Tuesday, September 04, 2007
How Scholar Stole The Groove Back...
How we feelin' out there, soul children? I hope that you've been enjoying the guest series because some of the best submissions are yet to come. Since I've been on somewhat of a hiatus for the past couple of weeks (with the exception of the latest edition of Souled On Samples), I figured I'd hijack the plane for a second to share a few records that I've been diggin' recently...
"A Fool Can't See The Light"--- O.V. Wright
This isn't the first time that I've posted about Overton Vertis Wright, so there probably isn't a need to write a lengthy dissertation about my affinity for his deep soul sound.
Born in Leno, Tennessee, O.V.'s humble beginnings stem from singing in the church, which led to his involvement in several gospel groups, including The Five Harmonaires, The Spirit of Memphis Quartet, The Highway QCs, and The Sunset Travellers. Even as his career progressed into secular music, Wright's vocal style continued to maintain a certain sanctified intensity that simply couldn't be matched by the majority of his peers. If his records don't make you feel something, well...you're probably dead.
This particular track was recorded during Wright's tenure at Hi Records---the label he was signed to in the latter phase of his career, before his untimely drug-related death in 1980. Despite the fact that many soul enthusiasts argue that his best work came out of his earlier recordings with Back Beat, this song has always been an absolute favorite of mine from his years on Hi. Wright didn't sign with the label until after being released from jail on narcotics charges, and it's often speculated that his addictions and a push towards achieving greater mainstream recognition resulted in an overall weakening of his artistic integrity. That said, I think you'll agree that this track is a notable exception, exemplifying the signature harrowing emotionalism that helped O.V. become one of the most celebrated deep soul singers of all time.
"Momma Momma"---Betty Barney
Despite the fact that finding biographical data on Ms. Barney is somewhat of a needle-in-a-haystack endeavor, there's no denying that she's as brilliantly gritty as she is obscure. Originally released in 1969 on the GWP label as the flip side to "You Want My Lovin", this irresistible tune has since appeared on a few rarities compilations over the years. Barney's vocal delivery on the track is funky, yet soulful, and travels directly from her gut through the pathway of your auditory canal.
This song was originally written and recorded by hippie folkster Melanie. Barney's version makes you want to move your feet, while sorry, but the original conveys the sort of somber tone that's a more fitting soundtrack for moments when you feel like slashing your wrists. Goodbye cruel world...
I considered offering Melanie's take as a bonus mp3, but since only about 10 of you will be inclined to give a damn, interested parties can request it via email (email@example.com).
If this tune gets you hooked on Betty, she also laid some vocals for the Pazant Brothers, who were mainly an instrumental outfit. They cut some amazing records that are genuinely worth digging for as well.
My first introduction to Blockhead came by way of his efforts as a hip-hop DJ/producer, including his work with Murs, Aesop Rock, Slug, S.A. Smash, Mike Ladd, Cage, Party Fun Action Committee, etc. While he's crafted some amazing beats along those lines, it's become somewhat of a fool's errand to try to describe his material within the confines of a single genre. Some might categorize his three solo offerings on Ninja Tune as downtempo or trip-hop, but even these categorizations don't quite seem like an all-encompassing or exact fit.
"The Strain" is from his most recent release on Ninja Tune, Uncle Tony's Coloring Book. It's a fine example of the versatility he embodies as a beatsmith and recording artist, because...what exactly is this stuff, anyway? Incredible to listen to---that's what.
A couple of videos for exceptional tracks from Blockhead's previous LPs:
"The Art Of Walking":
"Didn't We"---Irene Reid
I'm not going to lie to you, children. Most of the time I discover the soul, jazz, funk, and blues records first---but in this case, I tracked this record down because of its use as a sample on a hip-hop track. Despite not being much of a fan of Lil' Kim, I have probably heard most of Kanye West's productions at some time or another. I remember hearing an instrumental version of "Came Back For You" some time ago and quickly resolving to track down the original song.
This inevitably led to coming across the lovely sounds of Irene Reid. Although she's primarily known as a jazz vocalist, there's an unmistakably soulful vibe to many of her recordings, especially her ballads. I won't pretend to be an expert on her material, as I have yet to hear all of it, but I do know that her career began in the 1960s, and that she's experienced an unlikely return to prominence since the late '90s with some releases on the Savant label.
"Didn't We" (from The World Needs What I Need LP) is the gorgeous song Kanye sampled that initiated my ongoing quest to discover more of her material. This version is ripped from vinyl, giving it that deep, crackling sound that wax enthusiasts (such as myself) so completely adore.
"Spottieottie 'Til Infinity"---Outkast/ Floyd the Locsmif mix
I'm going to roll with the assumption that Outkast doesn't require any sort of introduction, so I'll focus my attention on Floyd the Locsmif. Hailing from Fitzgerald, GA, Floyd is currently crafting his jazzy, soulful beats in the "durty, durty" streets of the ATL. While his name may never have been uttered in most households, he boasts some of the finest production work that the South currently has to offer. His supreme clientele includes Cee-Lo, 50 Cent, OC, Lil Sci, J-Live, and more.
This particular joint is from a lovely collection of remixes and blends he released in 2004, Outskirts: The Unofficial Lost Outkast Remixes.
"The Way We Lived"---Wax Tailor w/ Sharon Jones
I haven't met many soul fans who don't think the world of Sharon Jones, but Wax Tailor's name may not be as immediately recognizable to many of you. Consider yourself baited, and hopefully hooked...
Wax Tailor (born JC Le Saout) is a French producer/DJ/arranger/composer who's more than paid his dues in the music business, despite not gaining much attention from North American audiences until he licensed his last LP (Tales Of The Forgotten Melodies) for distribution in this part of the globe. Following its release, he embarked on a worldwide tour, opening for the likes of RJD2 and Aceyalone. "The Way We Lived" appears on his most recent LP, the exceptional Hope And Sorrow. As I love to say when I get to preachin' about lesser-known artists---don't sleep on this one, kids.
Video for "Que Sera" from the Tales LP:
"Came Back For You (instrumental)"---Kanye West (featuring a sample of "Didn't We" by Irene Reid). Good, but yes---he gave it the sped-up, "chimpmunk" treatment...
Word From Your Moms:
"I don't dig staying in one groove."---Chico Hamilton