Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sunny days

The weather in Oakland finally got nice enough to jam these two mixes properly, so today I think I'm gonna fill a wading pool, crack a six-pack and zone out:

DJ Day: Way Out of Living

Pools - Paradise: Mixtape Vol. 1

Both carry a heavy warm-weather vibe, so although they're each about a month old I've held off on really digging into them until now.

DJ Day is a Palm Springs producer and DJ whose sets tend to be really eclectic and dope. Technically he's a beast and his mixes always contain a lot of surprising and interesting selections. His Do Over set from last year is maybe the best one I've heard and features some outstanding records I never hear (Tha Alkaholiks "Only When I'm Drunker"! Waterbed Kev!). This mix runs the gamut from funk to disco to reggae to disco raps but stays groovy throughout. (Except maybe for when he plays a version of Toto's "Africa". Fuck that song.) There's a full tracklist in the comments on Day's blog.

The Way Out of Living mix is hosted by Piecelock 70, which is an umbrella for Day and a bunch of other talented folks who are sort of at the margins of the indie rap world-- Doc Delay, People Under the Stairs, Kat from Crown City Rockers. They recently launched a website and have some projects on the way including a book that I'm highly anticipating.

The Pools is a collaboration between LA's Thee Mike B and DJ Morse Code, formerly of Frisco, now also an Angeleno. Mike runs a fine blog and Nat has made great mixes devoted to Mac Dre and to fusion slumpers, among other things.

Both are very versatile DJs but with this mix they mainly stick to smooth and sophisticated house, disco and disco edits. The pacing and mixing are really top-notch. Their Soundcloud page contains a couple of their edits, which have a similarly smooth vibe.

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Friday, April 29, 2011


While I was digging out records for my Huey Meaux post, I came across this, which for some reason I misremembered as being one of his productions.

Family Circle: "Crazy"

So tuneless, so frantic, so lo-fi, but it works.

Texas seemed to excel at this kind of sound:

The Equasions: "World of Loneliness" (Pac Sounds, 197?)

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Huey Meaux, R.I.P.

Huey Meaux passed away this week. He did some truly reprehensible things in his personal life, but he also recorded some great music.

The Texas producer was best known for discovering Doug Sahm and Barbara Lynn and for resurrecting Freddie Fender's career, but he also recorded scads of obscure and great singles from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Meaux had a remarkable ear for talent and a gift for shaping songs. Here are some of my favorite productions by him.

The Ascots: "She's So Indifferent to Me Now" (Crazy Cajun, 19??)

I posted this just about two months ago, but it's too sublime not to share again.

Georgie Boy: "You'd Better Quit It" (SSS International, 19??)

So obnoxious, so great. There's a Barbara Lynn version of this, too, but it's not nearly as good.

Kool & Together: "Sittin' On a Red Hot Stove" (Pacemaker, 197?)

This sounds like this and this, which is two very good things to sound like.

Yesterday's Obsession: "Complicated Mind" (Pacemaker, 196?)

The other side of this single is a little better known thanks to mixes and comps but this side is as good to me, if not better.

Joe Melvin: "Friends in Show Business" (Jetstream, 196?)

Basic concept, crafty execution.

James Young Blues Band: "Funky Booty" (Jetstream, 197?)

A/k/a Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff". On some pressings, Young is credited as James "Big Sambo" Young. I don't know why someone thought that was a good idea.

Honorable mention:

This wasn't produced by Meaux, but Sonny Raye was one of Meaux's artists, Jim Duff was his engineer and it's a great record, to boot.

Sonny Raye & Fancy: "Calvin No. 1" (Sportscene, 1975)

Calvin Murphy played guard for the Rockets in the 1970s and 1980s. Although he was only 5'9", he held his own on the court and was a phenomenal free-throw shooter. Off the court, he has proved himself to be a miserable piece of shit. Despite that, I manage to enjoy this song by pretending it's about Earl Boykins.

Right on for the little man.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

2 Busy Saying Yeah - Old Friends

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An unfunny thing happened as I was preparing to do a show one Friday last month. My computer died.

I’m helpless without my desktop. I keep only a small fraction of my music on my laptop and the desktop not only holds everything else, it’s where I sort music and keep track of ideas for mixes and shows.

There was a time when I really didn’t play anything unless it was on vinyl, but these days it’s more or less the opposite. I seldom listen to anything unless it’s on my computer. So I decided to get back at my computer by putting together a show the old-fashioned way, playing nothing but vinyl.

The first two-thirds of the show is mostly made up of some records I’ve always wanted to hear together in a mix, but hadn’t combined until now. The selections are all over the map stylistically-- Northern soul, Latin, wiggy jazz funk-- but to me each of them ties in with a couple of the others.

The remainder of the mix is mostly recent rediscoveries. Over the past few months I’ve been preparing to cull a major portion of my collection and in the process I’ve heard a lot things I’d forgotten about or never noticed before.

I called the mix “old friends” because it's mostly stuff that's been knocking around in my head for years. Hopefully some of it will get stuck in yours.

1. Micki Lynn – I’ve Got the Blues (Capitol 45)
2. Major Lance – Sometimes I Wonder (Okeh 45)
3. George & Lee – Nobody but You (International City 45)
4. The Metros – Since I Found My Baby (RCA Victor 45)
5. Ernie Marbray – Ain’t Nobody’s Business (Wee 45)
6. The Mad Lads – Monkey Time ’69 (Volt LP)
7. The Curtis Liggins Indications – What It Is? (Kaycee-Soul 45)
8. The Turks – Generation Gap (Daran 45)
9. Tony Talent – Gotta Tell Somebody (About My Baby) (Vando 45)
10. Mitch Mitchell and Gene “The King” – Definition of Things (Goko 45)
11. Desciples of Soul – Soul Revolution (G.V. 45)
12. Tito Puente – Hit the Bongo (Tico LP)
13. Calvin Keys – B.K. (Black Jazz LP)
14. Tania Maria – Fio Maravilha (Barclay LP)
15. Mike Westbrook – Love Song No. 2 (Deram LP)
16. Jackie & Roy – Winds of Heaven (Capitol LP)
17. The Latin Dimension – What More Can I Say (Columbia LP)
18. Joe Loco – Isla Verde (Sunset LP)
19. Shirley Horn – Big City (ABC Paramount LP)
20. The Baron Von Ohlen Quartet feat. Mary Ann Moss – Runaway Heart (Creative World LP)
21. Malachi Thompson – The Quest (Ra LP)
22. Phil Moore III – Nappy Headed Child (Atlantic)
23. Ray Barretto – Hard Hands (Pink Elephant 45)
24. Groove Holmes – No Trouble on the Mountain (Groove Merchant LP)
25. Skip Mahoaney & the Casuals – Town Called Nowhere (D.C. International LP)
26. Friday, Saturday & Sunday – There Must Be Something (Dig 45)
27. Sunny & the Sunliners – Should I Take You Home (RPR 45)
28. Gene Williams – Don’t Let Our Love Fade Away (Forte 45)
29. Bobby Holley – Baby, I Love You (Weis 45)
30. The Wasters – Accept My Love (Uni 45)
31. Erroll Gaye & the Imaginations – You Don’t Want My Love (Steel Town 45)
32. The End Product – Sunday Dreaming (Paramount 45)
33. J.J. Barnes – I Just Make Believe (I’m Touching You) (Perception LP)
34. The Mystics – That’s the Kind of Love (Teako 45)
35. First Family – That’s Love (Washington 45)
36. The Topics – All Good Things Must End (Heavy Duty 45)

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Monday, April 11, 2011


The Perception/Today labels were nothing if not efficient recyclers. Once you've listened to a few of the LPs, you recognize that the same backing tracks keep reappearing from album to album. So, for example, The Albert's horn-rock dirge "Pity the Child" appears with a poetry recitation under the title "The Trouble With Dreams" on Wanda Robinson's Black Ivory and just about every soul album on the label seems to feature at least one backing track already used by Black Ivory.

This practice is more than a little janky and awful in theory, but more often than that not it means hearing the work of Perception/Today's resident genius, Patrick Adams, versioned by multiple performers.

"Touching You" in an oddity among these because although it's a Patrick Adams/David Jordan composition, the arrangement is usually credited to Eumir Deodato, who oversaw the album on which it first appeared, Astrud Gilberto's Now.

Astrud Gilberto: "Touching You" (Perception, 1972)

I've never understood the allure of Astrud Gilberto. Even at her most emotive, she sounds like a heavily-accented Stepford Wife. Nonetheless, this was the first version of the song that I heard, so I've got a sweet spot for it.

But the vocal is so much better on this version:

J.J. Barnes: "I Just Make Believe (I'm Touching You)" (Perception, 1973)

And then there's this, for which they actually re-recorded the backing track:

Debbie Taylor: "Touchin' You" (Today, 1972)

FWIW, there's also a 45 on Today credited to the Patrick Adams Initiative called "Touching You". I don't know if it's yet another version, but I'm curious to hear it.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday dreaming

The End Product: "Sunday Dreaming" (Paramount, 1971)

The last time I was at Big City Records, I heard a version of this by the Shirelles but it took me months to place the original.

I know nothing about the End Product but I believe this is their only release. The song was co-written by J.R. Bailey, who is best known for co-writing the Main Ingredient's "Everybody Plays the Fool" but was also a pretty fair performer. There's also this version:

Rock Flowers: "Sunday Dreaming" (Wheel, 1971)

Rock Flowers was a group crafted to tie in with a line of Barbie-like Mattel dolls that were marketed with "rock" fashions and 45s. There are no members credited on the self-titled LP this is taken from. I kind of doubt the women pictured on the cover actually sing it. Casey Kasem knew the time:

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Don't want

Erroll Gaye & the Imaginations: "You Don't Want My Love" (Steel Town, 1975)

Steel Town was the Gary, Indiana label that launched the Jackson 5's career with a couple of pre-Motown singles in 1968. The lead singer here sounds more than a little like a young MJ. You can't blame them for hoping lightning would strike twice.

I love this record on its own terms but something about the high notes in the chorus always puts me in mind of that early 2000s era of rap beats with sped-up soul vocal samples. Then usually my thoughts wander and visions of Freeway, Husalah or Ghostface rapping over this dance in my head.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reachin' out

A bunch of years ago I heard this on a comp and was bowled over by the way it walks the line between the funk of the intro and the lovers-style sweetness of the verse:

Myrna Hague: "Touch Me Baby" (Studio One, 197?)

I knew it was a cover of a Johnny Bristol song, but I didn't realize that the arrangement was taken from this version:

Tamiko Jones: "Touch Me Baby (Reachin' Out for Your Love)" (Atlantis II, 1977)

The Myrna Hague track also reminds me of this great cover of a song that was already pretty much reggae in its original version:

Jerry Jones: "Still Water" (Bamboo, 1970)

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