Archive for April, 2008

30
Apr
08

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist – Brainfreeze

This is the stuff Mixtape legends are made of.

I picked this up on a whim at the record store because I knew DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist and was already a fan of their work.  I thought to myself:

“Hmmm…a mix of funk 45s, how quaint.”

Then I tossed it in my pile, only to discover later that it contained some of the rarest, funkiest shit I had never heard of.  I have a shitload of old funk and soul in my crates, so for something this awesome to come out and not have a single track I could identify kind of brought my mind to a halt.  45’s like these go for mucho dinero on Ebay! But to fully understand the brilliance of this mix, you need a little history.

See, there used to be an awesome club in San Francisco called Future Primitive.  Their hook was that they would pair up two DJ’s with different styles, usually a party rocker and a turntablist, and have them throw down for an evening.  One one occasion DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist were on hand, and already good friends and musical contemporaries when they decided to rehearse a little set just using their old funk 45’s.  What happened was nothing short of magic…so they kept the recording, pressed up 1000 copies to sell at their shows and another 1000 for local record shops.

It sold out real fast.

Back in the 80’s, when DJing was just beginning to evolve, guys like Double Dee and Steinski started a mini revolution by releasing a few tracks called ‘The Lessons’ which cut and mixed snippets and parts of popular tracks together into a new track.  What most DJ’s didn’t know was that this was done in a studio by cutting and pasting audio tape.  As far as they knew it was being done live, so they began emulating this technique using two turntables instead.  The rest is history, and would eventually lead to the skills you hear on this mix.

“Brainfreeze”, named and themed after 7-11 promotional 45 that actually has a sick break on it, was never repressed officially after 7-11 sent a cease and desist letter and they boys decided to simply move on. This was a huge mistake by 7-11, who should have jumped on the bandwagon and supported this project instead. But god forbid they be associated with something this fucking cool. It has been bootlegged to death though, and can still be found at some record stores.

If you were lucky enough, you got to catch the boys doing this show live…and got to enjoy a Slurpee while doing so. What’s more amazing than the rarity of the 45’s on this mix, is the fact that Shadow and Cut pretty much destroyed their copies by doing this mix.

But real art requires sacrifice.

UPDATE: Here’s the whole mix…via Youtube!!!

Bonus!!! Here’s the tracklisting via Wiki!

Mix One

  • Lamont Johson Quartet – “Thunder Kick” (Trailer to unreleased film)
  • The Jules Blattner Group – 2001 – “A Soul Odyssey”
  • Fried Chicken – “Funky DJ”
  • The Mohawks – “The Champ”
  • Reuben Bell – “Superjock”
  • Albert King – “Cold Feet”
  • Ultimate Force – “I’m Not Playing”
  • Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham – “Lover And A Friend”
  • Mack Rice – “Three People In Love”
  • The Nu People – “I’d Be Nowhere Today”
  • Nu-Sound Express Ltd – “Ain’t It Good Enough”
  • Mystic Moods – “Cosmic Sea”
  • American Gypsy – “Inside Out”
  • Odetta – “Hit Or Miss”
  • The Mar-Keys – “Grab This Thing (Part 2)”
  • Rusty Bryant – “FireEater”
  • Simtec and Wylie – “Bootleggin'” (Part 2)
  • Wilbur Bascomb and The Zodiac – “Just A Groove In ‘G'”
  • Eddie Bo and The Soul Finders – “We’re Doin’ It (Thang) (Part 2)”
  • Rufus Thomas – “Sophisticated Sissy”
  • The Showmen Inc. – “The Tramp (From Funky Broadway)” (Part 1)
  • The Original Soul Senders – “Soul Brother Testify (Part 2)”
  • Rufus Thomas – “Itch and Scratch (Part I and II)”
  • Alvin Cash – “Keep On Dancing (Instrumental”)
  • Lou Courtney – “Hey Joyce”
  • Bummer radio spot

Mix Two

  • The Singing Principal – “Women’s Lib”
  • Salt – “Hung Up”
  • The Soul Lifters – “Hot, Funky, and Sweaty”
  • Frankie Seay and The Soul Riders – “Soul Food”
  • The Interpretations – “Jason Pew Mosso” (Part 1)
  • Thunder and Lightning – “Bumpin’ Bus Stop”
  • Billy Garner – “I Got Some”
  • Pleasure Web – “Music Man (Part I and II)”
  • Gary Byrd – “Soul Travelin’ (The G.B.E.)” (Part I)
  • Clifton Chenier and Grandma Gee Gee – “Just Keep On Scratching”
  • “W” radio spot
  • Marlena Shaw – “California Soul”
  • The Vibrettes- “Humpty Dump (Part 1)”
  • Eddie Bo – “From This Day On”
  • 7 Eleven- “Dance The Slurp”
  • Kraftwerk – “Numbers”
  • Flash and The Five – “Flash It To The Beat”
  • Pearly Queen – “Quit Jivin'”
  • Tony Alvon and The Belairs – “Sexy Coffee Pot”
  • Chuck Mangione – “Hill Where The Lord Hides”
  • Funka Fize – “No Words”
  • Schooly D – “Gucci Time”
  • Jurassic 5 – “Unified Rebelution” (A cappella)
  • Third Guitar – “Baby Don’t Cry”
  • Don Pierce – “This Funky Thing”
  • Funka Fize – “Because You’re Funky”
  • The Troubleneck Brothers – “Back To The Hip Hop”
  • Stu Gardner – “Devil In A Man”
  • Samson and Delilah – “There’s A DJ In Your Town”
  • Giorgio Moroder – “Tears”
  • Tim and Bill – “Someone”
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29
Apr
08

KMD – Black Bastards

There was an old records store in Hermosa called Scooters (RIP) that was run by a good friend, Uncle Tim.

He specialized in mostly punk, but he also had an awesome selection of hip hop, funk and soul, and other wonderful oddities.  I loved the place because I could come in and just hang out with Tim and his dog, shoot the shit and play records. Also, since Tim was the only employee, I was often tapped to watch the store while he hit the bathroom…so i could live out my dream of running a cool record store.  Many of the great albums I own came from Scooters, and on one particular day Tim smiled as I walked in and just handed me this.

“What’s KMD?”

You need it.”

“I do?”

“If you like hip hop you do.”

“I do like hip hop…”

“That’ll be $15.  Can you watch the counter for me? I gotta pee.”

(That’s the way it usually went.)

But KMD’s “Black Bastards” album is a lost piece of ’94 golden age goodness that most people have never heard of.  Mostly because it was never released. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. KMD ( Kausing Much Damage) was formed in 1990 and first appeared on the 3rd Base track ‘The Gas Face’ before they released their eqaully awesome and overlooked debut album “Mr Hood.” (If you don’t know about “Mr Hood” I suggest you get on that one too, ’cause…Damn!) The original line up consisted of Zev Love X (who would later become MF Doom) DJ Subroc and Onyx the Birthstone Kid, and their sound was similar in theme to Brand Nubian…but with much more humor dumped in for good measure a la De La Soul.  It was a sound rooted in obscure samples and thought provoking rhymes.

After dropping Onyx from the line up and bringing MF Grimm in for some cuts, Zev and Subroc went on to record “Black Bastards” in 1994.  And then the trouble started.  DJ Subroc was hit by a car and killed in the middle of the album’s production, then Electra Records refused to release the LP with the cover Zev wanted.  To look at the cover today, it almost seems silly that it was the sticking point that prevented the albums release…it seems tame by today’s standards.  But neither Zev or the label was willing to budge and the album was shelved.

And there it sat for seven years.  Languishing in obscurity…know only to the few heads that had a chance to hear it, people never knew the joy of listening to ‘Sweet Premium Wine,’ or ‘What a Niggy Know.’ (featured above) until Zev got the rights and reissued it in 2001.

Grab it now so you can pretend like you knew all along.

 

28
Apr
08

Herbie Mann – At The Village Gate

Most of my friends are very aware of my obsession with digging up samples, so when Summer told me that her dad had one for me I wasn’t surprised.  What did surprise me was that it was a sample from a Sublime song, and that the source album was as awesome as it was.  That album was Herbie Mann’s 1961 live album, “At the Village Gate.”

You like jazz flute?  I mean this in a completely non-Ron Burgandy kind of way because aside from the crap you hear on any of the smooth jazz stations, most aren’t aware of what a singularly amazing instrument the flute can be in the hands of artists like Jermey Steig, or Herbie Mann.  At least the Herbie Mann of 1961, since current releases by the man are just way too…what’s the word?

Safe.

Yeah…too safe.  And if you want the real jazz, safe is as far as you can get from where you want to be.  Just coming off a South American tour at the time, Mann was already experimenting with sounds from the Caribbean and Africa when he began to incorporate the bossa nova and latin influences into his work.  And they mix so well, especially with the reverberations of the cool jazz that Miles had laid the foundations for in the previous decade.

And here, at the Villlage Gate on Bleeker Street was where it all came together.  The recording take you back to that single point in time, when it was really going down.

The live audience adds to the mood as well, shouting out out enthusiastic (alcohol induced) encouragement in the rare silences that punctuate this recording.  With a startlingly cool rendition of ‘Coming Home Baby’ that jams hard with the help of Hagood Hardy’s amazing vibe work interweaving with Mann’s flute, the album kicks off with a subtle bang. Mann follows next with a rendition of  Gershwin’s ‘Summertime,’ a tune that has been played out in numerous other recordings, but here finds a new and far funkier life than it ever had…before or since.  Younger listeners will recognize it as the haunting sample behind Sublime’s hit  ‘Doin Time.”

The second half of the CD (other side of the record for the older crowd) is an awesome twenty minute rendition of another Gershwin favorite ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So,’ and once again Mann and his bandmates take it to a completely different and amazing place.  With Herbie’s flute tracing a path through the middle east with it’s melodies, the track is highlighted by a solo from percussionist Chief Bey that literally brings the house down.

I mean that…literally.

Note: The above recording was the only video of this song I could find and for some reason he sped it up to 45.  Trust me when I tell you the original is 100 times better…and longer.

24
Apr
08

Cat Stevens – Teaser and Firecat

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I know, I know…some people are going to say “Tea for Tillerman motherfucker!!! Represent!!!”

Well, they may not use those exact words, but you get the idea.  I agree “Tea for Tillerman” also rocks, but I’m only one man and I can only write one post at a time.

Released in 1971, “Teaser and Firecat” went on to go triple platinum, same as the previous album ‘Tea for Tillerman.’  That’s two triple platinum albums, back to back.  Name an artist today who can do the same, or who can play the guitar, polymoog, bass, keyboards, electric mandolin, bouzouki,  harpsichord, penny whistle and percussion.  I can’t.  But then again, there aren’t any Cat Steven’s running around any more.

Born Steven Dentre Georgiou in 1948,  Stevens started off at the Hammersmith Art School at age 16, but was soon dismissed as he had decided music was where his interests really lay. ( His original artwork adorns many of his albums including “Teaser” ) But it was during this formative period that he discovered folk music.

He changed his name to Cat Stevens (he felt it was a more appropriate stage name than his give one) in th late sixties and began performing in local venues before being discovered at age 18 and releasing his first album “Matthew and Son.” After a lukewarm second album and a bout with tuberculosis the following year, he decided he wanted to bring his music to the world.

After signing with Island Records, he dropped the deeply personal “Mona Bone Jakon” in 1970, laying down the template for the singer/songwriter album that would be used successfully for many folk artists in the seventies.  Using this as a launchpad, Stevens mixed some of his pop sensibilities back into the next two albums and hit pay-dirt with “Tea” and “Teaser.”

Filled with hits and good vibes “Teaser and Firecat” remains a solid treat for the ears.  Back in the dark years when I had no access to other music, this was one of the only other high points in my mother’s record collection.  Stevens has a sound that just doesn’t compare to similar artists…one that mixes folk, rock and pop in a way that’s just insanely wonderful.  You may remember a few years back when Homeland Security stopped Stevens (who converted to Islam in 1977 and now goes by Yusef Islam) from entering the country.

I paraphrase Jon Stewart who said “Good work, Guys!  You stopped the man who wrote ‘Peace Train!'”

After he converted, Stevens walked away from music, using his weath and notoriety for a slew of philanthropic causes.  Only recently has he made a musical resurgence…and I hope it continues.  The world still needs music.

23
Apr
08

The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street

“Yup…Exile on Main St.  Own it”

This is such a no-brainer that it feels like I should leave the review at that.  But I can just can’t.

Released in 1972, the album was at first universally panned.  It took months before anyone fully realized it’s potential.  Why?  Because it’s one of those magical pieces of art that reveals itself very slowly with every listening.  What at first sounds distorted and unorganized, eventually come into full bloom.  So, much like Paul’s Boutique, you don’t “get it” in one listening.  It takes time.  Even now, the band members don’t regard it as a musical high point in their careers, mostly because of what was lived through to put it together.

Mostly compiled with material recorded between 1968 and 1972, the concept began forming soon after the Stone’s fired their business manager, Allen Klein ( who had gotten the rights to most of the band’s songs recorded before 1971 in the legal battle ) and started setting up their own business structure.  They had kept the songs hidden from Klein and wanted to use them as the basis for a new album.  After leaving England in 1971 to avoid taxes, they set up shop at Nellcote, an old Gestapo headquarters near Nice in France.

The Following years were marked by band members decent into drug use, alienation and band in-fighting.  Many of the tracks were recorded without members who either weren’t interested or failed to show up.  Better yet, there was a lot of differing methodologies in the post production of the album, with Jagger finishing it in Los Angeles.  But the end reslut still shows a group digging deep into their catalog of influences: blues, gospel, folk, and roots.

I am fond of the fact that this is one of the Band’s least commercial albums, only producing one single ‘Tumbling Dice,’ and you may go your whole life without hearing any of the tracks on the radio.

And yet, you almost want to.

Amazon!

22
Apr
08

Toncho Pilatos – Toncho Pilatos

So I’m continuing my series with another self titled album today.  This time, I give you Toncho Pilatos!

Taaa Daaa!

I tried to find out more about these guys but most of the material out there isn’t in English…and the internet translation service kind of loses something in the translation. I wish I had taken Spanish instead of French in High School, but at the time I thought French would make me more popular with the ladies.

It didn’t.

I wound up with this after a music trade with some insane collector over the internet and my first reaction was “Aw crap, what the hell did he slip in here?” You see, strangely enough, I actually get mad when people try and give me music. Not because I don’t appreciate it, but it’s just that I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own tastes, let alone someone else’s. So anyway,  I’m looking at the cover art and I figure it might be worth it just for that alone.

WRONG.

Take all the stuff going on in the UK music scene around 1971:  psyche, blues, heavy rock, Jethro Tull, Rolling Stones, Can or Led Zeppelin. Now mix ’em all together and transplant them to Mexico and you have Toncho Pilatos.  That’s it in a nut shell.  The only real difference is that they have substituted medieval and fantasy imagery with pyramids and Aztecs.  Below you’ll find a great track off the album called ‘Blind Man.’  Just check out the face melting guitar near the end.  I wish I could find a decent stream of a harder song because there are a bunch on this album like ‘Dejenla en Paz’ which has an insanely funky drum break in it.

What most people are unaware of is how huge the Mexican Rock scene was at the time, and how utterly awesome it was as well.  If you are interested in more stuff like this, I recommend:

“Love, Peace & Poetry – Mexican Psychedelic Music” by Tommy Lyz
or
“Chicano Power: Latin Rock in the USA 1968-1976” on the Soul Jazz Label

21
Apr
08

Groove Collective – Groove Collective

I was hanging out by the pool on Sunday when my friend introduced me to his pal, NAppy G. To Which I said:

“Holy Shit!  I’ve been listening to you since Groove Collective dropped in 1993!!!”

Nappy was stoked that I had remembered his early work…almost as stoked as he was to celebrate the holiday with me before his DJ Set (can I get a What-What?!?!) Which brings me to the album of the day, Groove Collective’s self titled debut ‘Groove Collective.”

I got the impression that a lot of albums from the nineties got lost in the acid jazz/trip-hop shuffle.  I guess you could call this album ‘acid jazz,’ but why not just call it ‘jazz’ which is what it is.  Funkier than most jazz? Laced with a little hip hop?  Leaning towards a little electronic? Yes, yes and yes…but still jazz.

Which begs the question…does a genre’s evolution really merit an entirely new genre name?

I don’t know.  But what I do know is how much I love this album!

Groove Collective formed in 1990 as a collection of musicians with a wide range of influences including jazz, be bob, funk, Latin and hip hop.  Their insistence on live instrumentation and ability to really groove for a dance floor has kept them blowing up live shows for over a decade now, despite their rotating list of members.  They also are one of the few groups to insist on keeping a DJ in the group.  Co-founding member John Maron states  “(Groove Collective’s) goal has always been to emulate the range of music a DJ plays during the course of the night at a packed club….A great DJ knows the songs that can ignite the room and fill the dance floor. Some of my favorite musical experiences have been in clubs, where you listen and realize how well all of these styles blend together into one big idiom of its own.” (from Bass Player Magazine, April 2001…by  way of Wiki!)

If you love jazz, and or Jazzy breaks this could be the piece you’ve been looking for.  I couldn’t find a good video for any of the tracks on this album except of this vid with their first track from the album on it called “rentstrike.”  It is one of my favorite tracks though!

Here’s a great video of them doing their cover of the Beatles ‘I want You.’

It’s pretty cheap on Amazon too.  You could download the whole thing for about $10.




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