soul sides - august 2000

soul sides - august 2000

Adderley, Cannonball (Quintet): Music, You All: (Capitol 1976)

Musically, this wasn't as good as I would have liked though "Capricorn" is pretty damn lovely. Axelrod produces this later Adderley record and his presence is felt on the drum breaks for songs like "Oh Babe" and the title song, but it's more rock than funky if you follow. There is a lot of great spoken word snippets to be taken from here, not just above but on "Cannon Raps" (side A) he goes off on this song called "The Brakes" but what he's saying could be EASILY adapted to talking about breaks. *wink wink*.

Andrews , Ruby: Everybody Saw You (Zodiac 196?)

What an outstanding soul album - just blows me away in its quality. Definitely has that late '60s edge to it - seering but not over-produced, with an earthy funk appeal. It's more Stax than Motown, though not quite Hi, but the musical instincts work really well. Lots of uptempo drums, great melange of horns and piano too. Andrews may not be an Aretha, but her voice is affecting when it needs to be - and like Irene Cara, she can give you something you can feel. "You Made a Believer Out Of Me" is the best song on the album, and not just because it's been sampled, but really, it's hard to go wrong on anything here. Dopeness personified.

Bar-Kays, (The): Cold Blooded (Stax 1973)

Personally, I think this is far from their best work ‚ much of the songs have a tired, rock/funk formula that fails to really move. There are some nice moments off this: the intro to "Smiling, Styling and Profiling" which Dilated Peoplesž jacked for "Soundbombing". Then therežs a smooth portion at the end of "Fightinž Fire with Fire" which is soulfully groovy. Other than that though, I wasnžt floored in the least.

Black Girl: OST (Fantasy 1972)

Fantastic soul soundtrack for a movie written by J.E. Franklin and directed by Ossie Davis. Features the musical talents of folks like Betty Everett, Walter Hawkins, Sonny Stit and Merl Saunders. As you can imagine, there's a lot of excellent cuts to select from. "B.J.'s Step" is a tight, midtempo funk cut while Rodger Collins' "Get Me to the Bridge" fires it up with some JB's influenced flavor. "No World For Dreamers" (J.J. Malone) is another strong selection - subtle but sweeping strings, some flickering guitars. And just to name two more: "I Am Your Mailman" (Collins) and "What It is" (Collins) are hot soul numbers (the latter being an instrumental).

Bob Seger System, (The): Ramblin' Gamblin' Man (Capitol 1968)

Damn, Seger caught some hellafied, rockin' blues fever on this album. His rhythms are hot, he's screaming on mic practically and the songs smoke with a great energy that is as close to funk as this Midwest rocker is going to get. The title track has a banging breakbeat and sizzling organ. "White Wall" almost sounds British in its 60s-inflected grooviness thanks to the psychedelic guitar play. Then there's "2+2=?", an anti-Vietnam missive, which has a distinct guitar line that kicks it off (I wouldn't be surprised if someone's sampled it). But the REAL suprise is the all-too-short "Doctor Fine", a one minute soul groover that's outstanding with its organ vamps, tinkling bells and bass pulses. All you can say is "wow."

Bolivar Blues Band: Testing 1...2...3... (Bolivar Speaker Works 1977)

This quirky piece is a test record for putting your phonograph and speakers to the test. It does so though some funkalicious blues playing all on side A with narration by the Bolivar Speaker Works people. Grade A stuff. But the A+ sh*t is on the flip, a song called "Sleep Walking" which is a synthesizer-bsaed instrumental that's basically all funky breakbeat with some cheezoid synth sh*t over it. No open breaks, but still pretty dope for a test record.

Brown , Odell: S/T (Paula 1974)

Okay - not a bad album, but not all that exciting compared to the more mid-tempo flair of the 45. There are some nice instrumental moments on this, but overall, it doesn't have much to move you, save "South of 63rd", but the rest of this LP is largely soporific. Interestingly, this album came out in a series of Paula LPs, most of which were better, like James Moody's "Sax and Flute Man" and Young-Holt Unlimited Plays "Superfly".

Charles , Ray: Through the Eyes of Love (TRC 1972)

Two third of this album are pretty forgettable - milquetoast R&B syrup - but the last two songs are revelations. Most of "NEver Ending Song of Love" is some country soul but it kicks off with a wicked, wicked breakbeat that Charles himself is so overcome with, he has to comment on it "aw, he's getting red hot here...break it out son..." Too bad it doesn't hold up past the first 12 bars or so. Luckily, if you actually want to hear a whole song, "Rainy Night In Georgia" sounds like Issac Hayes produced it (he didn't) - smoky funk feel but with a lighter touch. Nothing to go running out to find, but a nice surprise.

Cold Blood: S/T (San Francisco: 1969)

Despite being local San Franciscans, I've never really been turned onto the group until very recently. My own interest stemmed from the fact that Japanese American guitarist Michael Sazaki eventually became the group's arranger by the mid-70s, but all ethnocentrism aside, they put on a decent blues-inflected rock show. The omnipresent Lydia Pense (the group's lead vocalist) was considered a contemporary of Janis Joplin and her wailing voice clearly shows why people would make such a lofty comparison. Personally, I wasn't necessarily crazy about listening through most of this - if I wanted to hear some good soulful singing, I'd skip Pense and go with Joni Mitchell instead. Musically, there's not much funk appeal on this, despite the J5 sample listed above. I think your better bet would be their album "Thriller".

Dankworth, John (and His Orchestra): Movies n' Me (RCA: 1974)

Something I learned about at the Groove Merchant, this whole LP is full of great breaks and melodies. One of which, "Return of the Ashes" has been sampled...I know by Rob Swift and I seem to think that it might have been on one of the Dusty Fingers comps? In fact, it almost sounds Axelrod-esque in its disonant, electronic vibe. Either way, this LP is stoopid nice - if it's not funk bumpin', it's got some nice, easy listening fare on it too. The choice cuts begin with "Modesty Blaise" which kicks off with some swinging horn blares but after a short bridge, the open two-bar drum break drops, accented by some horn choruses that sound downright blazing. Trust me, the song is incredible sounding.

Then there's the sloopoy bassline on "Darling"...very sampleable and smoooooth, especially as this wafting, muted horn joins four bars in. Mellow madness until about halfway in where a stronger drum back beat kicks in and the vibe of the song swells a bit thanks to some cool vibes that pop in. And that's just Side A.

Side B has a nice, mid-tempo breakbeat (not open) on "Round Table Round". Sampleable horns can be found on "Long John" which has another closed drum break. All together, one helluva LP.

Dankworth, John (and his Orchestra): The $1,000,000 Collection (Fontana 19??)

Nowhere near as bad ass as "Movies N Me", it's still has some decent laid-back musical moments. Gangstarr's "Above the Clouds" came off this LP ("Two-Piece Flower") and if you caught the vibe of that sample, you can get a feel for the rest of the album. Certainly, there's no high-kicking breakbeats, more like some mildly moody lounge music. There's several good snippets asking for sampling on this one - like the vibes from "La Clownesse" or the languid horns from "Face In a Crowd"

Diga Rhythm Band: Diga (Round/UA 1976)

Really dope album full of Indian tabla-inflected rhythms with an added soul/jazz touch. There are some heavy hitters on this, including Zakir Hussain and Mickey Hart and the overall ensemble is a great blend of both rhythmic and melodic sensibilities. You got marimbas, vibes, congas, bongos, and of course, no less than six tabla players in the mix. It's all very funky - just not in the conventional, Souther funk sort of way. If you've never heard a tabla, they have a gorgeous, full sound to them - not deep and booming like a bass drum, but resonant and open. Hearing them in unison is just magnificent - a total rhythmic sensory experience.

Donato , Joao: Donatodeodato (Muse 1969)

A nice little set of funky Brazilian groovers arranged by Deodata and performated by Joao Donato on the keys. Mostly a series of long (five minutes or longer) songs that are pleasant - though not outstanding - soul/jazz with a faint Brazilian touch (less than you'd expect). "Whistle Stop" kicks off with a short breakbeat and the overall song is one of the album's best - a soul/jazz affair of whimsical, high-pitched keys and good rhythmic sense. Then there's the laid-back "Capricorn" which sounds great, super smooth and what not, but the incoming trumpet of Randy Brecker partially cheesifies it. But overall, it's the album's best song musically. "Nighttripper" has a small beat at the intro and some mooged out keys that growl in until a harder beat kicks behind. Album ends on another more mid-to-uptempo song, "Batuque" but it's charms are limited.

Fatback Band, (The): Yum Yum (Event 1975)

I admit, I'm pretty willfully ignorant about most of the Fatback Band's LPs. This is probably one of four albums of theirs I own, and the only new one I've purchased in over a year. Partially, I just don't dig their pseudo-disco sensibilities, but hell, most of their output was post-75. If you had to have one album, this probably wouldn't be a poor choice. Nice little drumbreak on "Let the Drums Speak" (though the rest of the song is forgettable). Same kind of goes for "Put the Funk You" - it kicks off lovely and steadily drops off from there. I personally liked "Feed Me Your Love" a lot - such a mellow little groover and thankfully sheds the syrupiness of the album's other songs. "Gotta Learn How To Dance" is pretty good...when it's instrumental and there's parts of "(Hey) I Feel Good" that hey, feel good.

Gator OST (MCA 1986) (music by Charles Bernstein)

Man, what a funky ass soundtrack for 1986. Lot of wicky wicky guitar work and disonnant minor chords. "Flight in the Night" has a nice smoky feel to it - like some Kool G Rap sh*t - and then breaks down into some Curtis Mayfield blaxploitation bump.

Gillespie , Dizzy: Portrait of Jenny (Perception)

The main difference b/t this album and Gillespie's "The Real Thing", also on Perception is that the Diz wrote all the songs on this LP while Mike Longo, his pianist, does several songs on "The Real Thing", including "Matrix" and "Alligator". The diff. in sound is pretty major as "Portrait" is much more slow and open than the tighter grooves on "The Real Thing". It's not a bad album...very mellow for a soul jazz LP...but it lacks a real funk edge, save on the Afro-cuban riddims of "Diddy Wa Diddy."

Head, Roy: Same People (Dunhill 197?)

Funky rock...or rocky funk? I'm not crazy about the bulk of the record...Head's singing is a tad tortured in some ways, but he has some decent drum work on the LP, none better than "She's About a Mover" which has not one, but two insanely dope breakdowns. How dope? Let's just say that the last time I heard this break, DJ Shadow was rockin' doubles of it to let Lateef freestyle over. Butta, butta, butta.

Herman, Woody: The Raven Speaks (Fantasy 1972)

Wow - how come no one bothered to sample Herman's dope ass cover of Herbie Hancock's "Fat Mama" on here? Personally, I think it's better than Hancock's original - a fat slammin' groover. Most of the album is pretty yawn-inspiring, but check out the funky "The Raven Speaks" too. This apparently isn't a very expensive album - I've seen copies for as low as $5 - so cop one where you can. Bargain soul-funk.

How To Steal a Diamond OST (Atlantic 1972)

Pretty cool little soundtrack by Quincy Jones. The main theme got lifted by Del recently. I love how Jones keeps certain musical motifs moving through the album, not unlike how he helped arrange the "Charleston Blue" soundtrack.

Jenkins, Johnny: Ton-Ton Macoute! (Atco/Capicorn 1970 - also on a 1974 Capricorn reissue)

A sick, sick, sick album - some of the funkiest blues scorchers you'll ever hear. I mean, the drumbreak on the above song is pretty damn ill, especially when these weird, off-harmony vocal choruses kick (it's bizaare), but "Ton-Ton Macoute!" is far more than a one-hit wonder album. There's the wailing blues guitar on "Leaving Trunk" and the attacking rhythm behind "Sick and Tired" and its screeching guitar lines (the song is so damn sick I just had to include a snippet for you: And just to end things right, it's "Voodoo In You", one hex of a song. Stoopid nice LP.

Kain: The Blue Guerilla (Collectables 1990)

I'm assuming this is a reissue b/c the content seems more out of the '70s. It's partly credited to the Last Poets since Kain was a member of the collective. Part of it sounds like beat poetry jazz, very slick and hepcat. And what's interesting about this to Crate heads is that KMD looped quite a bit of sh*t from this LP for their never-released "Black Bastards" LP. Most of it is vocal snippets: "Black Bastards", "I ain't black, I ain't white", "he was a n*gger yesterday, he was a n*gger today, and he's gonna be a n*gger tomorrow!", "what the f--- man, that sh*t blew my head."

Last , James: Hair (Polydor: 1969)

I didn't see this come up in our discussion of James Last's works. Perhaps not the fliest of all "Hair" covers, but pretty damn nice in places. He doesn't exactly funk it up, but his pop sensibilities have a very groovy feel to them and he likes to keep the pace mid-to-uptempo. Among his better songs: his cover of "Aquarius" plays with the channels, creating some flange moments in bits and pieces. I liked "Good Morning Starshine" which has a strong bass anchor solidifying the beat. And his "Walking in Space" is very strong as well - good rhythmic impulses on this. No open breaks on the album, but decent listening.

Man and Boy OST (Sussex 1971)

I'm continually impressed by Quincy Jones touch with soundtracks - there's nary a soundtrack that I've found yet that doesn't have at least one dope song off of it. Everything from "The Lost Man" to "$" to "How To Rob a Diamond" to "Welcome Back Charleston Blue", etc. has something worth checking for. This LP is no different, especially with the fat funk of "Pull, Jubal, Pull" and other songs off the LP are nice listens even if they're not necessarily A+ sample fodder.

Mance, Junior: With a Lotta Help From My Friends (Atlantic: ?)

This album is ridiculously dope...full of sampled songs. Zhigge lifted the main melody of "Donžtcha Hear Me Calling" for "Rakin in the Dough" while there's also the ATCQ drum break from Mance's cover of Sly Stone's "Thank You Falletin Me..." Plus, Mancežs cover of "Spinning Wheel" is a totally different take on this classic and you'll appreciate him for it (cool piano chords kick it all off). And with the exception of maybe one or two more traditional blues takes, each song on the album is fairly funkalicious.

Mar-Keys, (The): Damifiknow (Stax 1970)

Nothing on this album is quite on the same level of "Grab This Thing" but "Black" is pretty damn bad ass with its thick guitar line (sampled by WC for "Dress Code"). This album has a lot of covers of other Stax songs like "Soul Man", "Knock on Wood" plus "Mustang Sally" (though none are as nice as you'd like them to be). Standard Memphis flavor - heavy emphasis on horns with organ vamps playing a firm back-up. Also worth checking: "Jive Man" (uptempo, nice drums and guitar).

Mar-Keys, (The): The Great Memphis Sound (Stax 1966)

Really dope album, especially for 1966 - the killers are "Honey Pot" and "Grab This Thing" but you can't front on "Plantation Inn" or their raucous version of Glenn Miller's swing classic "In the Mood". Ironically, the album promotes the best-selling single "Philly Dog" though, to me, that's one of the blander of the uptempo songs on there. Great album though, full of sampled material and some of the most juiced up instrumentals out there.

Mayfield, Curtis: Something to Believe In (Curtom 1980)

You don't know how LONG I've been trying to find this album. It's not that the music is that great (though this does have the lovely "Tripping Out" that Camp Lo sampled) but it has one of THE dopest album covers ever. It's an illustration of a black, female DJ, announcing a record on the air. She holds this super, over-sized piece of vinyl in her hands and there's a ray of light shining into her basement studio, just illuminating her head and the mic. It's rich, rich, rich, suitable for framing.

Moody, James: Sax & Flute Man (Paula 1973)

A nice little soul jazz find that's no big secret to most but not an easy find in my experience. "First Thing in the Morning" (sampled by Extra Prolific) is downtempo but likably groovy with nice key work by Jodie Christian. Moody avoids the curse of the sappy sax on much of the album, perhaps owing to its earlier 70s production by Paul Serrando and Richard Evans. His version of "World is a Ghetto" is just okay - you can find better covers with Ahmad Jamal and "Good Sense Humor Man" is also passable but lacks kick.

Mystic Moods, (The): The Awakening (Warner Bros 1973)

"Cosmic Sea" is ridiculous - someone must have sampled this joint, right? Hot drum licks kick this one off and the rest of the song ain't bad. I'm also surprised no one's f*cked with "Spiritual Awareness" and its spacey sound effects and bassline at the beginning. Or "The Seventh Plane" and its bassline intro for that matter either.

Natural Gas: S/T (Firebird 197?)

Interesting funky white jazz/rock LP - the singing is pretty horrible in places, but the instrumentation is groove-able. The said track above takes about three minutes to get interesting when it slips into a smoky bridge section complete with eased-back horns, Fender Rhodes and basslines. Similarly, "Live and Learn" has a funky breakdown in the middle with basslines and a bit of drum play. Their cover of "Eleanor Rigdy" is ok but I prefered the hot organ number "Ramses I" which sounds like it lifts some bits from "Funky Broadway" melodically.

Sheba, Baby OST (Buddah 1975)

Save a bunch of 45s that I still need to find, this LP should pretty much finish off my Monk Higgins collection. I paid through the nose for it, but I'm not disappointed. Like most of Higgins' work, it's not all gravy, but when it's good, it's GOOD. The vocal tracks are some proto-disco crap (no offense to Barbara Mason), but the instrumental bits are kind of blaze like "Get Down Sheba", the bassline heavy "Railroad" (which ended up on a Dusty Fingers volume), "Number One Man" and bluesy "Breast Stroke". No real breakbeats and nothing on here that is better than, say, Freddy Robinson's "Off the Cuff" or Higgins' own "Extra Soul Perception", but a worthy addition nonetheless.

Steig, Jeremy: Wayfaring Stranger (Blue Note: ?)

"Waves" kicks off with a dope bassline and then jumps even when Steig's flute and the drum break drops in. Sick, sick, sick. The rest of the album is ok though "Waves" is by far the funkiest. There was another song, "Mint Tea" which was pleasant listening but flute-based jazz has never really been my cup of tea (no disrespect to Bobbi Humphrey).

Urbaniak , Michal (Group): The Beginning (Catalyst 1976)

Lovely, lovely record. Living proof that not everything post '73 is crap, this album is just musically and rhythmically RICH. It kicks off lovely with "Inactin", offering slight string pluckings and some some soft basslines in the back and then the drums kick in with a cool break accompanied by a violin/vocal duet. It is a weird sounding album - no quesiton - but but not free-jazz-esoteric weird. Just funky of a different flavor if you follow. I think people would enjoy the wackiness, like on "Inactin" when the vocals get put through the reverb machine and made to sound all spacey. Like I said, weird, but a groovy kind of weird. "Ekim" (ATCQ sample) is great and so is "Groovy Desert" though it's a lot more uptempo than you'd think.

My sh*t though is the gorgeously mellow and melodic (which is pretty rare on this particular album which revels in fusionist-chaos) "Winter Piece". Beautiful interplay between Urbaniak's violin and Adam Makowicz' fender piano and then it slides into some funky bassline work by Pawel Jarzebski.

White, Ike: Changing Times (L.A. Int'l 1976)

The studio-enhanced sound of this album belies its post-75 production, but it still sounds great. White isn't a bad vocalist, though he sounds fairly "white" soul-ish, like the Average White Band or something. He's not a belter, but doesn't quite have the voice to pull off a more nuanced soul flow. Not bad listening mind you, but the album's far more interesting musically than vocally. The title tracks is a great, laid back smoothie, full of strings and funkdafied wah wah guitars. Same goes for songs like "Antoinette" with its relaxed keys and "I Remember George" - both super-mellow soul cuts. The big exception is "Love and Affection' which has some slick, mid-tempo b-boy breaks in it plus the "love and affection" that got used in O.C.'s "What I Represent." You almost want to bust out the roller skates listening to this one.

Wilson , Spanky: Doin It (Mothers 196?)

How bad ass is Wilson's cover of "Sunshine of My Love"? Enough to earn the song placement on Mystic Brew's new "The Main Ingredients" compilation. Stunning, scorching soul song, complete with a hot-tempo breakbeat and a lot of screaming vocals on Spanky's part. It's by far the best thing on here, though her covers of "Light My Fire", "You" and "Then I'll Be Happy" have the same driving rhythms behind them. On the slower side, I really liked "Loveland" (which is strong instrumental-wise) and "Little Things", which is probably Wilson's best vocal moment (crooning that is).

If you want to know where you might find records like this, check out Soul Spots

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