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)". I.hated.that.song.

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 this...do 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 brothers...it 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

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Man, You Come Right Out A Comic Book!"

If you've been passin' through this joint for a while, then you know that I occasionally like to break up the monotony by throwing a guest writer into the mix. In the past, I've invited a vast array of DJs, producers, MCs, musicians, and fellow bloggers/writers to share some of their unique talents with the squadron of soul children who frequent this spot.

Today I offer you a glimpse into the mind of the almighty Styler. Styler became a celebrity 'round here by throwin' down some mad intelligent discourse in the comments section. His random, stream-of-consciousness utterings are more insightful, informative, and humorous than the average blogger, so I couldn't resist extending an invitation for him to take a stab at serving up an official post. Thanks for making your world debut here, mi amico...and all you soul babies in the house, be easy...Scholar

Greetings Scholar and all you Scholettes out there in radio land! Or internets land as it is now these days.

Well, our most fine and informed host has seen fit to allow yours truly to open up one's internets machine and allow some musings and music to spew out of my brain and fingers (not forgetting my hard drive) and speak with you, the great and the good who frequent this snazziest of jazziest little site dedicated to the music we all love, through the magic medium of the webs.

First up, I'm slighty inebriated with the vino and I am getting my bad self down to the fantastic damage that is Cannibal Ox, while I type this 'ere prose.

Secondly, being from the "Dear Green Place" that we call Glasgow, the original one in Scotland, not the Montana one or the one from the Bluegrass State, the original greycloud state that I call home, you know the one where that twat John "Smeato" Smeaton kicked a man in the head after everyone else had done their bit to calm the failed terror attack at the airport, and then claimed all the glory when the world's news cameras were on him...that Glasgow.

Anyway I digress. Yes being from here the temptation to speak about and share the music of Simple Minds, Wet Wet Wet, Deacon Blue, Franz Ferdinand and of course former Prince conquest Sheena Easton, was thankfully for all, never, ever, ever there. However, I must give a mention to good old Hamish Stuart, the Glasgow born member of Glasgow and Scotland's very best blue eyed soul and funk disco combo known as the Average White Band---"Pick Up the Pieces" etc., or if you don't like Scottish funkateers, you may prefer "Pick Up The Pieces, One By One" by Fred Wesley/James Brown as A.A.B.B (Above Average Black Band), a cheeking wee moniker they gave themselves which can be found on James Brown's Funky People vol.3...but I'm sure that many of you are aware of this little ditty, so on with the show.

First mp3 for your listening pleasure is the vocal talents of a wee lassie from the mean streets of Glasgow who made her name in the '60s at the age of 16 or 17, Lulu. Her first and probably most famous hit, the bombastic pop screamer cover of The Isley Brothers' "Shout", definitely got her noticed and set her on the way to '60s superstardom and marriage to a Bee Gee. She also had a successful T.V. show in the '60s with a famous guest appearance from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, where Jimi and the boys decided to run over their allotted time and went into a tribute version of "Sunshine Of You Love" for Cream. All good stuff and worth a check on the youtubes, etc.

Anyway, this track is a good example of late '60s British Pop, obviously influenced by the R&B and Psychedelic Bop Pop of the time. I think it may even have had the guitar talents of Mr. Led Zeppelin himself, Jimmy Page, although of course I may be wrong on that one and I am willing to stand corrected if that is the case.

Lulu - "Love Loves To Love Love" (zShare)

Lulu - "Love Loves To Love Love" (savefile)

Those of you who are familiar with "UK Big Beat" dance music, pioneered by the likes of Fatboy Slim, will maybe recognise the fuzzy guitar sample from this track being used by Mr. Norman Cook for "Santa Cruz" on his first Fatboy Slim album, Better Living Through Chemistry.

Speaking of Big Beat, another fine exponent of it can be found in some earlier releases from Scottish born DJ, producer, composer Damon Baxter a.k.a Deadly Avenger. DA started out as an experimental electronic soundtracky type thang, and has since returned to that genre influenced in the main by Lalo Schifrin, John Carpenter, Barry Gray, etc. However, in between (approx. 1995 - 2000), he released some absolute killer 12" and EPs of bangin' block party beats and some downtempo sleazy funky laidback groovers, not unlike really good porn music!

The block party breakbeats records where made up in the most by sampling the likes of The Jimmy Castor Bunch, Jimmy 'Bo' Horne and some classic old school hip hop as well as some familiar TV cop show music, all good stuff for hittin' the floor and cuttin' some rug! But don't take my word for it, after all you don't even know me.

I nearly forgot, I cannot be talking about Deadly Avenger without including the classic "We Took Pelham (original)" that was on the very limited and rare The Illicit EP (1998), not the rehashed and frankly rather tame version he included on his 2002 album Deep Red, which although all very nice with the Hungarian Orchestra's strings and horns, lacked the real dirty raw kick ass funky hip hop edge of the original, which samples Bill Conti's "Going The Distance" Rocky music to great effect.

Deadly Avenger - "We Took Pelham" (zShare)
Deadly Avenger - "We Took Pelham" (savefile)

Deadly Avenger - "Charlie Don't Surf" (zShare)
Deadly Avenger - "Charlie Don't Surf" (savefile)

Deadly Avenger - "Lawrence Of A Labia" (zShare)
Deadly Avenger - "Lawrence Of A Labia" (savefile)

Most of DA's output from this period can be found on the 2004 compilation The Last Time I Do This For Free, along with some of his stable mates who were on DC Recordings and Illicit Recordings roster at that time.

OK, I have now probably bored you all silly with the Glasgow/Scotland thing so I shall try and steer clear of my cultural references, and hopefully with this next mp3 will be posting a wee gem of a jazzy rarity in the form of a great tune by New Orleans horn blower and Dom DeLuise tribute, Al Hirt. His 1967 album Soul In The Horn is, as far as I'm aware, unavailable on CD and is very hard to come by, although the De La boys found a copy and sampled this tune.

Al Hirt - "Harlem Hendoo" (zShare)
Al Hirt - "Harlem Hendoo" (savefile)

Next up, another 'classic' and a favourite of mine by South African jazz singer Letta Mbulu. Some of you may know this as it has been on a couple of compilations and has been reissued on the excellent Jazzman (UK) 45's. In my humble opinion, there is absolutly nothing wrong with groovin.

Letta Mbulu - "What's Wrong With Groovin" (zShare)
Letta Mbulu - "What's Wrong With Groovin" (savefile)

Next up, a killer remix of a DJ Krush (feat. Mos Def) tune, remixed by DJ Krush himself, from a CD I picked up in a bargain bin for only 2 of my earth pounds. A quality collection of self-remixed bombs by Japan's finest, it features many great vocal talents, including Aesop Rock, Mr Lif, Company Flow, Anticon, and the aforementioned sooper dooper emcee, Mos Def.

DJ Krush feat. Mos Def - "Shinjiro (Harsh Mix)" (zShare)
DJ Krush feat. Mos Def - "Shinjiro (Harsh Mix)" (savefile)

Many of you may be familiar with the popular sample from "The Champ" by The Mohawks, used in many hip hop joints over the years. It was composed by Alan Hawkshaw, who was a very much in-demand session and library musician. Along with the likes of Keith Mansfield and others, they produced great groovy, swinging cheesy '60s Hammond instrumentals that would go down well at any Austin Powers party. Hawkshaw also composed many theme tunes for British television, the best by far would have to be "Blarney's Stoned", the theme tune to the very funny Irish comedian Dave Allen's sketch shows in the '70s.

Allen has been labelled the father of alternative comedy and was certainly a refreshing change from the tired (and very occasionally bigoted and ignorant) comedy on the box at the time, although I was just a snotty nosed kid at the time, so I have a blurred reminiscence of it.

I do remember that good ol' Dave always had a whiskey in his hand ( I do not know what malt he favoured but I put the "e" in the whisk'e'y as that is the prefered Irish spelling and I believe you American chaps have adopted that preference also) and a very dapper suit on as he delivered his closing monologue, with the very right on "May your God go with you."

Alan Hawkshaw - "Dave Allen At Large Theme Tune ( Blarney's Stoned)" (zShare)
Alan Hawkshaw - "Dave Allen At Large Theme Tune ( Blarney's Stoned)" (savefile)

My last selection is by the UK's finest, Mr. Rodney Smith, a.k.a Roots Manuva. Ooh yes, this London boy is the daddy and this track is from his debut album, 1999's Brand New Second Hand on the Big Dada label. It is one of my most favourite, so if you have not (or even if you have) heard this before, I'm sure you will enjoy.

Roots Manuva - "Motion 5000" (zShare)
Roots Manuva - "Motion 5000" (savefile)

Fundamental Supplementals:

This is a nice remix of Mr. Lif by one DJ Hype. Now, the only DJ Hype I know of is a drum and bass, jungle type guy, so if this is the same dude, then nice one.

Here is a vid of Gary "Mudbone" Cooper of Parliament/ Funkadelic/Bootsy's Rubber Band and original Funkadelic bass player and all round bad ass, Mr Billy "Bass" Nelson, joined by my boys Numboy (guitar) and Shug (drums), as well as MC Nadirah X and DJ Scratchadelic when they were supporting Pink on her UK tour a couple years ago. Good Times!

Well...many thanks to our mutual friend for allowing my time to encroach on his time, and thank you all for reading and listening. I hope that it has not been too much of a chore and maybe a couple of you will have heard a tune or two that you enjoyed.

Styler's Word From Someone's Mother:

"Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares?.... he's a mile away and you've got his shoes!"---Billy Connolly

Friday, October 03, 2008

We Can Funk Until The Dawn...

Wussup soul bambinos?

Hopefully all of my peoples are restin' easy despite all the insanity that's happening in the United States and the universe at large...

Yeah, I know---the American economy is royally fucked and McCain thinks we're overlooking the obvious solution of marrying a beer heiress; Caribou Barbie could end up being a world leader by default (because we can never have enough crazy douchebags occupying positions of power); it's suddenly snowing on Mars...check it; zany zealots or sneaky satanists are stealing all the 666 road signs along U.S. highways, sending a prophetic message to the superstitious that we'd better start partying like it's 1999; and scientists have recently confirmed that Clay Aiken is gay, spawning a slew of destructive uprisings waged by tween girls and Barry Manilow. Hard times, children. Hard times.

I ain't no Jackie Stallone, snitches. I have no idea what perils the future may hold, but I do know that the only way our species can survive is to take up arms and join the ranks of the turntable revolution...

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.”

Towards that end, allow me to supply you with some auditory artillery against the audacity of the absurdity around you...
"I Don't Want To Have To Wait"---Barbara & The Browns (zShare)
"I Don't Want To Have To Wait"---Barbara & The Browns (savefile)

Last year, Kent Records released Can't Find No Happiness: The Sounds Of Memphis Recordings by Barbara & The Browns. Considering my enthusiasm for Southern soul, I came across material by Barbara and her sisters a number of years ago, but the release of their work as one comprehensive collection was something I'd been highly anticipating. Barbara's soaring, gospel-inflected vocals epitomize Memphis soul at its very finest, making it difficult to understand how a talent of this magnitude has been so shamefully overlooked.

After releasing a few singles that were distributed by Stax, Barbara cut a side called "Plenty Of Room" b/w "I Don't Want To Have To Wait" (Cadet 5544) that was issued in August of 1966. Both songs were recorded at Sam Philips' studio and featured some of the finest session players on the scene at the time. She recorded a few more tracks during that same year, but Cadet inexplicably declined to release any of this material. According to some sources, the Aretha factor was at least partly to blame. By 1967, Atlantic was enjoying such success with Franklin's breakthrough that many labels were hesitant to try to compete with her.

Barbara continued to record in 1967, singing her heart out on tracks that were distributed by Atco and Tower (a Capitol subsidiary) the following year. After dropping out of the recording scene for a few years, Barbara resurfaced in 1971 and released a side on XL that was backed with one of the tunes from her 1967 sessions. Her final recordings were in 1972 for release on the MGM/Sounds Of Memphis label. Although her sound was perhaps as impeccable as ever, the industry had shifted greatly during her hiatus, precluding the possibility of Brown and her sisters making a significant dent on the pop or R&B charts.

Few personal facts about Brown are known, but despite her relative obscurity, her legacy is firmly planted in the hearts of those who have the good fortune to stumble across her deeply soulful recordings.

Dig deeper...

"Northern Midnight"---Rawhead (zShare)
"Northern Midnight"---Rawhead (savefile)

I almost slept on Beatwise and Alchemy because...well...I thought Rawhead was one of those '80s hair metal bands who used eyeliner and pentagrams to inspire fear in the hearts of old ladies and small children. As it turns out, Rawhead isn't such a menacing guy after all. The NY beatsmith apparently prefers bicycles, tea, his family, and waking up early to spandex, beer guzzling groupies, and products that deplete the ozone layer. Nice.

Citing influences such as Pete Rock, Otis Redding, J Dilla, GZA, Diamond D and James Brown, Rawhead's origins are deeply rooted in the finest soul, funk, and hip hop music. Add a touch of punk and dub sensibilities with a background in live instrumentation and you have the formula for one of the most promising beatmakers on the horizon.

Dig deeper...

"Threats"---Jean Grae w/ Chen Lo (zShare)
"Threats"---Jean Grae w/ Chen Lo (savefile)

This has been a rollercoaster year for Jean Grae fans, from the release of Jeanius to word of her retirement to the release of The Evil Genius, her jaw-dropping collabo with Blue Sky Black Death. For those who don't know, the latter is a highly acclaimed underground production duo who've released some stellar instrumental material in addition to working with artists such as Wise Intelligent, Jus Allah, Hell Razah, and Mikah 9. BSBD easily exceeded my somewhat lofty expectations by blessing this project with innovative soundscapes, perfectly complementing one of the most ridiculously talented MCs in the game. Hands down, one of the dopest joints I've heard all year.

Dig deeper...

"I Found You"---James Hanns & The Soul Entertainers (zShare)
"I Found You"---James Hanns & The Soul Entertainers (savefile)

Back in the day, James Brown impersonators and wannabes were even more prevalent than Louis Vuitton knockoffs have been in the 21st century. I can tell you from personal experience that most Soul Brother Number Twos aren't worth the time and energy to bother digging in the crates for, but this phenomenal offering by James Hanns & The Soul Entertainers is a true gem. Inspired by JB without sounding overly derivative, "I Found You" is a gritty love song that proves to be the real deal.

Dig deeper...

"Home"---The Problemaddicts (zShare)
"Home"---The Problemaddicts (savefile)

Ever hear that if you pair Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon with the film The Wizard Of Oz, the sounds and images will synchronize? It's my humble opinion that this is a textbook case of apophenia, otherwise known as the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.

Regardless of the veracity of this claim, The Problemaddicts have released an interesting project playing off of this concept called The Dark Side Of OZ. Featuring Pink Floyd samples and soundbytes from the movie, the tracks on this release couple razor-sharp, intelligent lyricism with killer beats. Although this could have been a shamelessly wack gimmick, The Problemaddicts come hard enough on this release to convince even the most cynical bastards of their skills. I can easily listen to this from front to back, but "Home" is nothing short of amazing.

Dig deeper...

"Purple Track 4"---Black Milk (zShare)
"Purple Track 4"---Black Milk (savefile)

While we wait not-so-patiently for Tronic to be released at the end of October, Black Milk has dropped a dope bootleg mix for his fans. The Detroit producer chopped up various Prince songs for what's been dubbed Music From The Color Purple, but don't expect to be able to identify the samples he used right away. This ain't no Diddy-style production, in the sense that it isn't always child's play to determine the original song. That said, listening to the last several seconds of each track should make things easier for even the most clueless sample seekers.

Download all 11 joints via Black's MySpace (direct link below).

Dig deeper...

"Didn't Want To Have To Do It"---Madeline Bell (zShare)
"Didn't Want To Have To Do It"---Madeline Bell (savefile)

Madeline Bell is another soul vocalist who was trained in the gospel tradition, joining The Glovertones in her homestate of New Jersey when she was 16-years-old. She later teamed up with the Alex Bradford Singers, with whom she eventually traveled across America and Europe as part of the cast of Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity". Upon completion of the tour, Bell decided to make her home in the UK, cutting her own singles and doing background vocals for artists such as Dusty Springfield and Doris Troy.

Bell's A Poppin' was her i967 full-length solo debut album (on the UK's RPM Records), an effort which thoroughly illustrates her poise and sophistication as a world-class vocalist. Although it's been established that I tend to prefer Southern grit to the more polished perfection of Northern soul, I have no shame in admitting that Bell's first LP is an undisputed classic. Her cover of Dee Dee Warwick's "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" is the track that enjoyed the greatest commercial success in America, but "Didn't Want To Have To Do It" stood out as a favorite from the very first time I heard this record. If all apologies sounded this sweet, holding a grudge would be nearly impossible.

This album marks only the very beginnings of Bell's illustrious career, so as always, it's recommended that you dig deeper...

"Why Have I Lost You"---Cameo (zShare)
"Why Have I Lost You"---Cameo (savefile)

Dig deeper...

I don't usually feature a lot of radio-friendly R&B from the late '70s because by definition, it's gotten far more exposure than the majority of the music highlighted here. That said, who can hate on this delectable joint by Cameo? For 30 years now, people all across the funkin' universe have been making and breaking up to this timeless slow jam. This was the joint that was playing during the sweaty couples skate just before you finally lost your virginity. If not, you might just be a soul baby who's living proof of one of these unrestrained, sintastic escapades.

I would guess that between this song, "Back And Forth", "Find My Way", "Word Up", "Candy" and a host of other hits, most of you are already somewhat familiar with Cameo. The eclectic group, founded by Larry Blackmon in 1974, originally boasted 13 members. Known as The New York City Players, the group changed its name shortly after being signed to the Chocolate City imprint in 1976 to avoid being confused with The Ohio Players. Apparently, most heads didn't know shit about geography back then either.

Their first album, Cardiac Arrest, was released in 1977, immediately followed by We All Know Who We Are in 1978. The group released two more LPs in the late '70s, continued to be astoundingly prolific through the '80s, and even issued a few offerings in the '90s. Their final LP, Sexy Sweet Thing, was released in 2000. Tauted as a comeback effort, the album was anything but, peaking at #64 on the Hip Hop/R&B charts.

Despite the gradual waning of their commercial success, the group's legacy is firmly cemented in music history. Many members of the group continue to work in the industry (bassist Aaron Mills laid down the bassline on Outkast's "Ms. Jackson", for example), and their songs are frequently covered, sampled, and featured in movies. Cameo's reign as R&B/funk/disco/slow jam kings may be over, but many of us will be spinning their infectious grooves well into the future.

Word From Your Moms:

"If you love it enough, anything will talk with you."

"When our thoughts - which bring actions - are filled with hate against anyone, Negro or white, we are in a living hell. That is as real as hell will ever be."

"The beating on the tail of the snake may stop his progress a little, but the more vital parts must be struck before his poisonous death-dealing venom will be wiped out."

"Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom."

"Where there is no vision, there is no hope."

*All above quotes by George Washington Carver