In honor of the Groove Merchant’s recent pop-up at RappCats in L.A., this week’s playlist is built around songs from that sale and a couple of other GM gems collected over the years.
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- Spanish Fly: Soy 18 With a Bullet (Familia, 1992)
- The Luscious Three: Say What You Mean (T’Suga Rays, 197?)
- Nora Aunur: I’ve Found Someone On My Own (Alpha, 1972)
- Mac Five: A Song For My Father (Century, 1975)
- The Royals: Summertime (Vagabond, 196?)
- Steve Parks: All In A Day (Reynolds, 197?)
- Dawn & Sunset: Include Me (DT&V, 1972)
- Rovi: Proposal (Omicron, 1975)
- Magico: Vino Rojo (Fuerza, 1985)
- Johnny Dankworth: Return From Ashes (RCA, 1972)
- Intro/Outro Music: Sonny Stitt: Turn It On (Prestige, 1971)
Karriem: I Love You (Pashlo, 1979, 12″)
It’s cliche to suggest that all you need with disco is a good, repetitive groove but that doesn’t mean it’s untrue. This obscure-ish disco single out of Oakland is barely more than Karriem singing “I love you” over and over and that’s all you need. Actually, if you tried to put more on it, maybe it wouldn’t be nearly as endearing.
By the way, far as I can tell, this single was the only 12″ that Oakland’s Pashlo imprint ever released. They only had about half a dozen records to their name which isn’t surprising given that they were so local, their original address was a literally a house in deep East Oakland. I couldn’t find much on Karriem himself; he’s not even in the credits! The most notable talent on the song might be producer (and elsewhere, writer/arranger) Gerald Robinson who, among many other works, produced another Bay Area boogie classic, the Numonics’ “You Lied.”
Update: Len Romano on Facebook pointed out that Karriem, aka Dr. Karriem Muhammad , is still recording and actually re-recorded “I Love You” in 2008.
Major Lance: Sweet Music (Okeh, 1963, 7″) (Available on The Best of Major Lance
There’s an entire generation of early 1960s R&B artists that I’ve yet to sit with; a huge gap in my soul knowledge. That certainly includes Major Lance who I was mildly aware of but until I picked up this pic-sleeve 7″ from the Groove Merchant in the fall, I had never owned anything by him before. I had heard “Um Um Um Um Um Um,” before but “Sweet Music” was entirely new to me and I was instantly charmed by the shimmering guitar and finger snaps on the intro. Sweet music, indeed.
It’s also an interesting b-side insofar as it’s not quite a ballad but also not another dance tune. More than anything, it reminded me of something Brenton Wood might have recorded, albeit four years later. Then again, maybe I’m just mashing up “Boogum Oogum” with “Um Um Um Um Um Um” in my head.
Les Baxter: Yellow Sun (GNP Crescendo, 1969, African Blue)
The term “exotica” always conjures up some swank ’60s bachelor pad, the kind with a well-designed hifi system, some mid-century modern furniture and a crystal decanter of liquor. I wasn’t alive when the genre was more popular but it’s hard to imagine that exotica wasn’t much more than a slightly sexed up variation of easy listening: something more often heard in banal suburban living rooms than a downtown corner condo. It was also one of the more prominent examples of audio tourism, promising to transport the listener away to some foreign, um, exotic land but often quite vague in actual destination.
Case in point, the only formal exotica LP I’ve ever owned has been Les Baxter’s quite decent African Blue but not only is it unclear what’s “African” about any of the songs on here but this album is basically the commercial version of a KPM library record by Baxter entitled…Bugaloo in Brazil which manages to invoke both Afro-Cuban grooves and Brazilian music even though those are completely different musical traditions. So…yeah.
But hey, the tunes are sweet, especially the vocal-laced bossa ballad “Yellow Sun” (entitled “Tropical Canvas” on the KPM LP). Now excuse me while I go sip a martini.
Peruchin: Laura (GNP, 1961, The Incendiary Piano Of Peruchín!)
Another Groove Merchant pick-up, this comes from one of Cuba’s most accomplished Latin pianists of the 1960s. Normally, I would have gone with the delightful little descaraga, “Pa Gozar,” but I find “Laura” to be mesmerizing as this mix between a straight forward romantico cha cha cha with that killer piano montuno midway through.
365 Days of Soul, #165
Junior Delahaye: I Love You (Wackie’s, 1982, Showcase)
Cool Chris at the Groove Merchant put me up on this one. What’s not to like about a reggae cover, produced out of the oustanding Wackie’s Studio, covering The Fuzz? Same album also has a solid cover of “Sittin’ In the Park.”
365 Days of Soul, #162
Douglas and Lonero: Right Place, Wrong Time (Haji, 197?, Live at Charley Brown’s)
This album has been described to me as “the best lounge soul album ever.” High praise but not insane; it is an exceptionally good lounge album, filled with all kinds of covers + good stage banter + solid instrumental interludes. It was hard to pull just one track off here but this was one of the first songs in the set and I dig how thunderously funky they go on this Dr. John classic.
365 Days of Soul, #160
Matthews Southern Comfort: Sylvie (Decca, 1971, Later That Same Year)
Truly, I know nothing about the band except for the fact that it was fronted by Ian Matthews after he left Fairport Convention (and again, I only know this because of a thing called “google”). What I do know? “Sylvie” is some sublime shit (and while not nearly as good, “And When She Smiles” is rather glorious folk pop).
365 Days of Soul, #149
Gary Numan: Are ‘Friends’ Electric? (Beggars Banquet, 1987, 12″)
Once upon a time, before I got into hip-hop, I listened to a lot of new wave (translation: I was an Asian dude growing up in the SGV in the ’80s). All said, this still sounds pretty good to me. Also: can’t you imagine Kanye or someone flowing over this? We need more modern rock sampling.
365 Days of Soul, #147
The Disco Four: Move To The Groove (Enjoy, 1980, 12″)
At some point, I bought into some bullshit logic that “only hip-hop after 1986 is good” and when I finally dropped that childish belief, I finally got to enjoy, uh, the Enjoy catalog in all its disco rap glory. I can only assume that’s Pumpkin on the drums (undersung beat baron of this era).
365 Days of Soul, #145