Monday, December 22, 2008

As If The Heart Were Not Enough...

Fa la la la la and all that good shit, soul children...

It's always a bit of a mindfuck trying to decide what to do around here during the holiday season. The stream of traffic always falls off somewhat around the end of the year, because apparently some of you snitches would rather be at the mall buying Chia pets for your loved ones or eating figgy pudding than hanging around this joint for the time being. Understood.

Then there's the whole problem of what to post. I mean, should I bust out my John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together LP at this juncture...or should I just stick to doing what I do best (which is clearly...I dunno...not that)?

As good fortune would have it, my good friend and resident correspondent from Glasgow, Styler, momentarily delayed my brainache by sending along a phenomenal post and killer selection of tunes. Even if you didn't check out his last offering, you'll quickly recognize why his acerbic wit and...ahem... supreme taste in music substantiates the notion that he could well be my brotha from anotha motha. As long as he's too inebriated to raise any major objections, I plan to take full advantage of his willingness to keep us enlightened and entertained.

All things naughty & nice,


'Tis the season to be jolly, etc. Unless of course you do not buy into the famous tales of Horus, Krishna, Mithras or indeed Yeshua-bar-Yosef and let's not forget the many other Gods who share their 'birth date' with the 'rebirth of the Sun', around about the time of year we now call the 25th of December. All good entertaining stuff but, along with the Coca Cola company's promotion of a fat bearded man in red and white supping their syrupy beverage (especially the new rather creepy CGI one currently doing the rounds on the adverts), not for me. "Also sprach Zarathustra" and all that jazz.

This has much to do with the fact that I am currently in a state of depression which is of a wholly new level to what I have experienced before coupled with my being, for the most part, a moany miserable bastardo..., especially at this time of year when I long for the Sun to be reborn and bestow all it's heavenly glory!

Anyway that is my spleen vented for now, so I will turn my attention and hopefully yours - all you good people of the Souled On family, to the matter at hand...the music of the soul, garnished from a varied array of artists I have enjoyed over the days and nights that have made me the great guy I always wanted to be and I shall share with you even if you like them or not because good ol' Scholar has allowed yours truly to do another blog type thang!

"Come In Out Of The Rain"---Parliament (LimeLinx)
"Come In Out Of The Rain"---Parliament (savefile)

First up is a truly great song by the legendary Parliament. This little number can be found on the re-release of Parliament's 1970 debut album Osmium, which was also packaged and released as First Thangs. The track itself was not on the original album but was put out as a single in 1972, by which time Clinton had dropped the Parliament tag and they were again known as the mighty Funkadelic. A powerful sociopolitical song with some good old stomping soul clap and rousing vocals that are as poignant and profound today as when first belted out all those years ago. I defy anyone not to dig it...

The song was co-written by Durham born English folk songstress Ruth Copeland, who along with her Motown staff producer husband, moved to the newly formed Invictus label with song writing greats Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1970, who had just secured the talents of George Clinton and his band of merry funksters. Copeland co-wrote another couple of songs during the Osmium sessions including the haunting and epic "The Silent Boatman" which makes some good use of the bagpipes! This involvement naturally led to a couple of solo albums for Invictus and successful tours backed by the original Funkadelic boys of course, and then the almost inevitable disappearance into the ether around 1976.

"The F Word (RJD2 Remix)"---Cannibal Ox (LimeLinx)
"The F Word (RJD2 Remix)"---Cannibal Ox (savefile)

Like any good and decent lover of the hip to the hop I am a big fan of pretty much all things Definitive Jux, which in my opinion has to be one of the best alternative, underground, independent, groundbreaking and whatever else you want to call it record labels of the last 10 years. With a consistently good roster of MCs, DJs and producers on board with label CEO and ex-Company Flow man El P, 2001 saw the release of not only one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time, but one of the best albums of any genre full stop. I am of course talking about the all important, all powerful Cold Vein by the legendary Cannibal Ox.

The track we have here is a very good remix of "The F Word" from another top artist who was with Def Jux at the time, one RJD2 and was featured on the 2001 single release which also had another couple of exclusive bonus tracks not from the album. Although both Can Ox and RJD2 are no longer with Definitive Jux, it still stands strong as a platform for new, exciting and groundbreaking hip hop, that thankfully will never make top of the pops.... there just isn't any room for them what with Lil Wayne, Akon, and other frankly awful hip pop stars blinding the sheep with their bling bling lame lame excuse for rap music.

"How Long Can I Go On Fooling Myself"---Jean Elias (LimeLinx)
"How Long Can I Go On Fooling Myself"---Jean Elias (savefile)

"Spiders and Snakes"---Erma Coffee (LimeLinx)
"Spiders and Snakes"---Erma Coffee (savefile)

These next couple of tracks, I know very little about except that I like them and I'm sure a few of you Scholettes may well like them also. The Jean Elias track could have been a Candi Staton or Bettye Swan hit if either of those fine ladies had recorded it but that wasn't the case and it was left to the little known Ms. Elias. Released on the Back Beat label in 1971, the writing credits go to a Harrison Calloway, who was at one time a writer/producer with the Fame label, which utilised the talents of the in house Fame Gang giving the famous "Muscle Shoals Sound", which is maybe why it sounds like it could have been a Candi hit!

As for Erma Coffee, all I know is that this sultry southern funk 45 was released on the Tamtown label from her home state of Florida, and with it's great horns and sleazy guitar it kicks some serious ass!

Anyone with more info on these ladies or any noteworthy releases they put their name to, then please share your knowledge with the Souled On family. Grazie!

"Chains and Things"---B.B. King (LimeLinx)
"Chains and Things"---B.B. King (savefile)

What more can be said about the Riley B. King? Probably not much, but I'll have a go. Still going strong at 83 with a new album out earlier this year and tour dates in the offing, it goes to prove you can't keep a good ol' blues cat down. Beale St. Blues Boy, was shortened to Blues Boy, then just B.B. and the legend was born. Having stayed with his cousin Bukka White, a blues legend of his time, B.B. honed his skills and soon found fame in the mecca of southern music that was Memphis. There he took the moniker of B.B, and of course would eventually open the first of his Blues clubs, which I visited on a trip to Beale St. when I was still just a lad. Alas I couldn't buy a whisky as I was of legal drinking age in Blighty, but not stateside! The rest of the B.B. story is well written and easily available, so like I said...what more can I say?

Anyway the reason I picked this tune is because it was the main sample used by Ice Cube on one of my favourite tracks, "A Bird In The Hand" from 1991's Death Certificate, which is another really great album, (remember when Cube was the fuckin' best thing since sliced bread, at the very top of his game, back when he was rollin' wit' Da Lench Mob instead of rolling with a bunch of annoying kids askin "are we there yet!")

So I done my homework and eventually sourced where Cube found it - 1970's Indianola Mississippi Seeds LP, which was promoted with the aim of cashing in on the huge success of a little known '50s track by Roy Hawkins that King had made his own the year before -"The Thrill Is Gone" from the album Completely Well. In truth, the aim worked with the ...Seeds album a success, doing well on the various album charts and releasing a couple of well-received singles, including "Chains and Things". The album also featured some experienced and talented backing players including Joe Walsh and Carole King, with the very talented Ms. King playing electric piano on this very track. I reckon that just about covers it.

"A Bird In The Hand"---Ice Cube (LimeLinx)
"A Bird In The Hand"---Ice Cube (savefile)

*Note: The drums on this track are sampled from " Don't Change Your Love" by The Five Stairsteps.

"Roderigo"---Lack Of Afro (LimeLinx)
"Roderigo"---Lack Of Afro (savefile)

My next choice is from a talented young Exeter chap by the name of Adam Gibbons, better known to the wider music world as Lack Of Afro. I do believe our good host has posted a couple of remixes by this man, and well he should as he's not at all bad by the way! LOA's a multi-instrumentalist and DJ/producer who has been riding high since his first couple of singles flew off the shelves in 2007 after only posting some of his stuff on a friend's website the year before. His debut album from 2007, Press On, has been getting rave reviews from all the main players in the U.K. and beyond, with a mix of live and cut-n-paste soul, funk, and Afro-Latin beats and pieces. It's no surprise he is being likened to another U.K. funkster in Will Holland, the man behind Quantic and The Quantic Soul Orchestra.

This track was the second single release on Freestyle Records, put out as a 7" and a definite favourite of DJs. With great horns and driving drums it's easy to hear why this is a true rug cutter if ever there was one. Put it simply, you cannot beat some spankin' dancefloor funk!

"Twice the First Time"---Saul Williams (LimeLinx)
"Twice the First Time"---Saul Williams (savefile)

The first time I heard Saul Williams, it was so good I put it on again, so it was, in a very slight way, twice the first time....mmm (note to self; not sure I should leave this in as it's a bit shite). This quality piece of prose and music was on a 1998 compilation CD from Big Dada records. In fact it was the label's first album, a great transatlantic effort made up of released, exclusive and remixed tracks from their roster including most notably Roots Manuva, Abstract Rude and the aforementioned Saul Williams. The CD was a birthday gift that year from a friend who has not had his troubles to seek, so at this time of good cheer to all men, and of course women (there is no sexism on this page kids, we are men of the 90's), I hope all is well in your world, Nicky.

"Twice The First Time" was put out on BigDada006 as part of Saul Williams' 1998 EP, Elohim (1972) (Elohim being either the Hebrew name for God, or false Gods, interestingly). Both tracks attack the shallowness and weakness of so called hip hop and those who laud it, true then and now you may concur. The EP title track was also on the compilation CD, and has the great opening line -"In 1972 my mother was rushed from a James Brown concert in order to give birth to me".

I for one am thankful to all your Gods in heaven, but more so to the medical staff involved in that particular 1972 drama that brought Mr. Saul Stacey Williams into this world, a streetwise polymath, a true Renaissance man!

Lastly I give you a couple of videos that represent soul music from two men who do not fall into that particular genre, but nevertheless elude enough soul for most.

Firstly my man John Martyn, if not underrated, certainly under-celebrated and nowhere near heralded enough until, admittedly, very recently (maybe because he turned 60 this year and no one thought he'd live that long). He's a true hero of the U.K. folk blues scene, and he's pretty fuckin brilliant! Born Iain David McGeachy in Surrey, he moved to Glasgow at age five to live with his father and grandmother.

His father taught him to "fish, fuck and ride a bike" and John grew up fast on the mean streets of Glasgow-"you went out and kicked a few heads or you were looked on as a pansy"-while seeking out and learning the guitar. He soon played to an exceptionally high level, taking him from the Glasgow folk scene down to London and beyond.

Anyway, the big man has lived a crazy old life and his story would take more than I can write here - “I’m not a violent man, but sometimes it just happens. I’ve been mugged in New York and luckily I fought my way out of it. I’ve been shot a couple of times as well, but I just lay down and pretended to be dead.”

Martyn drank and played with friends who didn't all make it, including Hendrix, Paul Kosoff, and Nick Drake. He worked with Lee Scratch Perry, and has a new album in the wings with one of his heroes, sax legend Pharoah Sanders. I urge you to check him and his story if you haven't already.

This track, "Couldn't Love You More", is quite simply one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, and as was the norm for many sessions, John is joined by the excellent Danny Thompson of Pentagle fame.

Secondly is a dude that I only heard a few months ago and he blew me away. Justin Vernon as Bon Iver has made a beautiful, heartfelt soulful album in For Emma, Forever Ago that would bring a tear to a glass eye, given half the chance and make it a Good Winter at least. This track "The Wolves ( Acts I & II )" is amazing, with a certain gospel feel to it. Replace the guitar for piano and think Nina Simone.

Well I think I have banged on enough for now so it just leaves me to say happy festivus to one and all, thanks for reading/listening, etc. and many thanks again to the main man, my friend and yours, the always right on and unless Google says otherwise, the one and only Scholar. Grazie mille mio amico!

Words From Someone's Mother:

"Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts."---Albert Einstein

"The head learns new things, but the heart forever practices old experiences."--Henry Ward Beecher

"The heart has reasons that reason does not understand."---Jacques Benigne Bossuel

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Music Is Never Over~Her Silences Are Pauses, Not Conclusions

Lazarus is back, snitches...hopefully all the good people in the place to be have been especially fat and happy since we last met.

For a number of different reasons, I've been going through a little bit of a mid-blog crisis and have been evaluating how/if to carry Souled On into the future. It's all too easy to become complacent and lackluster (simply put, a lazy bastard) after being in the game for this long, so I'm considering at least making a few slight changes to keep things fresh both for myself and all of you. Not sure what exactly this might entail, but I definitely anticipate greater variety in terms of content and the music featured. In the future, my posts will also likely be somewhat shorter, which should enable me to provide updates with much greater frequency. Regardless of what decisions are made, I solemnly swear that preserving the soulful essence of this joint will remain the top priority until the day I pull the plug. I might throw a few curveballs here and there, but this is never going to transform into a site about fungal infections, llamas or Britney Spears. Word.

As always, I welcome your input...if there's anything you'd particularly like to see happenin' 'round here, hit me up via with your thoughts and ideas. I do eventually read all of my mail, so if you've already written and haven't heard back from me yet, I'll definitely hit you up as soon as possible
. I also read through anything you see fit to drop in the comment boxes as well.

Enough of that nonsense for now. Let's get busy and do this damn thing...Scholar

"If You Move I'll Fall"---The Soul Children (LimeLinx)
"If You Move I'll Fall"---The Soul Children (savefile)

I've posted a couple of tracks by this group, but for (hopefully) obvious reasons they're worth an occasional mention up in here...

Formed in 1968 by Isaac Hayes and David Porter in the aftermath of Sam & Dave's departure from Atlantic Records, this soulful outfit was comprised of John Colbert (aka J. Blackfoot), Norman West, Anita Louis, and sometimes Shelbra Bennet. The group achieved a moderate degree of success on the R&B charts, but their only song to crack the Billboard Top 40 was their 1974 single, "I'll Be The Other Woman". Despite their inability to take mainstream radio by storm, The Soul Children became a mainstay of the Stax/Atlantic roster and continue to be highly revered amongst soul enthusiasts and hip hop producers on the search for righteous loops.

Although I've been spinning their records for as long as I can remember, I do have a couple of armchair criticisms regarding the overall quality of their canon of works. For one thing, most of their full-length recordings are burdened by an abundance of filler material, which can be somewhat discouraging if you prefer listening to albums from beginning to end. Additionally, their lyrical content (often written by Hayes/Porter) too frequently centered on overwrought themes such as adultery, because...let's face it...R&B's been tapping the other woman's ass since forever began.

Despite these potential distractions, "If You Move I'll Fall" (Finder's Keepers, 1976) perfectly illustrates why it's imperative to thorougly explore their discography in search of their more substantive material. The Dells recorded a killer original of this tune, but when The Soul Children rose to the occasion, the result was damn near sonic supremacy. The emotive, gospel-inflected vocals that they laid on the track grab me by the throat and maintain their grip until the chorus fades into silence. To fully understand what I'm talkin' about, ya just gotta turn up the volume and get lifted...

Dig deeper...

Sampled On:

"Leanin' On You"---Geto Boys (LimeLinx)
"Leanin' On You"---Geto Boys (savefile)

*From The Foundation LP (Asylum Records, 2005); track produced by Mr. Mixx

"Weird Fishes/Arpeggi"---Radiohead (LimeLinx)

"Weird Fishes/Arpeggi"---Radiohead (savefile)

"Reckoner (Boy Eats Drum Machine Remix)"---Radiohead (LimeLinx)
"Reckoner (Boy Eats Drum Machine Remix)"---Radiohead (savefile)

I've already decided that when I get old and lose what's left of my mind, I'm going to keep a shit ton of cats and smoke myself into the stratosphere where all of Radiohead's ethereal surrealisms make perfect, literal sense. If I can find my laptop and the keyboard doesn't melt while I'm typing, I may even blog about my findings. Lucky you.

As evidenced by past behavior, I apparently don't possess the self-discipline or compulsion towards enumeration that must work in tandem if one endeavors to compose a year-end best-of list. I'm quite certain if I did, however, that "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" would have fallen somewhere around #23 last year in the pseudo-orderliness of my mental chaos.

The first several times I heard the track, I admittedly thought about ending it all by driving my neighbor's stupid moped directly into a tree. Although Radiohead's trademark is their existential malcontent and anemic melancholy, few scenarios one can conjure are more catastrophically depressing than being eaten by worms...I mean, Pink Floyd stumbled upon that stark truth a few decades ago, if you recall.

Anyway, I can't remember exactly when my listening experience took a turn for the better, but lately I've been playing it often, especially when I'm rollin' down the block on my 15" rusted rims...NWA-style, BB gun on my lap cocked and loaded. I've earned a great deal of respect and street cred as a result, so if you're looking to stay super-fly, children...thou shalt bump this. I uploaded it for all 12 of you who haven't heard it yet.

Meanwhile, the Boy Eats Drum Machine reconstruction of "Reckoner" is one of my favorites to emerge via Radiohead's remix contests. BEDM (aka Jon Ragel) is a singer/songwriter/musician/turntablist from Portland who's been generating some well-deserved hype on the internets as of late. I'm sure many of you will pass on this, but in light of his penchant for crate digging, quirky style, and one-man band musical wizardry, this kid is definitely a'ight by me.

Check out the BEDM website. Listen. Learn. Cop free music.

"Give It Up Turn It Loose"---DJ Ayers (LimeLinx)

"Give It Up Turn It Loose"---DJ Ayers (savefile)

It's not my usual style to fuck around with uptempo club tracks, but every once in a while I come across something that inspires me to spontaneously combust into a series of ironic dance moves. Fortunately most of you will never have to witness this unrestrained mayhem firsthand, but my friends can tell you it's both spastic and amusing.

This collection of mixes, covers, and tributes to the Godfather Of Soul is a fairly well-rounded collection that should have something for just about everyone. I definitely don't have unconditional love for the project in its entirety, but I'll tell you stays funky and energetic from start to finish, and how better to pay homage to the spirit of JB than that?

"Hommage"---Specswizard/Fratello Beatz (LimeLinx)
"Hommage"---Specswizard/Fratello Beatz (savefile)

"The Most Beautifulest Loop In The Game"---Fratello Beatz (LimeLinx)
"The Most Beautifulest Loop In The Game"---Fratello Beatz (savefile)

Another ridiculously dope tribute to a soul legend comes courtesy of Mr. Tee Bow and Vincenzo Terranova (aka Fratello Beatz). I was semi-reluctant to fuck with their recent tribute to Isaac Hayes, because we've all heard Ike's beats get flipped a time or two zillion. Despite my reservations, after listening to just a few minutes of this mix I was obliged to fix my face.

Check these guys out on MySpace or at LZO Records, where you can download a grip of their remixes for free.

"I Was Born All Over"---O.V. Wright (LimeLinx)
"I Was Born All Over"---O.V. Wright (savefile)

Being a fan of deep Southern soul, there's sort of an unspoken rule that O.V. Wright will be a permanent staple of your musical diet. He's considered by many like-minded enthusiasts to have set the standard for the genre, but what is it exactly that gives him bragging rights over other artists who recorded music in a similar vein? This can certainly only be answered in subjective terms, but I'm of the mindset that his ace in the hole was, at least in part, his uncanny ability to express his worldly afflictions within the parameters of a traditional gospel sound.

The transition from the sacred to the secular is far from being Wright's exclusive domain, but his reluctance to wholeheartedly immerse himself in the trappings of popular music differentiated him somewhat from the majority of his peers. Artists such as Aretha Franklin and Al Green would often revert to their spiritual roots by cutting straight-up gospel records, but Wright arguably took his devotion a step further by blessing nearly every song he touched with the intensity, fervor, structure, and style he mastered during his tenure in the church. The lyrics to his secular offerings revealed a tortured man whose soul was plagued by earthly temptations and constraints, but he never strayed far from his spiritual roots in terms of his sanctified delivery.

Wright's uninhibited acknowledgement of life's hardships and gut-wrenching emotionalism ultimately became the cornerstone of his rich legacy, and has certainly contributed to his highly revered status amongst Southern soul aficionados. In many ways, the interplay between the sacred and the profane embodied by his music can be universally understood, and the language of deeply felt emotion possesses the lofty ability to cross all boundaries in place and time.

Wright's friend (and fellow soul singer), Otis Clay, described his spellbinding effect on the crowd at of one of his performances in Miami as follows: "Oh man, he was killing the place. He said 'If you know about the blues come up here and shake my hand!' and the people lined up and came across the stage. This is what a Baptist preacher does. . . . He would do anything to stir emotion. That's typical of a gospel singer. That was O.V. Wright."

"I Was Born All Over"(Back Beat 620) is one of many songs that effectively illustrates Wright's uncompromising artistic passion and charismatic style of delivery. Although the lyrics are directed towards a lover who has transformed and reinvigorated the narrator's existence, they could just as easily describe being "born again" in the spiritual/religious sense of renewal. Couple that with the fact that Wright and his backing vocalists sound as if they were singing straight from a hymnal, and you will surely be inspired to believe in the gospel according to Overton Vertis Wright.

Dig deeper...

Word From Your Moms:

"Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice. We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne."---Alice Childress

Monday, November 24, 2008

Small Metal Objects: Has-Lo's Critical Breakdown I

My man Travis from WYDU is one of my favorite people in the world to discuss hip-hop with, and we are always making recommendations to each other based on our unique tastes in the genre. At some point a while back, Travis bridged a connection between myself and one of my absolute favorite MC/producers on the rise, Has-Lo. Since then, Lo and I have kept in contact, and ultimately decided to bring something more original than simply discussing his work (if you remember, I already did that here). Realizing that there are many crate diggers and aspiring producers who pass through here, we came up with the idea for him to shed some light on the sample sources and production methods he utilized on his Small Metal Objects EP.

Going all the way back to Afrika Bambaataa steaming the labels off of his records so that no one would know what he was playing, DJs and producers have generally been apt to conceal the weapons of their trade behind a veil of secrecy. Consequently, I consider it a great honor that Lo was willing to bless us with this critical breakdown. Hopefully you crazy kids will enjoy the ride.

At some point there will be a sequel covering the remainder of the tracks on the Small Metal Objects EP, as well as some remixes and videos. Meanwhile, check for Lo on MySpace, where you can download both of his projects and a remix of Fuck Has Day by Small Professor. As Moms always says, the best things in life are free.

Keep diggin', snitches...Scholar

I was actually supposed to do this when my first EP came out. I couldn't really do it the way I'd have liked to. However, it's a new day...and I have a new EP. And I'm back for round 2. The EP is called Small Metal Objects. The title (if you're wondering) comes from the title cut's opening line: "I'm the small metal object that enters your brain/ after being shot screaming out a tunnel of flames". I think we all know what that means...heat rocks beeyooootch!

Anyway, I got at Scholar again and he was gracious enough to give me some space to show my wares. I thought you guys may be interested in going behind the scenes with me: taking a look at some of the source material that I drew from to produce this EP. If you didn't know I produced all of it sans "The Commentary" which was produced by my good friend, DeeJay Tone. In that way, you might enjoy the EP on a deeper level, or if you don't have it, you may be more excited about downloading it.

Let's get to it!

"I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know"---Donny Hathaway(LimeLinx)
"I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know"---Donny Hathaway (savefile)

"Ain't Got It In Ya"---Has-Lo (LimeLinx)
"Ain't Got It In Ya"---Has-Lo (savefile)

The first actual song on the EP is "Ain't Got It In Ya". This is a pretty easy one for all you music lovers out there. The sample comes from my man and yours, the great Donny Hathaway. The inspiration for the way I chopped it was another great, J Dilla. I believe I had been listening to Donuts. It intrigued me that he'd lace these beats and some of them wouldn't even really have drums. He'd let the drums in the sample drive the entire beat. I wanted to do something like that...with my own twist. I picked out "More Than You'll Ever Know" mostly for the feeling, and added some 808s for the win. I had the ill intro into the first verse, but I wanted an interesting breakdown in between the verses. DeeJay Tone came with the idea of kinda blending into the original. This EP was about having fun and just trying things. We did it and it's a bit strange but I think it's fresh.

"Synthetic Substitution"---Melvin Bliss (LimeLinx)
"Synthetic Substitution"---Melvin Bliss (savefile)

"Small Metal Objects"---Has-Lo (LimeLinx)
"Small Metal Objects"---Has-Lo (savefile)

I can't say much about the title cut "Small Metal Objects" because a brother like me can't give away ALL his secrets. There are, however, one or two elements to this experiment in sound that are classic and easy to identify. The Melvin Bliss break? Let me tell you guys something: I'm a big Ghostface fan. I am positive I listened to Supreme Clientele at some point during the making of this EP (for the fifty-millionth time). After hearing "Mighty Healthy", how could I not use this break at least once? It's almost a right of producer passage, like flipping "Nautilus".

"Love Me Like The Rain"---The Chambers Brothers (LimeLinx)
"Love Me like The Rain"---The Chambers Brothers (savefile)

"Inhuman Interlude"---Has-Lo (LimeLinx)
"Inhuman Interlude"---Has-Lo (savefile)

"Inhuman Interlude". The halfway marker on the EP. The title doesn't really have anything to do with what's going on vocally in the interlude. The title of the beat is "Inhuman"...I just went with it. This sample comes from the same Chambers Brothers album as the frequently sampled gem "So Tired". The LP is called Time Has Come Today. If you haven't heard it, I recommend it. Anyway, the song I tapped was "Love Me Like The Rain". The guitar piece is mad soulful with the tamborines and all. I added the heavy drums, some synths and a touch of bass. It came out pretty dope if you ask me. I originally had the idea to make this a posse cut. That idea didn't pan out. Instead I took some funny voice-mails I had and laced it a la "Aight Chill". A nice head nod moment.

"Night Bird"---Basil Poledouris (LimeLinx)
"Night Bird"---Basil Poledouris (savefile)

"Dogma"---Has-Lo ft. Awar (LimeLinx)
"Dogma"---Has-Lo ft. Awar (savefile)

The "Dogma" joint wasn't originally planned for the EP. It just kinda came together. In between games of GTA4 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, we somehow found time to actually get in the studio. That day, I was in there about to work on a beat for a different song I was thinking about putting on the project. A few guys were over the crib. We were all just laughing and talking trash. I was going through the "Conan the Destroyer" soundtrack looking for a certain sample I had in mind. I came across this eerie string piece on my way to it. I sampled it on a whim and started messing around with it. About 15 minutes later I had a serious contender. It was also dope because I don't usually make beats that fast. I added some bass, some bells in the hook, and some vocal parts from a story on vinyl...something about a war I believe. Funny how a beat like this can knock so hard. Sometimes basic is beautiful. Keep it simple stupid.

So there you have it. We were going to do this in one shot at first, but you know what? Go on 'head and keep the party going: 2 parts.

I'll get back at you guys with the next half on the flip.


Direct link to download the entire Small Metal Objects EP here.

Word From Has-Lo's Moms:

"There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right living"---David Starr Jordan

"The machine don't rest. Love, hell or right...or love hell in death"---Has-Lo (from the song "Dogma")

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Let Your Mind Free. That's The Past...Don't Remind Me

Update: All links via LimeLinx have been fixed/re-upped; let me know if you have any other previewing/downloading problems

"Foolish Fool"---Dee Dee Warwick (LimeLinx)
"Foolish Fool"---Dee Dee Warwick (savefile)

"I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else"---Dee Dee Warwick (LimeLinx)
"I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else"---Dee Dee Warwick (savefile)

If you've been reading Souled On for a while, you may already know that I consider Dee Dee Warwick to be one of the most underappreciated female soul singers of all time. When she passed away at a nursing home in New Jersey a few weeks ago, it was predictably with little fanfare or recognition by mainstream media sources. As it was throughout her lifetime, so it was at the time of her death...

Dee Dee (born Delia Mae) and her sister Dionne began their music careers in the 1950s, performing together as The Gospelaires and joining forces with The Drinkard Singers, some of whom were members of their family. While both vocalists crossed over into secular music the following decade and embarked on solo ventures, it wasn't long before Dionne's popularity and commercial viability would come to fully overshadow that of her younger sibling.

Ultimately, Dee Dee enjoyed a few R&B chart successes and managed to garner a couple of Grammy nominations, but she primarily made her name and living as a session singer. Sadly, her talents were continously outshined by the radiance of the stars she was professionally aligned with, including legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. Anyone familiar with the warmth and resplendence of her vocals, however, might agree that soul heaven burns that much brighter now that she has passed through to the other side. Rest in peace, sweet soul sister.

Dee Dee performing "We're Doing Fine":

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"All Good"---Illa J (LimeLinx)
"All Good"---Illa J (savefile)

Anyone familiar with the hustle of the late great J Dilla knows that the hip hop producer/MC was one of the most prolific and hard-working artists to grace the pages of music history. As a result, he left behind a wealth of unreleased material that has gradually been leaked onto albums, bootlegs, and mixtapes. While posthumous efforts by many artists sound unfinished and are often greatly lacking in terms of quality, Dilla's stash of unused beats has proven to consist of quite a few gems worthy of unleashing.

A grip of these unheard sounds were recently handed down to John "Illa J" Yancey, Dilla's younger brother, from the vaults of Michael “Mike Floss” Ross, owner and founder of Delicious Vinyl. An aspiring singer/rapper/musician himself, Illa moved from Detroit to Los Angeles after his brother passed away, setting up the Yancey Boys Studio with Dilla's recording equipment. When Ross met up with Illa last year, he decided to bless him with beats he'd been holding for over a decade. "They're his birthright" he said. "I really believe Jay Dee would be proud of what his brother is doing."

Illa J dropped his self-penned lyrics over the material, culminating in what would come to be known as the Yancey Boys LP. The album wasn't officially released until November 4th, but the "We're Here" single and speculations buzzing from Dilla's loyal fanbase have already resulted in quite a bit of hype about the project.

You don't need me to tell you what to think, which is good because I can't offer a definitive opinion about Yancey Boys. Sometimes I think oh-that's-so-nice-this-Illa-J-kid-is-really-tryin'-his-absolute-damnedest-to-keep-his-brother's-legacy-alive, but other times...despite feeling kinda guilty about it...I want him to shut the hell up. I'm like...damn...couldn't we have just gotten these beats on some Donuts: The Sequel-type ish?

Regardless, I ain't the least bit mad at Illa J about "All Good". I can usually do without the neo-soul caterwauling, so this joint's laidback spoken word/rap takes a smoother ride through my aural pathways than the lion's share of the tracks on the LP. Dilla's ridiculously tight beat is as fresh as it is familiar...something new to nod your head to, but uncompromisingly true to his signature sound. Illa flows over the beat like H 2 the O, lacing the track with a few lines that seem to especially penetrate and resonate. Check it for yourselves, children.

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"(I Remember) Mr. Banks"---Maceo & All The King's Men (LimeLinx)
"(I Remember) Mr. Banks"---Maceo & All The King's Men (savefile)

When Maceo Parker revolted and momentarily left his role as James Brown's sideman, the aptly titled Doing Their Own Thing (1970) was the first record that he and other members of JB's orchestra released without the Hardest Working Man In Show Business at the helm. Obviously, the project wasn't given the proverbial Godfather's blessing, and it's been rumored that Brown paid radio stations not to play it and/or used his widespread influence to ultimately spell the record's demise.

Whether or not there's any truth to this claim, it's difficult to understand why else this masterpiece of funkdafied jazz failed to move any units, quickly descending into a realm of obscurity reserved for the serious-crate-diggers-only crowd. Although the LP was released on the relatively unknown House Of The Fox label, it had the invaluable benefit of featuring heavy players such as Maceo's brother Melvin Parker, Alphonso Kellum, Richard Griffith, Bernard Odum, Jimmy Nolen, and Eldee Williams. If you're familiar with the talents of any of these guys, then I shouldn't need to say more.

Maceo's style as leader clearly didn't fall all that far from The JB tree, but he charted his own impressive territory by sponsoring a more relaxed, jamtastic rhythm section that was accompanied by unbelievably tight horns. While Maceo's sax would often trail off on JB recordings just as he was really beginning to blow, the tracks on Doing Their Own Thing seemingly allowed him to more fully realize his creative potential. The only possible downside/distraction is that Maceo isn't exactly a world class vocalist, but hell...if that's what you're looking for, perhaps you should cop some Celine Dion.

Doing Our Own Thing has been reissued a few times, so it's relatively easy to secure a copy. There are a quite a few funky highlights on the LP that are just perfect when I'm in a certain mood, but "(I Remember) Mr. Banks" is the sort of jazzy, melodic groove that I can fall into wherever, whenever, whatever is going on around me. Mr. Banks, by the way, was the music director at Maceo's high school who mentored him and nurtured his prodigious talent during his adolescence. This lovely homage would no doubt make him proud.

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"We Have Love"---Amnesty (LimeLinx)
"We Have Love"---Amnesty (savefile)

Amnesty was a collaborative effort featuring the vocal talents of The Embers and the instrumentation of Crimson Tide. The Indianapolis band recorded the tracks on Free Your Mind: The 700 West Sessions on two separate occasions in 1973, but most of them didn't see the light of day (with the exception of two obscure 45s) until they were compiled and released on the Now Again label last year. Egon from Now Again (a Stones Throw subsidiary) has a knack for conjuring up exemplary unheard material from decades past, and this release is certainly no exception. According to the liner notes, these killer recordings were shelved because the Lamp label they recorded them for specialized in rock music, and listening to this album, it's not difficult to understand why their eclectic funk/jazz/psychedelic soul/afrobeat style might have sounded like untread alien territory.

At any rate, the whole album is as brilliant as it is engaging. On "We Have Love", you get a distinct sense of how effortlessly these guys blended soulful harmonies with their vividly colorful palette of sounds. Fans of Whitfield-era Temptations, Mandrill, Rasputin's Stash, L.A. Carnival, P-Funk, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Black Heat will definitely want to pick this LP up without hesitation. Better recognize...

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"Writes Of Passage"---Sadistik w/ Vast Aire (LimeLinx)
"Writes Of Passage"---Sadistik w/ Vast Aire (savefile)

When I first heard about Sadistik, I imagined something along the lines of shock producer/MC Necro's tenebrific know, one of those my-mommy-wasn't-very-nice-to-me-and-now-I'm-going-to-take-ruthless-revenge-on-the-trailer-park-and-the-entire-fucking-world- rappers. I also immediately associated his name with this guy, whose voracious appetite for homocide is...I dunno...lightweight disturbing.

Despite my reservations, I decided to give the The Balancing Act a spin and I certainly wouldn't be typing this now if I hadn't been incredibly impressed by what I heard. The album's soundscape is melancholic and moody...certainly nothing you'll hear bangin' in the trunks of your friends who dig Rick Ross and Young Jeezy. Sadistik's poetic lyricism is deeply introspective and confessional in nature, straying too far from traditional subject matter to make the album suitable for mass consumption. That said, there is most assuredly an audience for the Seattle-based MC...they're just not likely to discover him on BET. There's no denying that this kid is all heart, and his rhymes are bound to strike a chord with a particular segment of the underground sector.

I've been keeping a lot of joints on The Balancing Act in heavy rotation, because really...I ain't 'fraid of his ghosts. Sadistik was clearly exorcising some of his personal demons through these narratives; at times you can literally hear him flailing on the tightrope between madness and lucidity. Depending upon the listener's perspective, his lyrics are either cleansing and cathartic or dreary and depressing. As a wise friend of mine once said, some people are rightly driven to create from their despair, because otherwise it will completely devour them. Sadistik's reflective writing style validates and personifies this sagacious truth.

"Writes Of Passage" is probably the most accessible track on the LP, featuring Sadistik's elevated wordplay, stellar production, and some razor-sharp rhymes courtesy of Vast Aire. It's been somewhat of a disappointing year for hip hop, so the head rush I got after listening to this joint was exhilarating to say the very least. Damn, I miss those natural highs...

Anyway, if you're feelin' this like I do, show some love and support the artist.

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"If I Could See You One More Time"---Johnny Adams (LimeLinx)
"If I Could See You One More Time"---Johnny Adams (savefile)

Like so many of my favorite soul artists, Johnny Adams (aka Laten John Adams) began his career singing gospel. Born and raised in New Orleans, Adams left high school at 15 and eventually began making his living a roofer, showcasing his extraordinary vocal talent in his spare time with acts such as The Soul Revivers and Bessie Griffin and the Consolators. However, fate took an abrupt turn in his life one day while he was singing "Oh Precious Lord" in the bathtub. His neighbor, celebrated songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie, overheard him and pleaded with him to record a song she'd been crafting. Subsequently, "I Won't Cry" was released as a single on the Ric label in 1959, becoming a substantial hit and launching Adams' illustrious career in secular music.

One of the things that I love most about Adams is that he truly embodies the spirit of New Orleans. Well-versed in soul, jazz, country, R&B, and the blues, Adams' artistry reflects the rich musical tapesty and eclectic stew of his birthplace, capable as he was of expressing himself brilliantly through any one of those genres.

It will come as no surprise that I prefer the deeply soulful side of Johnny Adams, the sort of raw and hearfelt emotional catharsis that gives such tremendous power to a song like "If I Could See You One More Time". He gets to testifyin' so expressively that you can't help but believe in the pain and confusion he's feeling in the absence of his lover. If that's not the hallmark of the greatest soul music, then I don't know what is.

If you're interesting in becoming more familiar with Adams' canon of works, the Heart And Soul reissue on Vampi Soul is a good place to start. It contains all of the tracks on his phenomenal 1969 LP of the same title, as well as a few bonus joints. Also, be sure to dig deeper for more biographical info.

"The Sly, Slick, And The Wicked"---The Lost Generation (LimeLinx)
"The Sly, Slick, And The Wicked"---The Lost Generation (savefile)

Some of you may already know this song, as it was a relatively big hit in the summer of 1970, but it's such a phenomenally smooth track that it's undoubtedly worth revisiting.

Originally released on Brunswick Records, "The Sly, Slick, And The Wicked" and the LP of the same title were produced by Eugene Record, vocalist, chief songwriter and primary creative force behind the legendary Chi-Lites. Although The Lost Generation aren't nearly as well-known, they definitely bear some distinct similarities to The Chi-Lites. Both groups hailed from Chicago and helped to usher in the omnipresence and crossover appeal of the sweet soul sound, in conjunction with like-minded artists such as The Stylistics, The Delfonics, and The Moments. Although all of these acts maintained an uncompromising loyalty to traditional vocal harmonies, they infused them with contemporary sounds and an adrenalized energy that effectively distinguished their style from that of their old school predecessors. Collectively, these ensembles would come to represent a significant evolutionary shift in the tenor and commercial viability of R&B and soul music.

The Lost Generation was comprised of Lowrell Simon, Fred Simon, Jesse Dean, and Larry Brownlee. Although they would never score a hit as popular as this song, they did do some minor damage on the charts with singles such as "Wait A Minute" (a saccharine-sweet ballad penned by Eugene Record), "Talking the Teenage Language", and their final chart climber, "Your Mission (If You Decide to Accept It) Part 1". Shortly after the release of the latter, the group disbanded, but not without making their mark on music history. In addition to the handful of exceptional material they left behind, their staggering success with "The Sly, Slick, And The Wicked" generated enough funds for Brunswick to buy itself out from its owner, Decca Records.

Search for this in the crates, children...and get mellow/get laid.

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Word From Your Moms:

"I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind."---Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free."---Clarence Darrow

"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."---Jean-Paul Sartre

"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom."---Marilyn Ferguson

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Some Men See Things As They Are And Say Why; I Dream Things That Never Were And Say Why Not...

What's good, soul children? I greet you today with eyes closed, head bowed, and fingers crossed...

For the past several weeks, I've been meditating on what HOPE really means. It's a word that the Obama campaign has adopted in conjunction with its "yes we can" mantra, epitomizing the hunger for change in America and belief in the possibility that a new day could potentially be on the horizon. However, the question remains: is this notion of HOPE merely political propaganda or is it possible that at this juncture in American history, this simple four-letter word signifies something truly meaningful?

Admittedly, optimism as it pertains to politics is an extraordinarily bitter pill for me to swallow. Like many of you, I feel frustrated, skeptical, and apathetic about the government. We've witnessed our tax dollars being shamefully wasted here and abroad, even as many of our hard-working brothers and sisters can't afford to maintain an acceptable standard of living for themselves and their children. We've seen corruption and inefficiency erode our democratic process, causing us to question whether or not the votes we cast will be counted, let alone translate into significant change. We've been cheated, lied to, and taken for fools by those who we've elected and entrusted with our collective well-being. In light of such profound deception, hopefulness may seem woefully analogous to naiveté.

Although I have been a staunch supporter of Barack Obama throughout his run for the presidency, I've never once subscribed to the view that he is some sort of a messiah, healer, prophet, or magician. Our wounds in this country run deep, and the myriad of problems we face on a global level cannot easily be remedied. It's clearly beyond the scope of any one person to solve the crises we face, but there is literally no limit to what human beings can achieve by acting in unison. An effective leader isn't one who has all the solutions, but someone who inspires people to come together and work towards the change they want to see in the world. Segregation, marginalization, and divisiveness be damned...everyday people have always had the power to make a difference. We've just been too disinterested and disenfranchised to acknowledge or assume it. As Obama has said time and again, this election isn't about's about us.

There is a French proverb asserting that "hope is the dream of a soul awake." In the past several months I've witnessed many of my fellow Americans finally opening their eyes and being rejuvenated in the aftermath of a longstanding comatose state. Although the country is predictably divided about which candidate they prefer, the groundswell of support that's surrounded Senator Obama is nothing short of miraculous. The energy at his campaign rallies is something I've never witnessed in my lifetime, the wondrous vitality of a people ignited by a passion for the possible.

Regardless of your political leanings, you have to admit that McCain's audiences don't seem nearly as juiced about their candidate (even if they do think Caribou Barbie is hot). When I reflect on the possibility of four more years, I think not only of the extension of Bush's failed policies, but a return to the sort of lethargy and impassivity that weakened our collective muscle in the first place. Like it or not, Obama has been instrumental in restoring the faith of millions who have grown weary and inadvertantly forgotten how to dream.

To be truthful, my cynical side is afraid of what the outcome of this election may be. I worry that people will allow fear to inform their decision-making process; that the ballot box at my polling station may be stolen or the machines will malfunction; I'm frightened that Obama could one day be assasinated.

When these feelings of negativity arise, I take pause to remind myself of slaves who once prayed for freedom, women who fought tirelessly for the right to vote, and immigrants who've yearned for their inalienable right to breathe free. There have been countless unnamed heroes throughout history who've walked uphill on treacherous terrain, resolving not to sit down just because their feet were tired. Leaders of these movements have often been jailed or murdered, but a stirring in the soul of a people is not easily laid to rest, despite the counteracting efforts of their oppressors.

Hope is an immensely significant aspect of this election, but it's far from being the exclusive domain of Barack Obama. In a broader context, it represents the will of the people and the song of the silenced. Challenge yourself to graduate beyond despair, and be cognizant of the fact that freedom is priceless and hope is free. If we truly want change, our desire must persist beyond the outcome of the upcoming election regardless of who wins. As George Weinberg once said, "hope never abandons you; you abandon it".

Stand up and be counted, children. I'll see you at the polls...

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

Click here for more videos from Vote For Change


Note: LimeLinx is fairly similar to zShare (you can preview tracks, etc.), except it actually works...


"What The World Needs Now Is Love"---Tom Clay (LimeLinx)
"What The World Needs Now Is Love"---Tom Clay (savefile)

"Imagine"---Nas w/ Pitbull (LimeLinx)
"Imagine"---Nas w/ Pitbull (savefile)

"Hope"---Twista w/ Cee-Lo (LimeLinx)
"Hope"---Twista w/ Cee-Lo (savefile)

"Get Involved"---George Soule (LimeLinx)
"Get Involved"---George Soule (savefile)


"We'll Get Over"---The Staple Singers (LimeLinx)
"We'll Get Over"---The Staple Singers (savefile)

"Bushonomics"---Cornel West & BMWMB ft. Talib Kweli (LimeLinx)
"Bushonomics"---Cornel West & BMWMB ft. Talib Kweli (savefile)

"My Sister's and My Brother's Day Is Comin'"---Dyke & The Blazers (LimeLinx)
"My Sister's and My Brother's Day Is Comin'"---Dyke & The Blazers (savefile)

"Typical American"---The Goats (LimeLinx)
"Typical American"---The Goats (savefile)

"For God's Sake Give More Power To The People"---The Chi-Lites (LimeLinx)
"For God's Sake Give More Power To The People"---The Chi-Lites (savefile)

Word From Your Moms:

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

"Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction."

"We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people. Yes we can."

Above quotes by Barack Obama

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Second Thought...The Eighth

A'ight kids...time to bust out your Battlestar Galactica metal lunchboxes, Trapper Keepers, and Hello Kitty pencils. Old school is all the way back in session, snitches...

Since zShare has been fucked up having some technical problems as of late, I uploaded all the files to sharebee this time. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, sharebee mirrors the file to four different hosts, so you have more downloading options. zShare is one of the choices, so all you have to do is click an extra time if that's the host that you prefer.

I know many of you are divShare proponents, but there are several reasons why I prefer not to utilize their service. I won't bore you with the details...hopefully you trust that there's some sort of method to my madness.

With that, lets do this thing...

Keep diggin',

"It's A Man's Man's World"---Big Maybelle (sharebee)
"It's A Man's Man's World"---Big Maybelle (savefile)

*Written by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome; originally released by James Brown And The Famous Flames as a 7" in 1966 on King Records (K6035).

*The song has actually evolved and fluctuated quite a bit throughout its history. Tammy Montgomery (later known as Tammi Terrell) recorded a similar tune, "I Cried", in 1963 for Brown's Try Me label. The following year, The Godfather Of Soul released his own demo version, which he called "It's A Man's World". After the release of the official single, JB recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the tune with the Louie Bellson Orchestra, which appeared on his Soul on Top LP in 1970.

"I Cried"---Tammy Montgomery (aka Tammi Terrell) (sharebee)

"I Cried"---Tammy Montgomery (aka Tammi Terrell) (savefile)

*The song was recorded in February of 1966 at Talent Masters Studios in New York. Although The Famous Flames received label credit, they don't actually appear on the track. A studio band and string section played during the recording sessions, and a female chorus was brought in to provide backing vocals. The choral parts were ultimately cut out of the final master of the recording.

*Rolling Stone magazine has descibed the lyrics to the song as "almost biblically chauvinistic", although they later ranked the song as #123 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Obviously they couldn't have been too offended. The misogynistic accusation rings true considering that men are hardly responsible for all of the productive work that goes on in the world, and despite the admission that the mechanics of the universe would be "nothing without a woman or a girl", there's no denying that the female role is depicted as auxiliary. It's been reported that Newsome penned the lyrics based on her own observation of relations between the sexes.

*The title of the song was inspired by the 1963 film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

*The song reached #1 on the R&B charts and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

*Big Maybelle's answer to JB's hit, "It's A Man's Man's World" (b/w "Big Maybelle Sings The Blues") was released on Chess Records in 1967. The original 7" is somewhat of a bitch to find at a reasonable price, but the song appears on a few compilations, including the massive Chess Story collection.

For those of you...umm...virgins who've never known the good fortune of listening to a Big Maybelle record, I can't urge you strongly enough to check into her material. Although Joe The Plumber and Joe Six Pack (the apparent new standards for ordinariness, thanks to McPalin) probably aren't hip to her legacy, her monumental contributions to the blues, soul, and jazz arenas can hardly be overstated. So great was her talent and presence, it's been said that Billie Holiday once refused to follow her at a performance. She also bears the distinction of having recorded "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" before Jerry Lee Lewis rendered his immensely popular version.

For more information on Big Maybelle, dig deeper...

*"It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World" has also been covered/performed by artists such as Celine Dion, Cher, The Grateful Dead, The Residents, and Christina Aguilera. Thankfully, I do believe I've slept on every single one of those.

"Soul Man"---Sweet Charles (sharebee)

"Soul Man"---Sweet Charles (savefile)

*In the last edition of On Second Thought, I discussed elements of the history of this track. You can reference it here.

*Sweet Charles (aka Charles Sherrell) is one of the oft-forgotten signees to James Brown's People label. His version of "Soul Man" appeared on his sole full-length outing for the label, the 1974 For Sweet People From Sweet Charles LP.

Besides his worthy attributes as a soul vocalist, Charles plays a variety of instruments, including the trombone, guitar, trumpet, drums, and bass. Hailing from Nashville, Charles used to jam with Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, and a host of other musicians who came to the area to record and/or perform. When Aretha Franklin passed through to find a band to go on a tour with her and Jackie Wilson, she hired an outfit known as Johnny Jones & The King Kasuals Band. At the time, Charles was just beginning to teach himself to play bass, but when Johnny Jones asked him to join them on the road playing the instrument, Charles (then known as Young Blood) could hardly refuse.

In August of 1968, Charles was granted the opportunity to play with James Brown. JB's preceding bassist, Tim Drummond, had contracted hepatitis in Vietnam, prompting the Hardest Working Man in Show Business to offer Charles the gig after seeing him perform with Aretha in New York. At times, Brown and Charles' relationship was strained, but Brown graciously admitted that Sherrell was responsible for some groundbreaking and highly innovative work, acknowledging that Bootsy and many other bass players were often mistakenly credited for fathering his style and technique.

Charles broke with JB in 1970 after persisting arguments over finances, but he returned to the fold a few years later. As legend has it, the president of Polydor (who distributed People's records at that point in time) heard Charles singing during a rehearsal and decided he should record his own album. Charles' tone was warm and mellow, providing a distinct contrast to Brown's signature whooping and hollering. For Sweet People From Sweet Charles was recorded with a 32 piece orchestra and arranged by David Matthews (not the same dude who brought you Some Devil) and Fred Wesley.

By 1976, Charles had become Brown's musical director and bandleader. He would later part ways with Brown again, teaming up with Maceo Parker from 1996 until 2004. During that time, he was also affiliated with a Dutch funk band called Gotcha! and a rap group called Nicotine. Since 2004, Sweet Charles has been primarily writing and recording his own material, and has assembled a group of musicians known as The True Funk Foundation.

Although Sherrell has never enjoyed significant name recognition or solo success, his killer rendition of "Soul Man" should serve as an indication of his undeniable talent. If nothing else, you can't help but appreciate the possibilities of that ridiculous break at the beginning of the track!

"Respect"---Ann Peebles (sharebee)
"Respect"---Ann Peebles (savefile)

*Written and originally performed by Otis Redding; it was recorded in July 1965 at Stax Recording Studios and was subsequently released as a 7" and a track on his Otis Blue LP.

*Redding's original rendition was fairly well-received by American listening audiences, climbing to #35 on the pop charts, but the tune's success wasn't fully realized until Aretha Franklin released her definitive take on the track. Recorded on Valentine's Day in 1967 with the sublime backing vocals of her sisters Erma and Caroline, Aretha's revamped version featured a new bridge and chorus that were added to the original composition. Her cover also boasted the supreme sounds of King Curtis' saxophone, in addition to the impeccable production of Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin. Aretha's "Respect" not only topped the Billboard charts, but was largely responsible for blessing her with international fame and success.

Despite being deified by the legions of soul fans he left behind, Redding still put his pants on one leg at a time and all that good stuff, so I can't help but wonder if he was a little bit put off by this chain of events. When he performed "Respect" at the Monterey Pop Festival, he jokingly made reference to it as the song "that little girl done stole from me". According to most accounts I've read, however, he was quite impressed by Franklin's phenomenal rendition.

*People often mumble or colosally screw up some of the lyrics, especially the line from Franklin's version, "take care ... TCB". Presumably, TCB meant takin' care of business. On the other hand, some sources cite the line as "take out TCP", inspiring warfare amongst music geeks for 40+ years. I suppose the real question is this...who gives a fat damn? We love songs with unintelligible lyrics, right? Have none of these people ever listened to Nirvana?

Redding's original take didn't contain "TC (insert your letter of choice here)" or the spelling out of "R-E-S-P-E-C-T", but he later modified the song during live performances to include those lines.

*Beatheads and soul enthusiasts should both know a little something about Ann Peebles. Her deep Southern soul offerings in the '70s made her the undisputed queen of Hi Records in Memphis, and her canon of works has maintained relevance to hip hop artists such as Missy Elliott and Wu-Tang Clan who've sampled/interpolated her material.

Her take on "Respect" appeared on her first full-length album, This Is Ann Peebles (Hi, 1969). Although the record served as a fine introduction, it consisted sheerly of cover songs. Most would agree that Peebles' stunning talent was most evident when she sang her own material, as she did on subsequent releases, so her version of "Respect" can hardly be described as her finest hour. It does, however, fit well alongside many of her songs that explored the grittier side of love from the feminine perspective. Furthermore, I can't help but admire her panache in attempting to revisit the tune two shorts years after Aretha cemented it in music history as a bonafide classic. That took some seriously big ovaries, son...and despite her diminutive frame, she blessed the song with her larger-than-life "99 pounds of soul".

*Other renditions of the tune have been offered by the likes of Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Ike & Tina Turner & The Ikettes, Johnny Hallyday, Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, and Kelly Clarkson.

"Hey Jude"---The Bar-Kays (sharebee)
"Hey Jude"---The Bar-Kays (savefile)

*Written by Paul McCartney, but attributed to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team; originally released by The Beatles in August 1968 b/w "Revolution".

*McCartney says he wrote the ballad for John's son Julian Lennon during his parents' divorce. Others have disputed this claim, including John Lennon, who apparently believed the lyrics were written about him. Regardless of where the truth lies, some of the words clearly don't seem to jive with the Julian Lennon Theory, such as "you have found her now go and get her".

In accordance with his version of the tale, McCartney has said that the working title was "Hey Jules". "Jude" evidently didn't reference anyone in particular; it merely turned out to be an easier name to sing.

*This was the first single to be released on The Beatles' own Apple label.

*25 takes of the track were recorded in two nights.

*Clocking in at over seven minutes, "Hey Jude" was the longest song to have reached the peak of the British charts at the time of its release. It held that record until 1993, when Meat Loaf surpassed it with "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)".

The song was shortened in hopes of getting airplay in America, where it remained at #1 for 9 weeks. Incidentally, that's the longest duration that any Beatles tune held the top position in the States.

*In 2002, the original handwritten lyrics were to be auctioned off at Christie's in London, but McCartney stopped the sale with a court order, claiming that the sheet of paper had been stolen from his home.

*The Bar-Kays formed in Memphis in 1966, heavily influenced by instrumental soul outfits such as Booker T & The MG's and The Mar-Keys. Deriving their name from their favorite brand of rum (Bacardi), the sextet was signed by Stax/Volt early in 1967. They started recording their own material (including their hit song, "Soul Finger"), and were soon chosen by Otis Redding to be his backing band.

Tragedy struck in December of 1967 when four of the group's members were killed in the same plane crash that claimed Redding's life. Trumpeter Ben Cauley survived the fatal crash, while bassist James Alexander had not been aboard the flight. Despite the odds being somewhat stacked against them, Alexander and Cauley rebuilt the group and started doing session work again and recording new material. Their energetic instrumental cover of "Hey Jude" was released on Stax in 1969 on their Gotta Groove LP. That same year, they backed Isaac Hayes on his stellar Hot Buttered Soul LP.

Shortly thereafter, the group added vocalist Larry Dodson and began pursuing a sound that was undeniably essential to the evolution of funk. For a more complete lesson on the group's history, dig deeper.

*Other renditions of "Hey Jude" have been offered by Dionne Warwick, Wilson Pickett, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and his Orchestra, Sarah Vaughan, O.C. Smith, The Jazz Crusaders, José Feliciano, The Temptations, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Charlie Byrd, Stanley Turrentine, and countless others.

"Ode To Billy Joe"---Nancy Wilson (sharebee)
"Ode To Billy Joe"---Nancy Wilson (savefile)

*"Ode To Billie Joe" was written and originally recorded by Bobbie Gentry; released in July 1967 b/w "Mississippi Delta".

*The song reached #1 on the U.S. charts and peaked at #13 in the UK

*"Ode To Billie Joe" is a fictitious lyrical tale about a man who commits suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and centers around a conversation that the narrator and her family have the day of the tragedy. The lyrics imply that the narrator and Billie Joe were romantically linked, unbeknownst to her inexcusably obtuse relatives.

While it became somewhat of a popular pastime to speculate on why Billie Joe McAllister may have chosen to end his life, Gentry has stated that she didn't have a specific reason in mind: "The message of the song revolves around the nonchalant way the family talks about the suicide. The song is a study in unconscious cruelty."

*Although the story wasn't based on actual events, there really was a Tallahatchie Bridge in Leflore County in Mississippi. When the song gained in popularity, Rolling Stone magazine reported that it was only a 20 foot drop off the bridge, and that the water was deep enough that a plunge would likely not be fatal. As you can imagine, there were dumbass people who had to put this theory to the test.

*In 1976, a novel and screenplay based on the song were written by Herman Raucher. Entitled Ode To Billy Joe (note the change in spelling), Raucher's adaptation depicted McAllister as having killed himself following a drunken homosexual encounter. The film was directed and produced by Max Baer, Jr., also known as Jethro Bodine on "The Beverly Hillbillies". Gentry re-recorded the song for the soundtrack.

*Nancy Wilson's cover of the tune is quite possibly my favorite. Appearing on her 1968 Welcome To My Love LP, her version is blessed with a warm, bluesy feel that's as sultry as it is soulful. The album was reissued in 1994, so if you dig work, son.

*Lou Donaldson, King Curtis & The Kingpins, The 5th Dimension, Sinéad O'Connor, and many others have also released a version of the tune.

"By The Time I Get To Phoenix"---Doris Duke (sharebee)
"By The Time I Get To Phoenix"---Doris Duke (savefile)

*Written by Jimmy Webb; originally recorded by Johnny Rivers in 1965

*Jimmy Webb is an award-winning songwriter, composer, musician and vocalist. The prolific tunesmith has penned a plethora of popular and oft-covered songs, including "Witchita Lineman", "Do What You Gotta Do", "MacArthur Park", "Up Up And Away", "Didn't We", "Worst That Could Happen", and "Highwayman". His material has been recorded/performed by Donna Summer, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Bob Dylan, Thelma Houston, Roberta Flack, The Fifth Dimension, Joe Cocker, Cher, The Supremes, R.E.M., The Four Tops, Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, David Crosby, and more. He's also released several of his own LPs.

*Frank Sinatra once declared that "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" was "the greatest torch song ever written".

*Doris Duke's cover of the track appeared on the LP A Legend In Her Own Time, originally released in 1975 on Mankind Records. As an unwavering Southern soul enthusiast, it's virtually predestined that I should love Doris Duke as much as I do. Although I'm equally in love with the renditions by Isaac Hayes and Erma Franklin, Duke's take on the song is so intimate and earthy it allowed me to instantly connect with the song's lyrics in a way I never had before.

If you don't have any Doris in the crates, the best collection of her work is available on the Kent reissue pictured above. It combines her two albums produced by Jerry 'Swamp Dogg' Williams Jr. (I'm A Loser + A Legend In Her Own Time), as well as the sides she released on Jay Boy as Doris Willingham. It's nothin' but love from front to back, children...

*In addition to the versions mentioned above, "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" has also been covered by William Bell, Dorothy Ashby, Young-Holt Unlimited, King Curtis, Nancy Wilson, Thelma Houston, The Escorts, and more.

"Down By The River"---Buddy Miles (sharebee)
"Down By The River"---Buddy Miles (savefile)

*Written and originally recorded by Neil Young; first released on Young's 1969 LP with Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

*Young claims to have penned this song, as well as "Cinnamon Girl" and "Cowgirl In The Sand", while in bed with a 103° fever.

*Much like "Hey Joe" and other "shot my baby" jams, "Down By The River" describes an incident in which a man puts a bullet in his lover due to rage over her infidelity. My really is as simple as leaving these women. It's hardly a good look to get all O.J. Simpson and shit...

*Like just about every popular music track ever recorded, some listeners have hypothesized that the lyrics reference drug addiction. Young has refuted this claim, and often tells the tale as he envisioned it before he plays the song live.

*I've played Neil Young's original take so many times that my vinyl copy has a skip 6 minutes and 33 seconds into the track. True story.

*I've written about Buddy Miles in the past, so no need to completely reinvent the wheels of steel. If nothing else, most will remember him as the drummer in Jimi Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys, or the dude who was the voice behind the California Raisins. He also formed The Buddy Miles Express, founded Electric Flag with Michael Bloomfield, and worked with artists/groups such as Santana, David Bowie, Ruby & The Romantics, Stevie Wonder, and Bootsy Collins.

Miles covered "Down By The River" on his 1970 LP, Them Changes. Whether or not you have an appreciation for his music, it's difficult to overlook his competence at marrying soul/jazz/blues sensibilities with a highly charged spirit of rock and roll, a recipe that Hendrix himself perfected.

Sadly, Miles passed away earlier this year. This article/obituary not only highlights many of his career achievements, it also offers some insight into his unique personality and style. Rest in peace, Buddy...

"I Can't Turn You Loose"---Jimmy Wess & The Upsetters (sharebee)
"I Can't Turn You Loose"---Jimmy Wess & The Upsetters (savefile)

*Written and originally recorded by Otis Redding; released as a 7" in 1965 (b/w "Just One More Day", Volt 130).

*Redding's version reached #11 on the R&B charts in the US and peaked at #29 in the UK.

*The Upsetters were a group from Baltimore who released a 1969 tribute LP entitled We Remember Otis. Released on ABC Records, the album has since become somewhat of an obscurity, although you can pick up a copy of the original vinyl in mint condition for under $50 if you know where to dig.

Whether you're down with their take on Redding classics (there are also a few non-Otis joints on the album)depends largely on your perception of what makes for a worthy cover. If you prefer wildly abstract interpretations that rely more on creative impulse than loyalty to the original, you will probably think this rendition is fairly useless. On the other hand, if you're more impressed when a tune is revisited with some proximity to the original, you might want to give this a spin. On the verge of being overly derivative, Jimmy Wess may be mistaken for Redding if your friends are drunk enough (try it some time...I have). I give Wess props for his Redding-like style of impassioned delivery, but it's dangerous territory to be imitative when paying homage to a legend...unless, of course, you're a fat guy in Vegas with big sideburns and sequined jumpsuits who can curl your upper lip and swivel your hips. Under those circumstances, you might just earn some dollars...even if it don't make no sense.

Fundamental Supplementals:

First up, a few more untapped Jigga mixes from my collection. I know, I know...I'm still searching for a support group to help me address this little compulsion of mine, but I swear...these are truly dope:

"Dear Blueprint (SoulSyde Mix)"---Jay-Z (sharebee)
"Dear Blueprint (SoulSyde Mix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

"Public Service Announcement (Samo Remix)"---Jay-Z (sharebee)
"Public Service Announcement (Samo Remix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

"Sunshine (Ratatat Remix)"---Jay-Z (sharebee)
"Sunshine (Ratatat Remix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

"The Allure Tape (Hovahead Mix)"---Jay-Z vs. Radiohead (sharebee)
"The Allure Tape (Hovahead Mix)"---Jay-Z vs. Radiohead (savefile)

"Til It Got Dark (Anion Mix)"---Jay-Z (sharebee)
"Til It Got Dark (Anion Mix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

Don't like Hov? I thought of you, too...

"Who Shot Ya (Anion Remix)"---Notorious B.I.G. (sharebee)
"Who Shot Ya (Anion Remix)"---Notorious B.I.G. (savefile)

"Carrie On Brother"---Eddie Harris vs. Rob Swift (sharebee)
"Carrie On Brother"---Eddie Harris vs. Rob Swift (savefile)

Word From Your Moms:

"Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one's soul; when birthplaces have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood."

"A violinist had a violin, a painter his palette. All I had was myself. I was the instrument that I must care for."

Both quotes by Josephine Baker