Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eddie Bo, R.I.P.

New Orleans soul and funk legend Eddie Bo passed away Wednesday. If you're not familiar with songs like "Hook & Sling" and "Check Your Bucket" or the many great songs he wrote for other artists, grab this and this. Neither comp is the overview Bo deserves--his discography as an artist and producer is both broad and deep--but they're both decent starting points.

Here are two of my favorite songs he wrote for other artists:

Inell Young: "The Next Ball Game" (Big-9, 19??)

The Explosions: "Garden of Four Trees" (Gold Cup, 197?)

As a bonus, here's Qbert murdering Bo's biggest hit, "Hook & Sling". The tape this is drawn from, Demolition Pumpkin Squeeze Musik, is one of my favorite mixes.

DJ QBert: "Demolition Pumpkin Squeeze Musik One" [excerpt] (Dirt Style, 1993)

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fresh is the word

My #1 homie DJ Eleven has been dropping free (and dope!) mixes left and right lately, but his latest deserves special mention. He had been talking about doing a mix of Mannie Fresh's productions and rapping for about three years, so long that I was beginning to think it would never happen.

It's not a greatest hits mix. Although he has like a zillion hits and club bangers, the emphasis is more on Fresh at his funniest-- crooning beautifully unromantic ballads, boasting ridiculously, sending shout-outs to chickens and ducks, etc.

Has there ever been a rapper or producer with better ad-libs? Fresh is like the anti-Khaled or Jazze Pha-- where they make any song they appear on unbearable, his intros and outros are often highlights. Fortunately, Eleven gives these plenty of run.

You can grab the mix here.

The tracklisting is this:

Mannie Fresh - Not Tonight
Cash Money Millionaires - Project Chick
Lil Wayne - The Block Is Hot
Big Tymers - Get Your Roll On
Juvenile - Ha
B.G. - Bling Bling
Mannie Fresh - Real Big
Lil Wayne - Way of Life
Mannie Fresh - The D.J.
Lil' Wayne - This Is the Carter
Big Tymers - Still Fly
Blast - Hood Rich
Juvenile - In My Life
Rick Ross - All I Have In This World
B.G. - Move Around
Mannie Fresh - Tell It Like It Is
Trina - Da Club
Shawt - Im Da Man
Bun B - I'm Fresh
Plies - Pants Hang Low
Young Jeezy - And Then What
Lil Flip - What it Do
Dem Franchize Boyz - Mr. Feel Good
Squad Up - Parking Lot
Lil Wayne - Go DJ
T.I. - Front, Back
Big Tymers - Southern Boy
Big Tymers - Hello

For more freebies from Eleven, there's Winter Sadness and two mixes with the homeboy DJ mOma, Special Delivery 1 and Special Delivery 2. Also check out the latest installment of Glamorous Life, the series of 80s R&B mixes that he and DJ Ayres put together; you can buy that here.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

It's about that time

This sounds like spring to me:

Woods Empire: "Universal Love" (Tabu, 1981)


Monday, March 9, 2009

Twee funk revisited

A few years ago my dudes at the Fader asked me to put together something for their Vinyl Archeology column, a regular feature devoted to neglected music. I pitched ideas on a few pet obsessions that seemed broad enough to appeal to the Fader's readership (Patrick Adams productions, slept-on Sugarhill stuff, disk jockey rap) but ultimately they had me go with a genre I called "Twee Funk"-- basically, Jackson 5-inspired soul and funk records.

To go with the article, I whipped up a 69-minute mix featuring these songs:

Jackson 5: “2, 4, 6, 8”
Promise: “I’m Not Ready for Love”
The Voices of East Harlem: “Can You Feel It”
Starborn: “Funky Piper”
The Young Gents: “Big Things Come in Small Packages”
Starborn: “Real Real Thing”
The Nation Survivers (sic): “Get Down”
The Posse: “Come Out and Play”
Wee Three: “Get on Board”
Jackson Sisters: “I Believe in Miracles”
Family Plann: “Come On Let’s Do the Breakdown”
Greer Bros.: “We Don’t Dig No Busing”
Reginald Milton & the Soul Jets: “Clap Your Hands”
The Eight Minutes: “I Can’t Get No Higher”
The Voices of East Harlem: “So Rare”
The Sylvers: “We Can Make It”
The Sylvers: “I Don’t Need to Prove Myself”
Foster Sylvers: “Misdemeanor”
The Sylvers: “Don’t Give Up the Good Life”
The Sylvers: “I Aim to Please”
The Sylvers: “Stay Away from Me”
The Sylvers: “Fool’s Paradise”
The Sylvers: “I Know Myself”
The Sylvers: “Only One Can Win”
Foster Sylvers: “Big Things Come In Small Packages”
The Eight Minutes: “Find the One Who Loves You”
Ponderosa Twins Plus One: “Bound”
Family Circle: “It Doesn’t Make Sense”

You can download it here. The other day I heard the mix for the first time in two years and was surprised at how proud I felt.

Here are two favorites that I toyed with including in the mix but which didn't make the final version:

Spidell: "When It's Over" (Gree-Jack, 197?)

Ultimate Ovation: "Hello Baby" (Ultimate 1999, 197?)

I'm not going to pretend that this is the most musical song, but I find its goofiness and weird intensity completely winning.

Aside from hearing the mix again, a big inspiration for this post was watching a clip of Jimmy Briscoe & the Beavers getting real mannish with James Brown's "Hot Pants" on a clip of the early 1970s public TV show Soul! (that episode also features LeRoy Burgess destroying "Don't Turn Around" while pulling Al Green faces while wearing what looks like a jockstrap with the letters "B-I" printed on the front!).

Five other episodes of Soul! are currently available here. The episode with Tito Puente, Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe & Felipe Luciano is a must-see. The performance by Earth Wind & Fire on this episode is also pretty mind-blowing; watching Verdine White's solo and the way they work the crowd at the end of their last song made me feel like that kind of craft and showmanship is pretty much lost in modern black music.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ian Carr, R.I.P.

Ian Carr was super-underrated, at least in the U.S.

The British trumpeter and composer led two great bands, the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet and Nucleus. With the former, he cut some beautiful and haunting music; the latter band added a backbeat and sometimes upped the tempo but usually retained some of the quintet's brooding lyricism-- I wasn't that surprised to read in obits that Carr had lifelong problems with depression.

It's always been a little surprising to me that he wasn't more popular; his music seemed to me like it could appeal to a lot of audiences that didn't pick up on him. That is, if you like early 70s Miles Davis, Can, Endtroducing-era DJ Shadow, CTI-era Freddie Hubbard, the more droning Black Sabbath material, Marc Moulin's Placebo or anything moody and funky, his music is probably for you.

Just about everything he released is in print on a series of UK twofer reissues. I've heard almost everything he did and I've never heard a bad record from him. On the straight ahead jazz end, Shades of Blue/Dusk Fire is great; for the jazz-rock stuff, maybe start with Solar Plexus/Belladonna or Labyrinth/Roots. This is from the latter:

Ian Carr's Nucleus: "Roots" (Vertigo, 1973)

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lyman Woodard, R.I.P.

Organist Lyman Woodard passed away last week. He was a major presence on the Detroit jazz scene for decades, holding down numerous residencies and schooling a lot of younger players.

I first discovered his music via his sublime Saturday Night Special LP, which is one of my favorite jazz LPs. It's a subtle record-- intimate, lo-fi, lightly funky, kind of wistful-- but one that I don't tire of. The songs, all by Woodard or members of his band, are brooding, gorgeous, groovy and a little eerie-- often all at once-- and the arrangements are perfect.

The original album is pretty rare-- it was released on John Sinclair's Strata Records, which didn't have much in the way of distribution. In December I ripped the whole LP and was bugging off the fact that in the reissue glut of the past decade, Saturday Night Special had somehow slipped through the cracks. However before I got around to posting any of the songs here, I learned that Wax Poetics has a reissue in the works with new liner notes and the original, even more gangster cover. It's currently available only in digital form but they're also taking pre-orders on limited edition double vinyl.

Because a legit reissue is available, I've held off on posting anything from Saturday Night Special, but here is an earlier version of a song that appears on that LP:

The 8th Day: "Cheba" (Invictus, 1973)

Lyman Woodard was briefly a member of the 8th Day and on their second album they recorded this song. There's something a little sinister in the bassline but the song has such a groovy pulse that I still reach for it every time I'm DJing on a balmy night.

Bonus random fact I learned while preparing this post that kinda blew me away: the saxophonist on Saturday Night Special is also the singer of this mid-90s house classic.

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