Ghostface Killah: Bulletproof Wallets Promo 2xLP (Epic 2002)
“The Sun”, a song feat. Slick Rick and Raekwon, was supposed to start Bulletproof Wallets but I’m assuming sample clearance (or who knows? Slick Rick’s never-ending legal drama?) prevented it from being included on the final release. Pity too since it’s one of the best Ghostface songs like…ever. How can you possibly front on a song that 1) has Slick Rick on it. That should be good enough but 2) features three rappers talking about how ill the sun is. That’s ill to the 3rd power. Whoa. And 3) features a rhyme by Ghostface (“the sun could never be pussy/he always comes out”) that was quoted in The Boondocks which is just a way for both Ghost and Aaron McGruder to flash just how much cooler they are than the rest of us. We’re not worthy. (This double LP clean promo also features the never-released original mix of “Flowers” which is radically different from the final version. Be careful though – Epic apparently put out another promo version of this same album which includes “The Sun” but leaves off the “Flowers” mix. However, the version listed here is missing “Love Session” and I think one other song – you sort of need to buy both to get the whole set intact.
Gang Starr: 2 Deep
7″ (Chrysalis/Cooltempo 1992)
Why is it always the British that come with ill remixes while Americans kind of snooze by on just the album cuts? Don’t get me wrong – there’s a fine tradition of hip-hop remixes right here in the U.S. of A but you can always, always count on the Europeans to come with some bonus mixes just because they feel like it. Case in point, this 1992 7″ of Gang Starr’s “2 Deep”. First of all, who knows who thought the song was really worth putting on 7″ to begin with? But hell, if you’re going to go through all that trouble, you might as well get a remixer and Cooltempo invites on IG and Dodge to remix the track. It’s no Dimension Ball remix of “One Love” or anything, but the chunky drum break and slick bassline make this sound as good as the choppy, jerky, horn-y original. Personally, I think it’s an improvement – a tall statement since it’s rare that Gang Starr need a remix to begin with.
Willie Rosario and His Orchestra: Boogaloo and Guaguanco
This is easily one of the best boogaloo albums you can find for under $30. Sure, Joe Bataan’s Fania albums are amazing too, but original copies of those puppies will set you back to a flat wallet. Rosario gives you not one, not two, but three (yes three!) excellent boogaloos for your buck, plus a slick mambo jazz cut to boot. For starters, “Watusi Boogaloo” is just a solid, solid example of what a good boogaloo should sound like: fun, catchy, with plenty of people screaming in Latin-tinged voices, the whole nine. Personally, I can’t believe no one’s bothered to comp this cut yet. Ridiculous. I’ve always liked Rosario’s cover of “Taste of Honey” – it begins with a slow brass build-up but then gets a lil funky as this classic standard gets the boogaloo treatment. “Light and Sweet” is the third in the trio, and in my opinion, the least interesting, but it’s still dependable. Ending the album is the airy, swinging “Stop and Go”, that mambo jazz cut I mentioned before. For anyone looking to start up a basic Latin collection, this one comes highly recommended.
Patti Drew: I’ve Been Here All The Time (Capitol 1969)
I admit – I’m a sucker for female vocals these days. Soul just sounds better when you have a soul sister scream and swooning on it and I’ve been collecting up a storm of different records featuring funk fatales. This Patti Drew record has been a personal favorite of late too because its two best songs are also covers (another obsession of mine). The first is the sizzling hot version of “Fever” that’s…well…hot. Not only does it scorch along but it also has the album’s most ambitious music, throwing in a slick electric piano alongside more conventional brass and a whipped rhythm section. Then there’s her cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” which is very loyal to the original but – and this is where it all comes together – it’s the fact that it’s sung by a woman that notches up the wickedness factor. Yow! (Alas, the rest of the album is not so noteworthy…still, two cuts is twice as nice as an LP with only one.)
I began Soul Sides in 2001, when I had scabs of time to write up 30 reviews at a time and post them up every month or so. By last year, this became nearly impossible to maintain and as you can see, I basically haven’t updated my Soul Sides archives since 2002.
The blog is meant to bring back some reviews – even if it’s just one every few days. In the year since my last post, believe me, I’ve got tons of records to share…just not nearly enough time to share ’em all. Consider these a few first steps…