Saturday, December 29, 2007

posted by O.W.

Aaron Neville: She Took You For a Ride
From Tell It Like It Is (Par-lo, 1966)

Quantic Soul Orchestra: Tropidelico
From Tropidelico (Tru Thoughts, 2007)

The B.U.M.S.: West Coast Smack
From Lyfe N' Tyme (1995)

DJ Shadow: Best of the KMEL Mixes Part 1 (snippet)
From The 4-Track Era (DJ Shadow, 2007)

Crystal Mansion: And It Will Take Your Breath Away
From S/T (Rare Earth, 1972)

It's been a while since I've done one of these GM posts but I was recently in the Bay Area on a short holiday/family trip and, of course, had to make my pilgrimage. As I've written before, the joy in going there is simply the vastness of music I can get acquainted with. Especially in L.A., where the geography isn't conducive to a similar arrangement, I miss having someplace to just kick back and chew the fat about records. That is, of course, partially why I do this blog.

This time around, I was hanging around when DJ B.Cause slipped on the Aaron Neville LP. You wouldn't think this album would be such a pricey piece - "Tell It Like It Is" is one of Neville's biggest hits ever, but the original album is quite the collector's item but luckily, the excellence of the music helped defray the sticker shock. "She Took You For a Ride" is a magnificent track, with a different soulful feel from "Tell It Like It Is," especially with the background vocals. I was initially struck by that element since I don't normally associate it with Neville but it gives this song an added dynamic in this case.

Joining me at the GM was my man Beto, who I last wrote about in July. This was the first time the two of us actually got to sit down and build for a minute...I was bouncing a ton of Latin music (especially boogaloo-related) questions off me and it is downright scary how much knowledge he's been soaking up for his research on the music scene in the Afro-Antilles. I'm going to say this now: when his book comes out, it has the potential to be a major game-changer. Remember the name: Roberto Gyemant.

In any case, while we were hanging, he hit me off with the new QSO CD - something I had been meaning to check out but still hadn't gotten around to yet. It's a great concept: Will Holland (Mr. Quantic himself) decided to record a series of songs inspired by music of the Latin American tropics, basically covering ground throughout the Greater Caribbean Basin; he recorded on location in Panama City, for example.

Beto helped turn Will Holland onto some of the artists that he works with on the Tropidelico CD, including (I presume) the incredible Peruvian pianist Alfredo Linares (I have an upcoming post about Linares and other Peruvian Latin players). That's Linares you hear at the beginning of "Tropidelico"; he has such a distinct touch on the piano with his chords and tempos. I love that Linares was killing it back in the '60s and is still holding it down in the '00s. (Rappers should be so lucky).

Speaking of which, I quietly threw on the B.U.M.S. album at the store, just for kicks, and took the assemblage on a reminisce trip back to the mid-'90s Bay Area hip-hop scene. The B.U.M.S. always makes me nostalgic, partially because I've always wondered why the didn't do better than they did, partially because the album itself was produced by one of my favorite, slept-on producers from that era, Joe Quixxx. B.Cause mentioned he'd actually been giving "West Coast Smack" some spin at his gigs and though my fave cut remains the title cut, it was worth giving some shine to one of the other tracks, especially with this CD long, long out of print.

Sticking to the Bay Area hip-hop tip, the GM had a copy of DJ Shadow's 4-Track Era CD for sale and I scooped that with a quickness. I actually had some of this on an ancient dub tape I got from the old Solesides crew but it's great that it's been compiled onto CD. The back story is this: Shadow first came to prominence on the strength of these crazy mega-mixes he did for KMEL back in the early '90s (this is back when KMEL was arguably the greatest hip-hop station on FM, west of the Hudson). You young'uns, raised on Pro Tools off your Mac Books, probably can't even remember the era of Tascam 4-Tracks and what not but sheeyit, I grew up on listening to radio DJs create these insane, multi-layered mixes off them and created most of my early mixtapes (back when they were actually tapes) off analog 4-tracks myself ('tis true: check for Head Warmers on the Private Press inset), following their inspiration. To make a long story short: even in 2007, these kind of mixes are incredible to listen to, without even factoring in the technological acumen that it would have required (f--- a mash-up, back then, we called 'em "remixes"). Damn, how old do I sound right now? I need to get out of this "back in the day" mode! Too late.

For real though, I'm still trying to figure out how he remixed that De La song at the end...was there an acapella to "Afro Connections" I didn't know about?

I'm ending with a song I've been meaning to blog about for, oh, at least a few years now but just never got around to it: "And It Will Take Your Breath Away" by Crystal Mansion. I copped this from the GM years ago and I still don't know a ton about them, apart from the fact they were a blue-eyed funk group, in the vein of Rare Earth, who never hit it crazy big but managed to stick together for about half a decade. I've always loved, loved, loved how this song opens, especially with those soulful piano melodies and then the drum drops. If this sounds familiar to anyone, there's a reason why.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, July 02, 2007

Frank Cunimondo + The Silhouettes: Commuversations
posted by O.W.

Frank Cunimondo: Gentle One + Lush Life
From Communication (Mondo, 1968)

The Silhouettes: Norwegian Wood + Lunar Invasion
From Conversations With the Silhouettes (Segue, 1969)

Sorry I've taken a minute for an update. I'm back up in the Bay Area (weather has been amazing so far...damn, I miss this place) for the week and have been running around, seeing friends, eating, etc. On that note, some places I'd recommend checking out for Bay visitors (or locals):

1. Ici in Berkeley. Normally, gourmet ice cream leaves me a little skeptical, especially in an area where you can get this or this with less pretentious surroundings and equally/superior ice cream/gelato. That said, Ici was pretty damn good, especially with the hand-rolled cone. Also, if you have the patience, you can get dinner here first. Black squid ink linguini =

2. Central Park, San Mateo. A rather nice municipal park with a small train for the kiddies. Plus, it's within 2 blocks of here.

3. And of course, no trip to the Bay Area is complete with a visit to the Groove Merchant.

It's been a while since I wrote a GM post but on this trip, I tried to max out on some good Latin records, picked up an interesting Bay Area 45, and, ok, I admit, the completionist in me couldn't pass up this (albeit, my copy lacks the sticker, boo hoo).

In any case, I had been meaning to post about the Silhouettes for a minute (a record I first learned about at the GM years ago, before it got reissued) and the Cunimondo was an album I picked up the last time I was back in the Bay, around March.

Cunimondo is best known, at this point, for his album with Lynn Marino but Communication was actually his first recording, a laid-back set of instrumentals with Cunimondo's piano prominent on most of them. "Gentle One" is the kind of relaxed piano jazz that I can't get enough of - so melancholy yet so sublime in its minimalist vibe and bluesy undertones. (For another favorite, revisit Weldon Irvine's "Here's Where I Came In.")

And as for "Lush Life," ever since I was first introduced to Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," it's one of those covers I always make a point to listen to, just to see what they do with it. Cunimondo's take is a bit more virtuostic, especially in the beginning though he takes it down a notch on the back end of the song.

The Silhouettes album is a favorite amongst soul jazz fans given its notable mesh of bossa nova vocals, jazz and funk tunes. If that sounds a bit strange, well, the album is eclectic to be sure but once you realize Nathan Davis produced it, that blend of styles makes more sense. The cover of "Norwegian Wood" is, well, strange which is why I included it. Frankly, I think every cover of this song I've ever heard has been a little strange which no doubt reflects the nature of the original. However, no less unexpected is the funkiness of "Lunar Invasion" which does resemble some of Davis' If tunes.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

posted by O.W.

Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante, MC Shan: A Cold Chillin' Christmas
From Winter Warnerland (Warner Bros, 1988)

SS Exclusive: O Tannenbaum
From (ssssshhhhh)

I've been laid up with grading 70+ papers so alas, I haven't had time to do up a more extensive holiday post but I've been meaning to at least put these two songs out there.

The "Cold Chillin Christmas" originally (and only) came out on a holiday album (2xLP actually) put out by Warner Bros. who distributed Marley Marl's Cold Chillin label. It's not quite "The Symphony - Holiday Edition" but three out of the entire stable isn't bad, especially with a double shot of verses from Kane when Kane was still the sickest rapper around. What I think is funny is that the sample here, Booker T and MG's "Hip Hug Her" would also become the basis for a later posse cut by Heavy D, Q-Tip and others: "Don't Curse." In any case, a nice bonus cut from the Cold Chillin stables.

As for the mystery cut - I got this LP from Cool Chris at the Groove Merchant several years back and I've been waiting to put out a "kitchen sink" mixtape of just weird/wonderful tunes from wherever. This one definitely qualifies - an unexpectedly spacey/funky version of "O Tannenbaum" (better known to Americans as the melody for "O Christmas Tree") off an album of Christmas music done by European artists. Still gonna keep this under the Santa hat for a while but I thought it was high time to finally share it with folks.

In terms of one of the all-time greatest Xmas songs though, no question, it's this. Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here" is basically a childhood's worth of nostalgia distilled into 3 minutes. Even if you heard the song for the first time, it just sounds like something you would have grown up with. The veritable definition of timeless.

Soul Sides is going to be laid up with grading and holiday/family responsibilities for the next week or so. We may not get another post until the new year and if so, thanks to all for your support and encouragement. See you in 2007.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

posted by O.W.

Battered Ornaments: The Crossword and the Safety Pins + Late Into the Night
From Mantle-Piece (Harvest/EMI, 1969)

I'm a psych newbie - actually, now that I think about it, I don't know if there's any genre I'd dare profess expertise in. One thing about music you learn very quickly is that there's always more to learn. This said, I really don't know much about psych except that 1) psych collectors are not to be messed with lightly. They'll drop mortgage loot on a record if they want it bad enough and 2) it's appeal lies in precisely how weird yet sublime its mix of cross-genre music and mind-bending songwriting can be. I first really started to listen to psych LPs at the Groove Merchant and was introduced to this album by Shane aka Sharpshooter who first played this at a gig we shared and then I heard it again once when Cool Chris had a copy of the album at the store. (Just to quickly note: I own the American EMI issue but the OG is actually the UK-released Harvest issue for those we keep track of these sort of things).

This Battered Ornaments LP is a good "starter" album (albeit not a cheap one) for getting into psych - it's not necessarily best in the genre but sit with this enough (especially while perhaps under the influence of some substance) and for me at least, it leaves me hungry for more. That's what I mean by a starter album.

The bonus is that it has such a rich back story. The Battered Ornaments began as a backing group for Pete Brown (of later Cream songwriting fame) and this was to be their second album. However, Brown had a falling out with some of the other band members after they had largely recorded the entire LP. With Brown now booted, the group took all his vocals off the recording tapes and re-recorded all of them on their own. The result, some critics note, is less rich given Brown's absence but his songwriting still lingers here and you can imagine how some of the more zooted out songs (like "Safety Pins") might have sounded with Brown on there.

Either way, what's impressive about this album in particular is how completely different the moods can be. Few tracks sound like any other on the LP and I pulled out two of my favorites that just happen to illustrate what I'm talking about here. "The Crossword and the Safety Pins" is this slow, sleepy, mesmerizing vocal performance underpinned by the resolute stomp of the heavy drums and the choir-like vocal accompaniment. I love how the song builds and swells over its 5.5 minutes.

Then listen to something like "Late Into the Night" which basically sounds like a spiritual jazz tune you might have expected on a Gary Bartz LP, and it's hard to imagine them being on the same album (the acclaimed Deidre Wilson Tabac LP is much like this as well). This is such a groovin', sweaty track, filled with an energetic pulse that makes "Safety Pins" sound even more lethargic than it already is. I like both songs, for completely different reasons. I get, you know, psyched out for 'em (har har har, sorry about that).


Monday, September 04, 2006

posted by O.W.

Nico Gomez: Aquarela + Samba De Uma Nota So
From Bossa Nova (Omega, 197?)

This was the very last LP I picked up at the Groove Merchant before blowing out of town. I think it's safe to say that the store has the best Brazilian collections on the West Coast and even though I'm still a babe in the woods about the various genres coming out of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, I certainly got exposed to more good Brazilian there than I would have under other circumstances.

What's interesting about Nico Gomez is that despite having put out any number of very collectible Latin and Brazilian albums, he wasn't actually from South America. Born in Amsterdam, Gomez had his mark in Belgium where he lead a series of different bands (and recorded under his own name). His best known outfit were the Chakachas who scored a cult hit in the '70s with "Jungle Fever" (on Polydor no less) but he also headed up the El Chicles. There are few Belgium composers from that era with a more consistent track record for straight up funky and Latin-flavored tracks.

Bossa Nova contains one of his biggest hits in the genre: "Aquarela," a slick, mid-tempo dance track. It's ended up on a bunch of cheap Gomez compilations from the era and it's hear to hear why with its samba rhythms and those distinctive vocals. Personally though, I kind of prefer Gomez' take on "One Note Samba (Samba De Uma Nota So)": it's such a wonderfully chill song, especially with the interplay between the vibes and piano. Definitely some Sunday afternoon music.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 03, 2006

posted by O.W.

Monomono: Give a Beggar a Chance
Ofege: Whizzy Ilabo
Both from EMI Super Hits 2 (EMI, 197?)

Like many, I know about Fela Kuti but beyond that, my Nigerian music knowledge is wafer-thin. As I've been introduced to other material, I can easily see why Afro-rock/funk music has such a cult following. To make a completely obvious observation, they blend up the familiar with "the exotic" insofar as it's clear that many Afro-pop groups took their inspiration from American R&B and rock traveling across the Atlantic back in the '60s and '70s. At the same time, their approach, borrowing from traditions within the African musical aesthetic, sounds like very little within the American canon, especially in their differences in keys and scales.

These two cuts come off a fantastic 1970s compilation that EMI - home to many important Nigerian groups of this era - put out. As it turns out, Josh Bea aka DJ B.Cause already put two songs off this comp onto his "summer songs" post back in June: I learned about the album from him (via the Groove Merchant, as it were) and had spent months trying to track down a copy of my own. This whole comp makes for a great sampler of the Nigerian sound of the early '70s and I'm very curious to know what Vol 1 sounds like.

Monomono's roots trace back to Fela Kuti's band: the leader of Monomono (which means "dawn of awareness" in Yoruba), Friday Jumbo, was originally a congeuro for Fela and left the band to join forces with vocalist Joni Haastrup (who would blossom into a legend) and bassist Kenneth Okulolo. From best I can tell, they put out several albums in the early/mid-1970s and this track was almost certainly taken from their EMI Nigeria LP Give a Beggar a Chance.

Ofege seems to be a grand story: they were a high school band who followed in the footsteps of groups like Monomono, BLO as well as Santana and Robert Plant. For a bunch of teenagers, they certainly had solid musical chops as heard on this song and other cuts off their debut, Try and Love. You can hear on "Whizzy Illabo" that fusion between psych, funk, soul, and rock, filtered through an Afro-pop sound that's able to embrace these various styles without sounding forced or contrived.

By the way, our respected comrades over at Captain's Crates has up another one of our Top 10 favorite Latin dance tunes. Get with the "Royal Marcha" while the gettin's good.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 19, 2006

posted by O.W.

John Dankworth: Modesty Blaise + Return From the Ashes
From Movies N' Me (RCA, 1974)

This is possibly the first LP I ever bought at the Groove Merchant (if not the first). Here's what I had to say about this album when I first wrote about it back in 2000:
    "This whole LP is full of great breaks and melodies. One of which, "Return of the Ashes" has been sampled...I know by Rob Swift and I seem to think that it might have been on one of the Dusty Fingers comps? In fact, it almost sounds Axelrod-esque in its disonant, electronic vibe. Either way, this LP is stoopid nice - if it's not funk bumpin', it's got some nice, easy listening fare on it too. The choice cuts begin with "Modesty Blaise" which kicks off with some swinging horn blares but after a short bridge, the open two-bar drum break drops, accented by some horn choruses that sound downright blazing. Trust me, the song is incredible sounding."
Please note, I rarely use the phrase "stoopid nice" these days nor am really that focused on "two-bar drum break drops." My rather painful use of descriptive phrases aside, it's still a great album for those who like funky scores and soundtrack songs. I used to be a bigger fan of the big, brash sound of "Modesty Blaise" but I now find "Return From the Ashes" more enticing, perhaps b/c I'm into more laid-back grooves in my old(er) age. Good stuff, either way.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 06, 2006

posted by O.W.

I published a column in this past Friday's Oakland Tribune where I have a monthly pop music column. It was written just a few days after leaving the Bay Area after 16 years and one of the things I'll miss the most (besides friends and family) is my weekly visits to the Groove Merchant, aka the greatest record store in the world.

I decided to write my August column in tribute to the Merchant and in doing so, I realized how deeply my visits there have influenced my relationship to music and as I note in the column, I don't think it's a coincidence, at all, that I started blogging about soul, jazz, funk, etc. records soon after I started shopping at the GM (this was before people called it blogging but if you're curious to see this nascent, pre-MP3 version of Soul Sides, go here.

The thing is this: there are good record stores - places where, if you get lucky, you might find some fantastic albums on the cheap. These are the lifeblood for most collectors - places that you walk into with a quiet prayer that you'll turn up some unexpectedly sick sh-- for next to nothing. I, of course, have a great appreciation for these stores - places like Village Music in Mill Valley or 2nd Hand Tunes in Chicago or that rinky dink, hole in the wall store in Dayton (if ya'll know, ya'll know).

But what marks a great record store isn't just good records (this does help however) but rather the knowledge you attain from merely visiting. People who visit this site are incredibly gracious about what they learn about music through it. I'm very happy it's able to achieve that. But for me, my musical education from the GM is how others may see Soul Sides. I've learned more about different kinds of music and artists and genres, etc. through Cool Chris - the GM's proprietor - in the last seven years or so than I did in the 28 that proceeded it. I can say, almost definitively, that this site would not exist if not for my afternoons spent at that store every week. It's not that everything I post here came out of the GM but the aesthetic that I try to establish in the music I post is undeniably shaped through what I've learned there.

The credit is due not just to the store itself but to Chris Veltri. People who don't spend a lot of time in record stores don't really understand this simple social fact: 90% of record store owners are complete a--holes. Imagine the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons in real life and that's certainly one segment: know-it-alls who sniff their nose at having to share their knowledge with such obvious peons as ourselves. Then there's the know-nothings who run stores, log into eBay to check prices, and either grossly overcharge some albums and neglectfully undercharge others but shopping from them is an ordeal. Chris, on the other hand, is incredibly cordial and helpful and social in a way that makes you wonder what charm school other record store folk should be attending to get their consumer relations game up. He's just "That Dude" if you know what I mean. (I'm not the only person who feels this way - his fans are legion and international).

I feel so indebted and so enriched by my time rapping with Chris, checking out records he gets in, trading/buying from him that when Zealous Records asked me what my second Soul Sides CD would be, my first pitch was an Afternoons at the Groove Merchant theme which would include records I learned about through the store. For a variety of reasons, Zealous and I deaded that (you'll like the actual concept we ran with, believe that), not the least of which is because my favorites songs I've learned through the store haven't necessarily been jaw-dropping musical gems but rather, records that just have fascinating back stories.

I also note this in the column but people forget that even in the name itself - record - these pieces of vinyl exist to record things, both literally - like music - and figuratively, like people's life stories, whether intentionally or not. Every record tells a story, not just in the songs, but in who made it, when they made it, why they made it, etc. My personal interest in records is definitely fueled by what those backstories are and it's not hard to see how Soul Sides was an outgrowth of that interest.

In any case, this is all a long-winded intro in what should be a fun, recurring set of posts on Soul Sides - Afternoons at the GM - that discusses some of my favorite records that I learned about while at the store. Hope you guys enjoy. Let's start it off...

Aposento Alto: Rejoice
From Goodbye Old Friends (Windeco, 1978)

The Moon People: Happy Soul
From Land of Love (Speed, 1969)

The Moon People: Hippy Skippy Moon Strut
From 7" (Roulette, 1969)

The Aposento Alto LP was one of the last albums I ever picked up from the Groove Merchant before leaving the Bay. It's a crazy obscure, private press, Latin gospel soul funk album out of Modesto, CA. Yeah, Latin gospel soul funk...there's no better way to describe it and if you listen to "Rejoice" you'll see what I mean. I've never heard Latin gospel but now that I have...if it all sounds like this, I'm down like the ground. Besides "Rejoice," it has some slower soul tunes and this epic, eight minute cut "Te Amo" that features a ridiculous 2-3 minute drum solo complete with a steady, back-breaking, breakbeat (complete with all kinds of fills and rolls) that's over a minute long. Mind-boggling.

I copped the Moon People LP sometime last year - another great, funky set of Latin tunes (though no gospel). However, I hadn't really listened to it that closely until Christina Aguilera and DJ Premier dropped "Ain't No Other Man" and realized: oh yeah, this is a Moon People song even though it was erroneously reported online that it was a Luis Alvarez song that Primo flipped. Nope - it's pretty obvious it's the Moon People. The trick though: which version of this song?

My speculation is that "Hippy Skippy Moon Strut" came out first on 45 and then the Moon People used the same backing track, dumped the vocals, and laid down keys instead, then called it "Happy Soul." The instrumentals are identical - it's just the diff b/t the vocals or not. Personally, I like both versions equally though I suppose "Moon Strut" plays out better because of the vocals.

What I like about both "Happy Soul" and "Rejoice" is how each briefly interpolates other songs - on "Rejoice" the horn lines at the beginning sound like "I'll Never Go Back to Georgia" by Joe Cuba while "Happy Soul" pretty obviously takes up riffs from "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 22, 2006

posted by O.W.

(Editor's Note: Our latest summer songs post is from Josh Bea, aka DJ B.Cause, one of the Bay Area's finest behind the wheels o' steel. Josh is what I call a "shadow collector" - his crates run deep and his taste is exquisite but he's almost one of the most down to earth and humble dudes you'll meet. Apart from working part-time at the Groove Merchant, aka the best record store ever, he churns out some of the best mixtapes I know of, including the recently plugged-here-on-Soul-Sides, Soul Boulders (cop that!). His summer songs post includes many tracks I had never heard before...but of course, now desperately want. Seriously - the music here is fantastic. --O.W.)

It's pretty tough to define what a summer song means to me, and even more difficult is the task of choosing a small handful of songs that transcend accurately that feeling of adventure, youth, heat, nightlife, outdoors, love and the occasional deep pain of loss. Instead I've decided to pick the first few seemingly appropriate jams that pop up out of the nearest stack of worn lp piles, those of which seem to grow in the spring months of vinyl aquisition through flea markets and garage sales.

The Coasters: Love Potion # 9
From The Coasters On Broadway (King 196?)

I've loved this tune since I was a kid, so when I stumbled across this dynamic version about a decade ago I was more than thrilled. The song title reminds me (for some odd reason) of the sweet nocturnal smell of blooming jasmine, something I remember vividly from running around after dark as a teen in Los Angeles where the blossoms are abundant. About a year ago I DJed an evening wedding reception in a barn near Modesto, of those cool wedding parties that actually ends up being genuinely fun. The music was quite good rather than the usual reception jukebox flip-flop: getting riddled with endless requests for 80's pop music despite the fact that they initially hired you to play funk, jazz and soul. Here were some really good and open-minded folks having the time of their lives. At the peak moment of the celebration this tune played feverishly while everbody including myself smiled, shouted, laughed and danced...the moon was bright, the air warm, and you could just make out the faint smell of jasmine in the valley night.

Quicksilver Messenger Service: Fire Brothers
From S/T (Capitol 196?)

Recent re-discovery on the mystical mountain-man volcano worship tip. This track pretty much speaks for itself, smoldering but folky flange.

Sydney Barnes: Summer Sunshine
From Foot Stompin' Music (Parachute 1978)

This is a perfect steppers-style soul tune for the occasion, everything from the title and lyrics to the somewhat mystical & modern feel of the arrangements scream 'summer mix tape'! Love it.

Wrinkers Experience: Fuel For Love
Strangers: Love Rock
From EMI Super Hits (EMI Nigeria 197?)

Two great tunes from an excellent early 70's Nigerian EMI lp that I listened to one too many times and ended up having to purchase despite a dwindling pocketbook. It was hard to choose just two tracks from this record, if I had the time I would have posted them all.

Bonus round 45: Was about to wrap this post up when I noticed this forgotten lil' ditty poking out of one of my 45 bins, and with a a title like that it just had to be included.

The Reflections: She's My Summer Breeze
From 7" (Capitol, 1975)

Honorable mention but out of time & space:

Ray Charles: America The Beautiful
Ted Hawkins: What Do You Want From The Liquor Store?
E-40: Hope I Don't Go Back

--DJ B.Cause

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

posted by O.W.

Junior Parker: Taxman
From Love Ain't Nothin' But A Business Goin' On (Groove Merchant, 1971)

Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination & Brass: A Day In the Life
From Touchdown (Polydor GER, 1977)

I felt out of it today. Slightly blue. I don't know what's going on - it's just been a weird (though actually quite ordinary day). Oh my f----ing god, I'm turning into one of those people who blog about their life but aren't actually saying anything of import. Stop me.

Random stuff, just for the hell of it:
    1) What my site is to old records, her site is to vintage cameras. So dense and thorough, it's scary. I am now desirous of one of these.
    2) My friend Hua's blog. He's starting to post more MP3s, including that ridiculously hot Juelz Santana song I mention in my Six Picks -->. Plus, he told me he's been getting a lot of hits off of Catchdubs site and I want to see if I can out-refer. (It's nothing personal Nick, your site rocks).
    3) I want these shoes. But they're sold out in my size. Alas.
    4) Gourmet hot chocolate is my new s---.
    5) Isaac Hayes is an amazing musical force but his religious beliefs are suspect.
So yeah, Beatles covers. To be honest, I could do a whole month on just Beatles covers and as much as I adore the Fab Four's output, I think that might be a bit much. That said, one of my favorite all-Beatles covers albums is Ramsey Lewis' homage to the White Album, Mother Nature's Son. (And yeah, I know about George Benson's The Other Side of Abbey Road but I never liked it that much).

Junior Parker straight up owns his version of "Taxman." No disrespect to George Harrison but Parker's funky blues take on the song cannot be f---ed with. That's all there is to say.

The Peter Herbolzheimer version of "A Day In the Life" is a strange cover of a strange enough song to begin with. I begins innocuously enough with Don Adams on vocals doing a super-slowed down, ballad-y version. Then the RC&B creep in a's still pretty mellow, nothing to write home about. Then they hit the second bridge and the song goes bat-sh-- on some funked-up fusion tip only to slow back down after a few minutes. I can't say I love the overall effect but it is, uh, different. (Just to make it clear, I like RC&B stuff - I own three of their best albums and there is some scorching material on there).

Labels: ,

Friday, August 12, 2005

posted by O.W.

Linda Hopkins: Walk On In
From S/T (RCA, 1972)

Roger and the Human Body: Freedom
From The Vinyl Days (Circe Communications, 1976). Also on We Can Make You Dance

I'm cleaning out my closet of old sound files that I've been stacking but never got around to posting. Sorry folks, no real deep themes here but at least the music's good (I hope).

The Linda Hopkins album I found a while back - her bio is so deep, I can't even begin to try to summarize it but I'll say this much about the music on the LP: you can definitely hear her gospel roots in both the singing and arrangement. The production is good - quite diverse actually since some of it shows off Hopkins' Broadway skills too. "Walk On In" drew me in for its blend of gospel and soul sensibilities (I'm a sucker for background singing too). I'd be curious to know who her rhythm section is too - they got nice chops here.

This Roger and the Human Body was a hand-me-down from Cool Chris at the Groove Merchant in S.F. It comes off of a compilation by Cincinnati's WEBN (part of a series of comps the station put out) designed to highlight the city's local talent. Along side a smattering of disco-influenced soul, folksy light rock ballads, and a dab of country is this early, early song by Roger Troutman and his first group, the Human Body. 45 copies of this song go over $150 and the LP it appears on can price well over $500(!!!) Chris thought this might have been the first place "Freedom" appeared though upon further research, the 7" was released in '75 so this is probably after the single came out. What I think it most interesting is how Roger was already playing with the vocoder that would become such a signature part of the late funkateer's sound.


Friday, September 24, 2004


The Calbidos: Barrio Bueno
From Crossfire (Vroomm, 197?). Also available on Extended 12" (Kudos, 2003).

Toro: Michaela
From 7" (Scepter, 1975) and Toro (Coco, 1975)

Sophy: Es Lamentable
From Sophy (Velvet, 197?)

"Lados Del Alma" = my weak Spanish translation of "Soul Sides" - if someone can offer a more accurate translation, please feel free to make suggestions. In any case, it's yet another theme to keep track of (we need some SS Score Cards up in hurr), dedicated to Latin-tinged music. Like European jazz, it's a genre that I've only really been learning much about in the last three or four years but despite my relative ignorance, I'm very much a fan. I'm a sucker for a good boogaloo (and I'll have to bring some of those to the fore), but I'm an equal opportunity lover of Latin soul, jazz, rock, (of course funk), bossa novas, batucadas, descargas, mambos, guaranchas, etc., etc., etc. There are many, many Latin sub-genres to memorize, covering an immense gamut of Afro-Latin-Cuban-Brazilian influences.

I launch with "Barrio Bueno," a Latin jazz library record out of Italty. The Cabildos had two albums in the '70s - Crossfire is actually the inferior one compared with Yuxtaposition (recorded under the name, The Cabildo's Three) which has nary a flat track. Crossfire is solid, don't get me wrong, but its "Barrio Bueno" is the main standout. A very laid back, smoky groover, "Barrio Bueno," sounds like it came off a soundtrack for very hip stoners (this would be a good thing). It's so good in fact, Kudos Records extended the song and pressed it up on clear vinyl last year.

With Toro...this was a Groove Merchant find - really nice Latin rock album that bears the obvious influence of Santana but doesn't sound like a clone. Super-producer Harvey Averne (remember Viva Soul?) helms this one (at the Electric Lady Studios no less) and his cross-genre embrace of different styles are well served here and especially for "Michaela," an excellent Latin soul/rock number which is just one of many great songs off the LP.

And also, Toro just has one of the best logos I've ever seen. I want a t-shirt with that on it.

Last, it's Sophy: only one of the biggest singers in Puerto Rican history which is ironic since I find her singing on this album barely tolerable. No disrespect intended but her voice isn't particuarly nuanced or dynamic and it also sounds engineered too loudly over the track. This all said, I'm giving her song "Es Lamentable", off one of her big hit albums on Velvet, a spin because it's a slick, funky dance number and a female vocal track, thus combining two genres that I get weak in the knees for.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Third Wave: Waves Lament
From Here and Now (MPS, 1970/Crippled Dick, 1999)
Third Wave: Love Train
From 7" (MPS, 196?) Also on Dancefloor Jazz Vol. 9 (Motor Mouth, 2000)

One of these days, I'll do some proper research on this group. Five Filipino sisters from Stockton, all who happen to be the niece of singer Ruby Tenio, are discovered by jazz composer George Duke. He promptly whisks them off to Europe where they record for Germany's MPS under the name the Third Wave. They are a jazz vocal group, compared by some to the Mamas and Papas or King Sisters. They record one album, Here and Now, and a single 7" with two songs, neither of us are on the LP.

"Waves Lament" begins the album and also happens to be my favorite song off the LP: it begins with a swinging pace but quickly eases down into a melancholy, smooth lope that invokes the image of a smoky lounge full of hard-drinking, chain-smoking types. Meanwhile, "Love Train," is a driving jazz dance number complete with a breakdown in the middle. Third Wave keeps on rolling! (Shout out to "Cool" Chris Veltri at S.F.'s Groove Merchant for putting me up on this beaut of a 7")

By the way, I need an OG copy of Here and Now. If you got one for sale or trade, holla.


Thursday, June 26, 2003

Zalatnay Sarolta: Hadd Mondjam El (Pepita 197?)

I've been on some weird European kick lately - Swedish, Polish, Finnish, etc. LPs and 45s have really been catching my eye. This Hungarian female rock LP has been seen gracing both the Groove Merchant and Sound Library's walls o' fame and I can see why. For them drum break junkies (of which I am admirer though not full-time addict), this record is pretty friggin' sick and I'm just tickled that it's on...well...a Hungarian female rock album. I mean, I'm sure this stuff grows like trees over in Hungary but out here, it's pretty outstanding.

Sarolta's vocals are ok but then again, I don't speak Hungarian so what can I really say? Many of the arrangements don't catch your ear per se, though there sounds to be a Wurtlizer or Rhodes somewhere in the mix. Maybe a clavinet too. But seriously, whoever's working the drum kit on this MFer deserves some props. The drums on the title cut are ridiculous - big, fat, clean, as if Bob Powers cleaned it up. The opening break on "Ne Hidd El" sounds straight up like a twist on the "Put Your Hand in the Hand" pattern and song for song, this is probably the best track as Sarolta finally lets her vocals out to play a bit (she's rather restrained elsewhere). The break returns midway through, this time accompanied by a firm bass guitar. And ending side A is "Egyszer..." which has a chicken scratch guitar accompanying the opening break as the song kicks into a swinging party jam.

Like I said, this LP might appeal more to break heads but as for me, it gets by just fine on the novelty factor.


Loot OST (CBS 1970)

I was turned onto this album a few years back by Cool Chris at the Groove Merchant. It's a soundtrack to what I can only assume to be some wacky British heist film (something the English seem to excel at making). What's noteworthy is who cuts the soundtrack: Keith Mansfield of KPM/Mohawks fame. Not having heard most of the KPM LPs that the Mohawks played on (you got $500 for me to catch up?), I can't compare this but I can say it's been one of my favorite LPs that I've been listening to lately.

A lot of this soundtrack isn't very notable - the vocals are particularly bad and most of the songs aren't '60s pop riffs. But "Loot's the Root" is a surprise since it starts off with the aforementioned forgettable vocals and then midway swings into a jamming mod-groover (not unlike the Nilsmen joint I mention elsewhere on this blog) full of darting organs and slammin' percussion. What's strange is that, if you look at the LP, where you think the song is about to end just ends up being a transition where the track strips down and brings in a female vocal to close the song out. There's also some cool clunky jazz bits on the short but sweet "Where It's At." The jam is "Stealth in the Night" which is one of those slow builders...the song kicks off with some dialogue from the film and ramps up two times until it really gets going. When it does, Mansfield just laces you with this zinger of a track - mid-tempo and superfly, bringing back his zingy organ and a fantastic rhythm riff.

The last butter track is "The Undertaker Song" (even the song titles are wicked) which is a return to the "Loot's the Root" motif but this time, he whips it up with a conga break and the track is even fiercer than before as Mansfield goes nuts on the organ. Wild hot.