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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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...
"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 what...it 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.
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