (who works on this album so for all I know, he produced it!). I played this out at Boogaloo[la] the other week and one of the guys working security asked if it was Minnie Riperton; I hadn't thought of that before but there's definitely an affinity shared between singers like Puthli, Riperton and Linda Lewis.

The one album that was new to me was The Devil Is Loose and I'm not even certain why it took me so long to listen to it but it is good. Very very good. Rush-out-and-get-this-now good. For starters, I think it showcases the possibilities of what disco could bring to pop music that defies all the haters and naysayers - the gloss and glean in the production (all by Dieter Zimmerman) isn't window dressing but an integral part to sonic texture of the album. It's subtly lush, with Zimmerman and Puthli smartly keeping things a bit cool and controlled rather than give into sweeping excess. Moreover, the diversity of styles here are impressive, ranging from the quiet ballad "Let Me In Your Life" (the last song on the sampler) to the slinky funk of "Flying Fish" to the sheer pop charm of "Hello Everyone." The album's best known song (also released on 12") however is "Space Talk," another funky excursion, and arguably, a big influence of the evolution of European disco. If it sounds familiar to some, it may be because the song's been popular sample fodder, including for Biggie.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

posted by O.W.

Cheo Feliciano: Pa Que Afinquen
From Cheo (Vaya, 1971). Also on El Señor Sentimiento.

Al Gonzalez: El Rumbon
From 12" (Disco International, 1977)

The Exciters: Ese Muerto No Lo Cargo Yo
Papi Brandao Y Su Conjunto Aires Tablenos: La Murga De Panama
From Panama! 2: Latin, Calypso & Funk On The Isthmus 1967-77 (Soundway, 2009)

It's been way too long since I put together a Latin post for ya'll (strange too, considering how much Latin I've been adding to the library of late). Some great tunes in this batch, including a sneak peek at two songs from the upcoming Panama 2 anthology due out next week in the U.S.

I had the honor of interviewing Cheo Feliciano the other month for the currently-on-hold Fania Newsletter (the article still hasn't run) and that encouraged me to revisit his absolutely seminal 1971 album, Cheo. It wasn't just one of the best selling salsa albums of all time but the album caps one of the greatest comeback stories in Latin music (or just pop music) history. Cheo was a legend already for his work with the Joe Cuba Sextet, the Palmieris and other Latin luminaries but a severe heroin habit took him out of the game for the latter half of the 1960s. Cheo was a make it/break it album and turned out to revitalize his career, not to mention fill Fania's coffers (Vaya was a Fania subsidiary). This whole album is clásico and I could have pulled out any song (the boleros are especially great) but I find myself continually coming back to "Pa QUe Afinquen," a beautiful little son montuno whose Cuban roots are so lovingly on display in the guitar work. The whole song is the embodiment of "lyrical."

I first became familiar with "El Rumbon" years ago when my friend Chris and Vinnie released it on their Rejoint label. The original version of this comes from the El Rumbon Jam Session, Guito y su Conjunto album where it was a stunning, 5 minute descarga mixing a dark, infectious blend of Afro-Cuban percussion, bass, piano and flute. The song was eventually remixed into an 8 minute monster - one of the many extended Latin mixes that ended up on the Disco Int'l label towards the latter '70s. It is ridiculously good and a great cut for the Latin beginner and devotee alike.

The last two songs (streaming only) are from the upcoming Panama 2 anthology. My man Beto wrote the liner notes for this one too and the selections are choice. What I really appreciate about this volume is that they move into new territory from its predecessor. That one was filled with great examples of soul and funk-flavored tunes from Panama's diverse musical community but on this album, they move more into salsa and especially cumbias, no doubt tapping into Panama's close proximity to the equally rich Colombian music scene.

The Exciters tune is one I've had in the crates for a minute - a slick cumbia with a cavalcade of percussion rumbling beneath those piercing horns and that powerful 2/4 rhythm. And heck, you know I couldn't pass up putting some shine on a cover of Willie Colon's great classic, "La Murga De Panama," especially one that replaces the signature trombone with an accordion. So dope.

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posted by O.W.


posted by O.W.

Joe Bataan and James Pants to combine forces at 3 UK shows,
11th June @ Cargo in London
13th June @ The Wardrobe in Leeds
14th June @ The Hare & Hounds in Birmingham

Pity I won't be in London this summer!

posted by O.W.

I'll be spinning out there in a few weeks, along with J-Rocc and my main man, DJ V-Nutz @ The Shelter.

*And by "peoples" I mean Soul Sides' fans, not, you know, Chinese folks since that'd be about 10,000,000 peoples.


posted by O.W.

The server which stores our images is down temporarily. In the meanwhile, enjoy this "literal" video.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

posted by O.W.

Nicolay - 'Nautilus' (A tribute to Bob James)

An interesting remake but I'm not sure what I actually think of it yet. That said, I'm all for more people working with Bob James' classics.

posted by Eric Luecking

A rare interview with the legendary Sly Stone was conducted by Chris Douridas from KCRW a few days ago and aired yesterday. You can listen to it here.


Monday, May 25, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Donnie: Big Black Buck + Rocketship
From The Colored Section (Giant Step/Motown, 2002)

Donnie: Interview
From 1st Impression (, 1999)

Can an album that was released during this decade already be considered a lost treasure? That's the question to consider with Donnie's debut album, The Colored Section, from 2002.

My first introduction to the man's work came from perusing Dusty Groove's website and seeing the cover art for his 2001 pre-album EP. Some people think I'm crazy for being able to look at an album cover and being able to tell if I'll like its contents. This time my “gift” didn't fail me. There was something about the watermarked image of Donnie with his unkempt afro that told me to cough up the $7. A few days later the UPS man dropped off a package that included this EP and several other goodies.

After an initial listen, my appetite had been whet. I went on a quest to find more Donnie music wherever I could. At that time, was a new venture and Donnie had an EP you could buy (both digitally and on CD) called “1st Impression,” which is no longer available, that predated the previously mentioned EP by a couple years. Included on the EP was an interview (linked above) as well as alternate/demo versions of “Heaven Sent” and “You've Got A Friend,” both of which ended up on The Colored Section. When his debut full-length was released by Giant Step in the fall of 2002, I was on cloud nine. What a gift... to me and to the soul lovers this world over.

To say the album is topical is an understatement. He covers consumerism (“Big Black Buck”), national pride (“Our New National Anthem”), black pride (“Cloud 9”), and loving both others (“Rocketship”) and oneself (“Beautiful Me”) and that's not even half of the album. Take this lyric section from “Big Black Buck,” for example.

"Mama's little baby is nothing but a consumer
Never making a profit
Rendering empty pockets
Mama's little baby is trendy on the rumor
Buying, never investing
While they're busy in market testing
On your town look around it's the first of the month
US economy will get its usual jump
We're creatures of habit, modern slaves
Guaranteed to spend it all in just one place
Mama's little baby is a dancer and a crooner
Making dough for the man
Whipping that big black buck again"

Heavy stuff? I'd say so. The song continues by making other references to modern day society and slaves on the auction block, driving its point home further with a clarinet-heavy Dixieland backdrop.

Where most soul artists introduce themselves to the world with a basic love-themed album (not that there's anything wrong with that), Donnie came out with an album that was as socially conscious as any album in the last 30 years. That's quite telling of an artist's confidence in himself and in his message.

Take Donnie's ode to his afro, a refreshing turn in black pride that doesn't resort to stale or literal metaphors, as another example of artistry with a message.

"Happy to be nappy, I'm black and I'm proud
That I have been chosen to wear the conscious cloud
And I'm fine under cloud 9"

Consciousness, while heavily prevalent, isn't the only message on the album. “Rocketship” is a lover's plea. Included here is an alternate take of the song than what appears on the album. I've always wondered why this version didn't appear on the album as it packs a bigger punch. You've got an inspired vocal, but it has a funky track to back it (check the soul breakdown 3 minutes in).

The album is very Stevie Wonder-esque in approach. Sure, you have lyrics where you don't pick up every nuance on the first bite, but there's also a varied assortment of musical styles by Steve “The Scotsman” Harvey. There's the aforementioned Dixieland on “Big Black Buck,” the gospel fervor of “Wildlife,” the jaunty, Bobbi Humphrey-inspired flute-tinged “Do You Know,” and the reflective, almost lament-filled closer “Welcome To The Colored Section.” Donnie and Harvey bring an album to the table that is neither a singular appetizer, main course, or dessert – it's the full-course meal.

While I won't go so far as to say that the album is a classic – although it's close - (as I reserve such a title for albums that reshape how we think about music and even society – think Marvin's What's Goin' On) as its influence hasn't been as widespread as it deserves to be, I will say that it is an essential document in the soul canon that has every right to stand proud with some of the best the genre has to offer. The album may not make you want to get up and dance (although that's not to say it doesn't have tempo), but it's more likely to make you want to join a local volunteer group or help with voter registration. The Colored Section may not be well-known to mainstream society, but it is perhaps the most important soul album of the last 10-15 years, surpassing albums by modern day legends such as D'Angelo, Jill Scott, John Legend, and Alicia Keys.


posted by O.W.

No disrespect to Dave Mason and Traffic but to me, "Feelin' Alright" has become one of those rock-era standards where the covers > the original (see also: "Spinning Wheel"). I suppose that's a testament to Mason's songwriting that it drew so many fans amongst fellow artists and I've enjoyed how broad its base of popularity has been.

I'm only skimming the surface of the total number of possible versions of this song but pulled out a quartet of personal favorites.

6680 Lexington: Feelin' All Right
From S/T (MGM, 1971)

I always assumed, from the sound of the band, that 6680 Lexington were originally from Louisiana or Arkansas but as it turns out, they were Southern...Southern Californian that is (though I've also seen the band referred to as a Bay Area group). Wherever they're from, they bring a distinctly blues-rock approach to their cover. I dig the opening piano especially (courtesy Dave Garland) and I believe Canned Heat's Chris Morgan is on guitar here.

Rustix: Feelin' Alright
From Bedlam (Rare Earth, 1969)

One of the things that's always struck me about covers of the song is that groups bring in a real funk-flavaored element that I don't really hear in the original. That's very obvious with the aggressive brass and drum beginning to Rustix's version. The group apparently was one of the first white bands signed to Motown's Rare Earth subsidiary. (Ok, what's a bit weird to me is that the label was named after the group Rare Earth yet the Rustix were signed to the label first...not sure how that chronology quite works out but ok...) As you can hear, the group is going for a big sound - blaring banks of horns and it sounds like they're recording in a cavern (in a good way). I like the LP cover for this too - it's die-cut on the top.

West Coast Revival: Feelin' Alright
From S/T (LA International, 1977)

Thus far, this is my favorite version (as evidenced by the fact that I put it out on Soul Sides Vol. 2 - it's so funky and slinky. Not surprisingly, the album was produced by Jerry Goldstein of WAR fame but I don't actually know much about the group itself - they only ever put out this LP and maybe one or two 45s.

Kenny Smith Trio: Feelin' Alright
From For Bassists Only! (Music Minus One Bass) (Music Minus One, 1970)

We end with a lively, instrumental version of the song by the Kenny Smith Trio, featured on a "Music Minus One Bass" instructional album. The A-side (what you hear here) has the bass part included; the flipside is the same identical song with - you guessed it - the bass "minused" so you, the aspiring plucker, can practice over it.

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posted by O.W.

"Highs in the low 70s"

Great little summer mix to help herald the unofficial beginning of the season - love the selections off here.

BTW: Soul Sides Summer Songs series is definitely coming back, perhaps as soon as this week.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Joyo Velarde: Take You Home
From Joyo Velarde EP (Quannum, 2009)

Joyo Velarde. You may have heard the name but not quite sure where. Chances are it was from the Latyrx cut "Balcony Beach," a Cali classic. Joyo has also has performed and written tracks with with her husband, Lyrics Born (who pops up in the video), on his numerous album releases. Now she steps out on her own with her self-titled EP, available this Tuesday, May 26, from all digital distributors.

The vocal arrangements hearken to some '80s steppers. The hook on “Take You Home” reminds me a lot of Exposé's “Come Go With Me” vocally. The EP's opener, “Build This World,” has a slinky, brooding bass line. Closing out the EP is the reggae-tinged Bobby Digital-produced “I Need You Boy.” Kinda makes me feel like I'm back at a festival at the Holiday Inn in Montego Bay on my honeymoon.

Her voice is crisp and full (what else would you expect from someone who trained in opera in Rome) and reaches low, although not quite to Anita Baker or Toni Braxton levels. The EP is a nice opener into Joyo's world, and I can only imagine that this will sell well in sunny areas as it has a nice laidback summer sound. It's perfect beach music or to listen to in a droptop convertible while driving down Highway 1. Later this year, her full length “Love And Understanding” will be released by Quannum. Until then, this should tide you over quite nicely.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

posted by O.W.

The Impressions: The Girl I Find + Seven Years
From Young Mod's Forgotten Story (Curtom, 1969)

It took me much longer to track down a copy of this LP that I thought it would but I'm so glad to finally be able to pair it with its sibling, This Is My Country. Both albums share much in common musically and conceptually and track for track, they arguably constitute two of the most consistent albums in the Mayfield-era of the Impressions.

Despite its more esoteric title, there's a rich earthiness to Young Mod's appeal. The album has a smart balance of ballads ("Soulful Love"), mid-tempo power tracks ("Young Mod's Forgotten Story") and a couple of proto-funk slammers ("Mighty Mighty"). The two songs that stay on my mind (pun intended) include "The Girl I Find," the album's best known slow jam, a beautiful ballad distinguished by Mayfield's signature voice playing off the stirring string accompaniment in the back. I love the swell of horns that enter in around 1:20 and transform the tune's intimacy into something more epic. (What's up with the bird coos though?)

"Seven Years" would be a great groover just on the basis on its infectious swing but what seals the deal here for me are the background vocals "woo wooing" behind Curtis as the song opens; it adds this fantastic layer of harmony that showcases the marvelous intricacy of the Impressions' vocal interplay.


Friday, May 22, 2009

posted by O.W.

Ernie Story: Chain Gang/Disco City
From Meditation Blue (Legend, 1977)

This strange, private press album out of Minnesota came via the Groove Merchant earlier in the year. It was one of those cases where I had credit to burn so I took a chance on an eclectic LP and once I really sat with it, I'm glad I did.

From the title and look of the album, you'd think Ernie Story was some kind of Christian/New Age folk singer but on the LP, it boasts that Story was a songwriter for mostly R&B groups such as The Impressions and Chi-Lites and this seems true - he wrote "Simple Message" for the Impressions' Preacher Man album though I can't seem to find which Chi-Lites song he did.

For his own album however, Story's styles are varied, to say the least, a contrast best captured on these two songs which close out Side A. "Chain Gang" reminds me of Rodriguez's soulful, folksy rock in one moment, but then it drops into a funkier, fuzzed out sound just a few beats later and then there's that unexpected transition into "Disco City" as Story puts together what you might call a "garage disco" joint.

It must be said - Story might have skills as a songwriter but he's not really a very good singer but given that this is a private press album, I suppose that fact is more endearing than annoying (that said, if you don't like his singing on "Disco City," you'll much prefer the B-side's "The E Groove" which is a fantastic little disco instrumental.

I'm curious what Story is doing these days - he doesn't seem to have had an extensive musical career after '77...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

posted by O.W.

45 King feat. Latee: Brainstrom
From For DJs Only (45 King Records, 1992)

45 King feat. Lati: Lati Rocks the Bells
From 12" (Blazin', 2001)

I guess the formula goes like this: 45 King beat + Latee/Lati on the mic + vibes = wickedness.

I posted up "Brainstorm" back in 2007 and I don't know why it didn't occur to me to double it up with "Lati Rocks the Bells" at the time since the two songs, likely separated by a decade or so, share so much in common in terms of their style and literal vibe.

"Brainstorm" if you recall, is from a mega-rare 45 King EP put out in the early '90s that was reissued in 2004 but that too has gone out of print. My man Robbie E. has the full history at and I clearly didn't read his post close enough the first time since I didn't realize there were two pressings of this[1].

Anyways, hot stuff from the 45 King/Latee team, with one of the 45 King's signature drum breaks opening things before the vibes come trotting in. Latee showcases why he was one of the Flavor Unit's most slept-on talents; maybe it was Wild Pitch, maybe it was just bad luck but you would have thought he was poised to really go big in the early '90s but things never seemed to pan out that way.

Much to many folks surprise, Lati (now renamed for unclear reasons) came blasting back in 2001 with Mark again on "Lati Rocks the Bells," an unexpected (but most welcome) 12" pairing the two men again on yet another ridiculously hot, vibe-laced beat. According to one of our readers, the vibes on this cut are taken from a Cal Tjader song (which makes sense). Yo - will this mean we'll see another team-up in the next few years? Make it happen.

[1] Ok, so this part is kind of embarrassing but let this be a lesson on keeping your records in order. I got a copy of this EP off of Robbie back around 2005/6 and in theory, it should still be in my collection. The problem is, the other month, when I tried to find it, I couldn't. And when I say, "I couldn't" I mean I went through practically everything trying to find it, including going through boxes in storage (which I almost never do) and all in vain. There is nothing more frustrating than "losing" a record in your own collection and it was bugging me so badly, I just decided to say, "f--- it" and threw down for another copy. Yeah, I know, impulsive (and expensive, to say the least) but at least I have some piece of mind. One thing though: the new copy I have is what Robbie refers to as the first release - orange on one side, yellow on the other - both featuring the "Mark Head" but according to Robbie, only 50 copies exist of this and I find it rather unlikely I ended up with one of them. I could be wrong, of course, but I'm wondering if maybe there were more copies of the first pressing than was previously thought?


Monday, May 18, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens: What Have You Done
From What Have You Done, My Brother? (Daptone, 2009)

Daptone's latest release by Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, out Tuesday, May 26, is a little bit Sam Cooke, a lot '60s soul, and all in servitude to the Lord. “What Have You Done, My Brother” is such a fine record. Lyrically, it's all gospel but numerous tracks sound straight out of the '60s soul bin. While that may sound foolish knowing it's a Daptone record, credit Cliff Driver and the various Dap-Kings members that play on this record for really giving it a nice soundbed. Also, credit the Gospel Queens - Edna Johnson, Bobbie Jean Gant, and Cynthia Langston - as they really enliven the call-and-response with Shelton.

Driver, the musical director of the group, is a pianist who has backed numerous soul legends such as the R and B of R&B... Ruth Brown, Solomon Burke, and even had a stint in Latin music working with the Johnny Ortega Band. If you recognize the lead vocalist, it's because she appeared on the Desco 45 “41st St. Breakdown” by Naomi Davis and the Knights of Forty First Street and on The Sugarman Three's “Promised Land.”

The album was culled mainly from sessions in the summer of 2007 with some even predating that. The title track is the most secular of the material and has a distinct Daptone sound, which may be the reason why it was chosen as the lead single. Elsewhere “I'll Take The Long Road” and “I Need You To Hold My Hand” really dig deep into the gospel roots and are the two showcases on the album. The former leads with the same guitar lick as Cooke's “That's Where It's At” and is a slow gospel burner. Shelton sings with passion about walking side-by-side on her journey to redemption.

While she's not the firecracker that Sharon Jones is, Naomi exudes a confidence that more than makes up for the lack of sass. After all, who says you have to have attitude to make a good album? With the opening chords on “What Is This,” which resemble the opening of Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” (which is also the album closer), you get a sense that you'll be on a long but righteous road of glory. If you have a set of headphones for your walk, be sure to bring this album with you.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

posted by O.W.

Little Milton: Packed Up and Took My Mind
From Stax: The Soul of Hip-Hop (Stax, 2009)

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed that Stax Records has been finding new ways to package their back catalog. For example, there's the Soulsville Sings Hitsville comp as well as the Stax Does the Beatles album.

The most recent offering takes a page from Blue Note's older, successful Break Beats series by combing through the Stax catalog and pulling out 14 songs that have found second life as hip-hop sample sources. (The funny thing is, I always thought this was the original Stax sample compilation.)

To be candid, this particular comp feels like it's arriving about 10 years late, especially since sampling Stax really hit its zenith in the '90s, but you can't fault the selections.

1. 24-CARAT BLACK – “Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth”
2. THE EMOTIONS – “Blind Alley”
3. BOOKER T. & THE MGs – “Melting Pot”
4. THE BAR-KAYS – “Humpin’”
5. THE DRAMATICS – “Get Up and Get Down”
6. ISAAC HAYES – “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic”
7. ISAAC HAYES – “Hung Up On My Baby”
8. DAVID PORTER – “I’m Afraid the Masquerade Is Over”
9. WENDY RENE – “After the Laughter (Comes Tears)”
10. CHARMELS – “As Long As I’ve Got You”
12. RUFUS THOMAS – “Do the Funky Penguin (Part 1)”
13. LITTLE MILTON – “Packed Up and Took My Mind”
14. WILLIAM BELL - “I Forgot To Be Your Lover”

What I like here is how these choices reflect the vast diversity of Stax/Volt in terms of the styles and artists they embraced in their heyday. It's certainly filled with some personal favorites, including "Blind Alley" and "As Long As I've Got You" and, of course, "I Forgot to Be Your Lover. I picked out the Little Milton song because it's was one of the few tracks on here that I hadn't heard before, but it had such a classic Memphis feel to it (could have totally been a Syl Johnson song!). Seems only right that Ghostface would have used it - the Wu + Stax = winning combo every time.

As a bonus, I pulled out one song that could certainly qualify for a Vol. 2 - Ernie Hines' "Our Generation" which originally came out on We Produce, a Stax subsidiary that was also home to the Temprees.

Ernie Hines: Our Generation
From Electrified (We Produce, 1973)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

posted by O.W.

I was interviewing Mayer Hawthorne today for an upcoming piece that will run around whenever his album drops (sounds like August or Sept. at the latest) and he was remarking how surprised he was that "young kids" (meaning teenagers) have been into his songs and I suggested that it was the "slow jam factor." For all the stereotypes of teens liking angry, rebellious music, there's also the contingent that likes the bump n' grind groovers they can get their red light dance on to or the kind of sweet, lowrider ballads you hear them dedicating to one another on Art Laboe's Sunday Special.

(Note: slow jam fans - which is to say...everyone - will dig Mayer's upcoming LP. Some killer stuff on there, as good if not better than what's already in circulation).

Anyways, as anyone who's ever been to Boogaloo[la] knows (and thanks to everyone who turned out last night), we always try to end the evening on the slow jam tip and I decided to pull out three cuts that have been patiently waiting in queue to get some late night spin:

Steve Parks: Still Thinking of You
From 7" (Reynolds, 197?)

Patti and the Lovelites: Love So Strong
From 7" (Love Lite, 1973)

Young Billy Cole: Sitting In the Park
From 7" (Audio Connection, 1976)

I've posted about Steve Parks before but that was from slightly later in his career than this 7" above. It's a classic amongst Bay Area record heads, part of the small but excellent catalog on Reynolds Records (which is still waiting for a proper anthologizing at some point) and is an unforgettable piece of heartbreakingly melancholy song craft.

"Love So Strong" sounds like something Alicia Keys has spent time studying, doesn't it? (Note: this is a compliment). This Chicago-based group is one of those who skated with limited success for a number of years, ending up on nearly half a dozen labels, including Uni and Cotillion though this single was on what I assume was their own imprint, Love Lite. I am so feeling the whole style of this track, just how laid back and damn soulful it is, especially with the background singing "whoo-hoooing".

Lastly, what's a slow jam without a nod to Billy Stewart's "Sitting In the Park," this cover done rocksteady-style by Young Billy Cole. I don't know full story here but Cole's real name is Winston Francis and he changed it to Billy Cole to record a 1975 song, "Extra Careful" and apparently, the name stuck enough for Cole to continue recording under that name. The version of "Sitting In the Park" here follows closely to the original and you can hear how natural a conversion it is to take Stewart's original and give it a reggae makeover.

(Slow) jam on.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

posted by O.W.

Apologies for the long gap in posts - I'm in "end of the semester" crunch time right now and just haven't had a ton of mental energy left.

Having said that...I was listening (late pass) to the new album by Finale, which has gotten some very strong response amongst the hip-hop blogerati. And I was really struck by the bonus song, "Paid Homage," which is dedicated to the late J-Dilla, produced by Flying Lotus, and interpolating Dilla's "Fall In Love" beat for Slum Village.

It is incredibly striking to me how "Fall In Love" has this mnemonic power to keep recycling back into our musical world, seemingly without tiring out listeners. I've always found that to be the case - as with many, it's one of my favorite Dilla tracks of all time and just in this past year, we've seen it return thrice!

But first, start with the sample source:

Gap Mangione: Diana in the Autumn Wind
From Diana In the Autumn Wind (Josh Music, 1968)

One of these days, I'll throw down for this LP - Mangione nails a great vibe on the whole thing, well-exemplified by the above song but hardly limited to it. Producers certainly have felt the same way; a few cuts off the LP have been sampled and "Diana" alone has had different segments clipped.

So here's that Slum Village cut I was talking about. I'm assuming you all have heard it but for the two in the world who haven't, get ready for a treat:

Slum Village: Fall In Love
From Fantastic, Vol. 2 (Goodvibe, 2000)

Great opening drums, beautiful filtered sample of the Mangione, an instant classic.

One, two.

So just how popular has "Fall In Love" gotten? As noted, in just the last year we've had three reworkings. I'll start with the Suite From Ma Dukes version.

Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Fall In Love
From Suite for Ma Dukes (Mochilla, 2009)

I've written much about this EP already and this is a lovely interpolation of the Mangione but neither a true cover of either Gap's OG or the SV's tune. It takes those two sources as a starting point and then works from there.

The Ins vs. Fleur Earth: Fall In Love
From 7" (MPM, 2008)

This actually came out last year but I hadn't heard it until more recently - this is more of a direct, instrumental cover of the SV song though vocally, it's just the chorus being repeated over a loungey interpretation of Dilla's beat. And that brings us to:

Finale: Paid Homage
From A Pipe Dream and a Promise (Interdependent, 2009)

True to the song's title, Finale and Fly-Lo do up this homage right on so many levels - Finale's autobiographical tale of meeting and building with Dilla feels real and heartfelt and Fly-Lo recreates the "Fall In Love" beat through his own sonic vision, paying tribute in his own way to a musical mentor. Great way to end the album and a fitting way to close this post.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

posted by O.W.

I have 5 Year Anniversary Special CDs ready now - I'll probably give away a dozen or so tonight to whoever asks.

Come on out!


Saturday, May 09, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Brothers Johnson: Stomp
From Light Up The Night (A&M, 1980)

Frankie Smith: Double Dutch Bus
From Double Dutch Bus (Unidisc, 1994)

Gil Scott-Heron: Johannesburg
From From South Africa To South Carolina (TVT, 1976)

Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels: Shake A Tail Feather
From Rev Up: The Best Of Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels (Rhino/WEA, 1989)

Mothers don't get their due when it comes to passing along the gift of music. So many times I've read articles where an interviewer asks an artist or producer about their influences only to get a response like, “Pops played in a local funk band,” or “My dad gave me a bunch of his LPs that we used to listen to at the house when I was growing up.” This isn't THAT story. I'm no artist or producer, although I can play a little bit of piano and a carry a beat on drums. What I am is a guy who LOVES music of all kinds, and it all started with my mother.

I couldn't tell you a lot about my dad's musical tastes other than he liked Neil Diamond according to my mom. He died when I was only a few months old. My stepdad wasn't much into music either. But my mom? She loves her some music, especially something that makes her want to dance or just flat out makes her feel good.

As a kid, I didn't care for “her” music much. There were a few songs that were okay, but given the chance I would have much rather listened to 96 WSTO, the local pop station. My older brother and I went nuts when Janet Jackson's “Nasty” or Prince's “Kiss” came on. We liked our MJ, too. When I was in my teens and we'd visit the big city, I couldn't wait to turn on the hip hop station, and did my mom ever hate it! She was a good sport, though, as she put up with as much as she could before saying she couldn't take it anymore. It was just “cool” to hear the latest jams – and to like something my mom didn't, in part to have my own identity. My mom's old fuddy-duddy music? Not so cool, or at least I didn't think so at the time.

My mom never has been much of an albums kind of lady. The songs she likes aren't all that obscure. Most of the cassettes/CDs/LPs she has are greatest hits or compilations. It was only a couple months ago she wanted to upgrade to CD versions of the 70s Preservation Society's “Disco Fever” 2-CD comp she had on cassette, which she can no longer play in her car since it only has a CD player. The only problem was that the comp was out of print. So after a few minutes of scouring eBay, I scored a good price and she was happy as could be. I mean seriously elated. You should have seen the smile on her face. Priceless.

In our house, it was always a party when we heard some Brothers Johnson “Stomp” (a song that was not uncommon to rewind and do it all again) or do some rock-soul growling with Mitch Ryder's version of the Purify's “Shake A Tail Feather.” We used to promenade through the living room to “Double Dutch Bus” and do “The Hustle” right along with Van McCoy. We played air guitar to Ray Parker, Jr.'s, “The Other Woman.” We even got a little righteous with it to Gil Scott-Heron's “Johannesburg” - pretty hip stuff for a white family in Small Town, USA.

One of my favorite pictures of our family is a picture that was taken from the balcony above the living room of my mom, with her lovely early '80s coif, and brother each with an air-mic (it may even have been a salt and pepper shaker set) singing – no, make that SANGin' – while the stereo was bumping. And did it ever bump in that house. My friend used to tell me how she could hear the music at her house... 2 houses up the road!

Today, it's hard to turn my mom on to new-to-her old school music. When I hear something today that I think she'd like, it's a hard sell. “I just like the ones I used to play and know,” she tells me. It can be a hard concept to wrap my head around since, to me, the songs may have the same vibe. A good friend of mine, Apollo, who is a club and mobile DJ, told me several years ago it all has to do with nostalgia. For her, it may not have anything to do with the sound of the actual music; it may only be where that music takes her – back to the Victory, a local dance club she went to as a young adult that had a lighted dancefloor that I can only imagine was similar to Saturday Night Fever, or back to an unforgettable New Year's Dance, or a song that got her in the mood. The music was just the soundtrack to her life. With each listen, she can time travel back.

That musical tradition carried forth when my brother, who has run his own mobile DJ business for nearly 20 years, and I threw a surprise 60th birthday party for her a few years ago. With a few drinks and a few friends in attendance at the local Elks Lodge, we had a blast. Those friends didn't just include those couples with whom my mom always hung out. Also in attendance were friends such as Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger, and Vicki Sue Robinson, who made their way via CDs and speakers. Had we ever met those folks? Absolutely not, but we certainly spent a lot of time with them at our house, and they meant a lot to us, even if it was in a more indirect, but no less important, relationship than with our actual family friends.

As I got older, I started to appreciate how much work goes into music and started to piece together of how the “science” of music (how it is constructed), how it makes me feel, and how those interrelate. Nostalgia is a funny creature. Much of the music I love now I wasn't alive to hear when it was made, but it takes me back to a fun time growing up in a household where music, dancing, and expression were almost as important as eating dinner together. But this story isn't about me. It's about a mother – my mother – who wasn't trying to teach us anything about music; she was just trying to have a good time, and in the process she passed along something that I'll certainly always cherish. Just like my mom.

Happy Mother's Day.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

posted by O.W.

Like a Throttle

New blog by one of my favorite producers out there, DJ Day.

posted by O.W.

Andy Loore (aka Janko Nilovic): Opium Du Diable + Mixed Drums
From Ambiance Rhythmes Vol. 5 (Neuilly, 1970)

Andy Loore is one of the nearly dozen pseudonyms used by French composer Janko Nilovic, arguably that country's finest purveyor of funky library-style recordings in the 1960s and '70s. These two songs come off of one of his more obscure recordings - a 1970 10" (yeah, weird, right?) for the library imprint Neuilly and the entire side B is basically a series of sick drum, bass and organ workouts. As befits a song that translates into "Opium of the Devil," "Opium Du Diable" has a slow, druggy feel to it in the beginning and then gradually switches up into more of a psychedelic, mod-soul tune once the organ winds its way in. (Drugs were apparently big on Nilovic's mind since this same EP also has a song called "Enfer Et Marijuana" on it).

For pure minimalist funk though, it's hard to find too many songs better than "Mixed Drums," a tune most have either heard through the Beatnuts' using it for "It's the Nuts" or else on one of the Dusty Fingers volumes that comped it. As one of my friends like to put it, "this tune is hip-hop before there was a hip-hop." I feel that.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

posted by O.W.

This promises to be an awesome mix of Bay Area soul records.

soul persuasion: The Bay Is Deep

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posted by O.W.

Betty Padgett: Sugar Daddy (Pt. 1) + Rocking Chair
From Betty Padgett (Luv N' Haight, 2009)

Sounds like my man DJ Sureshot was partially responsible for bringing this LP back into light, almost 25 years after its original release. Betty Padgett is part of the South Florida soul scene - a rich site indeed - and that's where she met Milton Wright back in the early '70s. That encounter eventually produced (literally and figuratively) this album in 1975 and it's easy to hear why there'd be interest in re-releasing this so many years later.

The album has intriguing mix of several styles - disco most obviously, but also reggae and modern soul - and Padgett's bright voice helps contrast with the earthiness of the rhythm section. "Sugar Daddy" was also released on 12" and it's a fun listen, not the least of which is due to the lyrics which finds Padgett singing to her benefactor about trips to Italy and diamond rings. Get that gold, girl!

As for "Rocking Chair," it's one of at least two cover songs dedicated to Padgett's contemporaries in the Miami soul scene - in this case, Gwen McCrae (the other is a cover of Betty Wright's "Tonight's the Night"). Personally, I love any cover of "Rocking Chair," especially one with a heavy ska influence on the bass. Jam on it!

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posted by O.W.

JBX (Jared Boxx): The Fillmore Remixes


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posted by O.W.

I'll be on Garth Trinidad's show tonight, during the 9pm hour, talking about the site and spinning about 30 minutes worth of soul 7"s. You can listen in online for those outside the LA area.

Garth Trinidad - KCRW


posted by O.W.

Westbound Records: The Sounds Of Detroit : NPR Music


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

I apologize for not posting this sooner. My wife went into labor last week and I have been quite busy taking care of the new mom and baby.

The 3 winners for the Mulatu Astatke and Heliocentrics album are Jim Champion from Texas and Jay Johnson and John Watson, both from California.


1Q. Name the Ethiopian label for which Mulatu Astatke recorded many of his classics in the late 60s and 70s.
1A. Amha

2Q. Collaborating with Mulatu on the new album are the Heliocentrics who are led by this drummer.
2A. Malcolm Catto

3Q. A song on the new album, Inspiration Information Vol. 3, is named after an instrument used by Ethiopian minstrels. Name that instrument.
3A. Masenqo

Thank you to K7/Strut for providing a few copies to give away and thank you to the Soul-Sides faithful for your continued support!

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posted by O.W.

First of all, Soul Sides is celebrating its 5th anniversary party in Los Angeles at the Shortstop next Thursday (May 14th). I'll be spinning solo, trying to mix in as many "Soul Sides classics" (presuming such a thing exists) as possible. I would love to see my Southland posse roll out in full force.

That night, I'm also debuting the 5th Anniversary Special CD, which will include as many of the 20 "5 Year Rewind" songs as I can fit. Free to anyone who comes up and asks for one (while supplies last, of course). I'll also try to tape the entire 4 hour set and I'll make that available (via an email list) to anyone who rolls through.

For the rest of you not living in LA (or who actually have to work on Friday mornings), I decided to try a little experiment. Rather than sell these, I prefer to barter them - for goods or services. People can offer what they want; it obviously doesn't have to be expensive but ideally, it's something connected to you - your interests, your career, your hobbies, etc. To me, this is just an interesting way to learn more about the people who read the site.

(This said, I'll be completely self-serving right now and say that I''m definitely down to barter one of these to anyone who can help me get some discount tickets to Disneyland. The Great Mouse is sticking me for my papers!)

Mull it over - this could turn out to be a complete failure of an idea but I'm hoping there's folks out there who'd be game to swap something of theirs for something of mine. Drop your barter offer to here.

And hey, just so you don't leave empty-handed right now, here's a cover of Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio" I recently came across, from some random exploitation LP. Overall, it's not better than Coffey's but the percussion breakdown in the middle is pretty massive.

The Sound Effects: Scorpio
From Summer '72 (QMO, 1972)

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Monday, May 04, 2009

posted by O.W.

Flickr: advantagelogan's Photostream

(Thanks: Todd Inoue)


Friday, May 01, 2009

posted by O.W.

Ohio Players: Ecstasy
From Ecstasy (Westbound, 1973)

It's always a nice surprise to engage a song you've known for years but never really listened to until you happen upon it again and realize: holy sh--, this is awesome."

That happened when I was scrolling through the "Beat Deconstruction" of Reasonable Doubt written by Dan Love and posted to Jef Weiss' blog. I was flipping through the various songs and arrived at the Ohio Players' "Ecstasy," which I've owned for years but I realized, at best, I probably listened to the track at "the middle distance," (i.e. a song you hear in a room someplace, not quite in the background but not in the car or on headphones either).

I'm not sure why, this time, I stuck with the song but by about a minute in, I was convinced this was possibly one of the greatest things ever. I know I avoided going all formalist deconstruction on "Maybe So, Maybe No," but I feel compelled to go all hyper-dissection on "Ecstasy," mostly because I marvel over how this song manages to work so well with its subtle touches.

For one, the main rhythmic/melodic cycle is in five bars, not the conventional four (if I recall, that's why "Brooklyn's Finest" has Jay-Z and Biggie switching off every five bars, which is pretty unusual in a rap song). And I like the call-and-response in the rhythm section between the first three beats in each measure and that heavy emphasis on the "one". That's most obvious during the part of the song where the back-up singers cry out "oh!" but even before that, the squeal of the guitar on the first beat of each bar already sets up that relationship. And do you catch how a tambourine comes in for the first time, midway through the song? It's not that prominent but texturally, it adds another layer of sonic dynamics.

And hell, what can you say about Sugarfoot on the vocals? He's halfway incomprehensible (I suppose, overcome with ecstasy), not to mention inexplicably going from talking to the audience, "let me tell you about my baby," to talking to his lover, "loving you is ecstasy to me", and while it'd be a serious mistake to try to copy his vocals, you find yourself trying to hit those falsetto notes as he screams and hollers his way through the his half of the song. And heck, I haven't even gotten to talk about how great the back-up singers are here or the beauty of the piano melody.

In short, I just love how with every five bars, this song evolves and shifts, with a new set of surprises awaiting. The only part that doesn't work is the sax that comes in at the end - a bit too "cheesy sax" for my taste but then again, the song pretty much ends before it gets too grating so hey, even that one weak point is quickly swept away.

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posted by O.W.

Bambu: 2 Dope Boyz Drop (prod. by DJ Phatrick)
From (2009)

Just wanted to share this - a really cool drop that my man (and former student!) DJ Phatrick put together with Bambu for the 2 Dope Boyz website. Nice production and Bambu puts it down as usual.