Friday, September 30, 2011

Since I fell for you

Jim "Preacher" Ellis & the Centuries: "Since I Fell For You" (Cross Road, 196?)

Jimmy "Preacher" Ellis (sometimes "Jimmie", here "Jim") is an Arkansas-born, Seattle-reared bluesman now based in Texas. In the 1960s he cut nearly a dozen soul singles, mainly for L.A. labels, ranging from gritty R&B to psychedelic funk. Some are very good, the others are great. All are balls out.

It took me years to find a copy of this record, which I first heard years ago on Mr. Finewine's Downtown Soulville show. I love the way the performance and arrangement totally bulldoze Buddy Johnson's song. In every other version I've heard, the tempo is languid and the mood tortured and resigned. Here the bossa nova beat and aggressive chant render the song strident, almost jaunty.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The lost Gil Scott-Heron/Brian Jackson album

In the mid-1970s, Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, along with their percussionist Barnett Williams, wrote and performed the soundtrack for a low-budget Blaxploitation film, The Baron a/k/a Black Cue.

The film features portions of four original songs and quite a few instrumentals. Full versions of the songs were never released, but the snippets that appear in the film are tantalizing. The songwriting isn't Gil at his most subtle, but the songs groove hard.

I ripped all of the music from a DVD of the film and uploaded it in a .zip file here. There are 12 tracks, which run about 15 minutes in total. You'll hear plenty of dialogue and sound effects over the music, which is distracting but also entertaining. The film itself is fairly unwatchable, but listening to them I found myself imagining a better movie in my head to go with the music and dialogue.

Here are some highlights from the soundtrack:

"The Baron's Theme"

"Diamond Mine"

"A Bright Light On the Dark Side of Town"

I'm kind of surprised this never got the same bootleg-from-the-DVD treatment as some other Blaxploitation films with unreleased or partially unreleased soundtracks, like The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Bucktown, Black Belt Jones or The Black Gestapo. It's certainly as good as any of those.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still hatin'

I've been meaning to put in a plug for the Stay Hatin' podcasts, which I've steadily been grinding out with SergDun and Soft Money.

We're 10 shows deep now and I feel like we've found a good formula, balancing new rap selections, informed commentary and having fun drinking and acting like dumbasses. (Truth be told, Soft Money and I are still trying to catch up with Serg, who excels at drinking and acting like a dumbass. I don't know if we'll get there.)

For our most recent episode, we enlisted Willy Staley, who for years has written the Nation of Thizzlam blog and who recently began doing a fine rap podcast of his own, Champale. Willy was passing through town and shared some cool selections and his boundless love for Team Knoc. We were also fortunate enough to have a brief guest appearance from Noz of Cocaine Blunts fame.

Download Stay Hatin' 10 here.

Check out more episodes here.

Subscribe here.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wardell Quezergue, R.I.P.

New Orleans songwriter, producer and arranger Wardell Quezergue (pronounced ka-ZAIR) died today of heart failure. He was 81.

Quezergue was a master of eccentric rhythms and sly arrangements. Although less celebrated than other New Orleans music figures like Allen Toussaint or Dr. John, he was arguably as important.

Here's a sampling of some quintessential classics Quezergue wrote, produced and/or arranged:

Professor Longhair: "Big Chief" (Watch, 1964)

Smokey Johnson: "It Ain't My Fault" (Nola, 1965)

Robert Parker: "Barefootin'" (Nola, 1966)

King Floyd: "Groove Me" (Chimneyville, 1971)

Jean Knight: "Mr. Big Stuff" (Stax, 1971)

These are some lesser-known but great tracks he had a hand in:

The Barons Ltd.: "Making It Better" (Chimneyville, 197?)

The Unemployed: "They Won't Let Me" (Cotillion, 1971)

Bonnie & Sheila: "You Keep Me Hanging On" (King, 1971)

Jean Knight: "Do Me" (Stax, 1971)

The Enticers: "Thief" (Cotillion, 1972)

King Floyd: "Do Your Feeling" (Cotillion, 1973)

Robert Parker: "Get Ta Steppin'" (Island, 1974)

Ted Taylor: "Somebody's Gettin' It" (Alarm, 1976)

Bonus: I've been waiting for an excuse to post this forever and because of the awesome flip of "Mr. Big Stuff", now is as good a time as any. It's obnoxious, juvenile b-boy humor at its finest:

Serious-Lee-Fine: "The Big Dis" (Arista, 1989)

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