Friday, May 27, 2011

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron passed away today in New York.  He was only 62.   Gil was a poet and musician, and he wrote songs in which you could feel anger, sadness, happiness, and fear, sometimes in the context of one album.   Above is the cover of my favorite album of his, Pieces of a Man, just a wonderful album in which contained "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", his biggest hit, but also contained some beautiful songs in which he sang (Gil rarely sang, and his vocals were usually of a spoken word style).  Gil recovered from substance abuse over these past few years, and made somewhat of a comeback with I'm New Here.  I feel guilty from the fact that I haven't followed his recent albums, and I wish I would've been following Gil's career recently.  Gil Scott-Heron has been such a major influence on the hip hop community, but also the jazz and soul community as well.  He was a major talent and will be dearly missed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inspiring Music From The Youth

I've been thinking recently how inspiring it is to hear really good music from the youth.  There is feeling of innocence and beauty, but it's also so inspiring because it gives you hope for our future generations.  Even though these albums I'm discussing were released over forty years ago, I still think it pertains to this topic.   Both of these albums shown above (Har-You Percussion Group and their 1967 released album Har-You Percussion Group, and Les Troubadours Du Roi Baudouin and their 1963 released album Missa Luba) are probably among my twenty favorite albums of all-time.  Both have a beauty to them, in their own unique way.

The Har-You Percussion Group was formed in the 1960's by what was called the Harlem Youth Act, a music outreach program that grouped together young boys aged 16-19 from Harlem in hopes that by getting them together and teaching them how to create music, it would inspire other youths from the inner city to break free from the streets and further their education.  The director of this project was Montego Joe, a percussionist who definitely influenced the young musicians to produce a Afro-Cuban sound that is absolutely amazing and inspiring to listen to.  And these the teenagers wrote all of the pieces and played every instrument on this album.  Sure, if you were to nitpick, the musicians aren't always perfectly in sync on parts of a few tracks, but it's fairly easy to look past that when you listen to some of the percussion, and horn solos by these youngsters.  It's truly a once in a lifetime album, and "Santa Cruz" is probably my favorite track off the album.   
 The Missa Luba was sang by a choir of 45 young Congolese boys, and is an extremely spiritual and joyful experience to listen it all the way through.  A Belgium Priest named Uudo Haazen came to the Congo in the 1950's, and gathered these Congolese boys and wanted them to sing the Missa Luba "in the manner of your people, not my people".  Raw, and touching, the overall result is one of the most beautiful pieces ever to be put on wax.  "Sanctus" is just one movement of the Missa Luba, and probably my favorite part overall. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frankie Beverly's Raw Soul: "Color Blind" 45

Frankie Beverly and Maze!
 Picked up this 45 the other day without any idea of what this would sound like, but with the band name "Frankie Beverly's Raw Soul", I figured it'd have to be semi-interesting.  I wasn't disappointed!  The song starts out with a strong horn intro, and a "huh!" and it's all gravy after that.  Frankie Beverly's Raw Soul were originally from Philly then re-located to San Francisco in the early 70's, where they met Marvin Gaye, who used the "Raw Soul" band as his opening act when touring.  Later the band changed their name to Maze upon Gaye's recommendation, and they had some minor hits along the lines of Earth, Wind, & Fire in the mid to late 70's.   

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Song o' the Day (Pt. 6)

It comes from Milwaukee's own Kings Go Forth, off of their 2010 release The Outsider's Are Back.  Really digging this album from them, which I slept on for about a year after it first came out, and I don't know why.  Usually, I'm skeptical of new releases, I guess I've become jaded over the years and generally don't feel like there's a lot of great music out there.   However, this album definitely gets a thumbs up from me.  I hear a bit of Curtis Mayfield, Isley Brothers, and early Motown in these songs.  Hell, there's even a reggae-influenced track that's pretty cool.  And the drummer is incredible as well.  And the production is raw, which I love!  And it has one of the best songs that I have heard in the last five years, "High on Your Love", which I have been putting on repeat in my car recently.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday's Latin Mix

 I've been digging on a lot of Latin music recently, especially anything on Fania Records from the late 60's/early 70's era.  Whether it's a boogaloo, a salsa, a mambo, a Latin-funk gem, I've been digging on it all.  Since Monday is generally a day that can drag on occasion, I thought, what better mix than a peppy Latin mix to spice up the morning?

1.  Lebron Brothers "Salsa y Control" off of Salsa y Control.  A good steady pace salsa album by the Lebron Brothers. 

2.  Louie Ramirez "Yambu" off of Ali Baba.  Good album, with mixture of English and Spanish songs.  Louie is also one funny cat, and mixes his sense-of-humor with great tracks. 

3.  Richardo Rey "Richie's Jala Jala" off of Jala Jala y Boogaloo.  One of my favorite Latin albums from the 60's/70's Fania era. 

4.  Ray Barretto "Boogaloo Con Soul" off of Latino Con Soul.  A great, straight-up boogaloo track.  This isn't my favorite Barretto album (that would be Acid), but Latino Con Soul is a consistently strong album track for track. 

5.  Perez Prado "Perdiendo La Cabeza (Goin' Out of my Head)" off of Perez Prado 70.  I got to give props to the great blog Soul-Sides, as I was only familiar with Prado's early mambo music from the 50's before I read a post over there a few months back about Prado's departure to Mexico City, and the subsequent funky, electric compositions he was experimenting with during this era.  I picked this up from Dusty Grooves, and I have to say that I dig Perez Prado 70 even more than early mambo classic albums like Havana 3 A.M. and Mambo Mania.  This track, at around 1:40, gives me the goosebumps.  Great stuff! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Binging and Purging--Music Style!

Note:  This isn't my collection! 

Let me first say that I'm not a collector.  I'm a big fan, listener and lover of all things music, usually geared towards 60's and 70's music of all genres, most specifically soul, jazz, and anything groove-based, but I'm not a collector per se.  I know what I like and what I don't like though.  And with my collection, I generally try to keep it to one large bookshelf, and that's it, which holds up to around 900 albums.  I like to keep it this way, for my sake, and also because I promised my wife that I'll keep it to one shelf.  Once I get to where I run out of room, I'll usually go through my collection and take out around 50 albums to trade in for more music because I need my fix, and the music shopping cycle continues.  Last night, I spent a good few hours sorting through albums that I didn't feel I needed anymore.  So, what got the hack?  Albums like:  The Rolling Stones "It's Only Rock and Roll", Joe Meek "I Hear a New World", Leonard Cohen "Recent Songs", The Small Faces "The Collection", The Yardbirds "Greatest Hits Vol.1", A Tribe Called Quest "The Love Movement", and Justin Hinds & The Dominoes "Anthology", Jelly Roll Morton "The Red Hot Peppers Sessions", among over twenty other albums.  A few of these artists/bands I already own plenty of other albums of theirs, like The Rolling Stones for example, I own over 10 of their albums, and "It's Only Rock and Roll" is the one I happen to listen and enjoy the least of all.  The Tribe is my favorite hip hop group of all-time, but honestly I feel I really only need their first four albums, as their last album "The Love Movement", is pretty weak.  I thought in honor of the albums I am trading in, I would post a few tracks from a few of these albums, which are good tracks but didn't persuade me enough to keep the album.
I know these albums will find a good home, so I don't feel too bad!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lee Moses: Raw and Rugged Soul

Picked up tons of cds and 45's over the weekend in Portland (including quite a few Latin soul and funk cds, of which I'll feature more prominently in a later post), and I was fortunate enough to find soul man Lee Moses Time and Place on cd.  Moses is a criminally underrated soul singer who only released one album under his name (ironically enough, he was backed by the Ohio Players, whom I featured on my previous post).  Time and Place is extremely difficult to find either on vinyl or cd and has been collector's item for deep soul fans throughout the years, so I have no idea how I managed to find it at Music Millenium in Portland, but no complaints here.  My immediate impressions upon listening to this album is the gravelly, rugged voice of Lee Moses, but there's a vulnerable quality to it that I like as well.    Check out "My Adorable One", one of my favorites from Lee Moses:
When hearing his voice, it's amazing that Moses wasn't as known as we should've been.  After releasing Time and Place, he performed occasionally but never recorded in the studio again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Slew of 45's

I recently bought a new record player, and have been so jazzed about it that I went crazy stocking up on old soul 45's over the weekend.  Funnily enough, most were picked up at Half Price Books in Lynnwood, Washington, where apparently someone unloaded hundreds of old 45's and since Half Price sells them at a quarter a pop, I went crazy.  I had to fight off a mid-40's Elvis look-alike, but was able to secure most of the best ones there:   Jackson 5, James Brown, Impressions, a bunch of Sly Stone, Al Green, The Stylistics, and Stevie Wonder, Ohio Players, Booker T and the MGs, Aretha Franklin, Chambers Brothers, and an Allen Toussaint-produced Dr. John 45, among many, many more.  90% of what I picked up I was already familiar with, but it's always nice to find something that you're not sure about and end up really liking.  Regarding the Ohio Players, I've honestly only liked a few of their songs in the past off of their early 70's albums like Honey,  Skin Tightetc.  I picked the Ohio Players "Who'd She Coo/Bi-Centennial" 45, both songs taken off of their 1976 release Contradiction.  I've never heard this album previously, mainly because I figured it was when the Ohio Players drifted off into disco mode, but I was wrong.  "Who'd She Coo" is a tasty funk jam.  "Bi-Centennial" is a slow jam, perfectly showing how the Ohio Players were getting better at writing good ballads and slow jams, which they began showing during Honey.   Both tracks are outstanding, and if this is a good representation of Contradiction, then I need to pick it up.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Birthday James Brown!

To "The Hardest Working Man in Business", we miss you dearly here on earth, but your music will always live on.