Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nice and soft

Wish feat. La-Rita Gaskin: "Nice & Soft" (Perspective, 1981)

Next to "Is It All Over My Face", this song has the most pause-worthy/maybe-not-intentionally-hilarious chorus of any disco record. Which is saying a lot.

"Nice & Soft" was produced by NY disco don Greg Carmichael, who was behind classics by the Universal Robot Band, Inner Life and Tony Aiken, among others.

I think this was the only release on Perspective Records, although the label was affiliated with Rota, which issued some good disco and disco rap records. This single bugs me out because although it's clearly a New York record, the sleeve lists the label address as an apartment a block from People's Park in Berkeley. It's a very un-disco address.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I currently have a ton of good rare groove, jazz, Latin and Brazilian records from my collection up on eBay. There are a lot of obvious trophy/grail pieces as well as some great mid-range things, but I thought I'd shine a light on a few that I think are quality sleepers.

Pardon the jankiness of the presentation here. The auction was kind of a last-minute thing, so before I pushed things out the door and into the arms of Brendan from Cavern Discos I didn't really have time to rip or photograph much, so I've borrowed a lot of Brendan's photos.

Lee Willhite: "The World Is a Ghetto" (Big Tampa, 1982) (auction)

Such a sucker for this. He does a good version of "Song for My Father", too.

Togetherness: "Ain't No Sunshine" (Custom, 197?) (auction)

Another lightly jazzed-up arrangement of a soul classic. There are some worthy jazz-funk tracks on the same album.

Sir Edward: "People Make the World Go Round" (Encounter, 197?) (auction)

Next to the Stylistics' original version this is probably my favorite version of this. Once it hits that turnaround at the 2:45 mark, the song sort of goes in to freefall in the best possible way. George Davis's guitar part kills. Fun fact: "Sir Edward" was an alias for Harold Vick.

California High Jazz Quintet: "Shadow of the Equinox" (LRS, 197?) (auction)

Björn Alkes Kvintett: "Communisten" (Caprice, 1974) (auction)

Swedish head-nodder.

The Ron Roberts Concert Ensemble: "No Terms to Be Made" (Jasmine, 1980) (auction)

A funky dirge from an unknown Missouri jazz man. FWIW, this Hans Dulfer record has a track that hits the same nerves.

Erwin Lehn: "Color" (MPS, 197?) (auction)

So rough. I literally ran to a DJ booth once to find out what this was.

Don Cherry & the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra: "Action" (Everest, 197?) (auction)

Penderecki and Cherry came up with such a strange groove here. Some Brits sampled this awhile ago. Was it Nextmen? Unsung Heroes?

John Keating: "Space Agent" (Columbia Quadrophonic, 197?) (auction)

This kind of now sound/Dusty Fingers sound thing is sort of out of style these days but this track is nuts. It takes a while to get going but when it hits at the two-minute mark, watch out.

I particularly love the weird R2D2-type squeals.

Freddie Rodriguez: "Swing Para Ti Pt. 1" (UA Latino, 196?) (auction)

So many great tracks on this record. I posted up another from the record, "Lolypop", a while ago.

There are a few more things I would have wanted to include in this post but I realized I didn't get around to recording them, like the Eddie Palmieri record with "Condiciones Que Existen". Fortunately the auction listings have a ton of sound clips.

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Momma was too

Chubb Rock: "Momma Was a Rollin Stone" (Select, 1988)

Best mother's day song ever.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Talk talk

If you like hearing me talk about good music with smart people, here are two chances for you to enjoy a lot of that.

First, my friend Oliver Wang of the great Soul-Sides blog has just introduced a new podcast called Sidebar and I am the first guest. The format is a conversation that revolves around three selections chosen by the guest.

In this case, Oliver asked me to choose three records that I chose not to part with when I recently gutted a portion of my record collection. (I've avoided shilling on this blog to date but 400+ of my best rare groove, jazz, Brazilian and Latin records are up on eBay currently.)

You can hear our conversation here and subscribe to the series here.

It just so happens that today is also the world premiere of a new podcast I'm doing with two of my favorite rap bloggers, Serg of Beer and Rap and Soft Money of Space Age Hustle. We call it Stay Hatin'.

The podcast came about because from time to time we hang out and talk about raps and Serg had the idea we should record our conversations. I really liked the idea because I respect their opinions and also because it would force me to pay more attention to current rap music than I have lately. Also I find Serg endlessly entertaining. Our current plan is to do one podcast every other week or so.

In the first episode we play and talk about some stuff I love and some stuff I'm indifferent to and some stuff I don't ever need to hear again but on the whole I think it's a pretty good listen. You can download it here or stream it at our tumblr page.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011


Thee Midniters: "Chicano Power" (La Raza, 196?)

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Monday, May 2, 2011

In the trunk

I've said good things about R8R & L-Wood's previous mixes devoted to the 1990s SF and Sacramento rap scenes, but I wasn't really prepared for their new 4-CD, 107-song Northern California Trunk Tape Resurrection. The set is an amazing overview of 1990s Bay Area rap, or at least a part of it.

There were two almost completely separate independent local scenes in the Bay Area in the 1990s. Both took their business model from Too $hort's hand-to-hand street hustle, but the content and style was almost totally different. On the one hand was the more town-ish sound, which took its cues from the style of Too $hort, Spice 1, RBL Posse and others. On the other was the 4-tracking, dirt hustling, ciphering set inspired by Hieroglyphics, Hobo Junction, Project Blowed, the Native Tongues and Ultramagnetic MCs. That music is mostly absent here, although there’s a track from Bored Stiff and two from Hieroglyphics’ Extra Prolific.

The selections span the region from San Jose to Sacramento, collecting a handful of recognizable names (Too $hort, Mac Dre, E-40, Spice 1, San Quinn) and dozens of unknowns inspired by them. Most of the selections are hopelessly obscure and many are great. There's a youtube flyer with some excerpts from the mix but I don't think it really captures the quality of the selections or how well the 4 CDs flow. I made it through the CDs without skipping anything, which is pretty much unheard of for me, and did a lot of rewinding in the process.

R8R and L-Wood worked hard to clean up the sound quality and it shows. Given how bad cassettes sound out of the box and how badly they wear, most of the tracks knock surprisingly well. The packaging is pretty cool, too. The CD inserts are difficult to read but they identify all of the titles and dates of the original releases, plus producer names.

There's info on ordering here. I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who appreciates Bay Area rap from the 1990s. It's an incredible time capsule of the breadth and depth of the scene and also what it was like back then. It's got me real nostalgic for that era.

Here are a couple of cassette-only tracks from the Bay that aren't on there but might have fit in well:

Real Brothers: "Soul Controllers" (Black Vinyl, 1992)

Notwithstanding the label name I'm pretty sure this was cassette-only, which is a shame because the Real Brothers' album is great. They seem to have had ties to SF and to Sac. I really wish I'd know about them at the time because their album's pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear back then. The whole thing is posted over at Bust the Facts, so run and go get it.

Luniz: "Revelations" (Noo Trybe, 1997)

Yukmouth is a gifted rapper but often I can't deal with his songs (particularly his solo stuff) because he's just too nihilistic. Here he raps about some real-life personal drama that's so dark and intense that it kind of makes the aggression of his other stuff make sense. Big shout to my dude DJ Fuze, who put me up on this and sent me the rip.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011


General Lee: "Magic, Pt. 1" (Lost Weekend, 1980)

General Lee was a Chicago group that released a few singles around the turn of the 1980s. (Notwithstanding what's written on the label here, I don't think their album was ever released.)

Another of their singles, "We Did It Baby", was one of the highlights of the first Fusion Batches mix by my homie Morse Code, who I mentioned yesterday.

General Lee seemed to have a knack for great but slightly spooky soul records. I only wish they could have released a few more.

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