BOBBY ROBINSON AND ENJOY RECORDS


Harlem icon Bobby Robinson passed away a few days ago. His career in the music business was astounding; he was a consummate independent record man in a world of conglomeration.

I came to his hip-hop imprint, Enjoy, late in the game; in my “younger” days, I just assumed that anything released pre-Run DMC was old school schlock and then someone played me “Spoonin Rap” and my mind was blown. Sugarhill, obviously, had the bigger rep and sales but while the Sugarhill sound in hip-hop’s formative years was loud, brash and fonky, the best singles I heard from Enjoy were the opposite: lean, sparse and funky. The secret was that Bobby had drummer Errol “Pumpkin” Bedward as his in-house producer, then still in this teens(!!!). Bedward and his band, Pumpkin and His Friends, produced the best of the early Enjoy singles including “Love Rap” b/w “New Rap Language,” one of the most potent A/B-sides I know from that era.

For Robinson’s part, his success seemed to be a combination of hiring the right talent and also being in the right place at the right time. Sylvia Robinson (no relation) had opened the floodgates with “Rapper’s Delight” and Bobby was able to get Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to record with them as well as Spoonie Gee and the Treacherous Three. As I learned in The Big Payback, once Bobby’s records began selling and Sylvia was unable to entice those artists over to her label, she simply stepped to Bobby, waved a check at him and procured them that way (say nothing else about Sylvia but she didn’t f— around).

In any case, Enjoy still ranks as one of the most consistent of any of the old school labels in terms of quality, a testimony to the talent that Robinson collected there for a brief, shining time, and Bobby’s own relentless pursuit of that next hit.

Please check ego trip’s breakdown of the top 10 Enjoy Records.
(You didn’t know ego trip had a website now? Get familiar).

Also peep out this classic comp (reviewed in Classic Material!): The Best of Enjoy Records

LOVE MODE

The blog, Themes for Young Lovers, recently interviewed me about my songs o’ love, sex and romance. Yeah, it’s true, I had absolutely no music at my own wedding. Like Will Hung, I have no regrets.

As I noted, when asked “Name 3 songs that would be no-brainers to put on a mixtape for that special someone you were trying to woo”…I included nary a soul/R&B song on there. I think part of it is that my favorite soul songs tend to be about breaking up, not making up but taking a quick spin through my library, there are some soul tunes that would easily go onto my “Woo You” mixtape:

The Impressions: Fool For You
From This Is My Country (Curtom, 1968)

First of all, I wouldn’t trust any potential lover who doesn’t like this song. Deal breaker. Second, it’s a powerful song that doesn’t necessarily rain down with “too much/too soon” overtures (the danger of a more powerful ballad). This says “I’m crushed on you but I’m not trying to have our name tattooed in blood on me. Yet.”

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

Just tell him/her, “looking at you makes me feel the same way I do when I listen to this song.” Shameless but highly effective.

Aretha Franklin: You Send Me
From Aretha Now (Atlantic, 1968)

It’s a groovier flip on Sam Cooke’s classic and it’s fun enough without laying it on too thick.

Dennis Brown: Things In Life
From 7″ (Sound Syndicate, 197?). Also on Money In My Pocket.

Because lovers rock never fails. Because the melancholy in this song is deep enough to bond anyone within earshot. Because if your intended recognizes it as “that song from Chungking Express, that’s enough to confirm their exquisite cinematic taste.

Michael Jackson: We’ve Got a Good Thing Going
From The Stripped Mixes (Universal, 2009)

Early MJ is charmingly innocent with just the right touch of grown-up sentiment. And the stripped mix is so irresistibly on point.

So much more I could throw on. Feel free to add your favorite “woo tunes” in the comments.

MATTHEW AFRICA ON WILLIE MITCHELL, BREATH OF LIFE ON TEDDY PENDERGRASS


Because I was in the middle of moving/unpacking/new house hell, I really missed out on being able to say something meaningful about the passing of Memphis legend Willie Mitchell or slow jam king Teddy Pendergrass.

As it turns out though, Matthew Africa said everything I could/would have about Mitchell AND followed that up with an essential mix of Mitchell’s greatest moments. And Breath of Life came through with an equally great post about the life and times of Teddy.

Fabulous posts and absolutely a recommended reads/listens.

RECORD-RACKS.COM: OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Our longtime contributor Eric Luecking did Soul Sides a blessing by helping handle a lot of new release reviews and contests but he’s ready to set up shop with his own blog: Record-Racks.com. He’ll still be tackling a diverse selection of soul, rock, jazz and other goodies.

Check out my man throwin’ down, show him some love and be sure to add him to your blogroll!

NEIGHBORHOOD STROLL


As I’ve been stressing, there’s a reason I encourage people to get on-board with the Soul Sides Facebook feed. You don’t have to love the site but they do make linking items quick and simple (and heck, you don’t even have to join to look at it).

As a courtesy though, here’s some highlights of stuff I’ve been throwing up there of late:

  • Phil Da Soulman sharing a rare mix of LL Cool J’s “No Airplay.”
  • Philaflava’s Latee compilation + Meters Samples Vol 1.
  • Passion of the Weiss’ presents Murs and the L.A. Leakers’ “Damn, It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” mixtape
  • Soundbombing’s impressive journey through Africa series.
  • Elliot Wilson’s Daily Breaks
  • An incredible story of a Sacramento man who discovers his mother’s old records at a flea market.
  • Jared Boxx’s Exclusive Secret Rendezvous Mixtape
  • King Most’s rare ATCQ rips.
  • Breath of LIfe’s essential Round Midnight Mix
  • Earfuzz’s dissection of “Just Hangin’ Out”

    And two videos you need to enjoy:

  • BLOG ROLL UPDATED


    I have finally updated my blog roll (it’s probably been at least a year or more).

    What always strikes me in this process is how many blogs have vanished (oh, how I got used to blogspot’s “this page cannot be found” error message pages) or have gone on hiatus – some announced, most have atrophied in a long-term holding pattern with no definitive resolution.

    Clearly, the time and labor these blogs consume often comes too high for those with more important (or at least, lucrative) things to do and whatever ardor they may have had in the beginning fades to inactivity. That’s partially why I have great admiration for all the blogs out there that, week-in, week-out, are still putting in work. These sites may not charge, but you can bet they come at a cost for the creators.

    I’ve added a few new blogs to my “Favorites” list, especially a few I’ve written about here repeatedly, like Chairman Mao and Matthew Africa’s. I also just threw on two Latin music blogs that I plan on spending extensive time with – Super Sonido and Musica Del Alma.

    Remember, if you want to get added, read here first. But also keep in mind, that I don’t update that often (obviously) but I have gotten into the habit of doing quick-strike posts for blogs of note and I’ll try to continue that.