Friday, July 29, 2011

The Story of Bobby Jameson/Chris Lucey...

...Is a complex one that is probably best detailed through:

I had a brief obsession with finding out as much about the story of Bobby Jameson years ago, and when digging through my cds the other day, stumbled upon his Chris Lucey album and it took me back (it's been years since I last heard the album), which led me to post this...

Bobby Jameson worked with the likes of the Rolling Stones, The Leaves, Frank Zappa, and was considered for one of the roles in The Monkees.  Bobby Jameson was the "in" man in the L.A. scene, and many thought he would eventually become a big rock star.  Unfortunately, the use of drugs and alcohol took his toll, and Bobby never became the star that was initially predicted.  However, he recorded some wonderful tracks, both under his real name Bobby Jameson, and under the moniker Chris Lucey, as he recorded an album Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest, that is considered a lost classic and has an interesting story behind it (see wikipedia and Bobby's blog for more info).  Jameson currently has his own blog ( that you should definitely check out.  He has said that some of his unreleased tracks will see the light of day eventually.   I definitely hope so!  Here are a few of my favorite tracks from Bobby Jameson/Chris Lucey in the 1960's.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chico Buarque: Construcao

This album has been on my regular rotation since I picked it up about a month ago.  This is the Chico Buarque I always envisioned hearing when I first heard about the wonderfulness of his music from a Brazilian gal at some party back in my college days while living in Portland over 10 years ago.  Once I found out where she was from, I remember telling her how much I loved Caetano Veloso and Os Mutantes, and she told me I needed to check out Chico Buarque's music.  Anyway, over the years I picked up a compilation of his early recordings, which was ok, but didn't really do it for me.  Since I've been turning my ears back towards the Bossa Nova, Tropacalia, and Samba sounds of Brazil over the past few months, I thought I'd give Construcao a play.  So glad I did!  Well-composed, creepy at times, lovely in others, I foresee Chico Buarque's 1971 album Construcao eventually gravitating towards the top of my list of favorite Brazilian albums of all-time.  It's a must have!  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Song o' the Day (Pt. 8)--Let yo' fingers do the snapping!

In continuing from my last post regarding Little Willie John, I thought I'd share one more track of goodness from the soul master, Little Willie John!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reviewing a Soul Legend: The Little Willie John Story

I recently finished reading "Fever--Little Willie John:  A Fast Life, Mysterious Death, and the Birth of Soul" by Susan Whitall.  "Fever" is the intriguing and tragic story about possibly the most underrated soul vocalist ever, Little Willie John.  The story of Little Willie John was a relative mystery prior to the recent release of this book.  Most knew that the soul singer recorded the hit "Fever" (later to be made a bigger hit by Peggy Lee--although Lee's version doesn't touch Little Willie's).  He recorded a handful of hits for King Records, and died in prison at age 27.  Thank the heavens that the entire story of Little Willie John has now been made to the public.  I thoroughly enjoyed "Fever".  First of all, I did not realize how early his career began.  Little Willie John recorded early hits like "All Around The World" at age 17.  Whitall's book goes into detail about the street savvy soul singer, who was sneaking out of his parents house and hitting up the clubs in downtown Detroit, where he sang his heart out, later to be discovered and signed.   He recorded a handful of hits in his teens, was married at an early age, and had kids.  While "Fever" paints part of Little Willie John's personality in that he was a good husband, father, and friend to others ("friendly" was used by many of his associates when describing Little Willie John), his dark side (mainly, his temper), is explored in the book.  His temper is what ends up getting Little Willie John into trouble throughout his career, and ultimately, how he ends up in prison.  "Fever" is such a wonderful read about an artist whose career truly deserves to be mentioned among the soul greats Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder.  I know for me personally, I would say that Little Willie John is one of my top five favorite soul singers of all-time (along with Cooke, Redding, Donny Hathaway, and Etta James).  I wouldn't have gotten into soul music if it wasn't for hearing "Need Your Love So Bad", as I remember specifically the month and year I bought a compilation of Little Willie's early King Records singles (October of 1999 at Music Millennium in Portland), immediately putting it in my car, and being entranced by the vocals on the disc.  From that compilation I ended up discovering other soul artists like Jackie Wilson, Solomon Burke, and Joe Tex, among others.  I can't recommend the music of Little Willie John enough, and for those who want more information on the man behind the music, I can't recommend "Fever" by Susan Whitall enough as well.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer in Seattle '11--I'm waiting for a "Heatwave"!

Picture of a sun--Seattlelites aren't sure if this in fact exists
Living in Seattle has it's ups and downs.  One of the main positives is the weather here in the summertime.  Usually I tell my out-of-town friends that there isn't a better place to be in the summer, as we generally have sunny weather throughout, with the temps between 70 and 80 degrees.  Unfortunately, this summer has been the worst that I can recall.  Thus far, I believe we've only had about three full sunny days so far.  The weather here has been dismal, gloomy, and basically feels the way it would the other nine months of the year in the Northwest.  In trying to snap out of my funk (I'm suffering mood-wise because of this weather), I played Heatwave Too Hot To Handle three straight times yesterday.  Maybe I was hoping the poppy, pre-disco, funk would snap me of this rut, maybe I was hoping playing Heatwave would help summon the weather gods to give us Seattlelites a glimpse of the orange orb.  Either way, I'm hoping for a change in the weather soon, because it's driving me insane. Please weather gods, give us some sun!  I'd be cool for a heatwave!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Art of the Hip Hop Mixtape

It's amazing how much hip hop has changed over the years, especially with the popularity of the mixtape--a MC/DJ's way of promoting themselves and helping them to either: be noticed and hopefully sign to a major label, or is used to whet the appetite of the hip hop connoisseur and excite them for their upcoming label backed, full-length release, usually dropping within months of the mixtape.  Here are a few mixtapes that I've enjoyed over the past six months, some released earlier than this and some released more recently:

Lil B I'm Gay (I'm Happy)--This cat has been releasing mixtapes like mad for the past few years, and his new one might be the one in which Lil B is no longer a rap cult figure, and may blow up the mainstream.  This track, "Unchained", is a good 'un.

J Cole Friday Night Lights--I'm pumped for J Cole's full-length to drop, possibly in the Fall of 2011 on Jay-Z's label.   In the meantime, his latest mixtape release was Friday Night Lights, which honestly sounds less than a mixtape and more like a full-length, as it's well put-together.  

Jay Electronica What the F*** is a Jay Electronica?--Love his style, his raps over Dilla beats.  Jay has some great mixtapes out there.  The question is, will he ever drop the full-length in our lifetime?  He's been signed with Jay-Z over a few years now, and his cult following are beginning to get increasingly impatient.  I dig this track, "So What You're Saying", over a bumping Dilla beat. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Bossa Nova Summer

The Tamba Trio with Edu Lobo in Argentina
Nothing says summer like taking a trip down Bossa Nova lane, and I have done this in abundance over the past few months, pulling out some old albums by Joao Gilberto, Nara Leao, and Edu Lobo, but also recently purchasing some Bossa Nova albums that I really dig, by the likes of Luiz Bonfa, and the Tamba Trio that I really enjoy.  Here are a few Bossa Nova albums I've been listening to recently and a selective track from each album.

1.  Charlie Byrd "Dindi", off of Brazilian Byrd.  Really hard to pick a single track from this album because none of them particularly stand out--the album as a whole just flows well.  Jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd was inspired by Brazilian music while taking a trip there, and decided to record an album based on Antonio Carlos Jobim's music. 
 2.  Antonio Carlos Jobim "Stone Flower", off of Stone Flower.  Absolutely love the compositions of Jobim, especially the instrumentals, although he has a few nice vocal tracks on this album.  What I love about Stone Flower is that the strings are toned down a bit, and it's mainly nice mixture of Jobim's guitar, with some light percussion, and horns. 

3.  Nara Leao "No Cordao Da Saideria", off of Nara '67.  I was introduced to Nara Leao's music back in the late 90's when I purchased the Tropicalia compilation Ou Panis et Circenses, as Leao had a track "Lindoneia" on that essential compilation.  I immediately fell in love with her voice and wanted to find more tracks and albums by her.  Nara '67 was the first Nara Leao album that I purchased, and I wasn't disappointed!
4.  Luiz Bonfa--unfortunately, couldn't find any tracks to upload off of this album, but here is a live version of a few tracks off of Luiz Bonfa Plays and Sings Bossa Nova Music.  I just purchased this album fairly recently, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite Bossa Nova albums of all-time.  Bonfa's guitar playing on this release is magnificent, and his vocals are perfect for his compositions.

5.  Edu Lobo "Agua Verde" off of Cantiga De Longe.  Is this Bossa Nova? Samba?  Either way, it has a gentle groove and this is one of my favorite tracks off this wonderful album (my favorite of Lobo's releases).
These aren't necessarily my favorite five Bossa Nova albums, or else a track by Joao Gilberto's Chega De Saudade, Getz/Gilberto, or something by Tamba Trio would be featured.  These are mainly five albums of the Bossa Nova genre that I've been playing a lot recently, and is perfect summer listening music.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rockin' the Instrumentals!

When I immediately think of great soul-funk instrumentals, I think of the obvious like Booker T and the MG's "Green Onions", The Meters "Cissy Strut" or The Incredible Bongo Band "Apache" (with the famous drum break that has been sampled by a thousand hip hop groups over the past 30 years).  Therefore, I tried to veer from the obvious and picked a few under the radar instrumentals that are great in their own right.  Check them out!

Incredible Bongo Band "Bongolia".  Probably my favorite off their s/t album because I've heard "Apache" so many times.  Good jam, especially once the horns kick in!  
Herbie Hancock "Wiggle-Wiggle", taken off of the wonderful Mwandishi Recordings.  Technically, it's considered jazz, but definitely Hancock brings out the funk on this jam:

I dig this early instrumental cut, "Rock Dirge", from Sly and The Family Stone.  It's got a good groove.  You can't go wrong with Sly, instrumental or vocal-wise! 

New Orleans great Allen Toussaint is one of my favorite musicians/singer-songwriters and I included a little funky instrumental track "Louie" from Toussaint's first solo album, Allen Toussaint.

Lastly, even this isn't at all under-the-radar, I felt I needed to put one of my favorite instrumentals of all-time on this post.  Funkadelic "Maggot Brain" off the Maggot Brain album.  Love the Hendrix-like guitar solos that float over the gently strummed chords.  Great song off a great album!