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


Charlie Manson said...

What category would you put the people in, who not only haven't heard the new Radiohead, but nor do they care? Bleh.

No mopeds and trees please.

billjack said...

The SC song is fantastic. Thanks for always keeping me stocked in good tunes.

dennis b said...

Hilarious post dude.

For the record I thought In Rainbows was the best Radiohead CD since OK Computer. Looking into some more Boy remixes as we speak.

Anonymous said...

I like your thoughts on O.V. Wright. Dead on the mark. W.

Graz said...

the Soul Children's track is amazing!
thanks Scholar!

Bosshog said...

Always good to see OV getting some props!

Great post as usual, keep on keeping on.

Commish CH said...

"preserving the soulful essence"...

There was a saying on my college library that read: "He who knows only his own generation remains always a child" and Schooly Scholar is doing his part to teach. CHeers!

twann said...

milk this cowww!!

Styler said...

Greetings fellow happy bastard, you sound like your full of the joys of festivus and raring to go etc. Roll on the summer.

A nice we opener with the Soul Children and then a good laugh with the Geto Boys. I've always found them hilarious with their 'Scarface' samples and fantastical tales of unpleasentness but they did, mostly, sample some good music. However Willie D or Bruinswick Bill would never make my Svengali band.

Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters. If you don't get it...then you just don't fuckin' get it.

O.V. Wright, now he would get it, cause he's fuckin' got it!

Peace to you and yours brother and stay of the mopeds.

Also anything spastic and amusing is always worth a look, get it on the you tubes!

post scriptum.

I started putting some shit together but then I crashed the moped. The black dog has been by my side too long this year and I'm failing in my efforts to get shot of it but I will endeavour to finish and to you before the year is out. Laters.

post post scriptum.

All offers for said dog are welcome.

Darcy said...

A mirror to my thoughts - again! I'm sure we were in the same place autumn(fall!) last year.

(See my latest post).

Keep on keeping on - you know you want to really (so do I, I think).

Love SC and OV.

Scholar said...

CM---Your disdain for Radiohead is borderline know that, right? It figures that you would hate the one semi-normal thing I like ;)

billjack---You're welcome.

dennis b---Thanks, man. I had a really high fever when I wrote some of the excerpts from this post. I'm sure that may have had something to do with it.

anon---Gratitude. It's almost impossible to write about someone that you have as much admiration for as I do OV Wright. He's sort of above analysis as far as I'm concerned, so I'm glad you think I did him proud.

graz---Thought you might dig the SC joint. Can't wait to hear you flip it. By the way, the Papoose mixtape was brilliant. Props.

Bosshog---Thank you for the steady stream of encouragement. Much appreciated. I would be nowhere with SO without people like you in the audience.

commish---Fortunately, I've given myself an education along the way as well. Still can't recite lyrics off the dome the way you do, but that could give me something to work on in my spare time. Hope all's well, fam.

twann---Dope metaphor. What can I say in response except moooooooooooooooo?

Styler---Bushwick is my favorite eye-shootin-out lunatic midget...not cut out for a Svengali band,'re right. I can't listen to some of the Geto Boys' stuff. I'm not gangsta enough...seriously. That said, a grip of their songs are classics, and "Leanin' On You' is one of the few joints they have that you can play for your girlfriend without making her afraid of you.

I'll try to capture my next spastic moment on film. That would make for an entertaining post. Not as phenomenal as your sophomore post is destined to be, but amusing nonetheless.

I'll stay off the moped if you do...that just sounds fucking dangerous.

Peace, my brother. Talk soon.

darcy---I left you a comment over at Feel It. You're truly one of the best, so I hope you find a way to reignite your desire to keep doing what you do so well.

Much respect.

Styler said...

Bushwick Bill! Of course! Not Bruinswick as I typed, don't know what I was thinking, although I do recall drinking in a Bruinswick hotel many moons ago that had a one eyed midget convention on at the time, maybe it was that.

fathima said...

it's weird, i feel noncommittal about most of the Radiohead songs i've heard, but there are a few that are just chest-achingly good. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and Reckoner are two of them.

anyway, now for an entirely useless compliment, but of the handful of music blogs i follow, yours is definitely one of my favourites. the writeups make me feel alternately envious and joyful. so changes or what have you notwithstanding, as long as you're not going anywhere, it's good.

Keith said...

What a cool post! I really love your blog. Whatever you do I'm sure will be great. Good luck with it. Have a great week.

Scholar said...

Styler---I knew what you meant, homeskillet. I, too, suffer from some difficulty keeping track of all the dwarves in my life. Haha...hope you're well.

Fathima---Contrary to popular belief, there are quite a few Radiohead songs that leave me cold as well. "Chest-achingly good" is a perfect description for their most effective (and affective) material. In that sense, the divide between their music and soul is not as great as it may appear on the surface.

Your compliment wasn't at all useless, by the way. In fact, it came in due time to reinvigorate a blogger on the verge of mental inertia. Much gratitude.

Keith---Thanks for the kind words. I guess the trick is figuring out how to incorporate some random content from the kitchen sink without scaring the living hell out of my readers. I definitely appreciate your trust that I won't fail miserably at this venture. Peace, my man.

Slade said...

Good to see you're still around Scholar! I used to read your blog about three or so years back, and blog myself. The fatigue definitely set in from doing full-scale interviews with artists and that sort of thing, so I'm trying to bring it back on a much smaller level.

I still love the music, but just don't have the time or energy to share it like I used to, haha. I can see you're in the same boat.

Anyway, here's the old blog if you're interested in reading again:

Looking forward to start reading yours again. Keep it up! Peace.


red said...

Scholar - you should do with the blog whatever feels best to you. And that might vary from time to time. Your readers will - I'm dead sure of this - appreciate whatever you come up with, whenever you come up with it.

erm, what am I trying to say here? I think it's this:

I won't be near a computer for a bit, so wishing you all kinds of festive goodness and a happy new year.


Anonymous said...

O.V. Wright never left the church.

audiologo said...

Wow, so many riches here, you have a really diverse and engaging aural space. I appreciate your thoughtful takes on the music you're passionate about. Happy New Year!

Patrick said...

Check out the new selection from the new Ashford and Simpson album,"The Real Thing"