soul sides - september 2000

soul sides - september 2000

Eddie Fisher: Eddie Fisher & The Next One Hundred Years (Cadet 19??)

Not to be confused with the rocker by the same name, this Eddie Fisher put out a small number of soul-jazz guitar albums in the early '70s. I don't know much about him except that this album f*ckin' rocks with some of the nicest soul-jazz compositions I've heard in a long time. Very, very funky yet groove-worthy all over the place. Interestingly enough, Oliver Sain engineers the LP while Fisher does everything else. There's a lot to like here: almost every song has some kind of dope break (none open alas), plenty of cool strings, keys, and of course, electric guitar melodies to get into. I imagine what Jimi Hendrix might have sounded like had gotten in with the Kudu crowd (but without all the cheesy sh*t). Really amazing album, another great Groove Merchant find. Almost every song on here rocks but I especially liked "East St. Louis Blues" with its crazy wheeze-whistle plus the ultra-funked out "Jeremiah Pucket". Even the 12 minute long "Beautiful Things" doesn't tax your patience.

Sandy Nelson: Soul Drums (Liberty 196?)

Not exactly blazing in its break fury, "Soul Drums" still has some stuff worth listening to. There's a lot of pretty cheesy '60s instrumentals here and the fact that Nelson is a long way from Bernard Purdie doesn't help BUT you can get into songs like "Groovin'" (which has a nice breakdown mid-way through), a superior, smoky cover of Ray Charles' "What I'd Say" and a surprisingly funky version of "Hey, Harmonica Man" which has some cool breakdowns strewn throughout. I would shell out big bucks, but a decent enough bargain bin find.

Lee Gagnon: Jeremie (Opus 1972)

Another Groove Merchant find (this will be a consistent disclaimer you'll see in this, and future, postings), this is one heavy, heavy funk-jazz album. Cool Chris informs me that it was originally scored for a jazz ballet, but this is far from the "Nutcracker" or "Swan Lake". Gagnon throws in stoopid breakbeats all over the album including monster ones on "ScÈne des Guerriers", "JÈrÈmie" and "Jalouise". Moreover, the compositional work is cool - very soulfully funky instrumental pieces that sound like some great library records sh*t. By the way, this is a record out of the Quebecois part of Canada, not France. And it's a pretty hard find (i.e. pretty damn expensive) but worth the trouble (read: cost).

Little Sonny: Black & Blue (Enterprise 197?)

Two words: "Memphis B-K". It's the only song on here worth listening for funk heads (for blues fans, you might actually enjoy everything else). Massive, massive breakbeat kicks it off and the whole song is a smoking, mid-tempo jam complete with Sonny's blaring harmonica work and a strong rhythm section thanks to the Bar-Kays. One of the illest funky blues songs you'll ever hear.

Horacee Arnold: Tribe (CBS 1973)

Ok, I admit it, I saw the title "Tribe", thought "...Called Quest" and took a chance that this might be kind of funky. It helped that Joe Farrell was on horns and Ralph MacDonald handled percussion too. Side A left me a little bored - mostly free jazz-influenced compositions that didn't have much in terms of rhythm or melody to hang your hat on. But then I got to "Orchards of Engedi", which I'm positive was used on one of Aceyalone's songs, but I'm too lazy to figure out which one. Very slow, but pointed acoustic basslines drops into a nice horn interplay and then comes in the vibes. Still pretty open compositionally (vs. tight), but probably the most accessible song on here. The rest of the album is more like the A-side. Ironically, Arnold is a drummer but he never breaks down into some funky sh*t, even if "The Actor" has a bunch of long solos.

North Texas State University School of Music Presents: NTSU Jazz Lab 70' (NTSU 1970)

What's weird about this volume of the NTSU series is that the inside liner notes (this is a double gatefold cover) are completely wrong. I've found two copies of this album - one of them sealed - and apparently, someone glued the wrong liner notes in it. But what's REALLY weird is that the liner notes that are inside are from 1972 whereas this album was supposed to have been cut for 1970. Go figure.

Anyways, it's got some nice, funky stuff on two cuts (admist a range of straight-ahead jazz and bluesy pieces). "Fifo (Fade In, Fade Out)" has some great horns and bassline interplay that just demands to be sampled by someone and then the drums kick in with some swingin' big band (but funky) flavor and THEN the electric guitars swamp in. The song's nearly 9 minutes and it's just keeps adding in all these crazy pieces, including a dope drumbreak near the end. Ironically, "Fifo" kicks off the album and you don't get another funky bit until the end of the album with a cover of Dave Pike's "Noisy Silence, Gentle Noise", another orchestrated journey into slick, uptempo soul-jazz. It's not as grand as "Fifo", but it'll do to close the double-LP out.

Elephant's Memory: Take It to the Streets (Metromedia 197?)

One word: "Mongoose". I don't see it listed in the FAQ, but I'm positive the opening break and vocal accompaniement has been sampled. Brand Nubian maybe? (check the sound file below). If only the group had been smart enough to NOT include vocals...oh well. Still, a monstrously bad ass break that resurfaces midway through admist the psych rock of Elephant's Memory. Is there other stuff this good? Maybe - just not on the rest of this LP though. There's a slower, decent break on "Piece Now" but it's not open.

Grassella Oliphant: The Grass is Greener (Atlantic 1967)

I honestly didn't think I'd ever find this one...not only does it have one of the dopest coveres of Tousssaint's infamous "Get Out of My Life Woman", but it's just a top-notch early soul-jazz album. I mean 1967? Oliphant was already kicking down compositions about two years before his contemporaries like Grant Green would get in on the action though Green plays guitar on this album coincidentally (which probably explains why the album sounds a lot like a Green LP). John Patton is on the B3-Hammond, so you know there's gonna be some hammering organ vamps. "Get Out of My Life" is the best song on here - crazy, crazy funky with Patton's organ work sliding all over the place while the horn section chimes in too. But "Cantaloupe Woman" ain't bad neither, nor is "Ain't That Peculiar".

Fresh out of Borstal: S/T (RCA 1970)

The open breaks on here lived up to billing but I wasn't going gaga over the whole album. Anyways, is it me or is "See You Later" a huge bite on the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman", down to the cowbell break? But the real song is "Borstal", a weird interplay between percussions and spoken word dialogue that makes for an interesting contrast. And you gotta love that cockney brogue. The song is pretty cool - lots of ragged guitar play and blaring brass stabs plus a racuous conga breakdown at the end. By the way, Borstal is "the name the British give to their juvenile prisons. They are tough and vicious places." And you thought NWA was the first when they had "Straight Outta Compton"...naw kid, it's all about being "Fresh Out of Borstal."

Climax Blues Band: Rich Man (Sire 1972)

Not a bad rock/blues album that has some easy listening enjoyability. "Mole on the Dole" starts off with a small, open break, but really, the song's strength kicks in when the vocals begin - good arrangement and melody. The real gem is "Standing By a River", a funkier song that has a cool break to it too, plus sound effects to spice it up. Again, the vocals don't take away - they make the song more listenable overall plus there's plenty of space for instrumental sections. Nothing to flip your wig over, but certainly worth a listen.

Funky Finger Records 67-71: Shaftman! (Funky Finger 197?)

A really f*cking bizaare album that's half-X-rated comedy/half funky 45 compilation. The comedy bits are all taken from a parody of "Shaft" - a very adult, pornographic version of "Shaft" at that. Then whoever put this together spliced parts of "Shaftman" with some hard funk 45 songs including Tony Avalon's "Sexy Coffee Pot", Bad Bascomb's "Funk City", Gunga Din's "Crabcakes" and Don Julian and the Larks' "Shorthe Pimp." Even stranger, the LP includes a 7" with more dialgoue plus Willy Tomlin's "Check Me Baby" and the Entertainers' "Fuddy Duddy Walk". Be warned - if sexually explicit material makes you uncomfortable, this LP will offend the living hell out of you. Everyone else will likely laugh their ass off when they're not buggin' out to the heavy funk strewn throughout.

Nothin' But Blues Vol 2. (Play-A-Long)

Part of a 25 volume instructional set of how-to-play music records and books, this is one of the few volumes that has some interesting bits on it. What's cool is that all the songs start with a "4, 3, 2, 1" countdown, which makes them sound even better than otherwise. The album begins with the aptly named "Mr. Super Hip", a smooth, slick mid-tempo groover of chattering ride drums and key melodies. There's not bad bluesy jazz pieces on here, like "6/8 Modal Blues", but it gets back into funkier material with "Long-Meter Jazz Rock". None of the songs here have open drum loops, but most songs do have fast-tempoed breaks that gird the melodies. Those ride cymbals are very prominent on several songs including "Home Stretch".

Better Dub from Studio One (Studio One 196?)

A reissue of a classic dub masterpiece from Jamaica's legendary Studio One. I won't say too much, only that it's packed with plenty of great dub instrumentals, with an early, soul-influenced field. "Greedy G" is a stand-out, not just b/c it was sampled for BDP's "Jack of Spades" but because it's got such a killer groove to it.

Cannonball Adderley Presents: Love, Sex and the Zodiac (Fantasy 1974)

You can appreciate how anyone might be mightily confused by this album. After all, in 1972, on Capitol, Cannonball Adderley presented "Soul Zodiac", an album that features almost all the same players as this one, save Hal Galper who appears on "Love, Sex and the Zodiac" and not "Soul Zodiac." That being said, the only thing in common the two albums share is concept. "Love, Sex and the Zodiac" is much funkier in general than the jazzier "Soul Zodiac". This is best evinced on cuts like the "Introduction" which kicks off with an open break; "Taurus" which has a fly funk guitar melody that winds throughout"; and then there's my sign, "Leo" which smokes in its deep bassline (that sounds a lot like Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up"). For those who want something a little more lively, there's the short but sweet "Scorpio". Throughout it all, the rich baritone of Rick Holmes narrates - sexy and sensous is his voice as he breaks the down the love and carnal needs of all 12 signs. All in all, a cool album and I'm glad I'll stop confusing the two.

Jr. Walker and the All Stars: Peace & Understanding Is Hard to Find (Motown 1973)

Overall, kind of a disappointing LP. The song names ("Soul Clappin'", "Gimme That Beat") made me hopeful but this is a pretty MOR rock/jazz/soul fusion record that lacks any real funkiness to speak of. The closeset it gets is the cover of Carole King's "It's Too Late" but once the vocals drop, it becomes a quick let-down.

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

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