Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Inhaled. That Was The Point.

I'm hoping that maybe one of the amusing (or warped) amongst you will come up with a clever caption for this pic. One of my homies has already dubbed it "Obama Wit A Gangsta Lean". Lord...you gotta love the intellectually impaired...

Anyway, I could have just blown some smoke up your collective ass as to why my next post isn't finished yet, but that would have been a total drag...don't ya think?

Have a cigarette and a smile, kid...

"Something In The Air/The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"---Labelle (zShare)

"Something In The Air/The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"---Labelle (savefile)

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"Soul Strokes"---Sidney Pinchback (zShare)

"Soul Strokes"---Sidney Pinchback (savefile)

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"Hope (Damn Da Man Remix)"---Nas (zShare)

"Hope (Damn Da Man Remix)"---Nas (savefile)

*R.I.P. to the late great Rebel To America...

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"If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)"---The Staple Singers (zShare)

"If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)"---The Staple Singers (savefile)

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"Love More Than Pride"---Laura Lee (zShare)

"Love More Than Pride"---Laura Lee (savefile)

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"Get It While You Can"---Howard Tate (zShare)

"Get It While You Can"---Howard Tate (savefile)

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"The World's In A Bad Situation"---Lim Taylor (zShare)

"The World's In A Bad Situation"---Lim Taylor (savefile)

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"Hold On"---Goodie Mob (zShare)

"Hold On"---Goodie Mob (savefile)

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Fundamental Suplementalz:

The Staples Singers performing "Why Am I Treated So Bad":

Vintage Goodie Mob/Outkast vid for "Black Ice":

Word From Your Moms:

"But challenging as they are it's not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most, it is the smallness of our politics." ---Barack Obama

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Feel It All Down In Your Soul...

"The Soul Of A Black Man"---Maceo Parker w/ James Brown (zshare)

"The Soul Of A Black Man"---Maceo Parker w/ James Brown (savefile)

If you were playing a word association game with your average soul, jazz, and funk enthusiast, mention of Maceo Parker's name would likely generate terms emphasizing his role as sideman to several larger-than-life personalities in contemporary music history. There's certainly no shame in being James Brown's favorite sax player, nor in being an element in the funky freakaliciousness that prompted so many of us to take flight on the Parliament/Funkadelic mothership. However, it's myopic and unjust to relegate Maceo's legacy to the shadows of The Godfather Of Soul, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Prince, or any of the other celebrated artists who've invited this highly gifted musician to join their touring and recording ensembles. These collaborations, in conjunction with his illustrious solo career, have made Parker an essential cornerstone of the grand empire that is funk, soul, jazz, and hip-hop music.

From the very beginning, it seems Maceo had to struggle to negotiate a degree of personal recognition in the overshadowing presence of his peers. He was offered his first major gig after the one-and-only James Brown became enamored with the way his brother Melvin played the drums, and Maceo was offered a job as somewhat of a package deal. A man of lesser character may have lost his confidence under such unflattering circumstances, but Maceo rose to the occasion and blew his way straight to the top (and not the way some folks say Madonna achieved her pathway to stardom, either).

Parker would go on to spend the better part of two decades playing with JB, occasionally departing to pursue other pathways and musical endeavors. As dynamic as James Brown truly was, there's no question that the sheer intensity of tracks such as "(I Got You) I Feel Good" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" relied heavily on the magic of Maceo's blistering saxophone solos.

One of his finest solo offerings, Maceo's US LP was produced by JB and originally released on People Records in 1974. The album has since been re-issued and is absolutely worth digging for, if for no other reason than the brilliance of the record's final track, "The Soul Of A Black Man".

For a number of reasons, I consider this groove to be one of Maceo's great defining moments. The track starts out with some of Brown's signature ad-libbing, speaking volumes as to why many musicologists describe him as the great-grandaddy of hip-hop. JB's words pay the ultimate tribute to the saxophonist, as the Godfather speaks sincerely of his pride and pleasure in being affiliated with such a remarkable musician. For a devoted Maceo fan, it's a tremendous thrill to hear the man get some well-deserved props and respect.

Parker soon jumps into the conversation and the two exchange some pleasant complimentary banter, but the track races towards its awe-inspiring peak when Maceo plays the first note following their dialogue. Encapsulated in that moment is the very reason I love Maceo Parker. Hell...encapsulated in that moment is the very reason I love music.

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"Listening (King E's Roy Ayers Remix)"---J-Live/Kola Rock (zShare)

"Listening (King E's Roy Ayers Remix)"---J-Live/Kola Rock (savefile)

You must know by now that I'm pretty much batshit crazy about searching for dope remixes. As I've said, they don't necessarily have to trump the original in order to gain my approval---sometimes I'm just interested in hearing a joint with the beat flipped in an entirely different way. That said, nothing about diggin' for remixes is more rewarding than finding a fresh beat that breathes some much needed life into a track that I previously considered boring as hell. Such is the case with King E's remix of J-Live's The Hear After LP (2005).

The Hear After was undoubtedly a project worth salvaging, understanding that J is still capable of bringing his own unique brand of nerdalicious lyrical fire to the table. His verbal gymnastics on the mic and intelligent rhyme constructions are paralleled by few, but he still needs stellar production to accompany his wordplay if he hopes to drop classic material along the lines of "Wax Paper" or "Braggin' Writes" ever again.

Therein lies my unsettling discomfort with The Hear After. My man seemed to have suddenly lost his ear for beats, Van Gogh-style. It wasn't as if he gradually lost his hearing over the course of several albums. Nah, that shit happened quickly, swiftly, and with very little notice for those of us who'd been carrying a hefty appreciation for his abilities in our backpacks for a number of years. I certainly hadn't always agreed with J's beat selections up to that point, but never before had I been inclined to dismiss an entire album's worth of his material on those particular grounds. While I'll avoid making the sweeping generalization that none of the music on the LP was up to standard, it's safe to say that it consistently paled in comparison to his earlier work with producers such as Prince Paul, DJ Premier, DJ Spinna, and Pete Rock.

I admittedly don't know a whole lot about King E, but props to him for stepping in to save this record from a lifetime of mediocrity. E effectively reinvented an album's worth of lackluster and primarily snoozeworthy beats by incorporating the use of Roy Ayers samples into his vibrant, lush, and lively production style. For the first time, the experience of listening to this record hasn't had a blatantly tranquilizing effect, allowing me to stay awake long enough to actually hear what J was trying to say.

"Listening" was one of the joints that always seemed to have a great deal of untapped potential. It easily boasted one of the least oppressive beats on the album in the first place, but still left something of the headnod factor to be desired. J and his wife Kola both delivered the lyrical goods on this track, but now suddenly I can have my cake and eat it, too? Hot damn, children... After being truly blessed by these remixes, it's highly doubtful that I'll be returning to the original versions anytime soon.

By the way, I just secured a copy of J-Live's Reveal The Secret EP. I haven't given it a spin yet, nor have I sought out any reviews. Let's just hope the big secret has something to do with a promise not to spit over fucked up beats anymore. I'm countin' on you, homeskillet...

Dig deeper... (J-Live) Still da man...

Dig deeper... (King E) Visit his MySpace page to d/l a generous selection of his remixes for absolutely free.

Dig deeper... (Roy Ayers) It's like two turntables amd a vibraphone...

"A Thousand Wonders"---Archie Bell & The Drells (zShare)

"A Thousand Wonders"---Archie Bell & The Drells (savefile)

There's sort of an interesting backstory "behind the music" of Archie Bell & The Drells' Tighten Up LP (Atlantic, 1968). Dear VH-1, please don't sue me for copping your little phrase...I seriously don't have any money.

Archie Bell (older brother of NFL player Ricky Bell) moved to Houston, Texas as a youth, and would form the first incarnation of the Drells there in 1966. Along with his high school friends James Wise, Willie Parnell and Billy Butler (line-up changes later ensued), Bell signed on with the Ovid label in 1967. Their first single was "She's My Woman, She's My Girl", a tune that became somewhat of a regional hit. The group seemed destined for success, but before his musical aspirations had an opportunity to be fully realized, Bell was drafted into the army to serve in Vietnam.

Prior to Bell's departure, he and The Drells managed to record a few more songs. Skipper Lee Frazier, the group's promoter/producer, saw potential in one of these early singles by the group called "Dog Eat Dog". The song got some airplay in the north, but the group's career failed to fully gain momentum until disc jockeys started playing the B-side, the now-legendary "Tighten Up" groove. With backing instrumentation provided by the T.S.U. Tornados, the dance tune had an incredibly infectious vibe that would eventually capture the attention of Atlantic Records. After being picked up for distribution by a major label, the song skyrocketed to #1 on both the pop and R&B charts early in 1968.

Sadly, Archie Bell didn't find out how successful the tune was until he was recovering from being shot in the leg during the war. This gave a bit of twisted irony to one of the lines in the song, "we dance just as good as we walk". Bell recalls that no one even remotely believed him when he said that it was his hit song that was playing on the radio.

The success of the tune came with a push from Atlantic to tour and release a full-length LP. Bell was able to record additional material for the album during his leave time from the military, but it took several months for him to be released to go on tour. During his absence, dishonest promoters reaped monetary benefits by sending fake versions of Archie Bell & The Drells out on the road for live performances. Crazy, but true. When the real Archie Bell & The Drells stood up and began touring in the summer of '68, they became acquainted with the songwriting/production duo Gamble and Huff, effectively beginning the next chapter of their career.

Since most people are already familiar with the album's title track, I chose another one of my favorite songs from the Tighten Up LP, "A Thousand Wonders". It's an amazing little soul tune, made all that much more intriguing with some knowledge of the circumstances under which it was recorded.

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"Land Of Nod (Lack Of Afro Remix)"---The New Mastersounds (zShare)

"Land Of Nod (Lack Of Afro Remix)"---The New Mastersounds (savefile)

First things first...a confession. This picture doesn't have a damn thing to do with the song above. I was doing an image search on "lack of afro" and lo and behold, this appeared. I found the whole thing kind of amusing, so here we are...

The "Land Of Nod" remix is from a relatively new compilation called Soulshaker Volume 4: More Deep Funk, Soul, & Groovy Club Sounds From Today's Scene. Although all of the tracks on it have been recorded recently, fans of classic funk and soul shouldn't run from the possibility of thoroughly enjoying this LP. In many ways, it epitomizes the cream of what the new school has to offer, featuring some of the best American and European artists currently on the scene. There are a few fuck-ups here and there, but by and large, it's an enjoyable and remarkably consistent release.

I was torn between a few tracks when deciding what to post, but this one immediately captured my attention with its sample of Roberta Flack's take on "Compared To What". Combine that divine element with Lack Of Afro's (aka Adam Gibbons) dope multi-instrumentalism and the visionary funk of The New Mastersounds, and you're well on the way to enjoying a prolonged virtual eargasm...

Dig deeper... (The New Mastersounds)

Dig deeper... (Lack Of Afro)

"The Rebirth Of Ruckus"---Ruckus Roboticus (zShare)

"The Rebirth Of Ruckus"---Ruckus Roboticus (savefile)

If your aural pleasure ended too quickly after that last song, this joint from Ruckus Roboticus' Playing With Scratches will easily sustain your mood for a little while longer. Wonderfully mellow, groovy stuff. Pass...the...doobie...over...here...maaaaannnnn.

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"I Cry Alone"---Ruby & The Romantics (zShare)

"I Cry Alone"---Ruby & The Romantics (savefile)

Last, but never least, the requisite tearjerker...

Ruby & The Romantics formed in Akron, OH in 1961 as an all-male quartet called The Supremes. They changed their name shortly after meeting up with Ruby Nash and being signed by Allen Stanton at Kapp Records. Motown and Berry Gordy thank them profusely...

The group's first single was "Our Day Will Come", recorded in 1963. Although it became a #1 record , there were apparently some doubts as to the group's ability to achieve such a high level of success. Songwriters Bob Hilliard and Mort Garson knew that their song was the shit, but they evidently thought that Ruby & The Romantics might not be the right group to make the tune a hit. They made Kapp Records promise that Jack Jones could record the track if The Romantics' version tanked. Although the song has been covered numerous times since then, it certainly wasn't due to the original recording being a flop.

The group is unfortunately still thought of as a one-hit wonder, because their records sales progressively declined after this first offering. There are differing opinions as to why their career ended up on a downward spiral, but it certainly wasn't due to a lack of quality material. In fact, a number of the songs they recorded would later become much bigger hits for other artists (Eddie Holman, The Carpenters, etc.).

After a series of line-up and label changes, the group called it quits in 1971 and Ruby went to work for AT&T. She was working for a large retail chain around 2001, but she'd be well past retirement age at this point. In case you were wondering, she receives absolutely no royalties from the success of "Our Day Will Come".

Quite honestly, a lot of their material is more on the doo-wop side and less appealing to me than the deep soul sounds I generally tend to prefer. However, I've always thought of "I Cry Alone" as an absolute gem...to each their own I guess. If you're interested in buying one of their albums, I would suggest diggin' for Our Day Will Come: The Very Best Of Ruby & The Romantics (RPM Records, 2002) .

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Supplemental Materials:

Maceo, Fred Wesley, and Pee Wee Ellis performing "Let's Get It On":

Bonus mp3:

"Compared To What"---Roberta Flack (zShare)

For those of you who've never heard Roberta's rendition of this track penned by Gene McDaniels ...well, it's about damn time...

Word From Your Moms:

"If you can't raise consciousness, at least raise hell."---Rita Mae Brown

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Souled On Samples XVIII: The Mighty Love Edition

I thought about waiting to deliver this love-ly post until Valentine's Day, but somehow that just seemed too normal conventional. Besides...with any luck, I'll be getting my groove on in a whole different context that night. Pimpin' ain't easy, soul kids...

Erich Fromm once said that "love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence". That's profound and everything, but on the flip side, it's also the craziest shit you will ever experience in your lifetime...Can I get an "amen", brothers and sisters?

Despite the insanity inherent in the subject matter, these love songs should only be approached with an open mind and a full heart. Just remember it's not my fault if your boss hears you crying like a little girl in your cubicle...a'ight?

Peace and one love, snitches...Scholar

"The Makings Of You"---Curtis Mayfield (zShare)

"The Makings Of You"---Curtis Mayfield (savefile)

*Sampled on "Righteous Way To Go" by Edgar Allen Floe (produced by 9th Wonder)

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"Remember The Rain"---21st Century (zShare)

"Remember The Rain"---21st Century (savefile)

*Sampled on "Getaway" by OC

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"Ooh Child"---The Five Stairsteps (zShare)

"Ooh Child"---The Five Stairsteps (savefile)

*Interpolated on "Keep Ya Head Up" by 2Pac

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"Maybe Tomorrow"---The Jackson 5 (zShare)

"Maybe Tomorrow"---The Jackson 5 (savefile)

*Sampled on "All That I Got Is You" by Ghostface Killah

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"To You, With Love"---The Moments (zShare)

"To You, With Love"---The Moments (savefile)

*Sampled on "Last Donut Of The Night" by J Dilla

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"Sunrise"---The Originals (zShare)

"Sunrise"---The Originals (savefile)

*Sampled on "Guess Who's Back?" by Jay-Z/Scarface

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"What's Happenin' Baby?"---The Stylistics (zShare)

"What's Happenin' Baby?"---The Stylistics (savefile)

*Sampled on "Beautiful Morning" by Little Brother

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"The Love We Share Is Greatest Of Them All"---Tom Brock (zShare)

"The Love We Share Is Greatest Of Them All"---Tom Brock (savefile)

*Sampled on "Say Hello" by Jay-Z

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"Stairway To Heaven" ---The O'Jays (zShare)

"Stairway To Heaven"---The O'Jays (savefile)

*Sampled on the intro to Ghostface's Bulletproof Wallets LP

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"A Song For You"---Donny Hathaway (zShare)

"A Song For You"---Donny Hathaway (savefile)

*Sampled on "Retrospect for Life" by Common/Lauryn Hill

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Supplemental Materials:

Who says thugs don't have a sensitive side?

Ghostface's video for "All That I Got Is You"...

...and 2Pac's "Keep Ya Head Up"

Bonus mp3s (zShare):


*From his criminally slept-on Starchild LP

"I Love You So (Live)"---Tekitha

*As you may know, my girl Tekitha stood in for Mary J Blige on GFK's "All That I Got Is You". After falling in love with her voice on the numerous tracks that she cut with the Wu and various members of the Clan fam-a-lam, I'm still fiendin' for a proper release by this powerhouse vocalist. Fortunately, there are lots of miscellaneous tracks and bootlegs floating around to console me while I wait patiently for the improbable.

"BabyLet'sHaveABabyBeforeBushDoSomethin'Crazy"-The Coup w/ Silk E

*I've had this song running through my mind the entire time I was writing this post, which somehow justified its placement with the rest. A tongue-in-cheek (yet somehow beautifully insightful) commentary on the state of love in the post-9/11, tragically bleak years of the Bush administration...

Word From Your Moms:

"The body, she says, is subject to the forces of gravity. But the soul is ruled by levity, pure." ---Saul Bellow

"When love is not madness, it is not love."---Pedro Calderon de la Barca

"The art of love... is largely the art of persistence."---Albert Ellis

"Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity."---Henry Van Dyke

Monday, January 07, 2008

On Second Thought...The Fourth

Back by popular demand, I present you with the next episode of the infamous "Cover My Ass" series. This one took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, so please enjoy...

"You Are Everything" ---Carolyn Franklin (zShare)

"You Are Everything"---Carolyn Franklin (savefile)

*Music written by Thom Bell; lyrics by Linda Creed

*Recorded in Philadelphia at Sigma Sound, the track was first released by The Stylistics on their self-titled LP in 1971. The tune would go on to become a Top Ten hit for the group.

Thom Bell had already been producing hit records for The Delfonics, and the techniques he had perfected with them would also prove to be an essential component of The Stylistics' success in Europe and the United States in the early '70s. The group eventually parted ways with Bell in 1974.

*Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye released the first commercially significant cover version of the track that would follow the Stylistics' success with the tune. The track was the final single released in the UK from their Diana & Marvin LP, peaking at #5 on the British charts. The song was never released as a single in the U.S.

*Other artists who've recorded the tune include Joe Simon, Rod Stewart, Hall & Oates, Regina Belle, Kim Carnes, Maxine Nightingale, Michael McDonald, and more.

*This particular version was released by Carolyn Franklin in 1973 (RCA-Victor Apbo-022 - You Are Everything / If You Want Me).

"As Long As I've Got You (demo)"---The Emotions (zShare)

"As Long As I've Got You (demo)"---The Emotions (savefile)

*Written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. This is one of the songs credited to Ed Lee, a pseudonym Hayes used for the first few months of his songwriting partnership with David Porter to avoid complications resulting from a publishing contract he'd signed earlier in his career.

*The classic version by The Charmels was the first to be released, having been issued as a single on Volt in 1967 (V-155 As Long As I've Got You/Baby Come Get It). The track would later be sought after by crate diggers galore, many of whom were interested in the record after Wu-Tang Clan used a sample of it on their "C.R.E.A.M." single. The same Charmels tune is also known to many as "Never Grow Old".

If you've never heard their take on the song, an mp3 I posted of the track in May is still available.

*On two different occasions, The Emotions were set to release an LP on Volt (a Stax subsidiary) that was intended to be called Songs Of Innocence And Experience . The first time, the album's name was changed at the last minute to Untouched (1971). The next time they planned on using the title, the entire release was cancelled. This appears to have been a last-minute decision, considering that Volt had already issued the LP a number (which was never reassigned, by the way).

Later, Fantasy issued many of the tracks from this lost album on the group's Sunshine LP. Despite being a solid album, the LP's release was made possible without The Emotions' endorsement. Fantasy, Inc. had purchased the Stax catalogue after the label went bankrupt, and had full access to the group's master recordings. After the group had enjoyed significant chart success with "Best Of My Love", Fantasy surmised that it would be an opportune time to issue some of their unreleased material.

Afterwards, many offerings from The Emotions' arsenal of recordings still remained unreleased, until Ace Records in the UK issued a collection known as Songs Of Innocence And Experience (2004). This LP allowed soul enthusiasts the opportunity enjoy every finished Emotions track known to exist. Ace not only reissued the tracks from Sunshine for the release, but also unearthed some other incredible gems, such as this essential demo rendition of "As Long As I've Got You".

"Feeling Good"---The Mighty Bop (zShare)

"Feeling Good"---The Mighty Bop (savefile)

*Written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1965 Broadway musical The Roar Of the Greasepaint-the Smell Of the Crowd. In this production, the tune was originally sung by Gilbert Price.

*Also known as "Feelin' Good", this tune has been covered by a wide variety of artists, including Muse, John Coltrane, Billy Eckstine, Traffic, Sophie B. Hawkins, Black Cat Bones, Wax Tailor, The Eels, The Pussycat Dolls (shudder), Huff & Herb, Quantic Soul Orchestra, and Michael Buble.

*Without question, one of the most well-known versions of this track was rendered by the almighty Nina Simone on her I Put A Spell On You LP. Simone's rendition has been featured in a number of television shows, movies, and commercials. It actually reached #40 in the UK after being used in an advertising campaign for Volkswagen in 1994---sad, but true. Additionally, Simone's take has been sampled on joints by artists such as Mary J Blige, Huff & Herb, and Wax Tailor.

*This trip-hoppy, downtempo version by French turntablist The Mighty Bop (aka Christophe le Friant) remains a consistent favorite of mine. Further information about the Bopster can be found here.

"And I Love Her"---Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (zShare)

"And I Love Her"---Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (savefile)

*Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; appeared on The Beatles' Hard Day's Night LP, but was first issued in the U.S. as a single with "If I Fell" in the summer of 1964 (US: Capitol 5235); varying edits of the track have been released in different parts of the world over the years.

*McCartney wrote the majority of the tune by himself, claiming his girlfriend at the time (actress Jane Asher) as the inspiration behind the tune.

*"And I Love Her" was one of the first pop songs with a title that started in mid-sentence.

*Covered by Herb Alpert, Chet Atkins, Count Basie, John Bayless, Xavier Cugat, Sonny Curtis, Neil Diamond, Alton Ellis, Esteban, Pucho & The Latin Soul Brothers, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Jose Feliciano, The Friends Of Distinction, Arthur Fiedler, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, Connie Francis, The Holmes Brothers, Julio Iglesias, Jack Jones, King Curtis, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Diana Krall, Ramsey Lewis, Freddie McCoy, Enoch Light, Henry Mancini, Barry Manilow, Bob Marley and the Wailers, David "Fathead" Newman, Cliff Richard, The Sandpipers, Grady Tate, Sarah Vaughan, Bobby Womack, Link Wray, etc. Esther Phillips and Mary Wells both put a slight gender twist on the tune, releasing their versions under the title "And I Love Him".

*Smokey Robinson & The Miracles released their stunning rendition in 1970 on their What Love Has...Joined Together LP (Motown).

"Jumpin' Jack Flash"---Thelma Houston (zShare)

"Jumpin' Jack Flash"---Thelma Houston (savefile)

*Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; initially released as a 7" in 1968 (b/w "Child Of The Moon"). Although it was one of the songs they recorded during the Beggars Banquet sessions, the track did not end up appearing on that particular LP. It's first appearance on a full-length Stones album came a year later on Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).

*There are numerous accounts as to the song's origins. One of them (told by Richards) is that Jagger was once startled by a figure walking past the window of Richards' home in the country. When Jagger inquired as to what/who was outside, Richards explained that it was his gardner, "jumpin' Jack" (Jack Dyer).

Jagger has often noted that the track arose following a time period during which he had done quite a bit of LSD.

Bill Wyman claims that he wrote most of the music, and has often expressed that he was pissed off that he wasn't given any credit for his significant contribution.

Rumors perpetuated by the general population have implied that the song is about heroin, suicide, Jesus, being high on nitrous oxide, World War II, firecrackers, a mythical creature who molested women in the UK in the 1800s...the list goes on into infinity. You know a song has reached epic proportions when it inspires this many bizarre speculations.

*Other noteworthy covers of the track have been rendered by Aretha Franklin, Peter Frampton, The Ventures, The Replacements, Johnny Winter, The Four Tops, Alex Chilton, and Leon Russell. Guns N' Roses also has a version that has been circulating around the internets for quite some time.

*Thelma Houston will probably always be best known for her cover of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "Don't Leave Me This Way", a track that appeared on her Any Way You Like It LP (Motown, 1976). That said, my wayward ass has always had a certain fondness for her debut album, Sunshower (Dunhill, 1969), which included her kick-ass rendition of "Jumpin' Jack Flash". It's a rather impressive record (produced by the highly talented Jimmy Webb) that was widely acclaimed upon release, despite the fact that it failed to produce any hit singles for the vocalist. Fellow Sunshower fans tend to agree that the commercial oversight was due to a lack of proper marketing efforts, as opposed to being relative to the quality of the material.

"Home Is Where The Hatred Is"---Esther Phillips (zShare)

"Home Is Where The Hatred Is"---Esther Phillips (savefile)

*Written by Gil Scott-Heron, who released the first version of this tune on a double A-sided single (b/w "The Revoltion Will Not Be Televised") and on his Pieces Of A Man LP (1971).

*Unlike all of the popular music that is merely rumored to be about drugs, this song is clearly a tale about struggling with heroin addiction...Sadly, the tune is autobiographical in nature, detailing the multi-talented Heron's incessant war with drug abuse. As Kalamu ya Salaam so eloquently phrased it: "How do you contain the contradiction of being an insightful, revolutionary artist and a habitual addict? If any one artist represents the post-civil rights journey of African Americans, it’s Gil Scott-Heron."

Those of us who appreciate Heron's essential contributions to poetry and music may also agree with another of Salaam's sentiments: "Ultimately, Gil is uplifting not because he is perfect, but rather because he is honest about his flaws, and in being so honest, he encourages us to be honest about our own contradictions."

*As to why Phillips would choose to cover a song of this nature, those who have some awareness about her personal history understand that she also wrestled with addiction (mainly heroin). Phillips' version of the song initially appeared on her From A Whisper To A Scream LP (1972). She was nominated for a Grammy for the album, but predictably lost the award to the reigning Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Franklin promptly presented the trophy to Phillips, who she believed was more worthy of the distinction.

"House Of The Rising Sun"---Miriam Makeba (zShare)

"House Of The Rising Sun"---Miriam Makeba (MediaFire)

*Although there have been differing accounts as to the origins of this song, folklorist Alan Lomax offered one of the most widely accepted theories as to its history. He reported that the tune's melody is from a traditional English ballad, and credited the well-known lyrics to Georgia Turner and Bert Martin. In truth, the song has evolved lyrically over time, and no single individual can be acknowledged as the author.

*There is just as much disagreement amongst musical scholars about the meaning behind the tune. Most people rely on the impression that the song is about a brothel. The lyrics clearly imply that the legendary house was in New Orleans, but a few different locations have been considered as having possibly provided the inspiration. One of the more prominent assertions states that the lyrics referenced a whorehouse that was open on St. Louis Street between 1862 and 1874. As legend has it, the madam's name was Marianne LeSoleil Levant, which literally translates from French into "the rising sun".

However, not everyone agrees that the tune is about a house of prostitution. Other writers and historians have theorized that it may have been about a prison, the plantation, or a gambling hall. Others have stated that it's unlikely that the lyrics reference any actual physical structure at all, and take the meaning to be more metaphorical in nature than anything.

*This song has been covered by...just about everyone...at one time or another. Hell...even yo' mama recorded a version of this track back in the day. Shoot...she just never told your ass...

In keeping with the great debate over the song's history, not everyone agrees about who released the first recorded version of the tune. This distinction is often bestowed upon bluesman Tex Alexander, who recorded a tune called "The Risin' Sun" in the late 1920s. The fact that his lyrics were quite different from the familiar version has confounded this notion to some extent. That fact alone doesn't necessarily deny its authenticity as the original, considering that the song's lyrics have often been modified by its performers. Even the title itself has frequently has been altered, with "The Rising Sun Blues", "Rounder's Luck" and "In New Orleans" being just a few of the known variations.

All discrepancies aside, it's commonly accepted that some of the earliest recorded renditions were offered by Clarence Ashley, Leadbelly, The Callahan Brothers, and Josh White. Although the song remained a somewhat consistent favorite amongst artists and musicians, coverage of the tune truly peaked in the 1960s. Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, The Supremes, Johnny Hallyday, Marianne Faithfull, Tim Hardin, and Herbie Mann are just a handful of the artists who covered the song during that particular decade.

The version that would make the tune an international hit was ultimately rendered by The Animals. Released in 1964, the song gained quite a bit of popularity when the group performed it while touring with Chuck Berry. The enthusiastic audience response led them to a decision to record the track, which was completed within about 15 minutes.

The band's organist/keyboardist, Alan Price, is the only person credited with the song's arrangment, but the rest of the band has always argued that it was much more of a joint effort. According to everyone except maybe Price, the group members were told that all of their names couldn't be listed for the arrangment credits on the 45 single. They surmised that the royalties could easily be sorted out later, which of course, did not turn out to be the case (no shit).

A combination between sudden success and arguments over finances led to quite a bit of internal turmoil and savage behavior amongst The Animals. Approximately a year after "House Of The Rising Sun" became a hit, Price parted ways with the rest of the band ('cause he was rich, bitch...). To this day, none of the other members have ever seen a penny of the publishing royalties.

*The facts and speculations that I've shared don't even begin to scratch the surface...believe me. Ted Anthony released an entire book about the history of the song in 2007. I've heard it's wonderful, but damn...even I'm not willing to dig that deep...

*The lovely Miriam Makeba released her sweet (yet incredibly haunting) version of the track on her self-titled American debut LP in 1960.

"Night Time (Is The Right Time)"---Movin' Melvin Brown (zShare)

"Night Time (Is The Right Time)"---Movin' Melvin Brown (MediaFire)

*Written and originally recorded by Nappy Brown in 1954.

*The definitive version was released by Ray Charles as a single in 1958, with vocal assistance provided by the lead singer of the Raelettes, Margie Hendricks.

*Although Charles' rendition is quite famous, it didn't have the impact on the charts that one might expect. It peaked on the pop charts at #95, although it did reach the fifth spot on the R&B charts. His version of the tune enjoyed a brief resurgence in popular culture when the Huxtable family lip-synched the song on an episode of "The Cosby Show".

*Other renditions have been performed (live and/or in the studio) by James Brown, Tina Turner, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Alicia Keys, The Rolling Stones, and more.

*The ultra-talented Movin' Melvin Brown did one of my very favorite covers of the tune, available on his Me, Ray Charles, And Sammy Davis, Jr. LP (2006).

"Like A Rolling Stone"---Jimi Hendrix (zShare)

"Like A Rolling Stone"---Jimi Hendrix (MediaFire)

*Written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan. First issued as a 7" (b/w "Gates Of Eden") in July of 1965; released the following month on Dylan's Highway '61 Revisited LP.

*Dylan first played this song live at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. For quite some time he ended his shows with this wildly popular tune.

*There has been much speculation as to the subject of the song. Writers have opined that the song was about actress/model Edie Sedgwick, fellow folkie Joan Baez, and/or Dylan himself. The title is said to have been inspired by a line in "Lost Highway" by Hank Williams---"I'm a rolling stone, I'm alone and lost".

*Easily one of the greatest songs of all time, the tune has been covered by a wide array of artists. Bob Marley & The Wailers, Neil Young, Rotary Connection, The Four Seasons, The Rolling Stones, and many others have recorded and/or performed the song over the years.

*Dylan recorded another version in 1970 (for his Self Portrait LP) with experienced session players in Nashville, Tennessee.

*Greil Marcus wrote a book called Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan At The Crossroads (2005), which is a highly detailed "biography" of the tune.

*Jimi Hendrix often performed this song live, most famously during the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. After listening to this, I think you'll agree that Hendrix had an uncanny ability to plug into the emotional energy of the song.

"Lickin' Stick"---Willie Dickson & The Playboys (zShare)

"Lickin' Stick"---Willie Dickson & The Playboys (MediaFire)

*Written by James Brown, Bobby Byrd, and Alfred Ellis; recorded in 1968. Brown's original was called "Licking Stick-Licking Stick", and reached #2 on the R&B charts and #14 on the pop charts.

*This is a bit of an oddball choice for me, because if I may say so without getting a verbal beatdown, "Licking Stick" has never been one of my favorite JB tunes. It's a great song in many ways, but for me, it somewhat pales in comparison to the Godfather's most ingenious material. I suppose it's just sort of a "fun song", but even that notion may be a little hard to swallow if your ass happens to be on the other end of papa's gigantic stick.

Be that as it may, this cover by Willie Dickson & The Playboys has been on rotation at the crib for a while now, and quite honestly, it's grown on me immensely. The more I listen to it, the more absolutely brilliant it becomes.

Fortunately the track has been reissued and comped, because the Lanarc LP it originally appeared on (REGGAE EXPOSED .... with island soul) may be a bit difficult for many diggers to acquire. This is one funky-ass groove that my peoples definitely deserve a chance to hear.

*A final thought...I know it's lightweight disrespectful to discuss this, but Willie Dickson is a funny little name, don't ya think? Couple that with the fact that he's performing a song called "Licking Stick", and that may be one too many silly penis references for me to avoid the urge to chuckle. Good God y'all...my inner-child seriously needs to grow the fuck up...

Supplemental Materials:

Live version of Esther Phillips performing her take on The Beatles' track "And I Love Her" (transformed into "And I Love Him"). Here, she's introduced with respectful enthusiasm by none other than John Lennon:

Nina Simone's performance of "House Of The Rising Sun" (@ The Bitter End Cafe in 1968) gradually builds in intensity until it's certain that she should release you to pick your jaw up off of the floor. As an added bonus, she also performs "Go To Hell"...

Jimi's electrified performance of "Like A Rolling Stone" at Monterey:

Ass kicking. Astonishing. Borderline possessed. Creative and destructive. This is the very essence of rock and roll, soul kids...

Bonus mp3s (zShare):

Yeah...I know. There must be quite a few of you who can't wait for me to get these American Gangster remixes out of my system...apologies. What can I say? Every time I tell myself it's time to kick the habit, someone sends me an AG remix project that simply can't be denied.

"Blue Magic (SoulKlap Remix)"---Jay-Z
This is quite honestly the first "Blue Magic" remix I've come across that I think is truly dope...I mean DOPE, soul children. I've actually played this joint more times than the original.

Not to be confused with DJ Soul Clap from WYDU, this SoulKlap is one of the many talented beatsmiths/producers who regularly frequents Souled On. Don't mistakenly assume that I'm biased either---this shit is downright chunky, kids.

"Say Hello (SoulKlap Remix)"---Jay-Z
You may also want to check out Klap's mix of "Say Hello", which features a sample of that Pieces Of Piece track I posted a short time ago, "I Still Care"...

"American Dreamin' (SoulKlap Remix)"---Jay-Z
...or his take on "American Dreamin", which utilizes a sample of Bobby Blue Bland's "Ask Me 'Bout Nothin' (But The Blues)".

"Roc Boys (J. Brookinz Remix)"---Jay-Z
American Gangster '80s Style made me a bit nervous from the very beginning, and rightfully so in certain instances. This isn't one of them. This "Roc Boys" remix is worth the price of admission alone (I know the whole damn mixtape was free in the first place, dumbass...it's just an expression. Stop being so damn technical).

"Smokin' (Midimarc Remix)"---Nas
Alot of people had good things to say about Midimarc's "Pray" remix that I posted a short while ago. This joint appears on The Day Things Got Ill mixtape, a collection of Nasty Nas remixes/blends.

Word From Your Moms:

"I consider myself neither poet, composer, nor musician. These are merely tools used by sensitive men to carve out a piece of beauty or truth they hope may lead to peace and salvation."---Gil Scott-Heron

"There are three things I was born with in this world, and there are three things I will have until the day I die-hope, determination, and song."---Miriam Makeba