Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Plays seven inches

This Friday I'm playing at the 45 Sessions, an all-45 monthly hosted by some friends from the Oakland Faders crew, DJ Platurn, E Da Boss & DJ Enki. (Also playing with us, the homie stromie Joe Quixx! Details here.)

These days I really never play 45 sets except when I'm out in NYC and drop in on friends who do vinyl parties like Mr. Finewine or JBX. The last time I remember doing that on the west coast was for an all-45 45th birthday party for my friend DJ Stef (an idea I may be biting sooner than I wish).

As a warm-up for the 45 Sessions, I made a little mix, pulling out about 100 records and sort of going from there. It's mostly 70s era funk and soul-- lots of classics, some recent favorites, some oddities. Hopefully there's some "oh shit, it's great to hear that", some "wait, what the hell is that?" and maybe an "ooh, he's got that?" or "wait, that's on 45?!?" or two.

You can stream or download the mix HERE. If for any reason that doesn't work, the mix is also available at Mixcrate.

1. New Birth – You Are What I’m All About
2. The Blowflys – Funky
3. Van Grack and Company – NT
4. Ronnie Keaton & the Ocean-Liners – Going Down for the Last Time
5. The Notations – Super People
6. The Trinikas – Remember Me
7. The Quickest Way Out – Tick Tock Baby (It’s a Quarter to Love)
8. Dee Edwards – Why Can’t There Be Love
9. Matata – I Want You
10. House Guest Rated X – What So Never the Dance Pt. 1
11. Myra Barnes – Super Good Pt. 1
12. C. Fortune & J. Brinson – The Hipster
13. Tony Alvon & the Bel-Airs – Boom Boom Boom
14. Leroy & the Drivers – Sad Chicken
15. Nancy Sinatra – Bang Bang
16. Betty Chung – Bang Bang
17. Heart – Give Me a Happy Day
18. Dionne Warwick – You’re Gonna Need Me
19. The Sisters Love – Now Is the Time
20. Popcorn Wylie – Funky Rubber Band
21. Apple & the 3 Oranges – Free & Easy Pt. 1
22. Hank Ballard – I’m a Junkie for My Baby’s Love
23. Robert Jay – Alcohol Pt. 1
24. Sugar Billy Garner – I Got Some
25. Junior & the Classics – Kill the Pain
26. The Fabulous Souls – Take Me
27. Sir Guy & the Speller Bros. Band – Let Home Cross Your Mind
28. 6 Pak feat. Larry Berney – There Was a Time
29. Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds – The Yolk
30. Dynamic Corvettes – Funky Music Is the Thing Pt. 2
31. The Jackson Sisters – I Believe in Miracles
32. Chuck Colbert & Viewpoint – Stay
33. The Isley Brothers – Keep On Doin’
34. Graham Central Station – The Jam
35. Bobby Franklin’s Insanity – Bring It On Down To Me Pt. 1
36. The Soul Company – Hump the Bump Pt. 1
37. Creations Unlimited – Chrystal Illusion
38. Joey Irving – Don’t Throw Our Love Away
39. Pearly Queen – Quit Jive’in
40. Marvin Gaye – ‘T’ Plays It Cool
41. Billy Young – Suffering With a Hangover Pt. 1
42. Lenny Williams – Feelin’ Blue
43. MFQ – Every Minute of Every Day
44. Nolan Porter – If I Could Only Be Sure
45. The New Establishment – Ridin’ High
46. Otis Brown – Who’s Gonna Take Me Home

This mix started off as a practice run playing 45s and then got more involved when I realized how shitty at it I'd become. It's a lot less like riding a bicycle than I'd hoped.

I used to play 45s all the time. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Wednesday nights I would often grab a box of them and head down to my friend DJ Kitty's funk party to play a set on what is to this day maybe the shittiest sound system I've ever played. (The Ruby Room's system was pretty awful to begin with but after some noise complaints from a neighbor the management disabled the mixer by gluing caps over the volume and bass knobs.)

But it was good practice. I remember being invited by DJ Shadow to open for him and Cut Chemist when they did their Product Placement show back in 2001-- which was a super-big deal to me-- and putting together an hour-long routine in a day or so and nailing it on the first take. That didn't happen this time. When I rolled the tape I found that I blew almost every mix and it took a lot of work to tighten things up.

Playing 45s is tough. The main thing is that a lot of the music I played doesn't lend itself to mixing. Arrangements are dense and arbitrary (an unfrustrated person would say "creative" or "inspired") and tempos wander all over the place, so mixing is tricky.

Then there are all the technical issues Serato has freed me from remembering how to deal with: that there are no cue points, that speeding up or slowing down a record too quickly can mess up the pitch, that records often skip when you're cueing or cutting them and that you can easily destroy a record through normal use. This is particularly true of records that happen to be pressed not from vinyl but from styrene, a substance that often seems to cue burn at a mere glance. (Case in point, the Leroy & the Drivers 45 heard in the mix: that persistent shhhh sound and loss of high end is textbook styrene. Ugh.)

About the title of this mix: all of the records I played were 7"s, but not all were 45s-- a handful were made to play at 33 rpm, so I named it accordingly. For those who care about this sort of thing, I didn't use any reissues.

Oh lastly, if (to borrow a phrase from the Martorialist) you're one of those poncey bastards who'll only listen to a mix if it's on Soundcloud then we can do that, too:

(Oh wait, I spoke too soon. Soundcloud tells me that my cover image is infringing someone's copyright (?!) and that therefore they won't host it. Ugh. Dispute filed.)

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Thursday, August 2, 2012


James Pane: "Are You Ready (Matthew Africa edit)" (GSP, 1975)

I'm obsessed with this song.

It has a hard sound to characterize. It's funky and soulful obviously but there's also a strangely psychedelic feel to it and maybe something spiritual in it, too. It's like some sort of weird amalgam of "Right Off"'s galloping bass, with the spacy dislocation "I Just Want to See His Face" and the building to nowhere vibe of "Robot Strut"/"Do It Like You Feel It".

The original single is split into two parts and has a crazy bridge that would probably be okay as a separate song but totally blows the mood for me. (You can hear a snippet of that here, where it's also for sale.)

From what I can gether, James Pane is from Mississippi and a decade or so later he cut a full-length under the name James Taylor.

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