Monday, June 30, 2008

A local curiosity

Wayne Shannon was a news commentator on KRON in the 1980s.

Kind of a local, less decrepit Andy Rooney.

He made a "rap" record.

It's not good.

I feel compelled to share it anyway.

Wayne Shannon: "News Room Rap Man" (Great American Music Hall, 1987)


Saturday, June 28, 2008

If there's beef we'll knock out teeth

Too Fresh: "Hitten' Harder" (Felony 1, 1987)

Too Fresh was a Philly area group that released two 12"s in 1987, this and "Groove Busted", which appears on a mix by Dr. Delay and is less good.

I love how rough this record is, in both senses of the word-- the Run-D.M.C. scratch on the chorus, the out-of-place Bar-Kays stabs, the not-quite-on-time-with-the-loop snares and the transformed noise (is that "Buffalo Gals"?). Although it's kinda rare, the record must have been at least some kind of a hit because it was pressed up at least three different times.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Toast to the boogie

I've been meaning to put a plug in for BBE's American Boogie Down, a compilation that came out a month or two back. It's a 2-CD set (one mixed, one not-- same songs on both) of late 70s/early 80s boogie stuff compiled by Rob Sevier, a guy responsible for compiling much of the great stuff on the Numero Group label. As usual, he digs up some pretty amazing things (Tony Cook! Visions of Tomorrow!).

The boogie genre is hard to characterize. Like Northern soul or deep funk, I think it's a category invented by DJs and record collectors and not a tag people used when the music was being made. If you were to make a Venn diagram with circles for disco and funk, boogie would probably fall pretty neatly between the two-- I think of it as blue collar disco.

Sorta like this, but maybe with more synth:

Mighty Generation: "The M.G. Beat" (B-E-R, 19??)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Generation gap

Hmmm... this probably would have fit well with yesterday's post but it didn't occur to me. Goofy as it is, I love it.

The Turks: "Generation Gap" (DJO, 196?)


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Keep it moving

This piece by Adriel Luis does a great job of articulating a point I occasionally bother trying to make to people who are bitter because the current rap music people like no longer sounds like (insert rap subgenre or artist of a different era here; New York early 90s rap and rappers are particularly popular choices).

Rap is like a shark, it keeps moving or it dies. (N.B.: My hat is like a shark's fin.)

Apropos of not much, here's some classic Bronx mythology:

Just-Ice: "Going Way Back" feat. KRS-One (Fresh, 1987)

It's also the funkiest rap history lesson ever.

EDIT: The week after I posted this, random searching led me to a brand-new album by Just-Ice available here and on iTunes. The latter, kinda amazingly, has Just-Ice's whole Fresh Records catalog, including some things you should buy if you don't have like 10 copies already ("Letoya"! "Moshitup"! "That Girl Is a Slut"! "Cold Gettin' Dumb"!!!!).


Monday, June 23, 2008

Cuss words

In honor of the late George Carlin, here's my favorite ever instance of obscenity for its own sake. Even with an assist from Ice-T's "Warning", Devin actually only manages to use four out of the seven words you can never say on television, but it's still ecstatically filthy.

Devin the Dude: "Whatever"(Rap-a-Lot, 2002)

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Sometimes obvious is best

I'm not some kind of pagan hippie but I do attach a lot of significance to the changing of the seasons. Today is the longest day of the year and I can't resist:

Kool & the Gang: "Summer Madness (Live)" (De-Lite, 1976)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blaxploitation soul

The other day I caught a blaxploitation soundtrack bug and decided to rip a bunch of vinyl. I enjoy anonymous wah-wah funk as much as (or maybe just slightly less than) the next man, but I wanted to focus on some of the good soul songs buried amidst them.

First off, something from Willie Dynamite. You have to really like blaxploitation films to sit through that one-- Roscoe Orman (Gordon from Sesame Street!) and his wardrobe are kind of great, but the screenplay is uncommonly retarded, even for a blaxploitation film. This one has a fantastic lyric, though.

Martha Reeves: "Keep On Movin' On" (MCA, 1973)

This, from the Sidney Poitier film Lost Man, is really slow, soulful and evocative.

Nate Turner & the Mirettes: "Sweet Soul Sister" (Uni, 1970)

I've never seen the film associated with this, but the track is like a revved-up version of "Les Fleur" (!).

Delilah Moore: "I Need Your Love" (Bobby Davis Enterprises, 1972)

I go back and forth on this next one. I find Barbara Mason's voice a little grating, but the lyric and melody always stick in my head.

Barabra Mason: "Child of Tomorrow" (Buddah, 1973)

This last one doesn't really meet the good soul song criterion, but it's a cool local curiosity. It's from the soundtrack to a film written by, starring and co-directed by Sal Watts, the owner of Sal/Wa, an Oakland-based record label. I've never seen it, but apparently it was filmed largely in Oakland and featured a few local musicians (Samaki Bennett & Tiny Powell) plus SF Giants vet Tito Fuentes.

Jimmy Lewis: "Ain't That Nothing" (Sal/Wa, 1974)

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Breakin' the funk

Faze-O: "Breakin' the Funk" (She, 1979)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Come into knowledge

Erykah Badu's recent highjacking of this song for this song made me dust off Ramp's Come Into Knowledge and it's better than the two-tracker I remembered it as. (Of course, nothing is really fucking with "Daylight" or their version of "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", but still....)

Ramp was a Cincinnati quintet. Their lone album was more or less a Roy Ayers record-- he produced, arranged and wrote or co-wrote all of the songs and plenty of people from his circle contributed to the record-- Edwin Birdsong, William Allen, a few folks from Ubiquity. It has the mellow, groovy and slightly spooky feeling of a lot of his productions. The record didn't sell, but it's been collectible since at least the early 1990s when A Tribe Called Quest sampled "Daylight".

A remastered version of the album was reissued last year and, according to their Myspace, the band has been performing again.

Ramp: "Come Into Knowledge" (Blue Thumb, 1977)

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Papa crazy

Rap songs about fatherhood fall into two categories-- sanctimonious and corny ("Be a Father to Your Child", "Biological Didn't Bother", "Papa'z Song") or cloying and corny ("Letter 2 My Unborn", "Daddy", "Oh My Stars", "Like Father, Like Son")-- except for Webbie's.

Webbie: "Just Like Me" (Asylum, 2008)

It sounds like Webbie's going to raise a knucklehead with a lot of common sense. Hopefully his son will make albums as good as Savage Life 2.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The obligatory Carter III post

Wow, way better than I expected. My favorite song samples this:

Eddie Kendricks: "Day by Day" (Tamla, 1972)

The album this is from, People... Hold On, is a frustrating record. The arrangements, production and playing (by the Young Senators!) are stellar, but the songwriting is really uneven. "Girl You Need a Change of Mind" is almost definitely all-time top ten for me, but some of the other stuff, ugh....

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Not guilty

Wow. I guess somebody on the jury really liked Little Man.

Jay-Z feat. R. Kelly: "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" (Roc-A-Fella, 2000)

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's a heckuva thing

Bobby Dixon: "Woman, You Made Me" (Probe, 1970)

This is one of my favorite love songs. I'm dusting it off in honor of an anniversary.

"Bobby Dixon" was a pseudonym for Robert Fears a/k/a Bobby Lee Fears, the lead singer of the Ohio Players during their way, way pre-fame days on the Compass and Capitol labels.

The In Dangerous Rhythm blog has published a couple of great pieces documenting Fears's discography and attempting to untangle Fears's connections with Johnny Brantley, the mysterious producer of some of my favorite soul releases of all time. The blog's author, Colin Dilnot, has done quite a few posts on Brantley and his productions and even wrote the liner notes for the fantastic recent reissue of Brantley's masterpiece, Lee Moses's Time and Place album.