Wednesday, December 23, 2009

posted by O.W.

A few weeks ago, I put forward a challenge to folks to try their hand at remixing Bobby Reed's "Time Is Right For Love" and so far, we've had three folks step up.

These are all "works in progress" so be nice with your comments/feedback but so far, I like where it's all heading.

Bobby Reed: Time Is Right (Choplogic Remix)

Bobby Reed: Time Is Right (Prince of Ballard Remix)

Bobby Reed: Time Is Right (Flip Edit)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

posted by O.W.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: Get Ready
From Pocket Full of Miracles (Motown, 1970)

Smokey Robinson and the MIracles: Get Ready (O-Dub Edit)

Controller 7: Get Ready for the Young Folks
From 7" & 12" (Token Recluse, 2007)

Of the classic '60s Motown catalog, few songs are as guaranteed dancefloor gold as The Temptations' "Get Ready" - the horn/bassline openeing already pushes you into motion before the drum roll even comes in and once the whole thing kicks into gear, you'd have to be catatonic to resist its charms. For over the last year, I've been very fond of playing out Little Eva Harris' incredible medley/cover of the song (last written about in Nov '08). I was spinning with DJ Soul Marcosa earlier this fall when he dropped the Smokey and the Miracles version on me and I couldn't believe 1) how frickin' good it was and 2) that I had never heard it before despite it being from the Miracles (notably, Pocket Full of Miracles doesn't seem readily available on CD (if it ever was).

If Harris blended together "Get Ready' with Stevie Wonder's "Uptight," the Miracles instead choose to throw in some licks of "Sunshine Of Your Love," which goes together brilliantly here. There's also the matter of a short but sweet little breakbeat that comes in after two bars and this whole thing clearly embraces the funk aesthetics resonant at the time. Personally, I wanted to create a version of the song that was just a bit more DJ friendly and noticing that the song's breakbeat was panned in the left channel, and using some super amateur editing skills (thank you Sound Studio!), I isolated and extended that break into four bars, following by two more with the "Sunshine" riff moved underneath before cutting back into the song. I played it for a friend who thought he could imagine the strains of Can's "Vitamin C" coming in here but the more I listened to it, what I kept imagining was Kool and the Gang's "Hustlers Convention" theme popping in (intrepid re-remixers, take note).

Lastly, if I'm going to write about blends involving "Get Ready," I have to show some love to Controller 7 who, two years ago, put out this slick mash-up of the original "Get Ready" accapella over Peter, Bjorn and John's "Young Folks." It is eerie how well the arrangements line up with one another (coincidence or not?).
(BTW: If any digi-DJs out there want a higher quality version of my "Get Ready" edit, drop me an email)

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

posted by O.W.

Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Raven: How Long Before I'm Gone
Stay With Me
From Brief Replies (Polydor, 1970)

The Highlighters: You're Time Is Gonna Come
From 7" (Chess, 1970)

I save a slew of songs with the intention of "eventually posting them up" and what inevitably happens is that they just end up "hanging around" and go nowhere fast. Right now, I have at least 1.5 years worth of stuff and decided to get off the proverbial pot by finally posting some up.

The Ten Wheel Drive's "How Long" came to my attention after hearing this Black Moon cut (arguably the last good one they ever put out), "Way of the Walk." This combines at least two pet loves: 1) funky rock bands fronted by 2) female singers (in this case, Genya Raven who has a huge voice - very post-Joplin. I don't think her version of Lorraine Ellison's "Stay With Me blows the OG out of the water but it was an interesting take.

Th Highlighters were an Indiana group probably best known for their uber-rare "Funky 16 Corners" funk 45. "You're Time Is Gonna Come" (not to be confused with the Led Zep song of similar title) is a taste of the group's penchant for crafting a great little, doo-wop influenced power ballad that showcases lead singer James Bell's pipes. I also really dig the organ here - unexpected but quite welcome.

Jan Jankeje: Elsa Marie
From Sokol (Jazzpoint, 1974)

Preston Love: Kool Ade
From Omaha BBQ (Also on LP) (Kent, 1969)

Roger Saunders: Darkness
From The Roger Saunders Rush Album (Warner Bros, 1972)

I previously posted (anonymously) another song from Jan Jankeje's funky fusion LP, Sokol back in the "Breaks and Basslines" post. I'm not remotely as big on fusion stuff as I was about 10 years back but I still have a soft spot for this album by the Slovakian Jankeje which is one solid footing in funk-influenced rhythms but also healthy touches of avant garde jazz as this composition, in particular, seems to capture. File under "I can't believe I never posted this": Preston Love's Omaha BBQ was one of the earliest funky blues albums I ever became acquainted with and I still find it to be one of the most consistent efforts in the genre. "Kool Ade" especially is killer - as gritty a groove you can imagine. The drummer gets some special attention here on the two bridges where band members rap with each other over a chattering like series of breaks and fills.

Speaking of breaks, you'd be hard pressed to find too many songs with a better 8 bar opening break than this. The actual song itself is a decent, mid-tempo country-rock ballad which isn't quite what you'd expect with an intro like that but it's definitely a step up from "Put Your Hand in the Hand."

Prisoners of Watts (POW): Language of Funk
From 12" (No Busters Allowed, 1990)

Da Lench Mob: Ain't Got No Class (T-Bone Remix)
Ain't Got No Class (Beatnuts Remix)
From 12" (Street Knowledge, 1992)

King Tee: The Great (Distorted Alcoholism Mix)
From 12" ("Bust Dat Ass") (Capitol, 1992)

I picked up this 12" by L.A.'s P.O.W. (Prisoners of Watts) on a whim and while it's not exactly the unsung NWA or anything, I do digthe early '90s L.A. hip-hop production steez on here. Bonus points for having Battle Cat (back when he was mostly known as a DJ) on the cut.

Less obscure (but still staying in the Southland), we have two mixes from Da Lench Mob's "Ain't Got No Class" 12". Again, I don't really ride that hard for the song itself (there are better Lench Mob cuts out there) but I do like the contrast in production style you can here between the Beatnuts and T-Ray. Especially because T-Ray was doing stuff for Cypress Hill and his style and Muggs' seemed so compatible, I always associate it with a Left Coast thing even though neither Muggs nor T-Ray were originally from California. T-Bone's remix (which I, embarrassingly, confused for a T-Ray remix for, uh, years now) is some classic West Coast, post-Sir Jinx/Muggs ruggedness while
The Beatnuts mix is classically 'Nuts with the filtered bassline and use of horns.

One more from the West (actually, now that I think about it, these three songs were probably from a long-forgotten "early 90s West Coast hip-hop post") - a remix of King Tee's "The Great" found on the "Bust Dat Ass" 12". King Tee = unsung and then some. I always like going back and listening again to his catalog (especially anything connected to The Triflin' Album - such a good voice and such a damn shame his Aftermath album never got official release.

Los Pakines: Hojas Verdes
Oh! Cherie
From S/T (Sono Radio, 197?)

I don't know much about Peruvian chicha but this fusion of Colombian cumbia with American surf rock makes for style that's hard to forget once you hear it. I got turned onto this Los Pakines album when I was looking for stuff by Los Diablos Rojo, another group in a similar vein. The Pakines, in particular, seemed to love that reverb and just drench every song on this album with it. "Hojas Verdes" is a slinky cumbia piece with some funk undertones while "Oh! Cherie" sounds like a cover of a '60s tune I should recognize (but don't).

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

posted by O.W.

Arrested Development: Ease My Mind (DJ Premier Remix)
From 12" (promo) (Chrysalis, 1994)

Jamie Foxx: Blame It On the People (DJ Fabian Blend) (2009)

Like most groups labelled "alternative rap" in the early 1990s, Arrested Development had the misfortune of being considered insufficiently "real" at a time when hip-hop's shift towards ghettocentricity was in full effect. To be fair, the group helped in this regard, especially with a relatively lackluster sophomore effort but in hindsight, it seems unfair to discount the quality of their output just because "Tennessee" wasn't "Shook Ones Pt. 2."

I'm reminded of this by how infectiously fun this DJ Fabian blend is, throwing Jamie Foxx's ode to intoxicated seductions over the "People Everyday" remix beat from '92. That original "Metamorphosis Mix" remains one of the timeless tracks from that era and for whatever reason, Foxx's acapella sounds quite perfect over it. Kick up the treble tone.

The DJ Premier remix of "Ease My Mind" was only found on promo copies of the single; I don't know if it was a rights issue or whatever but when the actual single came out, the remix was MIA. It's not one of the most intricate Primo beats ever but despite its simplicity, its catchiness is undeniable.

I'm just blown away that it's been 15+ years since these songs came out. [Insert "I feel old" complaint]

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

posted by O.W.

Jay-Z: Never Change (Dilla Remix)
From Jimmy Green's What if J Dilla Produced The Blueprint? (2009)

It's a bit odd that in 2009, someone would mash-up Jay-Z's 2001 album, Blueprint with a series of J-Dilla beats. Furthermore, let's just answer the question:

If Dilla had produced The Blueprint, Jay-Z would have taken an L. That's no diss on Jay Dee but c'mon now - it's not like Kanye West and Just Blaze were exactly slacking on what's arguably one of the best produced albums this decade. What's next? "What if J Dilla Produced It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back?" (Note: maybe Def Jam should release the acapellas to that album).

All this said, I have to admit that I am loving this remix of "Never Change." I'm not saying it's better than the OG, I'm just saying it's good - so laid-back yet slightly sinister.

And it really brings to mind how Burt Bacharach compositions (in this case, "The Look of Love") make for potentially great sample fodder given that 1) they're familiar enough to catch our attention and 2) they're generally classics in basic, simple but rich songwriting and arrangements. When I was listening to this, I immediately thought of another mash-up from a couple years back:

Biggie and Lil Wayne: If You See Me Walking
From Mick Boogie and Terry Urban's Unbelievable: A Tribute to Biggie Smalls (2007)

This time, it's a flip on a pre-Isaac Hayes version of Burt's "Walk On By."

And heck, if we're going own the memory lane of "rap songs flipping Burt beats" then we can't forget this twist on Johnny Pate's version of "Look of Love":

Show and A.G.: You Know Now (Buckwild Remix)
From Goodfellas (Payday, 1995)

And just to really blow your mind, here's the Jackson 5 throwing down their take on Isaac Hayes' version of "Walk On By." The LP version of this appeared on their live Goin' Back to Indiana album.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

posted by O.W.

(Editor's note: That whole "I'm done with MJ posts"? Ok, so that was premature. Sorry but the hits just keep on coming! This is from James Cavicchia, my favorite "music writer who is not professionally a music writer but better than many music writers who are" and a message board post he is allowing me to reprint. --O.W.)

The Jackson 5: I Want You Back
From Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 (Motown, 1969)
    "When I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever been fully convinced by Michael Jackson, really. Not convinced by the squeaky-clean pre-teen singing about women troubles in every other song, not convinced by the timid good-timer of Off The Wall (though I always think of Michael dancing, I never ever think of him dancing with anyone—do you?), not convinced by the cuddly werewolf/virginal baby-daddy/china-fine gang-war mediator of Thriller, and on and on. He was never convincingly girl-weary as a young boy, and never convincingly romantic, aggressive, or sexual as an adult. He always seemed to be just outside of the real action. And while this made me feel very affectionate toward him—he was so clearly a kid, one of us, who had somehow fooled the right people and infiltrated the adult world—none of his music ever seemed to have any real place in any reality that I was familiar with. I managed to grow up loving his music without it actually meaning anything to me; it felt huge and important, but weightless. Like cartoons.

    I know that sounds pretty negative, but what it actually ends up meaning is that Michael Jackson’s music works on me with a purity matched by few. Because for all the levels on which it may be suspect—lyrics, persona, whatever—there is one level on which it always always convinces: the sound. Three certainties in life: You will definitely die, you will always pay taxes, and you will never ever say “Man, that Michael Jackson song doesn’t sound as good as I remember.” It will only ever sound better, I promise you. Whatever suspension of disbelief the songs may require, and however little connection they may have to anything outside their own miniature fantasias, their reign within the borders of their runtime is absolute. They are unalloyed pop-music-production genius galvanized by Michael’s voice, which is not always the most integral piece, but is always, finally, the most necessary one. At the same time their immense commercial success keeps them present and current within culture, their essential unreality and inhuman inner perfection allow them to operate outside of time. They often seem less like actual songs and more like ideas that we’re all having at the same time. To hear them is to think, “Well, yeah—of course.”

    And “I Want You Back” is the best Michael Jackson song. It’s not quite my favorite (“The Love You Save” narrowly edges it), but it’s the best, and is one of what I usually consider to be the two archetypal Perfect Pop Songs. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot (I know, right?): The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” divide the world between them—there is no third.

    It starts with that piano curlicue that doubles back on itself before it’s even gone and tagging the guitar at the turn, the two together sounding like they could flip the entire sun like a fucking flapjack. Then the strings come in and then the bongos and then and then and then, and it’s not harmonious, exactly—there’s crisp separation between each instrument, and everything’s in its own space, but the sheer mass of all the pieces gives it this beautiful kind of overfull clatter. There’s a quick sense that not only could there not possibly be anything better, there couldn’t possibly be anything else. Mike glides down in full whine, and from here on out the song stubbornly defies momentum—it stays stopping and starting, the drums jump in place (only on the choruses, though—no drums at all on the verses), and it’s the most glorious parade in the world, too generous, and stopping at every house. It should annoy, but the thing is that after every single stop, it somehow manages—incredibly—to sound even better when it starts back up. You don’t think it will, but it does, every single time. By the end, hearts and ears bulge at the seams from the undiminished return.

    And although the song never puts across the sense of loss that you’d assume from the title, it’s okay, because it’s not really trying to. The amiable bass and the daylight guitar and that plinky piano that get sprinkled in seem to understand Michael in a way that Michael doesn’t understand the song (and probably couldn't, at his age): Despite the literal desperation of the lyrics, and even though he works overtime to sell us on it, it’s clear from Michael’s perfect, explosive vocal that he does not believe even for an instant that it won’t all work out, and the genius of the music is that it recognizes that this—the faith and the gold of youth—is the point of the song, not some girl, some…other. The point is the I, not the want. Just listen to the little vocal break before the last chorus: Mike’s trying to preach it on what would ostensibly be the climax of this love-lost song, but behind him is this springy guitar line cake-walking with some easter-bunny bassline. Like I said: There's an understanding. Understanding that when Michael sings “Won’t you please let me / back in your heart?”, it isn’t actually a question.

    Was it ever, really?"

    -James Cavicchia

Bonus beat: Jackson 5: I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix)
From Motown Remixed Vol 1 (Motown, 2005

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

posted by O.W.

Last Thursday, Wil and I put together a night o' Michael, capped with a two hour set of straight M-J-5 songs that pretty much had the dance floor filled from start to finish.

Anyone who has every DJed any party, anywhere knows that when everything else fails, you can always put on some MJ and it's like Insta-Party. As a fellow DJ wrote, "MJ has always been the most "guaranteed go-to" artist for DJs in the history of DJs." True that.

The thing's so easy to get the party started with MJ, it's like an unfair advantage over the audience. It's so easy that I've usually avoided playing anything too obvious by MJ simply's too easy.

And I was thinking: who else comes close to having that kind of power? The only artist even in the conversation is Prince but even then, we're talking about Purple Rain-era Prince mostly whereas with MJ, you can drop everything from "I Want You Back" (1970) to "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (1979) to "Billie Jean" (1982) to "Smooth Criminal" (1987) and it's on like Donkey Kong.

But this post actually isn't about those songs. You don't really need me waxing poetic about "Billie Jean" or "I Want You Back." I'm here to dig beneath the #1 hits and offer up a playlist of some of my favorite M-J-5 related songs/covers/remixes that bring out the full spectrum of the artist and group's styles.

Jackson 5: Big Boy
From 7" (Steeltown, 1968).

I learned about "Big Boy" gigging with some excellent soul selectors up in San Francisco and it's been a favorite "end of the night" ballad to throw on. What's remarkable here is that Jackson is...what? 9? 10? And yet listen to him try to sell his "age ain't nothin' but a #" smooth mack game. This song was evidently re-recoreded (or released with a separate mix) but I prefer the original 7" version. It's less cluttered which allows the vocal's poignancy to shine forth.

Jackson 5: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
From Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 (Motown, 1969)

An odd choice I know, least of which is the disturbing relationship to Song of the South and Disney's minstrel embrace. But forgive me for just finding this cover to be strange and kind of compelling. I mean, it's the Jackson 5 covering "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah". 'Nuff said.

Jackson 5: 2-4-6-8
From ABC (Motown, 1970)

"ABC" is a cold classic, no doubt, but personally, I find myself bumpin' its numerical kin more often. I suppose Motown thought it'd be too shameless to drop this as a single too but for a formulaic song, it's irrepressibly catchy, no?

Jackson 5: Darling Dear
From Third Album (Motown, 1971)

Pet peeve: no one in the Jackson camp or Motown brain trust could come up with a better title than Third Album? That aside, "Darling Dear" is one of those hidden gems from the MJ5 catalog that I only discovered recently (more on that later) and *whistle* what a beauty of a song.

Nancy Holloway: Un Amour Aussi Grand
From 7" (Barclay, 1971)

Ah yes, the lovely Nancy Holloway, singing the big hit off of the Maybe Tomorrow album in français. Frankly, this song would probably work in Klingon but if you had to pick a non-English language for this, French is not a bad way to go.

Jackson 5: I Wanna Be Where You Are
From In Japan! (Motown Japan, 1973)

Jackson's first solo album, released when he was all of 13, made a clear statement that he was as competent and capable rolling on his own as he was surrounded by his brothers. "I Wanna Be Where You Are" is one of the three big singles off this album (though I think far less people remember "Rockin' Robin" as compared to the title song) and has one of the most memorable opening lines in any pop song I can think of: "can it be I stayed away so long?" (Note: I love how it pops up on this song).

Hua first put me up on this live version of the song, recorded during the Jacksons tour for Japan in 1973. I actually like 1) how they take out the guitars, which I always found a bit overpowering in the mix and 2) the audience handclaps in the background. (Zulema also does a great version of this song, which I included for an piece that should run early next week.

Michael Jackson: We've Got a Good Thing Going
From Ben (Motown, 1972)

Let's first say - best album featuring a rat on its cover, ever. Second, of all the songs I've been revisiting, this is the one that has me in straight rewind mode. Love the production - The Corporation execute beautifully on the rhythms and textures of this ballad and the songwriting is memorable without being overly simplistic. This song doesn't just "work" - it (and god help me, I really couldn't find a better phrase to use here even if it sounds like total boilerplate)...sings.

Love. It. Love. It. Love. It.

(By the way, someone pointed out that Sugar Minnot recorded a cover of this - crazy.

DJ Bobo James: Good Thing Goin'
Michael Jackson: We're Almost There (DJ Spinna Remix)
Both from Soul Source: Jackson 5 Remixes, Vol. 2 (Universal, 2001)

I should give credit - the main reason I know anything about either "We've Got a Good Thing" or "Darling Dear" is because I first heard the two songs combined in an awesome remix by DJ Bobo James. The first part of the song is playing off of "We've Got a Good Thing," especially the piano melody and then, midway through, he shifts to work off the strings of "Darling Dear." Put together, it's just a beaut of a song and it fueled my desire to hear the originals.

On the same album, DJ Spinna drops another incredible remix, this one for "We're Almost There," from Jackson's slept-on Forever, Michael LP (his last for Motown). Wil ended our MJ tribute with this song and it was perfect. Dare I say but I think Spinna actually improves on the original here by stripping things down and building around the intense mix of hope and melancholy sublimated into Michael's vocals.

Michael Jackson: Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (demo)
From Off the Wall (Remastered Edition) (Epic 1979/Sony 2001)

Not all demo versions are necessarily worth a listen but in this case, the demo reveals so much about the musical process that resulted in one of the best songs off of Off the Wall. I really like how it sounds here, all stripped down and unglossy.

For my piece, I included the fantastic Derrick Laro and Trinity version of this song.

SWV: Right Here (Human Nature Duet, Demolition Mix)
From Remixes EP (RCA, 1994)

Ok - we've arrived at Thriller (and I skipped over quite a few M-J-5 albums prior to this, I'll try to revisit those in a later post). Remember when SWV was kind of running sh-- back around '93/'94? Their remix EP finally cobbled together some of their stronger material, including that Wu-Tang remix of "Anything" that caught serious play for a hot minute. But you really couldn't front on the smoothness that was the "Human Nature Duet" mix which blended together "Right Here" and "Human Nature." To this day, I've wondered if they actually cleared the MJ and if so, what it cost them to do so.

Michael Jackson: Pretty Young Thing (Demo)
From The Ultimate Collection (Sony, 2004)

In no way does this trump the awesomeness of the album version but it's interesting just to hear this super-quiet storm approach to the song in its infancy stages.

Floetry: Butterflies (demo)
From Floetic (Geffen, 2002)

I didn't realize until now that "Butterflies," my favorite MJ song post-Thriller (and featured on his 2001 Invincible album) was actually, originally, a Floetry song, recorded by them in 1997 which MJ then basically re-recorded his vocals over. The tracks are almost identical except that the original Floetry version has that doubling of the snare every two bars or so which sounds somewhere between "cool" and "clunky." Otherwise, if you put this and MJ's up, side to side, you can hear how close they are. And I have to say...I think Jackson has the better vocal performance here (but hey, it's Michael).

For a change, I did a basic mix of everything above. You can stream below or DL here.

The Soul Sides M-J-5 Mix

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

posted by O.W.

JBX (Jared Boxx): The Fillmore Remixes


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

posted by O.W.

Jeru: Ya Playin' Yaself (remix)
Black Moon: How Many MCs Must Get Dissed (remix)
From 12" (white label, 199?)

This may sound strange but I've been looking for this 12" for at least 4-5 years and it's not that it's even that awesome of a white label remix 12" but I can get obsessed with certain songs/records and just need to find them, even if that means waiting a Olympic cycle or more.

I became acquainted with it through Vinnie Esparaza - we used to do a monthly party called Joyride in San Francisco (people who went to 26 Mix, holler!) back in the early '00s and he'd often play this remix of Jeru's "Ya Playin' Yaself" that I never heard and I liked it enough - at the time - to want to go find it. BUT because it was a white label 12" and because Vinnie didn't even remember where he got it, it was a hard single to track down and I patiently had to wait until it showed up on eBay (which it did, finally, the other week) and just hope no one else out there had the same silly obsession.

Like I said, the remixes are ok but that Jeru definitely doesn't sound as good now as it used to! (Oh, the irony). That said, I dig the bassline (which I think T-Love has also used) on it and the way in which it sort of plays off Prermier's style of that era without being a straight bite. The Black Moon remix is similarly decent though it's not touching the OG.

Any of my '90s heads out there know who actually did these remixes? At one point, I think I heard it was some DJ Spinna thing but I don't know if I believe that still.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

posted by O.W.

(As part of our 5th year anniversary, we're revisiting 20 key songs. This post was originally published on Jan 7th, 2006).

Nas + AZ: Life's a Bitch (DJ Delay Remix)
From Medium: Rare II Mix-CD (Funk Weapons Int'l, 2005)

My original comments on this were kind of thin so I'll just write up some new ones...

Personally, "Life's A Bitch" was always my least favorite song off of Illmatic, music-wise. I just thought it was too soft and syrupy and even though I've tried to give it new listens in hindsight, it still doesn't really do it for me.

So when I heard DJ Delay flip a new beat under it, to me, it improved my personal experience of really listening to everything about it - not just the new beats, but the old verses as well. You'd be surprised how much you can pick up when your ear is more fully engaged with a song rather than trying to listen past a track you're not that into.

For many, I suppose anything but the OG is blasphemous but f--- it. I ride for the diggy-diggy Doc Delay on this one.

Pity the mix-CD this came out on (as a bonus track) is out of stock though!

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Monday, March 09, 2009

posted by O.W.

(As part of our 5th year anniversary, we're revisiting 20 key songs. This post was originally published on July 1, 2005).

>Amerie: One Thing (Siik Remix)
From (Siik, 2005)

"Given that the 4th of July is already upon us, I'm trying to kick off a mini-meme by asking folks the simple(?) question: What does a summer song sound like to you?

I don't mean songs that happen to become popular during summer, though I respect the institution of the summer hit. I'm talking about songs that invoke summer - the type of song where you could be neck-deep in snow, in the middle of February, with the heat broken but once you hear it, you can almost see the sunset or smell the scent of backyard BBQs or feel the hot, humid air of nights where it's 2am and no one's ready to go home yet.

My favorite memories of summer are droplets of reality dissolved into a vat of fantasy. After all, what else is summer if not a delicious swirl of nostalgia and idealism, a lemonade cup filled with what we want summer to be rather than what it is. The perfect summer songs are the ones that invoke a sensation of innocence, optimism, and beauty yet also tinged with the slightest daub of melancholy. For what else is summer if not the feeling of sadness from knowing that summer will eventually pass, consigned into the darkening days of autumn? I guess that's why my favorite summer songs are rarely brash, loud anthems. I prefer tunes with a hint of fragility in their melody, a vulnerability in their sensibility.

With Siik's remix of Amerie's "One Thing" - I know ya'll are probably sick of the original already but I swear to God/Jah/Allah that hearing this made me think it was a completely new song. Especially compared to the forceful funkiness of Rich Harrison's original, Siik takes it in the other direction with that sublime guitar melody. I can't stop listening to this remix - it is so perfect to me and most definitely on a summer vibe. Makes me want to go trade my Prius in for a drop top just so I can play it out (but alas, foggy as hell right now in S.F.)."

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

posted by O.W.

DJ Shadow: This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way)
From The Outsider (Universal, 2006)

Joe: Untitled (This Time)
From studio tape (Music City, 197?)

Fans of DJ Shadow will likely remember this great single he put out in 2006 (also on his Outsider CD) called "This TIme" which features a male vocalist knocking out a soulful tune about self-realization.

There's a larger backstory to that song, beginning with a friend of mine in S.F., Justin Torres, who has been a serious record digger in his time and he found a series of enigmatic studio tapes from the vaults of Music City, an old Bay Area studio that had liquidated much of its holdings. On one of those tapes was an untitled song, attributed only to "Joe" and as you can hear above, it's a near-acapella, except for the light acoustic guitar accompaniment that went with the song.

I'm not quite clear on the process through which that original song made its way over to Shadow (though Justin and Josh are friends so that helps, I'm sure) but the good Mr. Davis took that studio tape and added a full musical arrangement.

The folks over at (our brothers from another mother) are "sponsoring" an informal remix contest to flip some new tracks to go with the original acapella. I thought that was a great idea and I knew a few of our readers hear at Soul Sides make beats and this could be a fun way for them to do some of that "added value" thing we hear so much about with the Web 2.0. A favor though? Just to save me some bandwidth, if you want to download the original song, do it from here. Danke!

Email me your finished remixes and I'll try to do a post down the line that has all the best ones include.

By the way, I was totally derelict in bringing people's attention to this sooner but Justin put together a killer mix called The Break-Up Letters, hosted by Good Records NYC. If you don't love it, there's something wrong with you; I'm just saying.

Also, the graphic above is taken from the "This Time" video contest winner, aka "Big Pixel."

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Friday, January 30, 2009

posted by O.W.

Jay's Soul Connection: Frank's Party Life
From Amsterdam Gangster (MPM, 2009)

Jay-Z: 99 Problems (Prince of Ballard Remix)
From (Sep. 2007)

(Originally written for Side Dishes)

I like Jay-Z as much as the next dude but even I was surprised that Netherlands' producer Umatic took it upon himself to remix the six songs off the American Gangster album (now over a year old) with tracks by the Lefties Soul Connection, a deep funk/retro soul band (also Dutch). The result: Amsterdam Gangster by Jay's Soul Connection. I gotta say, I wasn't the biggest fan of American Gangster originally; a lot of the songs felt underinspired but the beauty of these remix projects is that they sometimes encourage you to listen to the songs with new ears. Case in point - I didn't pay "Party Life" too much attention the first time around - it was a cool enough tune but just didn't leave a major impression. Yet, I found myself appreciating the word play better with this flip - something about the change in production put the lyrics in a new light.

There's also something serendipitous about the idea of mashing these groups together. After all, Jay-Z's "Roc Boys" was built around a retro-soul song, the Menahan Street Band's "Make the Road by Walking," while "Success" (another song that Umatic remixes for the Amsterdam Gangster project) is pretty much built straight from Larry Ellis and the Black Hammer's obscure funk 45, "Funky Thing". Coming from the other side, one of the Lefties Soul Connection's first songs that came to my attention was their remake of DJ Shadow's "Organ Donor."

Given the mesh between funky band tracks and Jay-Z acapellas, I also thought about another mash-up project - a blog-only remix of "99 Problems" done by The Prince of Ballard (a Seattle neighborhood) back in 9/07. He took a loop from a Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings studio performance and threw Jay-Z's verses on top and it totally works. Interestingly enough, that same loop got worked over by Mark Ronson for Solange Knowles' song, "6 O'Clock Blues."

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

posted by O.W.

Mophono: The Shuffle
From 7" ("Tighten Up") (CB, 2007)

Mophono: The Edge Remix
From 7" (CB, 2008)

Mophono, aka DJ Centipede, is a Bay Area DJ and producer whose put out three very cool 7" projects on CB Records so far. His first was more of a downtempo experiment from 2005, the I Cry EP but his last two have both been remix projects. My favorite has been his reworking of Bob and Earl's 1963 hit, "Harlem Shuffle" which strips down the song's basic parts and reassembles them with a funk (and psych) edge that gives the song a completely new feel - far more raucous and dark than its original inspiration. I liked it even more than the A-side, a remix of Archie Bell's classic "Tighten Up."

On his latest 7", Mophono tackles two hip-hop classic sample sources - including "Groovin" by Allen ToussaintWillie Mitchell which should be familiar to Wu Tang fans the world over. On the A-side, he plays with "The Edge," by David McCallum (but produced by David Axelrod) but first begins with an impressive chop job of Sly Stone's pre-Family Stone single "Rock Dirge" and its glorious drums.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

posted by O.W.

(from l-r, Alton Ellis, Edwin Starr, Labi Siffre, The Impressions
Joe Bataan, Stevie Wonder, the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band
Bobby Matos, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Skye 7")

(This post began life on Side Dishes and has "evolved" since).

I had a strange realization the other week: 2008 might be the first year where I spent more time listening to older music than new music. This hasn't been out of nowhere - it's been a long-term shift but it hit me, when I was trying to come up with the standard "Top 10" list that I'm not even sure if I actually listened to 10 new albums in '08.

Not just that: even the new music I did like tended to overwhelmingly be music that sounded like it was from another era - Raphael Saadiq, Solange Knowles, Mayer Hawthorne, etc. For real - if there was one big presence in my 2008 year-in-review, it was Motown! Not only do quite a few Motown artists fill up my "old music I discovered this year list," amongst the new artists, several of them ride off the Motown sound and one of them (Q-Tip) is actually signed to Motown.
I turned 36 this year but why do I feel like my tastes are that of a 66 year old?


On one hand, your tastes are your tastes and if that's the direction I'm leaning, maybe I should just shrug and enjoy it. I don't have the professional pressure to have to stay as current as my colleagues do but as I said last year, I also don't want to be a born-again baby boomer (even though my fascinating with the 1960s has only grown this past year).

So here's my New Year's Resolution For 2009: I shall listen to more new music and ideally, not new music that sounds like old music. (We'll check back a year from now and see where I'm at).

This all said, here's Part 1 of my year-in-review, beginning with old music I (re)discovered.

Edwin Starr: Running Back and Forth
From War & Peace (Gordy, 1970)

I get music recommendations from all sorts but no one is more influential than my friend Hua who has probably put me up on more of my more recent "new favorite songs" than any other single source I know. It helps that he has kick ass taste as well as a circle of friends in NY who have equally good taste and so I get some of these recommendation second, even third hand but heck - I ain't too proud!

Case in point: this lesser known single off Starr's big selling War and Peace album. It's easy enough to forget that there was any other songs from that LP given how successful and iconic the "War" single became but when I first heard "Running Back and Forth," I had a proverbial jaw-drop over how good it was and that it'd be from the same album. This song oozes with classic Motown production strengths of its era (RIP Norman Whitfield!), especially in its brass and the driving push of the sound bed. Seriously, try to piece apart all the little bits of the music; it is dense yet comes off sounding clean and simple. In contrast to Starr's forceful polemicizing on "War," here, he's in classic love man mode, trying to kick some game. (Bonus points for the Sam Cooke nod on the bridge).

Labi Siffre: A Little More Line
From S/T (Pye, 1970)

This British singer, songwriter and poet has a voice you can't soon forget - it's not the most powerful, nor the most dynamic - but it is so distinctive and soothing, it stays with you long after the song's end. I especially love how this song builds from an almost hymnal opening only to swell in size and sound with the string orchestration and some killer work on the drums. Siffre's entire catalog from the '70s is classic material (even if many of you probably have never heard of him). This was from his debut album and it's just as good of a place to start as any to enjoy his gifts.

Alton Ellis: What Does It Take To Win Your Love
From Sunday Coming (Coxsone, 1971)

There is something humbling discovering this song the year of Ellis' death. My awareness of him preceded his passing but I had been giving Ellis' cover of Jr. Walker's hit much spin in the first part of the year that when Ellis passed away in October, I found myself coming back to his catalog again and again. Ellis was arguably reggae's finest soul man, not just with his covers but also original compositions.

The Impressions: I'm Loving Nothing
From This Is My Country (Curtom, 1968)

In a year of Obama's ascendency, there are no doubt more apropos songs from the Impressions' catalog but the song of theirs that will haunt me is "I'm Loving Nothing." Its beauty seems almost profane given that this is all about the death of love. Not something you'd want as a first dance at your wedding but doesn't it sound like an embrace rather than slow turn away?

Bonnie and Shelia: You Keep Me Hanging On
From 7" (King, 1971). Also on New Orleans Funk Vol. 2.

King is best known as the home of James Brown for many of his pivotal funk productions of the late 60s but at least for this single, the Cincinnati-based label picked up a slice of NOLA funk thanks to this excellently produced tune from Wardell Quezerque. One of my new favorite femme funk tracks, "You Keep Me Hanging On" reminds me a lot of the snap and sass of Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff." Hang with it.

Ray Barretto: Pastime Paradise (Good Parts Edit)
From La Cuna (CTI, 1981)

Gotta thank my man Rani D for hepping me to this Barretto song. As big of a fan I am of the late master's work, I had never listened to anything he did past the early '70s and I was mightily drawn to how good this cover of Stevie Wonder's song is. The sound of this song is just so gorgeous, especially the first few minutes but I did have to admit I wasn't quite as enamored with the vocals...and cheesy sex...and bad, Santana-wannabe rock guitar. So I just cut all that out and left you with a 1/3rd length "best of" edit from the song. Like Bobby B. - it's my prerogative.

Joe Bataan: Ordinary Guy (7" version)
From 7" (Fania, 1967)

"Ordinary Guy" has been Joe Bataan's enduring hit for over 40 years but this version, which only appeared on 7" single, isn't well known and when I first heard it, I was instantly enamored. It's not entirely clear what Fania's thinking was but they brought in pianist Richard Tee to give the song a a subtle new dynamic, most obviously heard in how different the new intro is. Tee's piano has a strong presence, especially with an arrangement that sounds very much like the beginning of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Precious Love." This is probably my favorite version of the song, precisely for that intro which gives the tune such a rich, soulful feel to it.

Bobby Matos: Nadie Baila Como Yo
From My Latin Soul (Phillips, 1968)

I've owned Bobby Matos and Combo Conquistadores' incredible My Latin Soul album for years, but I had somehow totally overlooked the incredible charm of "Nadie Baila Como Yo" (nobody dances like me). It wasn't until I heard the Boogaloo Assassins play it at their shows that I was reminded of how damn good it is; it's since become, easily, one of my favorite Latin songs ever. Love how it changes up from a guanguanco into a son montuno and has those beautiful keyboard chords anchoring.

Skye: Ain't No Need (Unity Mix)
From 7" (Ananda, 1976)

When I was out in New York earlier this year, Jared at Big City Records slipped a reissue of this 45 into my hand and I was hooked (and then later, managed to procure an original from the Groove Merchant). Sometimes all you need is a good groove and this obscure disco single from the mid-70s delivers a one helluva great groove that just goes on and on and on. Under other circumstances, I'd find the whole thing repetitious but somehow, I don't tire of it. Ever. (I created this "Unity Mix" which combines the original mix and disco mix in a simple edit).

Stevie Wonder: Send Me Some Lovin'
From I Was Made to Love Her (Motown, 1967)

Heck, I could have filled this list with Stevie Wonder songs I've been rediscovering but "Send Me Some Lovin'" has stood in front of that line. I love the small touches of funk to the arrangement, especially those pianos at the very beginning. This has a fantastic groove to it and you put Stevie's distinctive vocals on top of that and you have an unbeatable combination.

Songs that are technically new (i.e. that just came out) but are based on older recordings:

Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band: Express Yourself (alternate version)
From Puckey Puckey: Jams and Outtakes, 1970-71 (Rhino Handmade, 2008)

This was a real gem from the Puckey Puckey anthology that I wrote the liner notes for. It's a completely alternate recording of the Watts 103rd's big hit, "Express Yourself." Compared to the original, this one is far more languid, like the group was nearing the end of their recording day and just wanted to something to chill out to, maybe smoke a bowl to (as they were known to).

Final Solution: I Don't Care
From Brotherman (Numero Group, 2008)

Provided - their name was terrible. No one wants to think of the Holocaust while groovin' to sweet soul - but even if the Chicago band formerly known as the Kaldirons probably could have chosen a better name for themselves, at least the music speaks for itself. The album - a soundtrack for a blaxploitation film never made - has an interesting backstory all its own but for now, all you need to know is how damn good "I Don't Care" is. Especially when paired with that melancholy but heavy guitar melody by newcomer Carl Wolfolk, there's something sublime about how the group's falsetto voices come coasting in on top of the track. It's a mix of slow-building drama with an angelic set of voices, lending a gospel-like quality to the music's otherwise dark undertones.

Marvin Gaye: What's Going On (DJ Day Edit)
From 7" single (MPM, 2008)

This single just came out a week or so ago and it finds California's DJ Day reworking an alternative version of Marvin Gaye's classic "What's Going On" in a way so clean and organic that even Motown fanatics would swear it was a lost tape from the label's vaults. I don't know why it sounds so perfect with the season but there's something warm and comforting about this that makes you want to wrap yourself in it.

Nina Simone: Gimme Some (Mike Mangini Remix)
V/A: Verve Remixed 4 (Verve, 2008)

Frankly, this song had three killer remixes that I found almost equally commendable including Diplo's remix of Marlena Shaw's "California Soul" and the smoky Chris Shaw remix of Sarah Vaughn's "Tea For Two". But if I had to pick amongst that trio, this Nina Simone reworking took the slimmest of leads, possibly because it's so damn happy (which is not an adjective I often associate with Her High Priestess. Seriously though, this whole album is nice.

Honorable Mentions:
1. Patti Drew: Stop and Listen
2. Joubert Singers: Stand On the Word
3. Ceil Miner: Stardust
4. Aaron Neville: She Took You For a Ride
5. New Holidays: Maybe So, Maybe No
6. Nick and Valerie: I'll Find You
7. Pedrito Ramirez y su Combo: Micaela
8. Bobby Reed: The Time is Right
9. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: If You Can Want
10. Tammi Terrell: What a Good Man He Is

PART 2: NEW(ISH) MUSIC (to follow soon!)

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

posted by O.W.

Soul II Soul: Back To Life (acapella mix)
From 12" (Virgin, 1989)

Bonnie and Shelia: You Keep Me Hanging On
From 7" (King, 1971). Also on New Orleans Funk Vol. 2.

Patti Drew: Stop and Listen
From Tell Him (Capitol, 1967). Also on Workin' On a Groovy Thing.

Bobby Matos: Nadie Baila Como Yo
From My Latin Soul (Phillips, 1968)

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: If You Can Want
From Special Occasion (Motown, 1968)

Menahan Street Band: Home Again
From Make the Road By Walking (Dunham/Daptone, forthcoming 10/14/08)

Final Solution: I Don't Care
From Brotherman soundtrack (Numero Group, 2008)

Freeway: Let the Beat Build freestyle
From ? (?, 2008)

Q-Tip: Gettin' Up
From The Renaissance (Motown, forthcoming 2008)

Black Ivory: You and I
From Don't Turn Around (Today, 1972)

It's the end of another summer, alas.

Looking back over the summer songs season, I wanted to do the last post on the songs that ended up forming my personal soundtrack the last few months. To be honest, I thought this list would be a lot longer than it ended up being but I wanted to keep it to songs that I kept returning to over and over rather than something I found merely "good."

Soul II Soul's acapella mix of "Back to Life" came at me three different ways: Murphy's Law dropped it at Boogaloo[la] and reminded me how cotdamn fresh it was, Greg Tate's Summer Songs post made me revisit the Soul II Soul catalog and I finally saw Belly which makes incredible use of the song to open the movie. Personally, I grew impatient to actually get to where the beat drops so I edited my version down to about a 30 second teaser before the "Impeach the President" drums kick in. As ML showed me, it's always a fun cut to play out.

The Bonnie and Sheila, I have to admit, I learned about first through a quirky youtube video[1] and I wondered how the hell I didn't know about this earlier. Great little slice of New Orleans funk produced by the great Wardell Quezergue and released on King (the Cincinnati label most associated with James Brown). Words are insufficient to explain to you how much I love this song.

The Patti Drew I owe to Chairman Mao. When I interviewed him for Asia Pacific Arts, he mentioned "Stop and Listen" as an example of a great soul tune that doesn't cost and arm and a leg yet sounds like a million bucks (not his exact words but you catch the meaning). I couldn't agree more. Don't sleep on the equally excellent ballad, "Tell Him" on the same album.

I had totally forgotten about the Bobby Matos and Combo Conquistadores song, "Nadie Baila Como Yo" (nobody dances like me) off the incredible My Latin Soul album until I heard the Boogaloo Assassins play it at their shows. This may very well elevate itself to my top 10 Latin soul songs given how it changes up chord progressions and tepos not once but twice - it's like getting three songs in one; one of the marks of a superior son montuno. I can't believe I slept on this track all these years.

I found the Smokey Robinson and Miracles song during my search through Motown's catalog to find tracks to play out that wasn't part of their Big Chill/Greatest Hits collection and I never failed to be amazed at the generosity of greatness that Motown provided over the years. For those who think Smokey is all droopy ballads, "If You Can Want" is a loud, proud wake-up call of funky power. How has no one ever done a 12" edit of this?

I already wrote about the Menahan Street Band and Brotherman songs already but they're so nice, I had to list 'em twice.

Freeway's freestyle over "Let the Beat Build" goes well with my official, beginning of the summer post where I nodded at Lil Wayne's original. Free, who had one of the best albums of last year that few seemed to notice, murders over Kanye's beat here. After, uh, a million subpar "A Milli" freestyles, I was happy to hear someone pick a different track to rip.

The last song is one I should have started the summer with. Late pass. Q-Tip's had a rough, um, decade so far in terms of being able to get this music to the masses but I'm hoping "Gettin' Up" does it right for him in preparation for his Renaissance album. This is, by far, the best thing I've heard from 'Tip since this and without getting all misty-eyed for my halcyon teens and 20s, listening to Tribe, this song just f---ing sounds good in the way the best Tribe songs just sounded f---ing good. (No doubt, it helps that the sample source is also f---ng good: "You and I" by Black Ivory. Read more here.).

By the way, if I had to pick my absolute favorite song of the summer...surprisingly, it'd end up being Solange Knowles' "I Decided." Don't ask me why but this has stuck with me the entire time through without ever ceasing to be pleasurable.

And with that...I bid all you adieu until next May but hope you keep the memory of summer in your mind alive until then.[2]

[1] Don't laugh - he dances better than you.

[2] Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

posted by murphyslaw


Bill Withers: No Hands, Gramma (Re-edit by Shoes)

Taken from the whitelabel 12" (2008)

Barbara Acklin: I Can't Be Myself (Floorman Re-Edit)

Mp3 taken from here

Chic: I Want Your Love (Re-Edit by Todd Terje)

Taken from a mix cd that a friend gave me... (a few weeks ago)

James Brown: Sayin' It And Doin' It (Sugarloaf Gangsters Mix)

Taken from the album Doin' James on Gamm (2008)

Chaka Khan: Every Little Thing (Barna Soundmachine Edit)

Taken from the whitelabel 12" (2005)

Ralfi Pagan: Didn't Want To Have To Do It (4 Hero Remix)

Taken from the album I Like It Like That: Fania Remixed on Fania (2008)

"Simplify, simplify." --Henry David Thoreau

I've always liked that quote. And let it be known, friends, that as sure as it applies to the great quandries of existentialism, so too with... a proper re-edit.

The beauty of a good re-hashing of somebody else's (hopefully) already realized work is the subtle accentuation of elements already present to form a just-barely-ever-so-slightly-more groovy groove. A more slinky slink. A more rifftastic riff. Likely, but not necessarily limited to the intention of moving a dancefloor more provocatively.

But pay heed re-editors and re-mixers, because often the song itself doesn't need too much work... Your job is to find those few subtle elements and re-establish them as the cornerstones of the whole shebang. All you're looking for is one narrow window--a guitar line, a bass burble, a drum break--and suddenly a 3 minute song becomes 6, a piano spurt becomes a great anticipatory soliloquy... and a dancefloor becomes a temple to your work.

The tracks: These are some of my current favorites in the re-edit department. Some for their obvious potency on a dancefloor (Chaka Khan, James Brown) others for their truly fine interpretations of the originals (Bill Withers, Ralfi Pagan). I do feel a need to emphasize just HOW amazing "Didn't Want To Have To Do It" is... This song for me has been a frickin' revelation. As a long time fan of Mr. Pagan (and 4 Hero, for that matter), this little number absolutely guts me, leaving me panting, sweating and begging for more.

The rest I'll let speak for themselves.


ALSO. Tonight is BOOGALOO! @ The Short Stop in Echo Park (1455 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles,90004)

For those of you who haven't made it out yet... QUIT SLEEPIN'!!! Thursdays are your weekly chance to get up on joints like these while getting down on the dancefloor. Holler.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Land Of 1000 Remixes
posted by Captain Planet


Erykah Badu : Honey (Capt. Planet Remix)
exclusive freshness

Red Astaire : Love To Angie (Remix of Angie Stone's "Wish I Didn't Miss You")
taken from the album "Nuggets For The Needy" on Homegrown

The Doors : Break On Through (Bossarocker Remix)
taken from the whitelable 12" available here

Gang Starr ft. Nice & Smooth : DWYCK (Little Kids Remix)
taken from the whitelable 12" available here

Pretty much fell in love instantly with the new Erykah single (and accompanying video), so when I got my hands on the acapella, I went to work right away. It's no secret that I have a serious talkbox fetish, and as you can hear, this has been manifesting itself overwhelmingly in my work lately. But who's complaining? All vocoder and instrumentation by yours truly.

I'm also posting some of my crate staple whitelables that never fail to stir a crowd in motion. In the era of iPod DJs and Serato tricknology, I find that it's just as much about how you present a song as it is about the actual song itself that you're playing. Tasteful, creative remixes like these bring a whole new life to tracks that otherwise might be a little too played out or were never really dancer friendly to begin with.

Starting with my homie Red Astaire's masterpiece (this has become one of my signature tunes that I've played perhaps every single gig since first copping it from him a year ago), Angie Stone gives a little something back to the B-Boys and B-Girls. My theory is, this track will 100% GUARANTEE that someone in the house will start uprocking- test it for yourself! Also, be a champ and pick up the whole album, which is jampacked with other remix hotness (funky Latin reworkings of hip hop classics, a bossa version of D'Angelo, and another 12" favorite of mine "Tito"), and get your money's worth on an album for once. Murphy posted the reggae remix to this one a while back, and while that one certainly has it's appeal, this one's better suited for the dancefloor methinks.

The Bossarocker Remix first cracked my head open when I was getting loose to one of Gilles Peterson's notoriously glorious DJ sets at the packed and sweaty Canal Room here in NYC. By the time the second "is everybody in?" dropped, people all around me were buggin' out. Been out for a while now, but this is another one of those 12"s that I just haven't been able to take out of my crate (since I jacked it from young Murphy! haha - you can have it back now). Get a copy for yourself (with a funky B-side rework of "Fever") right here.

Another bossa remix that easily works into the same set is this Little Kids version of DWYCK. Who are the Little Kids? I don't know, but I'm waiting to hear something else from them. This one is a perfect mid-tempo bridge that can help you cross over from a hip hop set into some Latin or Brazilian- or just bounce while stuck in traffic. COP IT HERE.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

posted by O.W.

Candi Staton: Too Hurt To Cry
From Stand By Your Man (Fame, 1971). Also on Candi Staton: The Fame Years.

Holly Golightly: My Love Is
From Slowly But Surely (Damaged Goods/Revolver, 2004)

Amy Winehouse: Love Is A Losing Game (Truth and Soul Remix)
From 12" (Universal, 2007)

*This is my first post that will be cross-posted over at Captain's Crate as part of our Soul Crates experiment in content sharing.

I talked about Candi Staton's Fame output the other month and that got me back into listening more of her songs and came upon this great one from her Stand By Your Man album. Love the tinkle of piano that begins this and really, Rick Hall produces this beautiful, with such a rich, soulful quality that Staton plays against wonderfully.

With the Holly Golightly...I was trying to find the original version of "My Love Is," done by Little Willie John, after watching Lonestar again for the upteenth time but alas, it's a hard song to track down digitally speaking. But lo and behold, I found this cover by Golightly and despite my initial reservations, she's actually rather perfect for the song. Her light, almost ethereal voice goes with the song's dreamy, haunting qualities; this is what you'd want to hear playing on the cheap jukebox in some coffee and pie diner off a decaying highway.

Speaking of decaying - snap! - Amy Winehouse might be the biggest pop train wreck not named Britney of the last year or so but we're still enamored with her musically. Plus, when the folks at Truth and Soul get the nod to remix "Love is a Losing Game" (one of our favorite songs off the last album), then we perk up and listen. And smile. Great remix, really strips this ballad down and remakes it with a minimalist but mesmerizing melody (I didn't plan that alliteration, seriously). We likee.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

posted by O.W.

Ben Westbeech: So Good Today
From Welcome to the Best Days Of Your Life (Brownswood, 2007)

Candi Staton: I'm Just a Prisoner
From I'm Just a Prisoner (Fame, 1970). Also on Candi Staton: The Early Years.

Timmy NcNealy: I Am So Glad You're Mine (snippet)
From 7" (Shawn/Truth and Soul, 1972/2007)

Hank Ballard: With Your Sweet, Lovin' Self
From 7" (King, 1969)

Bronx River Parkway and Candela All-Stars: Aqua Con Sal (snippet)
From 7" (From Truth and Soul, 2007)

The Three Souls: Herby's Tune
From 7" (All-Indy, 196?)

Donny Hathaway: Lord Help Me
From 7" (ATCO, 1972) Also on Extension of a Man.

UGK: One Day
From Ridin' Dirty (Jive, 199)

Here's an irony for you: I switched to audioblogging after doing 10 years of radio because, frankly, I found radio a bit exhausting. But nowadays, with teaching and family, blogging (at times mind you, only at times) feels like the burden. So instead of doing a few mini-posts, I'm back to cooking up mini-sets. I'd appreciate any feedback people have, namely over whether or not these 20+ minute mixes are more to their liking than single-song files. Personally, I like it better since I think music should be listened to in a sequence rather than bits of free-floating atomic units (I'm old school like that).

Anyway - here's the latest mega-post.

I have to thank Soul Sides reader, Ronnie Reese, who put me up on my current heavy-rotation player - "So Good Today" by the UK's Ben Westbeech. I'm a little surprised I didn't catch wind of this sooner, only because Westbeech is signed to Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label and I tend to follow Peterson's music. In any case, Reese was trying to put me up on the Dap-Kings mix of the song but I have to say: I rather prefer the original version. Sure, it's sugary sweet and probably only a touch less hippy-happy than, say, "Young Folks ," but to me, this is the perfect "start-your-day" song. Much better than waking up to that "ENH! ENH! ENH! ENH!" of the typical clock-radio. Dig the video too.

The Candi Staton is very, very overdue. I should have blogged about this a couple years ago, when Astralwerks put out that amazing Candi Staton: The Early Years anthology, featuring some of her best songs with Rick Hall's famous Fame studio in Muscle Shoals. I was reminded of this, pulling out songs for that recent Sharon Jones gig, and reminded about how insanely awesome "I'm Just a Prisoner" is. Seriously, it's G.O.A.T. status and I don't mean Capra aegagrus hircus. You gotta love how the song builds in intensity; it's not far past 3 minutes yet it sounds absolutely epic.

I follow that with one of the best reissues I've heard in a while; a cover of Al Green's "I'm So Glad You're Mine" done by the great Timothy McNealy, and re-released by our valued colleagues over at Truth and South in Brooklyn. This one is mega-mega rare, originally appearing on Shawn and what I appreciate about it is how McNealy strips down an already stripped-down's lo-fi but in this affecting, acoustic, intimate way. I only hooked up a snippet: cop the entire thing (hopefully, T&S will get a digital sales system set up soon).

The Hank Ballard side comes from a stack of 45s my man Justin Torres broke me off with a few years back but I had misfiled a bunch of them and only recently rediscovered them. This was part of a batch of James Brown-produced singles and the deeper I get with that catalog, the more impressed you get at just how many songs from the '60s, including a song like this Ballard cut, managed to carry that signature JB sound without having to smash you ever the head with it, ala "Think" or "More Peas" (so we're clear: I like being smashed in the head by JB-production). Sweet funk like this makes my day.

Back to Truth and Soul, just wanted to hit ya'll with a quick blast of Latin funk from their Bronx River Parkway recordings (I believe a full-length is imminent). As usual, a solid dancefloor cooker that's a good transition song for the Latin newcomers but doesn't dumb it down for the real heads either.

The Three Souls jazz tune is off another 45 I re-discovered from Torres' batch. This is an interesting single out of Indianapolis, given that the A-side, recorded with a vocalist named Aretta is a soul cut whereas this, the flipside, is obviously a straight-ahead jazz track and my, my, my...what a nice one at that. Much as I appreciate the soul jazz era of the late '60s/early '70s, it's "soulful" straight-ahead jazz like this which I never get tired of listening to. If anyone else has recommendations for albums in a similar sounding vein, let me know.

The Donny Hathaway is something I originally posted back in February and I was under the mistaken impression that it had been a previously unreleased cut, put onto the Extension of a Man CD. As it turns out, it had come out...but only on 45. Given that I just reacquired the single, I wanted to put it up again especially since it is, hands-down, one of my favorite Hathaway songs (which is saying a lot). So sublime and socially conscious to boot.

Lastly, I end with a song that was suggested to me by Soul Sides reader Laughlin Siceloff as part as a two-song, Pimp C dedication. I thought it'd actually work nicely as a coda here, in the memory of a rapper who passed far, far before his time. R.I.P.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

posted by O.W.

50 Cent: I Get Money (I Dap Money Remix)

A Soul Sider (Andrew G.) sent this in: a remix of 50 Cent's "I Get Money" using a Sharon Jones and Dap-Kings song. Heck, if Jay-Z can flip about the "Roc Boys" over the Menahan Street Band, why not this? Reminds me of that Clipse/Lee Fields blend from last year.


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