Wednesday, September 30, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Shafiq Husayn: Podcast (Mixed by Garth Trinidad)
From Unreleased (Promotional mix/podcast for “En A-Free-Ka” - Plug Research, 2009)

Here's a promotional mix/podcast of Sa-Ra Creative Partners member Shafiq Husayn's upcoming project “En A-Free-Ka,” available starting October 6. It follows his career from his own work, including tracks from his upcoming album, to work he's done for others such as Jurassic 5, King Tee, and Ms. Badu. 60 minutes of goodness that is highly recommended!! (Click the link above to be taken to another page to listen to the podcast.)


Sa-Ra - Fantastic Vampyre (OG version) - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra exclusive - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Shafiq Husayn w/ Fatima - Lil' Girl - Shafiq En' A-Free Kah - Plug Research - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Shafiq Husayn - Nirvana - Shafiq En' A-Free Kah - Plug Research - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Jill Scott - Breathe - The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3 - Hidden Beach - prod by Sa-Ra
John Legend - Maxine - Once Again - Sony Music - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra exclusive - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
King Tee - Trifflin Nigga - The Triflin' Album - Capitol Records - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Jurassic 5 - Twelve - Quality Control - Interscope Records - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra - we are Ra - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Shafiq Husayn w/ Bilal - Cheeba - Shafiq En' A-Free Kah - Plug Research - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Sa-Ra - Drug Traffika - Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love - Ubiquity Records - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra exclusive - EXCLUSIVE - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Erykah Badu - Me - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) - Universal Motown/Control Freaq - prod by Shafiq Husayn
Erykah Badu - Master Teacher - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) - Universal Motown/Control Freaq - co prod by Shafiq Husayn
Sa-Ra - Bitch Baby- Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love - Ubiquity Records - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra w/ Pharoahe Monch - Glorious - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra
Sa-Ra - Master Teazer (Ken's revenge edit) - Non Album - prod by Sa-Ra

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posted by Eric Luecking

Binky Griptite: The Stroll Pt 2 (Snippet)
From The Stroll 7” (Daptone, 2009)

Dap King member/leader Binky Griptite has come to the forefront with his Stroll. Where I'm typically drawn to horn stabs and vocals over instrumental affairs, the flip-side “The Stroll Part 2” reworked instrumental peaked my interest more. The “dirty ho” lyrics just didn't quite sit right with me over the funky stylings presented. As mentioned above, the instrumental version is an altered version of the backing track. The horns are gone and the bongos are buried a little more in the mix. The lead vocals are replaced with a nice guitar lead, almost in a lite Freddie King styling which complements the thick bass riff quite well.

Darrell Banks: Don't Know What To Do (Snippet)
From Don't Know What To Do 7” (Daptone, 2009)

Just released last week on Daptone's Ever-Soul imprint, Darrell Banks' 1969 cuts (which were both lifted from his “Here To Stay” LP) are some pleading soulfulness, one in which he's pondering how to go on after being left and the other in which he learned his lesson and reserved a spot for his lovely lady. On “Don't Know What To Do” Darrell goes from gruff David Ruffin vocal stylings in the opening moments to smoother sounding Marvin Gaye when he eases up on the gas pedal. The Detroit influence was there because, well, he was from the Motor City. However, instead of a Motown/Tamla release, Darrell released these pieces on Stax/Volt, although it is believed that both Memphis and Detroit players laid down the music. The background woo-woos really add flair to an already nice accompaniment. Meanwhile the chunky bass keeps things afloat in his plea to win back his lost love. Hey, for whatever it's worth Darrell, I was won over with this 45.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

posted by O.W.

As I've gotten older, I've appreciated the complex brilliance of complicated arrangements and layers of melodies and rhythms. But hey, sometimes you just like getting back to the basics: a good bassline and a breakbeat. It's certainly one of the solid foundations of hip-hop beats in the vaunted Golden Era and I still can't help but gravitate towards them.

Think of Clyde Stubblefield and Bootsy Collins double-teaming the breakdown on James Brown's "Give It Up or Turn It Loose" or Afro-Latin groove on Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio." And let's not even talk about the redonkulous combo of George Porter Jr. and Zigaboo Modeliste. (I should also specify; the main criteria is not just the presence of a good bassline with a serviceable drum track behind. Ideally, you want a break that can do both well).

The following is an informal, slapping together of a few of my favorite bassline n' break moments from a number of songs, some of which you'll probably recognize, some you may not (and yeah, there's no tracklisting because I'm on that tip today, ha!)

V/A: Basslines + Breakbeats (, 2009)

Feel free to take stabs at the tracklist PLUS add your own favorites in the comments.


Friday, September 25, 2009

posted by O.W. just ran my Music List based around the tunes of Latin soul great Harvey Averne:

Harvey Averne: Viva Latin Soul : NPR

Read and enjoy!

posted by O.W.

Nostalgia 77 feat. Alice Russell: 7 Nation Army
The Hot 8 Brass Band: Sexual Healing (Re-Edit)
Both from Tru Thoughts Covers (Tru Thoughts, 2009)

My first encounter with Tru Thoughts probably came via the Nostalgia 77, back in 2004 when I first wrote about their amazing cover of The White Stripes' 7 Nation Army. What I marveled about 5 years back was how it, "switches out the cold, cold vocals of Jack White and replaces it with Alice Russell's searing soulistics. I'm not saying this is get a bunch of emo kids into the mosh pit but I'm feeling how this just rips things up a bit but keep the mood very tense and controlled." I still think this kicks major ass (even though I'm less likely to use such purple prose as "searing soulistics") - especially how it takes the main bassline from the original and then juices it up bigger than a BALCO ball player (I'm still not above hyperbole though, obviously). It's a monster.

I resurrect this song because Tru Thoughts just put it as the lead track off their new Tru Thoughts Covers compilation which seems overdue given the label's impressive track record for striking reconstructions of many kinds of songs, old and new. For example, you have the Quantic Soul Orchestra covering both 4Hero, Kylie Auldist covering Jeff Buckley, and in an example of pop eating itself, Bonobo covering Quantic.

However, besides the Nostalgia 77 song, the single best thing on here is really one of the single best things ever: the Hot 8 Brass Band remaking Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." If you haven't heard this before...well, I'd be a bit astounded because it's gotten a lot of play over the years...but if you haven't, then at least you get your mind blown now. Heck, I've heard it dozens of times and this still blows me away. Brass bands + Marvin Gaye classics = a good combination.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

The winners of the Brownout album are Harry from blustery Minnesota, Bao from Washington, and Mark from Maryland.

You can still download this FREE mixtape of Brownout mixed by DJ Chicken George. And don't forget to check them out on tour. If you like what you hear, give 'em your hard-earned dollars and buy the new album.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

posted by O.W.

My weekly party in Los Angeles, ¡Boogaloo! now has its own Facebook and Twitter pages. Join us at both and keep up to our going-ons.


R.O.C. R.I.P.
posted by O.W.

I had been meaning to write something about the death of DJ Roc Raida but my man Hua pretty much said everything I would have and more.

The only thing I would add is that Raida's passing was different for me from MJ and John Hughes, though those latter two men certainly played a role in defining my childhood. Raida was, for all intents and purposes, a peer, part of my "cohort." My transition into adulthood came concurrently with me becoming a DJ and being witness and participant in the larger world that DJs like Roc Raida were kings of. I mourn his death but celebrate his legacy.


posted by O.W.

The Impossibles: Easy to Be Hard b/w
From Hot Pepper (Phillips, 1975)

The Impossibles: Satin Soul
From Stage Show (SSP, 197?)

It's been over two years since I last posted about the Impossibles but that's partially because it's taken over two years for me to finally add another album of theirs to the collection. The Impossibles are pretty much the only Thai funk band that anyone outside of Thailand is familiar with and that's in large part due to the fact that they toured Europe and the U.S. and released an album on Phillips, recorded in Sweden.

However, more than just being a curiosity of 1970s cross-cultural/musical fusion, the Impossibles also cut some damn good sides. The Hot Pepper album can regularly fetch in the ballpark of $200 and up and I have to say, I think it's totally worth it in terms of the overall caliber of the album and its inclusions.

The standout is their cover of Kool and the Gang's "Give It Up"; it'd be the obvious one to post...which is precisely why I'm not posting it (you can find it on Chairman Mao and DJ Muro's excellent Run For Cover II mix-CD). I'd rather put up two other songs that I find even more intriguing. The first really blew my mind when I started listening; a cover of "Easy to Be Hard," a song from the Hair but one I associate more with Three Dog Night's version. It's clear The Impossibles do too; their cover is riffing off TDN's but they really funk it up in ways the rock band didn't - check the reverb on the guitar and the way the horns creep in. When the vocals come in, it just takes you there - so soulful, so melancholy. The ramp up to Tony Bennett-land halfway through is a bit jarring but overall, I find the song exceptionally well-executed in terms of how it builds tension and release and the interplay between the dreaminess of the vocals and the music.

As for "California" it's a more conventional funk song, opening with a basic breakbeat stomp and then sliding into a groove that wouldn't be out of place from an Average White Band album. Personally, I'm feeling how this is an ode to California and San Diego, in particular. I can't figure out if this is a cover or not - it's not exactly easy to google "California". My guess is that this is one of the few original songs on the album and based off the group's experience touring the U.S. California, represent...'sent.

I also pulled another song off the group's recorded-in-Thailand Stage Show LP. This is a cover of the Barry White production, "Satin Soul" (originally a Love Unlimited Orchestra tune). Once again, a strong breakbeat opener that then slides into some screechy guitar and a heavily vamped up organ that deliver the song's signature riff. Because this was apparently recorded live, the audio quality could stand to be better but overall, I think this bumps quite nicely.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

posted by O.W.

Gloria Ann Taylor: World That's Not Real
From 7" single (Selector Sound, 197?)

Gloria Taylor: Deep Inside You
From 7" single (Columbia, 1973)

Speaking of songs that totally throw me, "World That's Not Real" is one of the more unsettling songs I've ever sat with, ever since I heard it off Matthew Africa's blog. I don't even mean lyrically, though, as you can probably guess, it's not a happy tune. Just listen to how this song unfolds - it's creepy and ominous from jump and only goes further into darker places when Taylor's piercing vocals coming in. But just wait until the song reaches :53 or so - there's that crazy chord that sounds like Death's ringtone that comes in out of nowhere and the composition shifts, inexplicably, into a slightly happier feel which is then abetted by the reverbed, over-dubbed vocals around 1:30 but then Taylor goes back into the "world that's not real" chorus and for the remainder of the song, it just teeters in this uncomfortable space, balanced above the abyss. At no point does the song ever give over to anything resembling "comfort" and as it fades, it just leaves you out there, in the twilight.

The same ambiguity also surrounds "Deep Inside You," which bears more than a loose resemblance. There's a Selector Sound 7" that has both songs on the same disc (mine has "Music") though "Deep Inside You" also appeared on a Columbia promo 7" and this holy grail private press disco EP. It's a more driving song - with a more aggressive rhythm section and Taylor's vocals are more forceful. But that distinctive reverb is still slathered everywhere here and overall, Taylor's plaintive vocals are a close cousin to what she does on "World That's Not Real."

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posted by O.W.

Summer Songs 2009 is officially over. I left y'all with one last tune to ride into the fall with.

To recap, for those who slept, our guests this summer were:

Pete L'Official
Michael Gonzales
Scott Saul
Eric Luecking
Gaye Theresa Johnson
Andrew Mason
Adam Dunbar
Jeff Weiss
Michael Barnes
...and yours truly on a few occasions.

See you back in 2010.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

posted by O.W.

Lyn Christopher: Take Me With You
From S/T (Paramount, 1973)

Tyrone and Carr: Take Me With You
From 7" single (Jam, 1973). Also on Kings of Diggin'.

Here's a bit of a musical mystery...

Unless you're a hardcore KISS fan - or are just into LPs with foxy ladies on the cover - "Take Me With You" is probably the only Lyn Christopher song you've ever heard. And even then, had it not been for the Smut Peddlers, you probably wouldn't even say that much. Nonetheless, Christopher's self-titled debut - and the 7" version of "Take Me With You" - have been heavy collectibles by at least two different crowds. The first are KISS fans; Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley played on her album before they would blow up as KISS (technically, I think the band existed but their debut album wouldn't come out until 1974).

After Smut Peddlers looped this up lovely in 1998, it then got "outed" on Dusty Fingers Vol. 3 and that all helped blow things up for sample hounds who began to chase after the LP and 7" versions. It's easy to see why: it is so downright sultry and funky, possessed of a seductive sensuality that rings through when Christopher croons, "every morning/every evening." Yes, please, take us with you.

But here's the thing...I heard what I thought was a cover of this song by Tyrone and Carr on the Kings of Diggin' compilation by Kon, Amir and Muro (this being one of the songs on K&A's half). It's a very similar version, especially with that telltale bassline that's such a distinctive part of both. Tyrone and Carr's approach is more modern soul-y (if you had told me this was recorded in the early '80s, I would have totally believed that). Very smooth stuff and nice use of both acoustic guitar and electric keys. The interplay between male and female vocals is also an interesting approach, as is the shift in the back half of the song with the addition of horns and more percussion.

It took a minute but I was lucky enough to come two copies of their single - one of Jam from 1973, the other being the second issue on DJM from '75. And this is where things get interesting...

Which is the cover? I think most have assumed it was Christopher first but only because hers is, by virtue of its noteriety, the definitive version. But all that means is that she has the best known version, not necessarily the first.

Both releases are credited to 1973 though this site puts Tyrone and Carr's single as a March 1973 release, making it less likely that they're covering Christopher unless her album came out Jan 1 or something. However, on Christopher's own site, it says the album was recorded in 1972, which would put it ahead of the Tyrone and Carr 7".

However, "Take Me With You" was written by Kaplan Kaye, a producer and songwriter who worked for... Jam. It seems more likely to me that Kaye gave his song to an artist on the label he works for and that song goes on to get covered elsewhere than for him to give the song to Christopher and then return to find a Jam artist to record it.

Moreover, musically, I feel like it Christopher's version sounds like a cover insofar as it adds something that isn't there on Tyrone and Carr's - the very beginning of the song with that haunting back-and-forth between the (what the hell is it? A guitar? A horn?) and bassline. That sounds like something a smart arranger throws on to distinguish their cover from the original. In contrast, the Tyrone and Carr don't have anything like that - the bassline is there but that's it. It's possible they could have stripped off Christopher's intro but it's so distinctive, you'd think if theirs was the cover, they'd try to riff off it somehow.

There's nothing "at stake" here except simply establishing a correct timeline of who-covered-who. Personally, I love insider baseball stuff like this and besides, it gives me the opportunity to post up what I think are two excellent tunes, regardless of which came first.

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posted by Eric Luecking

Sad news today confirming that legendary turntablist Roc Raida of the X-Ecutioners passed away this weekend. According to a statement from his family, he was was recently involved in a mixed martial arts accident.

The statement reads:

“Anthony Williams p/k to the world as The Legendary Grandmaster Roc Raida has passed away unexpectedly today September 19 2009. He is survived by his wife, three lovely daughters, mother and friends. Raida was recently in an mixed martial arts accident, something that he has been practicing for several years. Although he had under gone two surgeries with great success, was released to an inpatient physical therapy facility and was in great spirits the past few days. This morning he started to have complications and passed. The family asks for privacy at this time.”

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Friday, September 18, 2009

posted by O.W.

Melvin Bliss: Synthetic Substitution
From 7" single (Sunburst, 1973)

UBB: Synthetic Substitution
From 7" single (Street Beat, 2009)

It took a long, long, long time, but I finally got around to copping Melvin Bliss' breakbeat classic, "Synthetic Substitution." In a sense, it's a song I've heard many times, at least the first bar, given how popular a drum break it's been. But it's been a long time since I actually listened to the song itself and when it arrived in the mail, I threw it on and just let it ride and was reminded of this:

It is one of the more eclectic of the classic breakbeat songs I can think of. James Brown songs - "Funky Drummer" - are awesome but they're straight ahead funk tunes. They "make sense" the same way Skull Snaps' "It's a New Day" or the Honeydrippers' "Impeach the President" make sense; they're great tunes but nothing about them necessarily throw you.

"Synthetic Substitution" totally throws me. Just listen to how it unfolds: that signature breakbeat gives way to the darkness of the keys, then an unexpected vocal drop-in which is so solemn in tone. Listen to the lyrics - it's some heady stuff. But then the song swings in feel midway through (I want to say it goes from minor to major but I may be wrong) only to give back ground to the song's inherent somberness. This song may be many things but simple or straight forward it is not.

Earlier in the year, the Ultimate Beats and Breaks (band?) released an instrumental cover of the song that's been getting some good responses. I think it's pretty solid but to me, the song isn't the same sans lyrics. I'll let you decide.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Brownout: Olvidalo
From Aguilas And Cobras (Six Degrees, 2009)

Six Degrees has been kind enough to give us THREE copies of a Brownout's latest effort, Aguilas And Cobras, to give away. This is a great precursor to next month's Latin Music PBS special OW mentioned about a month ago.

The album is musical hot sauce and is sure to set your feet ablaze when you're grooving to their heavy riffs - the guitarist absolutely smokes! You can download this FREE mixtape of Brownout mixed by DJ Chicken George if you aren't familiar with the band.

Brownout has a few California tour dates left in September before going on a couple week break. But fear not, they start back at it in October hitting up New York, New Orleans, and DC to name a few. Check out their MySpace page for a listing of dates.

To win a copy, simply e-mail soulsideseric AT and put Brownout in the subject line. I will randomly select 3 names from all entries next Wednesday, September 23, 2009.

Contest Rules:

1. Contest ends at midnight on Wednesday, September 23, 2009. Entries that arrive after that time are ineligible.
2. Only US addresses are eligible. Sorry international readers!
3. Only 1 entry per person.

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posted by Eric Luecking

The winner of the latest contest at Soul-Sides is Asad from the Windy City. Congratulations on winning the new Breakestra single! Don't forget that the album, From Dusk Till Dawn, is out on September 29th. For the rest of you wanting to hear the new song, it is out NOW on vinyl and digital formats. Many thanks to Strut Records for sponsoring the contest and especially to you, our readers, for your continued support!

Contest Questions/Answers:

Q1. Breakestra is led by this “Music Man,” Miles ________. Fill in the missing word.
A1. Tackett
Q2. Name the title of their debut album. (Hint: It's NOT one of the mixtape releases.)
A2. Hit The Floor
Q3. “Music Man” Miles also released a non-Breakestra mixtape in 2004 under the name DJ Miles that was “Live From Hollywood.” Name the mixtape title.
A3. Funky Sole, Vol. 1

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

posted by O.W.

If ya'll haven't reached Mayer fatigue yet, here's my review of his new album for

Monday, September 14, 2009

posted by O.W.

If you're in Los Angeles this week and have a free Wednesday open, come through to the Verdugo Bar and listen to my hour-long Aretha tribute set.[1] It's been a real pleasure revisiting Aretha to pick out songs for the set - I'll have some obvious crowd-pleasers in there but I also wanted to highlight some lesser known songs by her, including a few choice selections from her recent Rare and Unreleased compilation plus a couple of selections from her Columbia years output.

The latter, as my longtime readers should know, is one of my favorite "underrated catalogs" to turn to time and time again.[2] I'm not claiming Aretha's early years trumps her Atlantic reign - nothing can. But there is so much great singing to be enjoyed in those years that it seems myopic to ignore them simply because Jerry Wexler wasn't producing her then. Here's two songs that did NOT make the tribute mix, just to give you an idea that her catalog is so strong I can afford to leave great stuff like this out.

Aretha Franklin: Runnin' Out of Fools b/w
Cry Like a Baby
From The Queen In Waiting (Columbia, 2002)

For my sample-hounds, I feel like someone's used "Cry Like a Baby" but can't remember who. Any help?

[1] By the way, DJ Phatrick of Devil's Pie is returning the favor the next night by coming out and spinning with me at Boogaloo! Catch us both nights and I promise you a copy of the Aretha mix once we get copies made. Just remember one song from my Aretha set and any song I play at the Shortstop this week as "proof."

[2] Can I just add that I cannot believe I wrote that review seven years ago. Damn, I feel old.

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posted by O.W.

The Posse: You Better Come Out and Play b/w That's What Makes Us Happy
From 7" (EJC, 197?)

Lil' slice of Michigan funk here; the A-side sounds like something Norman Whitfield might have whipped up for the Temptations in their psychedelic era but then accidentally ended up in the hands of the Jackson 5 (albeit, the Posse's falsetto lead here is no MJ). The lyrics make it sound innocent but the vibe is so dark that when the singer croons, "you better come out and play," it sounds like a threat made by an arsonist holding a Moltov. I'm just saying. Flipside is a more conventional, mid-tempo sweet soul tune about cotton candy and ferris wheels; talk about an incongruous A/B side combo. (Thanks to Cool Chris for this one).

Little Denice: Check Me Out b/w You Can Teach Me New Things
From 7" (Ruthies, 196?)

This 7" by Little Denice is a two-fer two ways: not only is it a remarkably solid A/B-side, it's also simultaneously one of my favorite kid funk and Bay Area singles. I don't know much about the artist or the players here at all; her backing band is pretty bad ass and Little Denice herself is a frickin' monster on this single. "Check Me Out" is so salacious that it feels a bit dirty listening to it as she brags about "no other woman could take a man from me." Damn girl, slow down! "You Can Teach Me New Things" is pretty much the same song, content-wise, with another horn-heavy funk track powering Denice's precocity.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Once upon a time, there were these four lads from Liverpool... and, well, you know the rest. Pretty much, they conquered the world, and music hasn't been the same since. It's quite a testament that 40+ years later, people are still going nuts over them. (Could the same be said for one of today's contemporary artists in 2050?) This past week, Beatlemania swept the USA (and possibly the rest of the world) again.

While I only got heavily into them about 3 years ago albums-wise, I was immediately taken in by their depth and songwriting from songs I hadn't heard on the radio growing up. So my listening experience has been limited to the 1987 discs. Until the remastered albums came out this week, I had no idea how muddy the '87 discs were.

Tuesday night, I received a sampler in the mail featuring 32 of the songs (2 songs from each of the stereo discs) from the remastering project . Now I'm no hardcore audiophile, but it doesn't take one to hear how crisp the snares and hi-hats sound. Additionally, the bass and low-end is greatly enhanced. Did you know they had a bass player in the band?

Wednesday I was able to score a Stereo box set (even after a mix-up from the store I had pre-ordered from) and even more fortunately was able to get a hold of the Mono box set from a Best Buy on another side of town (a HUGE thank you to Stacey for holding it for me!). Aside from the Past Masters releases, I've made it through the rest of the stereo releases. So far I've only spot-checked a few of the mono mixes, but what I've heard so far - “Helter Skelter,” “She's Leaving Home,” “I Am The Walrus,” and “I've Just Seen A Face” to name a few – have sounded fantastic. While longtime collectors and listeners are still arguing the merits of the original vinyl releases versus the remasters, according to Allan Rouse, the leader of the project, these are the most true-to-form representation of the master tapes.

Aside from the music, the packaging is fantastic. The Mono set faithfully recreates the album covers and packaging even to the most minute detail such as a replica of the paper sleeve in each release (you even get the Sgt. Pepper cut-outs!). The Stereo set has never-before-seen photos as well as excellent liner notes on high-gloss paper in each release. Hands down it's the best packaging I've ever seen for a CD release, beating out Bear Family's “Blowin' The Fuse” series – my previous vote for best packaging of a set.

Barring an all-out remix to these tracks, these are the definitive versions of The Beatles. Unless you're a collector of all things Beatles, you can trade the '87 discs in for store credit toward the purchase of the new releases (or put them on your Christmas list) and not feel one bit bad about it. For those of you like me who have never gotten to hear the mono versions, we can hear The Beatles in a “new” way. Now is the most affordable time to hear them, but act fast as the Mono set is limited (although another small run is being manufactured due to the high demand) and was already on backorder from most retailers even before release day.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Breakestra is back with new music! The album, From Dusk Till Dawn, is out on September 29th. Here at Soul-Sides we have ONE copy of their latest 12” to give away as a sneak preview. It retails next week digitally and on wax.

The tracklisting is:

A1: "Joyful Noise" (12" Edit)
A2: "Dark Clouds Rain Soul" (Dub Version)
B1: "'Posed To Be" feat. Mixmaster Wold, Chali 2Na & DJ Dusk (12" Version)
B2: "'Posed To Be" (Instrumental)

Answer the 3 questions below for your chance to win. Good luck!!

Contest Rules:

1. Contest ends at midnight on Wednesday, September 16, 2009. Entries that arrive after that time are ineligible.
2. Only US addresses are eligible. Sorry international readers!
3. Should there be more than one contestant with all correct answers, one name will be chosen in a drawing of those who answered correctly.
4. Your first response is your official and final response.


1. Breakestra is led by this “Music Man,” Miles ________. Fill in the missing word.
2. Name the title of their debut album. (Hint: It's NOT one of the mixtape releases.)
3. “Music Man” Miles also released a non-Breakestra mixtape in 2004 under the name DJ Miles that was “Live From Hollywood.” Name the mixtape title.

E-mail your responses to soulsideseric AT and put Breakestra in the subject line.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

posted by O.W.

posted by Eric Luecking

With the release week heard 'round the world, we here at Soul-Sides are celebrating the Beatles by picking some of our favorite Beatles tunes as covered by soul artists. While I know not everyone likes covers (especially of The Beatles), I, as well as Oliver, am always interested in hearing the interpretations artists have within their musical fraternity. Writing songs that have universal appeal is part of the reason why they were so successful. Hear some of the heavy hitters of soul on their takes of some of the best music and lyrics ever written below.

Stevie Wonder: We Can Work It Out
From At The Close Of A Century, (Motown, 1999)

1970 saw Stevie still delivering the hits. Two years prior to his greatest string of work album-wise, he covered “We Can Work It Out,” a #1 hit for The Fab Four in 1965. Stevie adds a funky lilt to the song with an opening Fender Rhodes riff and a harmonica solo in the middle converting what had been a tune about saving a relationship with a lover into a social commentary for working it out with your fellow brothers and sisters. He does away with the 3 / 4 bars in the bridge to keep the pace going. This song is proof of the genius in his abilities showcasing how he could not only compose an original song but also add a fresh take on a group that weren't too bad at songwriting and arrangements themselves.

Aretha Franklin: Eleanor Rigby (Live)
From Live At The Fillmore West, (Atlantic, 2006)

While Father McKenzie was writing the words to a sermon no one would hear, Aretha was prepping the church choir and band to unleash this rousing take on a previously mournful elegy. Check the piano intro that leads into the frenetic pace that is unleashed. Aretha meanwhile does what she does best – sing her ass off. She goes into ad libs that add depth to a churchy affair but keeps it just at arm's length from overdoing it.

Smokey Robinson And The Miracles: And I Love Her
From What Love Has...Joined Together, (Motown, 1970)

I saved my favorite for last. The first time I heard this, I stopped what I was doing and just zoned out. I had to keep rewinding it to hear its sheer elegance. The earliest song of the bunch presented, “And I Love Her” - already a beautiful love song in its own right, finds Smokey and The Miracles upping the ante of the intimacy found in the original's acoustic guitar and percussion with a small dose of brass and faint a crying violin. The clincher here is the background harmonizing, especially after that first “And I Love Her,” to Smokey's delicate, but confident lead vocals. The backup singing remains steadfast throughout and is the glue that holds it all together. Wow.

Oliver's picks: First of all, definite co-sign on the awesomeness that is Stevie's cover of "We Can Work It Out." It's definitely up there as one of the greatest soul covers of a Beatles' song I can think of. Another should be obvious to anyone who's read this site for a while:

Al Green: I Want To Hold Your Hand
From 7" (Hi, 1969)

This was one of the featured songs I put on Soul Sides Vol. 2 and is an easy "go to" song for any party. It's also a fairly obscure song by any measure; it originally only came out on 7" and that's because, surprisingly (or perhaps not so), it was a total flop and Hi pretty much backpedaled off it (it did show up on the 1989 compilation Love Ritual, finally). I feel like I've spoken about this song a lot (it came up in interviews frequently) so I won't reinvent the wheel except to say: this is what the old folks call "fly." Believe that.

Lee Moses: Day Tripper
From Time and Place (Maple, 1970)

To this day, I'm surprised more soul artists haven't covered "Day Tripper." That intro guitar line is easily one of the most recognizable in Beatles' history and it is so damn funky. Luckily, this same point must have occurred to Lee Moses, possibly having been influenced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience who do a pretty righteous version themselves. I find Moses, however, to really distill the song down to a rough but not cluttered version of the song that highlights how very raucous that riff really can be.

The Overton Berry Trio: Hey Jude
From At Seattle's Doubletree Inn (Jaro, 1970). Also on Wheedle's Groove

"Hey Jude" is one of those Beatles' songs that are so iconic that you almost wish people would leave it well alone since even the original can grate on you once you've heard it for the umpteenth time. Yet I had the choice between two great versions of this song (the other being Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers'). My reasons for going with Seattle's Overton Berry Trio and their live version, recorded at the Doubletree, mostly rest with how it opens with that massive bassline. Deep deep deep and once the drums click in, it becomes this monster groove that isn't even obvious as "Hey Jude" until you hear the Ramsey Lewis-esque piano come in.

Bonus: Toi Et Moi: Across the Universe
From In USA (EMI Japan, 197?)

I couldn't pass this up; probably not the best sung version of "Across the Universe" ever recorded (but hey, in all fairness, these two weren't exactly from Liverpool) but I love how fun and lively this Japanese duo's take on the song is. That plus, that funky backing track sounds positively British library album, no? It's all quite fab in its own right.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

posted by O.W.

First off, I hope Jared doesn't mind that I'm reposting this; it was originally an email - about as close to blogging as Mr. Boxx gets. (I should note that Jared may very well be #1 on my life of "people who don't have a blog but really should" but I'm not holding my breath this will ever come to pass). Jared - if you do mind, holler at me and this is ghost.

(The following was written by Jared Boxx)
    _I I_
    None of us will forget the day the Twin Towers fell, & the surreal days, weeks & months that followed in NYC. All of us have our own unique story to put in perspective, a difficult time, that has never really come to make any sense.

    One of the few things that made sense for me at that time, was a mix tape titled "I Trade The World" given to me from local friend/customer and talented DJ, Emskee. A DJ we look up to in New York, all the us that have had the chance to get to know & especially hear him mix.

    Emskee was generous with passing along cassettes of his mixes to me back then, & it was no surprise that Emskee had immediately, upon this horrible event taking place, just a small distance from his home in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, turn to his turntables to work the whole mess out.

    Emskee had his own unique history with the WTC, his frequent sets on WBAI's "Underground Railroad" were widely transmitted around the tri-state with the needle atop the Towers.

    Upon their destruction, all radio stations suffered, due to signals being shortened from that irreplaceable reach of height.

    I had a feeling this mix was special even before I listened to it, and upon pressing play, to the sound of Bill Withers "Lovely Day." I quickly understood we gotta keep pushin' on & we gotta keep dancin', that's the only way for us to see better days.

    "I Trade The World" was a gift to me, and now a gift for you to download.

    A time capsule of sound, where you can faintly hear, someone trying to make sense of a senseless moment in time for this city.

    Given the tools of voices from the past, working through their own messed up moments in time, with music.

    I can imagine for Emskee, this mix was not an attempt at sanity through mixing, but a must.

    On this Friday September 11th in the basement of Q-Tip & Rich Medina's "Open" party the Lost & Found crew have invited DJ Emskee to do what he does best, and show us the message in the music.

    This mix is something to get you ready, we all sincerely hope to can be apart of this special night.

    -Jbx & the Lost & Found crew.
    (Old Chris, Boogieman, Honeydripper & Mix Greens)
    Santos is located at 96 Lafayette Street right below Canal Street

    We will begin at 10pm, $15 cover.

    -----> DJ Emskee "I Trade The World"


Saturday, September 05, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

Mayer Hawthorne: Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'
From A Strange Arrangement (Stones Throw, 2009)

When he came onto the scene nary a year ago with his falsetto classic “Just Ain't Gonna Work Out,” I thought, “Yeah, this is really nice – but can he deliver more than just a catchy single?” (Let's not forget the B-side “When I Said Goodbye” wasn't too shabby either.) Here we are in September with his highly anticipated album on the horizon (both ?uestlove and Justin Timberlake have sent out Twitter blasts about him) and the first single is no fluke, folks.

What's impressive is the fact that not only has he written all the songs (aside from “Maybe So, Maybe No”), but he plays nearly all the instruments as well. The ballads are a thick, syrupy elixir to cure any love malady, or at the very least provide you company in wallowing in your heartbreak. “I Wish It Would Rain” (not a Temptations remake) comes in starkly with its striking bass clef chords but has, once again, a tender falsetto lead with doo-wop backdrops.

However, he does more than just ballads. The previously-mentioned “Just Ain't Gonna Work Out” is upbeat, completely opposite of its breakup message. He abandons the falsetto for “Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'.” As I mentioned a few weeks ago, coming out of the break after the first hook I expect it to morph into “You Can't Hurry Love.” The sax solo is brief, yet so well-timed and not overstated, it's pure genius. When people say they don't make music like they used to, Hawthorne proves 'em wrong.

What's more is that he sings with such sincerity and charm that he's believable. He might not win a singing contest in acapella, but more importantly he knows how to use that sincerity and charm to his advantage by being able to structure such a catchy hook and a compelling story to go with it. In “The Ills,” a social commentary piece that doesn't get overtly political, he tackles a bit on New Orleans with a Curtis Mayfield-inspired backing track. The hook sings, “You know the ills of the world/they can get you down,” before a slight pause and then finishing with, “But then you get back up.” It's so simple, yet so catchy.

The album ends with a song, "Green Eyed Love," that sounds like no other on the album. With its west coast funk and staccato keys that would've even made a nice Dre beat, Hawthorne sings an ode to the green stuff. It even has a stoner guitar solo that smokes. It could be the cruising song to end the summer of 2009 and is supposed to be the next single. Can the Stones Throw team capitalize on the G-funk beat and get a Snoopified cameo for the video? It would fit perfectly.

Some early reviews have said some of the music itself sounds like a '60s Motown ripoff. People will say what they will say, but it's the best album I've heard this year – bar none.

Oliver's view: I'm not going to offer a contrarian view here but I didn't like the album as much as I hoped I would.

Part of the trick to albums in this retro/classic soul vein is that you have to be derivative to a certain extent; the whole point of the style is to tap into a particular aesthetic that's marked by certain musical signatures you can recognize. As Eric writes above about one song, you "expect it to morph into" a song you already know or expect.

The problem is that you're taking a risk here - if you're too derivative, then it just seems like you're doing an impression. A well-produced impression perhaps, but an impression nonetheless. As a genre, Northern Soul was influenced by Motown but that doesn't mean every great Northern Soul song sounds like it was recorded at Studio "A".

So with Mayer's album, his uptempo songs, for the most part, felt too derivative. "Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'" is, in my opinion, far too close to the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love." "Make Her Mine" opens by interpolating "People Get Ready" but then goes into a fairly competent take on a Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song. "The Ills" was just too damn close to an Impressions song. "One Track Mind" = total Motown flavor.

And like I said, it can be a very thin line between close and too close. Nicole Willis and Raphael Sadeeq also played with similar styles on their respective albums and in some cases, I felt like it tipped over too far, in other cases, I was totally happy to hear them riff (but not replicate) on these classics. With Mayer, for his faster songs, I just couldn't get it. Yet - and I admit, I don't have a clear rationale here - I'm a big, big fan of his ballads even though one could argue they're not that much different, stylistically, from the faster tracks. And sure, that's probably true - "Green Eyed Love," for example has The Moments' stamp all over it. "Shiny and New" could be a Teddy Pendergress or Tyrone Davis slow jam. But these just work for me - call it some X factor (or H factor if you prefer).

When it comes to ballds, I think Mayer's stuff is as enjoyable as anything I've heard from anyone, including Lee Fields (who lays down a mean slow groover). "I Wish It Would Rain" is easily a top 10 of the year in my book. Once Mayer gets above 100bpms though, I think other artists like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings or Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators have been more successful in developing a sound all their own. Given that this is Mayer's first album - and an accidental opportunity in many ways - I think he has the potential to really blossom as his career matures. It can't be emphasized enough - this album is almost all Mayer, building each song one block at a time, playing the instruments and then editing it all together. That's pretty extraordinary - and it makes you respect not only the level of talent that went into this album but how challenging it must have been. (On this note, I also wanted to acknowledge that Miles Tackett of Breakestra crafts that "group's" songs the same way.)

PS: This has nothing to do with the music but I am very curious how the sales on this will do compared to the last Sharon Jones/DK album.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

posted by Eric Luecking

We know you love a great soul set. So if you live in the areas around Chicago, Pontiac (MI), Columbus (OH), Washington, D.C., New York City, or Brooklyn, Numero is bringing its Eccentric Soul Revue tour to you. Even if you DON'T live near one of those places, schedule a getaway (even if it's by yourself). From the looks of this trailer, the show looks absolutely fantastic.

Here's the press release:

Motown had one, so did Stax. Three soul-deep acts and one smoking hot band to back them up. The triple-header of R&B: the soul revue. Once a mainstay of theaters, gymnasiums and VFW halls everywhere, the soul revue ultimately vanished in the late seventies as recorded sound pushed live performance out of the limelight and onto car stereos and refrigerator-sized boom boxes. The performers returned to their day jobs and the world was the poorer for it.

That is, until April 4th, 2009, when your Numero Group mounted the first Eccentric Soul Revue, packing Chicago's Park West Theater with soul-hungry acolytes, satisfying them and then some with the real thing: a 17-piece band backing The Notations, Renaldo Domino, The Final Solution, Nate Evans, and Syl Johnson, putting on a show that combined 70s slick with revival-meeting fervor.

It was a magical evening, as the past lived and breathed and got on down, right here in the present. Those in attendance went home that night knowing they'd seen something that just wasnt done anymore. And wanting more. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, New York, Brooklyn, or Washington D.C., the wait and the want is over. The Numero Group is taking this show on the road.

Eccentric Soul Revue hits the East Coast in November with the totally explosive Syl Johnson, the silky smooth Notations, and the man with the voice like Domino sugar, Renaldo Domino, plus special guests, a slide show, and an autograph line.

There is absolutely nothing else like The Eccentric Soul Revue. A ticket is a time machine. Be there.

Saturday Nov 7th
Lincoln Hall
Chicago, IL
With special guests TL Barrett, Sharon Clark & Linda Ballentine

Sunday Nov 8th
Crofoot Ballroom
Pontiac, MI
With special guests Velma Perkins & Bobby Cook

Monday November 9th
The Lincoln Theater
Columbus, Ohio
With special guests the Four Mints and Marion Black

Tuesday November 10th
The 9:30 Club
Washington DC

Thursday November 12th
Grand Ballroom
New York, New York
With special guest Missy Dee

Friday November 13th
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, New York
With special guest Missy Dee

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

posted by O.W.

I've spent the last few days, trying to figure out what it is about the Brazilian music I find myself gravitating towards. I am not, remotely, a hardcore Brazila-phile, though not for lack of I've probably said in the past, Brazilian music is just so insanely massive that to really "get into it" you have be willing to turn over a good part of your life, dedicated to its majesty and complexity. Tempting as that siren's call may be, I have to concede that to my betters.

To be sure, Brazilian music in all its myriad forms has proven beguiling the world over and I wish I had some genius insight into explaining why but despite using my (remaining) brain cells to articulate what the secret is, I'm still at a loss. In the most general, the Brazilian styles I tend to find most compelling - bossa nova, samba, Tropicalia - all offer this intriguing, intricate balance between subtle but often puissant rhythms and some of the most sophisticated melodies you can imagine. Add to that the incredible "feel" of the music which always inspires metaphors of comfort, layering and "wrapping" from me. Seriously, I really wish I had a less prosaic way to try to nail whatever that vibe is but it's ever elusive. Unlike Afro-Cuban music, the Brazilian I like doesn't make me want to dance. Unlike American soul, Brazilian doesn't necessarily invoke deep emotion. Mostly, it makes me feel good. I'm not quite sure why that is but I'll take it.

What follows is - at best - a smattering of different songs I've been listening to lately, mostly because they're all recent purchases. They've been a reminder to me that I really should be listening to (and thus enjoying) more Brazilian tunes. Hope you will be similarly inspired...

Ivan Lins: Madalena
b/w Hei, Vocé
From Agora (Forma, 1970)

This Lins - his debut - is a truly remarkable album, easily one of the most soul-influenced Brazilian albums I've heard yet (not surprisingly Arthur Verocai produced it). One song I didn't include, "Baby Blue" is a straight up soul ballad, very Bill Withers-esque in fact, and Lins switches between Portuguese and English during the tune; really lovely (maybe I'll include it in some future ballads post). Now...if that's the song I left off, you can imagine how good the inclusions are. I start with Lins big early hit, "Madalena," a song probably most connected with Elis Regina.

What I find interesting about the difference between Lins' version and Regina's (and I'm not clear whose was actually recorded first but I'm going to guess Regina's) is how each interpolates that opening piano riff. It's funny but when I first heard Lins' song, I thought, "ah, this must be where DJ Monk-One" got the melody for "Bossa Biz" from but then realized: no, the notes are different. It wasn't until I heard Regina's that I found the correct source but I was relieved to know that the similarities I thought I heard weren't just a figment of my imagination. That little piano riff alone - regardless if Lins' or Regina's - is just about one of the tastiest single bars I can imagine. Then you throw on that rhythm section Lins is backed by and it's just too perfect.

(Here's a more recent video of Arthur and Ivan playing this song together).

"Hei, Vocé," is equally, if not more compelling: it has so many great elements going for it: that opening horn line which sounds very "Crystal Blue Persuasion" to me, the funk-inspired drumming and then those background singers behind Lins, "doo-doo-ing" to their hearts content. All this and drum breaks + horn stabs midway through? Are you kidding me?

Paulo Diniz: Ninfa Mulata
b/w Chutando Pedra
From Quero Voltar Pra' Bahia (Odean, 1969)

I can't find much on Diniz despite the fact that this album has been, in the past, reissued on CD. It certainly seems to have come out during a time when Brazilian musicians were responding to the explosion in funk music coming out of the States; this Diniz album would compare favorably to, say, Tim Maia's work (in fact, the two sound very similar with their gruff, growling vocals). "Chutando Pedra" puts that voice front and center over a mid-tempo, jangling beat that reminds me of some British mod rock of the era; make sure to listen deeper to catch the excellent piano work being done here.

The absolute monster on the album though is "Ninfa Mulata" which google-translates into "mulatto nymph" (please correct me if I'm wrong here!) and that fuzzed out guitar/bass(?) at the beginning is possibly one of the hardest sounding things I've heard since I first heard this. The song does shift in tone after that opening and goes a big more pop-y but I'm happy to just loop up the first 12 seconds and hang out there for a while.

Tamba Trio: Mas Que Nada
b/w Mania de Maria
From Avanco (Phillips, 1963)

Taking a far softer approach is the light and lively sounds of the Tamba Trio, one of the most prolific and important bossa nova groups of the 1960s. This is from their second album and much of it drifts breezily on slick bossa rhythms and melodies. Their version of "Mas Que Nada" is quite good which basically leads me to conclude that this Jorge Ben song is simply impossible to f--- up. I'm sure there are bad versions out there; I just have never heard one. It really bespeaks Ben's genius in constructing a song with much beautiful dynamics going for it - the melodic hook that's so familiar, that soaring vocal bit that - here - is done in harmony. Gorgeous.

I'm going to end this dip into Brazil with the quietest of the songs I've included - a little bossa ballad "Mania de Maria." I love how this song opens - that solo piano, set adrift in melancholy before taking a spritely but serene turn into a jaunty dance number. Throw it on after dinner and enjoy where it takes you.

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