Friday, October 31, 2008

No tricks, more treats

4th Coming: "The Dead Don't Die Alive Pt. 1" (Alpha, 197?)

DJ Shadow put the instrumental version of this on a comp a few years ago. I way prefer the vocal version although I've never been able to comprehend the lyrics (stuff like "we're the only hope for the human race" and "you can skin my hide/love will keep bubbling inside")-- is he singing about love in the face of a zombie attack?

E.T. White & His Great Potential Band: "Psyco" (Great Potential, 197?)

Probably my favorite lyric in the entire school of "baddest man alive" songs.

Souls Unlimited: "The Raving Vampire" (Wigwam, 19??)


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Skeletons with vocoders

I'm not the Halloween type, but I'll take any excuse I can get to play this:

Whodini: "Haunted House of Rock" (Vocoder Version) (Jive, 1983)

Oh, and also... XLR8R says really nice things about Hard As Fuck 4 (awww shucks)! Get yours at Turntable Lab, or Amoeba or B-Sides in Berkeley.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pseudo-Mexican fonts in full effect

I was watching a documentary from last year, Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, and there was a shot of a flier for a gig where Strummer's pre-Clash pub-rock band, the 101ers, opened for these guys:

Gonzalez: "Saoco/Funky Frith Street" (EMI UK, 1974)

Gonzalez was an English soul band who had a minor disco hit with "I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet". A few of their records got released in the U.S., but not their debut, which this was taken from. I first heard this in the early 90s and it took me years to find a copy, although that probably says less about this record's rarity than about how much the record game has been changed by the internet.

In the last minute-and-a-half it goes into a "Hot Pants Road" rip-off and then borrows from "Giving Up Food for Funk". The first 7 minutes are a cover of this:

Mongo Santamaria: "Saoco" (Atlantic, 1971)

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Monday, October 27, 2008


Merl Saunders: "Wondering Why" (Fantasy, 1974)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Party hearty

Friday I'm celebrating a birthday.

As a treat to myself I arranged to get my #1 homeboy DJ Eleven to come out from New York and join me in spinning at my weekly Friday party, Hubba Rock. Eleven's travel schedule and my planning skills being what they both are, it took 2+ years to actually make this happen, so I'm super-psyched he'll be there. As an added bonus, the homie Willie Maze will be joining us on the wheels, too.

The Firebolts: "Everybody Party (Get Down)" (Greenback, 197?)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boogie butt

From the label that brought you "Hector" and "Frisco Disco":

Skylite: "Boogie Butt" (Rampart, 1979)

I kinda wish the violinist had sat this one out, but still.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Three more

Levi Stubbs, 1936-2008

The Four Tops: "7-Rooms of Gloom" (Motown, 1967)

Next to Edwin Starr, Stubbs was about as raw as Motown singers got. I tend to think James Jamerson is a little overrated but his bass part on this song is phenomenal.

Dee Dee Warwick, 1945-2008

Dee Dee Warwick: "It's Not Fair" (Mercury, 1969)

It's not fair that Dionne was a bigger star.

Rudy Ray Moore, 1927-2008

Rudy Ray Moore: "Brother Rapp's Dream" (Comedians Inc., 197?)

Who knew dude was 81 years old? There's a surprisingly lengthy and fond obit in the L.A. Times.


Big Daddy Kane: "Big Daddy Kane vs. Dolemite" feat. Rudy Ray Moore (Cold Chillin', 1990)

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hefti Hefti Hefti

Neal Hefti passed away Saturday. Before he achieved his most lasting fame as a TV and film composer, he was prominent as an arranger with Count Basie's big band and he wrote a number of great jazz standards.

Growing up, I heard various versions of this one all the time:

Novi Quartet: "Li'l Darling" (Saba, 1968)

My mom used to listen to KJAZ religiously and in particular to a weekly segment (Sundays, 10:00 a.m.?) where they'd play a different version of "Li'l Darling". I doubt they ever played this one, but there are dozens of others. (BTW, it's killing me that I can't think of a good version of Hefti's "Girl Talk"-- I know I have a cool one lying around somewhere.)

Of course, Hefti is best-remembered these days as the writer of the themes to the "Odd Couple" and this, here bastardized by unidentified members of Sun Ra's Arkestra and the Blues Project:

The Sensational Guitars of Dan & Dale: "Batman Theme" (Tifton, 1966)

This one has always reminded me of the Batman theme:

Mitch Mitchell & Gene "The King": "Definition of Things" (Go-Ko, 196?)

The Mitch Mitchell who made this is not the Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer, but instead an Ohio guy featured on this fine compilation and this l'il mix. Gene King also collaborated on Mitchell's "Never Walk Out on You" and, to hear the record tell it, was a real cool cat.

Finally, this one reminds me of the scatting on the Mitch Mitchell record, and has been stuck in my head on and off for months:

Segun Bucknor & His Revolution: "La La La" (Polydor, 197?/Strut, 2001)

The compilation it's drawn from, Nigeria 70, was released well ahead of the current glut of Afrobeat compilations but remains one of the best. The recent sequel is pretty great, too, and is still in print.

Too many R.I.P. posts lately. I think I may have to change the name of the blog to "I hear dead people". Or maybe "but I digress", to account for all the "reminds me of this" side-trips.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wearing a jetpack that no one else is sure will actually work...

The funniest thing I've read in a while is the description of the Kanye West listening party over the Fader blog, especially the first paragraph.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Alton Ellis, R.I.P.

Man.... First the Warriors lose Monta Ellis for 2 months, then the world loses Alton Ellis forever.

Alton Ellis: "When I'm Down" (Heartbeat, 19??)

If you're not familiar with classics like "Rocksteady", the original version of "I'm Still in Love with You" or "Cry Tough", you really ought to get on that.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

I hear there's sposed to be some kind of election or something soon

I've been helping to get out the drunk vote by bringing voter registration forms to my gigs. I'm not even joking.

The Flames: "Stand Up & Be Counted" (People, 1971)

As much as the catalog of James Brown productions has been mined over the years, this Chi-Lites-ish track is pretty slept-on. It's been comped a few times but never reissued in the U.S., perhaps because THE MAN understands how much righteousness might ensue. On the other hand, the Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk himself endorsed Nixon the following year, so who's to say?

Getto Kitty: "Stand Up & Be Counted" (Stroud, 1972)

This was written and arranged by the great Weldon Irvine, who led Nina Simone's band, nurtured a lot of young talent (Tom Browne, Don Blackman & Bernard Wright) and recorded a half-dozen albums of his own that are worth hearing. He also died a really sad and strange death.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Way out in Brooklyn

If anyone remembers the Dismasters, it's for their first single, the awesome "Small Time Hustler":

The Dismasters: "Small Time Hustler" (Urban Rock, 1987)

After that, they released another single on Urban Rock, the kinda meh "Black & Proud", and a really disappointing album that only came out in the UK. One of the few enjoyable moments on it is this:

The Dismasters: "Act Like You Know" (Sure Delight UK, 1989)

The beat is atrocious and the flows are clumsy but the Red Alert/Jungle Brothers diss about 2 minutes in is a great moment in rap homophobia featuring some truly impressive linguistic invention ("he's a swill-swallowing smegma-smacker"!). Kind of ironic given the cover....

If you know of a more embarrassing cover image on any rap album, please send it my way.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Scarlet & purple

Last night I was jonesing to hear this record, specifically the part right after the break where they come in with the guitar part and the wailing vocal.

Capability Brown: "Beautiful Scarlet" (The Famous Charisma Label, 1972)

It's 50% cheese and 200% awesome. When it got to the quiet part, I remembered that it was a cover of this:

Rare Bird: "Beautiful Scarlet" (Probe, 1970)

And I remembered that somebody sampled the Rare Bird version:

Diplo: "Summer's Gonna Hurt You" (2002)

The version I've posted is different from either of the versions that got released by Big Dada. It features a big ole hunk of this at the end:

Round Trip Ticket: "Captain Purple Rides Again" (GM, 197?)

I don't know much about the Round Trip Ticket 45 other than that it's from Detroit and there's a much better-sounding version of the song with vocals. Until I heard that version, I had no idea this was a Neil Young cover.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Lately DJ Anonymous has been posting a ton of stuff on his blog that I had been meaning to rip, largely 90s rap and reggae classics that are just slightly too old and/or forgotten for me to play out much but which I nonetheless had really been wanting. Him posting my favorite Kurious song prompted me to rip a few more.

For those who don't remember Kurious, he was a likable, funny and low-key NYC rapper who was part of an extended crew that included KMD, Lord Sear and others. He cut one LP for Columbia, 1994's A Constipated Monkey. Although he got three singles, his record never did much and, aside from a few appearances on MF Doom projects, he's mostly been M.I.A. for the past 15 years.

The first is Kurious's second single. Although the production is credited to the Beatnuts, the songwriting credit tells me that it was probably really done by their boy, V.I.C., who produced a ton of slept-on stuff from Renaissance's "Tap the Bottle" to the Artifacts' short-lived foray as the Brick City Kids. Regardless, it's a great track-- there's so much warmth in it.

Kurious: "Uptown Shit" (Columbia, 1993)

The second is a freestyle over Nasty Nas's "Halftime" from Stretch & Bobbito's WKCR radio show. Although it's all but impossible for me to enjoy freestyle rapping these days, he and the Souls of Mischief kind of kill it here. SOM's performance opened a lot of doors for them at a time when New York was not at all receptive to Cali rap.

Kurious & Souls of Mischief: "WKCR Freestyle" (Liberty Grooves, 1994)

After a long hiatus, Kurious put out a new single earlier this year. It would have been pretty good but for one of the Dipset guys doing a really lame 50 Cent imitation all over the chorus.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

When you hear what I got to say

Last night I went out to see David Banner perform on a bill with Talib Kweli and Little Brother. Along with Too $hort & M.O.P., Banner's about the only rapper I'd pay money to see perform-- he just gives way more of himself than most.

This morning I heard a new song of his via the freshly revived Cocaine Blunts blog (!!!!!). While I kinda like Banner's "sell out chris brown rap-is-my-job pansy club bullshit", I agree the world needs more of this. The song samples an old favorite:

Syl Johnson: "I'm Talkin' 'Bout Freedom" (Twinight, 1970)

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Marc Moulin, R.I.P.

If you were to rank all of Belgium's cultural products in terms of awesomeness, the late Marc Moulin would rank somewhere between the french fry and Tintin.

He was one of those artists who managed to be way ahead of the curve not once, but several times-- first with the moody jazz funk of his early 70s recordings with Placebo, which eerily anticipated the sound of mid-90s NYC rap, and then with his late 70s recording with Telex, which were a big influence on Detroit's techno pioneers. Shit, even what little I've heard of the stuff he released in the last decade was pretty cool.

Placebo: "Balek" (CBS Belgium, 1973)

Telex: "Moskow Diskow" (Sire, 1979)

For the curious, the Counterpoint reissue of Placebo material is a great place to start.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Superfreak physique

Last night I played records with my homie Cosmo Baker at Sake One's party, Pacific Standard Time.

Cosmo has a new mix CD that's a tribute to probably my favorite soul artist of the past 20 years, Raphael Saadiq. You can get it here or here. The CD features many of Saadiq's biggest songs-- solo, with Tony! Toni! Toné! and with Lucy Pearl-- as well as a lot of songs he wrote and produced for others (the Roots, Erykah Badu, Amp Fiddler, Joss Stone, etc.).

It's a great mix CD and a really cool overview of Saadiq's work, but at 72 minutes there's no way he could include even half of the great stuff Saadiq has been involved in. So, without throwing any shade on Cos's selections, here's a completely subjective group of Saadiq-related songs that aren't on there but which I love:

Raphael Saadiq: "Uptown" (Universal, 2002)

The best song ever about getting the fuck up out of Oakland. I had to look at the credits to figure out that the second vocal is by Leslie Wilson of New Birth, who destroys it from the 3-minute mark on. Honorable mention to every other song where Saadiq breaks out the sitar.

Tony! Toni! Toné!: "(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow" (Mercury, 1993)

Such a great slow jam.

Mac Dre: "It's Rainin' Game" feat. Raphael Saadiq (B-Cause Alright rework) (2007)

My homie B-Cause is super-prolific with remixes, many of them great, but this one is far and away my favorite. Such a perfect blend.

Teedra Moses: "Take Me" feat. Raphael Saadiq (TVT, 2004)

The melody and arrangement are so gorgeous.

Luniz: "Jus Mee & U" (Noo Trybe, 1997)

Town business.

Raphael Saadiq: "Chic Like You" feat. Allie Baba (Pookie, 2004)

This just puts me in a really good mood.

Top Billin: "Big Dancin'" (Top Billin, 2008)

Basically a Baltimore version of Lucy Pearl's "Dance Tonight". I first heard it a few weeks ago when DJ mOma played it at his Monday party on Rivington. I was kinda faded, so it took a moment to register exactly what I was listening to, but it made me happy the second the vocal hit. It's from this EP.

I have no idea who reads this blog or if people who do actually buy records, but if you do and you went out and bought the new Saadiq album on the strength of this, I'd feel a little bit better about my place in the world.

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