Tuesday, February 03, 2009

We Are Spiritual Beings Having A Human Experience...

'Sup, soul kids?

I know it must appear as though my ass is being typically slothful, but I've actually been working on an extra-large project for Valentine's Day with more than a little help from my super funky and ultra-talented friends. Starting this Thursday, there will be one or two features from myself and/or my affiliates every single day until February 14th. I'm going to hold the exact details in reserve for a couple more days, but I hope you'll stop by to throw down and get your celebration on with us.

Meanwhile, a few necessities from the crates...



"Blues, Pt. 2"---Gloria Edwards (LimeLinx)
"Blues, Pt. 2"---Gloria Edwards (savefile)

Gloria Edwards is often affectionately referred to as the soul queen of Texas, a title she secured on the strength of her powerful pipes and iconic presence on Houston's live music scene. Her impeccable solo and collaborative efforts have also become a cornerstone of her legacy, including her celebrated tribute to the late Dinah Washington.

Considering the fact that Edwards has devoted 40+ years of her life to building a venerable career in music, it's straight up scandalous that her name carries so little weight beyond the borders of the Lone Star State. After one of my readers suggested that I feature her material, I decided to blow the dust off of "Blues, Pt. 2", hoping that fellow crate diggers worldwide would be willing to give her records a look.

The track is one of my personal favorites from her canon of works; not only does Edwards serve up a stunning vocal performance, but the song's lyrics will likely resonate with anyone who's experienced the bittersweet paradoxes of love and relationships. Hell...even if you have a pointy head and tiny little virgin ears, this joint should still go down nice and smooth.

If you're interested in checking for more of Gloria's material, I'd suggest starting out with The Soul Queen of Texas: The Crazy Cajun Recordings. Do it your way, children...just familiarize thyselves.

Dig deeper...


"The Big Band Theory"---Homeboy Sandman (LimeLinx)
"The Big Band Theory"---Homeboy Sandman (savefile)

Despite the fact that I try to maintain an optimistic outlook about the oft-confounding evolution of hip hop, I can't deny that my personal list of truly respectable MCs has been on a downward spiral since like...1993. It's more treacherous than ever to wade through the sea of increasingly faceless rappers in search of one proper MC (if you still love hip hop, I trust you're nodding your head in agreement). In such an unforgiving climate, the likelihood that Homeboy Sandman would have the lyrical dexterity to survive the perils of being on an endangered species list is clearly slim to none. Yet in a striking defiance of the odds, Homeboy comes with more than enough originality, finesse, and creativity to flip the current standard of uninspired complacency inside out and upside down.

Sandman certainly isn't the first MC to have enough reverence for hip hop to declare it as his religion, but he is one of the sacred few who's working diligently to preserve the lost art of microphone mastery. As the Queens-based wordsmith has described it, "conscious, intelligent thought is purposefully censored in black music as a means to create that illusion that it is uncool. Common had the number one album -- not hip-hop album, but album -- in America and you didn't hear him get one spin on Hot 97 or Power 105," he says. "It would give them the awareness that the shit that's being forced down their throat is garbage designed specifically to make them despicable, weak people who will be easily manipulated, and who will pump out as much money as possible before they wind up in jail where they can be legally enslaved. It's right there in the constitution." Word.

His latest pledge to the genre's honor and authenticity comes in the form of his Actual Factual Pteradactyl LP, one of the better (and most slept on) albums to drop in the second half of '08. It's impossible to pigeonhole Sandman's style, as his artistic portfolio is enhanced by a boundless spirit of eclecticism and diversity. This results in a thoroughly enjoyable front-to-back listen for many, and most will find at least one or two tracks they can appreciate. "The Big Band Theory" isn't necessarily the hottest joint on AFP, but it gets mad props from me for being the one where he says "Fuck milk...got rhythm", a sentiment/credo for living that I walk like I talk.

I know the economy is shit, children, but there's a parallel downturn taking place in the world of hip hop. Since so much of it inexplicably sucks ass, I feel it's my civic responsibilty to support quality artists and their material. I know it's some mad crazy shit to say, but you might wanna consider actually paying for this CD. It's worth your hard-earned pennies, and no harm done if you hold off on copping that REO Speedwagon retrospective for a minute...right?

Anyway, my man Donny Goines sent this clip out several months ago, but I still have to pick my jaw up off the floor every time Sandman finishes spittin'. All three of these guys have mad skills~ check it:



Dig deeper...


"Ain't Nobody's Business"---B.B. King (LimeLinx)
"Ain't Nobody's Business"---B.B. King(savefile)

When Styler selected a B.B. King track for his most recent post, I was inspired to rummage through my records and CDs to pull out some gems from the blues god's voluminous repertoire. My favorite songs tend to fluctuate in synch with my mood, but I can almost always get down with hearing the King wail his heart out on "Ain't Nobody's Business".

The song (originally known as "'T Ain't Nobody's Bus'ness If I Do") is credited to Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins, although history suggests that their arrangement was drawn from a tune that had been circulating via folk tradition since the early years of the 20th century. There is some disagreement as to which artist was the first to commit the song to wax, but most sources agree that Sara Martin (aka the Famous Moanin' Mama) and Anna Meyers were practically tied for first, both vocalists having cut their renditions in 1922. In 1923, the blues standard was covered by Bessie Smith, Lena Wilson, and Alberta Hunter, paving the way for later versions by artists such as Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke, Freddie King, Jimmy Witherspoon, Billie Holiday, Bobby Bland, Willie Nelson, and Otis Spann. As for King, he didn't record his take until December 28, 1965, first releasing the track as a single the following year.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of sense in drawing comparisons or asserting the superiority of any one version of the song over another. Considering that the tune has been such a popular cover amongst musical icons, most of the renditions I've heard are pretty damn amazing in their own right. Also, the lyrics and title were frequently altered from one version to the next, affording each rendition an opportunity to kinda maintain its own personality.

That being said, I didn't really fall in love with this song until I saw a clip of B.B., Gladys, Chaka, and Etta performing it together at the Night of Blistering Blues in 1987 (Chaka, clearly high as hell, still sang her face off). B.B. stuck to playing his guitar that night, but I was so transfixed by the performance that I was immediately interested in digging for his striking solo rendition.

"Ain't Nobody's Business" appeared on an LP called The Jungle (Kent, 1967), a collection of the blues monarch's singles from 1962 through 1967. Not only does this album represent a landmark period in the bluesman's stylistic evolution, but vocally, the recordings represent some of the King's most unbelievably triumphant moments. His delivery is so mighty and unrestrained on some of these tracks that his robust bellowing will most assuredly blow your wig back, son.

The album was reissued last year as The Jungle~Remastered, so even the least industrious crate diggers have no excuse for sleepin' this time. The CD and DVD for the Night of Blistering Blues are also readily accessible, so you might as well start emptying your pockets or warming up your Visa. Holy burning plastic, Batman...

BB and the Holy Trinity of R&B:



Dig deeper...


"Ease It To Me"---Shirlean Williams & The Tempo's Band (LimeLinx)
"Ease It To Me"---Shirlean Williams & The Tempo's Band (savefile)

If you've been looking past the series of regional funk compilations that Jazzman Records has been releasing, let this be the stop where you finally jump on the bus, children. These stellar compilations (distributed in North America by Now Again Records) shine a spotlight on obscure and unreleased '60s and early '70s funk material that's been mined from various regions of the United States.

The music on Carolina Funk was unearthed and assembled thanks to Jason Perlmutter, a DJ/collector/archivist/historian who hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Perlmutter did extensive research for the project, seeking out now-elderly musicians and producers to uncover the details and stories behind these priceless recordings. As a result, his thoroughly meticulous liner notes are an informative and somewhat fascinating read...particularly if you happen to be a freak like me.

From where I'm sitting, there isn't much in the way of filler or excess on the album, so I struggled with selecting a single track amongst all the viable possibilities. In the end, it came down to the fact that "Ease It To Me" (Elvitrue 673, b/w "This Is A Song") has this crazy way of making me feel super glad to be superbad. It also feels super ridiculous to even type that shit, but that's what's really up, children...

Enjoy.

Dig deeper...


"It's Coming Down"---Exile (LimeLinx)
"It's Coming Down"---Exile (savefile)

Conceptual instrumental albums are usually a tough sell under the best of economic circumstances, so the outlook for Exile's Radio LP is unbearably grim considering that the value of the dollar is rapidly approaching the approximate worth of Monopoly money. To add insult to injury, most of the reviews I've read express the same basic criticism, with only a slight twist in phraseology: A+ for technique; C- for listenability.

If you enter into the Radio experience expecting it to sound like Emanon or Ex's projects with Blu, I can't lie...you might get your feelings hurt. However, we're all grown folks here (I guess), and we can accept that artists sometimes have to fulfill their creative potential by serving up some shit their fans don't really understand...right? The situation at hand is nothing like the travesty of DJ Shadow getting crunk or Common sporting crocheted pants, though...so let's not get it twisted. Radio is just choppier, moodier, and potentially less accessible than what you've previously heard from the LA-based production wizard.

I haven't lived with Radio long enough to profess any profound truths in terms of its replay value, but I will say that so far, I find the album to be a thoroughly engaging work of art. Being a music geek and a voluntary misfit, I'm completely enthralled with the auditory barrage of samples and sounds on the LP...I mean, Exile is the man...but if I was in it strictly for the head-nod factor, I'd probably be forced to look elsewhere for aural gratification.

You won't be surprised that I selected one of Radio's most soulful sounds to drop for your collective listening pleasure. "It's Coming Down" is a smoother ride than most of the other tracks on the album; it unfolds with a fluid consistency that largely bypasses the jerky and sometimes abrupt transitions you'll hear on the rest of the LP. The most dramatic shift occurs 2 minutes and 16 seconds into the track, when Exile switches things up by unleashing one of the loveliest beats he's ever created. If you don't love this, I don't know what to do with you...

If you dig Ex's steez as much as I do, dig deeper and cough up some change to show your support...


"Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)"---BT Express (LimeLinx)
"Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)"---BT Express (savefile)

In closing, this joint by Brooklyn Trucking Express is hardly a rarity, but I was inspired to post it in remembrance of my superstar, Kimberley Sullivan, a close friend who passed away unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago.

Not only did Kim love to party, she was the party. My girl was a huge fan of funk and disco music, and if you put on a record she was feelin', she could deliver the spontaneous amateur performance of a lifetime. Things just aren't the same without her crazy ass.

There's much more that I could say about why I love Kim so much, but I'd rather just leave it at the most important thing she taught me...live for the moment. She knew how to enjoy life to the absolute fullest, as if tomorrow might not come...and sadly, one day it didn't.

In honor of Kim's memory, I'm doing all I can to ground myself and embrace the present. As Siddharta Gautama (aka Buddha) is quoted as saying, “The secret of health for both the mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”


Live simply and well, children...and always be sure to get your satisfaction.

Peace.

Word From Your Moms:

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death."---Anais Nin

"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching."---Anonymous

"The world is now too dangerous for anything but the truth, too small for anything but brotherhood"---A. Powell Davies

15 comments:

Joshua Ramos said...

Thanks you Scholar for the Tempos Band song. Very sorry to hear about your friend.
I sent you an email earlier asking you to check out my paintings. Be good to hear from you.

Jakeya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith said...

Thanks for posting this. You've got such an incredible blog. I really enjoy it. Take care.

Styler said...

Nice one Scholar, especially the vid of King and his lady friends...."Barkeep I'll have what she's havin'"

In Glasgow one might say of Ms Khan..."Check the nick o' her, she's oot her tits so she is..Singin' a pure dillion though"..."Gon yersel' Hen!"

Roughly translated as, "Look at the dishevelled/poor state of her, she would appear to be rather inebriated and/or intoxicated due to narcotics..However she is singing to an excellent level"..."Go on yourself girl!" (a shout of enthusiastic encouragement). In fact, old Chaka wouldn't look out of place on Sauchiehall St of a Friday night.

The Jazzman comps are excellent and well worth a checkin' as you rightly said.

Hope you got the bumph I sent you and that your head and heart are doing a bit better mio amico.

Later cuz. (I say that in a purely non "Crip" way I hasten to add and the fact that I like the colour blue is sheer coincidence.)


"To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die."
Thomas Campbell (1777 - 1844) Glasgow Poet

Commish CH said...

Well put my man Schoolly Scholar...live life to the fullest and so oftern this music thing we got is an integral part of that. CHeers

"Whoever do get to see me sing/With the 3-D ring sittin stationary like B.B. King"
-MF Doom 'Kon Karne'

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