Friday, February 25, 2005

Gals and Pals vs. Royksopp

Gals and Pals

Gals and Pals - Blue On Blue

Royksopp - So Easy

A real quickie today from Swedish vocal group Gals and Pals. I've been unable to find out anything about them apart from that they were most prominent in the sixties and apparently did a mean cover of Sandie Shaw's Always Something There To Remind Me.

This track, a cover of the Bobby Vinton classic, first came to my attention thanks to the Royksopp track So Easy of their album Melody AM which uses a large sample from it in it's chorus. I love the incredibly mellow backing track with these beautiful harmonies laid over the top. The separation of the male and female (or pals and gals) is excellently choreographed and listen out for the tinkling piano that comes in half way through. Definitely a cover version that to my mind blows away the original.

I've also included Royksopp's So Easy so you can compare. Its a funky little electronic number which uses the sample well and sparingly. However, maybe it's just me, but it kind of pales next to the original.

You can get a copy of Gals and Pals greatest hits HERE

Or alternatively get the superb album I got my version off, Sampled Vol 4, which I'm loath to reveal as the series is a goldmine for obscure tunes.

If you haven't already got a copy, the Royksopp album is worth checking out and can be bought HERE.

In other news, new PC came last night, getting internet connected tonight, so sometime next week I should finally be able to put up some of my obscure and deeply funky vinyl on here, sort out proper song hosting and also improve the quality of the Mp3s.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Richard "Groove" Holmes hammering the funk

Richard Holmes

Richard "Groove" Holmes - Flyjack

When you've been labeled with a nickname like "groove" then you had better be extremely funky and this man more than satisfies all requirements.

A Hammond organist like Dr. Lonnie Smith, Holmes was less interested in the jazzy side and much more concerned with making records that were insanely funky. "Groove" started his career as a jazz bassist and apparently switched his talents to the organ without any training. While influenced by the late great Jimmy Smith, Holmes music is there specifically to groove to. Unfortunately Holmes passed away in 1991 aged just 60. You can read much more about him here.

The track I'm sharing with you is from his classic 1973 album Night Glider and is 3 and a half minutes of funk goodness. I love the way Holmes uses the saxophones to contrast with the Hammond tune. A slow builder this track really takes off half way through where the percussion steps up a gear with wooshing high hats making the urge to nod your head almost irresistible.

You can get a copy of Night Glider HERE. Though have a look around and you should be able to get it cheaper.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Gravediggaz - Niggamortis / 6 Feet Deep


Gravediggaz - 1-800 Suicide

Gravediggaz - Pass The Shovel

So back to 1994 and the supergroup The Gravediggaz. The brainchild of the godlike Prince Paul, the group was made up of the Prince, RZA (then known as Prince Rakeem), Frukwan (from Stetasonic) and Too Poetic (now sadly passed away). They released their debut album 6 Feet Deep which was amazingly mainly slept on by the public before being reappraised and rightly raised to classic status when they released their second album, The Pick, The Sickle And The Shovel, in 1997, as RZA rose to the height of his fame. If you need more info there's a reasonably complete biography here.

A not widely known fact is that there are two versions circulating of their debut album 6 Feet Deep, the standard version and the original version released in Europe which included extra tracks and was superbly titled Niggamortis.

The first tune for your expectant ears today, 1-800 Suicide, is from the standard released version and was probably their biggest hit off the album. I love the bass and organ carrying the track before the guitar riff kicks in for the KRS One sampling chorus. On top of all that it's got a Ferris Bueller sample thrown in there as well - what more could you ask for? I always thought the Too Poetic verse stood out as the lyrical highlight of the track more for his delivery than the lyrics themselves.

The second track for your listening pleasure is the Niggamortis exclusive track, Pass The Shovel. Why this wasn't included on the 6 Feet Deep version is beyond me as it's a sweee-eet little track. A pounding beat and chorus of building horns with occasional whoops give the track a real vital energy. Once again the bass is funky to the extreme and I love the way Paul plays around with the basic backing, scratching it, throwing in a choir for one part - absolutely brilliant.

While the second album is decent and I certainly don't have a problem with RZA's talent behind the production desk I do feel it misses the fun of this debut release.

You can get a copy of 6 Feet Deep HERE.

Or you can get a copy of Niggamortis HERE.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Defecating On The Microphone With Nina Simone


Nina Simone - Sinner Man

Talib Kweli - Just To Get By

Nina Simone - Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter

Some music from the great lady herself today. Nina Simone first came to light in the music business in the mid 50's when, having trained as a classical pianist, she was told she had to sing as well as play. This introduced the world to one of the most unique voices in Jazz, a voice that has got better and better throughout the years until her death in 2003. I'm sure you already know all about her so I won't waste precious time though you can read a full biography of the great woman here.

Although I'm a big fan of much of her early work, it really gets interesting for me in the mid to late 60's period. Always a force to be reckoned with, Simone's increasingly husky and powerful voice was put to good use with a range of epic songs.

The first track I have for you her today is from the 1965 album Pastel Blues and is without doubt an epic track in every sense of the word, coming in at just over 10 minutes long. About the struggle to stay on the right path in life the song is carried forward by the relentless piano rhythm. As the rhythm builds up and the drums and backing singers come into the mix it builds up a gospel power to the track. However, what always sold this track to me was the breakdown around 4 and a half minutes in when it breaks down to nothing more than handclaps and the piano - absolutely brilliant.

While remaining firmly on the fence about the talents of Kanye West I have to admit his use of the piano and handclaps in Talib Kweli's Just To Get By is a stroke of genius. I've posted it up here as well so you can judge for yourself.

The third track today is that perennial favorite, Nina's cover of Ike and Tina Turner's Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter from her superb live album Is It Finished. This track is rightly regarded as a true classic, from the bongo intro onwards this track is all about the brilliant use of percussion and you really can't get much funkier than this.

You can buy Pastel Blues HERE
You can buy Is It Finished HERE

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dr. Lonnie Smith - Spinning Wheel

Lonnie Smith

Spinning Wheel - Lonnie Smith

So, mixing it up again a bit this week as I dip my toe in the waters of Jazz/Funk fusion. What better way to start it off than with an absolute classic and a song that's had it's beats sampled so many times you'd think it was in the hiphop producers starter pack.

First things first, this is not the legendary Lonnie Liston Smith despite the similarity in names. Dr Lonnie Smith was also a keyboardist but of the Hammond organ variety. Making a name for himself in George Benson's quartet in the 60's he went on to release a couple of funk/jazz fusion albums in the 70's on the ever reliable Blue Note. Surprisingly enough, Mr Smith isn't actually a qualified MD, legend has it that the moniker "Dr" came from his reputation of being able to doctor up fellow musicians music. You can read a full biography here.

The track I have for you today is taken from his 1970 album Drives and is nearer the funk end of the spectrum of fusion. I've always loved the playfulness of this track set in motion brilliantly by the combination of Smith's organ playing and the lively horn playing of, I think, Dave Hubbard and Ronnie Cuber. The track swings back and forth throughout and is a rare example of how to keep a piece of music fun and extremely cool at the same time. Check out the change of pace 6 minutes in as well, great example of how to keep jazzy improv from getting lost up it's own ass.

Spinning wheel is available on lots of Blue Note compilations but if you're feeling wealthy you could always pick up a copy of the original album HERE.

Oh yeah, the ongoing saga of downloads on this site is coming to an end. My new computer's being delivered monday and I should have a working site to directly link tracks by the end of next week at the latest.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A bit of Curtis for your weekend with a side helping of Patti Jo

Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield - The Underground

Patti Jo - Make Me Believe In You

After Noz's guest post on Soulsides the other day it occurred to me that while I put up some Curtis produced Five Stairsteps I haven't really touched on the man himself.

However, I'm rectifying that today with one funky track by the man himself and another track that has his production stamped all over it.

What can I say about Curtis that hasn't already been said in greater depth by other people far more qualified than me? Renowned for his merging of political commentary with extremely funky music, Curtis Mayfield was one of the great stars of funk during the seventies, probably most famously for his classic soundtrack to Superfly and his funk anthem Move On Up. Like a disturbingly high number of his fellow soul/funk musicians from that period(Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass) he suffered personal tragedy when he was struck by a falling lighting rig at one of his concerts in 1990 and left paralysed. He passed away at the depressingly young age of 57 in 1999. You can read his full biography here.

The first song I've got up here today, The Underground, is taken from Mayfield's classic 1971 album Roots. I've always loved the textures of this song, with the layered voices over the start and Curtis putting forward his manifesto before the funk groove starts up around 45 seconds in. From then on the riff keeps the track rolling along while Curtis puts his sweet vocals over the top and an excellent backing vocal.

The second song is another producer's credit for Mayfield, Patti Jo's Make Me Believe In You. I've put up the 7" version rather than the more famous 12" disco version as I think it more ably displays Curtis's signature production. Listen to the strings and riff on this and it could have been taken directly off the Superfly album. Patti delivers great vocals over the top as well, surprisingly mature for an artist who was apparently 16 when this was recorded.

You can get Curtis's Roots at a stupidly cheap price HERE.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Brand New Second Hand - Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva - Movements

Roots Manuva - Juggle Tings Proper

Going back to my limey roots today with a couple of choice cuts from Roots Manuva's debut album, Brand New Second Hand. Thought it was an appropriate time to post some Manuva due to his third album, Awfully Deep, having just been released and proof that he is maintaining the quality of his output.

I was originally planning to post a couple of more obscure tracks including a sublime cover of Yellow Submarine but wasn't really sure how familiar people were with this UK rapper/producer so thought I'd start off with the perfect introduction of Brand New Second Hand.

Roots Manuva has carved out a niche for himself as a genuinely talented British rapper. He burst onto the scene in 1999 when the idea of a decent English rapper that wasn't just a pale imitation of an American was still just a dream. The secret to his success for me was the mixture of dub/reggae/hip hop and electronic music he used as the blueprint for his tracks - a style that originally had him dismissed as being too eclectic in some circles of the UK music press. However, when his second album Run Come Save Me hit the shelves he cemented his position as the king of British hip hop with his interesting production and witty lyrics. You can read a full biography here.

The first track I've selected is one of the first tracks I ever heard from Mr Manuva, Movements. I love the blissed out bass and synths of the track. Couple this with Roots flow and the tracks has an almost hypnotic effect on the listener. It probably helps that Manuva doesn't have a standard British accent either, his voice a mixture of Jamaican dancehall and English Londoner resulting in a singsong style.

The second track I've selected, Juggle Tings Proper, is a more dancefloor orientated track. I love the little vocal sample in the background and the farting bassline. You can't knock a track that starts with the rapper exclaiming "great scott" either. Both tracks display the way Roots kept the production simple and effective, not afraid of people being able to hear his unusual rhyme style clearly.

These tracks display the confidence of an artist knowing it's his time to shine.

Both tracks are available on Brand New Second Hand which you can purchase HERE.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Welcome in Wednesday with the Reverend Al Green

Al Green

Al Green - I'm Glad You're Mine

Al Green - I Wish You Were Here

Ok ok, I know it keeps on switching but bear with me people, we're now back using Rapidshare for downloads. This is due to their unlimited download option so you all get a share of the music. Files will be available for seven days from posting and I've also reposted Rasputin Stash and Detroit Emeralds with this.

So, after the couple of days away and feeling the song of love in my heart after Valentines day I see this as the perfect time to post up some music by one of my all time favorites, Al Green.

I've heard people dismiss Al Green as the poor man's Marvin Gaye before which boils my blood as while Marvin's voice is the ultimate in seduction and foreplay I've always thought Al's voice was more like the act of sex itself, all shrieks and growls. Look I've had a couple of days off, I've had no sleep, forgive me this bit of pretentious twaddle.

Anyway, onto the music and two tracks that not only showcase Al Green's amazing voice but also the excellent production work of longtime collaborator Willie Mitchell, I've always loved the washed out sound of his strings and beats and the sound of the organs that immediately signals it as an Al Green track. I'll assume you know all about Al but if not you can read more here. You can also find out more about Willie Mitchell here.

The first song, I'm Glad You're Mine from the 1972 album I'm Still In Love With You has had it's beats sampled many times, and is a superb upbeat song from Al. I love the playful organs that run throughout the track and the way Al's voice is layered over the beats.

The second song, Wish You Were Here from the 1975 album Al Green Is Love is more of a standard Al Green slow number. I love the strings at the beginning of this track, only sampled once to my knowledge by Lootpack. Once again the production is stunning and Al Green delivers, as ever, perfect vocals over the top.

Seriously, listen to these two tracks and then try and tell me he's a poor man's anything.

You can buy I'm Still In Love With You here
You can buy Al Green's Greatest Hits here

Friday, February 11, 2005

Go Now - The Original Version

Bessie Banks

Bessie Banks - Go Now (Link 1)

Bessie Banks - Go Now (Link 2)

When I was growing up I was always under the impressions that The Moody Blues version of Go Now was the definitive article, the original and best version. Then one day I came across a collection of soul music entitled Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures and my eyes were opened as I heard this, the real original version of the song.

Dave Godin is basically a legend in soul music, having a great influence on the continuing interest people have in obscure soul and responsible for saving many many great records that would otherwise have been lost to obscurity for ever. In fact, my research since hearing this has revealed that when the Moody Blues released their cover of the song, Godin wrote a piece in the British press rightly informing people that this was actually a cover version of an earlier song. For a full biography of the man go here, you can also read more about Bessie Banks here.

Well, onto the song itself. A lot rawer in sound compared to the Moody Blues version, it also touches the heart in a way their version never did for me. Bessie's phrasing, while unusual, captures the faltering feel of the lyrics perfectly and the backing singers anguished sound makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Just noticed that The Mirror Eye did a post about Godin a while ago and off the same compilation but you can never have too much of a good thing.

Also, unsurprisingly, the ever excellent The Number One Songs In Heaven has posted twice on Godin with a piece on Deep Soul Treasures Vol 4 and an obituary after he sadly died last year.

You can buy the compilation HERE

This is also an appropriate track as I'm away the beginning of next week doing romantic things but I should be back with more new music Wednesday. To cover the fact that you only get a 100 downloads now and I'm away for four days I've put up two links to the song, basically if one's used up switch to the other one.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Detroit Emeralds tell it like it is, Rasputin Stash pass the buck

Detroit EmeraldsRasputin Stash

Detroit Emeralds - You're Getting A Little Too Smart

Rasputin Stash - The Devil Made Me Do It

No real link between these two groups except they're both master of funk.

The Detroit Emeralds are rightly regarded as a classic funk combo and here's one of the reasons why, You're Getting A Little Too Smart from their 1973 album I'm In Love With You. You can read a full biography of the group here

This track has been sampled many many times thanks to the opening beats but it's a great song in it's own right. It's got an insanely funky bass riff and strings that could keep your head nodding for ever. I love the way the track breaks down for a moments reflection before kicking back in, it's a fine example of a track that sounds like it requires no effort at all but is perfectly honed. Great organs as well. Absolutely brilliant and seriously underappreciated.

I was going to post up Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms), the soulful track sampled by De La Soul on Say No Go but I'm still having difficulties getting some of my vinyl on the computer (so many classic tracks unheard) so instead I'm posting a track from Rasputin Stash's 1974 album The Devil Made Me Do It, an overlooked gem of an album which offers up a more broody funk sound.

The bassline and delicate piano are extremely reminiscent of Isaac Hayes at his best but I really love the use of harmonies on offer here, as halfway through the track they drop the funk and delve into sweet soul before kicking back into the funk. Basically a great example of how the great bands of the time could fit a track of epic proportions into four and a half minutes.

Apologies for the rushed style of today's post, time is limited my friends, time is limited.

You can get a best of The Detroit Emeralds HERE

You can get a copy of the whole of Rasputin Stash's album HERE

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Omar's Best By Far


Omar - To The Top

Omar - Syleste

Excuse the shit title please. Am breaking with tradition today by posting music that's only 5 years old but I believe sometimes rules need to be broken when music like this is being ignored.

Omar rode the wave of acid jazz that blew up in the early nineties and scored one absolutely massive hit with the song There's Nothing Like This. After hitting the big time he then, as far as the public were aware, disappeared off the face of the earth.

However, Omar was still working hard in the studio and in 2000 released the brilliant nu-soul album Best By Far, an album that lived up to it's title but that was shockingly slept on by the general public.

Offering a mixture of funk, lounge, garage and soul all produced to the highest level it really is about time that people start reevaluating his work. You can read more details of the man and his haircut here.

To The Top is some sort of staccato funk monster. I love the use of live instruments on the track rather than relying on samples and, as always with Omar, the track features truly beautiful harmony arrangements. The track builds from a slow groove into a storming middle and then breaks down beautifully again.

Syleste is a whole different kettle of fish, taking it's cue from lounge music but once again done to perfection. The production side is brilliantly layered and I particularly love the subtle use of trumpets. Who knows, maybe the albums diversity was why it never took hold in the mainstream as it should have.

You can buy the album HERE. Do it, do it now.

On a sad note, sorry to see the demise of Deep Soul Junkie, was enjoying the musical selection he put up. I've got a track that I was going to post end of this week anyway which now seems perfectly suited for this occasion.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Don Covay

Don Covay

Don Covay - What's In The Headlines

I promised to make a change from the funk today though how long this will last is a matter of doubt. Anyway today I give you another great example of music with a message.

Don Covay had been around a hell of a long time already when he released this beautiful folk/blues tune. Starting his career in the 50's in doo-wop groups he slowly moved through soul and r'n'b, continuously playing with different styles. Though he remained most famous for the song Mercy Mercy he also wrote songs for artists such as Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin and was held in extremely high regard by the Rolling Stones back when they had some credibility. You can read a full biography of the man here.

The track I've focused on today is from his 1970 album Different Strokes for Different Folks and shows off a different side to Don Covay. The song's brilliance is in it's simplicity, not an instrument or vocal is wasted as Don sings about the troubles facing him on a daily basis. I love the combination of the happy go lucky feel of the tune with such miserable lyrics. Plus, is the muted trumpet effect made with a paper and comb? Who knows and, more importantly, who cares when it works so well......

You can get a best of Don Covay HERE.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Meters bring the funk into Friday

The Meters

Eldridge Holmes - Pop, Popcorn Children (New Link)

Betty Harris - There's A Break In The Road (New Link)

It's Friday and it's time for The Meters. After all I am a blog who specializes in funk and soul so it had to happen sooner or later. However, rather than list some of their excellent own music I thought I'd put up two songs where they were the backing band. Both songs have The Meters funky fingerprints all over them and are blisteringly energetic.

The first track, Pop, Popcorn Children by Eldridge Holmes is almost too good for words. It draws you in slowly with a sweet little guitar and piano intro before the drums kick in and these drums are something else entirely. Add in a the horn section, Eldridge's "Popcorn" shout outs and one of the most bizarre bridges I've ever heard where the whole song sounds like it's falling apart and you end up with something that is really very very special. You can read more about Eldridge in the very complete biography here.

The second track, There's Break In The Road by Betty Harris is more of a standard Meters affair but that doesn't make it any less funky. Once again I love the drums on this track and the way the tightness of the trumpets and guitar slowly warp until you get layered noise over the track. Special mention should go out to Betty's vocals as well which are just the right level of sassy, you can read more about her here.

Hmm, just noticed those sites highlight the two tracks I've posted, a coincidence I assure you.

You can get Betty Harris' full back catalogue on CD HERE. Not so sure about Eldridge Holmes but have a look around and you should be able to pick up his stuff on an Atlantic compilation.

With those funk stormers I think it might be time to diverse a bit next week.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sly & The Family Stone Get Fresh

Sly & The Family Stone
High kicking funk

Sly & The Family Stone - If You Want Me To Stay

Sly & The Family Stone - Skin I'm In

Ok now we're delving into the classics but I just had to post some Sly today. The groups early albums There's A Riot Goin On and Stand are rightly regarded as classics but I've always had a soft spot for their 1973 album Fresh. Take a look at that front cover and tell me that isn't something special.

Recorded just before Sly self destructed the album is a mixture of sublime music and mumbling oddities - probably a pretty decent indication of what the Sly's drug addled mind was like at that time. If you're unaware of the band's turbulent history you can read a full biography here.

The two songs I have for you today are both sublime uplifting tunes, a lot lighter than anything on the previous There's a Riot Goin' On album. If You Want Me To Stay is probably my favorite Sly & The Family Stone track they ever did. It starts off with a cheeky bass line before the most delicate piano comes over the top. From then on it's close to perfection as Sly delivers just the right level of earnest need in his voice. By the time he's screaming out over the chorus you'd be hard pressed not to think this music is manna from heaven. Shame it just sort of pitters out at the end but it always gets me putting it straight back on.

The second song, Skin I'm In, boldly takes about 30 seconds before it even really gets started, relying on another great bassline and scatty drums before the trumpet hook comes in. This song displays perfectly how by the time of this album actual verses to the songs were quickly becoming a thing of the past, and it didn't matter a jot when the music was this good.

You can pick up a copy of the album HERE and, while you're at it, buy their other albums too.

Apologies about the lack of a new hosting services - i tried doing all the ftp stuff but it just made my head hurt - will try again next week maybe, otherwise would be grateful for anyone who can send me very basic instructions on how to use it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Feeling the supermarket blues

Eugene McDaniels
Awesome front cover, awesome album.

Eugene McDaniel - Supermarket Blues

There is more killer funk later in the week, but due to me currently suffering the after effects of a night out we're going to explore a more thoughtful world today, the world of Eugene McDaniels.

Eugene started his career way back in the 50's as an r'n'b artist and had a couple of top ten hits in the early to mid 60's. However, his career became interesting for me when he grew tired of the direction his music was taking and decided to branch off into a more experimental mode of music. You can read a full biography here.

This new style of experimental music produced his classic album Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse in 1971 displaying a far more political stance and an idea of song structure ahead of it's time.

The track I have for you today is Supermarket Blues from this album. One of the more "normal" songs from the album it combines witty and meaningful lyrics with a deliciously catchy hook which was sampled by Quasimoto on Return Of The Loop Digga. Not really sure what you'd class this music as, though it probably fits most comfortably into the funk category. You can pick up a copy of the album HERE. It's a classic, go pick it up.

Eugene was also a great writer for other people, his hits including Roberta Flack's hit Feel Like Makin' Love. I have an excellent Marlena Shaw cover of this I must post sometime.......

By the way, I've switched sharing servies again, see if the new one offers more joy, it's got a higher download limit, no pop ups and is valid for ten days so you get three extra days you lucky buggers.....

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Wilson Pickett Back On Time

Wilson Pickett

Wilson Pickett - Get Me Back On Time (Engine Number 9 pts 1&2)

Wilson Pickett - Funky Broadway

First of, thanks to Soul Sides for including me in their round up of recommended blogs, nice to be appreciated.

Today I'm looking at one of the greats of funk, Wilson Pickett. I'm sure most people know about his classics Mustang Sally and In The Midnight Hour but today I'm going to take you into the later stages of his career and a real heavy funk classic, Get Me Back On Time (Engine Number 9 pts 1&2) from 1970. You can read a full biography of the man here.

What really gets me about this track is the way it slowly builds up from a slow funk groove over Wilson's traditional heartfelt cries and growls to something altogether more epic. The track really gets going for me about 3 minutes in when the organ backing kicks in, from then on Wilson limits himself to the occasional vocal grunt and lets the keyboard, bongos and guitar do the talking. Absolutely awesome.

I've also included one of Wilson's more famous tracks, Funky Broadway, for you to listen to. It's a more standard funk track and has particularly decent horns. There, don't say I never do anything for you. Both tracks are available on his best of compilation which is available HERE.

Regarding files being in m4a/aac instead of mp3 you should be able to play them with most music software (they definitely work in realplayer) but I'll try to post mp3s only from now on.